Posts Tagged With: team building

Our project management future is analog…

I’ve just finished reading The Revenge of Analog and The Future is Analog by David Sax. In both of these books, he provides compelling arguments supported by a number of case studies taken from different domains to show that while some might envision the future as becoming more and more digital, we will continue to cherish and yearn for analog experiences. The latter of the two books was written during the COVID-19 pandemic where most of us underwent a rapid acceleration into a digital future and in most cases, didn’t like what we experienced.

So what does this have to do with project management, you ask?

Ever since ChatGPT hit mainstream consciousness in November 2022, a frequent topic of discussion in most project management online communities has been what progressive improvements in A.I. capabilities will mean for the profession.

As with any other disruptive change, there are some practitioners who go all in on the future for A.I. technologies whereas others marginalize their potential.

My opinion hasn’t changed.

So long as the scope of projects is delivered by human beings, I find it unlikely that we will abdicate leadership responsibilities to a machine. As unique endeavors, projects require team members to be creative, innovative and able to react in a timely manner to surprises. I don’t see automation being able to inspire the level of engagement and follow through required to deliver even moderately complex projects.

What I do expect is that A.I. advances will provide much richer decision support than is currently possible. Whereas there are specific use cases for such technology today such as estimation and forecasting within specific industries, I feel the scope of such support will increase as A.I. tools are able to proactively harvest relevant data sets, process those in real time, and provide probability-based forecasts on the relative merits of different options.

I also am confident that A.I. will be able to substantially (if not fully) eliminate rote, administrative work from the role. As the tools learn how a given project manager works, the quality of auto-generated reports and responses will improve. Similarly, A.I. will help to keep teams safe by providing guidance, evidence gathering and documentation capabilities for compliance and governance purposes.

And I view this as a good thing as it means project managers will find themselves with much more time to focus on analog activities such as engaging effectively with their key stakeholders, building high performing teams, and keeping their eyes on the road ahead rather than spending half or more of their time looking in the rear view mirror.

And that will make the profession that much more rewarding to its practitioners.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on and on as well as a number of other online book stores).

Categories: Governance, Project Management | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Let’s be grateful

I’m in the middle of Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s book Leading with Gratitude. I really enjoyed one of their previous books, The Carrot Principle, which provided great case studies on the importance of recognition in the work place as well as multiple suggestions on ways to recognize colleagues without spending a cent. Leading with Gratitude is a very readable sequel to the previous one, and focuses on the importance of gratitude in improving individual, team and company performance.

I’ve written previously about the importance of creating a culture of appreciation within teams and provided one way to do this regularly via retrospectives, but this book provides some additional insights and ideas.

The authors mention the research conducted by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer which indicated that a significant boost to our emotions and motivation comes from making progress in work which is meaningful. The research also shows that the more often we feel that we are making progress, the more creative and productive we are likely to be.

As project managers, we tend to be goal oriented, and recognizing our team’s efforts in achieving a major milestone is important. But it is equally important that we express sincere, regular gratitude for the small wins which our team members are achieving.

If you happen to work in person with your team members, it is easier to identify incremental progress and recognize it in real time. But this can also be done virtually if you are watching your team’s progress via work boards or following their discussions in collaborative chat tools.

Keeping a gratitude journal (or OneNote Notebook if you prefer) is also a good way to remind yourself about what’s going well and what might be acknowledged.

While it is important that leaders express gratitude, if by doing so team members start to do the same to each other, that creates a compounding effect.

One way to do this is during daily coordination events (e.g. Scrums, standups or huddles). While the focus of the events is to help the team coordinate their efforts towards the day’s goals, it can also be a good opportunity for an individual on the team to do a shout out for one of their colleagues.

Gratitude can also be baked into the working agreements of the team and how team members will act on it might vary. One example of doing this which comes from sales teams is to have a bell, squeaky toy or other type of noise maker which is triggered whenever someone has done something to be grateful for.

And if you are worried about diluting the value of gratitude by expressing it more frequently or thinking that team members will get tired or numb of it, don’t worry. Based on the extensive research done by the authors, they have not run into one instance where someone complained about being praised too much.

A new year has just got underway and if there is one resolution which is worth making and sticking to, it is to be more grateful.

(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on and on as well as a number of other online book stores).

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Management | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Five benefits to creating a schedule network diagram

Whether you have taken a foundational project management course which covered practices for predictive approaches or you were studying to take the PMP exam, you are likely familiar with schedule network diagrams. However, like many tools and practices in the PMBOK framework, just because we learn about them doesn’t mean we will use them.

If you skip creating network diagrams, you could miss out on these benefits.

  1. Building a network diagram is a fun team building exercise. Whether you do it on a white board using sticky notes or in a virtual collaboration platform, it provides a good opportunity for team members from different functional areas to figure out how we are going to get from start to finish.
  2. It increases the team’s buy-in to the project’s timelines. By contributing towards the creation of the diagram, there is a greater sense of ownership in the final schedule.
  3. It captures the scheduling logic in an easy-to-understand and explain fashion. Walking a stakeholder through a detailed Gantt chart, especially when there are multiple parallel network paths can be an exercise in frustration for both you and your audience!
  4. It makes it easier to notice if you have a scheduling error. Once a few hundred tasks are entered into a scheduling tool and dependencies have been added, locating a missing activity can be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. On the other hand, navigating activities in a network path on a network diagram is more intuitive and missing activities and unnecessary or missing dependencies can be identified quicker.
  5. It makes schedule creation more efficient. If you have ever witnessed a project manager struggling to enter data into a scheduling tool in front of their team, you will appreciate the reduced waste which is generated when the same project manager can take a completed network diagram and enter it offline into the tool and then share the final product with the team.

In some situations, skipping a network diagram might make sense.

If your project lends itself to a fully adaptive approach and work item sequence is changing frequently, while you might need to incorporate an understanding of dependencies when prioritizing the backlog or queue of work, a network diagram would get out of date very quickly. If the project is simple and has a minimal number of network paths, a network diagram might be overkill. Finally, if your project is very similar to a historical one and you can reuse the schedule from that previous project with minimal effort, a network diagram might be unnecessary.

But other than these situations, the benefits of producing a network diagram as the primary input to your project schedule will be well rewarded.

(If you liked this article, why not pick up my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on and on as well as a number of other online book stores)

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

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