What must happen for schedules to work

Now that we understand why schedules are so difficult to maintain, I can offer advice on how to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of any project schedule. These approaches and behaviors cut across traditional roles or backgrounds, which I think reflects the true nature of scheduling. Because the schedule represents the totality of the project, the only way to use schedules effectively is to understand something about all of the things that must happen in order to make the project...

How to consolidate ideas

In any creative process, once you have enough ideas someone has to look at the possibilities and divide them into useful piles. This makes it possible to understand the different viable design directions and to begin to see their differences. (As a rule, 4 or 5 piles of things are easier to work with than 30, 50, or 150 individual things. This is true for ideas, specifications, hyperactive children, small animals, pieces of candy, annoying writers that make silly lists for no reason, etc.) It's...

Confusing process with goals

Some PMs in this situation resort to quantifying things that don't need to be quantified. Unsure of what else to do, or afraid to do what most needs to be done, they occupy their time with secondary things. And as the gap between the PM and the project grows, the amount of unnecessary attention paid to charts, tables, checklists, and reports increases. It's possible that at some point the PMs begin to believe that the data and the process are the project. They focus on the less-important things...

Program and project management at Microsoft

Microsoft had a problem in the late 1980s regarding how to coordinate engineering efforts with the marketing and business side of each division (some might say this is still a problem for Microsoft and many other companies). A wise man named Jabe Blumenthal realized that there could be a special job where an individual would be involved with these two functions, playing a role of both leadership and coordination. He'd be involved in the project from day one of planning, all the way through the...

Be relentless

The world responds to action, and not much else. Many smart people can recognize when there is a problem, but few are willing to expend the energy necessary to find a solution, and then summon the courage to do it. There are always easier ways give up, accept a partial solution, procrastinate until it goes away (fingers crossed), or blame others. The harder way is to take the problem head-on and resist giving in to conclusions that don't allow for satisfaction of the goals. Successful project...

Managing ideas demands a steady hand

The most common mistake is to treat the design process as if it were a big light switchyou can just turn it on and off whenever you like. This fantasy, as it goes, runs like this you show up one day, realize it's getting late and that there are too many ideas and designs (and not enough decisions), and you say to the team, OK, we're done with ideas. Pick a design and let's start coding Woo-Hoo Even at the off chance that there is a design that is ready for primetime (which there won't be), this...