What's New?
Project Management

Lory Wingate presents a case study of a creative, process-focused project. Alfonso Bucero's 10 keys to being influential. Muhammad Ehsan Khan on corporate governance. Jack Ferraro on discovering the project leader within.

Also in this Issue: Regular columnist Nancy Settle-Murphy does not leave remote meeting participants hanging!

About ITPI

IT Performance Improvement (ITPI) is where IT professionals share their expertise in making IT organizations and people perform better. ITPI covers such topics as:

Editorial Calendar 2014-2015

October: Program Management
November: Security
December: Best of 2014
January: Trends in 2015
February: Stakeholders
March: Big Data and Analytics

For more than 50 years, Auerbach Publications has been printing cutting-edge books on all topics IT.

Read archived articles or become a new subscriber to IT Today, a free newsletter.

This free newsetter offers strategies and insight to managers and hackers alike. Become a new subscriber today.



STARWEST at Disneyworld in Anaheim, California on October 12-17, 2014

Big Data TechCon in San Francisco on October 27-29, 2014

AnDevCon on November 18-21 in San Francisco

Oil and Gas Cyber Security on November 24-25, 2014 in London

Big Data in Retail Financial Services on November 27, 2014 in London, UK

Follow CRC Press IT Books on facebook

People and Projects Podcast

How to Be a More Influential Project Manager, with Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI-RMP, and PMI Fellow

Software Process and Measurement Cast number 308 features our interview with Michael West discussing his book Return on Process. Process improvement can have a dramatic impact to an organization's bottom line BUT ONLY with careful thought and planning. Michael West explains that process improvements with real impact are rarely an accident.

Software Process and Measurement Cast number 302 features an interview with Larry Maccherone of Rally Software. He talks about Agile and metrics. Measuring and challenging the folklore of Agile is a powerful tool for change! Measurement and Agile in the same sentence really is not oxymoronic.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast 292 features an interview with Dr. Ginger Levin, who discusses her book Implementing Program Management: Templates and Forms. Dr Levin and her co-author Allen Green wrote their go-to reference for program practitioners, colleges, universities, and those sitting for the PgMP. Dr. Levin provides great advice for program managers who are interested in consistently delivering value to their clients.

The Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCAST) # 280 features an interview with Mark C. Bojeun, author of Program Management Leadership: Creating Successful Team Dynamics. Mark makes a very strong case that project and program managers can impact team culture and dynamics. The team's culture is directly linked to productivity, quality and morale.

The Software Process and Measurement (SPaM) Cast 281 features features an essay on value chain mapping. It also features Kim Pries's "Software Sensie" column.

Blogs We're Reading

Jack Ferraro. My Project Advisor. Guidance for Project Leaders and Managers

Jamal Moustafaev. Think Tank Consulting. Musings on Requirements and Scope Management

Samir Penkar. The Future of Project Management. People, Trends, and Ideas on Project Management

Anthony Rhem. The Knowledge Management Depot. Active thought leadership in knowledge management.

Jon Quigley. Value Transformations. Taming processes that have gone wild.

Greg Schulz. Greg's StorageIO Blog. Covering the latest trends the storage industry.

J. LeRoy Ward. WardWired. Project management excellence, as well as a business travelog.

Richard Maltzman and David Shirley. Earth PM. At the intersection of green and project management.

Preston de Guise. The NetWorker Blogger. Commentary by a long-term networking consultant and back-up theorist.


Interested in submitting an article? Want to comment about an article?

Contact John Wyzalek editor of IT Performance Improvement.


Project Management

A Highly Creative, Process-Focused Project: A Case Study

Lory Wingate

In 2003, Travis and Jennifer Patterson started thinking about a design for a new camp for young children at Grapevine Lake, in Grapevine, Texas. This husband and wife team originally became interested in putting together this camp based on Travis's prior successes leading adults on adventures and expeditions. It seemed natural to transfer that success into a similar experience for children. According to Jennifer, "We wanted to get the kids away from television, computers, and video games, and offer them exciting options that would challenge them to fully explore what nature and the outdoors has to offer." Based on their original investigation into existing opportunities, there did not appear to be anything comparable. The Pattersons were natural leaders, which would help them develop and implement this unique concept for the area. They also would have to build a team that would need to be creative and highly effective, while also meeting a tightly held set of safety and security performance criteria. They would offer progressive responsibility and authority to the counselors as they gained experience.

Travis was an accomplished adventure athlete and outdoorsman. He founded Adventure Team in 1995, and had been leading and facilitating adventures as Adventure Team, Inc.'s chief adventure officer since 1996. According to Travis, "The Adventure Team Outdoor Sports Association was originally developed in 1996, to bring together extreme outdoor adventure enthusiasts in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. At its peak, the Adventure Team organization confirmed more than 3,000 monthly paying website members, and provided 25 to 30 outdoor/adventure events per month for the club members." Travis led over 500 events between 1996 and 2007, spanning a wide range of activities including:

Ten Keys of Influence

Alfonso Bucero

When you try to sell something you need to convince others to support you and your ideas, so you are trying to persuade them. If you do this well they will follow you willingly, not reluctantly; then you will influence them based on your behavior, on the way you do things. For years I did not understand that magic control salespeople usually have to persuade colleagues or customers to support or buy something. However, during my career as a project manager, I needed to talk to many different project stakeholders. The first method I used was to establish a dialogue with the people I wanted or needed to influence.

A persuasive conversation is not a random one. A persuasive conversation has a structure and a purpose. I have observed that every persuasive conversation has the same structure. You can use the same structure whether you are engaged in a two-minute conversation or a two-month conversation about some big initiative. Only you will know that you are using the structure. A persuasive conversation gains more than agreement; it also builds commitment. People will trust you more and want to work with you more. The structure I am talking about follows seven steps, and I have used one of the words of my professional motto "Passion, Persistence, and Patience." In this case I use the word passion as the principle to be used in a persuasive conversation. In this case PASSION is an acronym meaning:

Why Corporate Governance?

Muhammad Ehsan Khan

I have always been an avid lover of cricket, watching and playing cricket for years now. Twenty-five years ago, I bought a cricket kit. It was the Eid holiday (an important Islamic holiday celebrated by Muslims throughout the world). I had been able to gather enough money from my elders on Eid to buy a kit for myself. When my father came to know about this, he was infuriated. At that time I was not sure why he was getting angry. It was not the money aspect; he used to spend a lot for our family. It was not the cricket kit; he was a cricket lover himself.

I realize now that I acted in a manner that was noncompliant with the governance framework that ran in our family. There were certain items that we could buy without asking permission from our father. However, buying a cricket kit was a decision where he needed to intervene and grant permission. If I had consulted with him, he would have taken me to the shop and gotten one for me. Too late, money spent and wrath bought.

Discovering the New Project Leader in You

Jack Ferraro

A service-based project leader transforms people, systems, and ultimately organizations. To pursue this inner journey of leadership, and its accompanying risks and rewards, he must be committed in body, mind, and spirit.

The movie The Cinderella Man tells the story of James Braddock, a former heavyweight champion whose luck runs bad during the Great Depression. Braddock seeks to provide for his family and reclaim his dignity by coming out of retirement and taking on the great German champ Max Baer, who was known for having killed two boxers in the ring with his ruthless use of power.

Articles from Past Issues
Click here for the complete archive of articles.

IT Infrastructure

Application Selection Dictates Hardware Selection

Maintenance in the Digital World

The Importance of Data and Storage

The Disk Drive: The Fundamental Building Block of Enterprise Storage

Evolving Open Source License Management Processes

Reducing Resource Use

Preventing Cloud Vendor Lock-in


Evaluating Cloud Servers and Solutions

Enabling Efficient, Effective, and Productive Information Services Delivery

Preventing Cloud Vendor Lock-in


Green Technology Can Improve Data Center Performance

Using Backup and Recovery to Track and Forecast Data Growth

Business Continuity Management in the Cloud

Project Management

Reducing Change on Projects

Creativity and Project Management

Project Management Methodology in the Smaller PMO

The Power of Project Team Members

Cultural Communication Issues and Project E-Leadership

Program Management Processes and the PMO

An Effective Process-Based Management Approach: A Case Study

Case Study: Transparency during New Product Development Program

Interview with a Program Manager: Krissy Wolle


A Guide to Sizing and Estimating Projects

Understanding Your Organization's Best Software Development Practices

Achieving Business Objectives: Building a Software Metrics Support Structure

Connecting Improvement with Business Objectives: Objective-Driven Process Improvement

Process Improvement

Too Many Metrics and Not Enough Data

A Framework for Measuring the Value of Software Development

Using Measurement to Identify Improved IT Performance

IT Management

Big Data and Business Analytics

Introduction to the Big Data Era

Big Data Building Blocks to Decision Support

Mining and Analytics in E-Commerce

Healthcare BYOD: What Can Go Wrong?

The Need for a Common Vision

Why Business Analytics?

Building Trust across Boundaries

Communicating across Cultures

Social Teams and Complexity

Process and Productivity

Measuring the Effects of Process Improvement on Performance

How to Manage Performance: Kaplan and Norton's Balanced Scorecard

Lean Thinking

What Are Lean, a Lean and Agile Organization, and Lean and Agile IT?

IT Value Streams and Cultural Silos

Lean IT in a Hospital

Learn What to Improve and Why

How to Avoid Expectation Collisions

Resource Allocation and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Defining Processes

Process Engineering to Build in Quality and Drive out Waste

Deming's Wisdom in Process Planning

Extracting Business Processes from Applications

Some Common Questions about Scrum

An Overview of System Quality Requirements Engineering (SQUARE)

Maintenance: Who, Why, Where, When and How?


Improving IT Performance with
Books from Auerbach

Save 50% when you order these books at CRC Press.com. Use promo code 081MA at checkout.

Have an idea for a book?

Contact ITPI editor John Wyzalek to discuss topics and book publishing.


Oct. 2, 2014. Thomas Juli. Surviving in a Matrix Simple Techniques for Effective Project Management in a Matrix Organization

Oct. 7, 2014. Randy Raymond. Automating a Cluttered and Inefficient Manual Regression Test Suite

Oct. 8, 2014. Lynda Bourne. The Rules of Engagement Effective Stakeholder Engagement for Project Success

Oct. 9, 2014. Scott Fabel. The Five Processes of ITIL Service Operation.

Oct. 14, 2014. Dr. Aviv Shtub. Managing the Fuzzy Front End of Projects.

Oct. 15, 2014. Dan Galorath. Understanding Healthcare gov.'s Rocky Rollout

Oct. 16, 2014. Cecelia Boggi. Interpersonal Skills for Leading Projects


Improving Your Own IT Performance
Articles by Nancy Settle-Murphy

Don't Leave Remote Participants Hanging: Eight Tips for a Meeting of Equals
Let's face it: It's almost impossible to make remote callers feel like they're on equal footing with people who are gathered in the conference room for the big meeting. But with some thoughtful planning, you can come pretty close. I felt compelled to write this article after a dismal experience I had recently as a remote participant calling into a client's project team meeting. (Undoubtedly, my work in helping organizations to plan and lead engaging virtual meetings had my antennae way, way up!) During the entire hour-long meeting, I couldn't help feeling that I was the only one who could never quite follow the rather chaotic conversation. More...

Ten Tips for Uber-Efficient Meetings—Making Every Minute Count

No question: We waste a lot of time in meetings when we could be getting more important work done. But sometimes there's just no substitute for real-time conversations. Emails, instant messages and shared portals can only take you so far, especially when you're pressured to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. More...

Consensus-Building in Virtual Meetings

Helping teams reach real consensus can be tough enough when we're all in the same room, conversing eye-to-eye. But when people can't see each other's expressions and feel awkward about having tough discussions and candid debates with people they can't see, reaching consensus is infinitely more difficult. Add cultural differences into the mix, and discerning what meeting participants really think about an idea becomes even more difficult. More...

Building Trust Calls for Different Approaches Across Different Cultures
with Caroline Beery and Manuel Heidegger
Celia, Ben's new team leader in Milan, seemed completely committed to delivering a crucial marketing plan on time when they spoke earlier this week. Trouble is, she hasn't. So far, Ben has sent two "friendly" emails, and just now he sent Celia an IM "just to see where we are." Celia's tone has become increasingly cool. Ben is at a loss. He knows that cultures regard punctuality differently and he's aware that Celia may regard him as a micromanager. Still, that marketing plan must be on his VP's desk tomorrow, or his team may lose all of the needed funding. More...

Great Year-Round (Free!) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Guaranteed to Love
Give a gift every day for 29 days straight? Yeah, right—as if I have the time (and money), with everything I'm already juggling! But that's what a colleague just invited her friends to do. When she explained that such gifts can be as simple as starting a conversation with a downtrodden stranger, making an extra container of soup for a sick neighbor, or even just giving someone your undivided attention for more than five minutes, I was hooked. After all, I wouldn't have to buy anything, and didn't need to put aside much extra time. More...

Tapping the Quiet Power of Introverts in a Virtual World
Think about it: There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas. And yet, according to Susan Cain, author of the groundbreaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, our society is overwhelmingly biased toward extroverts. In a world that correlates the strength of an organization?s teamwork to its overall success, the real value of introverts often gets overlooked. More...

Ten Top Tips for Leading Great Lessons Learned Reviews in a Virtual World
with Kathleen Coyle
When run well, a lessons learned review can yield big benefits. It's a great way for team members to discuss how they can capitalize on what they did well so they can do more of it, and to agree on what needs to change for next time. When results are shared beyond the team, lessons learned reviews can also benefit others embarking on similar projects. More...

Nine Ways to Get (and Stay) Virtually Connected on a New Job
with Beverly Winkler
So, you're starting a new job. Or maybe you've just joined a team that's taking on a new long-term project. You're eager to hit the ground running. Naturally, you want to make a great first impression on your new manager by demonstrating your skills, knowledge, and dazzling personality. You also want to get a quick read on your new manager's communication style, values, goals, priorities, likes and dislikes. And very early on, you need to develop a good sense of the organization's culture, political landscape, key players, and real influencers. More...

Structuring Successful Virtual Meetings: A Counterintuitive Approach
with Rick Lent
Wouldn't it be great if all we had to do to run a great virtual meeting is to use the exact same structures and techniques that we use for face-to-face (FTF) meetings? Great for the meeting leader, maybe, but not so great for the meeting participants who have to muster every ounce of energy to just pretend they're engaged. More...

Real Cultural Assimilation Takes Patience, Time and Willingness to Adapt
A colleague recently landed a job for Export Trading Co. LTD, an agro processing company in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with offices throughout Sub Saharan Africa. I wondered: Is it any easier to become assimilated into a new culture in 2010 than it was for me when I took a temporary assignment in Hong Kong two decades ago? More...

Who Moved My (Virtual) Water Cooler?
Even in the largest global organizations, few virtual teams have regular opportunities for the kind of serendipitous encounters that lead to real a-ha moments and unexpectedly illuminating conversations. In part, that's because many companies have not consciously tried to create mechanisms that mimic the kind of casual conversations that can take place when people see each other frequently. What's more, many companies frown on the use of social networking tools and other informal "nonwork" conversations at work, viewing them as more of a distraction than an enabler for making needed connections. More...

When Workloads Are Seriously Out of Whack: 11 Leadership Tips
Until now, your team has no explicit norms about addressing workload imbalance. Clearly, it's time to create some before people leap across the virtual table in frustration. Where should a virtual leader (or any leader, for that matter) begin? More...

From Bland and Boring to Captivating and Compelling: What Virtual Leaders Must Know
Even the most experienced team leaders can make us weep with boredom. They torture us with their monotone narrations of 10-Mb slide decks. They regale us with irrelevant minutiae, while sidestepping the really important stuff. Their meetings are more like monologues, with everyone else listening from the sidelines. And for the most part, they probably imagine they're pretty interesting people! More...

You'd Be a Great (Virtual) Communicator If Only You Could Just Be Quiet
Quick: What's the number one skill successful virtual leaders must have, which is usually hardest for them to cultivate? If you said "listening," you'd be right. Why it's so important is pretty obvious. Virtual leaders must learn to listen for and interpret an enormous amount of information, within seconds, without benefit of body language or eye contact. And we're not just listening for the words that are (or are not) spoken, but also the tone, pauses, inflections, cadence, lilt, laughter, throat-clearing and perhaps the toughest of all, silence. More...

Far-flung Teams Deserve Fabulous Fanfare
How do you celebrate a major milestone? Maybe you call the troops together to share a pizza, or bring in a jug of coffee and a platter of decadent donuts. But, what if the team is geographically dispersed? When asked how they honor their team's achievements, many virtual team leaders come up empty. Sure, they may send a few congratulatory emails or team IMs. But when it comes to planning a true team-wide celebration, few virtual leaders do this well, if at all. More...

The Keys to Intergenerational Harmony
With multiple generations working side by side for several years now, much has been written about the key differences that affect the ability of multigenerational teams to collaborate successfully. Some organizations have taken this advice to heart and work to consciously reflect these differences when it comes to selecting and cultivating teams. More...

About the Author

Nancy Settle-Murphy, Guided Insights founder and principal consultant, draws on an eclectic and varied combination of skills and expertise. She wears many hats—depending on the challenges she is helping clients to solve. She acts as meeting facilitator, virtual collaboration coach, change management leader, workshop designer, cross-cultural trainer, communications strategist and organizational development consultant.