Sunday, November 27, 2011

My priority is higher than yours....

Don't chop up your work
When more than one task must be completed, it is always better to do one before the other. I discussed that earlier.

An individual customer with a new question could think that it is even quicker if you fit his project in between. We have to make them aware that if we allow interruptions of any kind in an agile sprint, nothing will ever be completely done. What can we tell them? There will be other people with new requests while we are working on your task.... should we honor their requests to interrupt our work too?

They should understand: agile sprints are not interrupted. They are either completed, or canceled.

Image from Flickr by brittgow

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lessons from social media in a distributed project environment

The project management podcast episode 189, talks about what projects can learn from social media. I recognized many points relevant to our organization!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Power? Manage like a CEO!

In an organization with more than two people, most likely there is a hierarchy. Some people are managing others.

On the other hand, project leaders are not necessarily managers of the members of the project team. Project leaders can not give orders to get things done. In our organization it is even worse: project team members are employed by different universities and hospitals, and the project leaders are in our separate group. Orders will not work.

A question that comes up sometimes is: how can one manage a project and its team members without giving orders? Sometimes this comes in the form: for you things are much easier, you are the boss and can tell everyone what to do; I do not have such power over the project team. My answer to that is: how often do I order you what to do? And if I'm not ordering you what to do, how do we run a coherent organization?

The clue is: don't tell people what to do, convince them instead. Build trust (this takes a while), and then use your expertise to convince the members of the team to align.

In fact in larger organizations, managers do not use orders a whole lot. Trust (and expertise) are much more effective. And this gets stronger higher up in the organization, up to the CEO. The biggest problem with managerial power is that it wears off when you use it. Trust grows when used properly.

Don't manage by giving orders. Act like the big company CEO.

For more inspiration, listen to this Manager Tools cast.

[Image credit: Giving orders by on flickr]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two meanings of the word chemistry, with different connotations

Chemistry as a noun has two completely distinct meanings in every day life:
  • A good social relationship: 
 "It was visible that there was chemistry between those two people"
  • Something related to a compound that is supposedly bad for people or the environment. "Chemical" is often used as synomymous with poisonous:  
"A chemical leaked from the container into the sea, endangering the fish"
    How come these two meanings of the same word have such extremely different connotations? After all, the scientific word chemistry represents any kind of reaction between two compounds and does not have any positive nor negative meaning in itself. Water is a chemical. Life is chemistry.

    As a chemist, I wish I could change the negative connotation of molecular chemistry in the news. But if I really do not succeed, maybe I can influence the social meaning of chemistry to make things consistent:
    "There was chemistry between those two! When they first met, she tried to poison him. As soon as he recovered he exploded in anger."

     Somehow I feel this would not be as satisfying.

    [image credit: Nic McPhee on flickr]