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Risk Management presentation

About 2 weeks ago, I attended a lunch put on by the Baltimore chapter of PMI. They run these lunch sessions on a monthly basis. They have a catered business lunch (hoo boy! Wraps!) and have a speaker from the chapter present on a topic.

The December topic was ‘Never cancel a risk meeting when the building is burning’, given by Chris Schaefer, PMP. I think my first question for the session, which of course I didn’t actually ask, was ‘what the hell’s a risk meeting?’. What I was able to glean from the presentation was essentially, ‘I’m probably running my project team meetings wrong.’ When I run a project meeting, I do what everyone does, or at least everyone inexperienced in project management. I focus on status. Where are we today?

What is a risk meeting? ‘Where will we be tomorrow, and what are the road blocks to getting there?’ If I can start to move in that direction, I can start to be more proactive about addressing risks before they blow up.

One area of general risk is the issue of expectation management. I wanted to share this image, since it captures expectation management pretty well (though,¬†allegedly, it’s become a cliche now).

A couple of the other take aways:

  • Approximately 71% of projects fail. Obviously risk management is not an important enough focus on these projects.
    • The Standish Group published the CHAOS report in 2004, and republished it in 2009, looking at project success standards (it seems there are tons of disputes to the CHAOS report finding, so that may be a different blog post) (Also, sadly, the report is not available in the PMI online resource library. Anyone have a copy of it you wouldn’t mind lending me??).
  • One of the recommendations for taking over a project that is already in the red is to have a clear game plan. Mr. Shaefer’s suggestion:
    • Engineer Success
    • Bargain Fairly for time, Scope, and Resources
    • Never Cancel a Risk Meeting
    • Everyone is your customer (and he mean’s EVERYONE!)
    • No surprises- communicate clearly, effectively and often
    • It’s not about you: Seek first to understand, then be understood.
    • Project Management is the Service Business
    • Event+Response= Outcome
    • The world is your oyster
(notes from “Never Cancel a Risk Meeting, Chris Schaefer, PMP. Held In Columbia, MD, 12/5/12).

Lessons Learned about Lessons Learned

I’ve been meaning to write about my lessons learned meeting, and closing my CRM project. I finally hosted my lessons learned meeting 2 weeks ago.

The project proved to be interesting, because the majority of the team only worked on one or two tasks each, so with one exception, I only spoke with the individual members during the weekly status call. That call never went more than 20 minutes of the full hour. I kept my expectations low for the lessons learned meeting.

In preparation, I pulled together a powerpoint to use over web conference (we have multiple offices in 2 time zones). On each slide, I listed one of the project objectives: build CRM tool, set up enrollment telephone line, establish vendor relationship, etc. and under each one, I included space for successes and challenges.

During the meeting, we went through each item, and discussed it. I came into the meeting with pre-conceived notions about what the challenges were, so I could help lead the discussion when people got stuck. I didn’t have to do much leading other than moving on to our next topic. I also didn’t have to moderate interpersonal fights, because the failures in the project were mostly instigated by our developer quitting halfway through development. Forgive me for letting any interpersonal unpleasantness thrive, but if spleens were vented over the developer quitting, I didn’t stop them.

I was happily surprised to learn a couple of challenges from the project that I wasn’t even aware of, mostly around the vendor management. I thought I had my finger on the pulse of a fairly small project, but even then, there are things that surprised me.

I wrapped up the meeting with 5 minutes for each team member to say what they thought they did particularly well. No one said anything. Ahhh…my modest coworkers. So, I, as prepared, pulled out one success that each teammate had had, be it managing a relationship, getting IT to work on development, or providing feedback on documentation, and called each person out by name to compliment them.

After 16 weeks of working on this project with the same 6 people, I finally felt like I had a team on the last day, even if it was only as they were leaving. Now, even if it didn’t feel like a team, do I still get to count all of the hours leading up to that point as PM experience?

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