Here are some gems from past issues of Point Lookout, a weekly email newsletter of tips, insights and perspectives for people in dynamic problem-solving organizations. Bookmark this page. Or browse the archive by date or by topic. Subscribe now.
Management debt, like technical debt, arises when our choices lead to recurring costs that are typically higher than alternatives. Management debt isn't the problem. The problem is the "interest" — the long-term, recurring costs that result from the debt. More
A film about Project Management: The Bridge on the River Kwai. A great example of getting so lost in the work that we can forget what's really important. More
It's easier to lie to someone you don't care about, or who doesn't know your "baseline" behavior and demeanor. If you're receiving a bad-news message from someone who doesn't know you well, consider the possibility of deception. More
Tips for dealing with suppliers that do not respond to increasingly urgent pleas for attention regarding performance issues. More
The question of why some people are influential has a partner question: why are others ignored, or opposed, even when their contributions are valuable? More
However careful our plans are, not much goes the way it's supposed to go the first time. And maybe not the second time, either. Try having two teams make plans independently. How their plans differ can reveal biases and weaknesses in both. More
Resistance isn't actually resistance to change — it's resistance to the loss of the Old Status Quo. Resistance means that change has begun.
The worst thing about procrastination isn't that you eventually have to tackle whatever you deferred. It's that you lose the freedom to choose a good time to tackle it. More
Smoking out trouble early is an advantage for any project. Have a small team perform a "reconnaissance in force," looking for traps before the main body of the project reaches them. Have them run tests that reveal weaknesses ahead of major commitments. More
Among the most stunning examples of human brilliance are the patterns we use to avoid getting what we really want. More
Keep virtual meetings short. 30 minutes is about the maximum. If there's more work than 30 minutes will allow, take 10-minute breaks between 30-minute segments. Longer segments aren't really an option. People's attention drifts if you try to go longer. More
Appreciating our teammates publicly helps build bonds within our teams. But most teams can do much more appreciating than they do. For example, when someone publicly appreciates a contribution and a contributor, we can appreciate the appreciator. More
Worst practice: After you get bad news, punish those who knew about it but didn't tell you. More
Don't let wars between subordinates go on. They will only escalate until you have to act. More
Everybody working on the project is a full human being.
As groups debate the validity of hypotheses, advocates might offer anecdotes — narratives about specific incidents — to confirm their positions. But anecdotes, even if true, can't prove anything. They can only disprove, and to do that, they must be true. More
If you have a problem with someone, deal with him or her directly. Triangulation rarely works, and when it fails, it can fail catastrophically. More
Narrow project goals protect project teams. Sponsors who advocate aggressive schedules might do so for personal advantage, but failure to meet those goals often reflects badly on project teams. Short schedules make shifting responsibility difficult. More
Commands beget compliance, not commitment. More
People aren't born knowing how to conduct a videoconference or write clear email. We need training to do it well. More
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My blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
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Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.