Tag Archives: project manager interview

Don’t dress like Magneto

by scragz via Flickr

This morning I received a question from a member of the pmStudent community who has an interview on Monday for? a project management role.? Here I will share the advice I gave and ask for your own input.

Tip #1 – Don’t dress like Magneto from the X-Men comics. (See picture)

There are so few project management roles where this is appropriate attire anymore.? Sad, really.? The last time I wore my spider man costume to an interview I had to escape through a window.? It seems companies just don’t appreciate super hero project managers anymore.? What a shame…

Be Serious Josh!

OK…OK…

Let me start by advising to everyone that you shouldn’t wait for an interview to start preparing for one.? Interview questions have similar themes and you should have a written set of common questions and responses even if you’re not looking for a job right now.? You could be out of a job tomorrow and scrambling to find a new one.? It’s better to do most of the preparation when you don’t have the added stress of being out of work.? This goes for updating your resume/CV, networking, etc.

Click the link below and read the article.? It will open in a new window, and after you’ve finished reading it come back here.? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.? 🙂

Holy Crap, They Called Me For an Interview!

If You Didn’t Read That

Shame on you.? 🙂

Or even if you did, let me emphasize 2 points in particular.? Treat the interview like a discussion and give specifics, really tell a story from your past in response to the questions.? Leave out names and even companies if it’s sensitive…focus on the trait or experience your story is trying to convey.

Sample Questions That I Like To Ask

Here is a list of some questions….of course they might not ask any of these in your situation, there’s no way for me to know.

  • Tell us about your experience in managing different projects and how this can contribute to our position.
  • How do you handle non-productive team members?
  • How do you motivate team members who are burned out, or bored?
  • What have you learned from your failures?
  • Give me an example of a win-win situation you have negotiated.
  • Tell me about a tough decision you had to make?
  • Describe how you recently managed a diverse project team towards a common goal.
  • Describe the most complex project you have managed from start to finish.
  • How do you handle team members who come to you with their personal problems?
  • Give me an example of a stressful situation you have been in. How did you handle it?
  • What are your career goals? How do you see this job affecting your goals?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • What do you believe qualifies you for this position?

My free newsletter is always available for you as well.? Sign up today and start getting tips like this and so much more delivered right to your inbox!

Interview with Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor (Rugby) is the head of a Project Management Office for Siemens PLM Software, a company specialising in Product Lifecycle Management. Despite his title of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ Peter Taylor is in fact a dynamic and commercially astute professional who has achieved notable success in project management. He is an accomplished communicator and leader and is the author of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.

joshnankivel Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Peter! How did you get your start in Project Management?

Peter-debaarPeter: Like many project managers of my generation I suspect, by accident. I worked on a team implementing an MRP system and then became a manufacturing consultant in a software house. By means of not messing up any project I worked on I eventually became a ?project manager?. It was actually 5 years after I had that title that I ever went on a PM training course and 10 years before I took any form of certification. I am pleased these days that we have a generation of business managers coming through that are trained in project management as a core skill.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

Peter-debaarPeter: There have been many people I have learned from in my years but I would say the best learning experiences have come from some of the toughest projects I have worked on and from the openness of the project team members I have worked with. These days I always advocate a retrospective at the end of the project as this allows everyone, but particularly you the project manager, to learn so much more about what occurred during the project. The project close reports has all the ?hard? facts ? delivery versus original scope plus changes ? but the retrospective open up the understanding of the ?soft? facts. Norman L Kerth?s book on retrospectives is a great read.

joshnankivel Josh: How do you stay focussed on the MACRO project goals, and not get drawn into the MICRO?

Peter-debaarPeter:? It is all about discipline, once you understand the consequences of being dragged in to the detail then you can appreciate the importance of staying up at the macro level on a project. Using an extract from my website and book ? The Lazy Project Manager ? www.thelazyprojectmanager.com ? may best demonstrate what I mean:

[PT] The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. The idea has rule-of-thumb application in many places, but it’s also commonly misused, for example, it is a misuse to state that a solution to a problem ?fits the 80-20 rule? just because it fits 80% of the cases; it must be implied that this solution requires only 20% of the resources needed to solve all cases.

The principle was in fact suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran and it was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of property in Italy was owned by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.

So ?20% of clients may be responsible for 80% of sales volume?. This can be evaluated and is likely to be roughly right, and can be helpful in future decision making. The Pareto Principle also applies to a variety of more mundane matters: one might guess approximately that we wear our 20% most favoured clothes about 80% of the time, perhaps we spend 80% of the time with 20% of our acquaintances and so on.

The Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule can and should be used by every smart but lazy person in their daily life. The value of the Pareto Principle for a project manager is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters.

Woody Allen once said ?80% of success is showing up?, I?m not so sure about that, I have seen projects where there was a physical project manager around but you would never have believed that looking at the project progress, or lack of progress.

No, better I believe to appreciate that of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter.

Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results.

So, you should identify and focus on those things during your working day.

Do this well and you will enjoy the world of ?Productive Laziness?.

joshnankivel Josh: How do you handle scope creep?

Peter-debaarPeter: It is not malicious and it is not planned but the Project Creep is out there and will attempt to, at the very least, confuse your project. The creep may be one person or many, they may have influence and authority or they may not; they may be in your project team or outside the team, they may be your ally and they may not. But what they will try and draw in to the project, that you have so carefully planned, is change.

Project Creep (as in functionality-creep, feature-creep, mission-creep and scope-creep) is a problem where the objectives of the project are put at risk by a gradual increase in overall objectives as the project progresses. So the Project Creep needs to be carefully managed, controlled, anticipated and dealt with. Change however, is good and the one thing you can be sure on any project is that change will occur. So it is not change itself that we should fear but change in an uncontrolled manner and without thorough consideration for all impact and consequences.

The best advice I would say is ?start as you mean to go on? ? you should have a change control process, so at the very first instance of a change being raised then use that process firmly and completely but also, educate your project team and sponsor on that process. Use that first example to demonstrate what you expect, why you need discipline for such changes, and the consequences of not following the rule.

So beware the Project Creep, as a wise man once said many years ago ? ?Keep your project team close and the project creep closer?. Well actually what he really said was ?Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer? and the ‘he’ was Sun-Tzu, a Chinese general & military strategist ~400 BC and he said it in his book ‘The Art of War’, but you see what I am saying I?m sure.

Interview with Bas De Baar

bas-debaar

Bas de Baar discusses Project Leadership in a global and virtual world through his popular blog and video podcast ?The Project Shrink?. With over a decade spent in the trenches as Software Project Manager within the publishing, financial and public sector, running multi-national teams, he has a lot to talk about.

Bas holds a masters degree in Business Informatics and lives with his wife in The Netherlands. He is author of the book ?Surprise! Now You?re a Software Project Manager? and is a member of The PMI New Media Council. This council brings together industry bloggers, webcasters and podcasters to help PMI advance the profession, to promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge and to make the best use of new social media channels.

joshnankivel Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Bas! How did you get your start in Project Management?

Bas-debaarBas: I studied Business Informatics at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. As a final practice I had the opportunity to do research at a Project Management department at a large financial institution. The projects they performed suffered from what can be called “interventions”, which were changes triggered by the project environment. Being educated as a plan-driven-pro, I set out my checklist and searched for forgotten process components, only to find out after a couple of months that everything was neatly in place. From standard documents to procedures, they had it all. And still the project went from left to right.

Being the eager beaver that I was, I just kept on looking and looking for the missing ingredient but could not find a single clue to locating the feature or process that would help to solve the pressing problem. At one given moment, I had an “aha”-Erlebniss (a whack on the head), which turned out to be a life altering moment professionally. At the coffee corner, I overheard fellow project team members have a conversation about a procedure that they were not going to follow. My jaw dropped. Not following the official procedure? Not complying with company policies? If they didn’t follow procedure then all the changes implemented were going to be completed without the project manager?s knowledge? The penny dropped. It seems so simple now, but it really rocked my world at the time. They forgot to deal with the people.

This got me hooked on project management. And soon after getting my degree I started doing PM at newspapers in The Netherlands and Germany.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

Bas-debaarBas: Without any doubt Barry Boehm (wrote the classic “Software Engineering Economics”). He introduced me to two critical concepts in my thinking about PM:

a) Make everyone a winner (Theory W)

Everyone effected by the project, direct or indirect, has something to say, again direct or indirect, and will do so. Everyone wants to get the best from this project for him personally, or for his (part of the) organization. It’s the job of the software project manager to see that everyone gets what he wants, in one way or another. He has to “make everyone a winner” In this respect, the role of the project manager becomes that of a negotiator.

b) Balancing your approach

In “Balancing Agility And Discipline” he provides insights in when to apply agile methods and when to apply plan-driven methods. Barry argues that for every type there is a kind of project that is suited for one of the approaches. Or a kind of combination.

joshnankivel Josh: How do you manage internal conflicts between members of the your team?

Bas-debaarBas: I just have to refer you to this great explanation by Christina Bowen. She explains it much better than I can 🙂

joshnankivel Josh: What are your thoughts on leadership versus management?

Bas-debaarBas: Management is about running a project in an organizational context. You are dependent of the organization: they provide you with the authority, the resources, the information, the time and money. Management is about making sure you execute what the larger organization wants and monitor you stay within the dependencies.

Leadership is about independence. You can do everything yourself as a leader, you only need your personality and your own social skills. It is about motivating people, painting a great project vision, making sure every body is informed and heard.

Interview with Craig Brown

craigbrownCraig Brown has worked as a project manager and business analyst mainly in the Australian ITC, and Banking industries. He has also worked in the law, education and welfare industries. Craig writes a great blog at betterprojects.net.

joshnankivel Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Craig! How did you get your start in Project Management?

Craig-BrownCraig: After graduating in the early-mid nineties I started working for a phone company in a call centre. In the team I was inducted with there were a great range of talented people who all went on to other IT roles. My story is just one of them, but this start gives a hint to a pattern ? of surrounding yourself (sometimes accidentally) with motivated and clever people.

In this role me and my colleagues would try to excel rather than just turn up, and we have a manager that challenged us to ?be more useful? rather than to hit the local KPIs. As a result a handful of us started delving into product manuals and investigating business processes in our downtimes. Me and two other guys in particular started to pester management with ideas of how to do things better. It was done in a constructive manner, even though upper management might have thought us presumptuous. Eventually we started to get other small project jobs and a combination of our motivation, attitude and skills led us all into project roles.

For me this led to a team focuses on operational process improvement. Which then naturally led to technology enhancements. At first these were minor and gradually grew.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

Craig-BrownCraig: I have worked with a handful of what I consider to be great program directors and managers. Three that come to mind are Andrew Murray, Mohan Victor and Mike Augello. There are plenty of others who were great to work with and who taught me valuable lessons, but the things these guys shared with me were a really outstanding commitment to delivering your clients/customers an excellent experience as well as a high quality product at the end of your project. (Actually now I have named names I should include a few others; Annette Finck, Greg Reeves-Smith, James Mahoney, and the ist goes on..)

I also have to say I have made some really valuable contacts online ? Glenn Alleman of the Herding Cats blog and Capers Jones of SEI have offered a ton of information and insight and been very approachable. Many other software and project management names have also been very welcoming and helpful when I have asked.

Choose to work with great people and reach out online. There is plenty of assistance out there.

joshnankivel Josh: What course work or education would you recommend?

Craig-BrownCraig: I think two degrees helps; one to get you started and one maybe a decade later to push you from intermediate to advanced. A commitment to continuous learning is crucial.

Get involved in local or online communities. Find the opportunity to teach others what you know ? it sharpens your thoughts when you have to stand up and face an audience of professionals.

Lastly, write an article at PM Student on a regular basis. In particular focus on an area you are weak on, and the need to research the article will elevate your professional knowledge.

joshnankivel Josh: What is your advice regarding online versus in-class education and training for project management?

Craig-BrownCraig: People like online learning. I don?t think a paid online class is for me. I would get better value from a book and even more from face to face interaction. It probably works for others and definitely is a simple way to get a certification.

Interview with Lisa DiTullio

lisa-ditullio

Lisa DiTullio is a leading force in project and business management. She is the principal of Lisa DiTullio & Associates, dedicated to introducing project management as a business competency, enabling organizations to improve decision-making, instill accountability, and enhance communications. Learn more about Lisa at lisaditullio.com.

joshnankivel Josh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Lisa! How did you get your start in Project Management?

Lisa-DiTullioLisa: Like many, I fell into it by accident. While managing a functional unit, I was asked to take on a major project ?in my free time?. I had no formal project management training and wasn?t quite sure what to do. I relied on my leadership and communication skills, which was a very wise choice. The project was a huge success; not only did we manage to deliver on time and within budget, we also set precedent by introducing the first ?paperless? system for the organization?it set the standard for other operational units. Oh, and did I mention?we delivered the project in absence of any ?real? project management tools!

joshnankivel Josh: I want to be a PM consultant eventually. Any advice?

Lisa-DiTullioLisa: Project management consultants come in different shapes and sizes. Some will continue their role as project managers, working for clients on a contract basis to deliver priority projects. Others will offer advice and guidance to companies who are seeking to introduce or evolve project management practice in their organization; and there are others who will focus on training and development of project management professionals. Be sure you have a clear vision on what type of consultant you want to be. This will help you define your target client. Do you want to specialize in a specific industry? Target companies of a certain size? It is critical to answer these questions; this will help you write your business plan, which will help you stay focused on your aspirations.

Consultants can effectively promote themselves through speaking opportunities. Sharing your expertise, experience and ability to guide others by speaking at industry events is a terrific way to exhibit what you?ve got! Lastly, network, network and network!

joshnankivel Josh: What are the biggest challenges a new project manager faces?

Lisa-DiTullioLisa: This is a difficult time for new project managers, as fewer entry-level project opportunities exist during a shaky economy. New project managers need to stay visible in organizations and promote their leadership and communications skills. These are two competencies that will sustain new project managers during lean times. It?s a terrific time to learn something new ?local PMI chapters continue to offer terrific educational programming at very affordable costs?I strongly suggest that all new project managers join their local chapters today and take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities made available. This is also a terrific time for junior-level project managers to seek mentor relationships with seasoned project managers?many project managers have some extra time on their hands right now, take advantage of today?s business lull to develop yourself for tomorrow. The economy will turn around, be ready when it does.

Interview with Glen Alleman

Glen Alleman

Glen Alleman

Glen Alleman is Vice President, Program, Planning, and Controls at Lewis & Fowler.

Glen’s background includes Project Management executive positions with 25 years experience, and he led the creation of Lewis & Fowler’s Deliverables Based Planning (sm) method as it is applied to aerospace, defense, and commercial enterprise projects.

Glen has an excellent blog at http://herdingcats.typepad.com.

joshnankivelJosh: How did you get your start in project management?

Glen AllemanGlen: I started my career as a software engineer in the radar/sonar business. I was a fresh graduate student in physics and moved my skills in digital signal processes from particle accelerators to radar systems. I worked on digital filters and pattern recognition systems. I moved from those areas to realtime control systems for the vehicles that had the radar on board.

Over time I became interested in the business side of these programs and started to ?manage? the work packages of larger programs. When the aerospace business fell on hard times in the early 80?s I switched to commercial software development and managed groups of developers for a variety of products. Planning, budget, deliverables, staffing and requirements management were done in the traditional manner. As that market matured some of the agile processes started to be used and project management became more important for the business side of the project.

I switched back to aerospace and defense in the early 90?s as a Program Manager in a large Department of Defense initiative here in Denver. I had Project Managers looking after multiple decommissioning activities. since then I?ve been with a Program Management firm developing business and processes for our aerospace and defense sector.

joshnankivelJosh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

Glen AllemanGlen: the President of Kaiser-Hill (the joint venture between ICF Kaiser and CH2MHill) created an environment where the Plan of the Week and eventually the Plan of Day was our paradigm for getting to closure under budget and ahead of schedule. During that period I met Paul Solomon, who has since retired from Northrop. Paul?s book Performance Based Earned Value influenced my concept of measuring physical percent complete. Also Nick Pisano guided us with his advice on how to use WinSight (then from C/S solutions) to integrate a large number of concurrent projects into a single Performance Measurement Baseline. Nick was the former PEO (Program Executive Office) for several Navy flight programs and is now the president of Safran ? an integrated program management system.

I received my best advice from my boss at Rocky Flats ? who created a collegial environment where we could try out new ideas around program management and ?learn? how to improve the process before we met with the real problems of getting a nuclear weapons plant decommissioned.

joshnankivelJosh: How do you stay focused on the MACRO project goals, and not get drawn into the MICRO?

Glen AllemanGlen: I stick with the Integrated Master Plan / Integrated Master Schedule paradigm for everything. This approach defined what ?done? looks like in Significant Accomplishments and the Accomplishment Criteria (exit criteria) for the Work Packages containing the individual work activities. this approach is applied to IT, construction, and DoD/NASA programs. The owners of the Work Packages are accountable for delivering the Outcomes. The Program Manager (me) is accountable for removing any impediments to the work package progress.

This requires that everyone understand that if a Work Package manger is not up to the task, someone else will be given that work. This avoids any temptation to dive into the activities ?inside? the Work Package. There is a clear boundary between Master Plan and the schedule of the Work Package. This boundary is defined in a Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) with the intersection of the Organization and the Work Packages.

joshnankivelJosh: How do you handle scope creep?

Glen AllemanGlen: The Integrated Master Plan and the Work Breakdown Structure are mandatory. With these two description the scope is explicitly visible. Changes in scope only happened in an approved manner. Then cost and schedule impacts are also visible. Scope creep is needed in many instances. Uncontrolled, unapproved, and unassessed scope creep is the problem, not the scope creep itself. It?s managing in the presence of change that creates success, not trying to manage the change.

Interview with Cornelius Fichtner

Cornelius Fichtner

Cornelius Fichtner

Cornelius Fichtner worked as a Project Manager in his native Switzerland, in Germany and in the USA for the last 16 years. He received his PMP credential in April 2004. He has led projects for a management consulting company, a national retailer, an internet startup company and for for one of the oldest financial service providers in the USA. His passions are project management methodologies and PMOs.

In addition to hosting The Project Management PrepCast?, he is an instructor for the PMP Workshop and the 2007 Chair of his local PMI chapter. He currently lives in Silverado, California, USA with his wife and their two computers.

joshnankivelJosh: ?How did you get your start in project management?

Cornelius FichtnerCornelius: ?That was a little bit by coincidence. I started out my career as a COBOL software developer. After having worked as a junior developer for 3 years in Switzerland I joined a group called Up with People (www.upwithpeople.com). They are an international educational organization with a twist. We performed a musical show about 3 times per week and traveled from town to town, living with host families and learning more of the “softer” skills in life.

After my one year of travel with the group I returned home and went back into programming. But I shortly realized that I was missing my work with people. So I decided to change my career and began to study what was then known as “organizational planner” but it’s simply project management by a different name. I got a diploma from the Swiss Federal Government as an organizational planner and over the course of 15 years managed more and more projects.

joshnankivelJosh: ?Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

Cornelius FichtnerCornelius: ?There really isn’t one single person who should get all the credit. Every one of my bosses deserves some part of it: Andre Bourquin offered me my first job as a junior PM and I learned many of the basics from him. Max Wunderlin helped me to get to understand company politics and how to sail these trecherous waters. Didier Wetzel opened my eyes to project management methodologies and PMOs. And lastly Kristine Munson, PMP started my career in PMI and supported me throughout the six years that we worked together professionally and in our local PMI chapter.

joshnankivelJosh: ? Does the PMP certification help people get PM jobs?

Cornelius FichtnerCornelius: ?The PMP exam is the must have certifications for project managers in the USA and many other parts of the world. If you are looking through current job openings you will see that the PMP is a requirement in most descriptions. If you don’t have it, HR will not pass your resume on to the hiring managers. Having the PMP certification means that you are at a certain “technical” level of project management, for instance: you understand the basic PM mechanisms, you know what a WBS is, you understand the importance of communications, and you will speak the same PM language as the other project managers in a company. It doesn’t say anything about how good you really are as a PM but it levels the playing field because you have proven that you understand the basics.

joshnankivelJosh: ?What about the CAPM certification for entry-level PM jobs?

Cornelius FichtnerCornelius: ?The CAPM is a non-renewable certificate. You can take the exam, be CAPM certified but once the certificate “ends” you cannot renew it. From here you must go on to become a PMP. Seen under this light the CAPM certificate is definitely a way for a junior PM to show to her/his supervisors that this is the career which they have chosen. By taking the time to pass the exam you show your interest and your focus. There are currently (2009/07/12) 1,039 job openings for PMP certified project managers on the www.monster.com job portal, but just 42 for CAPM. Hence the CAPM has little effect in finding a job but it will have a great effect in regards to your ability to show what your stated career goal is.

Interview with John Langlois

john-langloisJohn Langlois is currently an IBM certified Executive Project Manger chartered to deliver integrated solutions on the Power Systems platform. John Langlois joined IBM in 1984 and has seen dangerous tours of duty in many brands. From 1996 through 2001, John led the most successful notebook project in history – ThinkPad T series. He also launched a major horizon three software project commissioned by Sam Palmisano. John’s website www.projectEZ.com is dedicated to helping project managers guide troubled projects through rough waters.

joshnankivel Josh:?? Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community John!? How did you get your start in Project Management?

john-langloisJohn:? Back in 1995, IBM turned to a more discipline project management approach to add more predictability to projects.? So they offered technical leads like myself the opportunity to complete the George Washington University master certificate program in project management. Free education.? Enough said.? Everyone should take up their company’s offer to help them improve their skills.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to project management?

john-langloisJohn: Adalio Sanchez, a senior manager at IBM.? He asks his direct reports for their opinion and then, gulp, listens to what they say. I’m not making this up.? A senior management like this actually exists.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the top personal attributes that lend themselves to project management?

john-langloisJohn: The ability to speak openly to people.? Tell them your core values and then defend them in a way that doesn’t make the other person too angry.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the top skills a new project manager needs?

john-langloisJohn: The ability to work in a time box.? Deadlines are our friend, but only if we learn how to balance scope and cost to achieve the schedule.? Agile development is an interesting expression of this idea and I recommend that all new project management explore Agile method just to see this principle in action.

joshnankivel Josh: What are the biggest challenges a new project manager faces?

john-langloisJohn: Earning the respect of your team.? Why should they listen to you?? Some of team members may be old enough to be your dad or mom!? The answer to this obstacle involves your ability to effectively articulate your value add to the team.

Josh is Interviewed on PM411.org

joshnankivel

Josh Nankivel

I was interviewed on PM411.org recently, take a listen if you want to know a little more about me.? Ron asked me about my history in project management, we talked about scope management a bit, and my thoughts on the future of the PMP certification.? It was an enjoyable discussion, thanks Ron!

http://pm411.org/2009/07/23/podcast-episode-043-interview-with-josh-nankivel-pmp/

Interview With Dennis Stevens

Dennis Stevens

Dennis Stevens

I met Dennis Stevens in Denver at the 2008 PMI Global Congress. Hal Macomber and I had supper with him…they were old friends, and I was the new guy. A very interesting conversation ensued, where I learned a little bit about how brilliant (and ornery) those two guys are. Dennis graciously agreed to share some of his ample experience with us here at pmStudent.

Dennis Stevens is an Organizational Project Management Consultant with over 25 years of experience in consulting with IBM, Perot Systems and his own firm.

He helps executives develop technology strategy and implement the supporting organizational and process solutions to improve business performance. He uses a unique approach that combines traditional, agile and Lean principles that the Harvard Business Review called ?The Next Revolution in Productivity?. He is a recognized expert in project management and has been published in Harvard Business Review and a Cutter Consortium Executive Report. Mr. Stevens served as a Deputy Project Manager for the Project Management Institute?s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) and is a PMP and OPM3 certified consultant. He completed the Certified Scrum Master course this year. Mr. Stevens earned his bachelor degree in Organizational Psychology and Development and was awarded the Naval Commendation Medal for his service in the Marine Corps. Dennis can be reached at [email protected].

joshnankivelJosh: Thank you so much for sharing your background and experience with the pmStudent community Dennis! How did you get your start in Project Management?

Dennis_Stevens Dennis:? From 1985-around 1995 I was a successful developer, lead and architect. I had delivered systems in RPG II and III, C++, Perl, and? later Java using multiple life-cycle approaches. I was involved in a number of projects that went sideways, and was successful through? will, hard work and determination. One night, as I was delivering a release just before year end 1996 I looked at the business manager on? the project and said, “There has to be a better way to do this.” I had written my last line of production code. I began to read every thing I could find on Project Management and earned my PMP in 1998. I have since earned my OPM3 Certified Consultant designation and complete the Certified Scrum Master course this year.? I have been involved in 20+ successful projects now in a project leadership role.

joshnankivel Josh: Who do you look up to and have learned a lot from in relation to Project Management?

Dennis_Stevens Dennis: I am reminiscing over my book shelf and PM experiences.

  • Eliyahu M. Goldratt’s book Critical Chain was eye-opening to me. That and The Goal should be read by everyone trying to manage any process.
  • Hal Macomber over at Reforming Project Management introduced me to the works of Fernando Flores, Humberto Maturana, and John Searles which gave me great insight into understanding why people perform they way they do on projects.
  • Dick Billows’ Managing Complex Projects was useful from a practical application standpoint.
  • Harold Kerzner brings detail to the traditional approach to Project Management.
  • Anything Stephen McConnell writes is useful.
  • If you are managing software then Johanna Rothman, Jim Highsmith, Kent Beck, Jeff Sutherland, and Alistair Cockburn are good resources to learn from.

joshnankivel Josh: How do you manage internal conflicts between members of the your team?

Dennis_Stevens Dennis: At the end of the day we are all getting paid by the company to deliver a project – I expect the team to remember that and act accordingly.I do believe everyone has a story and it should be heard. So I will hear everyone’s story. But then, I work to meet each person’s needs while keeping everyone focused on the project objectives. Also, don’t let conflict fester – address it directly. Finally, manage your own emotions and intentions and hold yourself and everyone to the companies best interest.

joshnankivel Josh: What are your thoughts on management vs leadership?

Dennis_Stevens Dennis: Other than a bit of necessary administration, it’s all about leadership.

  • Create an environment for people to be successful.
  • Keep everyone focused on the bigger goal.
  • Facilitate shared understanding and coordination.
  • Let the experts figure out the best way to do their jobs.