Archive for April, 2013

The importance of the right game plan

April 30th, 2013    Posted in Project Rules

One of the keys to a successful project is that the entire project team works from the same playbook. Too often, project managers assume that everyone associated with the project understands exactly what is going on, but this is a dangerous assumption. Although everyone on the project team may have a good idea of what was literally said, contextual misinterpretations can occur. Great projects need a great game plan. Even the best game plan can fail if the players aren’t in sync with each other and playing from the same playbook.

Seem obvious?

Picture this: You’re watching a football game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys, and the Bears run (yet another) play that results in an incomplete pass. John Madden, a famed sports commentator, provided a great example for viewers of the importance of a good breakdown structure with his commentary of this play and the Dallas plays that followed.

In this play, the Bears had successfully driven into the red zone (within the Cowboys 20-yard line). Rick Mirer, Chicago’s quarterback, yelled out an audible at the line of scrimmage (an audible is when the quarterback changes the play). Rickey Proehl, the wide receiver, drifted toward the sideline. John Madden announced that the Bears were going to pass. When the ball was snapped, Rick Mirer threw a perfect pass into the middle of the end zone for Rickey Proehl. Unfortunately for the Bears, Rickey Proehl was waiting for the ball on the left sideline at the two-yard line, so the pass went incomplete. Madden then said, “Both these players are new to the Bears, and they are not in the same playbook. Even though Rick Mirer said ‘pass’, it did not mean the same thing to Rickey Proehl.” Although both players were experienced veterans, they didn’t have the same definition of the word “pass.”

On the ensuing series, the Cowboys scored a touchdown. This was greatly aided by a 58-yard pass play that the Cowboys’ quarterback, Troy Aikman, had successfully audibled to his receiver. After the play, John Madden commented, “Those two guys are in the same playbook. When Aikman said ‘pass’, Irvin knew exactly what he meant.”

This concept applies to all projects, project plans, and project teams. The success of the Cowboys (and the lack thereof for the Bears) demonstrates the importance of making sure that everyone plays from the same playbook.

Structure your project “plays”

Although a good breakdown structure ensures that everyone is in the same playbook, it requires more allocated time in your project schedule. It also means you should touch base with everyone connected to the project about how they view the project, and how they plan to coordinate with each other to execute its activities. This allows the project manager to reflect on the various mindsets, and incorporate any differing perspectives regarding the project into the breakdown.

If this reflection doesn’t occur in the beginning stages of a project, the project manager is doomed to try and do the breakdown in the middle of the project. This spells disaster, because it inevitably requires a restructure of the project schedule. It is impossible to find a project manager that has the time to do this, let alone think about it when in the trenches of executing and managing the project.

How do you make sure your project team plays from the same playbook?

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Popular Question 52: Is there an advantage to a cost-loaded project schedule?

April 18th, 2013    Posted in Popular Questions

One of the questions I get asked a lot is: What is the advantage to a cost-loaded schedule for my project? In particular, if a scheduling specification does not ask for a cost-loaded schedule, what is the benefit? Read more

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Project Rule 73: Recognize the security of atrophy

April 16th, 2013    Posted in Project Rules

Job security and impact on salary are the most important parts to understanding change management. Virtually all employee motivation is derived from these two basic components. Other motivators include making a job easier and chance for promotion. Read more

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The Oracle State of Mind

April 9th, 2013    Posted in Oracle's Primavera

These times are a changing… so adapt and party on.

The year 1989 seems like a forever ago. In May, I got engaged. In August, I went to my first Primavera Conference, and turned a part-time timekeeping job to make car payments into a full-time scheduling, project controls career. Read more

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The Smartest Guy in the Room

April 2nd, 2013    Posted in Project Management Software

A book called “The Smartest Guys in the Room” chronicled the Enron crisis and how it crashed a substantial portion of the American economy. The story is about people who actually believed that they were smarter than everyone else around them. Read more

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