Elizabeth Larson (25)
Recently I saw the movie “42,” based on the true story of Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 bravely fought custom, bigotry, and violent hostility to become the first African American to play major league baseball. His courage came from his inner strength which allowed him to withstand with dignity the cruel behavior from fans, other team managers and players, and at first some of his own teammates.
As I watched the movie, I was equally taken with the story of Robinson’s “scribe,” Wendell Smith. Also an African American, Smith bravely fought many of the same obstacles as Robinson, but not as visibly, to become a respected sports writer who in 1994 was posthumously inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Wendell Smith introduces himself to Robinson early in the movie as Robinson’s “Boswell,” a reference to James Boswell, the biographer of the 18th-century writer, Samuel Johnson. In his Life of Johnson, Boswell chronicles his conversations with Johnson written on their travels together. Like Boswell, Smith chronicles his travels with Robinson. The movie describes the relationship between these two black men struggling to do what each does so well; Robinson to play baseball and Smith to depict the fight to be able to play the game.
The close of one year tends to make one reflect on what has occurred in the past year and ponder the future. Here we ponder some trends in the Project Management and Business Analysis fields for 2013. This year we want to concentrate on trends for 2013 relating to an emphasis on competencies.
As people become skilled and certified, their base knowledge and abilities are in place. PM, BA, CSM, and BPM practitioners also need to apply their tangible skills to solving problems and helping our organizations achieve their objectives. For example, let’s say Jane knows how to model business processes and how to improve them. But, she may not always get time from stakeholders to understand their process, or establish trust with them to learn the root causes of process problems. She may also run into sharp disagreements about how a new process should be designed or conflicting priorities for what to improve first.
The close of one year tends to make one reflect on what has occurred in the past year related to and ponder the future. Here we ponder some trends in the Project Management and Business Analysis fields for 2012. Here are our top seven predictions for business analysts (BAs) and project managers (PMs) in 2012.Divergence of the PM and BA Role. In 2009 we predicted that as the economy tightened, organizations would decrease their project budgets and combine the role of PM and BA. For 2012 we believe that organizations will see the need for both roles, particularly on strategic projects, and move away from a combined role. There are several factors for this trend:
Recently I talked to a colleague with a communications dilemma. She wondered how she should communicate with her various stakeholder groups. Thinking out loud she pondered, “When I’m with business people, I always try to use business language, including their acronyms, which I’ve gone out of my way to learn. But what about when I’m talking to the technical experts? Should I talk techie to them?” She went on to say, “I write a lot of proposals. I have some stakeholders who let me know right away about typos or if my grammar is not exactly right. I have other stakeholders who have told me that my writing style is too formal and that I shouldn’t use such correct grammar. They feel it’s intimidating and unfriendly.”
I recently saw the “The King’s Speech,” a movie about the relationship between the stammering King George VI of England and his speech therapist, Lionel Logue. The movie begins when the future king is still the Duke of York, Albert. At first the relationship is a rocky one. Although he eventually becomes the king’s trusted advisor, Mr. Logue doesn’t begin the relationship as such. He has little to recommend him, since neither his credentials nor his social status grant him instant credibility. The disparity in their births, culture (Logue was Australian), and breeding is daunting. So how is this commoner able to help the monarch and become his life-long friend? He is a master at influencing with absolutely no authority.
OK, you Stieg Larson fans, I'm not Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the best-selling trilogy. I have neither her wits nor her strength. But I have kicked a few hornet's nests in my career. Some of these nests were full of angry hornets and some full of non-aggressive bumblebees. However, every instance reinforced the importance of doing the right thing for the organization, even if it meant getting stung.
Last month's blog was the first in a series about organizational readiness-ready, that is, to provide resources necessary to succeed in an agile environment. We asked these four questions on our Agile organizational readiness checklist:
- Will your organization provide a dedicated product owner for each scrum team?
- Will your organization provide dedicated team members?
- Does your organization support time-boxing each iteration?
- Does your organizational culture support just-in-time requirements?
Lately I’ve been getting questions from Agile seminar participants about how to apply Scrum to “real life,” as though these methods are “good in theory, but not at my company!” Some organizations may not be ready to adopt agile methods completely, so I encourage students to take an organizational readiness self-assessment to see if Agile in general and Scrum in particular is right for them. The questions on the self-assessment can be used to begin conversations as a way to raise issues that need to be resolved in organizations thinking about adopting Scrum.
My husband and I usually stay in hotels on vacation and sometimes our expectations, those unspecified requirements, are not met. This blog deals with two aspects of unmet expectations: unwanted features and making changes.
How many of us are universally delighted with every room assigned to us? Recently, despite asking for a quiet room with a king-size bed (my husband is 6’3”), we were assigned a room with a double bed facing a busy, noisy street. When we asked to change rooms, the front desk clerk sighed with disgust and said, “But we gave you a suite.” We didn’t ask for a suite. We asked for a quiet room with a king-sized bed. We got features we neither wanted nor asked for and didn’t get features that were important to us. Clearly in the clerk’s mind the suite was more valuable than the features we requested.
Based on the Children's World Cup Soccer Rules
I am not a big sports fan. My husband is an avid fan of baseball and American football, but I usually go about my business despite the frequent exclamations of euphoria and despair that reverberate throughout the house during sporting events. But a recent visit with our grandsons raised my interest in one sport-soccer (football). Having recently played World Cup soccer with four grandsons aged 8-2, where the rules were emphatically if inconsistently enforced, I thought about how these children's rules apply to projects. Given my lack of knowledge about the real World Cup rules, I don't have the slightest inkling of whether these kids' rules even come close to reality, but they seem to work. So, at the risk of overusing the myriad analogies relating to children's play to projects, here are five Kids' World Cup Rules for successful projects.