Saturday, February 22, 2014

Here Comes The Boom! An NFL Champion Illustrates Key Business Analysis Skills

Perhaps you are a long way from wearing a 12th Man jersey - even further away from sitting in a dedicated Richard Sherman cheering section.  In fact, you may be a Peyton Manning admirer who wants nothing else to do with things that go boom! Even so, if you have an ounce of passion for the game of football, you must acknowledge that Richard Sherman - a key component of the Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom (LOB) - is a defensive force with which to be reckoned - arguably the best cornerback currently playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Leading the way for his pass-resistant LOB brothers in 2013, Sherman finished first in the league with 8 interceptions3.  He contributed to the Seahawks' achievement of fewest passing yards allowed in the NFL2.   Amongst a host of other accomplishments, Sherman closed out the 2013 season by earning his first Super Bowl ring.

Sherman's success is no accident.  In addition to his uncompromising work ethic (with regard to the physical components of the game), the Stanford graduate includes hours of detailed analysis in his pre-game regimen.   On a special segment of ESPN's show NFL Turning Point, Dan Patrick shared an interview where Sherman describes the importance of detailed analysis.

"... I'm a decent athlete, but my tape study and meticulous attention to detail are what makes me a good ball player ...”

Sherman went on to describe that his analysis includes calling cornerbacks from other teams.  He consults with these defensive backs to better understand their personal experience with receivers he will soon face.

While Sherman places great emphasis on analysis before the game, his ability to conduct on the field, game-time analysis and make adjustments is equally impressive.  In a special appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Ryan Clark acknowledged this ability.  Clark explained that Sherman (and his teammates) studied before the game to understand what the Denver Broncos were likely to do in the Super Bowl.  He also described how they were able to make assessments (during the game) to “catch on” to some of the audible calls1.

As business analysis practitioners, we certainly appreciate the analytical style of Richard Sherman and his LOB brothers.   In addition to conducting a sort of pre-game analysis, we too must be able to conduct game-time analysis and make adjustments, where needed.  For example, it is important for practitioners to understand stakeholders early on. Whether by talking to the actual stakeholder, consulting with other practitioners who have worked with them, or some other method, we need to understand certain things about our stakeholders,
including (but not limited to) the stakeholder's 
- View of the problem or opportunity at hand
- Expectations of a solution
- Anticipated level of involvement with the initiative

Experience has shown us that whether a seasoned veteran or a rookie, a practitioner is not likely to determine everything about a stakeholder before an initiative is in full swing.  Furthermore, things that are true about a stakeholder in the beginning may actually change during the solution delivery lifecycle.  Like Richard Sherman and his LOB brothers, we must then be able to conduct game-time analysis.  If our stakeholder makes an audible call (let’s say their expectations change), then we not only need to be in tune with the stakeholder enough to acknowledge it, but we must also have a mindset that allows us to properly account for the change in expectations.  Properly accounting for the change may or may not include meeting the expectation during the current increment.  The key is to acknowledge the change and make a conscious decision (regarding if/when the adjusted expectations can be met).  

Do you want to learn more about the various aspects of analysis?  Well, here comes the boom!  Join the 2014 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts (PW&WCBA) conference in Seattle, WA.  All are welcome – even if you aren’t wearing a 12th Man jersey!

Belinda Henderson, CBAP, PSM

President and Founder, Dramatic for Christ Productions, Inc.
Blogger, Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts

1 First Take -
2 Pompei, Dan (2014-01-17). "Seattle Seahawks' Legion of Boom Is Pure, Old-School Football at Its Finest". Bleacher Report.
3"NFL Player Defense Statistics - 2013, Passes Intercepted Leaders". ESPN. 2013-12-30.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Six Rules Every New Project Manager Should Follow

These days, being a project manager can be a rewarding career, but without the proper training, you could be underprepared for all the tough tasks and decisions that can arise in your day. The core of project management is about setting and meeting business goals and when these goals are broken down into designated steps, they become projects to be completed. So, managing these projects requires not only intuition, but also learned project management skills.

According to Project Accelerator, every new project manager should follow these six rules in order to have a successful career:

Communicate. Communication is key to a successful project completion. Communicating comfortably with executives, team members, and shareholders is the top-needed skill for PMs. A PM needs to be able to tailor their message to the various levels of the organization. Whether it is business or personal, PMs need to take interest in whatever the executive talks about, which allows them to utilize this information later. Communication with stakeholders is critical early on in projects, building trust and gaining invaluable insights on project success.

Speak in Public. Even though the main role of a PM is to lead the team to a successful project completion, PMs also need to be proficient in presenting their project ideas. PMs should be able to put the project information in an engaging format, which will increase the positive engagement of those impacted by the project. Most public speakers are not born with this skill, but need to invest in the time and practice needed to present their message clearly and confidently.

Implement Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS).  Implementing an EVMS helps PMs keep track of the data to answer questions and keep their team on track while increasing their credibility with stakeholders. PMs need to understand how to read the metrics on the EVMS; otherwise, the information will not be conveyed correctly, affecting the project at all levels.

Find the Right Resources. Implementing the right resources for effective project management takes a tremendous amount of work, requiring PMs to get to know people, and tap into the correct networks for experience and knowledge. Resourcing works hand in hand with communication, involving conversing and connecting with people every day. Once project managers build a rapport with clients and stakeholders, these people will want to help to get the job down within the designated timeframe and budget.

Acquire the Right Skills. Applying a balance of technical focus, verbal and written communication and decision-making skills is imperative to doing this job effectively. These skills help PMs cross organizational boundaries when forming decisions and obtaining support.

Hold Regular Meetings. When taking on new projects, PMs need to make sure to hold regular team meetings to allow for project information distribution, time line setting, resources allocation, feedback solicitation, and stakeholder updates. 
Enhanced by Zemanta