Monday, July 30, 2012

Power Up Your Agile Product Planning & Analysis: Collaborate to Deliver Value – Complimentary Web Seminar

Power Up Your Agile Product Planning & Analysis: Collaborate to Deliver Value
 - Ellen Gottesdiener,  Founder, Principal Consultant, EBG Consulting, Inc.
Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET
Reserve your webinar seat now at:

For continual value delivery, stakeholders must partner to reach a shared understanding of the product needs. How does this partnership gain a focused yet holistic understanding of the highest-value needs? How to the partners effectively plan so that the delivery team builds the right product, at the right time?

Join Ellen Gottesdiener, co-author with Mary Gorman of the soon-to-be released book, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning & Analysis, and learn how to engage in "structured conversations" that explore, evaluate and confirm product options.

Ellen shares the 7 Product Dimensions and shows how they both transcend and deepen stories and personas. She explains how you collaborate to discover options, assess options using the partners' value considerations and allocate options to delivery cycles. You'll learn how these conversations fuel your daily product discovery work, enable you to quickly plan and analyze to deliver high-value candidate solutions.

Bonus! One lucky attendee will win a copy of the just released book, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning & Analysis.

Participants will also receive a subscription to EBG's eNewsletter, Success with Requirements.
By registering you submit your information to the webinar organizer, as well as the presenter, to communicate with you regarding this event and their other services.

About Ellen Gottesdiener
Ellen Gottesdiener is founder and principal of EBG Consulting, experts helping you deliver high-value products your customers want and need. Ellen is an internationally recognized facilitator, coach, trainer, speaker and expert in agile product management practices, product envisioning and roadmapping, business analysis and requirements, retrospectives, and collaboration. She works with global clients and speaks at numerous numerous industry conferences.

Author of two acclaimed books-Requirements by Collaboration and The Software Requirements Memory Jogger- Ellen is co-authoring (with Mary Gorman) a book on practical agile planning and analysis practices. View articles, Ellen's tweets and blog, free eNewsletter, and find a variety of useful practitioner resources on EBG's website,

About EBG Consulting
EBG Consulting experts help you deliver high-value products your customers want and need. Based on many years of experience in a variety of domains, EBG helps you calibrate your practices to produce timely, quality products. EBG is a leader in helping business and technical teams collaborate to deliver valued, useful and usable products using the agile practice. EBG helps you incorporate appropriate business and requirements analysis practices to ensure a shared understanding of product needs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Flicks: Kanban -- Limit Work In Progress and Go Faster

Here on the Project World and World Congress for Business Analysts blog, we sometimes like to share insights from our live event. For this week's video pick, enjoy a recording of our 2011 session Kanban -- Limit Work In Progress and Go Faster with Linda Cook. In this video, Linda Cook introduces Kanban and gives the audience at PW&WCBA some tips on implementing Kanban in their organizations.

We learn that Kanban can:
Help visualize the process with workflow models
Help to identify bottlenecks when the steps of the process are drawn on a model
Encourage continuous improvement
Minimize the initial impact of changes
and May help reduce the resistance to change

Have you considered using Kanban to improve the speed of projects in your organization?

Interested in learning more about Kanban? Join us for Agile: The Kanban Way with Gil Irizarry, Program Manager, Constant Contact in our half day Agile summit this September at PW&WCBA. Download the brochure for access to more information on the 2012 event, and more PW&WCBA 2011 videos and insights.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Go From a Positional Leader to an Influential Leader

If you’re in a leadership role, it’s always a good practice to assess how you got there and where you’re going. Are you satisfied with your performance as a leader, or would you like to hone your skills, and become more effective? Are the people who report to you productive and happy? Or do you feel disconnected from them?

One way to become more effective is to make the transition from being a positional leader to being an influential leader. Positional leaders are people who only lead because of their title or position. True leadership is getting people inspired because of who you are, not what job is listed on your business cards. Influential leaders can motivate through action, not title. It is important to know which type of leader you are.

Positional Leaders Often Lack the Human Touch

Positional leaders depend on their title, power or position to influence people and get them to listen to them. Because they have not developed the traits required to lead others, they are leaders in name only. They draw their importance from their job title instead of their job performance. Positional leaders simply don’t have the human touch when it comes to recognizing others’ goals, needs and motivations – and are therefore less effective, and in some cases, completely ineffective.

Influential Leaders Draw Others In

On the other hand, influential leaders are powerful, whether or not they have real power. They tend to be natural leaders, whom others go to for help, advice or just to have a question answered. Influential leaders are connectors who make those around them work harder. They tend to seek consensus, value others’ opinions and listen intently when someone is speaking. Finally, influential leaders draw people in, and are open to their ideas.

Influential leaders care about their work. Howard Schultz, founder and CEO of Starbucks returned to his position when the company began to struggle. Under his leadership, the company once again began to flourish. Schultz further exemplified influential leadership when he led over 140 top American executives to boycott contributing campaign funds to incumbents. Though these executives didn’t work for Schultz and were just as powerful in position, he was able to influence them.

Which Type of Leader Are You?

There are specific traits that can help you define your leadership style. Positional leaders tend to feel defensive when others’ opinions differ from theirs. They feel as though they should be more influential than others based on their higher position within the company. They are not always receptive to hearing ideas from lower level employees.

Influential leaders love giving credit where credit is due. They are big on collaboration and open to hearing the opinions of their team. Someone who is willing to mentor a young employee is most likely an influential leader.

To test what sort of leader you are, think back to the last time that you were complimented on the work of your team. Did you take all of the credit or praise everyone’s hard work? Positional leaders might feel that they deserve the credit simply because they were in charge. Influential leaders would feel proud of what the entire team accomplished. Fortunately, with some effort, positional leaders can develop into influential leaders.

Four Ways to Become an Influential Leader

·         Gain Respect By Giving Respect

Influential leaders give respect and are highly respected; positional leaders struggle to earn respect. So first, assess how much respect you demonstrate to others in the workplace. Do you respect your direct reports as much as you respect your boss? If not, you can be sure they know that. Focus on giving everyone the same respect you give your superiors.

·         Your Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words

Remember that your employees are watching you, even when you think they are not. Someone will notice when you take the time to say a few thoughtful words to an employee who’s having a tough time. Someone will see you holding a door open for the person behind you. Someone will most certainly notice when you cut someone off in the company parking lot. When you have the opportunity to do the right thing, by all means do it – and not just because you hope someone’s watching.

·         Build Trust By Being Responsible

Earning the trust of your employees is essential to being an influential leader. Trust is built when you clearly mean what you say, do what you say you’re going to do, and take responsibility for both – even when your words or actions turn out to be wrong.

·         Tell the Truth

Credibility is an undeniable trait of an influential leader. Whether you are selling a product, pitching a new idea, or motivating your employees to a higher level of performance, your audience needs to believe that you are telling the truth. Most people are simply bad liars – so to avoid completely losing your credibility, always tell the truth.

Make the effort to become an influential leader, and you will make it happen. You’ll earn the respect of your employees – and even more important – you’ll feel their respect. If you’ve been a positional leader thus far, the transition may take some time. Luckily, it will be well worth your effort, as you watch your team flourish under your influential leadership.

Ryan Sauer is a writer and editor for Bisk Education in association with University Alliance. He actively writes about project management and organizational leadership  with a goal of helping professionals succeed in leadership training.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Leadership and Learning

About this time last month, guest blogger Peter Sloane posted here about leadership skills: how does one go about learning and actively building them? I also discussed the need for developing so-called "soft skills" in becoming a leader, and cited our "Elevating the Role: From Manager to Leader" track at PW&WCBA as one of particular interest.

Not satisfied, we opened the conversation up to our excellent community on the Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts LinkedIn group. One of our members stated:
"The first half of that time I would say I learned experientially but during the second half I become much more proactive in developing my leadership skills. During the first 10 years I was very fortunate in that my boss moved me around every 2 or 3 years and gave me organizations that needed “fixing”. Each had a different problem that required a unique solution. I learned a tremendous amount about leadership through this experience. Unfortunately, I see many managers that don’t learn much through this process because they aren’t given enough of a challenge." 

Another stated that building leadership skills "takes:
1) a personal acknowledgement that you must learn to lead at least yourself
2) observation of the areas in which you work and live (there are examples all around)
3) a decision to change (or not) with which you can live." and added " Leaders lead, no matter what position they hold." 

And yet another member noted that "An effective manager can drive day to day operations, but an effective leader can convince and inspire the team towards achieving the strategic vision, through their daily efforts."

In a PW&WCBA webinar with Peter Saddington today, Saddington stated that he focuses on the "squishy" side of things, which is to say, soft skills, the ability to build trust and to find the strengths and weaknesses of your team members and bring out those strengths. It recalled this conversation to my mind. It seems that regardless of the scope of your project or your goal, the need for leadership skills remains the same.

Some seem to feel it is relatively inherent, others learned, but regardless everyone seems to agree that it is something an individual needs to step up to and actively take on, evaluating your teams needs and facing challenges.

Would you agree? The conversation continues, join us on LinkedIn to share your thoughts. 

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Project Management Event You Can't Afford to Miss - Earn Up to 36 PDUs

The new frontiers in PM are addressing the issues such as measuring the PM maturity level of companies and institutions; building effective teams; managing risks; capitalizing failures into assets; communicating the vision without ambiguity and ultimately putting passion into work profile to convert vision into reality and abstract into concrete.

Stay up-to-date with the latest tools, techniques and methods being used in the new frontier of project management at ProjectWorld® & World Congress for Business Analysts®. Plus, earn up to 36 PDUS.

PW&WCBA is the leading event for project management professionals. Stretching far beyond the fundamentals, PW&WCBA will provide you with the skills you need to succeed in today's high-pressured business environment.

Sessions designed for the project manager include:

• New Frontiers in PM: Creating High Performing Teams, South African State Information Technology Agency
• How to Add Value to Organizations through PM & BA Collaboration, PepsiCo
• Large Scale Crisis Management and Recovery: Integrated Project Management at Work, The Boeing Company
• PMOs: Keeping Pace with a Growing Company, Green Shield Canada
• Are Your PM Tools Keeping Up with the Latest Innovations, Trends & Techniques?, The Travelers Companies, Inc.
• Transition from Project Manager to Portfolio Manager, NAV Canada

And much more! Download the brochure for the full conference agenda (Plus, you'll also receive a copy of the 2011 Executive Summary & exclusive web seminar "10 Traits of an Agile Product Owner")

We've already had an overwhelming response to PW&WCBA - don't miss your opportunity to set the foundation to achieve your career goals and become a leader within your organization. As a reader of our blog we'd like to offer you an exclusive 15% discount off the standard registration rate with code PW12BLOG. For more information on the ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts and to register, visit our webpage.

For more information on the ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts and to register, visit our webpage.

We hope to see you in Orlando this September! The ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts Team

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Flicks: What The Jargon?

Sometimes the project management and business analysis world can feel like wading through an endless stream of jargon, especially for a newcomer. PM, PPM, IIBA, WBS, Gantt, PMBoK, Kanban and so on. Add in our twitter hashtags like #PMOT and #PMChat and you have another level of complexity. Yet we're always focusing on ways to improve communication, doesn't this jargon get in the way?

Well yes, I imagine sometimes it does, and for someone new to the field it may seem an insurmountable challenge to also learn a new language to go with your new skills, but one value that this language creates is that it allows for less ambiguity. Having widely agreed upon project management-specific words codified helps the process by putting team members on the same page. When you're on a tight deadline the last thing you want is to be tripped by up unnecessary misunderstandings. Take our piece last week on scrum meetings: one of the real benefits of the strict structure of a scrum meeting is that it is dictated how this meeting will go: no getting caught up in side conversations or derailed by interpersonal issues allowed.

Still feeling a bit lost? This week's video pick might help, in this video Jennifer Whit, Director of explains her Top 10 Terms Used By Project Managers. Check it out:

Do you struggle with jargon, or do you find that it helps understanding? Let us know.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Signs You Need A New Project Manager

As project managers try to maximize their impact with fewer resources, the focus on developing leaders and leadership have become a much discussed topic.  Either having the wrong leadership or someone who is lacking project management skills can be a detriment to any organization and can effect everything from team morale, to skill development, project completion and even the track of someone's career.  

How do you know you need a new project manager?  Here are some things to look for:

  • Your project manager is receiving complaints.  Clearly, no business runs without flaws, but when your project manager is accused of spending too much money, can't help your team meet their deadlines, is constantly blaming others for their lack of success, and doesn't seem to ever have access to enough resources, there is a problem.  No project manager should be constantly facing criticism.

  • Your project manager isn't a leader.  Leaders are charismatic people who cast a vision – or receive one from management – and get it done by passing that vision on to their team.  If your project manager seems overwhelmed by the details of the day and unable to see the “bigger picture” then your team may need someone with stronger management and communication skills.

  • The scope of the project is either too big, too small or too confusing.  Defining the scope of a project is one of the ways that your project manager can set you up for success. . . or failure. When the scope of a project is too big, achieving it becomes impossible; when it is too small it causes boredom among team members.  The worst situation is when there is no scope at all.  In that case, confusion abounds, causing frustration and resentment on the team.  Defining the scope is up to the project manager.

  • Stakeholders are not engaged.  When a project manager moves forward on an initiative without considering the people that are affected, that can be a catastrophic problem.  Over time, changes made before all parties are consulted can end up not addressing the needed changes and pushing people and processes off task.  Stakeholders can range from management above or lateral to the project manager, as well as customers, team members or even other teams who either funnel work to your team or receive it.  No matter which stakeholders are involved in the process, it is a critical mistake to work in a vacuum, one that can destroy the affinity of a team and their ability to work effectively.

There are many reasons that a project manager might need to be replaced.  Whether the project manager is unable to deal with basic issues and is receiving complaints, lack leadership skills, have ignored stakeholders or whether they are unable to correctly define the scope of the project, they may need to be replaced by someone who has more experience and qualifications. 

Ryan Sauer is a writer and editor for Bisk Education in association with University Alliance. He actively writes about project management in different industries and strives to help professionals succeed in getting their projectmanagement certification. Through the University Alliance, Ryan writes to help enable professionals obtain their PMP certification online.

Monday, July 16, 2012

PW&WCBA exclusive interview: Joseph A. Lukas, PMP, PE, CCE Vice-President, PMCentersUSA

Leading up to ProjectWorld® & World Congress for Business Analysts®  we're speaking with some of our featured 2012 speakers to bring you a taste of the 2012 event. Today we bring you an exclusive interview with Joseph A. Lukas, PMP, PE, CCE Vice-President, PMCentersUSA.

Joe Lukas, Vice President of PMCentersUSA, has over 30 years' experience in project management encompassing project portfolio management and international project management. His projects have spanned numerous industries, including manufacturing, product development, information technology, and construction. Learn more on the PMCentersUSA website here.

PW: Can you give us a sneak peek of what your workshop will be at Project World?

JL: I created this 1/2-day workshop specifically for people who want to achieve excellence in managing project risks. Do you find yourself constantly 'putting out fires' on your projects? This workshop will show you how to become proactive rather than reactive by learning an effective risk management process including best practices for risk identification, risk analysis and risk response planning. I designed this workshop to be highly interactive, with exercises to allow attendees to try the best practices presented during the workshop. It will help attendees better manage the risks on their projects.

PW: How did you first become interested in risk management? 

JL: When I first started managing projects, I quickly realized that 'things happen' on projects and I observed some Project Managers who were constantly sidetracked by events that could have been anticipated. What a waste of time and energy! I realized it's more efficient and effective to plan ahead to deal with the inevitable uncertainty that exists on projects.

PW: You have a PMP certification - but is risk management also important for those working as BAs?

Business Analysts need to develop the project requirements and there are many risk events that can impact their efforts. Risk management needs to be part of their plan in order for the project to succeed!

PW: What is one step our readers can take to begin to 'anticipate the unanticipated' on their projects? 

Schedule a brainstorming workshop with your project team to focus on the risk events that could impact the project objectives. Risk management is not difficult to use provided you are committed to making managing project risks an ongoing process. Reviewing the status of project risks should be part of every project team meeting.

Interesting in learning more? Join us for Risk Management Excellence for PM & BA Disciplines with Joseph Lukas, PMP, PE, CCE, Vice President, PMCentersUSA on September 10th, 2012. As a reader of our blog we'd like to offer you an exclusive 15% discount off the standard registration rate with code PW12BLOG. For more information on the ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts and to register, visit our webpage. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Flicks: Why is communication so darn hard?

Earlier this week, guest blogger Peter Sloane commented here about communication challenges, and particularly the challenges that can arise as schedules and attitudes become more casual for summer.

Here in the PW&WCBA headquarters we recently missed a project team scrum meeting as so many members of the team were out on various July-4th-related holidays. Luckily it's a slower season, but what if an important deadline was missed or something slipped through the cracks as the scrum meeting went by the wayside? Part of our problem is, the team is just too big, if we kept the main meeting as a "scrum of scrums" and had smaller project teams meet separately scheduling issues wouldn't be quite so difficult.

Appropriately, PW&WCBA favorite Joseph Flahiff tweeted this illustrative video this morning: How do you deal with large project teams? Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summertime Work Woes

Communication" is always a hot button topic at PW&WCBA - what communication challenges are you facing? Have you found any tools to aid communication for your team?

Summer time is always a fun and festive time of year; pool parties, beach barbeques, family vacations… However these activities can often create a strain on effective communication in the workplace.  In order to overcome these challenges during the peak summer months, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, where the work dress code is not the only thing a little more relaxed, I follow a few simple guidelines to ensure successful communication continues.
First and foremost, knowing/communicating both yours and your team’s summer schedule is vital.  Knowing who is going to be where/when is essential to ensure key deliverables are being met and in the time frame expected.  Having a transparent view allows for effective timing in scheduling projects and simply knowing if the staffing present is going to available to approve and/or deliver key components of a project.

Working in an absentee environment, whether it is seasonal or habitual, Collaborative Communication is essential!  With that, I recommend utilizing a simple reporting process called “Key Communicator Calls.”  These calls, offer a quick and seamless process where project leads can call into a cross divisional collaborative conference call, report and/or receive status updates on projects, keep on track and ensure all expectations are set.  An overly simplified process perhaps, nonetheless, a tool that has been useful to keep multiple teams, across multiple regions on track and in synch.

Getting Ahead:
Planning a strategic roll out with limited resources can be challenging this time of year.  Moreover, facing the unknown challenges that lie ahead can make “navigating through uncharted waters,” even more challenging; especially if working with external, third party vendors.  Not necessarily knowing the responsiveness or “summer environment” of an outside provider can add to summer challenges.  With that, build time into your project plan, something seemingly small as Summer Fridays, can completely set a project off course.  Additionally, allotting budget for unexpected Rush Fees and other unexpected challenges is highly recommended.

Communicating these simple steps, can truly aid and assist a team in delivering and hitting targets.  Again, these tasks might appear to be overly simplified; but, however simple and easy, they are useful tools for supporting communication in a challenging environment.

Peter Sloane is currently a cross divisional Project Manager at IIR USA and has manged projects within Change Management, Communications Campaigns and Employee Development.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creating and Sustaining High-Performance Teams for Managers and Executives

We've been talking about leadership a lot lately both here on the PW&WCBA blog, as well as on the LinkedIn group, so it seemed appropriate that our 2011 attendee web seminar series kicked off with a session titled "Creating and Sustaining High-Performance Teams for Managers and Executives" by recurring favorite Peter Saddington.

Saddington shared some excellent insights with the group, two of which I would like to pass on here. First, the idea that as a leader your primary task should be as a "unblocker of impediments" and secondly that when approaching a team you should force yourself to "always assume the best." These two factors for me encompass the main shift from manager to leader - a leader can trust the team to do what needs to be done, but simultaneously lead by providing the resources or removing the roadblocks to progress. Would you agree?

Saddington also had a number of resources available for those looking to do some additional reading after the webinar, or for those who could not attend:
- Free Assessment and Coaching Giveaway
- Leveraging Team Science and Cultural Analytics
- Understanding Agile Culture
- Overview of Action & Influence and Team Science

Did you miss the session? 2011 PW&WCBA webinar attendees have free access to this resource. Check your email or crowdvine for details on accessing the recording.

Plus, don't miss out on our series for 2012, register for PW&WCBA for access. As a reader of our blog we'd like to offer you an exclusive 15% discount off the standard registration rate with code PW12BLOG. For more information on the ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts and to register, visit our webpage.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Four characteristics of successful cultural buildings projects

The University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center, in partnership with the Harris School of Public Policy and the research organization NORC recently undertook a study of building projects including museums, performing arts centers (PACs), and theaters.

One of their most amazing findings: "Eighty percent of the projects we studied ran over budget, some by as much as 200 percent." Watch this video for a bit more background on the study:

Helpfully for those undertaking this sort of large scale building project, the team generated a list of four characteristics that were associated with successful cultural buildings projects (emphasis ours):

1. The project’s motivation, driven by both the organization’s artistic mission and by organizational need, was the primary purpose for building.

2. Project leadership that was clear and consistent throughout the planning and building process improved the chance of positive outcomes.

3. Efficient project timelines and the effectiveness of the project leadership helped determine a project’s success in implementation.

4. Project outcomes were influenced by how flexible the organization was in generating revenue post-project completion, and how effective the project leaders were at controlling expenses.

View the study's "Quick Overview" document for a great feasibility matrix showing the relationship of these characteristics. These characteristics mirror many of the suggestions we see time and again at PW&WCBA: for example effective leadership, clear communication, the ability to change course in response to changing needs. What other takeaways can project leaders use from this study?

Visit the Set In Stone website to learn more.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA and the voice behind the @Project_World twitter. She may be reached at

Monday, July 2, 2012

Crowdsourcing: Your Project Management Questions Answered

This September at Project World and The World Congress for Business Analysts, in our Social Communication, Innovation & Collaboration track we're looking forward to an interactive session on Applying Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management in Today's Complex World with Kathleen Gotthelf, Director, Pfizer and Lisa Diane Kastner, Program Manager, Pfizer.

In that interactive, social collaboration spirit, we ask you our readers: "what one question would you want these two experts to answer?"

The PW&WCBA blog will be presenting an exclusive Q & A with Kathleen Gotthelf, Director, Pfizer and Lisa Diane Kastner, Program Manager, Pfizer here on the blog to be published at the beginning of August. Get us your questions now for inclusion in the interview.

Email me at, post your questions as a comment here or ask us on twitter at hashtag #PWWCBA.

To learn more about PW&WCBA and the Pfizer session, visit our website and download the brochure.