News & commentary

Insights, reaction and opinions to the latest research, noteworthy events, and brewing controversies within the realm of leading successful technology teams

Could business functions really manage IT?

Posted by on Jun 10, 2011 in News & commentary | 0 comments

My friend Susan Cramm recently wrote a very thoughtful article for the Wall Street Journal about how companies now need to distribute IT into business functional units.  Since IT has become so essential to the operations of every group, business groups need to handle their own IT work. It’s a sound premise.  Given that technical tools have become easier to use, she suggests that business units should be able to service many of their own needs rather than wait for the IT department to prioritize their tasks. She also points out the challenges associated with...

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Do Project Managers Need to be Marketing Experts?

Posted by on Jun 2, 2011 in News & commentary | 0 comments

It’s easy to take a good idea just a little too far. That’s the feeling I had reading a recent article on project branding on the Sloan MIT Management Review website. (  Three business school professors say that branding your project is now key success factor, adding yet another to the ever expanding list. The idea of promoting projects internally has been around for a long time.  We all want our projects to be perceived as important and to get the attention and resources they need.  Project managers and sponsors need to manage expectations and image...

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Team-Building with Tofu and Grapefruit

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in News & commentary | 0 comments

When constructing project and management teams, I’ve always found that it’s important to pay attention to more than just the tasks that need to be accomplished. The personalities of the people who would accomplish those tasks influence the success or failure of the team as much as the skills that they bring. But in times of emotional stress, such as the challenging times we’re in today, personalities become even more important than they are during ordinary times. For managers just trying to get things done in this difficult environment, it might be tempting to pay attention...

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Delusions in Good Times and Bad

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in Emotion & cognition, News & commentary | 0 comments

With gloom descending on the global economy, it seems clear that we in IT will not be spared from the suffering of the financial meltdown. If history is any guide, we’ll be in the vanguard of corporate cuts. When things get tough, businesses rarely invest in efficiency, expansion or strategic change. Instead, they cut contractors, projects and employees willy-nilly to husband cash and shore up short-term balance sheets. While these times can be disturbing and scary, they also offer a good opportunity for reflection, and a chance to review our assumptions about our world, our work and...

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When delegation boomerangs

Posted by on Sep 13, 2010 in News & commentary | 0 comments

Have you ever noticed that delegation doesn’t always work? Have you ever given one of your subordinates a task and a few days later found it back on your to-do list? I call this the delegation boomerang effect. When this happens, most managers like to think of themselves as victims. I often hear something like, “My people just aren’t up to the job, so I have to do it myself. Woe is me.” But this is silly. Usually, it’s not that the people can’t do the job, but that the manager doesn’t want them to do the job. The manager wants the job for himself, no...

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Learning With Peers

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Managing peers, News & commentary | 0 comments

If you want to grow as a leader or help others to become leaders, it’s important to think carefully about the process of learning. Have you ever been in a great conversation and been surprised by something you said — whether it was your own insight, your own language or the source of your comment? These events happen to me every once in a while and are the source of some of my most cherished learning. And the things I learn in these conversations often become the bedrock of my understanding of a range of ideas. They tend to be things that reorder my thinking, make connections...

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Get Political to Get Aligned

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Managing sponsors & politics, News & commentary | 0 comments

One of the perennially favorite issues on year-end surveys is the alignment between business and technology. It’s one of those things we always talk about but rarely succeed at improving. That’s not because we’re bad people with ill intentions, but because it’s very difficult to actually figure out how to fix this persistent problem. Most attempts to improve alignment involve changing project processes and adding interviews, documentation and meetings in an attempt to coerce people to agree. Generally, this seems to translate into the practice of holding a project...

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