General Management Issues
The 33 Strategies of War is not as much about war as it is about strategies of dealing in an offensive environment and understanding strategies. Whether you are trying to hone your offense strategy or better your defensive skills to thwart other's attacks, this book provides a series of examples and interpretations to help. Mr. Greene's examples are from a wide variety of people and conditions—Napoleon, Alfred Hitchcock, Sun Tzu, Margaret Thatcher, Shaka the Zulu, Lord Nelson, Franklin Roosevelt, Hannibal, Ulysses S. Grant, and many more.
Management comes up with great plans for sweeping change, it implements the plans, and three years later the organization has reverted to the way it was before the initiative. Changing to new breakthrough systems is hard; maintaining those processes and procedure is far more difficult. The reason progressive ideas can have a successful implementation only to have the organization regress to its prior state a few years later has its roots in societal practices and human nature.
We have all noticed how there is never enough space, money or time. It escapes no one and nothing. If there are two weeks to do a task it will take two weeks, if there is a $10,000 budget it will take $10,000 to do whatever it was. It is human nature. The goal has been set, it must be acceptable, so we strive to meet it. I refer to it as the "Garage Syndrome"—junk swells to fill the space in the garage.
I have always enjoyed cooking and rarely thought of it as a chore, let alone a project; however, when my wife became ill, I became the household chef and had to learn a new way to cook. Every evening was a project with varying degrees of success. Eventually making multi-course meals from scratch became easier. I used to joke that cooking Chinese food was two hours of chopping fresh vegetables and ten minutes with three blazing woks.
How many times have you heard someone say men are poor at multitasking? Well, that is probably a good thing, since multitasking is horribly inefficient. When I first said this in a presentation, people were shocked and took exception to the statement. After a few studies on the subject (summarized in a Harvard Business Review article), people are listening and agreeing. This should be nothing new. Looking at some of the more common methods to reign in red projects—Agile and Critical Chain—one premise they share is dedicating resources.
|Author:||Robert S. Kaplan, David P. Norton|
|Publisher:||Harvard Business Review Press|
Projects build capabilities to meet corporate goals. If you are a CEO, you need to make sure your employees and vendors know what those goals are and how they fit in to the plan. If you are a project manager, you need to know the bounds of you project. If you are anywhere in between, you need to understand how all the pieces fit together and keep it all aligned.
Risk is a risk in itself. It is risk for you if you dare bring it up. Have you ever identified the risk, in writing, that your boss' inherent inability to make decisions is going to sink the project? How about the company loss of market share will require laying off half the project team? Or, that the project manager has never had a successful project? These are CLMs (career limiting moves). Even mentioning such common risks as a company's inexperience in the project's domain is too risky to put in the risk register. It is as if management enjoys blissful ignorance and relishes the firefight that ensues. Cowboy mentality. Identifying risk, modeling mitigation plans, and compiling contingency are too boring compared to the thrill of disaster recovery.
|Publisher:||Union Square Press|
This book is currently under review, more details will be added when available
In my opinion, as a project manager, you cannot read too many books on handling change. Each gives you a different perspective on how to effectively deliver a project whose product is valuable. This is a lesser known book, but has a great perspective.
Many businesses try to change, but few succeed. At best, a few buzzwords and new reports become part of the company's structure. At worst, programs crash and burn, and the members of the organization become irreparably disillusioned with the revolving door of new-mission statements. According to David Shaner-a business consultant with a 100% success rate of change at companies including Duracell, Frito-Lay, Caesars Palace and Gillette-the problem is that those changes don't address either individuals or the corporate culture. They're only on the surface.
Many companies have some form of a portfolio management group to manage their projects and their backlog. The projects they govern range from network pulls to new software development. However, most use only one methodology to run these projects. It may be waterfall, Agile, Critical Chain or some other process. This is analogous to having only one knife in the kitchen. Anyone that has cooked more than a few meals realizes that a table knife is insufficient for all your kitchen needs. It purees tomatoes, cuts meat poorly, fails at filleting fish and suffers as a steak knife. There are hundreds of knives, each designed to do some specific job. As with many jobs, some tools are better than others are for certain tasks.
If you are trying to implement a lean philosophy in a service industry (or just your projects), this book is a great resource. It describes what is needs and how to implement it. As a "desk resource" it at times repeats itself; however, that is great for reading sections at a time. There are a lot of tools that can be used by project managers to lean out their methodology.
Bring the advantages of Lean Six Sigma improvement out of manufacturing and into your services organization.