Document version control is important, right?

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Document Version Control is important,right? – a short video from Scatterwork.com. One way of creating problems in the working environment is to collect information that others need, to put it into a version of a document, to pass it on to them but if the information is not correct then that creates problems for the person who gets it. Either they do the wrong thing, that takes their time, they have to sort out the mess and go back or they can’t do their work at all.

So maybe to avoid problems we could think of version control in a more emotional way and say “don’t mess things up for others”. When you pass the information, don’t pass problems to them but make sure that they have the right version of it, and this means all the time: attention to detail.

So if you want to discuss this or any other project issues please connect with me through LinkedIn or any of the other methods.

Thanks very much.
Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Scatterwork Guest: How to start your Meeting with a Virtual Icebreaker

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Icebreaker games are something that you would normally do in a collocation.

Today we’re going to do that online in an online meeting, something quite different. Some of the things you’ll see on the screen are cues for us to be able to have some fun together. We can see which locations we are from; we can see Macdara is in Switzerland. I also have a fortune cookie; everyone gets a fortune cookie, another item for us to discuss before we start the game.

Once all participants are online (we can have up to 10 participants) we will go ahead and start the icebreaker game. I just get a warning saying that people won’t be able to start, if I start it.

The first element which we are going to do is something called the dream vacation,talk about her dream vacation together; that’s the name of this particular ice-breaker and everyone has an opportunity to type in what their dream vacation will be.

I’ve got mine pre-done. I’ll go ahead, and type it in, as well as my friend will also type theirs in. Once I’m done typing, I hit continue – its waiting for everyone to do their responses.

On this screen we get to find out who’s done which dream  vacation. Obviously with two people it doesn’t make as much sense as if you had five or ten people on the screen. I’m going to go ahead make my guess and say that I like it and then I continue on to the next screen and I’m waiting for my friend – there we go.

As the moderator I get to choose to expand on my experience. In this particular instance I’ve always wanted to go to Tahiti. I want to experience the local culture, be able to do some scuba diving, just see as much as I can about the islands. I’m not much of a  beach dweller so I wouldn’t spend too much time there.

Once I hit next it goes on to the next individual to expand on their experience. They would talk about how they wanted to go to the north pole before it melts and when that person is done they hit next and that goes in the same same way through all the participants. So Macdara,  go ahead and hit next.

Then we get a summary of what’s happening. We can see who’s done what, who’s got correct guesses.

There’s been “likes” received. Once we get to this stage we’re able to continue with our meeting more invigorated. We’ve been able to learn a little bit more about each other.

I’ve learned quite a bit about co-workers like this. I learned that I’ve got friends that are pilots that I never knew are pilots before; that were certified scuba divers I never realized that before so it’s been an excellent experience for me.

I hope you enjoyed it thank you, Gerard Beaulieu of Virtualicebreakers.com.

 

Scatterwork supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Scatterwork guest: How do we Talk about Strategy?

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Should we change the way we talk about strategy?

Most people don’t understand strategy. It may sound obvious but the reason why many strategies are never realized is that most people in large organizations don’t understand what the strategy means, even if they know of its existence.

Senior managers assume that their employees understand them when they talk about strategy. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and indeed strategies are often articulated in a way that makes them impossible to deliver.

My name’s Jonathan Norman. I published nearly 120 books on projects and programs for Gower Publishing and I wanted to talk to you about the subject of strategy.

Have a look at some of your current strategies. If they aren’t as effective as they could be, it may well be because they’re written in a language which is far too vague and fails to understand the role of the users in the equation.

Or perhaps on the other hand they are hugely detailed and run into pages of documents so that even the most enthusiastic employees
struggle to see the wood for the trees.

I have used the ideas in Phil Driver’s Validating Strategies to highlight some of the most common problems associated with the way we talk about strategy.

Exploratory Verbs:

Words such as explore, investigate and address are exploratory words. They are useful in early-stage high-level aspirational strategies when the main work essentially involves framing and sense-making the opportunity that the strategy will endeavor to see.

But as strategies move from the aspirational to the more operational, they are of much less value and can signal a delaying tactic to avoid taking concrete action. And using further reviews or investigations to give an impression of useful activity.

Improvement Verbs

Because they point to the need for change but their main shortcoming is that they provide no indication of how that change will be implemented. Think of words like enhance, improve, increase and consolidate. These are all words in this category and all require more specific action-oriented verbs as well as measurable targets before
they can be used at an operational level.

Certainty Verbs

Certainty verbs appear to convey confidence that the strategy will have the desired effect but they are generally illusory. One of the most popular of these verbs is “ensure”. However comforting the word, there is no such project action as “ensure”. Organizations may take actions which have a high likelihood of producing the desired result but they cannot ensure that the community will use the outcome nor can they ensure the benefit.

Collaboration Project Verbs: Collaborate, cooperate, engage have become popular as words in recent years, particularly in the public sector where there’s been a belief that
collaboration, cooperation and engaging are universally good things. This means that they often appear in strategy documents with little indication why they will add value to a strategy or how they will be applied in its implementation or development.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the repeated theme in all of this language involves
exaggerated claims for certainty, outcomes and benefits of projects that will deliver the strategy. It’s only human nature to express confidence and show a tolerance for risk and uncertainty. None of this language is wrong or bad in itself. The danger lies in the meaning that’s intended.

Now this communicates a strategy to stakeholders and strategies that
misuse this language create an environment for projects that are challenge before they’ve even started.

Thank you for listening.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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Leave unsafe travel environments behind

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Here is a short video from Scatterwork about the benefits of avoiding unsafe environments while traveling in the interest of training or coordination of virtual teams. We all know that it’s never 100 percent safe to travel. Everyday of the week there are car accidents and trains and much evidence of unsafe travel. We just have to accept that and get on with our business. Very often the alternative is poor telephone conferences, not very effective web meetings and so forth. One of the ways of counteracting ineffective meetings is to build more structure into how the meeting is held, how it’s supported and so forth. This is a skill that a virtual team will have. So, I’d like to suggest that to you. If you have project activities that need to be supported and you’d like to do it without traveling, do get in touch with me and we’ll see how we can help. Thanks very much.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional
face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but
virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training
features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

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Flexible Scheduling with Virtual Training

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Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, with another short video about the benefits of virtual training. This time, we’re looking at the flexible scheduling and availability of the trainer, compared to on site events. For on site training, there is always an overhead of time, for travel and for the costs, and this is factored in, and it results in less flexibility, less scheduling flexibility for the trainer.

It can happen, that the trainer that you need, and the availability pattern, cannot meet your requirements, but by going for a virtual event, the availability and flexibility is increased. Training can be done, realistically, in shorter sessions, and the loss of time due to travel disappears completely. In summary, virtual training allows more flexibility in scheduling, and that gives another plus point when you’re setting up your event. Thank you.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

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Scatterwork Guest: How do you see your project?

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My name is Jonathan Norman from Gower Publishing,  a guest of Scatterwork GmbH, and I’d like to introduce you to a new platform we have developed for project and program managers, GpmFirst. In order to do so, I’ve taken a particular theme, which is the question of how do you see your project, and how do others see your project. I’ve chosen this subject for a couple of reasons. It introduces the premise that human psychology is a powerful influence in projects, and their success or failure, and it also underlines one of the key features of the new project community of practice that I mentioned.

Let’s just tackle these elements in order. In each case, I’ve used screen dumps from the community practice to illustrate my points. First of all, how does our psychology influence projects and their success or failure? Have a look at this image that was created by the wonderful writer Gareth Morgan, and is used in our book, “Images or Projects”. Imagine that this is a picture of your project, what do you see? A pig, but it isn’t as simple as that.

Have a look at each of the people around the edge of the image, let’s call them the stakeholders of your project. Put yourself in their shoes, and now look again at the pig, what does each of them see?

To the farmer, the pig represents his livelihood, a source of income. To the butcher, the pig represents a series of joints and cuts, bacon, ham, and so on. To the vet, the pig represents a potential patient. To the little girl, the pig represents the start of a nursery story, you get the point.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your stakeholders and ask yourself, how do they see my project, do they see it differently from the way I see it? What implications does this have on how I should communicate with them, or manage my project?

Once you understand the importance of perception, you’ll understand the idea of a playlist, which is a feature in the platform, www.gpmfirst.com. Rather than simply presenting content in the site in the way that we, our moderator, or our expert authors think it should be presented, we’ve included a feature that allows you to add any elements of the site, chapter, books, user generated articles, videos, community discussion threads, and indeed external links into your end playlist, which you can commentate.

Think of it as your own personal scrapbook of how you see a given theme, or a problem, in project management. Once you’ve created your playlist, and here’s one I created earlier using chapters from our books around the theme of perception in projects, you can share it with others by social media or email, and it will become a part of the searchable content on the platform, so that other users can benefit from how you see projects, or an aspect of project management.

Thank you for listening. If how I see projects peaked your interest, than I hope you’ll take a moment to visit this site to explore the new platform, and to get a sense of how you might use it. I’ve included my contact details on this final slide, so if you’d like to know more, than just go to the website, or contact me directly by email. Thank you very much.

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Time Management

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Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork to introduce another little anecdote from my book, “Overview of the PMBOK Guide.” This one is to do with time management and the point is that we don’t usually need permission to use time. We can be late and we say, “We’re sorry.” For money, we have to ask permission in advance to sign it in principle. The story here is very short and I once worked in a company where long coffee breaks were normal. Nobody seemed to need permission. It just happened. Even if we were told to take shorter breaks, we could still have taken the usual long ones. If management demanded an explanation, we would excuse ourselves and probably do the same in the next day. In fact, we would probably say we were using the coffee break for a deep discussion.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% reduction on their first workshop.

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Quality Management

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Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir again from Scatterwork for another anecdote from the book Overview of the PMBOK Guide. The topic here is quality management. This time I have two stories. The first one is about the quality of management itself and then the second one is the quality of the project.

The first one. The project manager had a small team. He told them there would be a weekly meeting every Monday afternoon. The first week, everyone was present. The second week, the project manager knew he was going to arrive late and telephoned ahead to ask the meeting to start without him. The third week, he said he couldn’t attend and delegated the meeting chair to one of his team members. Unfortunately, he did not brief this person about everything and in any case the manager didn’t want to delegate. The fourth week, the manager did not come to the meeting and just told the team that he was unavoidably engaged. The point of this particular anecdote, which of course really happened, is that quality applies in projects, not just to the deliverable, but also to the style of management.

Now, I have a second little anecdote here to do with quality in projects. I once worked in a computer factory which made standard models. As the orders came in from different countries which needed different keyboard layouts, the manufactured items were taken apart and reassembled with the right keyboard so the work that had been done was being wasted and then replaced by more work. It’s hard to find the value of add on in this process and I hope that such practices have long since gone.

In the modern world, the optimal solution may not be traditional face-to-face training that everybody likes and finds very effective, but virtual training. Please help us to rank our list of virtual training features: Can Virtual Training replace traditional events? (5 minute survey)

Also, if you have any queries, then please select a time to call or send a message.

Invite your colleagues to sign up for the Scatterwork Newsletter and they will also get a 10% discount on their first workshop.

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Why use Project Management?

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Hello this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork, and I’m here to bring you an anecdote from my book, Overview of the PMBOK guide.

Once upon a time, as all good children’s stories begin, there was a very important project. It was so important that the advisers convinced this local company with headquarters in Europe to start implementing it immediately. After about 12 million Euro had been spent, the team thought it would be a good idea to develop a specification. To do this, a project team was put together, and there was a large international kick-off meeting, which lasted a few days. Everybody had a very good time.

After some development work the users in North America were contacted to help with the testing. An enterprising manager there suggested that the project should be executed near to the users to improve communication with them. He said he was available to take over the management of the development work, and would be happy with the development manager’s salary. It’s possible this is why he suggested transferring the project to his location.

Instead of transferring the project team from Europe to North America it was disbanded. Except for the European-based project manager the work was passed completely to a new implementation team in North America. The new team grew to over 50 people and worked hard for about two years. They found it difficult to make good progress, because of the poorly defined decision making processes.

There was a senior North American manager, but he was not invited onto the project steering committee, because his line staff were not directly involved. His organization did however, provide office space for the project team. After every project review meeting he asked what was happening.

Sometimes he didn’t agree with the decisions, so he contacted his longtime senior colleague in Europe to get support for changes. This colleague then sent out new instructions, which often reached the team weeks after the original decision. This meant that some work done in the meantime was wasted. Because the development manager had such a big team he earned a really good salary.

During this time the company headquarters in Europe bought a competitor, and their managers became new project stakeholders. This was because they were expected to use the output of the project. Even so they were not convinced, and they said they wouldn’t use it. This made the company rethink the project and send in the auditors. They found out that the value of the deliverable minus the cost of development was nearly zero. The project was then terminated, and the project manager was fired, although he was paid his salary for some months without having to come to work. The total cost of the project was about $100 million Euro.

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How can Scatterwork add value for you?

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The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

A classic way to reduce risks: delegate!

Miniature Swiss Army Knife
Miniature Swiss Army Knife

In any business, development is achieved by progressively delegating more and more. The more tasks that are reliably delegated, the greater the business capacity.

Delegating is a key element of how the economy works and brings many advantages:

  • You can get more done with the same time input from yourself
  • By delegating to experts, they can do the work more efficiently and with less risks than you can, so the results are better
  • Experts are repeatedly doing the same thing, so develop less complicated (=cheaper and faster) ways of working
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact.

Delegate the sharing of know-how using workshops, mentoring and training.

You can of course spend a lot of time with your staff to help them plan and implement projects, however you would probably be happier if you could simply wave a magic wand and see your team perform.

OR you can delegate this support activity to experts, which brings all the benefits mentioned above:

  • You can get more done and faster, without having to go through learning cycles.
  • The knowledge transfer to your team is better, less risky, less costly and takes less of your time.
  • You can then focus on something else which has even more impact (Q: where have I already heard that?)

Results-oriented Project Workshops achieve your Business Objectives

Training can be an efficient way to share know-how, but is inherently slow because the participants apply what they learn AFTER the event.

Workshops are results-oriented, at which there is sufficient sharing of know-how to support IMMEDIATE implementation during the results-oriented Virtual Workshops, giving you immediate benefits:

  • The business’ benefits immediately from the improvements
  • The quality of the work benefits from the experience of experts
  • You increase what you can achieve with the same effort
  • Your reputation as an delegator is improved.

How can we add value for you?

Zürich zu Fuss durch Stadt und Land – the latest beautifully handpainted guide for walkers from Hannes Stricker.

How best to harness the global project experience of Scatterwork is for you to decide.  

Scatterwork specialises in:

  • Project Management and Virtual Teams
  • Online Workshops and Training
  • Project mentoring, online or onsite, in English, French or German.

We just need to know what area we can help you to start off.  Please tell us which of the following “Virtual Workshops for Virtual Teams” would be most useful to you, by filling out this short survey, which refers to the following workshop options (or just contact us by any of the usual methods):

  • Manage your Project Risks! Identify and address current project risks.
  • Develop your Virtual Team’s Operational Guidelines: Great for team building and cooperation.
  • Kick-Off your Virtual Project: When the team must deliver immediately without the luxury of meeting face to face!
  • Plan your Team Communications: Helps target the information flow and avoid costly communication delays.
  • Manage your Project Phase End: Critical control point which requires a lot of organising and follow through.
  • Re-Launch a Troubled Project: Get your project moving again, e.g. after a change of leadership or serious slipping.

Your inputs are greatly appreciated, thank you!

The Penknife and Book? They are prizes for two lucky correspondents, to be drawn on 31 March.

If you have not signed up for the Scatterwork Virtual Project Newsletter, you can do so here.

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