Interview With Dennis Stevens

Filed under Career, Interviews | Posted by PMStudent

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

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.