Rethinking Communication

September 21, 2022

The fourth paper on our series for the PM World Journal on Project Management in the time of COVID, Rethinking Communication has been uploaded to the Mosaic website.

Organizations everywhere are struggling with the requirements of returning project planning and delivery to pre-COVID levels, which in turn creates a range of communication challenges. They need to prevail over the global threats of staff and material shortages, the demographic changes to the project workforce and the general reluctance of project teams members to resume full-time face-to-face modes of working. These are complex issues for organizations and may need courage to introduce innovative flexible work modes and to introduce new people strategies to acquire and retain project workers. It is a great opportunity for innovation and flexibility, and will require a measure of audacity from often conservative organizations. To achieve these ambitious goals, they must ensure that communication and people management strategies match any changes they plan to introduce, and even more important, to ensure adequate consultation with their people.

Download all three papers from: Project Management in the time of COVID


What is agile?

September 3, 2022

Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen many discussions around the concept of agile in project management where it seems no one was talking about the same thing……..  This set me thinking.

My conclusion is the Agile Manifesto sets out a philosophy not a methodology and change the term ‘software’ used in the manifesto to product (or output), it is a generally applicable philosophy.  Then there are various methodologies for implementing this philosophical approach. This distinction creates to totally different areas of discussion.  One is the validity of the philosophical ideas, the other the appropriateness of any given methodology in the circumstances of a particular project.

The underpinning philosophy driving the development of project management from the 1960s through to the 2000s was derived from scientific management, the core elements being:

  1. The future is largely predictable and we can create reliable schedules and budgets for a project.
  2. These plans can be used by management to control the work of the project.
  3. Risk is important, and if you do enough work, you can parameterize the overall risk profile and allow appropriate contingencies based on the management’s risk appetite.
  4. When things go wrong, someone is at fault.
  5. The way to improve project outcomes is to do ‘project management better’.

Then the Agile Manifesto was published. It sees most elements of traditional project management as valuable, but places more emphasis on:

  • Individuals and interactions,
  • Working software products (fit for purpose),
  • Customer collaboration,
  • Responding to change.

These ideas are consistent with other innovations such as empowerment, self-managed teams, and stakeholder engagement which also emerged into prominence in the 2000s.

This ‘agile philosophy’ represents a paradigm shift in thinking from the older project management ideas that are built around predictability and ‘command and control’ to one focused on delivering value to the client by working with people.

A third concept, also from the 2000s, is complexity which emphasizes the impossibility of predicting future outcomes, the day-to-day actions of the project team build the future within an ever-changing environment.

My feeling is at this level most thinking project practitioners will be willing to agree agility and complexity are important elements in the successful management of projects.

Then you get to the methodologies.  Scrum is a methodology developed for use on soft projects (software development, and others). It emphasizes using the skills and capability of the project team to decide what to do next.  Lean construction also emphasizes using the skills and capability of the project team to decide what to do next. The difference between the two is the characteristics of the product places far more constraints on the work of the construction team, compared to the software team, and this is reflected in the methodology.   

Separating the discussions around approach (philosophy) between predictive, agile and/or complex is important for the evolution of project management as a concept. But this is a different discussion to the one about which of the methodologies is best for a particular project. In this respect the agile community are well ahead of the more traditional project communities.  Agile methodologies include Scrum, DA, Safe, XP, Kanban and several others. 

In the more traditional industries, we have a few concepts such as Lean Construction and BIM, but mostly continue to approach the management of projects in the same way as we did in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, etc.  And continue to see the same failure rates, and continue to blame people, or the lack of skills, or the lack of diligence in the planning……. Maybe there is a need for a reframing of the discussions.


Rethinking Teams 

August 25, 2022

The third paper in my series for the PM World Journal on Project Management in the time of COVIDRethinking Teams has been uploaded to the Mosaic website.

Teams are central to project delivery, but the current situation of ‘living with COVID’ presents a series of challenges including the challenge of acquiring and supporting teams and team members, and dealing with the residual issues of the pandemic such as anxiety, loss of control over the work product and re-negotiating work-life balance. New modes of working create advantages and disadvantages from the perspective of both workers and organizations. But, how best to manage teams in the new hybrid mode, based on the learnings from the previous decade’s use of virtual teams and deal with the urgent emerging issues such as, shortages of experienced staff, and how to reform training, acquisition and retention of project team members.

Download all three papers from: Project Management in the time of COVID


Rethinking Leadership and Governance

May 14, 2022

Rethinking Leadership and Governance is the second paper in the series Project Management in the time of COVID. Governance and leadership are mutually inclusive. Leaders define and support good governance, while leadership is enhanced by good governance.

This paper looks at the definitions of governance and leadership, then describes Australia’s pre-pandemic environment in terms of those definitions, followed by an overview of our first two years of lockdowns. The final section discusses how reviews and reforms of governance and leadership practices may be applied to develop the new normal needed to counteract the problems of the past.

Download the paper from:  https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ORG-060.php#COVID

PM World Journal is a free monthly project management journal, see more at: https://pmworldjournal.com/


Project Management in the time of COVID

April 16, 2022

The first in a series of five papers by Dr. Lynda Bourne, commissioned by PM World Journal has been uploaded to the Mosaic website.

Uncertainty – Is it time to rethink? considers what uncertainty might mean post-pandemic. Through a discussion of the concept of a Zone of Uncertainty, the paper considers how the current heightened awareness of uncertainty and unknown unknowns can contribute to more effective risk management practice, and how the introduction of the concepts of resilience, persistence, and adaptability may assist individuals, groups, and organizations to recover, review and reform their practices.

Download the paper from:  https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ORG-060.php#COVID 

PM World Journal is a free monthly project management journal, see more at: https://pmworldjournal.com/  


Project Managers 4 The World – 24-hours talk around the clock

April 6, 2022

Project Managers 4 The World are running a 24-hours talk around the clock in support for children and families from Ukraine on April 27 & 28, 2022: https://charity-conference.com/

The full line up of speakers is now locked-in, all we need is for the project management community to support our efforts. All you have to do is donate to participate $10 to $999 (or more), it’s your choice – all proceeds go to UNICEF to help support for children and families from Ukraine. After donating, a Zoom link will be forwarded to allow access to the event.  See more on the event home page: https://charity-conference.com/


Stakeholder Circle Upgrade Launched

March 26, 2022

The Stakeholder Circle® is the premier methodology and tool set for analyzing the stakeholder community around a business activity, or a project. The primary tool for implementing the Stakeholder Circle® methodology, is the Stakeholder Work Sheet (SWS). The latest upgrade now includes:

  1. The Stakeholder Circle® report as an integrated, fully automatic, capability
  2. Greater control over the prioritization calculations, you can balance power, proximity, and urgency to suit your environment
  3. Enhanced engagement assessment
  4. The stakeholder engagement index to track changes in the average stakeholder attitudes over time
  5. An integrated on-line help capability linked from each tab of the spreadsheet

Two version of the tool, a 100-stakeholder version and a 1000-stakeholder version.

You are invited to download the enhanced sample version of the spreadsheet from https://mosaicprojects.com.au/shop-stakeholder-worksheet.php  (there is no longer a requirement to register before downloading). The sample version allows the first 5 stakeholders to be edited and all of the macros to run.

For more information see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SHM-030.php


The Origins of Cost Engineering

March 12, 2022

The latest paper in our series on the origins of project controls has been published in the March edition of Project Management World Journal.

This paper traces the origins of accounting, through cost accounting, to cost engineering. Download the full paper from: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY-020.php#Process1

This is the part of a series of papers looking at the origins of the structures underpinning Earned Value Management (EVM):

  1. The History of Scheduling (these papers are stand-alone, but the schedule is a key support to EVM)
  2. The Origins of WBS & Management Charts
  3. The Origins of Cost Engineering
  4. The Origins of EVM (full update planned for mid-year)

As always, we are happy to receive feedback and additional information to help improve this history resource which is freely available to everyone: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php  


Crafting project success

March 8, 2022

A short article looking at the key requirements for creating a committed and cooperative team capable of delivering success in difficult circumstances has just been uploaded to our website. The concepts discussed are not new but are well worth revisiting in an age when distributed teams, and working from home are becoming the norm.

Download the article directly: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA013_Crafting_Success.pdf

Or for more on effective team management see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-TPI-010.php#Team2  


Are Traditional Reports past their use-by date?

October 8, 2021
 Projects create reports!

Most projects are required to produce weekly and/or monthly reports for their client as part of a contract, or as part of an internal set of reporting requirements, or both. But is this style of reporting valuable or are better options emerging? Projects create reports! Most projects are required to produce weekly and/or monthly reports for their client as part of a contract, or as part of an internal set of reporting requirements, or both. But is this style of reporting valuable or are better options emerging?

Our latest article ‘Are Traditional Reports Past Their Use-by Date?‘ discuses the problems and challenges of changing from reports to a real-time dashboard to communicate project information.

For more on effective communication management see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-PBK-040.php#Process2