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A Risk Boundary Problem

“If I concern my project with risk assessment, then my project targets such as Budget, Schedule, and quality become more reliable, but this will require me to define better project boundaries between strategy, program mandates, and project requirements.”

What is risk? The answer to this question depends on who answers it and the boundaries the individual establishes around themselves. If the answer comes from someone who is responsible for all processes within the Integrated PM system boundary, a clear answer can be expected. Risk is obvious when people own their processes. The owner is anxious about resources being well spent and not wasted, and that the results are acceptable. They want to maximize the chance of success and looks for clues to act upon. In other words, the owner deliberately sees risks and responds to them. If they grow nonchalant and detached, they don’t see many risks or don’t feel like acting upon them. When nonowners see risks, and communicate them to those who run the process, the result is conflict.

Risk arises from factors beyond our control. A designer may consider requirement analysis as a source of risk because it is external to him and he is not sure whether the analysis results will be communicated completely and correctly. This is a "dependency risk." A boundary is drawn around the process, and risks that threaten the process from across the boundary are seen. Risk perception has a built-in boundary perception. Risk definition has meaning only with reference to this boundary.

Within the process owner's boundary, a problem is not immediately seen as a risk, even if it happens to be vague and uncertain. The propensity is to assign the problem to process control and process management.

Across the boundary, the propensities change. A process owner has no influence beyond her boundary. Neighboring processes are alien and appear to be sources of risk. Problems tend to get labeled as risks.

When the boss of the SBU (strategic business unit) looks at the same risk from a larger perspective, the risk looks smaller and local. The risk appears to have occurred due to lack of cooperation between two process owners. She does not want to think of this local issue as a major risk, as things can improve through better management. If provoked, she may term this an internal risk that can be solved by taking internal measures. The SEU boss realizes that the better the management, the fewer the internal risks.

There are some sensitive internal conditions, such as when a PM chooses to run a project without adequate resources and authority. The processes have weaknesses that are well known to the stakeholders. Process weaknesses are potential breeding grounds for risks. But the PM may not have the resources, power, and influence to improve process capabilities. All the PM can do is mitigate the harmful effects, promote awareness of the risks, and prepare contingency plans. Risks have a different connotation in this case.

It is important to define internal risks, because they contribute to more than 65 percent of risks in a typical business environment.

Internal risks are solved by internal response plans. Most internal risks evoke short-term plans that operate within the life of the project. These are dependency risks that are solved by better coordination and risk communication. Some internal risks arise because of lack of process capability. There is no quick solution to such problems. This calls for a well-designed process improvement plan. The nature of improvement can be a series of continual improvements or kaizens, or a major breakthrough improvement of the Six Sigma style. Such improvements require more resources and time.

Yet another type of internal risk is seen on comparing growth objectives with current performance levels. Today is fine, but tomorrow may bring hurdles. Perception of such risks comes from long-term vision. If growth goals are taken seriously, one finds more risks. If growth goals are taken as secondary concerns, one does not see risks. I find that architects of the organization will detect growth-related risks, while most PMs don’t. When an organization is divided, more boundaries appear and employees see more internal risks. When the organization is integrated, such as in Integrated PM, internal risks are called process management issues. In an integrated organization with boundaries, collaborative efforts make up for weaknesses and create an organizational capability that is greater than the sum of individual process capabilities. This is the Integrated PM system with sub-components. In fragmented organizations, risks multiply.

Internal risk is the probability of suffering losses while pursuing performance and growth goals because of inadequacies in process capability (including core and support processes) and organizational structure.

Beyond the organizational boundary, however, things are different.

External conditions are beyond our control. There are risk factors beyond our sphere of influence. Competitors cut prices and marketing times almost ruthlessly. Social forces may erode staff loyalty. The PM sees external risks as threats and develops strategies to deal with them.

External risk is the probability of suffering loss while pursuing performance and growth goals because of uncer-tainties in external conditions.

There cannot be a better example of external risk than requirements.

The requirements keep changing; they "creep." The volatility of requirements is a perennial source of uncertainty and, hence, risk. Requirements go through a metamorphosis, becoming bigger and clearer in each phase of their evolution. Requirement evolution is a subject for continuous observation and modeling. Requirement volatility is beyond our control and is uncertain. Change is inevitable and is beyond prediction. When the requirement risk occurs, it can cause numerous problems for the project. Managers are aware of this. They cannot avoid it, but are prepared. Those who have mastered this risk, experience fewer surprises when requirements change.

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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.

There are still innovative ideas, but it seems to be the trend more and more for big business to acquire innovative small businesses rather than invest in becoming innovative themselves. This conscious decision to forego innovation is solving the short-term need to put out a new or improved product, but only temporarily. The small innovative company is absorbed and constrained by the same red tape. But there is only so much a corporation can acquire before it becomes too cumbersome to react accordingly to the market.

Corporations were not always fixated on the short-term. At one time, they were a positive force that invested in their workers and new technologies, everyone was prospering, but then slowly and over the course of a few recessions, something changed. With this change, the world seemed to speed up and organizations started playing with a quarterly mindset. They had very little consideration for innovation or issues that cannot be solved in the term of ninety days. By continuously absorbing smaller companies, we are just making it harder and harder to make innovative fundamental corporate improvements, but why? What is the root cause of this disease?

The corporations that absorb small businesses are eliminating the competition. They are identifying areas for profit and revenue, as well as expediting innovation, to the point that innovation-through-acquisition inevitably becomes the cheaper option. The reality is that the pain of not doing anything right away is just as painful as when the symptoms returns. Corporations maintain this toxic loop to maximize shareholder value as reflected in the current stock price. For as long as the stock market and the government continue to operate on the short-term concepts, big business will follow.

Breaking this rather dangerous cycle might be impossible, but the ramifications can still be alleviated by first admitting that these corporations are in fact applying a quick fix that creates bigger issues in the next decade. After admitting the we are merely easing the indicators, we can start considering how to enhance long-term incentives and making slow-gestating innovative concepts less risky. In the business world, this might be adjusted tax codes, a reevaluation of corporate governance laws, and spread out compensation packages, so that perhaps we can start solving some of yesterday’s problems with tomorrow’s innovative ideas.

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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?

Inadequate planning was a contributing factor in the levies breaking in New Orleans during Katerina as well as the Galaxy Note 7 occasionally catching fire and exploding. Samsung could have had stronger quality control procedures and safety testing, but obviously, jumped a few steps to meet the market window. This malady of short-termism has infected us all; Corporate giant must acquire to survive, small business fighting fires without long-term goals, as well as high school students that can’t think past their next tweet, much less their long-term career aspirations.

The average person spends most of their time planning to the next month, maybe some the next 90 days, with little to no judicious investment in the future repercussions, and it should be said that that is no more sustainable in the long-term, than planning for the next few millenniums. It seems we must force ourselves to get better at making decisions based on long-term considerations by strategically balancing cost/resources as well as supply/demand at work as well as at home. To change our collective orientations and resist the pressure of short-termism, we must first correctly identify the root cause in any given situation, so join me in the investigation and take the first step to a well-planned future.

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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.

In the human body, cells are constantly communicating, and when a cell does not respond, fails to send the message, or responds incorrectly, much bigger issues begin to appear as a result. Diabetes is a result of cells in the pancreas not releasing or unable to receive the necessary signal, known as insulin. Multiple Sclerosis is a nerve cell communication disease in which the affected nerve cells cannot transmit a signal correctly and a similar argument can be made for cancer, excitotoxicity, asthma, as well as others.

A system becomes toxic and unhealthy when there is a breakdown in communication, which enviably leads to a lack of sensitivity and common commitment. This is true even at the individual level, our interactions with others triggers instinctual responses. It can be a positive response, being open and transparent during a meeting encourages others to be the same. This produces higher levels of understanding, collaboration, and trust. On the other hand, not delegating decisions to anyone, creates a precedent for others to do the same. This produces breakdowns in communication, high levels of territoriality, and misunderstanding.

Just like our bodies, an organization needs to be monitored for communication breakdowns. It is everyone’s responsibility to create a healthy work environment, even if that sometimes means getting an annual checkup to preemptively scan for any ambiguous symptoms present in the system. Performance improvement activities are a way to get ahead of the illness or the infection before it even has a chance to take root in an organization. We are here to make you even better.

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Establish Policies & Procedures for Strategic Practices

If we use standardized policies and procedures, then our projects will deliver their strategic intent, but this requires micro-management of projects.

High quality, repeatable, and consistent project performance is a goal of most organizations. Governance, whether in the form of a PMO, Committee, or just policies and procedures, attempts to address this need. The complexity that must be managed for a project to be successful can be overwhelming. For managers to be able to understand correlations and interrelationships between factors in project, portfolio and program management and perform effect-cause-effect thinking that leads to higher levels of performance, the system components must be defined and categorized. Instead of trying to define policies and procedures for every practice and monitor all aspects of the project, the Integrated PM approach to governance leverages system thinking to identify critical variables, leverage points, and constraint analysis to identify the strategic practices that need to be managed through governance.

By boiling down the complexity of your project or portfolio systems to key practices, the overall performance of your organization can be standardized and improved. We attempt to define all the components of your organizational structure that come together to accomplish the strategic goals. Systems Thinking enables a holistic governance while still being able to drill down into smaller components when necessary. Procedures and policies are used to clarify roles, guide practitioners, define state variables used to monitor and manage practices, and provide the desired set of responses to address system constraints and issues.

We develop policies and procedures to ensure that each strategic practice is functioning properly and driving towards its strategic purpose. These policies and procedures define what the practice is supposed to accomplish. The first step is to define the strategic intent of the system, in this case the integrated PM domain, and all the individual practices that make up the system components. Next, we identify the system variables and gain an understanding as to how they interact with, or impact each other. Through systems thinking analysis, we define the process steps and identify leverage points within each practice that will have the most dramatic impact to performance. We set thresholds for these variables and a set of policies and procedures as to how you should respond when certain variable states are reached.

When defining policies and procedures for Integrated PM, the focus should always be on breaking the constraint of the system. The actions and procedures outlined and enforced as part of governance are to guide the project team through the necessary process steps to achieve the highest levels of performance, and will highlight the appropriate responses and actions that should be taken to break the system constraints. When things go off track, the policies and procedures help to identify the issues and propose the procedures that will most effectively address this issue. With policies and procedures defined ahead of time, you will be able to deliver your projects with consistency and continually improve performance.

The END doesn’t justify the means. Getting the project completed doesn’t justify the heroics needed to get there. Policy and procedure get us there in one piece, and enables the organization as a whole to be dependable and perform at predictable performance levels. Governance isn’t micromanagement, it is targeted management. Governance policies and procedures ensure that each individual project team member behaves and takes actions that will deliver the highest performance levels in line with the strategic objectives.

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Capitalization of Ideas

“If I develop ideas for new products and features, then I should be able to make some money from it, but I don’t know how to convert ideas to solutions, nor distribute those solutions so that they are profitable.”

Some types of information assets are more readily turned into cash than others. When information assets are close to being turned into cash, it's easy enough to recognize it as the intellectual capital of a firm or person. As information moves further and further away from liquidity, it may become harder and harder to recognize it as intellectual property, or an information asset.

In the diagram above, having a complete launch plan, with a set of developed requirements, a release roadmap, a business plan containing a market analysis, the set of problem statements you intend to address, and supporting market evidence, would be worth more than just a single piece of undeveloped market evidence. Under normal conditions this is correct.

The diagram illustrates 7 processes (illustrated as gears) and 7 repositories (cones) or ‘Warehouses’ filled with information assets. One asset is ‘consumed’ or purchased and taken off the market to produce another. These cones together represent the innovation portfolio of the firm or individual, and has real value. One responsibility of Portfolio Management is to maximize the value of this portfolio of innovation assets. Collectively, these warehouses of innovation assets are referred to as the Seven Pillars of Innovation Assets.

The seven types of assets are produced by the activities of each of the Seven Pillars respectively. The asset is a work product of that pillar's process, and is the primary business purposes of that process. The Market Sensing Pillar collects data to produce market evidence. It is typically listed first, or on the far left, because this activity and its corresponding asset, is the furthest from liquidity.

In practice, each of these processes run independently of each other, and there is no head or tail. Individuals start where they have resources to develop other assets. After a launch, you certainly want to do market sensing to determine the success of the past launch.

Now, the warehouses containing your innovation assets are called Vaults within GrandView. The innovation assets within these Vaults are valuable to you and others. If someone desires an asset that you put up to be sold, they pay you for the asset, and the asset is transferred from your vault to theirs.

Whenever a product is sold, any asset linked to it receives a portion of the sale. Some people receive revenue for selling assets, and others from taking the product to market. Just how to create competitive innovation assets are taught in the e-Learning courses.

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Asset Development

“If I create innovation assets, then I can be monetized for my efforts, but I don’t know how to build assets.”

Information Assets such as market evidence, problem statements, business plans, features, roadmaps, requirements, and product launches are developed, and depending on which assets are used, will produce a very different product.

When addressing the development of Innovation Assets, one of the first questions I’m asked is, “Where do I start?” In a different blog posting, I can share a self-assessment and worksheet that will point you in the right direction. It will identify if you are experiencing ideation constraints, conversion constraints, or diffusion constraints; and point you to the correct assets to strengthen your process.

For now, let me explain the overall concept. The diagram above represents an information and asset flow pipeline. When clean, things flow through the pipeline without obstruction or constraint. The throughput of the pipeline (# information packets/time) is optimal.

When pipeline sludge builds up in terms of Ideation, Conversion, or Diffusion constraints, the pipeline throughput is lowered. The game is to identify the constraints, and then deploy processes that will break the constraint and develop the specific asset more competitively.

Now, it turns out that there are hundreds of ways to build any one asset, and depending on your constraints, one method is better than another. So yes, learning how to do market sensing from one of our courses will help, but gaining insight into what will improve your pipeline’s performance requires a little thought and a self-assessment.

You can learn anyone of these methods for Market Sensing, but selecting which one is the trick. If you’re learning it to improve the performance of your internal Pipeline, then you will want to focus on your performance constraints. If you are developing new market evidence assets to sell in GrandView, then you should do some market sensing, and anticipate the market demand, know how to satisfy your targeted market, and do a little competitive analysis.

Now that you know what type of asset you want to develop, and you know what for, you’re in position to get real value out of taking a course in Market Sensing, or from any of the other pillars.

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Multi-Faceted Nature of Projects

“If I categorized and studied the correlations between all the factors (state variables) of project performance, then I could control and optimize the project’s performance, but gathering and computing this information would take too long, and the project portfolio’s state would change before I could interpret it.”

When we consider the many facets of enterprise project management we can quickly see we need a different way of examining the forest instead of analyzing each tree. Due to the lack of a standardized approach, the popular approach is to divide the various disciplines such as Risk Management, Resource Management, Project Management, Portfolio Management, Capacity Planning, Scheduling, and Finance and then approach each facet separately.

This approach while informative, lacks the ability to study the correlations and inter-relationships between each state variable and combinations thereof. This makes impact change analysis impossible at a macro level.

Looking at these facets holistically, as a single system, instead of a plethora of independent factors, and applying systems thinking to management questions and business objectives, we gain real insight and performance improvement.

First, we must list and categorize these factors. Lots has been done in this area, but we continue to grow this effort. Where it will stop, no one knows as mankind produces more and more innovative practices.

Secondly, with this categorization underway, the study of inter-relationships and performance correlations between the different categories can produce meaningful results. New macro-level policies and procedures can be put in place. Improvements to project portfolio performance begins. Management Techniques are defined and new intuitions developed.

Finally, when we begin to understand these correlations, we can apply effect-cause-effect thinking, identify and break performance constraints leveraging systems thinking.

At pmNERDS, the Center of Excellence is all about promoting and moving this practice of applying systems thinking to project management at all levels in the organization.

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Systems Thinking

“If I considered all the business functions impacting project success holistically, then project performance would be more consistent and manageable, but there are just too many factors to consider, and management would be ineffective due to analysis paralysis.”

Projects are at the root of Integrated PM. Change is at the root of projects, and it follows that change is at the root of Integrated PM. Central to Systems Thinking is the performance management of this change. Systems Thinking is applied successfully when these three situations below exist.

First, there is someone who is dissatisfied with the current situation. This someone would like to achieve one or several goals, or maintain current threatened levels of achievement using a change the project is supposed to produce.

Second, the way of invoking that change is not obvious. The problem situation is complex. The interested someone may not have enough information about the situation to know or discover all the consequences of decision choices, or to be able to evaluate the performance of these options in terms of their goals, principle purpose, or strategic intent.

Third, the interactions between various elements and projects have a degree of complexity that the limited computational capacity of the human mind cannot evaluate in the details necessary to make an informed decision.

The typical environment where projects exist are systems. What is a system? For now, a system is a collection of things such as tasks, projects, programs, and portfolios that relate to each other in specific ways, i.e. that are organized and follow specific rules of interaction. Collectively, they have a given purpose, i.e. they aim to achieve or produce outcomes that none of the parts can do by themselves.

We can recognize or view something as a system for our own purposes. This is an important insight, in the real-world systems do not exist or create themselves spontaneously, readymade for us to discover. No, Systems are human inventions. We choose to view projects as a system to better manage projects and improve performance.

If we are to deal effectively with the complexity of projects and decision making within our system environment, we need a new way of thinking. This new way of thinking evolved about 1940 and could be labeled ‘systems thinking’. This system thinking has been proven successful within the context of projects. System thinking is used in decision processes which help decision makers explore portfolios of projects in much of their complexity without having to drill down into the trees of the forest.

System thinking is used to find a ‘good’ or ‘best’ compromise solution, and is used frequently to give answers to important ‘what if’ questions, such as “how is the ‘best’ solution affected by significant changes in various cost factors?” or “What is the effect of uncertainty in a critical resource scheduling?”

Integrated PM is the collection of practices leveraging systems thinking to better manage projects holistically within an organization. You’ll wonder how you survived without it. In truth, you probably weren’t surviving, you just didn’t know it.

Download this free E-book- Integrated PM: Applied System's Thinking with Portfolios, Programs and Projects

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Research & Development

“If I conducted an Integrated PM experiment, then I’d learn more about how Integrated PM improves project performance, but I haven’t had training in designing and conducting experiments, where do I start?"

Research projects come from Workshops, and our members interests. Once a project is proposed, members are needed to repeat and validate findings. Others apply the results to new practices of Integrated PM.

Let’s say you’ve developed a well-constructed problem statement. This is the kind you have before starting any project, and this includes a research project. Our next step is to construct the research design. Design decisions depend on the purposes of the study, the nature of the problem, and the alternatives appropriate for its investigation.

Once the principle purpose has been specified, define explicit scope and direction, attention needs to be focused on a delimited target area. The nature of the problem then plays the major role in determining what approaches are suitable. Design alternatives can be organized into nine functional categories based on these differing problem characteristics:

  1. Historical
  2. Descriptive
  3. Developmental
  4. Case or Field
  5. Correlational
  6. Causal-comparative
  7. True experimental
  8. Quasi-experimental
  9. Action

I’ll be committing a separate blog post explaining each of these categories of experiments in more detail later, for now consider this overview.

HISTORICAL- To reconstruct the past objectively and accurately, often in relation to the tenability of a hypothesis. “A study reconstructing practices in the teaching of Program Management in the United States during the past fifty years; testing the hypothesis that the PMI is the real author of current project management practices.”

DESCRIPTIVE- To describe systematically a situation or area of interest factually and accurately. “Population census studies, public opinion surveys, fact-finding surveys, status studies, task analysis studies, questionnaire and interview studies, observation studies, job descriptions, surveys of literature, documentary analysis, anecdotal records, critical incident reports, test score analysis, and normative data.”

DEVELOPMENTAL- To investigate patterns and sequences of growth and/or change as a function of time. “A longitudinal growth study following an initial sample of 200 PMs with from six months experience to 10 years experience in PM; a cross-sectional growth study investigating changing patterns of PMOs by sampling groups of PMO Directors with various levels experience; a trend study projecting the future growth of Integrated PM from the past trends and recent building estimates.”

CASE AND FIELD- To study intensively the background, current status, and environmental interactions of a given social unit: an individual group, institution, or community. “The case of the capacity planner with great credentials, but poor leadership skills; an intensive study of a group of teenage youngsters with PM training; an intensive study of a typical company in the Midwest in terms of its Integrated PM characteristics.”

COORRELATION- To investigate the extent to which variation in one factor correspond with variations in one or more other factors based on correlation coefficients. “To investigate relationships between task duration and one or more other state variables of interest; a factor-analytic study of several Integrated PM roles and capabilities; a study to predict success as a product manager based on intercorrelation patterns between project managers and selected marketing variables.”

CAUSAL-COMPARITIVE- To investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by observing some existing consequence and searching back through the data for plausible causal factors. “To identify factors related to the project performance problem in particular organizations using data from project plans over the past ten years; to investigate similarities and differences between such groups as portfolio managers, program managers, capacity planners, and project managers, using data on file.”

TRUE EXPERIMENTAL- To investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by exposing one or more experimental groups to one or more treatment conditions and comparing the results to one or more control groups not receiving the treatment (random assignment being essential). “To investigate the method effectiveness of teaching Integrated PM to elementary school students using random assignment of teaching methods and students; to investigate the effects of a lunch break on the performance on projects based on random assignment of projects and lunch breaks.”

QUASI-EXPERIMANTAL- To approximate the conditions of the true experiment in a setting which does not allow the control and/or manipulation of all relevant variables. The researcher must clearly understand what compromises exist in the internal and external validity of her design and proceed within these limitations. “Most so-called field experiments, operational research, and even the more sophisticated forms of action research with the attempt to get causal factors in real life settings where only partial control is possible.”

ACTION- To develop new skills or new approaches and to solve problems with direct application to the classroom or other applied setting. “An Integrated PM training program to help PMs develop new skills in facilitating project discussions; to experiment with new on-line approaches of teaching Integrated PM to PMs; to develop more effective consulting techniques in Integrated PM.”

Research and Development of Integrated PM methods is a powerful way of growing the practice, each of us standing on the shoulders of those before us, while preparing to carry those not yet here.

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pmNERDS' Consulting

“If I engage consultants, then we’ll improve current project performance, but we need to develop an in-house capability for long term sustainability.”

The typical success criteria for a pmNERDS consultant is measured in terms of increased project performance, and growth of internal capabilities. We focus on targeted changes to business structures, and then project practices that are currently constraining project throughput and systems thinking.

When the Integrated PM structure is set right; changes are required. It’s one thing to know the material, and quite another to know how to teach, train, mentor, coach, and lead to support sustainable change. Our consultants are hired only after a demonstrated desire to impact lives on a personal level the using activities of Integrated PM.

TEACHING- Using the best practices of adult education today, we provide topical information to empower change adoption. We refer clients to additional reading. We host internal webinar sessions and lead discussions about new concepts being used. We provide access to e-Learning courses to act as both reference and extended learning even after the engagement concludes.

TRAINING- Using real time scenarios within your environment, we practice, practice, and practice. The intent is to make certain decisions and responses instinctive. The leadership style is mostly directive.

MENTORING- The mentor stands back, provides instruction, and lets the client practice working in an Integrated PM environment. The leadership style is that of an influencer, providing insight to the client as they work through daily tasks and decisions.

COACHING- The coach helps the client dream the impossible dream, construct that big hairy audacious goal, establish high performance goals for the year. Yes, the coach may lean on the Director leadership style. The big difference here is our personal, lifetime commitment to our clients. Once a pmNERD, always a pmNERD.

LEADERSHIP- We practice the leadership principles of Servant Leadership, and the practices of situational leadership to maximize change adoption. We will not be shy about empowering the individual and resolving Integrated PM constraints.

Our consultancy goal is to come into your organization as a consultant, and then extract ourselves from the newly formed Integrated PM group of “We” thinkers. If you're interest in talking about our services, please email us. or call us today. We certainly would love to discuss if it makes sense for us to do business.

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What is a Knowledge Management Architecture?

Here at pmNERDS we promote a Knowledge Management Architecture–Integrated PM.

The Knowledge Management Architecture is different from an Enterprise Architecture, but typically connects to it, so in some cases, they are confused with each other. The enterprise architecture emerged out of methods for documenting and planning information systems architectures, and currently most enterprise architecture practitioners are employed in the IT department of a firm. The enterprise architecture team performs activities that support business and IT managers to figure out the best strategies to support innovation–in relation to the business information systems the firm depends on. Enterprise architecture defines:

  • what an organization does in terms of business goals and objectives;
  • who performs individual functions within the organization,
  • how the organizational functions are performed within the innovation value chain;
  • and how information assets are is used and stored in support of that function.

EA is also referred as "Everything Aligned", as the Business-Technology alignment is achieved through EA tasks. The Business and Technology parameters like Availability, Scalability, Security, Interoperability, Maintainability, Lower Cost, Extendibility, and Reliability are improved through EA.

As pmNERDS go about making innovation a science, it is in the Enterprise Architecture that the categorization stage takes place.
The Knowledge Management Architecture is different from an Information Architecture, but again is sometimes confused with it. Information architecture (IA) is the art and science of organizing and labeling data including: websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other mediums of information, to develop usability and structural aesthetics. It is an emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing together principles of design and architecture, primarily to the digital landscape. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information which is used and applied to activities that require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development. (Wikipedia)

IA can be about making wireframes of a website, or the blueprints of a digital design, which are both a large part of the information architecture. An IA might also produce a taxonomy of how content and products on a website should be classified, or a prototype illustrating how the information should change on screen as a user progresses through a task. These solutions are developed by research. This research can take the form of competitor analysis, reading academic papers on human/computer interaction, or testing ideas on real users.

In the end, however you try to define it, information architecture boils down to consciously organizing the content and flow of a website or application, based on some principles that can be articulated, that have been derived through evidence gathering. At a micro level, this can mean deciding that products on a search page should be ordered by price rather than by name. On a larger scale it could be reorganizing the content on a site to support some clear tasks that users want to perform. On a strategic level, an information architect might get involved in determining the way that articles and metadata are placed into a content management system.

As pmNERDS go about making innovation into a science, the information architecture helps innovation teams discover relationships and values between information assets. The information architecture should provide support to the system of systems type of thinking that needs to take place in the correlation stage of making innovation a science.

Unlike the other two architectures, the Knowledge Management Architecture resides in the business unit as often as in IT. Knowledge Management Architecture is the application of an information and enterprise architecture to knowledge management. That is, using the skills for defining and designing categorized assets, and leveraging the correlations defined in the enterprise architecture to establish an environment conducive to managing knowledge.

Information architecture tends to focus on designing spaces for existing or predefined information assets. For example, one branch of information architecture focuses on findability, with little or no concern about how the information asset itself comes into being. In the knowledge architecture, the transition from data, into information assets, and then into knowledge is paramount.

Knowledge architecture, deals with potential information. So, rather than determining the best way to use existing content, the knowledge architect is designing "spaces" that encourage knowledge to be created, captured, and shared. In this respect, the actual content doesn't matter as much as the life cycle -- how and when it gets created and how best to get it to the right people quickly.

The knowledge architecture supports two types of tasks, Strategic and Operational. The knowledge architecture should provide focus and enable the accomplishment and measurement of business goals and objectives. There needs to be a concept of the knowledge life-cycle, and how new knowledge can be correlated to the accomplishment of the firm's goals. From an operational point of view, tasks such as knowledge identification, creation, acquisition, development and refinement, distribution, use, and preservation all fall within the realm of the knowledge architecture.

Some of the benefits of a knowledge architecture include capturing the rational for decisions, improved reusability of lessons learned and other experiences, an increase in quality decisions, minimized innovation and change risk, minimized design mistakes, ability to avoid dependency on key individuals, gain competitive advantage, encourage adoption of best-practices, improve efficiency of processes, and support case-based reasoning.

As pmNERDS go about making innovation a science, it's the knowledge architecture that provides the space for effect-cause-effect thinking.

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The Scientific Approach to Innovation

Doing performance modeling as a consultant, the biggest problem we had wasn't building the model, the devil was always in the model's validation. How do you know that the model is connected to reality? This issue was such a common occurrence that I named it the Excel Syndrome. I don't know if you've noticed, but Excel spreadsheets are this way. You may have all the formulas right, but those who haven't built it, or reviewed it in every detail, have little faith in the results. All modeling is this way, even fun simulators with fancy animations.The Excel Syndrome is such a basic truth that it extends way beyond modeling.

Let's take a look at The Scientific Approach to Innovation!

To turn your innovation initiatives into a science, the organization must go through three distinct stages:

1) Categorization–Creating boundaries around what is being included and what is not. Yes, you mathematicians will recognize this as stating the domain and range. I'm not very good at English, maybe this is setting the theses of a paper. Perhaps others will call it defining you name space, or the scope of the experiment. In the case of social targeting from Beth's post, this categorization was required before any random sample could be taken, before any hypothesis made, and before any targeting could happen. She says that Ghani called them, those who were useful to the campaign team. You can be sure that the selection criteria for those people was well known. It always surprises me how many people trying to improve their innovation practices shy away from this task. Well, OK, not really, it's a big job. But I am surprised at how many try to proceed without it. This cripples the next step, correlation.

2) Correlation–Which is about understanding the relationships between what was categorized in the previous step. Let me call these things elements. In Beth's posting, these elements were people useful to the campaign team. A certain amount of experimentation took place discern those relationships she mentions, including email frequency, and dollars requested. Sensitivity analysis on the parameters of the model is a prerequisite for all performance modeling. You certainly don't want to build a model with a parameter for everything the universe has to offer. The beauty of a performance model is in its simplicity. 

3)Effect-Cause-Effect Thinking–Now with stages one and two in place, we're in a position to hypothesize, and test that hypothesis through observation using well defined experimentation methods. Observe an effect, hypothesize about its cause, and look for other effects that should be present if your hypothesized cause was correct. With experimentation like this, we take the guess work out of process improvement, turning innovation into a science.

In the case of innovation, systems thinking is extremely useful if the elements in the last step have been strategically selected to be information assets. If, we further use the categorization provided freely by the Seven Pillars which is a Knowledge Management Architecture. We end-up with a system-of-systems model, which has been well studied, and keeps the management and improvement task simple.

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