Posts Tagged With: communications

Just because you have information radiators doesn’t mean senior stakeholders will review them!

Information radiators are a great idea.

After all, who wouldn’t want to reduce the effort involved in keeping stakeholders up-to-date about a product or project or increase the consistency in messaging to all stakeholders?

But convincing executives to use information radiators as a primary means of staying current is not an easy task. Yes, there might be a few early adopters who are open to trying a different way  but most are likely to prefer to receive these updates the way they’ve always got them through one-on-one or steering committee meetings using status reports. So project managers or Product Owners spend time harvesting and curating information from the radiators into traditional status reports or presentation decks.

This introduces a few challenges:

  • The activity of creating these reports or presentation decks is non-value add
  • The information shared is likely to be somewhat stale
  • There is an increased likelihood of reduced transparency as the “warts & all” information available in radiators might have been redacted or modified to fit the spin which the publisher wished to portray

So how can we help executives through the transition to using information radiators?

Start with why – if they don’t understand how traditional reporting approaches hurt them, they are unlikely to have any sense of urgency about adopting a different approach. Whether it is reducing delivery costs or improving the quality of information presented, find out what concerns them and use that as a lever for change.

Second, you will want to ensure that the information radiators being published are relevant to senior stakeholders. Taking the time to understand what they need to support their decision making should help in creating dashboards which they will actually want to use.

Finally, rather than asking them to make the significant leap from a meeting-based approach to a self-service model, consider continuing the meetings, but use information radiators as the supporting materials for the discussions in place of traditional presentation decks. This should spark your stakeholders’ curiosity as they are likely to ask questions based on their interpretation of the information published which will provide you with an opportunity to provide live “color commentary” about the project or product’s status.

If you want management to change, you need to apply effective change management.



Categories: Agile, Facilitating Organization Change | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Are you being (responsibly) transparent?

We might assume that transparency should be a given when delivering value through our projects so why is it that the actions of teams or the stakeholders supporting delivery don’t always demonstrate that basic hygiene factor? Transparency is so critical that the Scrum Guide lists it as one of its three pillars and it is similarly echoed in the reference materials for many other agile delivery methods as well as in PMI’s Code of Ethics.

Transparency is a rising tide which lifts the attitudes of all stakeholders:

  • Customers benefit as they have to spend much less effort in understanding what is really going on
  • Sponsors benefit as they will develop stronger, more positive relationships with teams and are better equipped to support their teams in a more timely manner when issues arise
  • The project manager and team benefits as they don’t have to worry about putting the right “spin” on events and are less likely to get distracted or waste effort in needless status updates for stakeholders. They will also benefit if the higher levels of trust which result from increased transparency encourage enterprise groups to lean out governance requirements by focusing on the few outliers rather than punishing the majority.

I wrote a few years back about the downsides of unfiltered transparency as this could generate unnecessary panic or encourage micro-management from our stakeholders, but responsible transparency is key to creating trust.

Responsible transparency is about providing the truth, warts and all, but ensuring that sufficient context gets provided so that our stakeholders’ reactions to the truth are appropriate. Project teams have many tools and techniques available to them which can provide transparency about progress and impediments, but using these in isolation may not provide that context. For example, reviewing individual work items in a sprint backlog without also being aware of the sprint goal(s) identified by the Product Owner doesn’t help a stakeholder see the forest for the trees. Similarly, trying to interpret a burn down or burn up chart without understanding the team’s delivery approach or the contents of a sprint or release backlog might create the wrong perceptions.

So as you strive for transparency in your information radiators and other communication methods, ensure that you are providing the necessary color commentary to make the information meaningful.

The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust – Denise Morrison, (Former) CEO, Campbell Soup Company

Categories: Agile, Project Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Songs to put you in a project management state of mind

As a teenager who had an eclectic taste in music, one of my hobbies was attempting to create the perfect mix tape to fit the theme of different activities I would do such as studying, working out or just relaxing.

So how about project management? To quote Barney Stinson: “Challenge accepted!”

  1. Can I Play With Madness (Iron Maiden): You know those projects where it seems no one has a clue about what we are trying to achieve? “Can I play with madness? The prophet stared at his crystal ball ; Can I play with madness? There’s no vision there at all
  2. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones): There is no better song to help set stakeholder expectations about focusing on their needs.
  3. The Gambler (Kenny Rogers): This would make a good level setting tune for a risk response workshop, especially for those who feel the glass is always half full. “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em ; Know when to fold ’em ; Know when to walk away ; And know when to run
  4. That’s Life (Frank Sinatra): After the team has just received some bad news or is recovering after a painful issue, this song helps to put things into perspective. “Each time I find myself flat on my face ; I pick myself up and get back in the race
  5. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica): This is a good song for building self-reliance, self-organization and the willingness to inspect and adapt in teams. “Trust I seek and I find in you, Every day for us something new, Open mind for a different view
  6. In The End (Linkin Park): “Time is a valuable thing ; Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings ; Watch it count down to the end of the day ; The clock ticks life away“. ‘Nuff said!
  7. People Are People (Depeche Mode): When the team is storming and what makes us different is dividing us. “So we’re different colours ; And we’re different creeds ; And different people have different needs
  8. Three Little Birds (Bob Marley): What could be a more cheerful and uplifting song to kick off a daily standup for your team? “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be all right.
  9. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (The Animals): Whenever you feel there has been a breakdown in the basic communication model, just sing “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good ; Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood
  10. We Are The Champions (Queen): A gracious project manager will always acknowledge the contribution of the entire team. “I’ve taken my bows ; And my curtain calls ; You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it ; I thank you all

So what would you add for YOUR project management mix tape?


Categories: Project Management | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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