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Articles on Index Card Planning

The 5 Biggest Drawbacks Of Planning With Sticky Notes

Although far from being the only way to run a planning workshop, this is one of the more popular and the most infuriating. On any given day thousands of project teams spend hundreds of thousands of hours in meeting rooms and off-sites in these events.  If you’ve ever come away from a sticky note planning workshop wishing that you hadn’t bothered going, then you’re probably not alone.  Read the article.

How To Create An Effective Plan, Step By Step

If you’re working on your own, you might start off by identifying your goal, produce a work breakdown structure to identify the tasks required to achieve the goal, identify the dependencies between the tasks, add resources and so on.  But what would you do next?  Read the article.

How To Plan Your Project Using Index Cards

If you’ve read my earlier post “The 5 Biggest Drawbacks of the Planning with Sticky Notes”, then perhaps you’re ready to learn more about an approach that has all of the benefits of collaborative planning but none of the drawbacks of using sticky (or not so sticky) notes.  Read the article >>

How Index Card Planning Helps To Set Realistic Expectations

You’re asked to work on, or lead, a new project.  The project is complex and the budget is tight.  So far so bad.  Then you’re told when the project needs to be delivered.   Even though you haven’t planned the project in detail, you already have a strong feeling that your client is asking the impossible, given the complexity and the likely cost.  What do you do?  Read the article

How To Incorporate Effective Reviews Into Your Project Schedule

Here’s an interesting but worrying set of statistics on project governance.  The first comes from the Economist Intelligence Unit in their 2010 paper “How mature financial services firms deal with troubled projects”.  Next, and even more worrying, is the finding of Drs. McManus and Wood-Harper in their 2004 study into 214 information system (IS) project failures in the European Union.  Read the article.

How to Prepare For Your First Index Card Planning Workshop

Organising your first Index Card Planning workshop might seem like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be.  The beauty of planning using Index Cards is that, after the first two or three events, everyone knows what they need to do and they tend to just get on with it.  However, you have to run your first two or three sessions.  Here’s what you need to do to make your first workshop a successful one.  Read the article.

What You’ll Need For Your First Index Card Planning Workshop

So you’ve decided to hold an Index Card Planning Workshop.  You’ve made a wise choice – a collaborative planning workshop using Index Cards is fast, it’s fun and it delivers incredible results.  Here are some of the key things that you’ll need in order to run your workshop. Read the article >>

How To Follow Up After Your Index Card Planning Workshop

So the result of days, or weeks of planning has resulted in three to four hours of activity.  You’ve facilitated your workshop and people have left, happy and excited by what is to follow.  Three things need to happen once you’ve finished and ideally they all need to happen within a week of the workshop. Read the article >>

Three Reasons Why Most Project Plans Are Useless

If I said that “it never ceases to amaze me that so many project schedules suck” then I’d be lying.  It’s not that I’m easily amazed.  It’s just that having worked in project management for so long, and for so many different companies, I’ve seen first-hand that most project plans are just not that good.  Planning isn’t new, it isn’t difficult and it isn’t rocket science.  Planning is simply the process of working out the steps required to achieve a goal, along with the resources and effort necessary.  So why is it that poor planning is so common?  I’d like to suggest three problems behind this ongoing issue.  Read the article.

Why Risk Management?

Project managers are under ever greater pressure to deliver.  Also under pressure are their bosses, typically the I.T. Directors, Finance Directors or (in some cases) the Managing Director.  They all know that projects that come in late and over budget affect the whole company, not just the I.T. department.  Successful projects are possible, if you use the right approach.  I believe part of that approach is to use project risk management more than you do now.  Read the article >>

Assessing Risks: The Buck Stops With You

What should we make of the Bernard Madoff scandal?  The very idea that for decades one of the most visible pillars of the American investment community had been, in effect, running a gigantic scam is hard to believe.  Even harder to believe is the fact that so many investors were duped.  The total amount lost was first reported at $50Bn, but this number may rise as more and more institutional investors own up to having lost money to Madoff’s scam.  Hardest of all to believe though is that US regulators allowed Madoff to get away with it for so long.  So, what you need to learn about risk from the Bernie Madoff scandal? Read the article >>

Famous risk takers – Ben Johnson

On a searing hot day in Seoul, South Korea, Ben Johnson lined up against seven other elite sprinters. At stake was the title of Olympic champion. Less than 10 seconds later Johnson won the race and the Olympic gold medal, outrunning his arch rival Carl Lewis.  Just two days later Johnson was stripped of his medal and banned from competitive sprinting for two years. His crime? To be caught taking an illegal performance boosting substance. Read the article >>

Famous risk takers – Nick Leeson

Nick Leeson didn’t intend to bring down Barings, the UK’s oldest merchant bank, but that’s just what he did.Usually traders who make unauthorised trades are discovered quickly and fired almost as quickly, before they can do too much damage. But not in this case.  Read the article >>

Famous risk takers – Donald Trump

Famous risk takers don’t come much bigger than Trump.  With his billion dollar fortune, his monster hit TV show “The Apprentice”, his sprawling business empire and one of the most valuable apartments in New York City Donald Trump appears to be on top of the world. But it wasn’t always this way. At his lowest point Trump (sometimes known as “the Donald”) was facing personal bankruptcy with personal debts of $900M, while his business was declared bankrupt with debts of $3.5Bn.  Please note: I wrote this back in 2010, before the Donald’s run for the presidency, and I have left the article unchanged.Read the article >>

Famous risk takers – Christopher Columbus

Columbus wasn’t really expected to return from his voyage across the ocean. So although the deal he struck with his investors rewarded him very favourably, most of his terms were accepted. These included the rank of governor of any new lands discovered, 10% of the revenue (not profit), in perpetuity and an option to purchase shares in any new venture from any new islands or mainland discovered.  Why on Earth did Columbus get such generous terms? I’m sure that his backers simply didn’t think that he’d make such a significant find. An island maybe, but not a whole continent.  Read the article >>

Older, Wiser and Managing Risks

There’s a popular saying that risk management is project management for grown-ups. I can’t speak for others but I can say that it is only as I got older and took on bigger project management roles that I started to really value risk management. This article gives you ten tips to help you incorporate risk management into your work. Read the article >>

Managing Projects in a Recession

I wrote this article back in 2008 at the time of the financial crash. Since then what I spoke of as a recession has become a full-blown depression, whatever people try to tell you. I have given up trying to predict when the current economy will come crashing down, but I will write something more extensive on this as I see the coming economic crash as the biggest unreported story of our times. Read the article >>

3 Lessons Project Management Can Learn From American Football

I started watching American football in the early 1980s and started to play the game in 1987. This was the around the same time that I started working in project management.  It took me a while to learn the rules of both and as I became a more experienced player of the game it seemed to me that the two had a lot in common. Read the article >>

How to Plan a Project – My Light-bulb Moment

At some point in your life you will have had what people describe as a “light-bulb” moment.  That point where darkness is suddenly replaced with blinding illumination and where everything is revealed, removing doubt, providing insights and boosting belief. This is what happened to me and how I came up with the Index Card Planning Method. Read the article >>

The Death of Project Management

After several years we seem, at last, to be over our fixation with zombies. Again. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time that the zombie movie genre comes around, each time bringing a new generation into its cold, dead clutches. I am reminded of the zombie movie each time I have a discussion about project management versus project leadership. Read the article >>

Project Management Life Cycles – Why We Need to Think Beyond Agile Versus Waterfall

Almost any time that there is a discussion about project management life cycles it quickly and inevitably comes down to talk about “Waterfall versus Agile”. That’s a real concern because the selection of project life cycle is a crucial one. Let me explain why I believe that the over-promotion of “Agile” by comparing it with Waterfall is not just wrong, it can positively be dangerous. Read the article >>

Project Management Software – Gantt Charts or Kanban

The market for project planning software is heating up, with a trend towards tools that support online collaboration, social media sharing and Kanban. The question for you is: should you follow that trend?  There are three reasons why you should think very carefully before making a move away from using more traditional planning tools which produce Gantt charts if you run a significant number of projects in your organisation. Read the article >>

The Key Business Benefits of Facilitated Planning Workshops

If you’ve read my articles on the Index Card Planning approach you might like the idea of planning using index cards. However you might not like the thought of running the workshop yourself, you could get someone else to do it for you. In fact I recommend using a facilitator for all your planning workshops. Learn why. Read the article >>

The Politics of Project Management

Every project, whether great or small, involves a level or degree of uncertainty. Even in cases where the reason for the change is clear, whether that change can be delivered may be less so. This uncertainty may not come down to technical complexity or professional competence, but office politics. Read the article >>

3 Ways to Guarantee Good Attendance at your Project Kickoff Workshops

One of the biggest barriers to running successful workshops is getting people to attend in the first instance. Here are three things you can do right now to boost attendance at your workshops. Read the article >>