2016 ProjectDirectors.Org Career Awards

project-management-awards-696x425Really happy to see that ProjectDirectors.Org gave me the PD of the Year award. I really feel honored with this award!

I would like to congratulate the other winners too:

  • PD Of the Year: Henny Portman, for providing exceptional guidance to PMO directors and project managers, including great mindmaps.
  • Award for Excellence: Lindsay Scott, for being an outstanding professional in project management recruiting, and also leading the PMO FlashMob initiative.
  • Award for Innovation: Cornelius Fichtner, for The PM Podcast which continues year after year leading innovation in project management learning.
  • Award for Influence: Samad Aidane, for her advice for women in Project Management.
  • Award for Impact: Ricardo Viana Vargas, for his great project management videos that have inspired thousands of professionals worldwide. Good job!
  • Award for Contribution: Peter Taylor, the Lazy Project Manager, who has provided to project management with a unique perspective of the profession.

See also: ProjectDirectors.Org



Book review: The Product Samurai

9789462287860-480x600-product-samuraiChris Lukassen wrote the book The Product Samurai. A Product Manager’s guide to continuous innovation.

An easy to read book to get a good idea of the Product Manager’s role within an agile environment, with lots of examples, techniques to be used, figures, and tables and on many places analogies with martial art experiences and great black and white martial art pictures of the author himself with quotes. Every chapters end with a kata, an individual training exercise. After reading you want, if you aren’t, to be a product manager.

To explain the title, the author made the comparison with the seven principles a Samurai warrior used. In product management the same apply and by following these you can become a Product Samurai. The seven principles are: Integrity, Respect, Courage, Honor, Empathy, Sincerity, and loyalty.dia1

The book is divided in three parts following the three key aspects of product management: vision, winning and crafting.

Vision (Discovering, Defining): The discovery process and ways to identify and develop innovation potential. You get many examples and techniques that will help you to discover a product vision. To mention a few techniques:

  • The innovation granularity pyramid with four levels (feature, product, portfolio/segment, industry) of innovation and provides a framework for defining a product in relationship to the overall business strategy.
  • The Flux Capacitor technique. A brainstorming based approach that involves concept diagram mapping combined with traveling to and from the future.
  • The 3 x 3 framework (status quo, observations, story, insight, opportunity, analogy, solution, advantages, ethos): To pitch your product and it will help to define your product vision.
  • The value model canvas: compare the business model canvas and the lean canvas. Here we focus on customer needs (wants / rational, fears / hidden, needs / emotional) and product benefits (benefits /why?, experience / what?, features / how?)
  • Rolling wave planning and product roadmaps to create transparency. To rank the goals, the following formula is explained: (Market Evidence x Problem Impact x (Usability + Vision + Buying + Competitive Advantage)) / Estimated effort.
  • The customer journey map to frame your opportunity and translate this into a business case.
  • Last but not least: genshi genbutsu: to truly understand, you must go to the real place. Vision comes from the real world out there, through real people with real needs.

Winning (Growth, Steer, Observe): The tools (growth models and tools that create feedback loops) that help create winning products once the vision is in place.

Here you get many product strategy techniques:

  • The product adoption cycle: innovators, early adopters, early majority and the late majority/laggards
  • The AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral) framework. This framework provides you a series of metrics you can use to measure performance and determine improvements.
  • Eric Ries’ three engines of growth: paid engine of growth, viral engine of growth, sticky engine of growth.
  • Cohort analysis. To expose groups of users to alternative versions of the product to figure out which performs best (e.g. A/B testing).
  • Pruning the product tree. A tree analogy to achieve the shape you envision by plotting (post-its) existing products, latest product’s feature additions and optimizations, etc.
  • Gap, SWOT and the Ishikawa diagrams
  • A persona is a narrative, or story description about the user that resonates with the team and the stakeholders on an emotional level.
  • Customer experience testing. It starts by testing two things: usability (can they use the product) and discovery (context of the product: who, why, when, where, what, what for and how)
  • Alternate realities: or product variants to test with real customers (multi-variant testing)
  • Blue oceans and red oceans. It is easier to capture market value when you create a new market (blue ocean) than to fight the competition in a saturated market (red ocean)
  • ERRC quadrant: how does your solution enable your growth (Eliminate, Raise, Reduce, Create)
  • The expanded buyer utility map: it shows the six utility levers (productivity, simplicity, convenience, risk, brand image, environmental friendliness), combined with the ten stages of the buyer experience cycle (awareness, evaluation, selection, purchase, delivery, use, supplement, maintain, discard and recommend).

Crafting (Practical, Meta): The art of product creation. Here we closely follow the path of the product manager.

To gain knowledge you have to go through three phases: Shu (just copy what you see), Ha (understand why you are doing it), Ri (learn from your own practice). In this part we got an explanation of Eric Ries’ Lean Start-up and especially the usage of a Minimum Variable Product (MVP). Also here several techniques are explained:

  • Design thinking: using a five-day challenge to go through the six stages of design thinking: understand, define, diverge, decide, prototype and validate.
  • Judo Solution: follow the central guiding principle of judo: “maximum efficiency with minimum effort”. Compare with the MVP.
  • Double loop learning: replace “knowing” (your product features and value) with “assuming” (unvalidated insights about user’s requirements). So as a Product Manager you plan, do check and adjust, think again and make new assumptions. Here we get a new user story format: As a <persona> I have a <problem> which causes me <impact> as can be seen with <metrics>.
  • Three horizons of growth: now, next and beyond.

To become a great Product Manager, a Product Samurai you have to comply with the seven principles. To succeed you must show passion, empathy and compassion, focus and tenacity and decisiveness. You have to practice and train to develop the following skills: observation, questioning, association, networking, experimenting, planning, analysing, detail orientation and self-discipline.


A great book to read if you are a Product Owner or Product Manager and want to achieve continuous innovation. It will help you to understand the role you were asked to start playing or you are already playing and what you can do, what techniques you can use to become a great Product Manager.

To buy: The Product Samurai

SAFe 4.0 Scrum Master

ssmTo prepare myself to give SAFe 4.0 Scrum Master training classes with SSM certification, I used the ScaledAgile offered material for SAFe SPC4 certified consultants (downloads, videos and the SSM examination) to prepare myself as a trainer.

This Scrum Master training offers much more than many of the traditional Scrum Master training classes I have seen. The ones I have seen uses the Scrum Guide as the leading material and as a consequence you get a good understanding of Scrum at team level but I have my doubt if you really get the right picture of all Scrum Master’s responsibilities.

The two-day training will help you to achieve the following learning objectives:

  • Describe Scrum in a SAFe enterprise
  • Perform the role of the Scrum Master in SAFe
  • Facilitate Iteration Planning and effective Iteration execution
  • Support effective Program Increment execution
  • Build high performing teams by becoming a servant leader and coach.

In this course you will:

  • Identify the key components of Agile development
  • Identify the key elements of Scrum
  • Explore Scrum in the context of a SAFe enterprise
  • Describe the roles and responsibilities of the Scrum Master
  • Identify the characteristics of an effective Scrum Master
  • Experience PI planning and explore how to facilitate this event
  • Experience a complete iteration
  • Explore how to facilitate iteration planning, backlog refinement, team and system demos, and the iteration retrospective
  • Identify ways to track iteration progress and foster collaboration and synchronization between the teams in the program
  • Explore improvement at the Program level with the Inspect and Adapt workshop
  • Identify the characteristics of a servant leader
  • Experience coaching with powerful questions
  • Identify ways to facilitate better meetings, foster team member collaboration, and manage conflicts.

As you can see this is definitely much more than you will find in the Scrum guide but really important if you want to play a role as Scrum Master (in a SAFe enterprise).

Boekrecensie: Ik wil resultaat!

9789081234078-200x300Ik wil resultaat! Resultaatmanagement voor en door projectmanagers is alweer het zesde boekje in de KWD Reeks. Het boek is geschreven door Prof.dr.ir. Fred J. Heemstra, Drs. Arjan Jonker, Drs.ing. Gerard Meijer en Ing. Luuk Ketel en ook deze keer zijn de schrijvers erin geslaagd er een leesbaar en leerzaam boekje van te maken.

Het boek is onderverdeeld in 6 hoofdstukken.

Hoofdstuk 1, Iedereen wil resultaten, gaat in op resultaatmanagement. De schrijvers zien resultaatmanagement als een combinatie van de ‘harde’ instrumenten uit de projectmanagementwereld en de soft skills uit de gedragswereld.

In hoofdstuk twee, Resultaatmanagement, staan de vier kerncompetenties beoordelingsvermogen, beeldvorming, realisatievermogen en verbinden centraal. Er wordt een framework resultaatmanagement beschreven (wie, wat, hoe) om te komen tot een succesvol project.

De hoofdstukken drie, vier en vijf vormen het hart van het boek. In hoofdstuk drie, Sturen op resultaten: wat heb je daarvoor nodig?, gaan de auteurs in wat het betekent om langs de as van de vier kerncompetenties te sturen. Welke soft skills heb je naast de harde instrumenten nodig om resultaatgericht te kunnen zijn en dit voorzien van vele praktische tip en tricks.

Hoofdstuk vier, Sturen op resultaten: hoe doe je dat?, beschrijft de stuurcyclus voor het sturen op resultaten:

  • Bepalen van resultaat
  • Committeren aan resultaten
  • Projectactiviteiten plannen
  • Resultaten “produceren”
  • Resultaten monitoren
  • Het project/het werk managen
  • Resultaten evalueren (en verbeteren)
  • Resultaten rapporteren.

Ook hier krijgen we weer vele tips en tricks.

Hoofdstuk vijf, De resultaatgerichte opdrachtgever en projectmanager, gaat in op motivatie, persoonlijkheid en de vier kerncompetenties als voorwaarden waaraan zowel de projectmanager als de opdrachtgever moeten voldoen om goed te kunnen sturen op resultaten en zijn hierbij leidend voor hun gedrag. Het Big Five-model wordt gebruikt om de ‘ideale’ persoonlijkheidskenmerken van de projectmanager te beschrijven (Negatieve associatie, Extraversie, Openstaan, Altruïsme en Consciëntieusheid). Verder krijgen we een overzicht hoe zowel de projectmanager als de opdrachtgever de verschillende kerncompetenties inzetten, welke soorten relaties tussen opdrachtgever en projectmanager, de kenmerken en de gevolgen voor het resultaat er bestaan en tips voor zowel opdrachtgever als projectmanager om de relatie te verbeteren (kwetsbaarheid, nabijheid, resonantie, overeenkomsten en veilige plaats).

Het laatste hoofdstuk, Wat levert het op?, biedt nog een aantal belangrijke krenten uit het gebodene die de auteurs als slotboodschap meegeven.

Conclusie: Persoonlijk vind ik het neerzetten van resultaatmanagement als een combinatie van de ‘harde’ instrumenten uit de projectmanagementwereld en de soft skills uit de gedragswereld een onterechte verdeling. Ik teken vaak bij trainingen projectmanagement in de vorm van een cirkel die ik in vier kwarten verdeel. Respectievelijk ‘Ik’, ‘Wij’, ‘Zij’ en ‘Het’. Binnen het ‘Het’ zie ik een projectmanagementmethode en technieken. Dit kwart beschrijft de ‘harde’ kant. De overige drie kwarten beschrijven de zachte kant met een focus op jezelf, het team en de stakeholders en alle gedragsaspecten die daarbij horen. Projectmanagement omvat daarbij alle vier de kwarten en niet alleen het ‘Het’ kwart. Wat mij betreft is resultaatmanagement gewoon goed projectmanagement en dat kan niet zonder de soft skills.

Ook vind ik de resultaatketen met daarbinnen output-outcome-benefit onvoldoende uit de verf komen. Het wordt aangestipt in het eerste en het laatste hoofdstuk maar verder gaat het hele boek toch over het leveren van output. Wellicht biedt MSP met het proces Realizing Benefits (manage pre-transition, transition en post-transition) uitkomst. Ook voorzie ik met het werken met steeds meer permanente agile teams dat de focus van projectmanagers zich steeds meer gaat richten op de outcome en zal de projectmanager steeds meer in een situatie van invloed zonder macht terecht komen en dat vraagt bijbehorende competenties. Wellicht had hoofdstuk vijf nog uitgebreid kunnen worden met drijfveren volgens Graves en wat die betekenen op de as van projectmanager en opdrachtgever. Ook zie ik een verschuiving in de ideaalprofielen van projectmanagers plaatsvinden binnen de agile wereld.

Neemt niet weg dat dit boekje het lezen meer dan waard is. Het clusteren van competenties in een viertal kerncompetenties is een goed idee (zie ook een van mijn vorige blog posts waarin ik aangeef dat IPMA met zijn vele competenties en leerdoelen is doorgeschoten). Ook de tips en tricks laten zien dat het gebodene praktisch gemaakt wordt. Daarnaast krijgen we ook weer een aantal handige checklists via de KWD App (Hoe resultaatgericht zijn mijn afspraken?, Hoe resultaatgericht is de projectmanager? En Hoe resultaatgericht is de opdrachtgever?). Kortom, los van mijn commentaar, het lezen meer dan waard!

Bestellen: Ik wil resultaat!

What we can learn from Jiro’s philosophy to improve agility

img_1700I am Still in Tokyo, Japan, to give some training classes. I really enjoyed visiting Jiro again and have the omakase tasting menu. The place to be to see customer centricity in practice.

When I left the ten seat Jiro restaurant in Roppingi, I got a little book called ‘JIRO Philosophy’. In this booklet you can find many quotes from the Sushi Master Jiro Ono.

I am now in the middle of a PRINCE2 Agile training class for an organisation at the start of a transformation with focus on agility. Reading this booklet I found several applicable quotes in which continuous improvement is key. I collected and clustered some statements reflecting learning, innovation, and experiment.


  • Just doing what you’re taught is the same as being an apprentice
  • You’ve got to master some skills to reach the next stage
  • There is no job suited to you; you become suited to the job
  • If you continue to do things the right way it’s a given that your sushi will turn out delicious
  • Feeling you can still evolve is important
  • Craftsmen must judge their work to be delicious.


  • There is no limit to innovation
  • Since all sushi toppings are changing, sushi craftsmen must now factor this in When working out flavors.


  • I will experiment for years to obtain a new flavour that completely transcends the ordinary
  • People will teach you new things and ideas. But if you don’t try them out you will not change.

img_1699I would say start experimenting with applying one or more of these quotes and your business agility will improve and whenever you have the chance give Jiro a visit!

Round table about Agile PMOs organised by Accenture

impression-agile-pmo-round-table-3-february-2016Last Thursday the 3rd of November, I gave my view on permanent and temporary PMOs during a Round Table about Agile PMO in Accenture’s Innovation Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Fifteen attendees from various organisations joined the session. We kicked off (see program at the bottom of this post) with an impact full high tech movie about Luna, a girl from 10 years old, what her world would be like in 10-20 years.

After the ball point game, I gave my vision. I explained (without slides, I only used a flip-chart) the role of temporary PMOs to support traditional projects and programmes and the role of permanent PMOs to support portfolio boards. Next I showed the usage of permanent agile teams with product owners and scrum masters and how the coördination, dependency management and integration can be managed without the usage of temporary PMOs, and what it means if you want to institutionalise this coördination by using frameworks like Nexus or SAFe or keep using methods like PRINCE2 Agile or AgilePM.
In stead of bringing people to the work (projects) we see bringing work to the people (flow). In both situations the permanent PMO exists but without project or programme pools and more focus on strategy alignment, QA and advise. To support standardization and facilitate long life learning the CoE as one of the functions of a central PMO will survive too.

Following my presentation, Michael Stump from SAFe corporation, shared his vision on Agile and PMO and the usage of a PMO in SAFe at portfolio level.


Agile Antipattern card deck

2016-10-29-11-16-27I received a deck of Agile Antipattern cards. An agile antipattern looks innocent but the can have a big impact on the agile initiative or even on the whole agile transformation. These cards can help you to spur conversation and fight dysfunction. You can use these cards as a retrospective tool. The team can select the antipatterns they ran into this sprint. After discussion the team can select the top antipattern to address in the next sprint. The cards can also be used to accommodate the debate during agile transformations.

The deck contains 24 Agile Antipattern cards.

At this moment the development of a new book is in progress: ‘Agile Antipatterns: The Scrum Master’s Guide to Traps, Tripwires, and Treachery’ By Adam Weisbart. You can download a first chapter on agileantipatterns.com.

This chapter, ‘The invisible gun’, elaborates on the the agile antipattern “My boss is on my team”.