More Hope.


I want to start off by saying; I am not affiliated with any political party. There are some key principles by which I behave, but I do not think any one party has a monopoly on good. In fact, if anything, I believe both parties have a monopoly on bad.  I also know the book, Audacity of Hope, is not a new introduction, however, for some reason, this title has stuck in my head today and has me thinking.

I have long held hoping in low regard.  Hope is okay, but only when linked with doing all that you can do.  I have seen hope used in project management and product development as if it were going to come or our rescue, which invariably it does not.  Hope allows me to sit in my lazy boy and contemplate winning the lottery.  However, to actually win, I have to get up out of my lounge chair and take … Continue reading

Onboarding part 2

This is the second part of our onboarding writing.  We have seen many opportunities for growth and development in this area. In fact, the onboarding process is where those who know little about us, how we work and what we value, are guided toward a fit in our organization.  Our candidate selection and vetting process provided us with the ability to determine which candidate would most likely be a fit. However we have not completed the process with the acquisition, we have only completed the selection.

 Corporate Culture and Growth

If we value the present corporate culture, we must take steps to assimilate the new talent in such a way that our culture remains strong.  If we are moving how we work to some future state (as in continuous improvement along with personal mastery) we work to guide the new talent to this future state.  The talent we are bringing to our organization may now know what is expected of … Continue reading

Testing, Trade-off and the Emissions Tango

The Emissions Tango

There is so much to learn from this case for those who develop products for a living and automotive products in particular.  Understanding the impact of concept selection and testing of the product on the project success and product quality is important.  The early decisions we make regarding the development of the product will stay with us long after launch or we may find ourselves reworking the entire product.

Trade – offs

Most every design solution requires trade-off considerations.  For example, we sacrifice weight for reliability; or we may increase the cost to obtain a longer battery life.  Making this trade-off decision requires forethought and systems level thinking regarding the consequences and risks to product development and production.  In the case of the VW diesel situation, the trade off was NOx and CO2. [1]

The starting point of the diesel matter was, in hindsight, the strategic decision by Volkswagen in 2005 to start a … Continue reading

Optimism is a Kind of Blindness

 Optimism is a Kind of Blindness

Perhaps it is because I have seen the word optimism abused that I say optimism is a kind of blindness.  Optimism like hope is used to justify our limited planning and reduced talent.  Through optimism, we encourage troops to charge across a field that will surely end in their death and little else (Pickett’s charge).  It is optimism that responds to valid constraints or risks cavalierly or worse yet shooting the nay-saying messenger.  Consider the Allied Operation Market Garden, dropping paratroopers on top of tanks. The messenger that brought this to the attention of “management” was (-Major Brian Urquhart) and he would be asked to take sick leave because he pointed out that dropping paratroopers on top of tanks would be a poor idea.  He rocked the boat.

I am not comparing the seriousness of troops and their lives with business, but this approach is not limited to generals and wartime.  This approach … Continue reading

TQM Statistics, Control and the Project Manager


Why Statistics and Control Are Important to the Project Manager

More from the TQM and Project Management [1]

One of the purposes of statistical analysis lies in its ability to discern random variation from non-random (or “controllable”) variation. Random variation is extremely difficult to control, although we have seen situations where variance could be diminished through rigorous use of designed experiments. It is much more common for practitioners to move the mean rather than “fix” the variance.

The TQM project manager will want to understand what factors he or she can control and which factors effectively lie outside the domain of project management. When this awareness manifests, project managers begin to have true control, because they are working with those factors that they can, indeed, influence.

Furthermore, the charts can provide a valuable visual indicator to management about what is really going on during the process. The most difficult part of the statistics and control … Continue reading

TQM, Project Management and Risk

We take a brief turn from our previous agile posting and divert to Total Quality Management tools applied to conventional Project Management with an excerpt from our book by that title.

Consider our company has outsourced a significant portion of our project to a supplier, and in our evaluation of the risks via our Risk FMEA tool.     We believe that should this event come to pass, it will have significant impact on our project success, particularly the delivery.   We then pick a metric to monitor over the course of the project that will help us to know what is going on and when we may need to intervene, and we pick Schedule Performance Index.  All part of this is part of risk monitoring and control.  We demonstrate how this monitoring and control can take place using a visual approach much like that of a control chart.


TQM for Project Management- and … Continue reading

Hours Available for Work


Some companies offer perks to their employees, a reward for sticking out with the company.  After all, in some cases the company invests considerable time and money into employee development. The company may pay to move them.  The company will spend some money on training the employee in the ways of the organization.  I venture to guess that no employee starts the first day with the company at maximum efficacy through the experiences of the intricacies of the position.  So, the company at the start is paying more based upon the estimated return upon their investment than current individual yield.

Some organizations offer two weeks of vacation to the starting employee. In the roughly 52 week year, that reduces the work time to 50 weeks. With an average of 40 hours per work week, the resulting working hours is approximately 2000 hours per year.  Management will use these hours to determine the amount of human capital (or as I … Continue reading

Processes, the Building Blocks for a Better Project

by Rick Edwards and Shawn P. Quigley

How projects and processes are related

If one were to describe their project to someone, they would most likely describe the end deliverable or objective of the project (a.k.a scope), the expected completion date (time) and the expected resource requirements needed to faithfully execute the plan (cost).   Nowhere in this description would the HOW this is to be accomplished be discussed.  Of course, as Project Managers, we understand that the how is often the more telling description of the probability of success of the project.   The reason the how is often left out, is that, especially in matrix organizations, the how is not solely the purview of the project manager.  The how is the domain of the line manager.

This perceived disconnect between something as intrinsically essential as the how a project is executed and the project’s success is a source of conflict and frustration within many organizations.  If the … Continue reading

Levels of Wants, Needs and Motivation

By Shawn P. Quigley

Needs and Motivation – Organization and the Individual

In our article “Needs, wants, and motivation” we discussed the correlation between the needs of an organization and that of the individuals who comprise it. This would be an example of “The Macro fit” or job fit as commonly stated in the Human Resources Department. This is a good a start, but must be followed by “The Micro Fit”, which we will discuss later. First we must define the Macro-fit better. The Macro-fit can be considered the long term goal or goals of the individual and the overall goal(s) of the organization. While this is good for determining the long term applicability of an individual it does little for the short term maintenance of the employee’s motivation. We must note that in this instance long term and short term are not actually determined by time, but employee motivation, goal setting, and perception of progress towards either or both. … Continue reading

Dependencies and Rate of Accomplishment

Review of Rate of Accomplishment

From our earlier blog post, we discussed task dependencies and how understanding these connections improve our probability of project success as it pertains to schedule. Additional information on dependencies can be found in our book Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems.

Monitoring  Rate of Accomplishment means Measuring

So what does it look like to monitor progress?  We can start by sufficiently decomposing our project task via the WBS and provided description information in the WBS dictionary to the smallest level. This smallest level would make answering the question, are you finished with the task either a yes or a no. This is a binary (yes, no – 1, 0) easily understandable assessment of the state of completion.



Accomplishment, Team Behavior – Saving Face

If you are a project manager or a project team member with any significant experience, you will not doubt have witnessed instances where our team members … Continue reading

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