Category Archives: 1

Risk Management and the Twin Towers Tightrope Walk – Philippe Petit

Just by coincidence I came across the book ‘To reach the clouds’ from Philippe Petit. The story about Philippe, who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the WTC on August 7, 1974, was used in the book ‘Let the Great World Spin’ from Colum McCann. Curious how Philippe executed this, what he called his project, I read his own book about this walk too.

See also Youtube: To reach the clouds

It’s an amazing, spectacular and compelling story, you can’t stop reading, and you must know how the project moves on. If you want to talk about risks and risk responses like Avoid, Reduce, Fallback, Transfer, Share and Accept, you can find great examples in this book. Philippe: “I know it’s impossible. But I’ll do it!”

– The risk to lose his balance: he used a balancing pole (Reduce)
– The risk of falling of the rope due to vibrations: he used cavalettis: vibration-reducing guy-lines tied to the walk cable (Reduce)
– The risk getting caught by security: he created I.D.Cards (Avoid)
– The risk of failure: He created a team around him to execute this project (Share)
– The risk of bad weather and the people can’t see you from the ground or the wind speed is to high: he used the five day weather forecast and had several options to go for the walk (Fallback)
– The risk to fall of the rope. He had to install a little carabiner on the wire linked by a very thin wire to a safety belt concealed under his costume (Fallback). Philippe; “I cannot, I never will … do that.” So this fallback was out of the question and not used.
– When he steps on the rope, knowing he didn’t succeed with all the fine-tuning but there was no time left, he had to accept the risk of falling (Accept)
– Afraid for the risk to fall, Phillippe could ask someone else to do the performance (Transfer). Philippe never thought about this option!

If you like reading, I will definitely recommend this book and you will have several enjoyable hours.


Op maat maken van PRINCE2

Recentelijk zowel aan de Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen, Expertisecentrum Informatica, Media en Communicatie als aan de Hogeschool Utrecht, richting Digitale Communicatie van de faculteit Communicatie en Journalistiek een gastcollege gegeven over het op maat maken van PRINCE2. Uitgaande van een krantenartikel waarin de bureaucratie van PRINCE2 aan de kaak werd gesteld heb ik aangegeven dat PINO (PRINCE2 In Name Only) geen antwoord op deze bureaucratie is maar dat het hanteren van de principes van PRINCE2 je vele mogelijkheden biedt om deze bureaucratie te lijf te gaan. Zolang je de principes maar blijft hanteren kun je PRINCE2 volledig aanpassen aan je omgeving en je project. Middels een afbeelding van Rene Magritte ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’ de discussie aangegaan dat je de PRINCE2 methode moet aanpassen aan je project anders blijft het PINO. Vervolgens heb ik aan de hand van het PRINCE2 management product model uit Prince2 2009 Edition Quick Reference Card stap voor stap laten zien hoe dit op maat maken van PRINCE2 voor een klein project gestalte krijgt. Vervolgens ben ik ingegaan op mijn zoektocht naar en filosofie achter mijn bouwsteenaanpak van PRINCE2 managementproducten zoals beschreven in De praktische Prince2, maakt het weer leuk. Wat mij betreft twee geslaagde sessies waarvan bijgevoegde videoopnamen zijn gemaakt.

Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen:
Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 1 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 2 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 3 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Hogeschool Utrecht
Video + slides from Pim Schonk

iPhone Apps for Project Management

Just by coincidence I saw an iPhone App about project management. Curious if there was more I did a small investigation. And I must say there was more than I thought. I found a couple of applications to get access to project management files of existing project management tools but most of the applications will help you to prepare for an exam like PMP or PRINCE2. Some applications are related to project management quotations and proverbs and some are complete books. I will give you my list.

PRINCE2 Foundation Exam Prep
This App contains 141 detailed questions and answers to prepare you for the PRINCE2 foundation Exam. Each answer is paired with a Key Takeaway to bridge the gap between conceptual knowledge and practical application.

Project Management Processes
For each PMBoK process, you will get quick access to the list of inputs, tools & techniques, outputs as well as some general information about were this process is described and used in the PMBoK.

Project Management Calculations and Formulas
Contains 100 tough questions using mathematical concepts and formulas based on the PMBoK 4th edition.
EVA, CPM, PV, FV, PERT, SD, VAR, EMV, ROI, NPV, IRR, BCR, PTA and much more

CetExam: Microsoft 70-281 Planning, Deploying, and Managing an Enterprise Project Management Solution
Q&A and interactive exams

Project Management Quotations
“Quotations” pertain to memorable sayings by famous individuals in the history of mankind, which are usually referred to as means of emphasizing an assertion when discussing a specific subject

Project Manager says …
This App provides a collection of project management proverbs that will be chosen randomly Some proverbs are just entertaining and some are really worth thinking about and sometimes they are even very educating.

97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know
Contains 97 short and extremely practical tips. You will learn how others have dealt with everything from managing teams to handling project stakeholders to runaway meetings and more.

Agile Project Management with Scrum
Best practices book from Microsoft by Ken Schwaber

PRINCE2 in Practice: Acceptance Criteria building block update

In my book ‘PRINCE2 in practice’ I described a free format page to explain the acceptance criteria (Success criteria). This gave some confusion and that was the reason why I changed the layout into a more structured layout.

Definition of the acceptance criteria according to PRINCE2:
A prioritized list of criteria that the product must meet before the customer will accept it, i.e. measurable definitions of the attributes, required for the set of products to be acceptable to key stakeholders.

This template can help you to explain the current level of these criteria before the project and the needed acceptance level before the final product/project will be handed over to the organization.
Not every topic (criteria) will be important. To show the priority you can make use of the MoSCoW principle (see first column). Each acceptance criterion is rated as either M: Must have, S: Should have, C: Could have (nice to have), W: Won’t have. All the ‘Must have’ and ‘Should have’ acceptance criteria should be mutually achievable.
You can find the complete article about this building block template update in the Box folder ‘Prince2 in practice’, name: PP2 EN Building block (Acceptance criteria).

Book review: Alpha Project Managers, What the top 2% know that everyone else does not

The Alpha Project Managers from Andy Crowe is based on The Alpha Study, a survey of over 5000 project managers and stakeholders. This study took a careful look at the practices and attitudes of 860 project managers against thousands of stakeholders. The purpose of this study was to understand what the top performers do that sets them apart. The book gives us a short biographical sketch of the 18 Alphas. You will get insights why those 18 Alphas differ from the rest of the group and how that influences project success. The following eight major areas are explored where top performers stand apart from everybody else:
– Attitude and believe
– Focus and Prioritization
– Communication
– Approach
– Relationships and Conflict
– Alignment
– Issue Management
– Leadership
For every area you get the insights about the questions and answers from the Alpha and the non-Alpha ones. Based on these answers the study went back to the project managers and the stakeholders to find answers on the why by additional questionnaires and interviews. Every area chapter ends with an overview what the Alphas know. E.g. Communication: the greatest disconnect between the two groups seemed to be that Alphas were generally aware of how their message was being received by stakeholders. Alphas took the time to understand stakeholder needs in advance, and how they tailored communication to meet those needs. The Alpha group made reliable and predictable communications a priority, even going so far as using this as a tool to manage stakeholders. They set the gold standard by making their information not only very clear and highly concise, but also relevant to their audience.

If you, as a project manager, want to improve your performance and you know your own strengths and weaknesses, this book can be of great help to you to take a next step.

Book review: The One-Page Project Manager

Just finished reading the One-Page Project Manager from Clark Campbell. Definitely a book I like. It explains very thoroughly how to set-up and use a single page to communicate progress and issues to senior management (up), your project team (down) and your peers (out). The philosophy behind this book is the fact that senior managers usually only have time to read the highlights. They just cannot read all of a multi-page report; instead, they look for key indicators and the most vital information. And guess what, this is exactly the same I am using in my book ‘PRINCE2 in Practice, A practical approach to create project management documents (how to avoid bulky, inaccessible, standalone, and illegible documents). The One-Page Project Manager consists of five essential parts: Tasks (the how), Objectives (the what and the why), Timeline: the when, Cost (the how much) and the Owners (the who). The book guides you through twelve steps to construct the One-Page Project Manager including examples for every individual step. Very easy to follow and the book give you several key concepts and tips for project management related to the steps you have to take to fill in the One-Page Project Manager. For those who are using PRINCE2 some remarks to make their life easier. In this book Tasks are key. I would replace this with products or key deliverables. If you communicate to your executive that tangible products are reviewed on behalf of senior user or senior supplier and they approved that these products are according to agreed quality criteria you have a great story. Also the use of owners can be confusing. In this book the project manager (sometimes called executive or lead manager) and those who are responsible for specific tasks are called owner. I would propose to use project manager and team manager for these roles en leave the owner for the executive or project owner (he/she who is judging if it’s still worthwhile to finish the project). If the project is too big you can use the concept of multiple layers of the One-Page Project Manager by using a task breakdown. Here I would go for the PRINCE2 product breakdown, but the use of multiple layers will definitely work. If I look at the one-page highlight I described in ‘PRINCE2 in Practice’ I have the possibility to have KPIs on project and on deliverable level. In the One-Page Project Manager it’s a little bit difficult to show an early warning or problem with your project end-date when a specific deliverable, on the critical path, has a delay. In the example a subjective task was introduced: ‘Go live on time’. For me it was also not clear what to do when you can’t met the project deadline and the only solution is to postpone this deadline.

To summarize, this is definitely a book that I can recommend and I am going to use some of these ideas to improve the one-page highlight I am using. Connection of objectives to specific deliverables and team managers to specific deliverables is something I am going to add.

PRINCE2 2009 Edition Quick Reference Card

Dear all, I am happy to announce a new small booklet from my hand, the PRINCE2 2009 Edition Quick Reference Card.
* Summary of 2009 PRINCE 2 approach;
* Sturdy, easy to carry booklet with Quick Reference Cards based on PRINCE2 2009 Edition;
* Gives you the possibility to get, in one glance, familiar with the specifics of PRINCE2 edition 2009: the Themes, the Principles and its Process Model;
* Contains the complete PRINCE2 Edition 2009 Process schemes (complete scheme and a tailoring example), PRINCE2 Edition 2009 Management Product Model, Tailoring PRINCE2 to the project environment and more;
* Clever fold out with tabs for each subject;
* Printed on water proof material: it withstands coffee stains, etc.;
* Endorsed by PRINCE User GROUP NL; Ideal for training purposes

Just to give you an idea a sneak preview of the Management Product model:

Bestellen:PRINCE2 2009 Edition Quick Reference Card