July 2013 Newsletter

July 2013

Is This Annoying? (Why Progress Meetings Get Such a Bad Rap)

A small shift in the structure of your regular project meetings is one of the simplest things you can do to improve project performance and your reputation as a meeting leader.  The essence of this shift is to focus the progress part of your meetings on deliverables rather than tasks.  All tasks (activities) have an intended output (accomplishment) or there would be no reason to do them.  At any level of analysis and coordination you can choose to focus on these outputs rather than activities.  We say it should be “deliverables all the way down.”


Deliverables don’t have durations, they have endpoints.  At any point in time deliverables are either done or not done.  CBPM suggests that what we want to know about progress is: what did we say would be done by now, and what is done.  This creates a much more reliable picture of where things stand than task % complete and stoplight color coding.  This is probably not the first time you’ve heard this.  If you’ve actually tried it, you’ve seen how it immediately makes your meetings more efficient and effective.  If you haven’t tried it, what are you waiting for?


Most of your time should not be spent on status and explaining why things are slipping, it should be spent affirming what the team will do in the next couple weeks and if anyone has concerns or needs help to make sure nothing slips in the first place.  It’s amazing how an open and honest conversation about concerns can help the team overcome them and stay on track.  Occasionally, something comes up that the team can’t mitigate, and it should be elevated immediately.

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CBPM recommends much more than this simple shift in your meetings, but it is a great place to start.  In fact we are in the process of producing some online CBPM modules and the first one will highlight making this shift in your meetings.  We hope to illustrate that progress meetings do not have to be annoying, they can be quite satisfying.

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We could use your help to make the message more compelling.  We want to characterize typical progress meetings and the many ways they can be annoying.  What is it that annoys you about the progress meetings you lead or attend?  Email us your observations and we will post them in the comments section of this blog.  If we can use your observation in our module, you will win a free 1 hour consultation on how you can improve your project meetings and begin to implement other CBPM principles.  You will also get our Excel CBPM toolset.


Maybe more importantly, here is a chance to get something off your chest. What annoys you about project progress meetings?

Using CBPM for Construction Commissioning

Awhile back we featured James Kehoe as a new CBPM Certified PM.  James works for M&W, a global construction firm, and he was managing the build and commission of a 450mm wafer fabrication lab (semiconductor mfg) for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at State University of New York, Albany.  Our CBPM Certifyees have to demonstrate they are using CBPM and explain their project artifacts using the CBPM distinctions.  This can usually be done with 6-12 weeks of implementation, so at certification we don’t always have the final project results.  We checked back in with James to see how the project came out.


Commissioning is one of the final stages of construction where installed equipment and other functionality are tested against pre-determined standards (including safety) before the Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.  I’ve been told by other experts in the field that commission is oft times the black hole of the project.  Hard to control and easy to push schedules.  In this case almost 700 different systems or pieces of equipment had to be tested and reach “green tag” in order to complete the project.  Here’s what James had to say after the fact about the team’s performance in CBPM…


“This was a successful project for us.  I came back from the course energized and eager to bring some of what I saw straight into Contractor Engagement.  We were at the midway stage of the construction and it was the right time to show these folks where their pieces fit into the puzzle for Commissioning and Test to commence.  Feedback from subs here in upstate NY was that the Commitment map day meetings were great and value added. It definitely had a positive impact both on the relationships front and increasing their understanding of their roles within the bigger picture.” what is the best usa online casino


James was clear that execution against commits was not perfect by any stretch, but better than average. The performance against green tag commitment chart below shows that not everything went as planned.  It also shows that the plan was crystal clear and steady progress was made over the almost 7 month scheduled commissioning time frame.

Green Tag Completion Dates 11/20/12   

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CBPM Upcoming Events

Project Acceleration through Commitment-Based Project Management (CBPM)
August 24, 2013 in Silicon Valley
This one day introduction to CBPM will be run by PMP and Charter Certified CBPM Coach Jose Solera and sponsored by the Silicon Valley Chapter of PMI.  Jose will walk you through multiple CBPM cases, provide principles and tools and no doubt lead a great discussion amongst attendees.  Jose has invited Ensemble’s Timm Esque to talk about how a subtle shift in the language we use to plan and execute our projects can improve team engagement and hence performance. Click here to learn more.
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