eXtreme Project Management: Using Leadership, Principles and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility / Edition 1

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Overview

"A wake-up call for the project management establishment."
–Wayne G. Dix, PMP, AXA Financial

"Inspiration for all of us in the project management profession."
–Wes Balakian, PMP, chairman and executive advisor, PMI E-Business SIG; and president, TSI

"Not simply a book. It is a mind-expanding experience!"
–Gary R. Heerkens, PMP, CPM, CBM, PE, president, Management Solutions Group, Inc.

"A much-awaited alternative to traditional project management."
–Lauri Koskela, professor, the University of Salford

"Concrete tools for when traditional project management approaches aren’t cutting it."
–Victoria Tucker, president, ZeroBoundary Inc.

"Doug shows us how to rise above chaos and ambiguity and to achieve results without driving ourselves mad in the process!"
–John J. Turanin, vice president, corporate planning and program management, Aradigm Corporation

"Belongs front and center on our desks where we can use it on a daily basis."
–William Jacobson, director, project management, Wyeth Research

"A paradigm shift. Universally applicable, beneficial for all projects. Refreshing and delightful."
–Randall L. Englund, author, Creating an Environment for Successful Projects

"A strong dose of reality and a long-awaited perspective."
–Jim McDonough, Ph.D., PMP, senior research scientist, Eli Lilly and Company

"Doug DeCarlo adds power and insight to the growing effort to reform project management."
–Gregory Howell, PE, Lean Project Consulting

"Doug DeCarlo is leading those of us in the IS/IT profession into a new and much-needed arena of high-speed, yet high-quality, systems development."
–Joan Knutson, PM, Guru Unlimited

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

“A wake-up call for the project management establishment.”
—Wayne G. Dix, PMP, AXA Financial

“Inspiration for all of us in the project management profession.”
—Wes Balakian, PMP, chairman and executive advisor, PMI E-Business SIG; and President, TSI

"Not simply a book. It is a mind-expanding experience!"
—Gary R. Heerkens, PMP, CPM, CBM, PE, president, Management Solutions Group, Inc.

“A profoundly thoughtful and useful approach to managing the chaotic projects of our time.”
—Ed Mahler, PMP, president, Project Administration Institute; and president, PMI Westchester, New York, chapter

“A much-awaited alternative to traditional project management.”
—Lauri Koskela, professor, the University of Salford

“Concrete tools for when traditional project management approaches aren't cutting it."
—Victoria Tucker, president, Zero Boundary Inc.

“Doug shows us how to rise above chaos and ambiguity and to achieve results without driving ourselves mad in the process!"
—John J. Turanin, vice president, corporate planning and program management, Aradigm Corporation

“Belongs front and center on our desks where we can use it on a daily basis.”
—William Jacobson, director, project management, Wyeth Research

“A paradigm shift. Universally applicable, beneficial for all projects. Refreshing and delightful.”
—Randall L. Englund, author, Creating an Environment for Successful Projects

“A strong dose of reality and a long-awaited perspective.”
—Jim McDonough, Ph.D., PMP, senior research scientist, Eli Lilly and Company

“Doug DeCarlo adds power and insight to the growing effort to reform project management.”
—Gregory Howell, PE, Lean Project Consulting

“Doug DeCarlo is leading those of us in the IS/IT profession into a new and much-needed arena of speed, yet high-quality systems development.”
—Joan Knutson, PM, Guru Unlimited

“An approach that will greatly increase chances of successfully delivering business value.”
—John Thorp, president, The Thorp Network Inc.; and author, The Information Paradox

“I highly recommend this book to anyone facing challenging projects."
—Zed Day, CIO, University of Kentucky Medical Center

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787974091
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Series: Jossey-Bass Business and Management Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.13 (h) x 1.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Doug DeCarlo is principal of the Doug DeCarlo Group. His work has earned him international recognition as a consultant, motivational keynote speaker, trainer, coach, facilitator, and columnist. He often uses percussion instruments in his presentations to illustrate the dynamics of eXtreme projects.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Out of the Darkness.

Introduction: Into the Light.

 Part One: The New Reality.

1 Developing a Quantum Mind-Set for an eXtreme Reality.

2 The eXtreme Model for Success.

Part Two: Leadership Skills for an eXtreme World.

3 Leadership Begins with Self-Mastery.

4 The eXtreme Project Manager’s Leadership Role.

5 Principles, Values, and Interpersonal Skills for Leading.

6 Leading the eXtreme Team.

7 eXtreme Stakeholder Management.

 Part Three: The Flexible Project Model.

8 Visionate: Capturing the Sponsor’s Vision.

9 Visionate: Establishing the Collective Vision.

10 Speculate: The Planning Meeting.

11 Speculate: Postplanning Work.

12 Innovate: Learning by Doing.

13 Reevaluate: Deciding the Project’s Future.

14 Disseminate: Harvesting the Payoff.

 Part Four: Managing the Project Environment.

15 Real-Time Communication.

16 Agile Organization: A Senior Management Briefing.

Afterword by Robert K. Wysocki.

eXtreme Tools and Techniques.

References.

Index.

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First Chapter

eXtreme Project Management

Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility
By Douglas DeCarlo

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7879-7409-9


Chapter One

Developing a Quantum Mind-Set for an eXtreme Reality

We are facilitators of disorder. Margaret Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science

Just like a software package, our brains come with default settings-a mind-set. By mind-set, I mean a set of beliefs and assumptions about how the world works. This is our internal programming. In this chapter I take a closer look at the eXtreme, or quantum, mindset, contrast it sharply with the Newtonian worldview, and highlight the absurd project management behavior that results when one attempts to apply Newtonian thinking in a quantum world.

Here is a quick review of the key ideas to keep in mind:

By quantum mind-set, I mean a worldview that is compatible with change and unpredictability. The quantum mind-set assumes that change is the norm.

The Newtonian or linear mind-set assumes that stability is the norm.

eXtreme projects need to be managed with a predominantly quantum mind-set.

Applying a quantum mind-set to a traditional project will ensure a poor result.

Applying a Newtonian mind-set to an eXtreme project will wreak havoc.

Unlike the Newtonian cause-and-effect mind-set and related principles, eXtreme project management recognizes that although goals are achievable, how we get there is unpredictable. Hence, adaptability is more important than predictability. And since outcomes are not predicable, this paradigm shift in mind-set opens the door to applying the right-brained principles of quantum mechanics to project management. Quantum mechanics is the study of motion in the subatomic realm. This domain deals with unpredictability and the forces and laws that lie beneath and beyond the physical world. The Newtonian world is about predictability and how the physical world works. The quantum world is about patterns and probability and how the subatomic world of particles and energy works.

A critical component of the quantum world is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which says that with subatomic particles such as electrons, we cannot know both the particle's precise position and its momentum (or velocity). The more precisely we measure its position, the less we can know about its momentum, and vice versa. The uncertainty principle does not state that it is hard to measure both simultaneously or that we don't have good enough instruments. It states that we cannot do so in principle because the act of measurement affects what we measure.

In the Newtonian world, we can measure these two quantities as precisely as we please (more or less). In other words, a traffic officer can point a radar gun at your car and tell exactly where the car is and its precise speed, simultaneously. Imagine a traffic officer who lived in a subatomic world. He could never issue a speeding ticket. If he measured a car's speed, he wouldn't know where it was (and so couldn't know it's in a 35 mph zone). If he pinpointed exactly where a car was (in the 35 mph zone), he couldn't measure its speed. When dealing with eXtreme projects, we have to realize that a similar uncertainty principle applies. The more we try to control one aspect of a project, the less control we will have over others.

Is There a Method to Your Madness?

The importance of adopting a quantum mind-set to eXtreme projects is illustrated by a story.

While having lunch in the serene and sylvan setting of the Sterling Farms Golf and Country Club in Stamford, Connecticut, my stomach started to knot up. On this sweltering summer day, my chicken caesar salad ended up mostly untouched. It wasn't the warm creamy dressing and the soggy croutons that were getting to me. It was the scenario being described by my luncheon guest, Tammy. Tammy (not her real name) was the head of software application development for a high-flying and very visible dot.com company. We were talking about project management when I asked her to tell me about the major challenges in running projects in a dot.com environment. She described a "typical" project environment, one that would make chaos seem like a snooze under the umbrella on a quiet beach.

Marketing, sales, finance, application development, customer support, network services, database management, senior management, and eight outside vendors were all interacting with one another, she told me, and mostly in an ad hoc way. On top of that, the information technologies they were working with were also in a state of flux. Moreover, this dot.com wasn't the only game on the net. So on top of it all, Tammy's application development group had to react to what the competition was up to. Change was frequent and relentless. Time frames and budget didn't mean anything. And management wanted accurate forecasts. The impact of these dynamics made for a stress-filled workplace and an unfulfilled workforce.

I was sure that all this frustration had to overflow into everyone's family life as well. A toxic scenario.

Six months later I again had lunch with Tammy. This time there was no time to enjoy a sylvan setting, so we ate in the employee cafeteria. Since the day of our first lunch together, the company had gone public, and there was heightened pressure for accountability and predictability. To help get things under control and to establish some project management standards, a new software tool had been brought in, along with a time reporting system. Tammy related that the training on the software tool was thorough and that the vendor provided a support person who had been on site for the past three months. An experienced project manager was also recruited to head the project office and establish best practices.

Yet this was not a happy place. There was little dot.calm at this dot.com. In fact, the increased project reporting structure was alienating people and beginning to cause some to leave the company.

Why was the new software and new methodology not producing results? The new scheduling tool was based on the old Newtonian mind-set and model of the world, which assumes a linear (cause-and-effect-like) relationship among tasks and events. We recognize this as the waterfall model, which reflects the time-honored plan-and-control approach to getting results. As we have seen, this model is a useful tool for certain kinds of projects-those that have a well-defined, concrete goal and a proven path to get there. But the waterfall model was not well suited to Tammy's dot.com project endeavors, which feature high velocity, high change, and high uncertainty. Tom Tarnow, former vice president and head of project management organization at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, says, "Standardized project management approaches will likely fail in an entrepreneurial and individual-oriented business setting." Those cascading, sequentially flowing Gantt charts with eight levels of detail fail to capture the dynamics of the dot.com world of projects.

Linear Lunacy

To apply the linear and classical (plan and control) approach to an eXtreme project is lunacy, which is why people in Tammy's organization were so unhappy. The good news is that organizations that do this sooner or later recognize that it's not working. But the bad news is that they typically pick the wrong cure. Usually this process begins with the observation that not everyone is on board with the newly released software tools and the requisite project methodology. At this point, Newtonian-minded management leaps to the conclusion that if everybody were following the same rules, then there would finally be consistent and predictable results, as if cranking out projects was like stamping out cookies in a factory. "We need to bring in more discipline" is the cry. In other words, the prevailing management philosophy is, "If it's not working, let's do more of it."

Remember Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: it's not that measurement of a subatomic particle's position and momentum requires lots and lots of high-tech measurement equipment and rigorous training to use it. It states that such measurement is physically impossible. So it is with eXtreme projects and the quantum mind-set. If we adopt a quantum mind-set, we can see that eXtreme projects by their very nature cannot be forced into the Newtonian straitjacket of project schedules and Gantt charts. So millions of dollars are misspent on training programs that teach and certify people in traditional project management approaches, which backfire on eXtreme projects. I refer to this as linear lunacy, an advanced form of project management insecurity that ultimately leads to what I call totoolitarinanism (pronounced tow-tool-ah-tarian-ism).

Totoolitarianism manifests itself in the form of heightened project governance through which tools and rules from above are substituted for spontaneity and decision making from below. Totoolitarianism often manifests itself as the project office, which sets project policy. As Margaret Wheatley, renowned author of Leadership and the New Science (1992), pointed out in a speech, "The only difference between the word 'policy' and 'police' is just one letter of the alphabet." People intuitively know this. As a result, the term project office, which smacks of bureaucracy, is being replaced in some circles by the more project-friendly name of project support group, or the innocuous-sounding Project Management Organization (PMO).

PMOs can be a valuable asset to an organization when they encourage and support a suite of approaches that can be matched to the type of project at hand. Unfortunately, most try to enforce adherence to a single set of tools, and these tools do not work with eXtreme projects.

Newtonian Neurosis and the eXtreme Project Manager

Psychologist Carl Rogers uses the term cognitive dissonance to refer to the discrepancy between our mental model of how we see or want the world to be versus the reality of the situation. For example, the reality is that an eXtreme project is a squiggly line. It looks like the strand of despondent spaghetti I mentioned earlier. But most classically trained project managers have quite a different mental model, albeit unconscious, of what a project should look like. They want it to look like this:

Start [right arrow] End

This is solid, left-brained linear thinking at its best and is the underlying cause of Newtonian neurosis: the compulsive need to make an eXtreme project into a straight line. Tim Lister, senior consultant and fellow of the Cutter Consortium, refers to project managers who think this way as "flatliners." Flatliners relentlessly attempt to bludgeon every squiggly line project into submission through the excessive use of project management tools, rules, templates, policies, and procedures.

Sooner or later, flatliners realize it's not working. They typically complain that the organization is not properly supporting them and does not believe in project management. They also admit their own shortcomings. If you were to peek into the head of a despondent project manager, the self-talk you hear might go something like this: "The world is not conforming to my plan. I must not be a good planner or project manager after all. I'd better take more project management courses and get more PDUs [professional development units]. I will do better and promise to use more templates and tools."

The world is not conforming to my plan. Let that sink in. Is the world supposed to conform to our project plan? How arrogant can we get? Newtonian neurosis leads to the futile practice of attempting to change the world to fit your plan, which is fiction in the first place. Why would anyone want to change reality to conform to fiction? Newtonian neurosis, that's why.

Traditional project management concepts are inappropriate for eXtreme projects. Percentage complete, for example, is the most basic measure of progress, but it is a silly measure for an eXtreme project because the plan for an eXtreme project is not a prediction. That means the end date, given our best estimate, is only fiction. So if we are four months into a so-called ten-month project, are we really 40 percent complete? Percent complete (4/10, as someone pointed out to me) is merely Fantasy divided by Fiction.

Don't misunderstand me. I believe that certification in project management is a good thing for job mobility, and it beefs up the resumé. So do proudly display your PMP(r) (Project Management Professional designation) on your business card. Even get a tattoo. But don't think that the tools and concepts you learned apply all the time, everywhere. On eXtreme projects, many of them don't.

Newtonian neurosis is by no means limited to managers of eXtreme projects. It's common to run into this insidious affliction among project sponsors, customers, and senior managers who insist that linear and Newtonian approaches be applied in an effort to stabilize an increasingly unpredictable world.

Self-Diagnostic Tool

Which of the two mind-sets, Newtonian or quantum, represents your predominant worldview? Let's take a look at how you're wired. Does your brain default to Newtonian or to quantonian?

Your Belief System

Your belief system represents your view of how the world works. For each row, check the phrase that best describes you:

Newtonian Mind-Set: Quantum Mind-Set: Stability is the norm Chaos is the norm

The world is linear and predictable. Uncertainty reigns.

It's controllable. Murphy's law rules.

We can minimize change. We should welcome change.

Add rigor to the process to Relax controls to increase increase the feeling of security. the feeling of security.

If most of the items you circled fall under the Newtonian mindset, you may have trouble coping with eXtreme projects. For your own sanity and quality of life, you may want to find a work situation that offers a more predictable and stable environment. But do keep reading, as I hope to show you that living in an eXtreme world can be satisfying and rewarding. Being aware of your own mind-set is the first step on the way of taking control of it and possibly changing it. If you came down in the quantum mind-set, then you are already a step further than many other people on coming to grips with eXtreme projects. Be careful though: the items you circled may not really reflect your underlying assumptions about life and the world. As I discuss below, some people espouse a quantum mind-set but really don't act as if they believe it.

By temperament and preference, some people are simply not cut out for managing or participating in these high-stress, demanding adventures. If this is true about you, there is nothing wrong with you.

Continues...


Excerpted from eXtreme Project Management by Douglas DeCarlo Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    eXtreme Project Management

    The choice between ¿traditional project management¿ (TPM) and ¿eXtreme project management¿ isn¿t an option that pertains to every endeavor ¿ only to projects with complexities that would swamp TPM. Consultant Doug DeCarlo explains why eXtreme¿s tools are better for programs that require major innovation, fast completion and strong financial returns. Extreme project management uses a ¿quantum,¿ diffuse mind-set ¿ rather than TPM¿s linear thinking ¿ and DeCarlo carefully explains the differences. Alas, his faith in the positive impact of some amount of chaos extends a bit to his book, which calls upon every conceivable tactic, from team training to prayer in a pinch. He explains the importance of the project manager¿s mental framework and advises focusing on team members¿ emotions as well as their tasks. DeCarlo reviews eXtreme methods, vision, planning, evaluation, tools and other concerns. His book also details helpful scenarios. getAbstract believes that if project managers run into difficulties with this complete manual, their concerns will stem more from eXtreme¿s very specific point of view about managing projects than from any technical issues with DeCarlo¿s thorough text.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2005

    Excellent, timely and a new addition to your permanent reference shelf

    This excellent book dramatically advances the start-of- the-art in agile project management. It goes well beyond any other book on the subject, covering such new ground as how to work with stakeholders, how to assess whether projects are worth doing, how to create a useful plan, and how to work with senior management. Unlike many agile books, this book is not specifically about software development. It is applicable to any product development effort. I¿m a software professional, but everything in the book was relevant and interesting to me. Regardless of what type of product development you are doing, I recommend this book very highly. This is not a book you¿ll read and file away. It will become a standard reference for years to come.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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