Episodes

  • Dive into the future of project management within the U.S. government in this engaging and insightful interview with key players from the USDA and NOAA. Hear from Jason Traquair, Kelly Fantano, Daryl Frazier, and Joe Geraldi as they unveil their pioneering efforts and collaborations aimed at enhancing program and project management disciplines across their respective organizations. Discover the innovative strategies, such as building vibrant communities of practice and leveraging integrated value networks, that are set to redefine how government agencies achieve mission success and tackle challenges like catastrophic wildfires more efficiently. This conversation covers the tactical steps these leaders are taking today and also casts an exciting vision for 2029, where project management is not just a discipline but the fabric of effective and predictive government operations. Whether you're a seasoned PM professional or new to the field, this energetic discussion will leave you inspired about the future of project management in government service.

  • Risk-- again! This episode with guests from the upcoming UMD Project Management Center for Excellence symposium is a thought-provoking discussion that takes a closer look at a crucial aspect of project management – risk management. We've gathered a dynamic trio of experts from diverse backgrounds to share their insights, experiences, and groundbreaking strategies on tackling risks head-on, making your projects more resilient and successful.

    Joining us from the realms of technology, clinical research, and literary scholarship, our speakers, Lakshmi Sowjanya Uppala from Amazon, clinical project manager Jiwan Giri, and accomplished author John M Quigley, will share their unique perspectives on risk management. Whether it's developing prevention frameworks in software projects, navigating the challenges of clinical trials during an Ebola outbreak, or invoking the wisdom of the muses to refine our approach to risk, this episode will enrich your understanding and inspire you to view project risk management through a new lens.

    So, buckle up and prepare to explore the intricate dance of risk and resilience in project management. Let's delve into the strategies that empower project managers to foresee the unforeseen, plan with precision, and lead their teams to triumph.

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  • Heralding the annual arrival of the flagship UMD Project Management Center for Excellence symposium, this episode has 3 of the presenters in the People and Projects track: Kevin Coleman, a visionary leader and the founder and CEO of KMC Empowerment, John Eskandar, a seasoned professional in project controls at Exelon and graduate of the UMD PM program, who brings a wealth of experience managing large-scale construction projects and Abbigail Meah-Ali, a manager of construction services at the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago. From Trinidad to Maryland to Virginia, our guests span a wide geographic and professional spectrum, each contributing to a rich dialogue on the intersection of people and projects. Whether you're a project management veteran or a newcomer to the field, this episode is packed with golden nuggets of wisdom that you won't want to miss.

  • Challenged by the hosts, Kendall Lott and Mike Hannan, returning guest Steven Devaux takes his value break down structure (the "Golden Triangle") to a new level, looking at quantifying value of project within programs. That’s the obvious, the less obvious is looking at the need for this view point in critical areas such as public health, emergency response and national security. He emphasizes the need to prioritize or sequence projects within a program to optimize the schedule for maximum impact, where the focus is on delivering outcomes rather than just producing products.

    What might we achieve if public health professionals should be trained in program management to effectively deliver the benefits of their research? What we also need are feedback loops that give us the ability to reevaluate and adjust projects within a program based on emerging information and changing conditions. We'll start seeing value when we start focusing on return to mission rather than just the return on investment, it's about Program Value Management.

  • In this podcast episode, co-hosts Kendall and Mike are joined by guest Roy Mazel, a retired NASA project leader and guest lecturer. They discuss the Project Management complexities of asteroid missions, specifically, the OSIRIS-REx Psyche missions. As you might guess, the successful implementation of risk management strategies and the importance of technical integrity in the face of schedule pressure is the litmus test of getting these missions completed on time, on budget, and without failure. And what you might not expect, Roy highlights the importance of a strong organizational culture that values communication, listening to team members, and mentoring the next generation of leaders.

    The discussion sheds light on the intricate project management involved in space missions and the lessons that can be learned from both successful and challenging endeavors. Listen to the podcast, and watch the news for outcomes of these two missions!

  • In this episode, Kendall, Mike, and Wolfram Mueller discuss strategies to improve business workflows using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Critical Chain Project Management, focused on two things: underloading system constraints and buffer management (having a signal that our flow is or isn't working). One thing that pops out is the importance of calculating business cases and recognizing growth potential--that becomes the compelling case to get middle management on board with the change needed. Getting a team to underload (reduce the non-critical work) of key resources, while having other enabling resources waiting for action is a really hard concept to get managers on board with…until you let them figure out what is holding back their throughput and let them figure out the solution. And that is the big news: consultants can help you identify and work through the problem, but successful change happens with they get out of the way and let the dedicated middle management drive the change. It helps to foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and problem-solving among employees. It enables the self-organization that creates the fix. And evidence shows it out.

  • The crux of any success? It isn't the plan, it isn't the desire, not even the WIIFM, its EXECUTION. And organizational change is no different. Today's episode discusses the difficulties that organizations face when it comes to executing change. Once again guest and change management author and guru April Mills comes to us on the topic of change…but this time it isn't how to do it, but how she has seen managers institutionally throw up their own barriers to change even as they try to change…starting with outsourcing on the thinking to…professionals. It may be that we are so good at PM and Change techniques that we have once again lost the bubble…the point is to execute and create value. Recognizing and moving past the "aspiration ability gap," jumping through the hoops of just ticking boxes, we have to focus on execution and look for opportunities for acceleration. Managers are called to amplify positive responses to create belief ripples that lead to success.

    Organizations can get in their own way,
    Eager to change but miss the play.
    Professionals may think they know the game, but
    Focus on outcome, not the timeframe.
    Sandbagging is when a project takes too long,
    Outsourcing your brain leads to execution gone wrong.
    The aspiration ability gap will widen and grow,
    Unless leaders look for signals, they miss seeds of value they should sow.

  • So there we were at the 10th annual UMD PM Symposium, having the Great Debate of Process vs principles. Facing off were Crystal Richards, CEO of MindsparQ and Laura Barnard, CEO of PMO Strategies. One hour of back and forth and audience questions. In sum:

    From the debate between Laura and Crystal,
    It's clear that project managers should grab the handle.
    Be a business leader and ask good questions,
    Embrace risk and change with no exceptions.

  • Elevating the Conversation about Project Management, with a twist. In this episode cohosts Mike Hannan and Kendall Lott take on some Listener Feedback. A running theme in the show is the actual and delineation of project manager, product manager, and program manager--so we jump on that! Of course, our main theme of its all about value, adding value and understanding projects as investments is once again threaded through the answers. But new things lurk--how do you agile on a fixed-price contract? What's the danger and opportunity in cross-functional teams and accountability when managing scrum teams in a matrix world? How can AI be used (or useful) to help project managers understand architecture, dependencies, and level of effort in order to generate a critical path. Listeners got questions; we got answers--listen in for them and send us your questions!

  • No Luddites here! Episode 3 of the UMD PM Symposium prequal and guests Al Zeiton, Marissa Brienza and Bill Brantley chat about the role of AI in Project Management and the potential risks and benefits of using it as PMs. We discover the logic and importance of maintaining human interaction—turns out its not fear that makes us think “it will never replace us” but rather AI’s limitations in the larger PM discipline. Ah! But what potential magic AI may bring if we use it as augmenting project management, driving improved risk assessment, and being our outsourced memory! All in service of PMS providing value for customers, and keeping us on the relationship side, even as technology might give us augmented memory, augmented intelligence or even artificial emotional intelligence. There may be guardrails we need to learn as we plunge toward a future of exponential skill growth in which could take PMs to the CEO suite…but augmented PMs maybe the stuff CEOs will be made of!

  • We all talk Agile, and sometimes we "say we wanna do agile", so this conversation is about the challenges of implementing Agile in different environments with guests David Forsyth, Mike Mellane, and Caitlin Kenny. Co-host Mike Hannan takes our experts through a journey of the tensions between customers and vendors and the difficulty in managing communication pathways, budgeting, and the principle-agent problem. Solutions you care about included dedicating teams, synchronizing resources, capacity-based budgeting, and fixed-price contracts. Ah, and culture, it always is culture...that the shift that comes with embracing Agile and how transformation should be a continuous journey that focuses on business value. So, with a little patience and a focus on interpersonal accountability, incentives, and autonomy you can build the trusting teams needed to do the Agile dance. Fight the zealotry, power to the edge, and download the episode!

  • First, "do no harm"--seems like a good adage, and is consistent with our guest Kevin Coleman who discusses some tenets of his UMD PM Symposium presentation coming this April, called "Unconscious Bias: Recognize it and correct it." Our second critical conversations guest is John Hovell on his UMD presentation, "Conversational Leadership: Convening Conversations that Otherwise Wouldn't Happen" where grounded in Gestalt theory, he pushes us to develop conversations that affirmatively support ourselves and others. He asks us to consider, "are we creating community" when we interact. Our third guest, Paloma Martin lays out the underpinnings of our need to consider gender perspectives directly in our stakeholder engagement and across all of the PM processes, as she gives us the teaser for her presentation "Project and Change Management with a Gender Perspective." These speakers are three of the 50 you will hear at the UMD Project Management Center for Excellence 10th annual PM Symposium this April 20-21…if you register (pmsymposium.umd.edu). See you there, but stop by this episode first!

  • Oh Boy, AI projects…they're the worst!! Exploding scope…the endless project. The scale of risk when something goes wrong can literally be exponential. While we PMs always had to watch quality, and we always focused on scope and schedule…the project management problems to launch an AI solution can be insidious, allowing us to make these scope, schedule and quality errors in unobserved and massive ways. AI solutions may be great, but the project management of AI has potential for tremendously bad projects; and we may not even be considering the ways an AI project can go bad wrong. As co-host Mike Hannan says, "as AI projects are making the management challenge exponentially harder, it stands to reason that we're probably getting worse at it." Join me and Mike as we hear from two experts in the field of AI implementation training, Ron Schmelzer and Kathleen Walch of Cognilytica discuss pitfalls old and new of this unique type of software development and implementation.

  • Recognizing the importance of identifying "what is the work in front of us" co-hosts Kendall Lott and Mike Hannan discuss improved ways cracking scope to improve project delivery and project value with guests Steven Devaux and Sergiy Potapov. Get past the traditional WBS to Product Flow Diagramming…which gives you progressive elaboration of the sequencing of work as you define it. Then step up to Value Breakdown Structures to identify total costs of work, including the drag (opportunity) costs of not executing some work. The goal of planning is to create understanding but also decision-making…what is worth spending more or less on to drive value? Look for the "-ity" words to identify value, (quality, usability, productivity, etc.) to help assess value. Beyond the value of the work, we move to ways of systematically defining the Risk to Value…where are the steps that are most sensitive to dropping or enhancing value? Listen, learn, and then investigate the approaches…we do!

  • Compound Security Threats. Sends a chill through us, yes? Our military expends huge effort in thinking about that future, long-term for planning, short-term planning for execution all to address increasingly complex security concerns. And as our listeners know, where there is planning ("anticipatory decision-making"), there is the collision with cognitive behavior and neuroscience. Yes, Dr. Josh is back and bringing his colleague (and student of NeuralPlan) Jay Macias of the Joint Special Operations University. Listen in as Co-Host Mike Hannan joins me in drilling in and learning about the role of neuropsychology in the military style command and control and mission orientation to planning and execution from a Project Mangement Point of View. Hint: its about designing how we act with behavioral science data in mind

  • Analytical Hierarchy Process--check this as it is a method (and you can get tools) that absolutely help you with project prioritization. Co-Host Mike Hannan and I talk with Stuart Easton, CEO of Transparent Choice, about this accessible approach tying decision science to project prioritization, selection and sequencing. Lending focus to executive teams, it helps us focus on what to do and more importantly, what not to do. Value is not an objective thing, and humans aren't great estimator. The AHP process let's anchor the value understanding, then break down value into meaningful application as criteria, creating transparency and standardization of the decision process, and more and better information as input. The result, higher flow of project throughput completion, and better quality of project value. What's not to like?

  • Guest Sergiy Potapov and co-host Mike Hannan are at it again discussing precepts of TOC and Cynefin that connects with effective PM practices to produce results, even in shocking and shattering circumstances, such as found in Ukraine during the war. As Sergiy concludes, “Project management works, absolutely, in non-standard situations." But let’s not get hung up on outputs, the classic PM premium benchmark. As Sergiy wryly notes, "The project with a good output and no outcome is a nightmare." What improves our lot, a focus on deliverables and objectives, not tasks…there will be more on this in a future episode. For now, listen in, and learn how Project Management is valuable even in the most difficult environments.

  • Episode 100, where a theory based in manufacturing collides with the world of Knowledge Work (yeah, I'm talking about you, PMs) and we find a way to think about Critical Change Project Management. We consider how to get to a pattern of "Unity of Purpose" a key pattern for success, and incidentally, a way of clearing barriers for leaders to have the bandwidth to stay focused. Mirrors and signals, autonomy and spooky action (decisions) at a distance, in the end we need teams to understand what matters around here and have the independence to organize their own work for success. Check out our guest, Steve Tendon's community of information sharing and learning at https://circle.tameflow.com.

    Steve Tendon. MD, TameFlow Consulting Limited; author, consultant, and adviser on organizational performance and emerging technologies. Steve is the creator of the TameFlow Approach, a management approach that helps businesses focus on the fewest things that make the greatest impact on people, performance and profit in collaborative knowledge-work, without compromising sustainability, quality or humanity. Steve holds a MSc in Lean & Agile Software Project Management with the University of Aberdeen.

  • [6/10 1:30 PM] Kendall Lott "PM is BS!" says Ben Damman, our (highly successful) guest today. Well, maybe...the concern is we have become ceremonial or process-centric over effectiveness. WE HAVE SO MUCH POTENTIAL, but WE ARE STUCK . And that of course, takes us back to a question of value. Products or projects, where is value is driven? Is this about general practices or specific adaptations. Today we have the pessimist view, the optimist view, and surprisingly, we landed at some learning through a synthetic view. Listen in, ponder...then grab a PDU Edited

  • PMs as leaders you own understanding the design of the org, the ecosystem you sit in. But to what purpose? Join me and cohost Mike Hannan as we hear from Matt Barcomb who highlights understanding the organization as a system so that Product Management can actually be effective. From strategy to structure (value streams, teams, roles, constraints) to rewards, we have to get this right to get effective work, and it requires a design. But not design for design's sake, Mike reminds us "to what end?" The ecosystem gives us the underpinnings of motivation and production in the organization, and we can chose to make it valuable. As always, its the PMPOV elevating the conversation, with a touch of snarkiness!