Max's Musings

Short articles I have assembled from time to time.

Smaller Details Go a Long Way to a Successful Job Interview
Alex Smith of observes that, since Covid restrictions have been lifted, it is time for steady employment. This reminded me of a short article by Angela Civitella on the subject of self-presentation at a job interview. Angela points to 7 Smaller Details you should focus on in your next interview - May 2022
How to Avoid Risk in Running Your Project By Dennis Spangler
According to Dennis Spangler there are five types of project risk in particular that you should anticipate in running your project - April 2022
10 Reasons Why Your Brain Hates Long Business Meetings By David DiSalvo
David DiSalvo has extracted 10 Reasons Why Your Brain Hates Long Business Meetings and what you can do to make it happy - March 2022
Five Tips for Setting Project Priorities
In some organizations, especially technology, there are more project requests than the available staff canhandle, so a major issue is which should take what priority. The worst case is when that decision is left up to you. Jason at offers five Questions to resolve this dilemma - February 2022
PM Discussed on Harvard Business Review - So the Project Management Economy Has Arrived!
According to contributor Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, "The project economy has arrive" — because his article has been published in the Harvard Business Review printed magazine, complete with an editorial from the magazine's chief editor! - January 2022
Five Steps to Hiring the Right Staff
The folks at recommend that you take the following five steps to ensure that you find and hire the right staff for the right roles - January 2022
Our Ecological Footprint & Ultimate Survival - An Alarming Atory of Fuzzy Numbers
This story is about what each one of us consumes to survive and enjoy life compared to what the earth is capable of providing. That is, without decay or degradation as measured in terms of our collective ecological footprints. The findings are not good, only four in a list of 12 countries are self-supporting - December 2021
Crossing to a Different Industry
Is it possible to take your project management experience to a different industry? The answer is "Yes, but —." Kiron Bondale explains how - November 2021
How to Make Things Happen & How to Leave - 10 Quick To-Do Lists for Each
Two separate pieces in this presentation provide excellebt check-lists for (a) 10 ways to make things happen and (b) 10 ways to leave your job gracefully. File them away somewhere for when you need them! - October 2021
The Biggest Project of All - Revisited An Update of a June 2001 Musings
Two decades later, we are in the middle of a covid-19 pandemic with massive restrictions on our commersial and daily life activities. I, at least, have learned four important lessons - see article - September 2021
How to Write a Motivation Letter to Your Team - With a View to Getting Work Done By Lisa M. Shepherd
Don't let your team get stuck and making no progress - send a Motivation Letter to move things along. Lisa tells you how in six easy steps - August 2021
Common Delegation Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them By Angela Civitella
Delegating is the key to a successful project and what sets bosses apart from true leaders. Angela points out eight top pitfalls to avoid when delegating work to your team - July 2021
A Quick Guide to Creating a Project Communication Management Plan By George J. Newton
Effective communication is essential for achieving a successful project. George provides a quick guide to developing an effective communication management plan providing clear guidelines to the sharing of information across your project team and stakeholders - June 2021
Communication in Times of Lock Downs - It Is More Than Just Turning On Your Camera
In these endless days of covid‑19 lock downs, getting teamwork done is a serious challenge. Virtual meetings are a whole new experience. Extracts from co‑authors, Karin Reed and Joe Allen's new book Suddenly Virtual - Making Remote Meetings Work will give you a good start - May 2021
Five Things Hiring Managers Expect - But Won't Necessarily Tell You By Angela Civitella
Looking for a job? Angela offers five pieces of homework advice before you go and talk to anyone - April 2021
Challenges of the New World of Isolated Work - Eight Ways to Stand Out By Angela Civitella
Angela promotes focus, direction, strength, power, and fearlessness in the continued quest for personal excellence. Here she gives correspondingly excellent advice on working from home - March 2021
Asset Delivery Methodology Spectrum
A light hearted explanation of Dr. Paul Giammalvo's important ADMS chart (with no definition of terms for the uninitiated) and the obvious question: Do you want your project to succeed by design or by accident? - February 2021
Managing with No Assigned Project Budget
Wait! Don't type another business email until you read this. Whether it is to your boss, your client, a business colleague, your professor, or job interview recruiter, all need to reflect your capability, clarity, and professionalism - January 2021
How to Write a Professional-Looking Email - 7 Rules for Professional Emails in English By Annemarie Fowler
Wait! Don't type another business email until you read this. Whether it is to your boss, your client, a business colleague, your professor, or job interview recruiter, all need to reflect your capability, clarity, and professionalism - December 2020
How to Write an Effective PM Charter By Molly Crockett
Molly Crocket writes to remind us how to write an effectve project management Charter, what it is, what it should include, and three steps and tips for getting it done - November 2020
How to Be an Empathetic Leader Without Being a Pushover By Angela Civitella
Angela says that now is not the time to rule with an iron fist [but do be] likeable as a leader and offers five ways to do so. On the other hand, Angela says, don't be a pushover either, and suggests five ways to avoid being a doormat - October 2020
Why Energy Is the Key to Time Management
CSCE President's thoughts on managing your personal time and offers 3 tips on finding solutions by looking in the right direction for answers to your challenges - September 2020
Writing an Effective Project Management Charter
Know the value of a good PM Charter, why you need one, what it should include, and how to go about it, based on Molly Crocket's Guide - July 2020
What Is Culture and How Do You Handle It?
Learn about culture, especially how it relates to managing project teams. In case you didn't know, culture refers to the social behavior found in human societies, including their knowledge, beliefs, customs, capabilities and habits of individuals especially when working in groups - June 2020
The Biggest Project of All (That Never Got Started)
A lesson from nature, another from childhood, what it means to mankind, and PMI project managers' attempts to launch an awareness campaign. Now we currently have a world-wide death-causing pandemic teaching us the same lesson - May 2020
How to Avoid These Top 10 Project Management Mistakes
The title says it all. The point is, what happens if you don't? Read the article to find out - April 2020
PMI History and Climate Change
Thoughts on Climate Change by David Pells, and a call to action by PMI Fellows from around the world - March 2020
Cyber-Security: What Project Managers Need to Know
Creating a web site is a wonderful tool for facilitating project communications. However, will you be transmitting confidential information? Highly probably - yes, so give careful attention to means for establishing cyber-security by heeding Ashley Halsey's advice - February 2020
Humor and Leadership by author Drew Tarvin
Drew says that humor is really a Missing Skill for encouraging Success and Happiness at work - January 2020
Asking Powerful Questions and Listening!
Yes, really! This is how you get project stakeholders on side! As Sharon Lechter observes, "You must get it right if you intend to get in your customer or prospective customer's shoes", an essential part of a project manager's job - December 2019
Making Meetings More Effective - Part 2
If meetings are normally boring, J. Elise Keith presents Five Ways to Make Meetings Effective. As she explains, to be effective, each meeting needs to engage the individual talents of the people involved - November 2019
Making Meetings More Effective - Part 1
As an attendee of many meetings, I've often thought that an awful lot of valuable time is wasted. Author David DiSilvo provides ten reasons why many meetings are so boring and ineffective - October 2019
More on Program Management & Matrix Organizations by Dan Pedersen
Following our discussion of the reality of Matrix organizations last month, Dan goes on to high-light three significant problem areas in typical Program Management setups and what can be done about it - September 2019
Dan Pedersen on Program Management & Matrix Organizations
In a recent Email, Dan asks how a discussion of the reality of Matrix organizations got missed in the development of the PMBOK. Max tries to answer that question, and coincidentally questions the validity of the expression "PM" - August 2019
The Project Manager's Environment — A LinkedIn Discussion circa December 2013
A LinkedIn discussion, and recent update, reveals the lack of consideration for the bigger picture by PMs when working on an individual project. Then, how that may affect the selection of methodology applied - July 2019
Differentiating the Management of Different Types of Projects
For the benefit of large numbers of people who are doing the job of a project manager without realizing it, I draw attention to the need to distinguish between managing the project and managing the work that goes into creating the project's deliverable. It is this latter that distinguishes one project type from another. My observations conclude with a handy little table that lists the essential differences - May 2019
Project Management - A Look into the Future
I make yet another attempt to see what changes the future holds for project management. Not least of which are an increase in the number of specialties, more project effort carried out independently, and a legal framework for offering project management services - April 2019
Sound Advice
In rummaging through my archives, I came across a couple of short pieces that seemed to deserve the light of day. The first part answers the question: What are the characteristics of your ideal project sponsor? The second part lists 15 items that characterize what consititutes Good email etiquette, and WHEN YOU DON'T HIT THE SEND BUTTON - March 2019
A Look Back at the Original (PMBOK) Framework - Part 2
Like last month, this Musings looks back some 30 years to compare our current view of the project management environment and our expectation back then. Note that we are referring here to the social working environment of project management rather than the physical, save-the-planet type, environment. This Musings points to some useful gains, some serious "off the rails", and a surprising suggestion. Read it together with our Paper: PMBOK - Part 2, The Framework Rationale - January 2019
A Look Back at the Original PMBOK
It is typically a valuable exercise to look back over the years to examine how you got to where you are today. Similarly, this month we draw some comparisons between our project management expectations of over 30 years ago, and compare that with where we are today. Please read this musings in conjunction with our paper: PMBOK Revisited - December 2018
Accurate Forecasting of the Future
This is a surprisingly accurate description of today's general working environment that was forecasted back in 1974, nearly half a century ago. If they could do it, then so can you today - November 2018
The Meaning of Project Success — Translated
A case for not including the responibility for sustainability of a product into the hands of the project manager. That is the product manager's job - October 2018
Project: A Simple Park Stairway: Demolition & Final Accounting — A Case Study Account of an Actual Simple Project - Part 3
Remember the "Simple Stairway" built by a resident but replace by the City that we reported on last March? Well, we now have the details of the project - September 2018
Fuzzy Language Anyone? A Lesson in Bafflegab
For people who really do want to talk in riddles, here is a quick lesson in Fluent Jargonspeak. Just think of any three-digit number and then select the corresponding buzzword from each of the three columns in the table provided. Very useful for anyone engaged in a politicized work place! - August 2018
The Political Dangers of Large Projects — and why don't we do something about it?
Owning part of a large project through the taxes we pay is one thing, but the politics surrounding their creation when undertaken by government is quite another. In short, everyone wants a piece of the action, regardless of cost and schedule - July 2018
Eight Actions to be an Exceptional Listener - by Stacey Hanke
Project Communications Management, or variant versions thereof, is an area of study amongst standards, but is often given short shrift. As for listening, there is barely a mention. Yet listening is a completely different bodily function that is just as important and requires just as much careful attention and learning. In this short article, Stacey contributes eight valuable listening insights - May 2018
Project: A Simple Stairway to, Well, More Trouble — A Case Study Postscript of an Actual Simple Project - Part 2
Remember the Simple Stairway project we reported last September? Well, that was not the end of the story. The Mayor of Toronto got involved, and the City dismantled the homemade stairs and built their own - but not without recrimination - March 2018
Conveying Bad News on Your Project
Surprisingly, I have not dealt with this topic before, but this Musings covers the best advice I can find. But you can find related and more useful information by using the Search Engine on this web site. In particular, this article: Conveying Bad News on your project - Febuary 2018
Optimizing Project Administration in this Digital Age — Are You Doing Enough?
This article is adapted from Xerox Canada guest column, circa July2017, and offers Five Suggestions as to how to find out, based on the findings of a Digitization at Work report by Xerox - January 2018
The 10 Rules of Holiday Party Etiquette
A timely reminder of appropriate etiquette at formal Christmas business parties — and an opportunity to wish all our Musings readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - December 2017
The Way of the Leader — Greatness is Not Found under a Rock
You want to be a great project management leader? In this Musings, Marianne Clyde shows the way. As she observes: "[We need] leaders that think for themselves, leaders who can validate one's right to an opinion while holding a conflicting or opposing belief. This is the kind of thinking that can lead to compromise and solutions - December 2017
Training Your Brian to Handle Your Work
Today,the pace of information delivery is overwhelming to our brains that have not adapted to cope. As a result, we become easily fatigued and more forgetful. Lisa Evans recommends four significant steps to ease the load and enable you to perform more effectively - November 2017
How Big is Your Project? Interesting LinkedIn Responses
Have you ever asked this question? If so, what answers did you get? Here are a variety of responses found on the Internet. But perhaps you asked the wrong question! - October 2017
Project: A Simple Stairway to, Well, Trouble — A Case Study Account of an Actual Simple Project
Project management written by yours truly, with tongue in cheek - September 2017. Now more to follow, see March 2018.
Going from Public to Private Project Management
These are two very different working environments because the inherent purposes are very different. That can make you feel very uncomfortable until you accept a different slant on project objectives. The remedy? Only accept assignments relevant to your new environment - August 2017
Sustainability in Project Management: Darya's Daydreams
In case anyone may not have noticed, I hold strong views about the relevance of "sustainability" in the context of project management, and its relationship to the population at large. My friend Darya Duma set out to put me straight in a piece she chose to call Darya Duma's Daydreams - June 2017
Praxis! Really, What's That?
A newcomer in project management standards. A framework that encompasses three groups of five interconnected elements ranging from knowledge content to practical experience from the pm community. All free! - May 2017
Another Accolade for
Rob Bronson writes to say: "It has been a few years since I've used your website. It is like returning to an old friend. ... is like an elixir. I can find the information I need on Project Management ..." - April 2017
The Waterfall Technique
An educational exchange from a LinkedIn discussion on a process that is much maligned in the IT world - March 2017
The Importance of Reading Body Language: And What it Means to Project Teams
This Musings describes how to read both positive and negative body language and hence how much valuable information may be lost in virtual team communications compared to face-to-face meetings - February 2017
Issue: Is a Project a Process?
Where do projects come from, why are they complex and how do management processes fit together? We conclude that a project in itself is a process, though a process is not necessarily a project - January 2017
More on Project Management Hierarchies
Hierarchies seem to pop up everywhere. Here the focus is on those inside the domain of project management, especially those that should help us to develop project management further - November 2016
Green Project Management
If there is one thing to get us worked up, that is any discussion of "green" project management. Read here what Max thinks about it, and who he thinks is really responsible - October 2016
Communication Failure means Project Failure
How so? Getting a project to its objective requires work. Work requires people. They must know what to do. That requires a plan that is communicated. If poorly communicated, no project success - September 2016
ISO and Program Management — A Challenging Standard
What ISO is, does and why – in brief. Similarly, a realistic definition of Program Management and why it is difficult to tie it down into a standard - August 2016
Crossing the Sector Expertise Chasm
So you want to take your project management skills to another industry? Kiron Bondale presents some warnings and advice while Max does a reality check - July 2016
Getting into Project Management — An Answer to a Visitor's Inquiry
So you want to become a project manager? Max Wideman offers his advice and recommendations - Febuary 2016
Project Governance — What's all the fuss about?
Let's get serious: The implications of "governance" in the project domain is not that difficult to follow, nor is it that new. But the detail does differ with the level of application. Read this Musing for the what, who and how of "governance" in project management - January 2016
Word Hierarchies in Project Management — Part 2
Starting with the intriguing Data-Wisdom hierarchy, we offer another six such relationships that help to put project management parts into their place - December 2015
Word Hierarchies in Project Management - It's all a matter of opinion based on individual experience — Part 1
In developing a project paper or report, ever wondered about the next size up or down? Perhaps the most significant is from project to portfolio management. See the full scale and other comments in this Musings - November 2015
Sustainable Project Management Practices in Construction
What does this mean? Is this a realistic idea and, if so, under what circumstances? Our thoughts on the issue - October 2015
A Wonderful Testimonial
My appreciation for an unsolicited applause spanning the last 25 years, received by Email from a follower - August 2015
Bridging the Business/Project Divide
There are two generally accepted approaches to management within organizations today. The oldest is characterized as "Business-As-Usual" and the other is "Project Management". As most of us well know, the two are not exactly compatible. Author John Brinkworth describes the viewpoint of each and the effects of the resulting "Divide". We add our own views from our own experiences - July 2015
Review of Project Success - How Soon and What Do You Measure?
Simple questions difficult to answer. But the subject is much larger than these questions suggest. Read more to learn more - June 2015
How Do Project Risks Impact Programs and Portfolios?
The risk assessment of multiple related projects is not that simple. Here's why. Executives beware! - March 2015
Challenged by the Word "Scope"? - Part 2
This month I really do get to grips with the meanings of "scope", "project scope" and "product scope" and conclude that people do not have to slavishly follow "official" glossaries — provided they say what they mean before they speak or write - February 2015
Challenged by the Word "Scope"? - Part 1
I try to answer a reader's question about the meaning of "scope" and find myself questioning whether we should even have an "official" glossary of terms and consequently issue a warning to all PM authors! - January 2015
PMOs Challenge: Achieving Project Process Compliance
Some advice with which we disagree. The PMO is not a ruler, it is a leader through providing a management service - December 2014
Implementing a Standard Project Management Methodology: Part 3
Thoughts on an Interesting Discussion
Larry sees some of Max's suggestions differently. For example, the project life span is not the project, it is the project that travels through the required life span. When does a project start? Well, it's before the Business Case. And more ... - November 2014
Implementing a Standard Project Management Methodology: Part 2
Thoughts on an Interesting Discussion
Encouraged by Larry's responses, Max suggests other lessons such as: Not everyone understands the word "project" the same way; even "project management" is seen differently; and when does a "project" actually start? We seem to have a problem with labeling terms - October 2014
Implementing a Standard Project Management Methodology: Part 1
Thoughts on an Interesting Discussion
Following a lengthy but interesting discussion on LinkedIn on the merits of settling on a standardize PM methodology, Max invites one of the participants, Larry Moore, to describe what he learned from the discussion - September 2014
Is it Time to Scrap Project Status Reports?
Danielle Smallwood explains and maybe she is right! We need a new perspective. How about "Project Expectation Report"? - August 2014
What is Project Success?
Talking about "success" without qualification is fruitless, and practitioners should know better. By what measure, and from whose perspective, should be established at the outset of any conversation as described in this Musing - July 2014
How Do Corporate Hiring Practices Affect You?
Further thoughts by Jim Brosseau on project manager hiring practices, and by Luis Alarcon on the glacial pace towards implementing more progressive employee-hiring techniques in the engineering and construction industry (see Motivate Your Project Team) - June 2014
What Was Your Last Salary?
An unnerving question early in an interview. What does it mean and how do you handle it? Simple. You ask the questions and let the inteviewer answer. Liz Ryan elaborates on this theme, although Max begs to differ somewhat - May 2014
Knowing your People: Loyalty, Value and Coercion
We asked the author of our Guest paper: Know Your People to describe his experience and got his thoughts comparing the value of a "good worker" with that of machinery, robotics, automation and technology - April 2014
The Origins of the Project Management Body of Knowledge
We call it "PMBOK". How and when did it start and why is it different from ordinary Operations Management? - March 2014
Do PMP Boot Camp Classes Help Pass the Exam?
According to one LinkedIn group, they think that this is not the best approach - February 2014
Are Project Management Guides Useful?
An interesting LinkedIn discussion on the relative merits between a Pocket Guide [giving a brief high-level summary on] ISO 21500 Guidance on project management and PMI's PMBOK Guides - January 2014
Reinventing the Project Management Wheel
Why do we keep doing this? It should not be so. Every effort should be made to build on the work that has been done in the past. We provide a number of key examples. Note to researchers: It's called "lessons learned" - December 2013
Project Management in Lehmann's Terms A Q&A session with Oliver Lehmann
Oliver Lehmann lives in Germany, across the Atlantic from us. His perspectives and our rejoinders display different views - November 2013
Should Team Members Show Appreciation to Their Leader?
In attempting to answer this question, the discussion contributors not only summarize what you already know but probably do not do, but also add things you may not have thought of. Either way, as a leader, do not necessarily expect expressions of gratitude - October 2013
More Powerful Than Just Listening
If only 7% of a total message is conveyed by words, how can we read the rest of the non-verbal message. Read up on a number of our typical inadvertent western signals - September 2013
Motivating Your Project Team
What do you mean by "motivation"? Enthusiasm, gusto, zest? There's much more to turning on a project team! - August 2013
Do We Have Enough Innovative Projects?
Terry Jones is the innovative baby boomer that transformed the U.S. travel industry by creating Travelocity in 1996. He offers 4 definite steps to get from ideas to execution - July 2013
How Critical is the WBS to Project Scheduling?
And what is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) anyway? We set out to answer these questions by working through the logic starting from a real understanding of "project" - June 2013
The Power of Definitions
If you want to be understood, using the right words is essential. But even then, do your readers or listeners really understand your technical terms? Always define your special terms before you start! - May 2013
Having Trouble with the Latest PM Lingo?
This is not surprising because the acronyms are getting progressively more obscure. We have a proposal to make many of them more self-evident, based on recent developments - April 2013
Project Management Issues for Discussion and Research
The title says it all. Here are twenty suggestions. If you just want an argument, try defining project management success! - March 2013
Thoughts on a Global System for Categorizing Projects:
Have we really learned anything new?
Have we really not learned in the past 25 years that managing the project is not the same as managing the technology and that it is the latter that is different for different project categories and not project management? - February 2013
Good Advice from an Experienced Project Manager
How popular music helped to resolve conflict with a difficult sponsor by being determined - January 2013
Is Max's Scope-Pak Project Planning Serious?
An avid reader, Al Johnsons, questions the sincerity of Max's Scope-Pak exercise for getting a project going. Max explains how it is serious and when - November 2012
Out of WACC
LinkedIn is an excellent way of finding people you may not know but wish to contact anyway. Extraordinary conversations can result. This one is about Weighted Average Cost of Capital or "WACC" as applied to projects - October 2012
Project View of Bank Robbery
Even bank robberies need to be properly project managed, and the successful ones usually are, even though the benefits are questionable! - September 2012
Showering, Window Washing and Brick Walls
How to manage the project is well established. This is a lesson in managing the technology, and knowing the difference - August 2012
Measuring and Estimating Progress
We borrow from Joseph Heagney's book Fundamentals of Project Management reviewed this month in our Papers to target "Brain work versus Brawn work" and the added challenges of estimating progress in the IT industry - July 2012
Using the Right Vocabulary
Need to Communicate? Then choose the Right Vocabulary! It so happens that we have just released the Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms v.5.5. This Musing's Appendix A lists the most recent labels added - June 2012
Be Honest About Failure - "Call a Spade a Spade"!
Use failure as a strategy? Doesn't sound like a good idea – unless you choose to redefine "failure". In "Agile" it seems you can, if you accept the risk - May 2012
Project Requirements Documents - Why Bother?
Max questions current thinking about requirements gathering and has his own suggestions on what to focus on - April 2012
The Trouble with Continuous Multi-tasking
Max entertains three authors to talk about multi-tasking and why it is so difficulty to get things done. The authors offer eight helpful suggestions and conclude that "How we choose to allocate time to our tasks determines what we are able to get done." - March 2012
Sightings of Lessons Learned
A collection of experiences and what we might, or might not, learn from them - February 2012
Defining Project Success within a Range
In most cases, absolute success is bound to be a failure because the ultimate is bound to take longer. In most cases, it is better to get near enough and deliver. How close is "near enough"? Consider adopting Tom Mochal's concept of success tolerances - January 2012
Back to PM Basics in Education
Max suggests it is time to get back to project basics and clearly establish that management is both an art and a science. He explains why and the practical implications - November 2011
AACE's Significant Shift in Intellectual Property Policy
Authors now retain intellectual property ownership to their contributions to AACE's publications. But could they do more? - October 2011
A Lesson Learned in Project Management: Transportation Charges
The importance of knowing exactly what you are buying - October 2011
Literature Sightings
Max takes aim at Bud Baker's quote that "[Project] people want to be with [project] people" as well as writers who talk about "project success" without explaining what it means in their context - September 2011
PMP Lecturers need Real Experience on Real Projects
"To teach a practical subject you must have practical experience in it" so said an eminent UK civil engineer. Should this not also apply in project management? - August 2011
Yes Minister - A Lesson for Project Managers?
This hilarious BBC-TV series has serious overtones for project managers - December 2010
Beware These Common Estimating Errors
Tom Mochal of TenStep highlights eight sources of estimating errors that you should consciously avoid, especially in IT, with a footnote from Max's experience - November 2010
When Does a Project Really Start and Finish?
Tom Mochal of TenStep fame poses the question and provides a variety of answers. Then Max expresses his opinion - October 2010
Why is Good Project Decision-Making So Difficult?
Project management involves a complex sequence of decision-making, and our batting average is apparently not good. Perhaps because of so many biases—there are just so many of them - September 2010
Buckets versus Pipelines
Are you a "bucket carrier" or a "pipeline builder"? Learn how rich people get very rich - August 2010
Selling to the Top
Valuable information for aspiring program managers - if only you could understand the jargon - July 2010
Cockup Management
A new project management discipline, a new field of study, a new body of knowledge! Settle down to a comfortable read about the CUMBOK - June 2010
That Dam Case Study Again
In their project planning, those dam construction beavers overlooked one important stakeholder - the Regulatory Authority! But the Authority went after the land owner and not the perpetrators. Read how the issue was resolved - May 2010
Other People's Washing
Steve Jenkin, Australia, advocates for "skin in the game" which implies that project managers should have some personal financial responsibility for their projects. Good idea or not? - April 2010
Estimating Corporate Man-hours and the Place of Emails
A conversation with my friend Tom Mochal of TenStep on the issue of lost productivity due to Email interruptions and who should pay: the project or corporate administration? - March 2010
School Projects: A New Vision of Education
The Wideman Education Foundation (WEF) introduces high school students to project management, and author Jeremy Schneider shows how these pm techniques could improve efficiency and effectiveness in education - February 2010
Managing Small Change Requests - An Alternative Process
A stream of changes on a project, especially small ones, can be a serious disruption to organized planning and scope control. Tom Mochal suggests three ways of coping and Max points to the downsides - January 2010
30 Ways to Avoid being Fired
More suggestions, albeit tongue-in-cheek - December 2009
So You've Been Fired!
Be ready and "recession-proof" yourself. Fifteen tips on how to do that - November 2009
Must You Be an Alpha to Be a Good Project Manager?
What is an "alpha", what is a "good project manager" and what you can do about either - October 2009
Scheduling: Examining the Start to Finish Relationship
Norris Goff argues for a more accurate definition in the PMBOK® Guide - Fourth Edition. We agree - September 2009
Information Technology: Management and Oversight of Projects Totaling Billions of Dollars Need Attention
US Government Accountability Office director reports: in 2008, 42% of 840 projects worth $23.4 billion (36% of $65 billion annual budget) were poorly planned based on cost, schedule, performance or other issues. But, we think, recommends the wrong solution - August 2009
The Most Important Senior Project Manager Characteristics
Have you ever wondered what best makes a senior project manager? You'd be surprised - July 2009
Our Way with Numbers in Life Cycles and Percentage Progress
A humorous look at the reality of how we look at our personal life cycles compared to project life spans - June 2009
Is Your Project At Risk From the "Economic Downturn"?
The chances are that it is, not just from the loss of key workers but also from the loss of the critical information that they may take with them - May 2009
On Institutions, Collaboration and Projects
Ed Fern's personal story demonstrates how the Internet has revolutionized virtual project collaboration, and provides a valuable lesson - April 2009
Comments on Professionalism and Professions
Steve Jenkin likes to define "Professional" as "Paid Practitioner" and draws on aviation and health care to explain why - March 2009
Comments on "The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different"
Steve Jenkin, a Systems and Design Specialist, reflects on James Bullock's piece: The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different and offers a different perspective - February 2009
The Effects of Institutionalization
History demonstrates how institutionalization can stifle project management progress - January 2009
Study Demonstrates Cultural Differences
Does the North American culture inhibit communication in multicultural teams? - December 2008
Top Ten Trends in Project Management for 2008
We found ESI International's 2008 top ten PM trends, as presented by Diane Johnson, most interesting — but we didn't always concur - November 2008
Corporate Governance and Project Teamwork
Peter Halas's amusing allegory of body management shows how confrontation in IT can quickly get out of control - October 2008
About PMOs and their Responsibilities
We list 10 critical questions about Portfolio Management Offices, and ask for your response - September 2008
Going Green: Is Your Project a Part of the Great Con Game?
Many so-called "green" ideas are just good housekeeping as demonstrated by aphids. But are people just climbing on the latest bandwagon and making a killing – literally?! We provide some examples - August 2008
The Curse of Knowledge and Making Decisions
How many buttons do you have on your TV remote and how many of them do you understand? See how this relates to quality decision-making and your current project! - July 2008
The Value of Project Management
We didn't exactly write this one. Instead, Tom Mochal allowed us to quote a very simple and lucid description he wrote a few months earlier. We just added our comments - June 2008
Identifying a Client's Project Sponsor
I try to answer a visitor's question: "How do you identify a Client’s Sponsor, whether internal or external, when one is not identified, is reluctant to come forward, or is unwilling to take responsibility?" - May 2008
A Little Bit of PMI History
In a serious attempt at "decluttering", we came across our own forecast for PMI, exactly two decades ago. Were we right? You be the judge - April 2008
Change in Project Method Sparks Litigation
New public transit line causes uninvited hardship to shopkeepers - March 2008
Old Wine in New Bottles?
A PRE-mortem before a post-mortem? Sounds like project risk management to us - February 2008
Oil Industry Leadership and the Price of Gas
Oil industry chiefs may be on the defensive, but the problem is not that the price of oil is too high, but rather that it is too low - January 2008
Should Project Managers Retire?
The place of elders in our community, respect for their knowledge and wisdom and the data to wisdom hierarchy - December 2007
Supercharged Brainstorming
Five-step brainstorming may be the default approach, but now you can supercharge your sessions with the Kishore Dharmarajan's Eight-step INNOVATE approach - November 2007
Scope Changes, Good or Bad?
How constructive opportunities switch to destructive interventions - October 2007
The Duties of a Project Secretary
A missing job description is explained - September 2007
Managing Project Metrics
A popular word these days, but what does it really mean and which are most important? - August 2007
Formatting Project Templates
Why I provide "Issacons" and not Word templates for standard forms (because I want you to think!) Instead, I offer some helpful tips on formatting your own templates - July 2007
Am I a Good Project Manager?
A good question for any project manager to ask. This writer obviously is - June 2007
The Role of a Leader
A recent email criticizing "leaders" generally, prompted my thoughts about the project manager - May 2007
Is the Project Manager's Job Really Any Different?
A site visitor asks us whether the project manager's job is really any different from a line manager. We think it is - April 2007
Estimating Task Durations
Harvey Levine thinks it's like catching fish. It's anybody's guess, but that's not good enough - March 2007
Project Start Date
When does a project really start? Well apparently, it all depends . . . - February 2007
Career Change Decision: To Be or Not To Be a Project Manger?
Our thoughts on this tantalizing question - January 2007
Planning and Construction - Dam Case Study
A light-hearted case study from the environment somewhere in Ontario - December 2006
Projects to Green Vancouver
Bicycles versus cars in greening Vancouver, BC - November 2006
Is Sustainable Development an Oxymoron?
A tongue-in-cheek look at the implications of sustainable development in our local area of Vancouver, BC, and the real problem facing the world's environment - October 2006
Taking Over an Existing Project: Things You Can Do
Some useful tips - September 2006
A Lesson in Simplicity - Case Study
It's fun to poke fun at management but these examples are not so far from reality, just not all on the same project as this is - August 2006
PMBOK® Guide 2004 and PRINCE2™ 2005 Compared
This month's Guest paper by Colin Bentley comparing PRINCE2™ (UK) and the PMBOK® Guide (US) is a major contribution to this web site. We couldn't help adding our own comments on the merits and shortcomings of both documents - July 2006
Contract Selection for Infrastructure versus Software/Hardware
We try to answer two more questions raised by readers: How do you outsource management of multiple contracts? and How do you create a contract template for software/hardware installation and training services? - June 2006
Virtual Management and Cost or Time to Projects
We try to answer two questions raised by readers: Can a project manager manage a project remotely? and How much time should a project manager be allocating to a project? - May 2006
What is the Answer When You Don't Know the Question? (aka Fiscal Budgeting for Project Portfolios)
Each fiscal year organizations involved in IT project portfolios face a conundrum: how many projects can they undertake and how much will each cost for budgeting purposes when all they have is need statements. We present some ideas - April 2006
"Groupthink", Good or Bad?
A reader expresses his difficulty over dealing with groupthink and seeks our opinion - March 2006
The Way to Get Ahead
We reflect on how a thirteen-year-old prediction by Dr. Martin Barnes has come true that project management would explode into the corporate business world - February 2006
Project Vision: Yes or No?
Does your project have a vision? A vision that everyone in your team is familiar with, inspired by, and focused on? What is a "vision" anyway? - January 2006
Process Groups and the Profession - Part II
In spite of people's claims, this article explains why project management is a long way from being recognized as a true profession - December 2005
Process Groups and the Profession - Part I
A persuasive argument for changing the labels of the so-called project management process groups, a plea to stop perpetuating further confusion! - November 2005
Project Management: An Ever-Changing Flux of Messy Situations?
My observations on serious research by two authors who compare "hard" and "soft" systems perspectives of project management - October 2005
Best Practice: The Holy Grail of Project Management, or Fallacious Argument?
"Best Practice" is touted as the benchmark by which your project should be judged, but how reliable is it really? - September 2005
Methodologies: A Metaphor
Just another word for design of project life span? Much more important than that! Jason Charvat writes a whole book on Project Management Methodologies - August 2005
Project Management as a Professional Career
Is project management really for you? Some helpful suggestions on this all-important question in response to an email inquiry - July 2005
Fixing Bad Projects
Four main causes of failure and six practices designed to fix the underlying causes for large projects in deep trouble - June 2005
Do Trade Show Exhibits Count as Projects?
My views prompted by one of a steady stream of inquiries. Some projects are only projects if you decide to make them so and manage them as such - May 2005
Value Proposition: Real Value or Muddled Math?
Some time ago we received a beguiling sales pitch that did not bear close examination. Nevertheless, it did raise important issues about the asset values of the products we produce from our projects - April 2005
Jellyfish and Tadpoles
A somewhat irreverent look at two serious PM diagrams, and a short lesson on the metamorphic life of a tadpole - March 2005
Micro Managing and Two Cans of Beer
A fun object lesson in project management - February 2005
PMBoK, Order and Six-Sigma
The Project Management Institute's Body of Knowledge has eight management specialist areas. Have you ever considered their logical sequence? Todd Just raises the issue together with the merits of six-sigma - January 2005
A Question on Real-Life Contract Closure
Barbara White and Dr. David Frame exchange thoughts on problems associated with closing a contract - December 2004
Where Do Projects Come From?
Kevin Lines of Queensland, Australia, asks about problem solving and decision-making particularly associated with project selection — and we try to answer it! - November 2004
An Interesting Exchange on Managing Software Development Projects
Joe Marasco and Max Wideman discuss Key Success Indicators as a vehicle for control of technically challenging projects such as software development - September 2004
An Exciting New Model of Project Management
Who says project management never makes any progress? Joe Marasco picks up on an article we wrote and publishes a ground-breaking paper about modeling project management in IBM's premier software magazine. This musing provides a brief overview - June 2004
Projects, Politics and Process: Lesson Learned? Large Projects and the 2010 Olympics
A practical example of the importance of designing a sound project life span and how not to start off a big project - May 2004
Project Risk Management and Unexpected Outcomes
Much has been written about project risks, yet relatively little seems to have been written about unexpected outcomes. Here is an actual example - April 2004
Those Sexy Triangles Again
A revisit to Triangles, Sex and Simplicity. This time I demonstrate the problem with graphics and, at last, have found the perfect solution! - March 2004
The Voyage of Discovery Project
A personal example of why a traditional project management approach doesn't work - February 2004
The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different
James Bullock's thoughtful comments arose out of a question posed to the NewGrange discussion list; Max responds - January 2004
Triangles, Sex and Simplicity
Quality should be the reason to bury that wretched triangle once and for all in favor of a square, but we rather doubt it will - December 2003
Learning from NASA
Every project should have adequate contingency or risk management funds in its budget but this is the antithesis of general management practice - November 2003
A Question of Attitude
Given the aggressive competition between project management consultants, "inventing" new project management techniques should not come as a surprise - October 2003
Project Lessons Learned?
Twelve years after Desert Storm it seems pertinent to ask: Was it really such a success? And what lessons have we really learned from it? - September 2003
Project Management as a Profession: Lost Vision, Take-over or New Direction?
A decade has passed since "The O&M Study" was presented to the Project Management Institute. Much has changed since then. The question is: Is it for the better? You decide. - August 2003
Two into One Won't Go
Fresh water supply is a problem, and so are big water supply projects - December 2002
The Case for a Software Architect's Profession
The number of software projects outstrips those in construction, yet results are disappointing. Is it the fault of project management or of technology management? - January 2003
Defining Requirements
Maybe we should start rethinking our systems approach to project management and begin presenting a better methodology - October 2002
Satisfying Requirements (software project managers beware!)
Three short anecdotes to give software leaders pause for thought - November 2002
Consensus versus Consent
How does a team reach agreement on contentious issues? - September 2002
What Does a PM Do?
You would think that by now the answer is well established, but apparently not - August 2002
What's in a Name?
Considering the vital part that projects play in our modern society today, you would have thought that by now a clear definition would have emerged - June 2002 (updated)
Project Management, PMBoK and Order
It seems that the thoughtful observations of Philip Nunn some fifteen years ago constitute a concept too erudite to be given serious consideration - even today - February 2002 (updated)
A New Project Management Standard?
Rumor has it that work has started on an update of PMBoK to be published in 2005 - December 2001 (updated)
Why We Added a Site Map - and Why It Is the Way It Is
Our web site now contains a considerable amount of useful reference material. The time had come for some sort of indexing, but on what basis? - October 2002
September Eleven: All Else Pales by Comparison
After all the pontification is over we must ask ourselves the serious question of what to do? - August 2002
When is a Project Not a Project?
How many projects are there that, for the team members, are not projects at all, but just regular operational routine? - July 2002
Will They Never Learn?
Not that we have anything against five phases but we believe the most fundamental principle behind project management is two periods - October 2001
Is Project Teamwork Overblown?
By all means develop a project plan but the object of the exercise is not to hold a tea party but to get an item of work delivered! - September 2001
Licensing Project Managers: Good or Bad Idea?
The subject of licensing or certification of project managers warrants much discussion - August 2001
Ethics and Sustainable Development Initiatives in Construction
What can we do given our current "political-correctness" constraints - June 2001
The Biggest Project of All
Now that the short-lived dust has settled over the demise of the Kyoto Accord we can say that it should have come as no surprise to anyone - June 2001
A Case for Risk Management
A gaping hole suddenly appeared and continued to enlarge for several days; arguably the worst civil engineering disaster in the UK in the last quarter century - May 2001
Standards for Very Large Projects
IPMA and PMI have adopted different standards; which do you use? - April 2001
Real Progress
Our title could be referring to progress in any field, but we are focusing here on real progress in the understanding of the PM discipline - March 2001
Is the WBS War About to Break Out Again?
Should a Work Breakdown Structure decomposition be in terms of the activities of the project or of its deliverables? - December 2000
Is the Approach to Scientific Development Appropriate for Project Management?
A position paper that I presented to the Education Track of the Project Management Institute - 1994
Project Life Cycle – One Size Fits All
What PLC is appropriate? Can they be standardized? And is there one that fits all projects? - October 2000
People, Work and Projects Around the World
For those of us who enjoy a 'western' life style wherever we may live, we should be thankful - and mindful of the excessive waste we create - September 2000
Practice versus Theory
What is the origin of project management and where is its theoretical foundation? - July 2000
Getting Top Management on Side
Project management is found in almost all industries, but this expansion has not come without its difficulties - June 2000
Communication: The Project Life Blood
Without people nothing gets done and without communication nobody knows what to do - May 2000
What Price Professionalism?
Apparently, a well-known project management association has seen fit to sue some of its own most productive members - February 2000
Major PM Associations Contemplate Licensing of Project Managers
Exactly thirty years ago I wrote this article but upon reviewing its content recently I might just as well have been writing today.
Critical Questions from an Overseas Web-site Visitor
Q&A with an overseas visitor to our web site - January 2000
Professional Associations and the Balance of Power
There is strength in numbers. Associations and not-for-profit associations are formed by groups seeking to gain support for their particular practices by collective action - August 2000
Project Management Globalization – Two Points of View?
Only freedom of intellectual thought and expression will benefit professional advancement and enable technical progress to be made - March 2000
On Project Success and Failure
Lessons learned, starting as a small boy - February 2001
Project Management for the New Millennium
Project management is a discipline. There is a lot of work to be done before we can call ourselves a profession - January 2000
Risk: Failure or Opportunity?
A classic project failure that became a huge success, lasting for centuries - December 1999
Lacking in Principles?
Disagreement and disarray in project management. What is needed is a set of basic project management principles providing a universal reference baseline - November 1999

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