Overview and Key Themes of IIL’s 2021 Agile & Scrum Online Conference

IIL’s 6th annual Agile and Scrum Online Conference: Co-Create for Greater Value opens on June 3, 2021. In this article, we’ll preview key themes that will be discussed at this unique learning event. View full event and registration details here.

Agile has become one of the hottest topics in the project management world, mainly due to its proven success in software projects and its ability to deliver quick and real value to customers. Today, agile concepts have expanded well into nearly every industry, across products and services. In a post-pandemic world where disruption and change is the norm, an agile mindset and approach are front and center for individuals, teams and organizations alike.

Agile and Scrum concepts are about everyone on a team coming together, and being empowered to work towards an end goal, with a customer-first mindset. Where do teams even begin with agile transformation? How can we create business and customer value? What kind of culture and mindset can drive success? What can we do differently, with our teams?

Our goals will be to understand: Agile transformation at a team and organizational level; creating value in client-centric processes and projects; and the crucial soft skills that enable collaboration and creativity. Let’s take a deeper preview.

Agile Transformation

Enterprises across the globe are evolving to become agile organizations to thrive in today’s unpredictable rapidly changing environment. Agile transformations are long-term journeys that begin with an open mindset and vision from the top. Embedding new ways of working, applying enterprise-design thinking and customer centricity in problem solving are key themes of agile transformation.

To start us off, join us for the keynote on Agile Leadership & Enterprise Transformation with Marcel Greutmann, VP Cloud Advisory Services at IBM Europe. Marcel will share his enterprise transformation perspective from working with firms across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. His personal insights grounded in real-life stories about what works and what doesn’t will inspire you in your way forward.

Helping us Scale Agile with Simplicity by eliminating complexity in large Agile programs will be Tyler Spindel, Agile Program Lead at Capital One.

Stuck on your Agile Journey? Become a Learning Organization, says Scott Ambler, Vice President and Chief Scientist, Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute (PMI). His keynote will explore how to apply the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit to improve your continuous improvement strategy.

And when is the ‘right time’ for a team to scale agile? To help us make sense of the choices, timing and elephant traps involved in scaling Agile, join Roy Shilling, Senior Agile Coach and Trainer at IIL in his session The Do’s and Don’ts of Scaling Agile.

Creating Value in Client-Centric Processes

Attendees will learn the practical tools and skillsets needed to drive an agile approach in teams and organizations. We’ll hear from CEOs of leading agile startups, Agile practitioners, coaches and thought leaders who will share key ideas and knowledge that can help you lead with an agile mindset and skillset.

What’s it like to be working in 3 hour sprints at some of the top global automotive and AI companies in the world? Leading automotive companies are developing new digital products, services and interfaces at lightning speed. Don’t miss Agile at Tesla – The Misinformation that you can’t Apply Agile to Hardware, with Joe Justice, CEO of Wikispeed

There is no better place to learn agile than from the nimble start-ups that are leading the charge in the cloud-based computing space. In his session Shifting Left until We Shift Right, Rob Zuber, CTO of CircleCI will help us understand the principles such as DevOps and CI/CD in the context of agile development, and how scenario planning can minimize cost and risk while maximizing value delivery.

Learn and practice new and essential skills of Test-Driven Development: A Stunningly Quick Introduction, one of the foundational practices of high-quality product development in the session with Richard Kasperowski, author, teacher, speaker and coach focused on team-building and high-performance teams.

Understand the difference between pursuing agile and Leveraging Agility for Business Problem-Solving with Leila Rao, President of AgileXtended and creator of the Compass for Agility framework which enables organizations to shape their own compass as they adapt, innovate and thrive in challenging environments.

Learn how to create well-defined Value Stream Mapping, one of the most important Lean tools for an organization wanting to plan, implement and improve a product or service to the point of reaching the customer, with Jorgelina Bross-Puglisi, Trainer & Consultant at IIL

The newest kid on the block for project delivery is DevOps, a merge of development and operations. DevOps takes what is good about agile and builds on it with some key differences. Understand why DevOps is critical for many organizations and the success factors in delivering sustainable value from DevOps investments, in the keynote DevOps Will Fail, Unless … with Paul Wilkinson, Business Development Officer of GamingWorks.

Mindset and Culture

The greatest predictor of success is any project are the courage, the creativity and the conversations that we have with others.

How do you apply agile practices and practices at scale without stifling the creativity, autonomy, and energy of your teams? Aaron Bjork, Principal Group Product Manager at Microsoft shares his perspectives in The Intersection of Agile and Culture.

Learn the actions that everyone can take away to foster better conversations with stakeholders in How Daring to Dialogue Improves Performance and Creates a Culture of Agility, a keynote led by Marsha Acker, CEO of TeamCatapult.

In her keynote The Agile Mindset: Motivating vs Mandating Change, Dawn Nicole McIlwain, Agile Transformation Leader of BrandDisco LLC will offer you the key tips and techniques to overcome challenges in motivating your team towards a continuous Agile mindset.

Acknowledging our project stakeholders, team accomplishment with courage and creativity will be a key theme of The Grateful Agile Leader talk with Susan Parente, Principal Consultant of S3 Technologies.

Are you ready for change for yourself, your teams, and your organization as a whole? Move from Resisting Agile to Yes, Agile! with Louria Lindauer, Agile & Leadership Coach and Founder of Success Agility, LLC.

Additional Learning

Be sure to attend two on-demand courses (complimentary to attendees) that provide foundational understanding of key Agile concepts. Introduction to Agile for Executives presented by Max Langosco provides an overview of Agile values and principles, the key benefits of an Agile approach, and its differences with the traditional Waterfall method. Agile Release Plans with Jeffrey Nielsen will equip you with the necessary knowledge to bridge the gap between product vision and ‘product backlog’ as defined in the Agile approach. Both are presented by certified Project and Scrum Masters. Don’t miss these essential learning opportunities!

Register for the Agile and Scrum Online Conference today! Learn more about the event and register here. Teams and organizations requesting a group rate or unlimited license, click here.

 


Agile for Non-IT Projects

By Mohamed Khalifa
Project Management Consultant, Coach & PMI Authorized Instructor
PfMP, PgMP, PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMI-PBA, PMI-ACP, OPM3, CDA
Project+, HRBP, CKM, CBAP, LIMC, CCMAP, CTT+, IPMO-Expert

Since seventeen people met in February 2001 at Wasatch mountains of Utah to discuss and draft the Agile Manifesto, software projects have been the main focus of Agile. Since this time, Agile became one of the hottest topics in the project management world, mainly due to its proven success on software projects and its ability to deliver quick and real value to customers, reduce the risks and increase collaboration between different stakeholders.

After years of using agile methodologies, tools and techniques many professionals around the world started looking at the Agile Manifesto through lenses other than software development. They proclaimed to very clearly see that the Agile Manifesto, principles, tools and techniques can make the same level of success on different types of projects in addition to software development.

In the current turbulent and fast changing world, we need to go back to the basics, back to the reason which made agile successful which is “be Agile, be Adaptive”. If we start referring to the main Agile Manifesto and do small changes in the statements, we will find that they will work fine with projects of different types.

Let us have a look at the Agile Manifesto which requires preference of:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools,
  • Business value over comprehensive documentation,
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The above can work in any project and can be adopted as an organization’s philosophy to deliver fast, reduce the risks, solve the conflict between different stakeholders and clarify the requirements as we work on projects.

To successfully execute non-software projects using Agile, we can use the Agile principles to set clear expectations with stakeholders, bring sanity to project execution, and mine the benefits of Agile. While this approach may look similar to the principles followed in an Agile software delivery project, their applications are quite different when it comes to non-software projects.

  • Define “Working Product or Service” can be used to refer to any deliverable that is produced by the project and brings value to the customer.
  • Define “Customer” can help us to define who is the ‘right’ Product Owner.
  • Define ‘Done’: Work with the sponsors and product owner to identify ‘done’ for each story/deliverable.
  • Measure Business Value: Measuring or establishing the business value of the work done is key for any project.

Since most of the deliverables exist as theories or prototypes, it is important to prepare a business case at the start of the initiative that clearly provides the cost benefit for this initiative followed by articulating the benefits achieved at regular intervals, preferably at the ends of iterations.

Expect the Unexpected: Project scope, objective, and goals are liable to change frequently and drastically. Therefore, go for shorter iterations, joint workshops, paired development of deliverables, continuous expert and peer reviews, and proper socialization of theories and ideas. Having senior strategists, architects, or consultants is helpful, especially if they have a deep experience on the subject matter as well as with the overall organization.

Did you try to apply Agile Mindset in your projects? Is it working? What was good? What was bad? Share with us your valuable thoughts.

Gain more insights at IIL’s Agile and Scrum Online Conference, opening on June 3. Learn more about the event and register here.


Project Management Predictions for 2021


By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D

The landscape for project management changes almost every year. Some changes are relatively small or incremental whereas other changes can be significant. Historically, most of the changes appeared in the methodology, processes, tools, and techniques. Now, many of the changes are behavioral changes.

There will be a significant change in how we define the success (and failure) of a project. This is one of the changes I discussed last year, and I am reiterating the need for this change because some companies are still reluctant to make this change necessary for critical improvements in project management.

For years, the definition of project success was the creation of project deliverables within the constraints of time, cost, and scope. While this definition seemed relatively easy to use, and is still being used today, it created several headaches. First, companies can always create deliverables within time, cost, and scope, but there is no guarantee that customers would purchase the end results. Second, everyone seemed to agree that there should be a “business” component to project success but were unable to identify how to do it because of the lack of project-related business metrics. Third, this definition of project success was restricted to traditional or operational projects. Functional managers that were responsible for the strategic projects were utilizing their own definitions of project success, and many of these strategic projects were being executed under the radar screen because of the competition in the company for funding for strategic projects.

Another headache with the traditional definition of success was that its basis was on the belief that time, cost, and scope are the only three constraints on a project. When PMI introduced the concept of competing constraints, the definition of success had to ultimately change because it may be impossible to complete a project within all the competing constraints.

Today, companies believe they are managing their business as a stream of projects, including both strategic and traditional projects. As such, there must exist a definition that satisfies all types of projects. The three components of success today are: (1) the project must provide or at least identify business benefits; (2) the project’s benefits must be harvested such that they can be converted into sustainable business value that can be expressed quantitatively; and (3) the projects must be aligned to strategic business objectives.

With these three components as part of the project’s success criteria, companies must ask themselves when creating a portfolio of strategic projects, “Why expend resources and work on this project if the intent is not to create sustainable business value?” These three components can also be used to create failure criteria as to when to pull the plug and stop working on a project.

There will be a significant growth in the number of metrics, especially business-related metrics, to be use on projects When we discuss competing constraints, we must realize that many of the new constraints are business-oriented constraints. The business side of projects will need to be understood much better than in the past. This will require significantly more metrics than just time, cost, and scope.

Companies will need to create metrics that can track benefits realization, value created from the benefits and how each project is aligned to strategic business objectives. To do this may require the creation of 20-30 new metrics. Some companies have metric libraries that contain more than 50 metrics. This will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the earned value measurement systems (EVMS) currently be used.

The new project business metrics must be able to be combined to answer questions that executives have concerning business and portfolio health. The list below identifies metrics that executives need to make decisions concerning business and portfolio health.

  • Business profitability
  • Portfolio Health
  • Portfolio benefits realization
  • Portfolio value achieved
  • The mix of projects in the portfolio
  • Resource availability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Strategic alignment of projects
  • Overall business performance

The project-based business metrics must be able to be combined to create this list of metrics that executives need for business decision-making. Companies will have a metrics library since the number of metrics can become significant. Companies may use a set of “core” metrics that are required on each project but then establish other metrics unique to this project. Since each project many have different success criteria, the unique metrics must support the criteria for measuring and reporting success.

There will be a growth in the creation of manifestos attributed to flexible project management frameworks or methodologies that are capable of measuring benefits and business value as the project progresses and after the deliverables have been created. The traditional “waterfall” approach to project management implementation has been used successfully for years, but has the limitation that value is measurable primarily at the end of the project. Companies want to have value and benefits metrics reported throughout the project so that they can cancel or redirect non-performing projects.

Techniques such as agile and Scrum appear to do a better job measuring and report value created through the project than other approaches. In the future, we can expect more flexible project management approaches such as agile and Scrum to appear.

As new flexible frameworks appear, we will also see more documents like the Agile Manifesto that discusses the best ways to use the approach. I would expect most of the information in each new manifesto to be more behavioral that just continuous improvements in the processes, tools, and techniques traditionally used in project management applications.

There will be a significant change in the behavioral or people-oriented skill set that some project managers may need to support the introduction of new and more flexible methodologies. When there exists some commonality among the projects in a firm such that a one-size-fits-all approach can be used during project execution, the skill set for the project managers may be known with some degree of certainty. But when project managers are now responsible for managing new types of projects, especially with flexible frameworks, new skills may be necessary.

Flexible methodologies focus on better people-oriented leadership, more collaboration, and a concern for the health and well-being of the team members rather than just a focus on the creation of deliverables. Some of the newer skills being taught in people-oriented rather than task-oriented leadership on projects, how to conduct brainstorming sessions, design thinking and creative problem-solving.

Conclusions:

It is unrealistic to think that these will be the only changes that will occur in 2021. There will be other changes, but perhaps not as significant as these changes. The implementation of these changes requires that companies try to envision the future and plan for it beginning with changes to the corporate culture. For companies that believe in “business as usual” or “let’s leave well enough alone”, these changes will not be implemented. Those companies that believe in “doing things the same old way” will most likely struggle to stay in existence.


Virtual Learning in 2021: The 7 Trends to Look out for


By Pamela S. Hogle

Digital learning took the spotlight in 2020, as schools, corporations, and organizations of all types abruptly moved to remote learning and working. With hope for rosier days ahead, what does 2021 hold for learning and development (L&D) professionals and online training? These 7 notable trends may influence our lives as L&D pros, learners, and employees:

1. Virtual learning continues to gain traction

Virtual training expert Cindy Huggett, who conducts an annual survey on live, instructor-led virtual training, released her 2020 findings in early December. Unsurprisingly, 90% of her nearly 900 respondents are doing more virtual training this year. Many of them “realize it’s the way to do business going forward,” in the words of one survey participant. LinkedIn Learning’s Leading with Learning report found similar attitudes, with three-quarters of respondents anticipating “a lot more” online learning and nearly 80% expecting increased virtual training even after the COVID crisis ends.

Typical virtual classes are an hour long, and nearly half are part of a blended learning strategy, Huggett reports. The most common challenge reported was technology issues, and a quarter of respondents hoped to move to a different platform. Survey respondents report that the average hourlong virtual class requires 9 hours of development time.

2. Agile Project Management is hot

As an approach that excels at coping with frequent change, iterative and nimble Agile Project Management seems ideally suited to the COVID and post-COVID work environment. Benefits to using an Agile Project Management approach include “MVP” or the minimum viable product concept and the flexibility to adjust the project scope as it progresses. MVP prioritizes getting a simple “draft” version of a product into the hands of stakeholders — ideally, people who will be actual users of the end product — as early in the development cycle as possible. For an eLearning product, that would mean initial testing of basic iterations with real learners. Their feedback provides information that improves future iterations of the product. Using Agile Project Management can improve efficiency and quality.

3. Adopting Agile and Scrum approaches in L&D

In tandem with the embrace of Agile Project Management is the increasing use of Agile and Scrum principles and tactics. With an emphasis on collaboration and continuous improvement, these approaches strive to “delight customers.”

Scrum is a framework often used to implement Agile. It formalizes some project management best practices, like having regular check-ins with the entire team, regularly reviewing the work-in-progress with the customer, and conducting reviews of team performance with the goal of identifying and correcting weaknesses and continually improving processes. Agile Project Management teams might include a “Scrum master” to support the team in implementing the Agile approach.

4. Hiring managers are turning their gaze inward

Internal recruiting is a win-win. Companies that are known to promote from within or facilitate internal transfers are attractive to employees, who consistently express interest in skill-building and career-advancement opportunities. Organizations benefit by retaining top performers, reducing recruiting and hiring costs, and reducing employee turnover. LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report called recruiting and L&D “the new power couple” and encouraged businesses to implement or improve their formal internal hiring processes. One suggestion: Map current employees’ skills and link them with upskilling opportunities.

5. … And turn to upskilling & reskilling current employees

The trend toward reskilling — teaching workers new skills needed for a new position — and upskilling employees — updating existing skills to improve a worker’s ability to perform their current job — was tagged in early 2020 in a McKinsey report. Changes forced by the pandemic dramatically increased the urgency of teaching new and updated skills to employees as their businesses pivoted to remote work, online ordering, or contactless delivery, and adopted new safety and operating protocols. 

In May, McKinsey predicted that reskilling will become even more central to companies hoping to emerge strong and resilient from the COVID crisis. The ability to “produce and deliver digital content rapidly to a broad base of employees” will enable companies to build skills needed for the “distance economy,” adjust to changes in how people work, eat, shop, and travel — and cope with shifts in global supply chains, according to McKinsey. Companies that reskill with an eye to helping employees in key parts of their business respond well to changes and will be positioned to respond effectively to whatever challenges the COVID and post-COVID eras present.

6. Increased demand for training focused on power skills

So-called “power” skills including critical thinking, communication, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability top lists of in-demand skills for jobs at all levels, but especially leadership roles. Training for these skills, which improve team performance, business relationship management, and leadership across industries and business functions, is also in demand. 

7. Peer / learner-generated content

This power-skills training is apparently paying off in greater collaboration among peers. Peer-to-peer learning and learner-generated content are among emerging trends for 2020 and beyond. This reflects learners’ experience as self-directed learners and consumers, as well as an emphasis on sharing knowledge in companies with strong learning cultures. Peer-to-peer learning develops leaders within the organization, preserves and passes on institutional knowledge, and deepens relationships among peers and colleagues.

Looking ahead at professional development trends in 2021

These trends indicate a bright future for online training designers, developers, and vendors. Remote work leapt into the forefront of many business plans and learning at all levels will remain heavily focused on digital options for some time. 


Chess and Business Strategy

By Luigi Morsa, Ph.D.

Undoubtedly the chess game is fascinating because it implies deep thinking, strategy, and prediction ability. It is often seen analogous to a business strategy. Each player fervently studies the board, patiently waits their turn, anticipates the opponent’s next move, and runs through potential scenarios in their head. This is not so different from strategic planning in the business world. However, in some markets, the competitors attack simultaneously from all sides, the internal struggles of a company can have a negative effect, and a host of other elements which can all be put into play at the same time. Nevertheless, the parallels between chess and business are clear.

Companies put chess principles into action on a regular basis, often without even realizing that they are strategically positioning their pieces in a series of moves that have been utilized multiple times through the years. No wonder, therefore, that we can find a chessboard in the home or office of top CEOs or world leaders. The list of US presidents enthusiastic about chess is long, from Lincoln to Jimmy Carter to, more recently, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; outside the USA we can mention Mikhail Gorbachev, Yasser Arafat, Angela Merkel and even important historical personalities like Mandela or Napoleon, and even some European dictators.

Sometimes chess is even an obsession: the President-elect of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, who credits his success to his chess playing ability, was said to have delayed a strategy meeting simply in order to finish a chess game! Most of the world’s billionaires are chess players: Gates, Ellison, Soros, van Oosterom, and others; even quite young entrepreneurs  today,  like  Miami’s  Care  Cloud founder  Albert Santalo, A.J. Steigman, founder and CEO of Soletron, and co-founder and CEO of Facebook,  Mark  Zuckerberg, have a history of playing chess and using its principles in creative business  transactions.

Peter Thiel, one of the early investors in Facebook and the founder of PayPal, has history as a chess master. He maintains that it is essential “to know the value of the pieces”. Each piece in a chess game has a specific value. By knowing the value, it is easier to make decisions about game strategy and placement. Similarly, by knowing the value of employees and other associates, it can be easier to make business decisions regarding job responsibilities and other related decisions.

Justin Moore, child chess prodigy, was ranked in the top 20 youth chess players in the United States by the time he was a teenager. Moore is now CEO of Axcient, a cloud services provider. According to Moore, too many companies lose sight of their goal and get sidetracked into reactionary activities. As a chess player, Moore understands the value in planning an endgame, and explains that businesses must model the same behavior. By not being waylaid by the activities of a competitor, it is easier to remain focused on the ultimate goal of the company. Due to the importance that in the business strategy is given to the chess game, two researchers, Hunt and Cangemi in the study, “Want to improve your leadership skills? Play chess!” came to the conclusion that in order to bridge the gap between scholarship and entrepreneurship, and to build better leaders capable of handling future demands; the well-researched and powerful tool of Chess should be incorporated into the early grade curriculum, as well as in graduate leadership, business, industrial, and educational programs. Chess can be the catalyst to enhance the skills of graduates and leaders alike to remain competitive in a global economy.

We could say that according to people in business, in order to succeed, it is becoming more and more advisable to have the mindset of a chess player. In literature, there are several examples about the parallelism between chess and business, but rarely there are specific examples on a real chessboard; the scope of this article is to discuss a clear and real example of chess strategy in business.

The chess game is a competition between two subjects. Therefore, from a business point of view, this fits well when we refer to a duopoly. One of the most interesting and fascinating duopoly markets of the last several years is the one between the two giant airplanes manufacturers: Boeing and Airbus. It is difficult to find other markets where two actors play. In the case of the big airplane market, there are only Boeing and Airbus because the barrier to entry into this market is quite high.

Having only two players, the market dynamics and strategies can be displayed on a chessboard and can be interpreted through the eyes of a chess player. A tangible example is given by the competition between the models of the Boeing 747 and Airbus 380. Boeing introduced the B747 in 1970 and for the following 37 years had the monopoly in big, long range airplanes. This allowed Boeing to gain enormous profitability with the advantage of investing and competing in other segments of the market where Airbus had a presence. For this reason, people at Airbus realized that if they really wanted to compete with Boeing, they needed to attack the B747. Therefore, after a long gestation period starting in 1988 and continuing through the early months of 2000, the board management at Airbus decided to develop the A380 (introduced in 2007), a four engines aircraft like B747, but 20% more efficient and with an entire second floor along its fuselage, able to provide seating for 555 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration; while the B747 carries up to 524 passengers.

The precondition for success looked to be close at hand, but something went wrong. While the European engineers were working on the A380 project, their counterparts in USA were figuring out a different scenario. Instead of proposing the classical schema of connection between great hubs and then taking a second flight to the final destination, the idea was to connect directly two minor airports. In other words, instead of taking a short range aircraft from Stockholm flying to London, then London-New York (major hubs connection) by flying a big long range aircraft and then a short range aircraft to cover the distance New York-Las Vegas, the proposal was to fly directly from Stockholm to Las Vegas.

Hub and Spoke
Point to Point

The challenge was to create an aircraft remaining competitive by carrying less passengers compared to A380 or B747. This was a necessity because the demand for direct flights is not the same as among major hubs. In order pursue this task, engineers in the USA developed the 787 Dreamliner (introduced in 2011, 224-330 passengers seats versions), with a carbon-composite fuselage (lighter material than aluminium), equipped with two engines and able to fly longer distances while consuming less jet fuel than the A380. Without going into so much detail, we can say that history has shown that the airline companies have preferred the new model introduced by Boeing with B787, and for this reason Airbus started to develop its own version of a long-range, fuel-efficient airplane, called the A350-XWB (300-350 seating), which entered in service in 2015.

If we now look at a chessboard, we can imagine B747 and A380 as the two queens of the black and white pieces set (actually, one of the B747 nickname is “Queen of the Sky”). The idea of the player with white pieces was to attack undisturbed the black queen, but as shown in the picture, the black bishop (B787) was moved to block the white queen’s attack, and as a consequence the player with the white set moved the rook (A350) to contrast the bishop.  It has to be underlined, especially for the chess experts in order to avoid outraging them, that the description above is clearly inappropriate; it is not entirely in agreement with the chess logic, but it is important because it gives a remarkable image of the strategies.

In economic terms, there are models that allow us to understand and above all to predict the impact of the introduction of a new aircraft in a market. One of these relatively simple models is for instance “the Cournot competition” that was applied in 1988 by the professor Richard Baldwin and by Paul Krugman, the laureate economy Nobel prize in 2008, to study the competition between the aircraft models of Airbus and Boeing. The model worked quite well, but as shown in the example above it is a matter of hypothesis and therefore strategies because if we do not take into account that our competitor could introduce something new in the market, inevitably our prediction will be wrong.

Other important economic studies have often taken into account the “static” situation of the market, similar to very interesting works of Klepper (1990, 1994) and Neven & Seabright (1995). Even relatively recent studies like Irwin and Pavcnik in 2004, which examines exactly the competition between Airbus and Boeing after the introduction of A380, did not consider a possible aircraft outside the segment of A380 and B747 that could affect the market. However, in 2004 in defense of the authors, the idea of the B787 Dreamliner was very vague. Nevertheless, the history of the aircraft market evolution has proved that a certain degree of unpredictability should be taken into account.

Finally, the example of the competition between A380 and B747 is meaningful because is a good example to highlight the importance of having a vision of the future and to avoid the limitations of near-term thinking only. We can also say that even though we have good tools to perform the economic analyses and we choose models that do not take into account some possible moves by our competitors, our prediction will fail in any case; for this reason it is important to have in business the attitude of a chess player!


About the Author
Luigi Morsa (Ph.D.) is an Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager working in Germany at the consultant company SII engineering & IT. Luigi’s passion for project management has led him to contribute to two books by Dr. Harold Kerzner, the pioneer and globally recognized expert in project management. More in detail, Luigi wrote the case study “The Airbus A380” and the chapter on “Innovation Management Software” for the books Project Management Case Studies, Fifth Edition (Wiley, 2017) and Innovation Project Management (Wiley, 2019), respectively. In 2018, he was a speaker at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® EMEA Congress to discuss the complexity of the aircraft-industry market, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the product and customer needs.

References

  1. https://www.cleverism.com/chess-principles-make-better-corporate-strategist/
  2. Samuel J., Hunt,; Joseph Cangemi; Want to improve your leadership skills? Play chess!, Education; Spring 2014, Vol. 134 Issue 3, p359
  3. Luigi, Morsa; The Airbus A380 Airplane, case study for the book “Project Management Case Studies” 5th Edition by Harold Kerzner, Wiley, April 2017
  4. Richard Baldwin, Paul Krugman; Industrial Policy and International Competition in Wide-Bodied, chapter for the book “Trade Policy Issues and Empirical Analysis” by Robert E. Baldwin, University of Chicago Press, 1988
  5. Klepper, G., 1990. Entry into the market for large transport aircraft. European Economic Review 34, 775– 803.
  6. Klepper, G., 1994. Industrial policy in the transport aircraft industry. In: Krugman, P., Smith, A. (Eds.), Empirical Studies of Strategic Trade Policy. University of Chicago Press for the NBER, Chicago.
  7. Neven, D., Seabright, P., 1995. European industrial policy: the airbus case. Economic Policy 21, 313– 358.
  8. Douglas A. Irwin, Nina Pavcnik, Airbus versus Boeing revisited: international competition in the aircraft market, Journal of International Economics 64 (2004) 223– 245

Family Project Management: What You Need to Know

By Hilary Kinney, PMP - Strategic Communications and Project Management Consultant, Vision Realized

Are you working at home during quarantine and parenting/home-schooling at the same time? Considering how to handle things this summer? Here are a few project management principles that can help.

Set a Realistic Plan/Scope and Get Buy-in

First, it’s important to set a realistic plan and get buy-in from your family. What are you trying to accomplish during this time, what are you not trying to accomplish? In other words, what’s your project scope? You and your partner need to be aligned on the same plan. Get input from the kids, because they will be more apt to participate and may have some great ideas like helping with cleaning.

• Are the kids just submitting required schoolwork, or are they doing extra?

• For the summer, what are the kids’ roles and responsibilities?

• Are your work hours being adjusted?

• Are the kids’ screen time allotments changing?

• Are projects around the house included?

Have a Kick-off Meeting and Daily Check-ins

Once you’ve decided on your plan/scope, share it with the entire family. Have a kick-off family meeting to set expectations and explain roles and responsibilities. Communicate to the kids what’s expected of them. Once the plan is in place, have daily meetings to see what work is being accomplished, how much screen time the kids have had, etc. We usually do this during breakfast and also try to have lunch together.

Make an Action Item List

Feeling overwhelmed and disorganized? Make a list of each task, who’s responsible for it, and when it needs to be completed. Include chores and schoolwork. I have found that a whiteboard of daily activities works well for us. I list what needs to be done each day, and my son enjoys erasing things from the list when they’re done.

Recognize the Limitations / Be Realistic

All projects have constraints, including time, cost, and quality. Cost considerations include, for example, whether you pay for meal delivery services and tutoring. Quality and time considerations affect how much focus is spent on work, school, and play. Realize that spending more time and effort on one activity will affect the others. Keeping these constraints in mind can help you decide how to manage them.

Be Agile

Ensure the plan is delivering the results you want in school performance, family dynamics, work productivity, etc. Focus more on results than process. Experiment and adjust as necessary. I’ve learned that my son can focus better on school in the afternoon after we play outside in the morning, rather than doing his schoolwork first. If some of the online learning isn’t working for you, try a more hands-on approach. For example, cook dinner together and learn about math and chemistry.

Make it Fun & Positive

The main goal should be to develop a loving, productive environment among your family team members with shared objectives, trust, commitment, and accountability. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments, both large and small. Praise and thank you notes are great, but try to think outside the box. For example, have an ice cream night to celebrate milestones like all the chores getting done that week or the completion of a school quarter.

Combining how we approach work and family can help us focus and feel more integrated. Are there any other parenting ideas that are working for you during this time? Please share in the comments below.

To learn more about this topic, click here to register for IIL’s IPM Day Online Conference. Hilary will be presenting “Project Management for Parents", sharing business principles to navigate this new reality and help your home life go more smoothly even when the pandemic ends.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Republished with permission.

About the Author

Hilary Kinney works with companies to achieve their vision through strategic communications and project management.

She has 17 years of experience successfully advancing business priorities and deploying major projects for large corporations. Her achievements range from facilitating a C-suite-sponsored customer recognition program across 7,000 properties globally, to directing special projects from the President’s office at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

Hilary earned a B.S. in Hotel Administration from Cornell University. She holds a Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification from the Project Management Institute, as well as a Change Management Certification from the Prosci Change Management Leadership Center. Hilary lives in the Washington, D.C. area, where she enjoys outdoor activities with her family.


How to Use Artificial Intelligence in Project Management


By Marcus Glowasz – Project & Product Lead, Fortean | Program Manager, UBS

It is the end of project management as we know it.


When googling about Artificial Intelligence in Project Management you’ll find loads of articles talking about how AI will revolutionize and transform project management, how it will automate processes, etc., and how it possibly will eliminate the project manager role all together.

Reading most of those articles, you are getting the idea that AI indeed has the capabilities that we all know already — processing large amounts of data quickly, finding patterns in data, learning from it, making predictions. It is also clear that the project management practice where capabilities of forecasting project scenarios and outcomes, predicting the impact from risks and issues, estimating work, etc. are critical building blocks, is an obvious use case for the application of AI. There is therefore no doubt that AI will have a significant footprint in the project management area.

The most important question though is what it will do to project management from an organizational point of view, to established processes, methodologies, frameworks, etc.

Will AI just be another tool that will make the project manager’s life easier, just like Microsoft Project, Jira, Slack, etc.? Project managers appreciate such tools just like accountants appreciate tools like Microsoft Excel which made their life in many ways significantly easier.

Will AI be like a new project management methodology, just like Agile? Agile methods had a significant impact on project management, especially in technology/software development projects, which also led to new software tools (e.g. Atlassian Jira) and required a new mindset for adoption.

The impact of AI in project management however will be much broader and truly disruptive. AI will not be just a new tool nor just a new methodology, instead we can expect that it will fundamentally redefine the project management practice.

The reasons are in the nature of AI, alias in the domain of Machine Learning, and also in what project management is all about. When you look at project management processes, there are 3 elements that define project management in its core nature, which in my view are also the 3 major pain points in projects:

1. Uncertainty
The expected outcome from any project always will be uncertain. Nobody can guarantee a project delivery on time, budget, in scope, and with agreed quality. It simply is not possible with current practices — unless the project manager has the unlikely ability to read the future from some crystal ball.

2. Forecast
There are many techniques to forecast project activities and tasks, durations of tasks, potential bottlenecks, etc., and build a realistic plan around this in order to meet a target delivery date.
What needs to flow into such planning as well is a forecast of issues that potentially will occur along the way, hence some diligent risk management and tracking is critical. We usually are horrible at forecasting — this is just human nature and we usually estimate too optimistically.

3. Learning
There are not many domains where learning is so important as it is for project management — but in most of today’s projects, teams just swing from one to the next project without really learning from their experiences.

Projects are said to be unique endeavours but that is simply not true — projects are never really 100% unique. When you are building a house, then you may build a unique type of house but there are many processes and work packages in such project which were done and executed precisely the same way in other house construction projects before.

What is key here is to learn from such past projects and processes, adopt the things that worked, and avoid the things that did not work well before.

Unfortunately, in all those 3 areas, today’s project management practices are failing which is the cause of consistently low project success rates. And it is a natural consequence that capabilities in form of predictive analytics, AI, and Machine Learning have to be leveraged to address those critical items in the project management domain.


I therefore expect that the following key elements will define the future of project management:

1. Data-driven decision-making processes
Decisions in projects so far are being taken in a very intuitive fashion, usually based on own professional experience, but often also led by political and bias-driven motivations.
A change towards a data and fact-driven approach which will take into consideration past challenges, learnings and plain facts, is a fundamental and radical change and I expect strong resistance as it requires a true mindset change.

2. Leading products instead of managing projects
Today’s project managers are too much involved in more administrative and repetitive tasks, although a lot of day-to-day tasks can be automated by using either Robotics or Machine Learning approaches.
Project managers should focus more on strategic topics, driving product development in order to close the apparent gap between project management and product management.

3. Hybrid Intelligence

The combination of machine and human intelligence in projects is an important element of future project management concepts, as it will combine the strengths of both worlds for an optimal project management approach. AI will not be able to provide people leadership, negotiate with clients, etc. — in all those more leadership and intuition driven activities, humans are superior to AI and can play out their strengths, while AI can focus on its strengths in terms of collecting and analyzing and learning from large amounts of data.

AI is here to stay in project management and while it is not yet clear, how exactly the new project management world will look like, it will change drastically and the way projects are being managed will never be the same anymore.

Project management processes will be rewritten.

Some roles will disappear and other new ones will be introduced.

Intelligent tools will hit the market.

Stay tuned.


This post was originally published on Medium. Republished with permission.


About the Author


Marcus Glowasz is a Co-Founder and Product Lead at Fortean, a Swiss technology startup that leverages data analytics and artificial intelligence technology to innovate and redefine the project management practice, addressing the growing challenges of project professionals to effectively and successfully deliver projects.

Header photo by Franck V. on Unsplash. “Data has a better idea” photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash.

 


How These 6 Principles Boost Stakeholder Engagement


By Elizabeth Harrin, Director, Otobos Consultants Ltd


In Stakeholder-led Project Management: Changing the Way We Manage Projects Louise M. Worsley sets out 6 principles for engaging project stakeholders.


I thought they were tenets worth sharing, so here they are along with my explanation of what they each mean to me. (Plus there’s a handy infographic if you scroll down.)

Stakeholders should have a say in decisions that affect them


You can’t do projects to people. Actually, you can try. I guarantee it won’t turn out well.


Talk to the people whose lives you are changing, even if the change appears to you to be very small.

Stakeholder participation includes the promise that their contributions will influence decisions… and they are told how


It isn’t enough to talk to people. You have to listen as well. When people give you their input, they deserve to have it incorporated where you can.


If you can’t incorporate it, at least let people know the reasons why so they aren’t disappointed later or feel that they have been ignored.

Stakeholder engagement seeks out those potentially affected by, or interested in, a decision


You have to go out and find your stakeholders. The easiest way to do this is to ask the stakeholders you know about to suggest other people you should be talking to.


Keep expanding your network. There is nearly always someone else whom you could get involved.

Stakeholder engagement seeks input on how they may wish to participate


And accepts that some people may not wish to participate.


Talk to your stakeholders about what engagement looks like to them and offer a range of ways for people to get involved with your project.

Stakeholder engagement provides information, time, and space to allow stakeholders to participate in a meaningful way


The important thing here – the takeaway for me – is space. Often stakeholders need longer than you expect to absorb the changes proposed by the project.


Give them the space to reflect and the time to make the right choices.

It never hurts to be polite


I think Worsley has that one pretty sewn up!


This post was originally published on A Girl’s Guide to Project Management. Republished with permission.


About the Author


Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK and the award-winning blogger behind A Girl’s Guide To Project Management. She’s passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She’s also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.

 


Thoughts on ITIL® 4 from an ITIL v3 Expert

By Jurian Burgers, MSc, ITIL Expert and Managing Professional

ITIL® has been the leading guidance for IT Service Management for the past three decades. Millions of practitioners worldwide have applied it in their daily jobs to deliver and support IT services for the improvement of business results. Last year, AXELOS launched ITIL4. Why the change? As a certified ITIL v3 Expert, consultant and service management trainer for 20 years, I was curious to find out what the novelties were. I was surprised and disappointed at the same time.

Disappointed at first sight, because the 26 processes in ITIL v3 were expanded to 34 practices in ITIL4. Note that ITIL doesn’t talk about ‘processes’ anymore. They are called ‘practices’. Looking a bit further, the additional practices are not new. They are just adopted from other business and IT related fields. Examples are ‘Workforce and talent management’, ‘Risk Management’ and ‘Business Analysis’. And also my favourite: ‘Project Management’!

But reading a bit further, my enthusiasm for the framework declined again. I broke my head in thinking how I could possibly help organizations and teach students in the use of the new concepts. ITIL4 talks about Service Value System, Value Chain, Value Streams, flexible operating models, guiding principles and four dimensions of IT Service Management. Would the newcomers in the field of IT Service Management ever be able to understand these concepts and models? Most of them are just looking for explanation and guidance on incident-, problem-, change- and configuration management.

The only thing for me left to do was to really dig into it. I certified myself as accredited trainer and took the ITIL Managing Professional Transition course to fully understand ITIL4. This opened my eyes. I will explain this a bit further.

At first, I was glad to see that the core of ITIL is still there. Practices like Incident-, Problem-, Change, Config, Service Level Management etcetera still exist. They are even updated to modern ways of thinking and working.

Furthermore, ITIL4 can be regarded as an umbrella. Underneath it, it seamlessly integrates Project Management-, Agile-, Devops-, Lean- and ITIL(v3) ways of working. And it warmly welcomes the possibilities of new technologies like Cloud Computing, Big Data, AI and other high velocity IT developments at the same time!

Also, I was glad to see that ITIL finally left aside the rigid and inflexible nature that processes hold. That has always been the criticism in adopting ITIL. Especially for those who did not really knew how to use it. And to some extend I don’t blame them for this. The key in ITIL is that all activities must contribute to value for the users and customers.

 

This new ITIL way of thinking and working holistically can be tough for die-hard technicians and experts. But hey, the world changes. Open your eyes. Look at the fast moving and changing world we are in. Digital Transformation is happening all over. Successful fintech startups, game-changing blockchain implementations and the power of the voice of social media cannot be ignored. Moreover, they need to deliver value to customers, and need to be managed. ITIL4 brings you the tools and practices to guide you in this challenge. It is up to you to reach out.

Critical note: Will it be the holy grail? I don’t think so. Just because organizations are not that flexible in adopting and adapting new ways of working overnight. But it is definitely worthwhile looking into it and experiment with this super flexible model to support your IT services and deliver value to your customers. I wish you all the wisdom for the future.

Start your ITIL 4 journey with IIL!
ITIL 4 Foundation Course
ITIL v4 Passport Foundation (on-demand)

 

About the Author

 

Jurian Burgers is a subject matter expert, trainer, and consultant in IT Service Management and Cloud Service Management, with over 25 years of international experience helping enterprises in their journey towards digital transformation in various organizations, sectors, and countries.

ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

 

 


How to boost your career with simple time allocation tricks

By Karim Radwan, Founder of Impactus Consulting | IIL Consultant and Trainer

If you often feel overwhelmed by the continuous flow of new tasks coming your way, pressured by time, or that your employer does not fully exploit your skills, be assured that you are not alone in this case.

According to Gallup reports, the majority of American citizens (79% in 2017) feel stressed. Work and lack of time (together with children) seem to be the major contributors to this figure.

This article ambitions to provide you with essential principles to allot your time in a way that maximizes your productivity and benefits your career.

Never enough time – Forget time management

No matter how skilled or smart you are, you can’t actually manage time. It is not possible to slow the seconds ticking on your watch, rewind a bad day back or fast-forward moments of boredom.

The only manageable aspect of time is how you allocate it.

Though it may sound obvious, it is essential to understand that time allocation is a 0-sum game. Put simply, the time you spend doing a task is time you can’t spend doing something else (this is known as the law of the excluded alternative) and as far as I know, once spent, time can never be recovered or reclaimed.

Knowing this unfortunate reality, Let’s see how can we ensure we are allocating this ever-elapsing time in the best way possible.

Everybody has an agenda – Take control

The number one priority is to take control of your time allocation. Obviously, if other people are deciding everything you are doing and when you are doing it, you can’t improve your time allocation.

You may think that your boss has total control on your schedule, but that is in most cases not the case. Let us see how you can twist your daily agenda to favor yourself (and later in the article how to create opportunities when there seem to be none).

Be the one who proactively sets the meetings and schedules the calls you must participate in. Else, these sessions will be scheduled to suit somebody else’s agenda, that is the reward one gets for taking the lead.

Avoid wasting your time in meetings you know will have no meaningful outcome. A good indicator is when a meeting has no agenda. Avoid those like the plague but learn how to say no in a constructive manner.

When you excuse yourself for a meeting, virtual gathering, or conference call, do not leave the organizer empty handed. Share 3 ideas in bullet points to contribute to the session (this will probably exceed the inputs of many participants in the meeting and will likely be remembered).

Do not just let the day “happen”, be proactive and try to get as many blocks of time as possible under your control.

90% is waste – Prioritize

As explained previously, deciding to do one task implies you have decided to do this task over any other task in the world. So, before starting a new endeavor, take a few seconds to reflect whether it is the most useful or the best for your career amongst all other tasks you could be doing at this time.

In the Lean project management methodology, anything that is not adding value is considered as waste. Apply the same reasoning when prioritizing your work and you may be surprised by the amount of time we spend without creating any value for the company or its clients.

“As a rule of thumb, 90% of everything a business does is waste.”
– John Earley, The Lean Book of Lean

While I don’t necessarily disagree with this figure, it is so extreme that it sometimes makes it difficult to know where to start to cut waste. We shall see below, where we can begin this exercise.

Not all tasks are born equal – Use the 80/20 rule

A good starting point to decide which activities deserve the most attention is to view the world through an 80/20 lens.

Also known as the Paretto principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Paretto, Law of the vital few, or principle of factor sparsity, you will find references to this concept in most management books as it is a key concept of productivity.

The main idea is that there is an imbalance between inputs and results, meaning a minority of your efforts (approximately 20% in most cases) will have the majority of the impact (80%).

80% of the value perceived by your customers comes from 20% of your company’s actions.

One common example is spending some time contacting existing or former clients. This takes little time but often yields substantial revenues. However, people tend to allocate very little time to this activity as they are focusing on “growth” (new business).

While the exact percentages inputs/results will obviously vary from one company to another. Keep in mind that all tasks are not equal, and that priority should be given to those that generate the most significant outputs with the least time invested.

Take time to reflect on your latest success (a satisfied client, a new process, reward from your peers, etc.) and list the actions that made it possible and approximately how much time they took you. You may be incredibly surprised by the little amount of time they amount to.

Once identified, always give priority to this category of actions, and try to delegate or cut the actions that take 80% of your time but offer little or no return.

Money talks! A lot! – Put a price tag on your tasks

If it is difficult for you to apply the 80/20 lens and paint a clear picture of the actual return or result of your contributions, below is a technique you can use to differentiate and prioritize your duties by putting a price tag on them.

Ask yourself the following:

Does the task I am about to work on translate into money for the company (or avoids losing some)?

If the answer to this question is no, in most cases it is wise to postpone it, delegate it, or drop it.

If the answer is yes, ask yourself the following:

Could I work on another task that would translate into even more money for the company (or avoiding even larger losses)?

If the answer is no. Do the task. If the answer is yes, complete the task with the higher remuneration first.

If you are not in a position to assess the financial impact of your actions. You can still use the price tag technique to classify your work by asking yourself the following question:

How much would a company usually pay somebody to work on a similar task?

If the answer is below what you are earning, postpone, delegate, or drop the task.

It is fine to make rough estimates, this is not an accounting exercise, the idea is to understand whether the tasks you complete reflect your level of salary and more importantly the salary you are ambitioning to attain.

I can’t count the number of times I have witnessed people in managerial positions spending hours every day chasing suppliers’ payments, correcting typos in reports or emails, summarizing meetings to higher management, checking on employees’ presence, etc. this is such a waste of time and resources. An employee who earns one third of their salary could complete these tasks and would probably do them in a better way.

“If you aspire to earn 500$ an hour, do not spend your time doing tasks that can be done by someone who earns 5$ an hour.”
– Brian Tracy, Master Your Time Master Your Life

Of course, this is not an absolute rule. It is for you to judge if a task has the potential to generate revenue or benefits in the future. For example, inviting your best client for diner, may cost the company money, but safeguard future business.

The client is king – Focus on creating value

Ultimately, no matter how remotely their work is carried out, everybody in your company is being paid by its clients.

Keep this in mind throughout your working day. More specifically, before working on something, ask yourself if it will create value for your clients and if there aren’t any other tasks you could carry out that would generate more value for them. Of course, it must be value they are willing to pay for.

Once you start looking at your company’s work this way, you may be incredibly surprised by the tremendous amount of wasted efforts. Anything that does not contribute directly or indirectly to add value for your clients is likely not worth your efforts.

My personal experience – Design your own tasks

It can feel comforting to complete easy and repetitive tasks but very often they are not the ones creating value for your company.

If your job does not comprise many opportunities to add value for the company and its clients, you have to be proactive, create your own opportunities, and take the lead on issues that matter.

When I was an intern at a luxury wine and spirits distributor who also organized events (this was the part I enjoyed most), whatever the topic being discussed, I was not invited to say much. The General Manager came from the fine dining industry and had a similar character to Gordon Ramsey’s.

I noticed we had many women as clients, but no specific offer for them. I told the General Manager that I believed we were missing out on substantial revenue as the women buying our wine are not participating in our events.

I suggested to test an event focusing on women in the wine industry, inviting women sommeliers, women winegrowers, etc. to present their favorite wines and discuss their experience in a rather masculine line of work.

The General Manager thought I was wrong obviously, but the mention of potential revenue was enough to convince him to check the data (people always listen when you approach them with an idea to generate revenue). To his surprise, he had never noticed that women actually represented the majority of clients in a store that offered a customer experience entirely designed for men.

We organized the event. It crushed the record number of attendees of our past events and led to substantial free press coverage.

This is how I became in charge of redesigning all events for the Swiss market. Had I exclusively stuck to what I had been asked to do, I would have most likely ended up doing deliveries on a full-time basis.

When you focus on the most productive tasks, great things happen, you then get to do more of the interesting work, your motivation soars leading your overall productivity to skyrocket.

This post was originally published on the Impactus Consulting Blog. Republished with permission.

About the Author


Karim Radwan is the Founder of Impactus Consulting, and a Trainer and Consultant with IIL.
Building on his extensive program and project management experience, Karim specializes in productivity and crisis management methods. He is well known for his ability to translate complex issues into simple and actionable concepts. His skillset and enthusiasm have benefited a wide range of clients including fortune 500 companies, startups, and governmental entities.