Author: Justin Scoville

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What is a Sipoc Diagram and Why It Matters

Imagine your team recently missed the majority of its performance benchmarks for the previous performance year. You’ve racked your brain to try and identify what the root causes are, to no avail. Team discussions haven’t yielded any fruit either. What should you do?

Luckily, there is an answer. You should fill out a SIPOC diagram. (No, not Tupac). SIPOC stands for Supplier-Inputs-Processes-Outputs-Customers.

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What is the Helium Stick and Why Does It Matter?

I’ve been through a few team building exercises in my day. Most team building activities become punchlines during water cooler conversations in the office. Did sitting on each other’s laps during the fabled “Trust Circle” improve your team’s performance? Right, didn’t think so. That’s just one example.

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How driving into oncoming traffic might make you a better person

In a past life I was an aspiring jazz trumpeter. While I’ve since chosen a different career path, I refer often to the experiences I garnered as a teenager whilst traipsing around downtown Denver for various and sundry gigs (often in connection with the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts). One memorable night I was traveling in our family’s ’86 Landcruiser to the 89.3 FM KUVO studios for my first radio performance. After briefly studying my trusty Mapquest printout, I noticed that the route negotiated some areas where the “grid” of Denver’s roads switched from north-south to northwest-southeast, creating a maze of tricky one-way streets. However,...

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Confused About What A Project Manager Does?

Synopsis of what a project manager does in layman’s terms with an example metaphor Soon after I became an official “Project Manager”, I was discussing the PMP test and how project management thinking had positively impacted my professional career with a friend. After listening politely for a while, my friend asked impatiently, “What exactly does a project manager do, anyway?” At which point I grabbed all of my study materials for the PMP exam (including the brimming-with-charisma Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK, the bible of project manager nerdiness/awesomeness) and shoved them into my buddy’s arms. “Here,” I...

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What is the Gemba Walk and Why Does it Matter?

In process improvement, the Gemba Walk is a technique used by managers in a manufacturing setting to gather real-time, observational insight into the actual work being performed by a team. (Genba is the Japanese word for “real thing”). The purpose isn’t to critique employee performance or to enforce policy; rather, it’s an opportunity for the production team to collaborate with the goal of discovering (usually incremental) improvements to existing proce

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How The Moonstone Can Help You Become A Better Project Leader

I recently finished The Moonstone, which was published by Wilkie Collins in 1868 and is recognized today as one of the first great British detective novels. This book got me thinking about how the perplexing problems we face in the workplace, whether they be related to a project, process, or product, often require a good deal of detective work. I pulled out three key techniques which I’ve seen great leaders use to solve complex issues in the workplace.  Before I get into those lessons, here’s a quick plot summary. The story focuses on a young heiress, Rachel Verinder, who inherits a priceless...

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Save Your Next Project With This Unique Planning Approach

All of us have to deal with ambiguity to some extent in our professional lives, but project managers wrestle with it on a daily basis. This is particularly true when an organization is looking to execute a project which will innovate or expand into a new market. As a project manager, you can’t base estimates on empirical or historical methods since they don’t exist. The temptation is there to manage an innovative project with tools and information that we are familiar with, but this will probably lead to failure. One illustration of this danger is described by Clayton Christensen, the...

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How Gandalf is the Ultimate Project Leader

Nerd alert! I am a big Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan. I’ve probably read those books each year or so since I was a gangly pre-teen. Each time I join Frodo and company on their journey to destroy the One Ring, I notice something unique in JRR Tolkien’s storyline I hadn’t paid attention to before. This past year was no different as I discovered that Gandalf, the powerful wizard who mentors Bilbo and Frodo throughout the series, is a top-notch project manager. Besides his considerable abilities in the world of wizardry, Gandalf also possesses some rare leadership...

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How to Identify Direct Cost Savings

The Template referenced in this article is available in our Online Store for FREE – DOWNLOAD HERE   Did you know that 50% of PMOs close within three years, and 68% of stakeholders perceive their PMOs to be bureaucratic? As project managers, we should look in the mirror. What value are we contributing to our enterprise? And how will we quantify the benefits of maintaining a small army of project managers wielding SOWs, GANTT charts, and risk management matrices?  One straightforward way to justify your PMO’s existence is to identify direct cost savings through process improvement initiatives or via regular...

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