Short articles I have written from time to time.
- The Power of Definitions
- If you want to be understood, using the right words is essential. But even then, do your readers or listeners really understand your technical terms? Always define your special terms before you start!- May 2013
- Having Trouble with the Latest PM Lingo?
- This is not surprising because the acronyms are getting progressively more obscure. We have a proposal to make many of them more self-evident, based on recent developments - April 2013
- Project Management Issues for Discussion and Research
- The title says it all. Here are twenty suggestions. If you just want an argument,
try defining project management success! - March 2013
- Thoughts on a Global System for Categorizing Projects:
Have we really learned anything new?
- Have we really not learned in the past 25 years that managing the project
is not the same as managing the technology and that it is the latter that is different
for different project categories and not project management? - February 2013
- Good Advice from an Experienced Project Manager
- How popular music helped to resolve conflict with a difficult sponsor by being
determined - January 2013
- Is Max's Scope-Pak Project Planning Serious?
- An avid reader, Al Johnsons, questions the sincerity of Max's Scope-Pak exercise
for getting a project going. Max explains how it is serious and when - November
- Out of WACC
- LinkedIn is an excellent way of finding people you may not know but wish to
contact anyway. Extraordinary conversations can result. This one is about Weighted
Average Cost of Capital or "WACC" as applied to projects - October
- Project View of Bank Robbery
- Even bank robberies need to be properly project managed, and the successful
ones usually are, even though the benefits are questionable! - September 2012
- Showering, Window Washing and Brick Walls
- How to manage the project is well established. This is a lesson in managing
the technology, and knowing the difference - August 2012
- Measuring and Estimating Progress
- We borrow from Joseph Heagney's book Fundamentals
of Project Management reviewed this month in our Papers
to target "Brain work versus Brawn work" and the added challenges of
estimating progress in the IT industry - July 2012
- Using the Right Vocabulary
- Need to Communicate? Then choose the Right Vocabulary! It so happens that
we have just released the Wideman Comparative
Glossary of Project Management Terms v.5.5. This Musing's Appendix
A lists the most recent labels added - June 2012
- Be Honest About Failure - "Call a Spade a Spade"!
- Use failure as a strategy? Doesn't sound like a good idea – unless you choose
to redefine "failure". In "Agile" it seems you can, if you accept the risk - May
- Project Requirements Documents - Why Bother?
- Max questions current thinking about requirements gathering and has his own
suggestions on what to focus on - April 2012
- The Trouble with Continuous Multi-tasking
- Max entertains three authors to talk about multi-tasking and why it is so
difficulty to get things done. The authors offer eight helpful suggestions and
conclude that "How we choose to allocate time to our tasks determines what we
are able to get done." - March 2012
- Sightings of Lessons Learned
- A collection of experiences and what we might, or might not, learn from them
- February 2012
- Defining Project Success within a Range
- In most cases, absolute success is bound to be a failure because the ultimate
is bound to take longer. In most cases, it is better to get near enough and deliver.
How close is "near enough"? Consider adopting Tom Mochal's concept of success
tolerances - January 2012
- Back to PM Basics in Education
- Max suggests it is time to get back to project basics and clearly establish
that management is both an art and a science. He explains why and the practical
implications - November 2011
- AACE's Significant Shift in Intellectual Property
- Authors now retain intellectual property ownership to their contributions
to AACE's publications. But could they do more? - October 2011
- A Lesson Learned in Project Management: Transportation
- The importance of knowing exactly what you are buying - October 2011
- Literature Sightings
- Max takes aim at Bud Baker's quote that "[Project] people want to be with
[project] people" as well as writers who talk about "project success" without
explaining what it means in their context - September 2011
- PMP Lecturers need Real Experience on Real Projects
- "To teach a practical subject you must have practical experience in it" so
said an eminent UK civil engineer. Should this not also apply in project management?
- August 2011
- Yes Minister - A Lesson for Project Managers?
- This hilarious BBC-TV series has serious overtones for project managers -
- Beware These Common Estimating Errors
- Tom Mochal of TenStep highlights eight sources of estimating errors that you
should consciously avoid, especially in IT, with a footnote from Max's experience
- November 2010
- When Does a Project Really Start and Finish?
- Tom Mochal of TenStep fame poses the question and provides a variety of answers.
Then Max expresses his opinion - October 2010
- Why is Good Project Decision-Making So Difficult?
- Project management involves a complex sequence of decision-making, and our
batting average is apparently not good. Perhaps because of so many biasesthere
are just so many of them - September 2010
- Buckets versus Pipelines
- Are you a "bucket carrier" or a "pipeline builder"? Learn how rich people
get very rich - August 2010
- Selling to the Top
- Valuable information for aspiring program managers - if only you could understand
the jargon - July 2010
- Cockup Management
- A new project management discipline, a new field of study, a new body of knowledge!
Settle down to a comfortable read about the CUMBOK - June 2010
- That Dam Case Study Again
- In their project planning, those dam construction beavers overlooked one important
stakeholder - the Regulatory Authority! But the Authority went after the land
owner and not the perpetrators. Read how the issue was resolved - May 2010
- Other People's Washing
- Steve Jenkin, Australia, advocates for "skin in the game" which implies that
project managers should have some personal financial responsibility for their
projects. Good idea or not? - April 2010
- Estimating Corporate Man-hours and the Place of Emails
- A conversation with my friend Tom Mochal of TenStep on the issue of lost productivity
due to Email interruptions and who should pay: the project or corporate administration?
- March 2010
- School Projects: A New Vision of Education
- The Wideman Education Foundation (WEF) introduces high school students to
project management, and author Jeremy Schneider shows how these pm techniques
could improve efficiency and effectiveness in education - February 2010
- Managing Small Change Requests - An Alternative
- A stream of changes on a project, especially small ones, can be a serious
disruption to organized planning and scope control. Tom Mochal suggests three
ways of coping and Max points to the downsides - January 2010
- 30 Ways to Avoid being Fired
- More suggestions, albeit tongue-in-cheek - December 2009
- So You've Been Fired!
- Be ready and "recession-proof" yourself. Fifteen tips on how to
do that - November 2009
- Must You Be an Alpha to Be a Good Project Manager?
- What is an "alpha", what is a "good project manager" and what you can do about
either - October 2009
- Scheduling: Examining the Start to Finish Relationship
- Norris Goff argues for a more accurate definition in the PMBOK® Guide
- Fourth Edition. We agree - September 2009
- Information Technology: Management and Oversight of
Projects Totaling Billions of Dollars Need Attention
- US Government Accountability Office director reports: in 2008, 42% of 840 projects
worth $23.4 billion (36% of $65 billion annual budget) were poorly planned based
on cost, schedule, performance or other issues. But, we think, recommends the
wrong solution - August 2009
- The Most Important Senior Project Manager Characteristics
- Have you ever wondered what best makes a senior project manager? You'd be
surprised - July 2009
- Our Way with Numbers in Life Cycles and Percentage Progress
- A humorous look at the reality of how we look at our personal life cycles
compared to project life spans - June 2009
- Is Your Project At Risk From the "Economic Downturn"?
- The chances are that it is, not just from the loss of key workers but also
from the loss of the critical information that they may take with them - May 2009
- On Institutions, Collaboration and Projects
- Ed Fern's personal story demonstrates how the Internet has revolutionized
virtual project collaboration, and provides a valuable lesson - April 2009
- Comments on Professionalism and Professions
- Steve Jenkin likes to define "Professional" as "Paid Practitioner" and draws
on aviation and health care to explain why - March 2009
- Comments on "The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different"
- Steve Jenkin, a Systems and Design Specialist, reflects on James Bullock's
piece: The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different and offers a different
perspective - February 2009
- The Effects of Institutionalization
- History demonstrates how institutionalization can stifle project management
progress - January 2009
- Study Demonstrates Cultural Differences
- Does the North American culture inhibit communication in multicultural teams?
- December 2008
- Top Ten Trends in Project Management for 2008
- We found ESI International's 2008 top ten PM trends, as presented by Diane
Johnson, most interesting — but we didn't always concur - November 2008
- Corporate Governance and Project Teamwork
- Peter Halas's amusing allegory of body management shows how confrontation
in IT can quickly get out of control - October 2008
- About PMOs and their Responsibilities
- We list 10 critical questions about Portfolio Management Offices, and ask
for your response - September 2008
- Going Green: Is Your Project a Part of the Great
- Many so-called "green" ideas are just good housekeeping as demonstrated by
aphids. But are people just climbing on the latest bandwagon and making a killing
– literally?! We provide some examples - August 2008
- The Curse of Knowledge and Making Decisions
- How many buttons do you have on your TV remote and how many of them do you
understand? See how this relates to quality decision-making and your current project!
- July 2008
- The Value of Project Management
- We didn't exactly write this one. Instead, Tom Mochal allowed us to quote
a very simple and lucid description he wrote a few months earlier. We just added
our comments - June 2008
- Identifying a Client's Project Sponsor
- I try to answer a visitor's question: "How do you identify a Client’s Sponsor,
whether internal or external, when one is not identified, is reluctant to come
forward, or is unwilling to take responsibility?" - May 2008
- A Little Bit of PMI History
- In a serious attempt at "decluttering", we came across our own forecast
for PMI, exactly two decades ago. Were we right? You be the judge - April 2008
- Change in Project Method Sparks Litigation
- New public transit line causes uninvited hardship to shopkeepers - March 2008
- Old Wine in New Bottles?
- A PRE-mortem before a post-mortem? Sounds like project risk management to
us - February 2008
- Oil Industry Leadership and the Price of Gas
- Oil industry chiefs may be on the defensive, but the problem is not that the
price of oil is too high, but rather that it is too low - January 2008
- Should Project Managers Retire?
- The place of elders in our community, respect for their knowledge and wisdom
and the data to wisdom hierarchy - December 2007
- Supercharged Brainstorming
- Five-step brainstorming may be the default approach, but now you can supercharge
your sessions with the Kishore Dharmarajan's Eight-step INNOVATE approach - November
- Scope Changes, Good or Bad?
- How constructive opportunities switch to destructive interventions - October
- The Duties of a Project Secretary
- A missing job description is explained - September 2007
- Managing Project Metrics
- A popular word these days, but what does it really mean and which are most
important? - August 2007
- Formatting Project Templates
- Why I provide "Issacons" and not Word templates for standard forms
(because I want you to think!) Instead, I offer some helpful tips
on formatting your own templates - July 2007
- Am I a Good Project Manager?
- A good question for any project manager to ask. This writer obviously is -
- The Role of a Leader
- A recent email criticizing "leaders" generally, prompted my thoughts
about the project manager - May 2007
- Is the Project Manager's Job Really Any Different?
- A site visitor asks us whether the project manager's job is really any different
from a line manager. We think it is - April 2007
- Estimating Task Durations
- Harvey Levine thinks it's like catching fish. It's anybody's guess, but that's
not good enough - March 2007
- Project Start Date
- When does a project really start? Well apparently, it all depends . . . -
- Career Change Decision: To Be or Not To Be a Project
- Our thoughts on this tantalizing question - January 2007
- Planning and Construction - Dam Case Study
- A light-hearted case study from the environment somewhere in Ontario - December
- Projects to Green Vancouver
- Bicycles versus cars in greening Vancouver, BC - November 2006
- Is Sustainable Development an Oxymoron?
- A tongue-in-cheek look at the implications of sustainable development in our
local area of Vancouver, BC, and the real problem facing the world's environment
- October 2006
- Taking Over an Existing Project: Things You Can Do
- Some useful tips - September 2006
- A Lesson in Simplicity - Case Study
- It's fun to poke fun at management but these examples are not so far from
reality, just not all on the same project as this is - August 2006
- PMBOK® Guide 2004 and PRINCE2 2005 Compared
- This month's Guest paper by Colin Bentley comparing PRINCE2™ (UK) and
the PMBOK® Guide (US) is a major contribution to this web site. We couldn't
help adding our own comments on the merits and shortcomings of both documents
- July 2006
- Contract Selection for Infrastructure versus
- We try to answer two more questions raised by readers: How do you outsource
management of multiple contracts? and How do you create a contract template for
software/hardware installation and training services? - June 2006
- Virtual Management and Cost or Time to Projects
- We try to answer two questions raised by readers: Can a project manager manage
a project remotely? and How much time should a project manager be allocating to
a project? - May 2006
- What is the Answer When You Don't Know the Question? (aka
Fiscal Budgeting for Project Portfolios)
- Each fiscal year organizations involved in IT project portfolios face a conundrum:
how many projects can they undertake and how much will each cost for budgeting
purposes when all they have is need statements. We present some ideas - April 2006
- "Groupthink", Good or Bad?
- A reader expresses his difficulty over dealing with groupthink and seeks our
opinion - March 2006
- The Way to Get Ahead
- We reflect on how a thirteen-year-old prediction by Dr. Martin Barnes has
come true that project management would explode into the corporate business world
- February 2006
- Project Vision: Yes or No?
- Does your project have a vision? A vision that everyone in your team is familiar
with, inspired by, and focused on? What is a "vision" anyway? - January 2006
- Process Groups and the Profession - Part II
- In spite of people's claims, this article explains why project management
is a long way from being recognized as a true profession - December 2005
- Process Groups and the Profession - Part I
- A persuasive argument for changing the labels of the so-called project management
process groups, a plea to stop perpetuating further confusion! - November 2005
- Project Management: An Ever-Changing Flux of Messy Situations?
- My observations on serious research by two authors who compare "hard"
and "soft" systems perspectives of project management - October 2005
- Best Practice: The Holy Grail of Project Management,
or Fallacious Argument?
- "Best Practice" is touted as the benchmark by which your project
should be judged, but how reliable is it really? - September 2005
- Methodologies: A Metaphor
- Just another word for design of project life span? Much more important than
that! Jason Charvat writes a whole book on Project Management Methodologies
- August 2005
- Project Management as a Professional Career
- Is project management really for you? Some helpful suggestions on this all-important
question in response to an email inquiry - July 2005
- Fixing Bad Projects
- Four main causes of failure and six practices designed to fix the underlying
causes for large projects in deep trouble - June 2005
- Do Trade Show Exhibits Count as Projects?
- My views prompted by one of a steady stream of inquiries. Some projects are
only projects if you decide to make them so and manage them as such - May 2005
- Value Proposition: Real Value or Muddled Math?
- Some time ago we received a beguiling sales pitch that did not bear close
examination. Nevertheless, it did raise important issues about the asset values
of the products we produce from our projects - April 2005
- Jellyfish and Tadpoles
- A somewhat irreverent look at two serious PM diagrams, and a short lesson
on the metamorphic life of a tadpole - March 2005
- Micro Managing and Two Cans of Beer
- A fun object lesson in project management - February 2005
- PMBoK, Order and Six-Sigma
- The Project Management Institute's Body of Knowledge has eight management
specialist areas. Have you ever considered their logical sequence? Todd Just raises
the issue together with the merits of six-sigma - January 2005
- A Question on Real-Life Contract Closure
- Barbara White and Dr. David Frame exchange thoughts on problems associated
with closing a contract - December 2004
- Where Do Projects Come From?
- Kevin Lines of Queensland, Australia, asks about problem solving and decision-making
particularly associated with project selection — and we try to answer it!
- November 2004
- An Interesting Exchange on Managing Software Development
- Joe Marasco and Max Wideman discuss Key Success Indicators as a vehicle for
control of technically challenging projects such as software development - September
- An Exciting New Model of Project Management
- Who says project management never makes any progress? Joe Marasco picks up
on an article we wrote and publishes a ground-breaking paper about modeling project
management in IBM's premier software magazine. This musing provides a brief overview
- June 2004
- Projects, Politics and Process: Lesson Learned?
Large Projects and the 2010 Olympics
- A practical example of the importance of designing a sound project life span
and how not to start off a big project - May 2004
- Project Risk Management and Unexpected Outcomes
- Much has been written about project risks, yet relatively little seems to
have been written about unexpected outcomes. Here is an actual example - April
- Those Sexy Triangles Again
- A revisit to Triangles, Sex and Simplicity.
This time I demonstrate the problem with graphics and, at last, have found the
perfect solution! - March 2004
- The Voyage of Discovery Project
- A personal example of why a traditional project management approach doesn't
work - February 2004
- The Top 10 Ways Software Projects are Different
- James Bullock's thoughtful comments arose out of a question posed to the NewGrange
discussion list; Max responds - January 2004
- Triangles, Sex and Simplicity
- Quality should be the reason to bury that wretched triangle once and for all
in favor of a square, but we rather doubt it will - December 2003
- Learning from NASA
- Every project should have adequate contingency or risk management funds in
its budget but this is the antithesis of general management practice - November
- A Question of Attitude
- Given the aggressive competition between project management consultants, "inventing"
new project management techniques should not come as a surprise - October 2003
- Project Lessons Learned?
- Twelve years after Desert Storm it seems pertinent to ask: Was it really such
a success? And what lessons have we really learned from it? - September 2003
- Project Management as a Profession: Lost Vision, Take-over
or New Direction?
- A decade has passed since "The O&M Study" was presented to the Project Management
Institute. Much has changed since then. The question is: Is it for the better?
You decide. - August 2003
- Two into One Won't Go
- Fresh water supply is a problem, and so are big water supply projects - December
- The Case for a Software Architect's Profession
- The number of software projects outstrips those in construction, yet results
are disappointing. Is it the fault of project management or of technology management?
- January 2003
- Defining Requirements
- Maybe we should start rethinking our systems approach to project management
and begin presenting a better methodology - October 2002
- Satisfying Requirements (software project managers
- Three short anecdotes to give software leaders pause for thought - November
- Consensus versus Consent
- How does a team reach agreement on contentious issues? - September 2002
- What Does a PM Do?
- You would think that by now the answer is well established, but apparently
not - August 2002
- What's in a Name?
- Considering the vital part that projects play in our modern society today,
you would have thought that by now a clear definition would have emerged - June
- Project Management, PMBoK and Order
- It seems that the thoughtful observations of Philip Nunn some fifteen years
ago constitute a concept too erudite to be given serious consideration - even
today - February 2002 (updated)
- A New Project Management Standard?
- Rumor has it that work has started on an update of PMBoK to be published in
2005 - December 2001 (updated)
- Why We Added a Site Map - and Why It Is the Way It Is
- Our web site now contains a considerable amount of useful reference material.
The time had come for some sort of indexing, but on what basis? - October 2002
- September Eleven: All Else Pales by Comparison
- After all the pontification is over we must ask ourselves the serious question
of what to do? - August 2002
- When is a Project Not a Project?
- How many projects are there that, for the team members, are not projects at
all, but just regular operational routine? - July 2002
- Will They Never Learn?
- Not that we have anything against five phases but we believe the most fundamental
principle behind project management is two periods - October 2001
- Is Project Teamwork Overblown?
- By all means develop a project plan but the object of the exercise is not
to hold a tea party but to get an item of work delivered! - September 2001
- Licensing Project Managers: Good or Bad Idea?
- The subject of licensing or certification of project managers warrants much
discussion - August 2001
- Ethics and Sustainable Development Initiatives in Construction
- What can we do given our current "political-correctness" constraints
- June 2001
- The Biggest Project of All
- Now that the short-lived dust has settled over the demise of the Kyoto Accord
we can say that it should have come as no surprise to anyone - June 2001
- A Case for Risk Management
- A gaping hole suddenly appeared and continued to enlarge for several days;
arguably the worst civil engineering disaster in the UK in the last quarter century
- May 2001
- Standards for Very Large Projects
- IPMA and PMI have adopted different standards; which do you use? - April 2001
- Real Progress
- Our title could be referring to progress in any field, but we are focusing
here on real progress in the understanding of the PM discipline - March 2001
- Is the WBS War About to Break Out Again?
- Should a Work Breakdown Structure decomposition be in terms of the activities
of the project or of its deliverables? - December 2000
- Is the Approach to Scientific Development Appropriate
for Project Management?
- A position paper that I presented to the Education Track of the Project Management
Institute - 1994
- Project Life Cycle One Size Fits All
- What PLC is appropriate? Can they be standardized? And is there one that fits
all projects? - October 2000
- People, Work and Projects Around the World
- For those of us who enjoy a 'western' life style wherever we may live, we
should be thankful - and mindful of the excessive waste we create - September
- Practice versus Theory
- What is the origin of project management and where is its theoretical foundation?
- July 2000
- Getting Top Management on Side
- Project management is found in almost all industries, but this expansion has
not come without its difficulties - June 2000
- Communication: The Project Life Blood
- Without people nothing gets done and without communication nobody knows what
to do - May 2000
- What Price Professionalism?
- Apparently, a well-known project management association has seen fit to sue
some of its own most productive members - February 2000
- Major PM Associations Contemplate Licensing of Project
- Exactly thirty years ago I wrote this article but upon reviewing its content
recently I might just as well have been writing today.
- Critical Questions from an Overseas Web-site Visitor
- Q&A with an overseas visitor to our web site - January 2000
- Professional Associations and the Balance of Power
- There is strength in numbers. Associations and not-for-profit associations
are formed by groups seeking to gain support for their particular practices by
collective action - August 2000
- Project Management Globalization Two Points
- Only freedom of intellectual thought and expression will benefit professional
advancement and enable technical progress to be made - March 2000
- On Project Success and Failure
- Lessons learned, starting as a small boy - February 2001
- Project Management for the New Millennium
- Project management is a discipline. There is a lot of work to be done before
we can call ourselves a profession - January 2000
- Risk: Failure or Opportunity?
- A classic project failure that became a huge success, lasting for centuries
- December 1999
- Lacking in Principles?
- Disagreement and disarray in project management. What is needed is a set of
basic project management principles providing a universal reference baseline -