Tag: project management

The Pre-Mortem Technique – Averting Disaster Before It Happens

During my research on how to make better decisions, I came across the pre-mortem in the writings of Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. He notes in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011), that the pre-mortem technique is valuable in the decision-making process because it has two main advantages.

First, it overcomes “groupthink” that affects many teams once a decision appears to be made. Public doubts about the wisdom of the plan or decision are gradually suppressed and eventually come to be treated as evidence of disloyalty. The suppression of doubt contributes to the group’s overconfidence, which is often a tragic flaw.

Second, it unleashes the imagination of knowledgeable individuals in a much-needed direction: the opposite direction of the decision. The principal advantage of the pre-mortem technique is that it legitimizes doubts and encourages everyone, even supporters of the decision, to search for possible threats not considered in the decision-making process. I immediately recognized it as an excellent risk management technique and went to my project management texts here in the office.

Much to my surprise I did not find anything on the pre-mortem time technique in our library of more than a dozen books on project management and project risk management!

So how does it work?

The pre-mortem is very valuable and easy to implement with your team. The timing is important; to be used once the team reaches a decision or finalizes a project plan.

Step 1: Provide everyone with a pen and paper.

Step 2: Explain to the team: “Imagine that we are one year into the future. We implemented the decision and plan exactly as decided here today. The outcome was a total and complete disaster in every way imaginable. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of the disaster, and most important, explain the reasons for failure.” Obviously, this will require some educated creative thinking, but that’s the point. Figure out what, if anything, is being overlooked – before it is too late.

Step 3: After everyone has written down their thoughts, go around the room and have everyone explain their thoughts. Duplicates are acceptable, because a person’s rationale might differ!

I incorporate this technique into our risk management classes that we deliver regularly. The pre-mortem exercise is always very well received. Participants clutch the flip charts from the group discussion. I see this and ask: “What are you going to do with them?” Invariably, they reply: “We’re going to present our findings to Upper management.”

Most, and we mean 99% of our students, have never participated in such a rewarding experience. This happens in every class! We also teach this technique in our decision-making and leadership courses with similar results. Whether your role involves in Strategic-Planning, Leadership, or Project Management, I strongly recommend the pre-mortem technique and ask that you try it with your teams.

If you would like to learn more cutting-edge techniques about Decision Making, Strategic Leadership, and Risk Management please contact Jim Wynne at Merit Career Development to learn more.

– John Juzbasich, CEO, Instructor, PMP.

Merit Career Development

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/the-pre-mortem-technique-averting-disaster-before-it-happens/

2018 Merit Course Catalog is Here!

After 20 years in the training business, you know you can count on Merit Career Development for fresh and relevant content, engaging program activities, and proven-effective delivery methods that best help training “stick.” We assure you that our programs will have immediate application to your workplace, producing an immediate ROI. It’s a modest investment for a smashing return!

New courses in response to marketplace demand include:

• Project Leadership• Communicating Using DISC
• Project Change Management• Negotiating & Influencing
• Problem Solving with Root-Cause Analysis• Identifying and Managing Risks
• Preventing Harassment in the Workplace• Agile Project Management

New and aspiring leaders will benefit from our Handling Employee Performance Problems and Termination, Business Communications and Team Performance (which is also offered for experienced managers.) Visit a complete list of courses or download the catalog here.Our annual training needs survey (again) demonstrated the highest interest in courses that increase proficiency in leadership, strategy and management – even among Project Managers. We have a robust selection of these courses from Fundamentals of Leadership to advanced topics, such as 360-Degree Leadership.

Our project management courses have been updated to align with the 6th edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) guide. Every course description in the catalog includes a listing of the number of credits by organization. See inset for example of accreditations per course.

Need help bringing training to your organization?

Thousands of studies have been conducted that validate the connection between investing in employee training and development and the increase in loyalty, morale, and retention. Lower turnover reduces costs and prevents unanticipated gaps in performance. Most important, high morale and a loyal staff translates into more satisfied customers and a better bottom line.  And after all, aren’t satisfied customers what keeps your organization in the black?!

Our facilitators are expert at tailoring course(s) to the needs and experience levels of your staff. Find out how, by contacting Jim Wynne, for a no obligation discussion at jwynne@meritcd.com or 610-225-0449.

FREE Tips

Check out our LinkedIn Friday Facts. These nuggets are excerpts from our courses that people enjoy sharing with their friends and colleagues. It will be worth your time.

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Workplace Conflict: The Good, the Bad & the Useful, Part 2

Previously, we wrote about how resolving conflict often has the side benefit of building a cooperative bond — even loyalty — between the factions. As each side gains a deeper understanding of the others’ viewpoints, respect builds and morale improves.  Cooperative, low stress interactions, create a fertile environment for productive brainstorming, ultimately boosting the health of your organization.

Being respectful to others, being open to hearing their perspective, and taking the time to understand their objective are very important, but you’ll need more knowledge in your toolkit to dispel conflict when the conflict gets tough. So, let’s dig deeper today.

How can you demonstrate that you are being respectful and open and trying to understand the other’s perspective?

Here are the top 5 proven techniques you can add to your toolkit:

  1. Ask questions about the other person’s recommendations or point of view in a sincere, non-judgmental manner. Drill down to make sure you totally understand all of their objectives, concerns, and potential obstacles that you may both face.
  2. Replay or paraphrase their points back to show your understanding, and ask for confirmation that you “got it.”
  3. Make sure your body language is open and consistent with your words. If they’re not, people instinctively believe your non-verbal message over the spoken word.
  4. Even if you don’t agree, be sure to acknowledge that you hear and understand the other person’s points.
  5. It wouldn’t hurt (and yes, it could really help) to verbalize some of your “opponents” points that you think are good, smart and, or useful. A sincere compliment, or statement of approval and recognition will go a long way towards resolving conflict.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll examine the five conflict styles that help people understand their own responses as well as diffuse conflict with others. Specifically, we’ll look at the five conflict styles that Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann identified and can be assessed in the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), a globally accepted, widely used diagnostic assessment for resolving conflict.

Understanding the subtleties of conflict and personality styles goes a long way towards elevating an organization’s harmony and effectiveness. At Merit, we frequently facilitate multiple Conflict Management training sessions for our clients where we adjust the level of detail to group (i.e., customer service reps, new managers, and the senior team.) For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/workplace-conflict-the-good-the-bad-the-useful-part-2/

Workplace Conflict; The Good, The Bad & The Useful

For a good portion of my career, I thrived on being a marketer. From my early days as a market researcher, an account manager, and eventually an agency executive, I loved the strategy and process of creating great concepts with compelling messaging that influenced buyers’ behavior. Managing a creative team, a client team, or corporate team, is sometimes burdened with conflict. Handling conflict was not my favorite part of the job, ever!

I aspired to broaden my career and went back to school for a Masters in Leadership Development about 12 years ago. Through a confluence of introductions, opportunities and also being an adjunct instructor at Drexel University, I joined one of my cohort’s businesses, Merit Career Development. Initially, I began helping them with a new branding initiative, but in an “Ah Ha” moment we realized that I’d likely be a strong trainer for Merit, too.  We were right. I have been running corporate trainings for Merit now for five years and I love it! But here’s the surprise: one of my favorite courses to facilitate, is Conflict Management (followed closely by Critical Thinking & Decision-Making.)

Why do I now enjoy talking about managing conflict? Because it makes sense to me now! And I also realize how much value it provides in driving better ideas and solutions. If we didn’t have conflict, and we all agreed on everything, we would live in a pretty boring, uni-dimensional world. How could we effectively cultivate new ideas or innovation without conflict?! It would be much tougher! The process of resolving conflict is very important, as well. It helps build and strengthen relationships, trust, and influences the development of new solutions to the challenges we face every day.

How do we make conflict good and useful?

Ultimately, it comes down to three important things:

  1. Being respectful towards the person or people who have a different opinion
  2. Opening yourself to hearing another perspective (opinion, solution, recommendation, etc.)
  3. Taking the time to truly understand the other opinion

Learning to listen and take the perspective of the person you are in conflict with, or reframing your perspective, as we discuss in the Critical Thinking course, is extremely helpful. It can be enlightening. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and give their idea a chance to be a winner to best understand the opportunities that may exist.

The results of working through conflict can be similar to a great brainstorming session; not all ideas are good or practical, but they often result in a better idea emerging through conversation and compromise. When this happens, the best part is that there is not one winner and one loser; everyone is a winner and feels ownership in the solution.

Good luck with conflict. Embrace it and become a better person by managing it with respect. You just may like the outcome!

Look for Part 2 of this series next month where we’ll share proven tips for recognizing different conflict styles and how to most effectively respond to them.

To learn more about the author, Gail Cooperman, or the workshops she teaches, click here.  If you would like to bring any of our trainings to your location, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/workplace-conflict-the-good-the-bad-the-useful/

Are You Smarter Than a 6th Grader?

We all know that kids are pretty smart these days; just watching my neighbor’s 3-year-old son find Elmo videos on my cell phone makes that clear. But we’d still like to think that as grown-ups, we are brighter, more intelligent and better decision-makers than 6th graders. But are we? We had the opportunity recently, to conduct a project management experiment with a 6th grade class and, well, we were in for quite a surprise.

For more than 15 years, Merit Career Development has trained thousands of individuals to help them improve their project management (PM) skills. In 2010, we incorporated SimulTrain®, a computer-based, online simulation tool, into all of our PM workshops whether it is a one-, two-  or five-day program. SimulTrain always provides a engaging, hands-on, and fun learning experience that significantly boosts skill retention. Essentially, adults; PMs, nurses, accountants or other professionals who want to master these skills, really appreciate this program!  But 6th graders??
The 3 M's Second Period Leading TeamThrough a confluence of circumstances, that began with an invitation from the Keystone PMI Education Foundation Coordinator, Mr. Myles Miller, and the Keystone Chapter of the Project Management Institute, we supported a pilot with 6th graders at the Eyer Middle School in Pennsylvania’s North Penn School District. The parents and students were quite interested in learning the life skill of project management. While some of us were doubtful that our workplace-related program would resonate with these young students, we had enough people willing to give this a try that we scheduled the program. (You can see SimulTrain in action with adults.)

For several weeks before the competition, Myles instructed the students about PM fundamentals and common workplace terminology. When the big day arrived, the students formed teams of four and competed for the best scores throughout the event. In addition to Merit bringing the technology and leadership to the school (the same that is provided for adults), Buckeye Pipeline and the PMI Keystone Chapter sponsored this program, providing the funding for food, t-shirts and trophies for the students.

John Juzbasich, Merit’s CEO, facilitated the SimulTrain “competition”, and confirmed that he ran this program the same way he does for the adults. He provided an overview of the simulator screens, the project at hand — in this case planning a soccer event — timed intervals for the program, and review periods. Scoring took place throughout the competition.

We were amazed at how well the students grasped the technology, the project management concepts and the “game” overall. They did really well and seemed energized, enthused and anxious to play this again. When looking at their scores in each category, we saw that the students performed roughly on par with most of the adults who’ve participated. John Juzbasich insisted that he did not adjust the pace or in any way, make it easier for the kids than the adult version we regularly deliver.  Don’t just take my word, so please click through to these short videos and see for yourself.

Red TeamThe simulation project management competition also generated interest from many families whose children did not have the opportunity to participate the first time this was held, prompting a follow up event scheduled for Spring, 2017. Because the interest is so high, the school is planning to make SimulTrain a regular part of the Eyer Middle School curriculum. A number of universities are also interested in adding project management with simulation to their curriculum. The University of Scranton recently held a competition among their engineering students. There is a similar day scheduled at Lehigh University next month.

Everyone benefits by learning project management skills for school, work and life planning. If you want to expose your child or yourself to SimulTrain, the best project management learning program available, contact Jim Wynne at 610-225-0449 or jwynne@meritcd.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/are-you-smarter-than-a-6th-grader/

Why Simulation-Based Instruction is the Best Way to Learn!

sitrain_teams_playing_wide_sts

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) asks the Chief Executive Officer (CEO): “What if we spend time and money training our employees and they leave the company?”

The CEO responds: “What if we don’t and they stay?”

Taking time and resources to train your personnel is often looked at as a necessary evil. Training employees takes them away from their day-to-day tasks and the cost will be reflected on the bottom line. Adding to the challenge of supporting training, is the uncertainty of the return-on-investment at both an individual and organizational productivity level.

As an executive who is considering training your team, the most important question you should ask is not: Should I train my team? but rather: What method of training should I use? Different training methods result in varying levels of content retention. Of course you want to ensure that your organization achieves the greatest value from training, so relevant content as well as deploying the use of experiential learning techniques should both be priorities.

learning-_pyramid

As the image to the left illustrates, participatory learning, especially using simulation for practice, provides the highest level of retention for training, second only to “teaching others.”

What is simulation-based learning? It is an instructor-guided, interactive learning environment that replicates an actual business, technical, or educational challenge. It permits the learners to practice resolving issues in a relatively worry-free atmosphere. Not only is it authentic and relevant to the learners’ work, but it provides a safe environment to learn; mistakes won’t result in costly repercussions. It’s ideal to spur on innovation, too, because it allows for creative problem solving.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective technique for developing every professionals’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes, whilst protecting the organization from unnecessary risks. It is useful in resolving practical dilemmas, and provides four real-time benefits.

  1. EXPERIENTIAL & REPETITIVE LEARNING. While in traditional lecture-based training, the desired outcome is merely explained; in simulation learning, individuals achieve an outcome from first-hand experience. Adults, like most people, learn better through experience. In the simulation, individuals have the opportunity for repetitive practice, which helps increases retention.
  2. KNOWLEDGE INTEGRATION. A key facet of any learning is that understanding is increased when it is linked to some already known piece of knowledge. Simulation-based learning, because of its participatory nature, has the added benefit of being able to psychologically link concepts and allow participants to link knowledge areas through their actions.
  3. RISK-FREE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. Regardless of our attitude, learning research validates that we learn by making mistakes. In fact, they are invaluable to the participant. If executive decision makers can participate in relevant and realistic simulations, they can safely make mistakes, learn from them, and promptly apply their learned knowledge to their real work challenges, avoiding costly mistakes or unintended consequences.
  4. ABILITY TO ADJUST THE LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY. The technology provided in most simulation-based learning tools are designed to allow the difficulty level to increase as the competency of the individuals and teams improve. This provides additional flexibility and continual learning opportunities for a varied level of experienced personnel.

Simulation-based learning is the most effective learning technique for both your employees and your organization. Your training dollars are better invested with simulation training because of higher learning retention. Further, because your team will practice with relevant and practical scenarios, the potential for catastrophic mistakes is mitigated.

If you’re looking for a relevant, engaging interactive learning environment with simulation, call Merit and ask about our SimulTrain® project management training experience. Contact Jim Wynne at  jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/why-simulation-based-instruction-is-the-best-way-to-learn/

Why Success is More Likely with Active Listening

Listening includes a lot more than just hearing words. Frequently, we need to interpret or infer a deeper or underlying message beyond the spoken word. We deploy many of our senses to detect non-verbal cues and assimilate our life experiences with the verbal message when we actively listen.

Usually, the objective of a conversation is to expand the listener’s knowledge, perspective or sensitivity to a topic that impacts behavior or beliefs. In the workplace, managing projects can implode due to poor communications. These can result in missing a critical deadline, budget overages, decreased sales, and in some cases, costly lawsuits.

The most effective communication takes place when both parties are actively listening. So what is “active listening” and how do we do this?

Your active listening is apparent to the other party through your audible or visible signals. This can include something as subtle as raising our eyebrows, leaning towards the speaker, or using certain gestures (like a thumbs up, high five, etc.) Tilting our heads when we listen, on the same angle as the speaker, generally reflects a subconscious agreement  Uttering sounds like “uh huh” or “hmm” also tell the speaker that you’re paying attention. In America, making eye contact is considered a must in showing that you are listening, although this does vary in some cultures.

Of course asking good questions is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you are listening.
If you don’t have any questions (perhaps, because the message is crystal clear to you) then paraphrase the speaker’s message. You can preface your restated summary by saying something like: “Ok, now, if I understand what you’re telling me, you’d like to … (paraphrased summary of speaker’s objective).”

It is important to be authentic, too! In your effort to make it evident that you genuinely hear the speaker’s message, do not diminish your own persona or credibility. Be sure to phrase your introduction to your rephrased statement in a style that is consistent with the way you speak.

Why not find out if you’re as good a listener as you think you are? If you haven’t taken this insightful (and free) listening assessment yet, you can right now – or later when you have about 45 minutes and no distractions. When you’re ready, take the Active Listening Assessment here. Upon completion, you will receive an explanatory report along with tips and techniques that you can use to become a better active listener and communicator.

If you or your staff would benefit from mastering effective communications, improving active listening and learning “meaning-centered communication”, we can help. Please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

NOTE: PMPs: This assessment qualifies for one PDU and you will receive a certificate.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/why-success-is-more-likely-with-active-listening/

Understanding How Risk Management Can Improve Organizational Performance

One of the biggest challenges in risk management is risk identification. Humans are naturally optimistic, therefore we do not like to recognize or discuss risks. We need to incorporate processes such as scenario planning and the pre-mortem technique into our forecasting practices. These techniques help us overcome our aversion to recognizing and discussing risks. Only after we have identified risks can we implement tactics to reduce their probability.

Merit is frequently asked to help businesses, federal agencies and membership organizations reduce or mitigate risk – regardless of their size and business type. Often their project teams collaborate and discuss methods for improving their risk status but have proven to be flawed. The most common flaw that sets them back is their goal to have all risk plans drive their risk probability and impact to zero, in which case it would not be a risk.

Risk_RegisterStandard risk responses include Avoidance, Mitigation, Transference, and Acceptance (passive/active). At Merit, we developed a reporting process that would show that the risk factors were decreasing as the project progressed. Supplemented with suitable risk responses, the true reduction of risk probability occurs over time.

The added value that we incorporated into the risk management process was two-fold. First, because of the desire to drive the risk to as low as possible, the use of multiple risk responses could be utilized. The second process improvement would be not only to subsequently reassess the risk, but also to re-evaluate the risk probability and impact matrix after the implementation of the risk response over time.

Probability_Impact_MatrixThe Probability and Impact Matrix is one of the tools that we recommend in a risk management strategy.  It is superimposed with risks that are labeled or numbered as in the above example. “Red” area risks were uniquely documented on a trending month-to-month basis such that it could be seen “driving” toward zero.

The implementation of a risk response would then “reclassify” the risk event for the next reporting period. However, the biggest impact on reducing risk is time.  Time because we are progressively refining our process as our project develops, and because the physical window (amount of time available) for a risk event is reduced.

We invite you to learn about our modified process template so you too can incorporate it into your project plans. For more information, to learn other advanced risk monitoring, reporting, and controlling techniques or to schedule a risk management training customized for your team, contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or by calling (610) 225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/understanding-how-risk-management-can-improve-organizational-performance/

Emotional Intelligence (EQ): The Essential Secret to Great Performance

The concept of emotional intelligence, EQ, has been studied for over 30 years. Research shows that high EQ predicts success beyond an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. Emotionally intelligent leaders have significantly greater annual profit growth, increased customer satisfaction, and higher personnel retention. In management, the more senior the leader, the more the EQ matters. In sales and customer service capacities, the higher EQs correlate directly to success.

RedheadStudies show that lack of EQ may limit a person’s ability to achieve results. Lower EQ scores correlate with lower merit pay increases, lower job satisfaction and more burnout. Managers’ and supervisors’ EQ scores correlate with their performance ratings.

The definition of emotional intelligence has been the subject of ongoing debates; however, researchers all agree that it consists of two principal components. The first component; intrapersonal skills or self-awareness, is the ability to recognize one’s emotions as they occur, helping one gain self-control in potentially emotionally charged situations.

The second component, interpersonal skills or social awareness, is the ability to recognize others’ emotions. The ability to express empathy enables one to have more positive relationships and minimize unproductive conflict. EQ helps put people at ease, build and mend relationships, confront problem employees, and manage change.

It is important to note that emotional intelligence can be learned. Understanding and incorporating specific EQ skills, techniques, and behaviors can help improve both the intrapersonal and interpersonal skill sets. An intra-personal skill, self-monitoring, can help one can limit or minimize emotional hijacking. Let‘s look at this closer…

Emotional IntelligenceWe all have specific words or phrases that are steeped in emotion. During the 1960s and 70s, the term “nuclear power” raised a great deal of emotion—both positive and negative. Similarly today we have emotionally charged words or phrases such as “gun control”, terrorism, and consumer privacy. It is important to recognize one’s own emotionally charged phrases and stop the emotional hijacking that is about to take place.

By recognizing our emotional responses when we hear a cue by self-monitoring, we can prevent emotional hijacking before it takes place. Stopping to recognize the emotional trigger is an important first step. Taking a deep breath, and/or silently counting to 10 can help us regain composure and react in a rational manner.

As for interpersonal skills, empathy helps us develop more positive relationships with others at work. Increasing our display of empathy enables us to connect with another person on an emotional level, thus allowing us to develop a meaningful, trusting relationship.

The question remains, however, how much emotional intelligence do you have—what is your baseline? Do you have an EQ deficiency, or are you well above average? There is only one way to know your EQ baseline and that is to take an assessment. Many exist on the Internet, some free others fee-based, however they may not stand up to statistical reliability and validity standards.

We invite you to take our free online self-assessment http://www.meritcd.com/assessments/eq/ and see how you compare to others; it takes less than 15 minutes. You will receive a report comparing you to the general population and you will know your starting point. With your baseline in hand you can select appropriate techniques and build your self-awareness and social awareness skill sets, and improve your emotional intelligence.

Would you like some guidance to improve your staff’s EQ? Merit offers half-day and full day workshops that help participants understand, identify their baseline, and strengthen their emotional intelligence. With exercises and interactive assessment tools, this workshop is engaging and life changing. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com or call him at 610-225-0449.

Permanent link to this article: http://meritcd.com/blogs/emotional-intelligence-eq-the-essential-secret-to-great-performance/

5 Tips to Prioritizing When a Project Runs Into Trouble

Changes Ahead sign; iStockEven the most carefully planned project can run into trouble. Unanticipated weather problems can disrupt the logistics of construction projects, a key software developer quits to take new jobs or an engineer underestimates the time needed to implement components of a production line. Whatever the issue, the challenge of finding a solution falls to the project manager (PM).

It’s a high-pressure situation. The sequence of tasks laid out in the project plan suddenly has holes in it. In essence, the rules of the game have changed though its original objectives remain. Now, the PM must sync up the effort’s priorities with an unanticipated reality. This can mean revisiting the original plan — or at least portions of it — with an eye toward redeploying resources and revamping task lists. All the while, the client expects you to meet the project’s original scope, schedule and budget.

Such situations can’t be addressed on the fly. Developing a plan of attack requires care and detailed communications with everyone involved in the effort.

Determine the most important component. Is the most important driver scope, schedule, available resources or cost? If nothing else, taking a fresh look at this will confirm whether the assumptions you made in your original plan still hold. That’s important as you sketch out an approach to surmounting the new challenges you face. For example, if delivery date is the overriding concern, you may need to adjust the project’s scope or add resources. If budget’s the priority, trimming scope may be your best option. Whatever the situation, the project’s overarching goals are obvious and critical considerations.

Develop a matrix. Create a grid for the project’s key features and determine whether each is required, important or nice to have. (More articles on creating matrixes here and here. *See end of this article for sample matrix.) This will help you do two things: First, get a sense of what’s realistic in terms of time, cost and scope given the challenges you have and, perhaps more important, give you a starting point for discussions with your stakeholders and team.

Consult the project team. It’s essential to view that matrix as a working document. While you’re compiling it, talk to the project team to get its take on what’s required to complete each feature given the new circumstances. Their input will help you present an accurate picture to stakeholders of the project’s true status and their options going forward.

Talk to the stakeholders. With a clear picture of the project’s technical needs, you’ll be able to provide stakeholders with an accurate view of the scenarios available to them. For instance, if the launch date is critical, you can show exactly how additional resources can maintain scope while meeting the original schedule. Again, though, make it clear that you’re gathering information and presenting options. As you did when creating the original project plan, your goal is to develop a consensus around your solutions.

Document everything. Clear communication is always a vital part of project management, but it’s especially important when things are in flux. Be sure everyone involved understands the concerns of others and has their own interests addressed. Once you’ve settled on a course of action, get necessary approvals promptly on paper or by email.

When unforeseen events disrupt your plan, it’s important to take a step back. Evaluate the circumstances carefully and work with the project team and stakeholders to set the priorities necessary to keeping the project on-track.

Merit Career Development can help you develop the skills to respond to real world project management challenges. In fact, many mentioned in the first paragraph of this article are likely to take place in our simulation tool, SimulTrain®. This tool creates an engaging training experience using state-of-the-art computer-based technology. Our PM training programs include key project management topics like risk management, scheduling, managing scope and cost, and leadership skills including negotiation, improved decision-making, and conflict management. For more information, please contact Jim Wynne at jwynne@meritcd.com.

*Sample Matrix to Help Prioritize PM Elements

Matrix prioritizing

*A sample matrix for a Chemical Tracking System from Software Development, September 1999. Source: http://www.processimpact.com/articles/prioritizing.html


© 2015 Merit Career Development. All rights reserved.

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