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Lauren Davis, a sought-after author, speaker and evangelist of Continuous Performance Improvement is the Lead Consultant at pmNERDS supporting the CPI course, and deployment of CPI Initiatives. She travels around the World facilitating CPI Initiatives and research into better Integrated PM practices.  As Lead consultant Lauren has worked on hundred...s of process improvement projects in the Marketing, and IT industries and has focused on methods of process training, skills coaching, and performance mentoring. She is a certified Workfront Consultant. Her professional interests lie in the support and development of emerging markets, international projects, globally distributed development and manufacturing, competency development, and capacity planning. More

A Capacity Planner: How Many Can You Lift?

A Capacity Planner: How Many Can You Lift?

“If I am a capacity planner, then I am always looking for optimal functionality, but really, what do I do?”

 

Who is a capacity planner? A capacity planner gathers performance data and measures the output to determine optimal fit within the production scheduling. A person in this position is normally at the business unit level, but there are enterprise level capacity planners that look at the whole organization, such as Resource Forecasters or Resource Estimators. A business unit capacity planner may be called a Performance Manager or a Performance Engineer among other titles, but who are they really? Every job is more than just a title.

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A Coordinated Project Manager

A Coordinated Project Manager

“If I become a project manager, then I am responsible for the success of the project, but I am only one person and there is a lot of things to do.”

When I was younger I never said, I want to be a project manager. I doubt very many teachers hear a child mention “project management.” There are the unique few that make the declaration and seek out a career in project management, but that is only after some research or encountering a PM professional.

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Balancing Short-Termism with Systems Thinking

Balancing Short-Termism with Systems Thinking

“If modern economics pressures are demanding short-term results, then there is little to no time to focus on long-term growth, but how do you resist succumbing to false short-sighted solutions?”

The great wall of china took roughly 2,000 years to build. Today, it is absurd for a lot of organizations to prioritize long-term innovation or human capital investment over their quarterly earnings. And let’s face it, we will never get back to that 2,000-year mark when it comes to investments and planning, because modern economic pressures are continuously mounting to deliver more and more short-term results. It seems almost impossible to meet those short-term demands as well as achieve long-term growth, but by giving into purely the short-term, and therefore, pushing for a shorter and shorter planning phase, are we metaphorically shooting our own foot?

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Balancing Short-Termism with Systems Thinking: The Enterprise

Balancing Short-Termism with Systems Thinking: The Enterprise

“If there is mounting pressure to deliver short-term results at the enterprise level, then the first step in resisting the pressures of short-termism is to correctly identify their source, but what is the root cause of short-termism at the enterprise level?”

Short-termism in big business is still under debate for some people. One of these naysayers would inevitably point out that if there was really an issue then there should have been a downturn in corporate profits over the last fifty years. We’ve been doing okay, there has been a suspicious lack of such a trend, but it is also self-evident that indigenous innovation has been dropping since the 1970s. Corporations aren’t coming up with as many truly new ideas. We aren’t solving the big problems. That’s perhaps why we are still driving on non-renewable resources and all our cellphones, movies, computers, and clothes seem to be the same. So, the symptom of short-termism is not a change in profits, but the level of innovation and growth in corporations.

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Building a Healthy and Thriving Organization

Building a Healthy and Thriving Organization

“If an organization is a system like the human body, then it too needs routine checkups, but what symptoms denote an unhealthy or toxic system?”

An organization is a system of moving parts like the human body, and like the human body, sometimes an organization becomes unhealthy, and is therefore, in desperate need of a checkup. Performance improvement strategies are synonymous with providing organizations with this required checkup. At pmNERDS, we enjoy a good checkup, there is a flow and pattern to the actions, after doing for a while we start to perceive the issue before we have the proof. Performance reviews of organizations provide clarity, and over time it is clear, communication is a common point of tension in unhealthy organizations. No matter the situation, people want to have a purpose and need to be appreciated.

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Capacity Planning: How Long Can You Lift it?

Capacity Planning: How Long Can You Lift it?

“If you want to determine the production capacity and the plan necessary to meet the changing demands for its products and services, then you have done sufficient capacity planning, but what strategy and steps were taken to develop your plans?”

It should be self-evident as to why an organization should care about capacity planning. No one wants to be in the situation where they have tons of people with nothing to do or to have too many projects and not enough people. As work piles up you are unable to become more efficient or grow as a company. You are unable to do much more than fight the fires. A company that has done sufficient capacity planning understands their priorities, the resource availability, the cash flow, as well as the intricacies of their time frame. Every project matters!

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Capacity Planning: How Much Can You Lift?

Capacity Planning: How Much Can You Lift?

“If I invest significant resources to capacity planning, then I understand the production capacity needed to meet the changing demands, but I am not sure what capacity planning really entails.”

My morning is never complete without a cup of coffee. So, when I first came across the term “capacity planning,” I automatically went to my regular morning struggle, how much coffee can I put into this travel mug without burning myself? This might seem trivial, but it is a delicate process. How big is the mug? Do I want to leave room for cream? How much cream? If your calculation is even slightly off you burn yourself at some point, have a subpar cup of joe, or you managed to cheat yourself out of some coffee.

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Market Sensing: Competitive Analysis

Market Sensing: Competitive Analysis

“If I do successful competitive analysis, then I understand myself, the competition, an acceptable price, and the correct positioning, but I am not sure of the techniques for gathering the correct information.”

Competition in any form always seems to bring out everyone’s inner Ninja, and at least for me with Ninjas, comes Sun Tzu.

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Market Sensing: Customer Satisfaction

Market Sensing: Customer Satisfaction

“If I gather market sensing information with the concept of customer satisfaction, then I understand the market’s perception of my product, but I am not sure how to gather such information.”

The motto “the customer is always right” was popularized by highly successful retailers like Marshall Field in the early twentieth century. They advocated that customer complaints should be treated seriously even if they can sometimes be dishonest, unrealistic, and/or greedy. This concept did not seem to have too many benefits for the business owners, so why? What did these men really get out of it?

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Market Sensing: Market/Client Analysis

Market Sensing: Market/Client Analysis

“If I want to release a new product or service, then I need to do some market sensing, but I don’t understand what it means to understand the past, present, and future market needs, opportunities, risks, and demand for an offering.”

Do you remember a truly awful new product hitting the market? I am not talking about something that did not work, more like something that you can’t imagine anyone buying and you strongly question how it made it into stores. Well, it most likely made it so far because, the company that created it didn’t spend enough time or effort on market sensing activities. One such product from my childhood was Orbitz soda. It looked super cool. The drinks were modeled to looked like little orange, red, and white lava lamps. I was so excited when I saw them at the store for the first time, but then I tried it… not good. It tasted like sealed plastic cough syrup. The aesthetics were perfectly on par, but Orbitz soda must have completely skipped the taste test. I, by no means, had good taste at six, but that does not mean I was willing to ever swallow plastic cough syrup again, and it seems neither was any other kid.

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Project Management: Anticipate the Problems

Project Management: Anticipate the Problems

“If I am a project manager, then I am a superhero, I have aligned the project and team towards a singular goal, but it takes lots of practicing, planning, and monitoring to get really good at project management.”

What is a project manager? How can I explain it to a child and why in the world would I need to? These are the questions that should be explained before diving into any grandiose statement about what should or should not be done in project management. These are valid questions, because for all but the fortunate few, most do not even encounter a project manager until faced with a major corporate project or problem.

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Project Management: Governance & Approvals

Project Management: Governance & Approvals

“If I want to have a focused project with a uniform approval process, then I need to have strong governance principles, but I am not sure how to build a foundation of good governing practices.”

When I hear, someone mention the term “governance,” I automatically think about men in powdered wigs standing around shouting at each other. I can’t really tell you why my brain automatically goes to the 18th century, but the term, governance, nevertheless speaks to the same set of policies, regulations, functions, processes, procedures and responsibilities that define an establishment, a government governs their people.

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Project Planning: Coordinate Workflow

Project Planning: Coordinate Workflow

“If I establish a coordinated workflow, then my project team is operating effectively, but I am not sure how to prevent a tactical error in the execution phase.”

I am not much of a football fan and that’s a possible understatement, but I do remember the total devastation of the people in 2006, when Tony Romo fumbled the ball as he tried to catch the snap and set the ball down, in the game against Seattle. Romo was so close, it was 21-20 in favor of Seattle, and a field goal could have won the game for the Cowboys, but it wasn’t to be. He messed up the handoff and any amount of scrambling couldn’t have saved the game.

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Project Planning: Know What it Will Take

Project Planning: Know What it Will Take

“If I do project planning successfully, then I’ll have a focused project objectives and a clear project plan with correct approximations of the necessary features, time, and resources, but I am not sure how to anticipate the project needs.”

You’re probably still a little confused on what I mean by “project planning.” I’ll tell you that is normal, it is not building or helping to build anything, that’s project management, which comes after you’ve sufficiently planned. In project planning, you determine the benefits, time, function, money, and resources needed to complete the job. Have you ever seen a half-built house that never got finished? There is a good chance that they did not accurately estimate cost, time, and effort necessary to build the whole home.

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Project Planning: Setting a Solution Vision

Project Planning: Setting a Solution Vision

“If I determine the solution vision, then I can develop a collaborative project environment that adapts and changes, but I am not sure what it means to have an effective or efficient project team.”

When you see the term “solution vision,” you might think I am talking about nothing more than an idea to solve a problem, but it is more than offering a solution or highlighting the value of something. A solution vision describes the target audience of the solution, what will be satisfied by the solution, what the key benefits will be, as well as differentiating it from alternatives at the same time. In a project, this is embodied in the project plan, but to reach it, you’ll need a coordinated team that efficiently collaborates. How, pray tell, do you do that? Well let’s find out.

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What is Necessary to Satisfy Client’s Need for the Project?

What is Necessary to Satisfy Client’s Need for the Project?

“If a project planner must at least satisfy the client’s needs for a project to be successful, then the planner needs to know what’s necessary, but how do we determine the client’s wants over their needs in a project?”

As we all know, what a customer wants and needs are often two very different things. It is nothing less of an art form in many different professions to be able to discern what is more important, or in the very least, pick a side in Marshall Field’s motto “the customer is always right.”

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Recent comment in this post
Val Workman
First of all, thanks for the post. In an IT organization, talking about a customer can be confusing, and talking about competition... Read More
Wednesday, 08 November 2017 11:05
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