WE SAY IT HOW IT IS

People vs. Robots
September 20, 2022
Too often we consider people as inanimate “Resources” to assign as we would robots to the task at hand and boil down the success of their efforts with simple metrics, KPIs, achieved (or not) deadlines and the like. It is the essence of being personable that allows for the creativity that is so often required in overcoming the continuous challenges of project delivery. If treated as robots, then just like a robot, a single, small bug can bring the whole production line to a halt. #cstonesg #fintechasia #fintech
Artificial ‘Non-Intelligence’
September 5, 2022
Self-interested? The team senses you have no interest in what they have to say? Then you’ll get artificial and non-intelligent updates. You do not want to be THAT project manager. #fintechasia #fintech #c-stone.sg
FFS! FF? FS? SF? SS? WTF?
August 22, 2022
Dependency management is a critical and often overlooked area. Waterfall lived and breathed on dependency management, encapsulated in the many dependency types one could capture in Gantt charts (Finish/Finish, Finish/Start etc.). However, the complexity in maintaining this often pushes it to becoming ‘tomorrows’ action, again. Other methodologies such as Agile, can give the illusion that this is no longer the challenge it was in Waterfall. But it still is, albeit in smaller, incremental steps that allows for course corrections more often, i.e., as a key dependency arises, it is often managed in real time. Whereas in Waterfall one is trying to predict such dependencies months and even years ahead. #dependencymanagement #fintech #fintechasia #doingtherightthings #cstonesg #projectmanagement
Are we aligned? (Part 2: Square Peg...)
August 8, 2022
Personality challenges and workplace cultures are ‘soft’ but critical enablers to success. Is the Project Manager’s personality, such as being curious, approachable, and genuinely open to negative feedback, evident? Even if the PM feels that they are receptive, does the team agree? This, like a friendship, requires time to establish, but establish this one must. If this is not in the PM’s DNA then they may perhaps be better suited to another, specialist role. Be honest to yourself and don’t try and squeeze into a round hole!‍#fintechasia #fintech #cstonesg #projectmanager #roundpegsquarehole
Are we aligned? (Part 1: Passive Aggressive)
July 25, 2022
This is a pervasive challenge. Where the incentives are not aligned, many stakeholders can simply be non-responsive, not proactive and otherwise take a passive role during critical meetings. It is not their bonus at risk and thus they feel safe but, and in some cases, they are unwittingly contributing to the proverbial ‘slow train wreck’. In the meanwhile, the PM and sponsor are furiously attempting to drive delivery. Team alignment, team purpose and even the very definition who in the organisation is ‘in’ the team, can drive alignment and incentivise stakeholders to engage and be fully vested in the success of a delivery.
PMs. Are we listening?
July 15, 2022
Are you, the PM, suffering from poor updates from project management tools? The ability to receive information is as critical as our ability to deliver information. If we, as PMs, are not even reviewing system updates comprehensively, a team will ‘catch on’ to this and update quality declines correspondingly. It is incumbent upon us to receive information and keep ourselves informed. That means, allocating specific time for this purpose. In AGILE, daily stand-ups look to address this, but that still does not absolve us from reviewing what is being tracked and forecast in the various tools. Just like the weather. Things can change unexpectedly.
Trust Deficit
June 29, 2022
A project where the team that does not trust it’s leader is doomed to failure. The leader of a project who does not trust their team is also doomed to failure. Trust is the engine oil that overcomes the friction created by excessive governance. Most methodologies focus on creating more and more artefacts that simply look to risk minimise the lack of trust in a team. Take an F1 team. The extreme trust in everyone doing exactly what they need, when they need to, allows for complete tyre changes in under 2 seconds. Not a perfect comparison of course, but does help illustrate a key component of high performance teams that NO level of additional governance will overcome.
The consultants are in
June 15, 2022
Here we go again…. Consultants and even many PMs can often have a superior attitude and lack empathy. No one knows it all. And identifying strengths and weaknesses across the team and being inclusive, with respect given to all perspectives, is essential for effective teams. So, either the consultant brings a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut, i.e., ‘too much’ governance or their consultative approach can often be more ‘directive’ than enabling. That is, a client is often left in need for ongoing support and repeat help. This dependency creates an ‘upselling’ opportunity for the consultant. Which is the bread and butter of many traditional consultative business models. Teaching people to fish is at the heart of what we do.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
June 10, 2022
Project execution and delivery is part art and part science. Nowhere is this seen better than in the art of communication. There is no one-size-fits-all. A PM must develop a rapport with their stakeholders. Understand their needs, which can vary week to week, and communicate accordingly. We all understand the criticality of communication. But how? An agreed tool, optimised for PM, is often a good starting point, one which can allow a sufficient level of drill down into detail where required but can also present an ‘executive summary’ view. The objective being to avoid ‘management by email’ or progress updates by hearsay.
“Doing It Right”
June 10, 2022
“Strategic misrepresentation" is a key driver behind failure to deliver on time, to budget and to the required quality. Any PM worth their salt has sat through meetings where the progress presented and the weighting of potential risks fail to reflect the *real* risks and issues at hand. In many cases, the best Project Managers would be better described as Risk Managers.‍ Allowing the PM to do the ‘right thing’ requires exceptional stakeholder trust and support and a culture where flagging issues is seen as a positive to manage for, rather than a negative to bury in reporting minutiae.
We are what we are
June 10, 2022
We are all individuals, and so called ‘personality tests’ can over simplify how us, as individuals, can add value. So being more human, understanding needs of the individual as well as those of the project will often result in better outcomes for all. That might mean an honest redeployment of people to better leverage their strengths in to alternative roles. Then so be it.
Project review #4,324. “Numbed”
June 10, 2022
Project managers with formal qualifications will in many cases be better at delivery than those without a structured approach. ‍However, most PMs can be dogmatic and follow the ‘letter of the law’, prescribed in their chosen methodology vs. the ‘spirit of the law’. The latter, and this being crucial, being informed by experience. ‍Those lacking experience often over communicate the detail (which is great to track and capture) but fail to focus meetings on pertinent issues for stakeholder attention. Think. Can reviewing 1 or 2 pages suffice vs. another 99 page steering committee pack. Here at Cornerstone this goes to the heart of our value proposition. Minimum Viable Governance that is ‘fitted’ for smaller more nimble organisations.