Category: management

Roadmap Planner: project schedules don't have to be ugly

Roadmap Planner review: project schedules don’t have to be ugly

My day job involves taking the ideas of visionary leaders and turning them into reality. Gantt charts are one of the tools I use to coordinate all the moving parts. As a communication device, a Gantt chart showing the entire project is terrible. Stakeholders will either slip into a catatonic state for the rest of the discussion or suddenly remember they have another meeting to attend. Most stakeholders want to know that someone has thought about all the tasks and interdependencies but have little interest in the detail. Showing the major phases and a few key activities is all you...

The business model canvas in action

Download this free template to unlock innovative business models

The business model canvas has become an important part of my toolbox since I discovered it in Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s excellent book, Business Model Generation. It’s the simplest tool I’ve found to explain the complex interplay between a business, its suppliers, and its customers. The canvas condenses a business model to a single-page diagram that anyone can understand. Business model components The business model canvas identifies 9 essential elements that together make a business work. The right-hand side of the canvas is about creating value for customers. The left-hand side is more efficiency-focused and describes the resources, activities,...

Nathan campus Red Zone

The high-tech space that will make you see red

Last June, Griffith University opened the doors on the Red Zones — two of the most unusual facilities you are likely to see. These spaces apply innovative design and technology to showcase the University’s research and teaching expertise. I had the privilege of managing this ambitious project and wanted to record my experiences before the next big project consumes all my time. This post reveals the ambitions, design considerations and some of my favorite content pieces. I’ll explore some of the many lessons a project as complex as this provides in a future post. The project combined the skills of...

Project Management For You (Cesar Abeid)

Review: Cesar Abeid’s “Project Management For You” (plus a special bonus)

For much of my career, I’ve managed projects. At first they were simple solo gigs but have progressively grown in complexity, size and cost. When I started my career there were people called project managers in the construction industry, but that was about it. Projects have become more important as knowledge work has played a larger role in the economy. Today it seems like nearly everyone manages some kind of project. But there is a gulf between the back-of-an-envelope planning and industrial-strength methodologies like PRINCE2 and PMBOK which are robust enough for space missions. Cesar Abeid aims to fill that...

Archery targets

6 simple steps to setting successful targets

Targets help focus attention towards the outcomes that matter most. I’ve written this post from an organizational perspective, but you can also apply these ideas to personal goals. Clear, measurable targets are a valuable tool for improving individual and organizational performance. Nebulous, fuzzy targets cause unnecessary work and stress. Reducing ambiguity takes some extra work, but will produce more meaningful and effective results in the long run. Well-constructed targets have the following six elements: 1. The Axes If you draw your target as a graph, the horizontal axis represents time, and the vertical axis describes the measurement unit for your...

Blank page

2 questions you must answer before you write anything

I need two questions answered before I can start writing, but this doesn’t seem necessary for everyone. When someone asks me to review or edit their work I ask them the same two questions. The response is usually a perplexed and sometimes pained expression accompanied by a stumbling, vague answer. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, a sales proposal, a university assignment, a letter to your significant other or a book, the ability to clearly express your ideas in writing is an immensely valuable skill. If you can clearly and succinctly answer these two questions, you’ll be able...

Complex formula

The secret formula for successful change

In order to flourish, people and organisations must change and adapt. Beckhard and Gleicher’s change formula not only helps you plan for successful change, but provides a way to diagnose the source of resistance during a change process. The change formula is: D × V × F > R Where: D is the level of dissatisfaction with the current state V is vision for the future F is the understanding of achievable first steps toward the vision R is resistance to the change Change requires us to get out of our comfort zone which means there is inevitably some level...

Level controls on a mixing desk

How to apply the project success criteria

Last time I talked about the seven project success criteria. Now let’s look at how to put it to work. Ask 10 different stakeholders what success means to them and you’ll probably find 15 different answers. This tool provides a simple method for stakeholders to express what can otherwise be difficult to convey. It’s then possible to have a discussion about the views of different groups and move toward a common understanding of success among stakeholders. The process You can use this process with any project stakeholders. Even if you do it with no one else, use it with the...

Planning the green energy Death Star

On time and on budget… is that all you want?

Deliver your project on time and on budget and it must be successful, right? In the project world, success has more facets than these common measures. I’ve seen several projects that would be considered successful by the on time, on budget definition. But you might rethink this conclusion if I added that half the team left the organisation because of the brutal approach employed to hit the deadline, that project outputs weren’t adopted by customers, and that the project produced no lasting change. These projects actually destroyed value by consuming resources which could have been used elsewhere to greater effect....

Business woman

How to get started in management (even if you have no experience)

“How can I ever get experience if no one will take a chance on me so I can gain some experience?” This is a dilemma that many face when trying to move into a management role. I asked this question more than once early in my career and revisited it recently with a colleague who was grappling with the same issue. Managers are entrusted with responsibility for an organisation’s people and resources. Those appointing new managers want to be confident they are placing the organisation’s resources in capable hands. Prior experience is still the most accurate predictor of whether someone...