Expert Judgment

New Responsibilities and Opportunities

Posted in Project Management by dnzrn on April 25, 2010

Life has an odd way to shape us into what we become. I haven’t been able to update my blog, because of a series events and developments in last couple of months. But now, I’m back. More focused than ever, motivated and enabled with new responsibilities.

Last month, I was elected as board of administration member of PYD (Proje Yönetim Derneği, EN:Project Management Association). The new administration team shares my vision and highly motivated as I am. We are going to make a series of accomplishments that will deliver quick and observable value to the association.

New benefits arise along with this new responsibility. I am now in real close contact with a lot of marvellous, experts and professionals throughout a variety of business sectors. Once I establish the member directory, I will try and introduce them one by one, here, in my blog.

Let me remind myself, my blogging goals, once again! Write frequently, write short, write when necessary and only if new value is delivered !

Until my next post, take care…

Your Experiences with Bad Management & Lousy Team

Posted in Personal, Professional, Uncategorized by dnzrn on July 8, 2009

Last couple of years, I developed this new hobby of listening to people’s problems in their professional lives. (Sick eh?) Not only do I listen, but I take mental notes. Then I study a little bit, -if necessary- then come up with suggestions.

Obvious question: What is my ulterior motive in this? I’m preparing myself to begin writing a book about problems encountered in professional, corporate life. I’m thinking about a “purple cow” kind of format for the book. Actually, it may be a better idea to make a blog for it first.

So the punch line is; I want to know YOUR experiences. Every little, dirty, complicated detail. Have you witnessed an unprofessional act in your company? Did the management give your teammate a raise when he declared he wanted to quit? Do people sneak around in the dark corners of the office, whispering unholy omens? Project running late? What do you think your managers are doing wrong? Hate every breath you take in your cubicle? Do you find yourself wondering who manages your project, your team, or perhaps the organization itself? Lie on the couch mister, and spill the beans…

I cannot promise perfect solutions but I can promise that I’ll do my best. And of course anonimity is a ground rule. Alright then. I’m going to list down the ground rules tomorrow, along with the introduction for this blog.

I already own a good domain name for this one: expertjudgment.com

I was thinking about doing something else with that domain but, I am overwhelmed by other projects, and I only have one lifetime, which is almost about to be halved.

Until tomorrow…

Back From My “Quest”, Refreshed and Energized

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on July 7, 2009

First half of 2009 was extremely wearing. Both in my personal and professional life. Failure, struggle, stress. Good summary. So, I set out for a quest.

I follwed an ancient route; Izmir (Ephesus) to Istanbul (Constantinople). Did a lot of reading, partying, sightseeing, writing, thinking. (Limited sleep and almost no online time) Met a lot of wonderful people. Exposed myself to many forms of art…

I enjoyed Sophie Calle‘s Gotham Handbook, the most. Exhibition at Istanbul Modern Arts Museum was enlightning. I studied the similarities between the change in web and the modern arts. (Serious stuff. I’ll be blogging about this one… ignorantly… )

So now, I’m back. Back to my studies, my computer, my home, my cats…

Today, I accepted Carolyn‘s mini-challenge. (which is the key reason for the existence of this post)

Second, I read 10 Methods to Use When Returning to Normal. (Part 1 & Part 2) (Carolyn Rubestein, psychologytoday.com)

While I was on my “quest”, the books I ordered from the library have arrived:

[1] Human Resource Skills for the Project Manager

[2] Project Management Toolbox

[3] A Standard for Enterprise Project Management

[4] The Advanced Project Management Office

[5] Project Management in Practice

Don’t worry about me. I’m going to have a lot of time for reading them. I’ll keep you posted.

Goals set for the end of this summer:

[1] Project Meshtag (nope… You’ll have to wait a little bit, to know more 🙂 )

[2] Project Nomouse (both the article and the product)

[3] Preparing the “Research Methods & Statistics” E-Learning Material

PS: I hope Carolyn was not keeping the time I’ve been spending to write this post : )

Until tomorrow. Cheers…

Twitter Metrics & Measurement Tools

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on June 12, 2009

 

“You can’t control what you can’t measure” 
-Tom DeMarco

You can’t control what you can’t measure 

-Tom DeMarco

 

These are some metrics that can be used to measure twitter activities. Measurement of social networking is not very mature right now. Some metrics are not adequate and some are totally useless. How they can be used in decision making and quality improvement is open to debade. There are not many academic literature on this subject. So it is a really good and fun research area. 

Some metrics are; 

TPI – Twitter Performance Index 

TCI – Twitter Character Indicator

This is a term that I made up. It is very underdeveloped right now, so your ideas will be appreciated. I’m not going in details right now but it basically categorizes twitters by using their number of followers, number of friends and updates (which are the basic measures of a twitter). Categories are like;

  • Observers: who have a small number of followers and updates but a very large number of friends,
  • Preachers: have large number of followers and updates,
  • Neighbors: have low and similar numbers of followers and friends (100 – 120),
  • Marketmen: have high and similar numbers of followers and friends (3000 – 15000),
  • Desperados: have high number of updates but low number of followers

 tpd – Tweets per day

TD – Tweet Density

R – Reach

Reach: number of followers + their followers (first order followers + second order followers) It is a measurement of potential audience.

V – Velocity

Velocity is the average of reach gained per day. The greater velocity, the faster the twitter attracts a network of people.

SC – Social Capital

Social Capital is the average second order followers of a twitter. The higher it gets, the more influence a twitter’s follower have.

Ct – Centralization

Centralization is about how much a twitter’s reach is dependent on it’s first order followers. Low centralization indicates a resilient network.

Grade – Calculated by various direct measurements. Can only be used in benchmarking.

Rank – Same as grade. Displays the rank of your grade. A benchmarking data.

 

These are the websites which provide some of those metrics: 

TweetStats: Gives statistics of your Twitter usage. Does not ask for password. Easy and simplistic interface. Provides tpd (tweet-per-day), Tweet Density, # Replies To, Interface Usage

TwitterFriends: Provides -in depth- statistics of your Twitter usage. Lots of metrics. Sadly most of them are not correct. Claims that it provides so called -visualization-. Half of the tools do not work. Server seems to be jammed most of the time. Does not ask for password. Really bad interface. Difficult to use and can be considered an aesthetics catastrophe. Nope… They need to work harder.

TwInfluence: Provides metrics regarding your followers. reach, velocity, social capital and centralization. (Isn’t it odd that twitter-supporting services have worse uptime than twitter itself? Come on, work harder !) Asks for your password.

TweetRush: Easy to use. Aesthetically enhanced design. However provides only your tweet count and average tweets per hour. (for the last week only)Does not require password.

TwitterGrader: A benchmarking tool. Provides grade metric, which is a composite metric. The details of the algorithm is not disclosed but here is a good explanation. It basically considers factors such as #followers, grade of followers, #updates, update recency, Follower/Following Ratio and Engagement. TwitterGrader calculates your grade and provides you with a comparison against the other people who has performed a grading using this tool. Currently there are 2,300,000 people in the database. Obviously it gets healthier each day as the tool is used by more people. High usability and enhanced aesthetics. Does not ask for a password.

TwitterRank: Another ranking tool. Ugly interface. Easy to use. Password is not necessary. But if you provide your password information it gives you a score at a better statistical confidence level.

TweepleTwak: Requires password. However could not even authenticate my password. Seriously what is wrong with these twitter-supporting sites? As TweepleTwak says “Private Alpha – it’s still a lil buggy.” So maybe another time TT. Aesthetically enhanced homepage though. I only wish it would have just worked.

Your Social-Networking Interface in Your Job Applications

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on June 12, 2009

 

Please go ahead and read these advices about setting up your online profile for your professional life:
 http://microsoftjobsblog.com/blog/preparing-your-online-profile/
Feel free to make comments on that one. 
I used to work as a project manager in a software company. I’ve had opportunities to get involved with a couple of hiring situations. 
I checked Facebook and Twitter accounts of potential employees to have an idea about their personalities. In my opinion, these sites can tell so much more than a typical psych/personality evaluation questionnaire. Like, how those people collect information, how they share it or not, what their attitude against their friends is. It really doesn’t matter if they love alcohol, or get involved in different types of -interesting activities-. 
A hiring process is a two-way negotiation. “Getting the job” should not be the only goal. I always question if I am fit for the job and work environment that I’m applying. If not, then there is no need for me to get the job. If I know that I am fit for it, then they can go ahead and check my Facebook. Do not forget, if you get the job, sooner or later your co-workers and employers will get to know you and learn if you love to ride a mechanical bull or not. What do you think?

A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.

[Proverbs 27:19]

Please go ahead and read these advices about setting up your online profile for your professional life:

 http://microsoftjobsblog.com/blog/preparing-your-online-profile/

Feel free to make comments on that one. 

I used to work as a project manager in a software company. I’ve had opportunities to get involved with a couple of hiring situations. 

I checked Facebook and Twitter accounts of potential employees to have an idea about their personalities. In my opinion, these sites can tell so much more than a typical psych/personality evaluation questionnaire. Like, how those people collect information, how they share it or not, what their attitude against their friends is. It really doesn’t matter if they love alcohol, or get involved in different types of -interesting activities-. 

A hiring process is a two-way negotiation. “Getting the job” should not be the only goal. I always question if I am fit for the job and work environment that I’m applying. If not, then there is no need for me to get the job. If I know that I am fit for it, then they can go ahead and check my Facebook. Do not forget, if you get the job, sooner or later your co-workers and employers will get to know you and learn if you love to ride a mechanical bull or not. What do you think?

Kindling

Posted in Innovation by dnzrn on May 18, 2009

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

-Eleanor Roosevelt 

Kindling is a simple web-based knowledge management system. Main function of Kindling is that, it enables users to post their ideas, share it with other people from a certain group and provide feedback to other ideas. There is no need to discuss the obvious benefits of such a system to an organization or a team. The easy-to-use web interface makes the whole experience a lot more appealing.

However, there is a huge defect with their sales strategy. When I saw the Kindling first, I was amazed by its simplicity, elegance and power. However my amazement turned into a real shock by the time I realized that it comes with an absurd price. It is basically a wonderful Web 2.0 tool, with a legacy sales strategy.

Discontinuous Innovation is defined as the type of innovation which significantly changes how customers co-create the value. This co-creation of value requires customers to adopt three different roles of buyer, user and payer. Until Kindling, Web 2.0 succeeded in discontinuous innovation operations. Think about Wikipedia, WordPress, eBay, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and many others. Now imagine what would happen if these sites requested a compensation for their services. Probably you wouldn’t be familiar with most of these names. I’m not suggesting that these successful websites are running a non-profit operation, but they somehow managed to accomplish a discontinuous innovation and making huge profit out of it.

Get prepared for the aftershock. Kindling has three different licensing models. First one is limited to 40 users. The second licensing option allows up to 100 users. Only after you consider paying more than $99/month the user limitation ceases to become an issue. Web 2.0 thrives by collaboration and synergy of the users. The more the merrier. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps Kindling is not Web 2.0 at all…

My forecast? Here it is:

Alexa shows that kindlingapp.com (Kindling) is not in to 100,000. In fact Kindling’s traffic rank is 299,310 as of today. I believe we will never be able to see Kindling in top 100,000. I don’t expect a significant rise in its current rank either. Unless, of course, they do not change their current sales strategy.

Career Choice: Project Manager, Why ?

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 15, 2009

When we wake up in the morning, we have two simple choises. Go back to sleep and dream, or wake up and chase those dreams.

Assumption 1: Individuals at the higher level positions in the organizational structure, are more capable and knowledgeable.

Assumption 2: The higher the position of a manager is, the less he needs to know about the details of the project. 

These assumptions are self explanatory. I agree that they are often correct. However, there is an apparent exception; the project manager. 

Project managers must know a lot details about their projects, so the statement of assumption 2 is not correct. Also, I believe, project managers are (should be) more capable and knowledgeable about their projects than anyone else in the organization. I know this does not sound about right. I just want to draw attention to the unique knowledge, viewpoint, skill set, capability that a project manager possesses. 

For instance, the senior manager is the one who placed bet on a game and watching the game on a screen. He doesn’t know how to score, he doesn’t need to, and moreover he doesn’t need to care. 

However, project manager is IN the game. Right in the center of the chaos, trying to tame the beast… He has the knowledge. He has the skills. He has the unique viewpoint of the entire show. He has the –ability to have– full control over things. 

Norman Agustine, defines a benefit of being a project manager as “being where the action is”, in his foreword of the book Visualizing Project Management

There are more. People within the team, customer, and even his senior manager leans on him, trusts him. Pressure, stress, possibilities, the thrill… The challenge… Intense sensation of victory, fear of loss… Creativity, vision, analytic thinking… 

Isn’t it wonderful for those who yearn for a world where 8 + 8 may not be equal to 16

What about being able to see the tangible results of the project, experiencing the success so intense? Can people who are primarily motivated by success find a better position to achieve a self actualization?

Creativity in CVs

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 8, 2009

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.
-Steve Jobs

How many of you have CVs, in which you write “Creative” as a personal trait? I’ve been looking through hundreds of CVs during last four years. (mostly of students from nearby universities) Let me tell you, more than half of them declares their owners creative. 

Why not demonstrate your creativity instead of just writing “I am Creative”? 

The first of creative kind of CVs is Özgür Alaz’s Google Earth Resume

This summer, Microsoft is looking for a creative intern, not an intern with the ability to type “creative”. Following links direct to web sites in Turkish: 

Official Announcement, Internship Blog 

Innovation summarized in three sentences: Think differently. Change your viewpoint. Use existing products and techniques out of their original purpose. Check these out; 

Brain Map CV (jpeg)

Timeline CV (www.dipity.com)

Failure !

Posted in Uncategorized by dnzrn on May 6, 2009
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
-Collin Powell

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.

-Colin Powell

Projects fail ! Why? Ask different people and you get many different answers. There is a pattern though;

  • Almost everybody blames somebody or SOMETHING ELSE for the failure. (Thats one thing common in all answers)
  • Senior Managers blame EXTERNAL entities, other stakeholders, vendors, suppliers, even sometimes Force-Majeure!
  • Middle Managers (yeah that would be Project Managers…), tend to blame someone or something else WITHINthe organization. (Perhaps, senior managers…)

I –inofficially– blame the Project Managers, for they are supposed to be in control of the project. When given a unrealistic deadline, they must object. Project Managers have to have a response plan for force-majeure. Project Managers must manage all stakeholders and must always have other options at hand. This list goes on and on…

The truth is; there is no value to gain in the “blame game. We should embrace the failure, for there are lessons to be learned within each failure. 

Lets have a look at different reasons for project failure; (from various sources)

http://www.coleyconsulting.co.uk/failure.htm lists;

  1. Lack of user involvement
  2. Long or unrealistic time scales
  3. Poor or no requirements
  4. Scope creep
  5. No change control system
  6. Poor Testing

http://www.gantthead.com/article.cfm?ID=187449 has a different list;

  1. Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project managers
  2. Failure to set and manage expectations
  3. Poor leadership at any and all levels
  4. Failure to adequately identify, document and track requirements
  5. Poor plans and planning processes
  6. Poor effort estimation
  7. Cultural and ethical misalignment
  8. Misalignment between the project team and the business or other organization it serves
  9. Inadequate or misused methods
  10. Inadequate communication, including progress tracking and reporting

A little outdated but results of an in-depth analysis (Chaos Report, 1995), are as follows;

 

Project Failure Reasons

%

1

Incomplete requirements

13.1%

2

Lack of user involvement

12.4%

3

Lack of resources

10.6%

4

Unrealistic expectations

9.9%

5

Lack of executive support

9.3%

6

Changing requirements and specification

8.7%

7

Lack of planning

8.1%

8

Changing needs

7.5%

9

Lack of IT management

6.2%

10

Technology illiteracy

4.3%

11

Others

9.9%

To be fair, I believe there are things that can cause a project to fail, which a Project Manager can not control. BUT (yes a huge but) best Project Manages can foresee such situations and take action ! (alert the management, alter plans, or even not initiate the project)
Last but not least; project termination is NOT project failure. 

View of Risk

Posted in Project Management by dnzrn on May 2, 2009

A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.  

-John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

 

Can one dare not taking risks? Its all about the viewpoint. 

Recently in a software project, a major stakeholder who is a long standing customer, helped us identify a risk. He reported us that his accounting data has exceeded the limitations of  Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express, which is 4GB. We have estimated that a large scale accountant office would need 10MB of database space per year, per customer. So, we estimated, unless one accountant is keeping track of  40 customers’ data of last 10 years in the same database, they would be able to use the Express Edition, which is free. 

So we quickly analyzed the risk, and found out that the root cause of exceeding limits problem was high data storage need of that particular stakeholder (which is one of the largest construction companies in Turkey). Looking at this risk, I saw an opportunity. An opportunity to be able to sell a more convenient edition of MS SQL Server, which would have resulted in 1000$ profit per customer with similar special needs. So, happily I let my manager know the issue. His voice was ice cold and I couldn’t get a body language reading, because we were speaking on the phone. Later that day, the manager ordered a major change in the design of the software product, in order to satisfy the specific need of customers with high data storage need. We were ordered to carry out the design change, even though I let the manager know of my objections to his decision.

My manager has seen a threat, where I saw an opportunity. We walked down the “safer” road. Thus, it resulted in 2 staff-months of rework, $8.000 cost, plus the cost of opportunity to sell MS SQL 2005. To be fair, I must admit that we might have ended up with a significant loss if we didn’t alter the design and our estimations turned out inaccurate. (I guess, we’ll never know)

Its all about the viewpoint.