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Education, opinion, and fresh insights on Project Management by authors worldwide.

The Challenge of Creating—and Sustaining—an Ethical Workplace

What are the keys to ethical leadership?

Have strong personal values. Communicate those values to everyone in your business or organization. Be impartial and transparent. And, perhaps most important, encourage all your employees, from the CEO on down, to speak up whenever they face an ethical quandary or see behavior that concerns them.

Do all these demonstratively positive things and—actually, you’ll still face challenges. It’s part of human nature and the way people behave in organizations.

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Deliver Faster and More Innovative Solutions with Agile Project Management

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Work With the Equipment You are Issued

Have you ever heard the expression, “Play with the equipment you are issued?” It’s used to encourage people to make the most of their God-given talents. Rather than spending time worrying about or wishing they had other skills, they should be grateful for them, sharpen them, and do their absolute best with them.

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The Art of Productive Laziness

What is productive laziness? Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.' Robert Heinlein (1907 - 1988)

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Applying the ‘Productive Lazy’ approach to your Sponsor

How to control your greatest asset and potentially your biggest threat. Critical to any projects success is having a good project sponsor, but, like the saying goes ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives’ and the same is true of project sponsors.

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The Oral Presentation: Tie-Breaker for Winning Government Contracts

Over the past decade, the Federal Government has placed increasing emphasis on the "oral presentation" in awarding contracts. Additionally, Government agencies, in their Request for Proposal (RFP), are stipulating that only those who will be working on the contract, especially Project Managers, are to deliver the oral presentation.

This is obviously intended to permit government evaluators to have an "eye-to-eye" meeting with those with whom they will be working, thereby resolving issues and questions before the contract is awarded.

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The Project Manager Self Evaluation

Employing qualified PMs is a significant requirement recognized across many Federal agencies. These are vastly important jobs and often extremely satisfying to those PMs skilled enough to be selected. Unfortunately, the definitions still vary by agency for the term “qualified PM”.

Interpretive Guidance for Project Manager Positions was published by the Office of Personnel Management (August 2003) defines three areas of knowledge for the aspiring PM. All project managers apply common knowledge, skills, and abilities/competencies, organized into three areas:

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The 33rd Criterion – Putting People into the Earned Value Essentials

In working with a client on the basic rules of earned value, I found myself coaching them on the 32 basic rules, known as the Cost Schedule Control Systems Criteria (CS-squared). As we talked to the specific subcomponents that have to be in place to make earned value sing and dance, the question surfaced time and again, "Where do my team members fit into this?"

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Putting the Romance Back into your PM Relationship

There are times we all fall out of love with those things we cherish the most. Our closest friends, our homes, and our careers can all migrate from being what we treasure to becoming what we tolerate. And yet, with Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s a great idea to find ways to fall back into love. And yes, I’m talking about falling in love with your career as a project manager.

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Taming the Unruly User

Here’s something I hear a lot in IT development teams:

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Mastering the Job Search Process

Few things in life generate as much stress as the job search! For those in the midst of the job search process – this certainly isn’t news. For those who have gone through it, and that would be most of us, it could be locked away and filed under “Experiences We Wish To Forget.” Realistically, most of us will undergo the job search process more than once in our professional lifetimes – voluntarily or not, so it’s a good idea to think about what this entails and do a bit of prep work – just in case.

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The Artistry of Project Management: Enabling a Strategy for Organizational Transformation

How do you manage to create change and incorporate PM processes when stakeholders are telling you to minimize change as much as possible? Below, please find how my team and I were able to make successful changes that established a Program Risk Management Office, implemented an Organizational Taxonomy for Risk, and created a learning environment designed to build capabilities that ensure successful project execution.

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The Earned Value Criteria: A Layperson’s Interpretation

To those of you who made it this far into this article, kudos! For many, as soon as they saw the words “earned value” in the title, they begged off. No one wants to have the earned value conversation, particularly those folks who are not actively doing earned value. But they could and they should. Why? They should give serious consideration to the earned value criteria because they’re criteria that actually lead to effective mechanical application of project management and its tools and structures.

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Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers – Nice to Have or Necessity?

If only it were just about defining scope, creating a project plan, and tracking costs! Project Management obviously encompasses all those things, but now more than ever it’s also about relationship development, team building, influencing, collaborating, and negotiating often in a very complex environment. As my father often said, this job would be easy, if it weren’t for the people!

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Bring Home the Bacon! Why Project Managers Should Improve Their Presentation Skills

This essay is Part one of two articles for the PMIWDC webpage. It evolves from my November 4th PM Tools presentation at the Crystal City Sheraton. In this first part, I want to explain (a) why proposal managers/writers and project managers must work in concert, not separately as is often the case. Then (b) I’ll provide advice to enable project managers to improve their presentation skills. This advice will be based on the methodology that is the heart of my executive workshops.

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Part 2 of Bring Home the Bacon! The Four-phase Collaboration Between Project Managers and Proposal Professionals

I hope that readers of Part One have “bought in” to the twin concepts (A) that Project Managers and Proposal Managers should work closely and early from the beginning of the bid process, and (B) that Project managers, who will be charged with “bringing home the bacon” in the oral presentation, should improve their presentation skills, not rely on their technical expertise alone.

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Project Success- Without Going Broke

It is March 2011 and the US Government has yet to approve its budget for the current fiscal year. Costs are rising, budget surpluses are scarce, and growing inflation makes a mockery of the little money that we actually do have available for projects. While some people view this situation as a period of stagnation and a time for victimization, many companies and project managers are using this as an opportunity to become experts at doing more with less.

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10 Tips to Help Project Managers Shine When They Present to Senior Executives

The opportunity for Project Managers to present to senior executives can be a “good news, bad news” venture. The good news is that it gives the PM the chance to showcase his or her capability before the people in the organization who have great influence on promotions, decisions on which projects to bid on,etc. The bad news is that a poor presentation to these senior people can cast a negative shadow over the perception of the PM’s capability.

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6 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Risk to Your Own Project

Projects fail when they are not delivered on time, not finished within budget or when the system does not work according to the requirements. Traditional risk management frameworks include identification, evaluation and prioritization followed by eliminating ambiguities, minimizing the possibility and impact of adverse events along with monitoring and controlling them.

However, as a project manager, you can be another risk yourself or trigger creation of new risks that aren’t inherent in the project itself.

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Demonstrating the Value of Your PMO

Hundreds of articles have been written about establishing and improving the Project Management Office (PMO). So why is it that Gartner Research Group reports that PMOs frequently experience a 50 percent failure rate? The answer is not only in the setup of a PMO, but the constant maintenance and ceasing any carried work that is no longer valuable.

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The 9 Step Project Plan to Becoming an Independent Consultant

Article Summary: Today there is more opportunity than ever for PMPs to leverage their experience and skills to become independent consultants. Flexibility, control and a better work-life balance are all reasons for considering the transition. But is it right for you, and if so, where do you start? This article provides common motivations for starting an independent career and 9 key steps that will start you on your journey from employee to consultant.

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The Age of the Project Manager

Optimally, you started your day today by getting up, having breakfast, driving to work while finalizing your appointments on your cell phone headset, and arriving on-time, refreshed and ready to go. Now imagine you wake up and there is no food in your house. You walk out to start your car and the engine makes a horrible noise and dies because you forgot to get your oil changed. You take a taxi to work so that you won’t be late, and you realize that you forgot to charge your cell phone. Which type of morning sounds more appealing to you?

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Going Solo: Understanding the Bill Rate Question for Project Management Professionals

Article Summary: Before you establish your bill rate, get educated on the various approaches that are used to set this important number. This article provides an overview of three generally accepted approaches, helping define a bill-rate strategy for a project management professional considering going solo.

Project management is a skill set that is in high demand today, and for those with the right tenure and professional network, 2012 may be a time to consider going solo.

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AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This month, we are beginning a seven part academic article series written by Mark on the subject. Be on the look out for the April - September Newsletter for the remaining six sections. You can also access a print friendly version of the article.

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Part Two of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Two of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. Be on the look out for the May - September Newsletter for the remaining five sections.

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Become a Master Negotiator

Many of us enter into a negotiation with a sense of fear or intimidation. No one wants to get burned. Stereotypically, our culture has given us images of robotic business types in power suits winning the day with stealth negotiation techniques. The meek losers fade into the shadows with little but regret.

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Part Three of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Three of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. Be on the look out for the June - September Newsletters for the remaining four sections.

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Part Four of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Four of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. Be on the look out for the July - September Newsletters for the remaining three sections.

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Finding Our Way Through the Gray

In today’s society people are very sensitive to ethical conduct in business, and the reason is because we’ve been lost in a gray area where right and wrong are muddled behind corporate agendas. Bloomberg’s Businessweek’s article, Wall Streets’ Economic Crimes Against Humanity reveals just how lost in the gray we are. In this article, the authors define what led up to the mortgage crisis as a “…widespread abrogation of individual moral judgment.”

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Part Five of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Five of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. Be on the look out for the August and September Newsletters for the last two sections.

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Part Six of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is Part Six of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. Be on the look out for the September Newsletter for the final section.

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Part Seven of AgileProject Management vs. PMBOK® Guide and EVM- “Revolution or Evolution?”

In January 2012, Mark Tolbert presented a popular PM Tools Workshop "Agile Project Management versus the PMBOK Guide and Earned Value Management". This article is the final installment of a seven part series that he wrote on the topic. You can access a print friendly version of the article.

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The Perks of Agility

Are you a “doer” or a “planner”? If you are a “planner”, you know who you are. You probably have the next few weeks planned out in your day calendar, and may tend to get a little bit nervous if people throw a curve ball your way in the form of an unplanned event. If you are a “doer” you may like to have more freedom when it comes to your calendar, and would rather make plans as you go than be tied down to a pre-set agenda.

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Are you Reaching Your Potential?

Are you reaching your true potential in life? According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the typical person is only working at 50 percent of his or her potential. Only 50 percent! I’m not sure if you remember from grade school, but that would be a failing grade. Let’s examine this a little more to see the components that contribute to this potential deficiency, and how we can remedy it.

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Moving from the Gantt Chart to Optimal Resource Management

The simplicity of the Gantt Chart has made it a popular method for Project Managers. It is essentially just a scheduling tool, which makes it a low investment of time, skill and cost. The requisite Work Breakdown Structure should already have an organizing principle guiding the deliverables and key milestones, so that developing a Gantt Chart for the project can be as straightforward as fleshing out that backbone.

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The Central Resource Management Metrics and Concepts

A question we frequently find at conferences is “How are other companies implementing resource management?” This is a broad question that we could not possibly cover in a single post, but we thought a helpful starting point would be to delve into the fundamental metrics, terms and considerations used in resource management. In the interest of working from the ground up, this will serve as useful reference material for when we move into deeper theory.

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Resource Management: The Keystone of PPM and Project Management

Organizations are beginning to recognize the comprehensive power that Resource Management has for addressing how to manage projects and project portfolios.

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Creating More Value for Others through Better Project Management

How do you define career success, and how do you know when you’ve attained it? Perhaps there’s a particular salary level you’d like to reach, or maybe for you “career success” means working in your dream job. But think a little deeper. Say you get that dream job - what would it look like for you to reach your highest potential in that position? Here at Cheetah Learning, we tend to define “success” a little differently than the way most people use this term. With regard to our students, we truly believe that their success is our success.

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The Model for a Customer-Centric Oral Presentation: The Philly Cheesesteak

This experience has led me to the conclusion that the invention of the Earl of Sandwich is an apt model for what can be the deciding factor in awarding a contract. But not just any sandwich-I’m referring to that classic from my native Philadelphia - the Cheesesteak. The Oral Presentation-Cheesesteak comparison is based on their three similar components:

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Embracing Your “Geeky” Side to Become a Highly Effective Project Manager

The most recent 2015 Pulse of the Profession study from the Project Management Institute (PMI)® found that the ability to acquire and keep highly talented employees is one of the best predictors of an organization’s success. As they authors explain in their conclusion of the report, “Organizations continue to recognize the value of people who are versatile, have deep strategic insight, and who champion knowledge development and knowledge transfer as essential to performance improvement and competitive strength” (PMI 2015).

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Project Management on a Sailboat

I recently took a class to learn how to navigate the Inside Passage to Alaska. The class was held on a 65-foot rebuilt wooden 1929 boat with the original diesel engine: the "David B." This adventure originated because a colleague wanted me to help sail a 32-foot sailboat from Washington to Alaska to use for our corporate retreats. I realized doing this might require some unique skills, so I sought out a class to get a handle on what would be involved in this pursuit.

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Team Building and Development in a Matrix Environment

In all organizational structures, there are many ‘teams within teams’. For example, if I am the Manager, I might have several teams within my overall team, depicted as follows: Teams Within a Typical Org Chart

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Evaluating Project Management Training: How to Find a Program That’s Worth Your Time and Money

As a leader in your organization, you know the value of Project Management principles and tools. You know that good PM education can get your whole team speaking the same project language, streamlines processes for making decisions, and facilitates effective communication among stakeholders. The trouble is, you know that PM trainings vary widely in quality, and can be costly and time-consuming for your organization. Without testing them all out for yourself, how can you discern which PM trainings are worth your time and money?

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What Makes a Good Project Manager? 10 Questions You Need To Ask of Prospective Hires

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Program Management Improvement Accountability Act (S: 1550)

The value of project management, while not necessarily universal, is proven to improve collaboration, better risk management, higher efficiency, better decision-making, and more favorable project outcomes.1 Despite the evolution of project management practices in the private sector, government project statistics indicate a dearth of high-performing projects. Only 64 percent of government projects achieve their goals . The Government Accountability Office’s (GAO’s) 2015 High-Risk List indicates project and program management challenges in many of the 32 risks .

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Create a Company Culture that Brings Out the Best of Everyone

Even though politicians who get the most media attention do so by tearing other people down to build themselves up, this approach most certainly is not a recipe for success in business. When you focus on bringing out the best of everyone in your business rather than tearing people down, you create a culture of success - for everyone.

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How to Evaluate Your Organization's Performance Management Readiness

Have you been told to make a dashboard or develop performance metrics by your leaders? Did you know where to start and was your organization ready to implement performance management? In the summer of 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau's Susan Hostetter and Jim Miller of The MITRE Corporation were facing this situation when they set out to assess the readiness of a division within the bureau.

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