Archive for March, 2015

New Configuration Management Book

Posted on: March 31st, 2015 by admin No Comments

Our Configuration Management, Theory, Practice and Application book description and reviews


Standard Time Plans for Projects and TQM

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Standard Time Plans

I post this blog, because I have recently witnessed an organization working to create a standard time plan for their work.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, by PMI definition, projects are not operations and are unique.  Each project can have considerable variation in scope and personnel.  This is especially true for product development, which is often exploration and knowledge management type work.  The attempts to superimpose a standard time plan will require the use of TQM tools for success. Or these types of projects are misguided at best.  The use of standard implies that we have a way of knowing what is typical, and even typical has variation.  Standard times are often used in repair scenarios, for example a standard time to replace an alternator.  However, replacing that alternator has a well-defined set of steps and tools.  The measurements of the time to achieve the replacement are made many times with different people before a standard time is settled. In other words, this activity is more like operations than project management.  If you are considering standard times for the project activities for your organization, consider this. Is the task more like operations or more like project management?  As all people are not the same (talent and ability) can the duration be set that considers this dilemma?  Have you gathered enough data to allow prediction of the variation in the task?

Repeat-ability and TQM

If the projects have recurring theme or steps attempts and quantifying are not entirely futile but gathering the data and making predictions are precarious.  Total Quality Management tools can help quantify and assess the range of possible durations.  We have shown examples of the use of those tools in earlier blog posts but provide a list below:

  • Histograms
  • Pareto Charts
  • Fishbone and Cause and Effect Diagrams
  • Scatter Charts
  • Control Charts
  • Flow Charts
  • Check Lists
  • Check Sheets

TQM and Project Work

These tools apply to project management as well as the typical line functions, for example verification or software engineering typical activities.  Some of these may be more readily understood in terms of time and effort. For example, if the company has a formal software release process, perhaps this process has enough consistency to set a very rigid standard time.  I have worked at companies where this was so repeatable the standard time was low risk for the project.  Using this same fixed duration approach for something like writing a specific software feature for a product may not be so successful.


TQM for Project Management- and the PMO

TQM for Project Management- and the PMO


TQM Reduces Risk

The task should be carefully considered before assigning a standard time.  This is easy to find out with measurements and Total Quality Management tools.  Our book shows you how to understand what you have – so you can perhaps make some of the elements of the time plan standard without incurring too much risk.

Evolution of Motivational Theories

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by admin No Comments

 by Shawn P. Quigley

Evolution of Motivational Theories

Since the beginning of man’s socialization people have been attempting to understand what motivates an individual or group to act in the manner they do.  However, official theories of motivation did not start to develop until the early 1900’s.  The first few theories of motivation viewed man as a simple animal to be manipulated and controlled for his own good, but after World War II and the great depression, man was seen as having complex social and physical needs.  While the motivational theories produced during this time presented differing designs they remain constant in the sectionalism, containing both physical and social wants/needs.





Theories of Motivation

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In (Maslow, 1943), Maslow states the five levels of the hierarchy of needs as Physiological, Security, Social, Esteem, and Self-actualizing needs.  Physiological needs are described as those needed for survival such as food, water, and sleep (Maslow, 1943).  Security needs were associated to the physiological needs, but not as required (Maslow, 1943).  An example of this would be safety, steady employment, and shelter from the environment (Maslow, 1943).  Maslow (1943) defined social needs as the need for love and affection.  This is the point where the shift from physical to psychological needs occurred in Maslow’s theory.  The need for esteem was centered on the individual’s personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment (Maslow, 1943) which is clearly a purely psychological need.  The highest need and one Maslow (1943) stated is least like to be obtained is self-actualization.  This is where the individual is less concerned with other’s opinions and is more set for achieving their full potential (Maslow, 1943).  A point worth noting is that Maslow (1943) stated that the predominance of a need assigned by the individual determines its’ importance not the order presented.  This point is brought up because Maslow’s theory is commonly represented as a pyramid and the assumption that the first need must be satisfied before the next need is even addressed (Green, 2000).  An example provided by Green (2000) of a man who has never felt hunger is not motivated by that need and therefore does not seek to satisfy that need.

Maslow's hierarchy

Maslow’s hierarchy


Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

Herzberg’s two-factor theory is also call the hygiene and motivation due to its’ split approach to motivation.  Herzberg (1965) theorized that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were affected by different factors and thus could not be measured on the same scale.  Hygiene factors were those that pertained to the job and were comprised of supervision, interpersonal relationships, work conditions, salary, and company policy (Herzberg, 1965).  One can see how these items are primarily physiological, but have some extension into the psychological realm.  The motivational factors were such items as recognition, a sense of achievement, growth or promotion opportunities, responsibility, and meaningfulness of the work itself (Herzberg, 1965).  The motivational factors discussed by Herzberg are of a psychological nature only.  According to Herzberg’s (1965) theory stated that hygiene factors cannot produce motivation only satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Herzberg hygiene

Herzberg hygiene


Aldefer’s Existence, Relatedness, and Growth (ERG) Needs Theory of Motivation

Aldefer (2011) states the ERG theory as Existence, Relatedness, and Growth in which existence is defined as safety and physiological needs, relatedness is defined as internal esteem and social needs, and growth is defined as self-actualization and external esteem needs (Aldefer, 2011).  In this theory the dividing point between physiological and psychological is clearly defined with existence being the only part which pertains to the physiological needs.  Aldefer (2011) believe that these changes to Maslow’s theory were beneficial in showing that more than one need may be a motivational factor at the same time.  The ERG theory also was thought to account for the regression of needs when a higher order need cannot be satisfied (is frustrated) and is replaced by a lower order need to compensate for this fact.


Alderfer's relatedness - team membership.

Alderfer’s relatedness – team membership.


McClelland’s Theory of Needs

In Organization Needs Assessments: Design, Facilitation, and Analysis, (1995) McClelland discusses his theory of needs.  The theory of needs is divided into three sections; Achievement, Affiliation, and Power (McClelland, 1995).  Achievement discusses how people with different levels of achievement needs seek tasks with a corresponding level of risk (McClelland, 1995).  The higher the achievement need the higher the risk.  Affiliation need is similar to achievement and differs only in the fact it is the need to be associated with or accepted by a specific group (McClelland, 1995).  The power portion of the needs theory actually has two sub-sets, personal power and institutional power (McClelland, 1995).  Personal power describes the individual who wants to direct others and institutional power describes the individual who wants to organize the efforts of others for the betterment of the institution (McClelland, 1995).  This theory does not address any physiological needs as drives, instead focuses on the pure psychology of motivation.


McClelland's power.

McClelland’s power.


Vroom’s Expectancy Theory of Motivation

Lunenburg (2015) states that Vroom’s expectancy differs from Maslow, Herzberg, and Aldefer because Vroom does not attempt to suggest what motivates but instead discusses the different cognitive processes of individuals that may produce motivational factors.  The cognitive process evaluates the motivational factor (MF) of behavioral options based on the individual’s perception of possible goal attainment.  Therefore, the motivational force can be shown by the following: MF = Expectancy x Instrumentality x ∑(Valence(s)) (Lunenburg, 2015).  Expectancy is the individual’s assessment of the relationship between effort and performances i.e. will the effort applied produce the performance equal to or greater than itself (Lunenburg, 2015)?  Instrumentality is the performance to reward relationship i.e. what is the probability that the performance will yield the desired reward (Lunenburg, 2015)?  Valance is the value the individual places on the reward (Lunenburg, 2015).  Rewards that hold little to no value have a negative valance and are of no motivational value (Lunenburg, 2015).  It is clear that this theory covers both physiological and psychological needs.  However, it does not openly address either focusing on the mental process behind the assessment instead.


Vroom's cognitive.

Vroom’s cognitive.


Similarities and Differences

With exception of McClelland’s theory of needs the other motivational theories discussed all address motivation as a function of physiological and psychological needs of the individual.  McClelland’s theory focuses on psychological needs only negating the physiological needs because they were not considered to be a primary driver to motivation (McClelland, 1995).  These similarities can be seen in appendix A of this paper.

Other than the obvious difference in McClelland’s theory as compared to the other theories discussed, there are few differences other than the manner which the two categories of needs are addressed.  This is also evident through the depiction in appendix A of this paper.



In the review of the motivational theories it has proven evident that while the names of authors and theories change little has been added to our understanding of what motivates people.  The two major categories are physiological and psychological and the number of sub-divisions that are done to each category does not change how it affects the individual or their response.  Therefore, the conclusion to this paper would be that as more is understood about motivation the more we understand the physiology and psychology of the human race.

Additional Material

This appendix is to show graphic representation of where the different motivational theories share commonalities.



Aldefer, C. P. (2010). The practice of organizational diagnosis: Theory and methods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Green, C. D. (2000, August). A theory of human motivation: A. H. Maslow (1943). Retrieved from

Herzberg, F. (1965). The new industrial psychology. Industrial and labor relations review, 18(3), 364-376.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2013). New developments in goal setting and task performance. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Lunenburg, F. C. (2015). Expectancy theory of motivation: Motivating by altering expectations. International journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 15(1), 1-6. Retrieved from,%20Fred%20C%20Expectancy%20Theory%20%20%20Altering%20Expecctations%20IJMBA%20v15%20NI%202011.PDF

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review, 50, 370 – 396.

McClelland, S. B. (1995). Organizational needs assessments: Design, facilitation, and analysis. Connecticut: Greenwood.

Existence, Relatedness, Growth (ERG) Theory of Motivation

Posted on: March 18th, 2015 by admin No Comments

by Shawn P. Quigley

What is ERG?

Today we will discuss a theory by Clayton P. Alderfer called the ERG Theory of Motivation. No, Alderfer was not a physicist and ERG in this case is not a unit of energy equal to 10-7 joules. Aldefer is an American psychologist known for his further development of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.

In the ERG theory Existence is defined as the physiological and safety needs which are seen as the first two steps of the pyramid which people now use to represent Maslow’s theory. Relatedness equates to the social and external esteem needs such as relationships or involvement with friends, family, and co-workers. This would be the third and fourth rung of the Maslow triangle. Last, but not least, would be Growth which is the internal esteem and self-actualization needs. This is represented by the final two levels in Maslow’s needs theory.

ERG and Motivation

On the first review of the ERG theory the question could be asked, “What is the difference between the ERG theory and Maslow’s Needs theory?” Maslow’s theory was thought to be rigid in the order in which an individual’s needs could be satisfied or fulfilled. Aldefer modified the theory to make a clearer statement about how several needs can be in play at the same time and that their importance depends on the individual not the order presented. He also discussed frustration-regression principle which Maslow only alluded to but did not name.

ERG and Frustration Regression

Frustration-regression principle is when a higher order need cannot be satisfied or it is easier to satisfy a lower order need and the individual regresses to the lower need. An example would be when the individual does not see any potential for growth they need (desire) to be satisfied. Therefore, they regress to fulfillment of the relatedness need and socialize more with co-workers. In this case the socialization would probably occur with workers who also do not see the potential for growth either: misery loves company. This association further exacerbates the situation and can erode even the motivation of people who perceive a potential for growth.

But Motivation?

In our numerous discussions of motivation we have covered personal development; growth, several times. While many people and organizations present other needs as their primary motivation, growth or personal development is the actual desired pinnacle need. Very few people or organizations just want to exist or remain the same. But to communicate the desire for personal development is difficult to achieve without seeming self-centered or egotistical [personal power]. Both of which are more likely to get an individual fired or reduce the likelihood for the very growth desired. However, obtainment of personal development could lead to increased responsibility and the ability to facilitate positive change in the organization [organizational power]

Motivation and Communication

So, that leaves us with a question. How do we communicate the desire for growth without causing excessive tension? In my opinion the answer is in the question and we have repeatedly discussed it. The answer would be open and honest communication from both parties’ employee and employer. We have discussed this in the open mental model.  The “mental model” hyper link is a link to one of the many blog posts on the open mental model.

Sometimes it is not a Verification Problem!

Posted on: March 13th, 2015 by admin No Comments

Not a Verification Problem

I recently had a flash of a project from the past. The project had a fixed delivery date.  The project was to deliver a system through iterative and incremental deliveries. Sounds pretty good right? An iterative and incremental delivery of sub systems and components to the verification group in a way that allows for controlled testing, opportunity learning about the systems and the product, and make adjustments to the product based upon that learning.  In this case, the verification had gone through a number of time consuming loops.  The system was immense, and each test phase took about 30 days.

Iterative and Incremental Deliveries

As each increment of the system iteration shows no great improvement in quality, an executive goes to the verification manager asking him to speed up the testing.  The verification manager explains that the rate of test case execution will improve as more automation of the test cases that are requirements based can be scripted.  Once all of the content is put into the product, we would expect that with each test loop and subsequent development correction, would show a decrease in the number of faults or bugs reported.  In this instance we do not see a continued reduction; on the contrary there are new bugs arriving and recurring old bugs as well (not shown and severity not illustrated).  Even when no new content is added to the software we still see a growth in bugs found.  This is not likely a verification problem but a product development problem. 

Product Development has a Role to Play

We should probably go look at how the product development is executed.  There could be control issues with build management or configuration management that allows a once working piece of software to cease to function. There are clues to be found in seeing an open bug, closed only to be opened again in a subsequent build.  It could be issues with the test case execution, and that should be (and was) explored and ruled out.  At that point pressuring the test group is not an appropriate course of action.  The real problem is not where you witness the symptom which is in testing.  This is similar to bailing the water out of a sinking boat at a slower rate than the water is entering.

Erratic Defect Arrival Rate

Erratic Defect Arrival Rate



Consider the chart below. This is more like what we would like to see. We see that every build as each subsequent delivery eliminates some of the failure sources; it appears as if we are not injecting a plethora of other failures.  Our over all trend is negative sloped meaning we are improving the product in each of the iterations, putting us in a position to be able to predict when ready for launch.  It appears as if the testing and the product development portions of the team are working quite well.

Defect Arrival Rate that is consistent

Defect Arrival Rate that is consistent



Defect arrival rate can inform us on much more than just the state of the product.  If we are paying attention to the entire picture we will know where to put our effort for the best results.  Recurring defects, solved then reappearing and solved and reappearing informs you there is more to what is happening in verification.  Product development goes hand in hand with testing and verification.  Just because you discover the problem in test, does not mean you have a testing or verification problem.  Refusing to entertain that the problem can be somewhere other than testing impedes progress and will mean resolution of the real problem will not be prompt.

Testing of Complex and Embedded Systems

Testing of Complex and Embedded Systems

A Company like I want Value Transformation to be!

Posted on: March 12th, 2015 by admin No Comments

I think it is time for me to post the Value Transformation Manifesto which is similar to those things Mr. Ricardo Semler. I want Value Transformation to be a company similar to this.

Everything is Go!

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by admin 2 Comments

Have you ever seen this?  The project has steadily made progress and is coming to the end and launch.  The project seems to be okay, and the launch commences.  Shortly after launch, probably in the manufacturing, you start to see problems. Perhaps the plant shuts down at first. Then those issues are solved only to have more issues show up in the field.  Depending upon the logistics of getting the product to the customer and the customer use of the product this can be weeks or months later.

Why is it we see so many problems post launch? Why does our release “hit production” causing the line to stop?  Sometimes these happen because it is not possible to get everything just right.

But consider the health care “roll out” or “go”.  It was launched as if nobody knew there was a problem. To be sure, had they known of the problems prior to launch, they would have saved themselves the embarrassment and delayed the introduction.

I have to give  a nod to the gentleman and his daughter that gave me the idea / inspiration for the graphic below.  They asked that they remain nameless save Internet Patriot.


But everything on the project was "green"!

But everything on the project was “green”!

The Theory of Needs and Achievement

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by admin 1 Comment

By Shawn P. Quigley

Needs According to McClelland

We have discussed several different motivational theories and today we will continue that discussion with McClelland’s Needs theory of motivation. The reason we are discussing McClelland’s theory now is that it provides some insight why an employee may become disenchanted with not improving a process that they perceive as requiring improvement. We discussed this to a small degree in Pavlov’s Employee.

Achievement, Affiliation and Power

There are three sections to McClelland’s theory: Achievement, Affiliation, and Power (McClelland, 1995).  Achievement refers to how people have different levels of achievement they desire and they seek an objective equivalent to their need for achievement. Affiliation refers to the individual’s desire to be associated with and/or accepted by a specific group. Typically a group that has the majority of members with a similar level of desired achievement as they perceive themselves as having. Power has two sub-categories for this theory: Personal and Institutional. Personal power is described as the desire to control others and institutional power is described as having an effect on the organization. For our discussion we will focus mainly on the first two factors; Achievement and Affiliation.

Pavlov’s Employee and Achievement

As we discussed in Pavlov’s employee, there was little chance for achievement as the employee’s suggestions were being dismissed. The dismissal of the suggestions; that the individual thought would improve the process, without some form of positive feedback as to why the recommendation could or should not be used at that time negated any sense of achievement the individual might have garnered. Most individuals that have a high need for achievement are constantly attempting to improve the processes, the organization, and themselves. Ironically it is this very factor that causes a loss of motivation. The individual’s constant suggestions for improvement are commonly seen as disruptive because the organization can seldom respond as fast as desired by that individual and thus the individual is often perceived by the organization’s hierarchy as having a negative attitude. We would be deluding ourselves if we thought that any organization could constantly change its processes without suffering some adverse effects. That is not the point. What is the point is, “how do we not demotivate someone who desires a higher level of achievement from the organization?” The answer to this dilemma is communication.

Can't play ball by myself, but I can jump high to catch it with your help.

Can’t play ball by myself, but I can jump high to catch it with your help.


 Affiliation and Aspirations

In the beginning of our discussion we stated that affiliation is the need to be associated with a group that fosters similar aspirations or feelings as the individual. When the need for achievement is stifled as shown above the individual will may fill their affiliation need with those who are also dissatisfied. The old adage of misery loves company comes to mind. This association of misery further exacerbates the situation and over the course of time is a self-filing prophecy.  Specifically, the individual can become disruptive to the very processes they desired to improve in the beginning. However if positive communication was employed during the onset of this issue the individual might seek affiliation with those who could help achieve the goal at some later time or future project.


This assistance to achieve the desire goal brings us to the power aspect of the Needs Theory. Either aspect; personal or institutional, of the power portion of the needs theory could be used to obtain the desired results of the individual here and would be solely based upon the individual’s personality. However it is not uncommon for individuals who find themselves in this situation to have neither form of power. If they were to have either power this would not be an issue. This is likely the cause of the desire for power, to facilitate the fulfillment of the desire to achieve.

Communication, Affiliation, and Achievement

Here; as with many of the other theories we have discussed previously, the manner that communication occurs between the two parties helps determine the outcome of the encounter. While it is not always immediately prudent to the situation to have a discussion it should occur as close to the situation as possible to avoid the chance of negative affiliation occurring and making the situation worse. When the discussion can occur it should start with why the recommendation could not be pushed forward at that time and who should be involved to evaluate when and/or how further evaluation or employment of the recommendation can occur. This is another example of the open mental model that we have repeatedly shown as key to both motivation and the learning organization.

If you are a supervisor or manager ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I go back to my team members to discuss their suggestions after not using them during a specific situation?
  2. Does the discussion occur with an open mind?
  3. Do I seek others who might help understand the recommendation to join the discussion?
  4. If I do not employ these ideas, why?

If you are an employee ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I make suggestions in an open or confrontational manner?
  2. If my suggestion is not accepted, do I complain to my co-workers?  What do I expect to achieve by complaining to co-workers?
  3. Do I make the suggestion again to management on the process improvement?  When making the suggestion the second time, do I ensure that the time, place and information provided is appropriate and beneficial?


Works Cited

McClelland, S. B. (1995). Organizational Needs Assesments: Design, Facilitation, and Analysis.Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.

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