I Got a Feeling

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I was sitting at my desk when this song by the Black Eyed Peas called “I got a feeling” came on Pandora.  My son rushed over yelling to turn it up. I attribute turning up the volume to the resulting earworm that has lasted the last few days.  There could be worse things in the world.  Each time I hear it, I think of the flash mob that danced in Chicago for Oprah.  It amazes me how so many (strangers) came together to create something that brings a smile to my face every time I see the video.

As I was preparing for day zero for LitheSpeed (I don’t officially start until tomorrow), I found myself singing the song and thinking about “the feeling”.   After taking a week off, I was able to break the cycle that had me feeling a bit numb for so long.  Just a few weeks ago, I felt like I was trying to keep control of an uncontrollable situation.  That can become exhausting.  But today I felt completely different.  This morning I felt excited about what I was about to do.  I felt an entrepreneurial drive I haven’t felt for a long time.  It’s that feeling when you play offense not defense.

Tomorrow is day one.  I have my Kanban loaded.  I have my WIP limited.  I got a feelin’ tomorrow is gonna be a good day.  Let’s do it.

Walt Disney Quote


As my family and I were walking through Disney World last week, we noticed a lot of construction going on.  Come to find out, Fantasyland is getting a big face-lift.  We could see what appeared to be another castle being built and some mammoth big top tents.  We were told that it will be completed in 2012.

But this post is not about Disney World construction, it’s about giving credit where credit is due.  As we were racing to get from one side of the Magic Kingdom to the other, my wife said she saw the perfect sign for me.  I’m sure I shot her some kind of momentary puzzled look without slowing my pace.  I was focused on getting from point A (Frontierland) to point B (Tomorrowland) in the shortest time possible.  It’s tragic that I was at the wonderful world of Disney’s Magic Kingdom and I couldn’t stop and soak in my surroundings.  Don’t worry, I got better as the day went on.  But let’s get back to this sign that my wife spotted.

Clearly my wife knew this sign was more important than getting to Tomorrowland in record time.  She was able to get me to look her right in the eye and this time she said “Honey, it talked about a project.”  I paused, processed the new information, did an about-face, and made a B-line for the sign.  Yep, she was absolutely right.  The sign was awesome.  Too many times I get my blog post ideas from my wife and I never give her credit for them.  The sign said

“When we go into that new
project, we believe in it all the
way.  We have confidence in our
ability to do it right.”

– Walt Disney

So, let it be known, my wife gets full credit for spotting the sign and inspiring this post. Without her, it wouldn’t have been.  If you’re leading a team or just a member of a team, don’t forget to listen to others.  You have to accept that some of the best ideas are going to come from them.  When those awesome ideas come your way, don’t forget to give them credit.

Back from Vacation

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Yes, I’m back from vacation.  I won’t go into great detail.  I’ll save that for future posts.  In short, I gathered up the family and took them to a resort in Florida.  I got an opportunity to meet some new people and make some new memories.  I even got to ride in a Space Shuttle simulator at NASA!

It was kind of poetic.  As we arrived in Florida, the sun was setting.  When we left to return home, the sun was just rising.  I can honestly say, I will miss the people I worked with for the last few years.  But the services I provided for them are in the past.  If they ever want Agile coaching, Agile consulting, or Agile training, I have the resources to help them.

As the sun rose today and I returned to Washington DC, a whole new future was on its way.

Be on the lookout for posts like “Disney Pull System” or “A quote from Walt Disney” or “C3PO Timebox ” or “A Disney Opportunity”.

Drawing by Pictofigo

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Carrots and Sticks

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After watching Dan Pink do his TED talk, I read his book Drive.  I felt inspired.  I am often left feeling inspired after finishing a book.  After recently consuming Drive for the umpteeth time, I made a sketch.  I then told Pictofigo about it.  The result is a poster.  I hope this gives you a good laugh.

Watch the TED Talk.  Read the book.  Try to understand the surprising truth about what motivates us.

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Goodbye PMO Email

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Today was my last day with the PMO.  I couldn’t help but send an email to everyone before the SysAdmin locked all of my accounts.

I’ve already gone to security and turned in my badges.  I’ve already talked to everyone I could find.  It is Friday, ya know.  You can’t expect everyone to be in the office.

As I went from office to office, people were telling me how much they liked what I wrote.  So, rather than having is die on a Government email server, I figured I would just publish it here.

Today is the day.

I’m all packed up and ready to go.
Today I will be drinking your coffee, eating your free time, and rambling on about something unrelated to the original conservation.
Ya, sounds like a usual Friday.

Thank you everyone for the lunch yesterday.
You all need to do that more often!

Over time, I’ve realized that project management is a lot less about trying to control things like schedule, budget, and scope and more about building relationships and helping others reach their goals.  After I leave, if there is anything you think I can help you with, please let me know.

All my best,

Drawing by Pictofigo

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FAR from accurate


This post is not specifically about FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations).  It’s about using relative grading or estimates (evaluations), before absolute grading or estimates (evaluations).  As an advisor to a source selection committee, I’m not allowed to write or talk about what is happening behind closed doors.  I can, however, write about the FAR .  Don’t click away just yet!
What exactly does the FAR say?

Subpart 15.303  Source Selection Responsibilities

Paragraph (b4) The source selection authority shall ensure that proposals are evaluated based solely on the factors and subfactors contained in the solicitation (10 U.S.C. 2305(b)(1) and 41 U.S.C. 253b(d)(3)).

That means is if you have 10 proposals, you are not allowed to compare them.  Based on content contained within them, you can not say one proposal is better or worse than another.  You may only grade the proposal against the solicitation, as if it was the sole submission.  So, this is where I see the problem with the FAR.  After reading Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely, I know humans don’t think like this.  We compare things and then react (usually irrationally).  We’re also pretty bad at estimating if we don’t have something to use an a baseline or anchor.

The only proposal submission that will truly comply with the FAR is the first one read.  The rest of the proposals will be compared to all those read before it.  This isn’t intentional.  It will happen subconsciously.  Though the FAR is attempting to be fair, I don’t think that it’s realistic.  If this was a scientific experiment, you would re-baseline after each test.  But the human memory is a tricky thing. You can’t just reboot and clear the cache.

I’ve seen the same thing happen with providing task estimates.  You can spend a lot of time and money trying to get an absolute estimate.  For some projects, they require that up front. But, where there is a lot of uncertainty, relative estimating is commonly going to get you closer to where you want to be.  You many not be able to accurately predict how long it will take to complete a task but you can say if the task being estimated will be easier or harder than a similar task recently completed.  Use that as the anchor.

What I am proposing with the FAR and with estimating is provide a relative evaluation (bigger/smaller, better/worse, sm/med/lg…) based on all available information.  As more information becomes available, refine your evaluation or estimate to absolute terms (SLA1=4, Task1=Nhr(s), Task2=NDay(s)…).

If I were to change the FAR, I would require all of the proposals be reviewed once (establishing an overall baseline) and then focus my attention on the best proposals.  But, since I’ll only be advising the source selection committee for two more days, I’ll leave it up to the FAR.

Which do you prefer, relative or absolute estimates?

Yes, the book link is an affiliate link.

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , ,