Friday, November 19, 2010
Harrison spent a year conducting interviews and studying the information, so:
"At a time when people feel overloaded by hype and put off by scandals, Beyond the Brink seeks to lay out how things really stand now. Beyond the Brink is a not-for-profit production available for free for anyone to watch and use."
I am currently downloading the file from beyondthebrink.org to watch offline, but from the trailer it seems a very well made effort and should be thought provoking at the very least.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Basically, the proponents of "GreenPM" suggest it is the support of an organization's environmental policy through its project management process. It is an interesting idea, but I view it a little differently, making the environment a stakeholder, as is often the case on a construction project, achieves much the same results during the execution phase. Environmental protection is often strongly enforced during these phases in any case...
Where "GreenPM" perhaps offers more change to the process is in the softer skill areas and supply chains, where people may not be so frontline in thinking of the environment, or in execution of IT or office based projects for example. The point is not to make every decision in favour of the most environmentally friendly in a blanket approach, but that the environment is added as one of the key evaluation criteria throughout all the decisions.
I also recently found this article which asks if the scenario of the Gulf oil spill could happen in mining. It is worth a read as it basically contends, yes, the same scenario with such pressured decision making could certainly occur in the mining industry. I would also liken this to the many reports about poor organizational communications (internal and external) and "groupthink" that are oft cited as prime factors in the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disaster, see here and here for more background, plus a short video. If this report is to be believed, there was much organizational chaos onboard the rig and during the aftermath, with legislators playing a significant part with exceptions granted and slow decisions.
And whilst the environmental impacts and economic damage may be tremendous and felt for years to come in the affected regions, let us not forget that eleven workers died in the initial blaze. If the current rhetoric can be believed and this disaster could be the clarion call for mainstream support of renewables and alternative energy sources, the environment will ultimately benefit from this situation, the workers are, however, lost forever.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
During and design:
Note the clear primary stakeholder (my wife) decision for how the steps are to be configured marked by "X" and "✓"...
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Not necessarilly. One of the Project Management Institute's blogs has an interesting article written by Jim De Piante titled Unselfish Networking. It also aligns pretty well with Mitch Joel of Twist Image, whose book I am currently enjoying reading.
A similar models applies to volunteering or running local branches or chapters of associations or running an online group or forum. The exposure and boost to your reputation can be significant and you are actually just giving back to your peers, but you are positioning yourself as a pro-active leader.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Estimators. The bane of your life or your superstars?
Here is an interesting viewpoint on The Life of an Estimator. Now I have worked through all phases of projects and done my share of estimating and I have to say, I'd be inclined to agree with the article. Especially the lose-lose situation post submission, where if you win the job, everyone scrutinizes your work and you become the scapegoat for every flaw down the line in the project. This is the "how come we won this? what did you miss?" attitude.
The opposing situation is when you are expected to cover every cost eventuallity, yet still manage to submit a competitive bid. This is when you will be blamed for the bid not being successful.
Personally, I have found that the biggest problem with the role (and many others until you reach a more senior position in the organizational hierarchy - and sometimes even after unfortunately!) is being given lots (all?) of the responsibility, but none of the authority. Estimators are typically not viewed with too high a regard, although they are ultimately responsible for getting a successful bid out on time, yet they must manage and influence senior management figures in the company without having any authority to impose deadlines other than indicating a tardy response will make the bid late.
They are constantly operating in a mode of conflict with their superiors, hence the analogy in the title. "It's like herding cats!", is generally trotted out to represent something difficult, but it is from the viewpoint of an empowered individual trying to co-ordinate playfully wayward resources, consider the difficulty when the prey is trying the shepherd the hunter.
Now, admittedly, prey and hunter may be going slightly over the top, but the dynamic is certainly akin to that. Another big problem for estimators is burnout and lack of motivation.
Burnout. An estimator is constantly cramming for an exam, the bid submission and review. They are expected to know every detail of their project, but then post submission, that memory gets purged and they move on to the next assignment and the process repeats. With the high intensity work stress is a big factor too.
Typically it is easy to get attendance at initial kick-off and final bid review meetings, but it is the meetings and co-ordination in-between that is difficult to pin people down for (because they have many different competing time demands, fine, but they should be confident enough in their subordinates to delegate, not do). It is disheartening for estimators to have sent out files for review that they have laboured over to build up costs or productivity from first principles, only to have people breeze into a review, attempt to study the calculation, fail and then insist instead on their rule of thumb being used.
So estimators are often perceived as being cranky. I'd have to say I agree, but also that the role either attracts a certain "special" individual, or the demands of the job makes them that way!
"I'll be back..."
P.S. By the way, it has just come to my attention that this site is called Herding Cats and is a project management blog. I don't recall seeing it before I wrote this post, but it is possible I did and it subliminally affected me... Regardless, the analogy is certainly a good one.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Now I don't like to give away my searching secrets, but since this site has I'd may as well promote them! We all know the person who cannot find anything on the interweb. It really is easy in fact and the site is all about information; finding, reviewing, storing, disseminating - on the web and in person.
They are inspired to try and help by the following statistic:
"An estimated 6.4 hours per employee are spent looking for information in the workplace each week in the UK. 37% of the searches prove unsuccessful.
I found that to be quite staggering.
So, the site, iKnow, that aims to rectify this is broken down into bitesized chunks of information, aka tips, that seem pretty useful actually.
The six subject headings are:
- Finding information
- Know you sources
- Evaluating information
- Information handling
- Organising information
- Keeping up to date
Again, it isn't all web-based searching though. I'd definitely recommend taking a look at it...