Types of Project Management Office

This is a quick breakdown of the 3 types of Project Management Offices (PMOs).

  • Enabling (Supportive) — Provides best practices, templates, and tools “as needed,” and compliance is voluntary.
  • Delivery (Controlling) — Adopts framework or methodology, policy, and repeatable procedures, and a certain level of the standards are enforced.
  • Compliance (Directive) — Establishes strict standards, measures, and control over projects, and these are highly regulated.

A good place to start is with an enabling/supportive PMO and then progress to a more delivery/controlling model. Generally, a compliance/directive PMO is for more highly regulated organizations.


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal and concept via CIO Magazine and Gartner)

From Chaos To Order

The world challenges us all the time. 


Yes, the world functions based on the “laws of nature,” scientific facts, and mathematical formulas, and so you’d think everything in our lives would be orderly and work like clockwork.


But, as human beings, our lives are too a great extend a function of what gets thrown at us and how we react to them, and not the constancy of the world context that these things are happening in. 


It’s easy to be surprised, become overwhelmed, or even be stumped by the daily barrage of things that we are new to us or we simply don’t know how to handle.


A world governed by Mother Nature thus, often seems more like a world ruled by Murphy’s Law. 


In a world that we can often experience as chaotic and disorderly, the answer is not to break down and cry or run and hide, but rather to create our own sense of order. 


Thus, the antagonist of chaos and disorder is consequence and order. 


The way to get to order in your life is through planning and preparation. 


The more you plan and prepare, the better you are able to deal with the challenges you are dealt. 


I believe this is the cornerstone of what a good education and training is–preparing you for real life!


Generally, if you plan and prepare for a broad spectrum of scenarios (especially the worst cast scenarios), you won’t be left sitting out there scratching your head when the proverbial “sh*t hits the fan.”


Thinking out of the box and ahead of the curve, and using scenario-based planning and preparation can give you the tools and confidence to leave the anxiety behind and move more swiftly to confront challenges head-on. 


Of course, we’ll never be able to imagine or be prepared for everything that can happen–but the more you can free your mind to think about the “what if’s” and how to mitigate the risks, the better shape you are in to act with determination and decisively when you really need to.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elisa Riva)

Messed Up By Norton Clean

So I got this message on my computer that it’s time to run Norton Clean.


Oy, what a mistake. 


This tool is not ready for prime time. 


It’s supposed to optimize memory and clean up duplicate and residual files.


But in my experience, it swept up more good files than junk files. 


And I ended up having to pull my files back from the trash and manually restore them to their file structure. 


What a pain in the you know what!


Artificial intelligence–not way the I see this utility/tool. 


If you don’t pay attention, you can lose a lot of important information. 


Yes, it gives you a chance to review the files, but then what do you really need this cleaning tool to begin with. 


Maybe you have a different experience, I can only speak for myself. 


But a little human intelligence goes a long way to sift through the wheat from the chaff–that’s what your files really need anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Unbelievable Stupidity Of Raising Interest Rates

Bull

Interest rates have been near zero since the recession of 2008.


That supposedly to stimulate the economy. 


However, aside from a stock market bubble again, not sure we have a much stimulated economy.


We have a false low on the unemployment rate, while the the true percentage of the labor force working is the lowest in almost 40 years!


Moreover, manufacturing is down almost 40% from the 1979 peak with a loss of over 7.2M jobs


Commodities are at firesale prices as demand is sluggish and there is short-term oversupply. 


And innovation is facing a global slowdown


So people are out of work, we’re not making things, demand is depressing prices, and even ideas are few and far between–not too rosy a picture, regardless of what some politicians may have you believe. 


Let’s not forget that we have an over $18 trillion federal debt, and this is projected to grow ever greater as we borrow to fund social entitlements such as social security, medicare, etc. 


In this scenario, why would the Federal Reserve ever want to raise interest rates?


Well, if they don’t raise rates, then they can’t lower them later again when the economy really stalls out and goes into deep recession. 


Hence, this is seen as a tool for their financial toolkit–and if there are no tools with which to manipulate the economy, then there is no need for a (neutered) Federal Reserve. 


But think for a second what happens when the Fed raises rates, it’s going to slow the economy even further than the chug chug chug economy that we are already dealing with. 


Maybe even more important, it will raise the amount of interest payments we must folk over on the trillions of dollars of debt we owe.  


Simply put, when we raise interest rates, we pay more interest on our already astronomically high national debt, and this pushes our national deficit up even higher as we borrow more to pay the interest on the previous debt. 


If you did this with your credit cards, you’d probably be looking at the equivalent of debtor’s prison sooner or later. 


Rather than feed the Fed’s toolbox with interest rate bumps and drops, why not keep rates low as long as they can stay low, reducing our interest payments, and curtailing our national deficit and debt. 


What about the stock bubble…that’s a lesson investors will be learning about in their own good time–it’s the stock market, stupid. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Cell Phone?

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Cell Phone?

Some people are averse to change and to technology–and then there is Gary Sernovitz.

This guy in the Wall Street Journal today boasts how he is one of the last 9% of American society that goes without a cell phone (let alone a smartphone).

At 40 and as a managing director of an investment firm, he says if he needs to make a call he uses one of the 30 working remaining payphones in Manhattan or borrows his wife or a strangers phone–so much for personal independence and self-sufficiency. Does this guy (and wife) live at home with his mommy too?

He calls himself a “technology holdout” and actually goes on to says that he is scared of getting a cell phone because he is afraid of losing himself.

While admittedly, many people do go overboard with technology, social media, and gaming to the point of addiction, I am not sure that getting a cell phone is alone a major risk factor.

Sernovtiz says he adheres to Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy of simplicity–and that inventions “are but improved means to an unimproved end.”

Thoreau went to live in the woods to “live deliberately” and focus on “only the essential facts of life,” perhaps like many ascetics and spiritual guides before him have. And as such, this is not a bad thing when done for the right reasons.

But Sernovit’z One-sided message is a negative one, because technology as any tool is not bad in and of itself–it’s how we exert control over the tool and ourselves, balancing productive use from misuse and abuse.

If Sernovitz is so afraid of using technology, perhaps he should question himself as an investment manager and disavow use of money–which can be used for many evils from greed, hoarding and selfishness to financing terrorism–and instead go back to bartering forest lumber and chicken eggs?

When I asked my 16-year old daughter what she thought of Sernovitz’s article, she said he can’t differentiate “simpler from easier.”

Don’t mind me if I pass on this guy’s book, “The Contrarians.” 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>The Human Capital Multiplier Effect

>

We all know that people respond better to some managers than others—for some, people will go “the extra mile.”

University of Virginia professors teaching a leadership class that I was fortunate to participate in shared lessons on this.

Essentially, studies show that leaders that treat their people with trust, caring, and respect—what I would call the basic elements of human dignity—are able to achieve the multiplier effect.

In simple terms, what you give as a leader is what you get back.

Multipliers—leaders that are “multipliers” believe in their peoplethat they are smart and will figure it out. Multipliers guide them, invest in them, give them the freedom to debate the issues and do their jobs, and they challenge them to be their best. Multipliers are “talent magnets”–people want to work for them, and employees that work for multipliers tend to contribute 200%!

In contrast, those managers that are “diminishers” believe that their employees will not figure it out without them. They are empire builders and micromanagers, who typically act like tyrants, displaying a know-it-all attitude, and they have to make all the decisions. In an un-empowered and disrespected role, employees who work for diminishers withdraw and give less than 50%.

When it comes to motivating our workforce and achieving a multiplier effect, while money and recognition are important, providing genuine autonomy and empowerment to “own the job” and get it done has been found to be the #1 impact on their productivity.

Hence there is a big difference between using technology as a tool to perform a task and doing it in a very directed way (by rules, algorithms, assembly lines, etc.) versus working through real people who have important human needs to work with some autonomy to add value and achieve not only the respect of their manager(s), but also self-respect as well.

When we create a multiplier environment for our employees—one where they can flourish as human beings—they give back rather hold back, and in a highly competitive environment that’s exactly what every organization needs to thrive.

There are two major challenges here for leaders.

One is that leaders who have attained power tend to be reluctant to relinquish any of it to their employees. They don’t see the difference between “empowerment” and their own loss of stature.

The other challenge is that there is always the chance that if you give somebody the tools to build the house, that they will either take a nap in the hammock in the backyard or even try to throw you off the roof!

In the first case, the leader has to have enough confidence to make room for others to succeed. I once heard that Jack Welch said of great leaders that they surround themselves with people who are even smarter than they are.

In the second case, I believe that we need to “trust but verify,” meaning that we provide autonomy and tools to people to do the job, but then if they don’t do it appropriately, that is addressed through individual performance management.

Managing people well is not a favor we do them, but is something that is required for the success of enterprise.

>Stairway to User-centric Heaven

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This video was sent to me and I do not know the original source (except VW), but it’s great.

It shows what happens when you take the most ordinary daily activity (in this case a simple flight of stairs) and make it user-centric.

Even more, people will walk “the extra mile” when something is appealing to them.

Notice how an unused staircase becomes the preferred method–down and even up–over the escalator when people have a user-centric reason to switch.

This is brilliant and the true essence of what it means to enterprise architect our organizations, products, services, policies, plans, and so forth in a way that people can really use.

Further, technology is not only bits and bytes, but any tool we use to get the job done.

Life truly can be healthy, meaningful, and fun when it’s user-centric, visionary, and innovative.