Principle-Based Project Leadership
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Principle-Based Project Leadership

What project leaders did before methodologies.

About the Book

Project management has alienated so many of its “consumers” that it is hard to practise anymore. So many people just don’t want Project Management is selling, and with good reason.

The main reason project management is having difficulties is that their customers are no longer buying what project managers have to offer. The practice of Project Management needs to be made more relevant to its primary consumers: project sponsors, teams of people who are engaged to deliver the project, and who are going to be impacted by the project, both during and after.

The project context has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, but project management approaches have only tweaked themselves to address these changes such as newer approaches such as Agile.. Project management has lost its traditional footing, and has not been effectively replaced. 

And yet some form of management is needed now more than ever: we have left a void in rejecting traditional plan-based approaches and replacing them with Agile approaches that are not designed for this purpose. 

This book attempts to side-step the methodological debate by identifying the essence of project management (at least for software projects) so that it can be practised effectively but without method conflict.

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About the Author

Adam Russell
Adam Russell

Adam writes about project management on his blog “Adam On Projects” and in his books and other content at Leanpub.com. He is also an expert in applying ChatGPT to project environments and has written several books on ChatGPT.

Adam coaches and mentors other project managers, and consults on various projects around the world.

Adam Russell has successfully delivered software development, software package, and systems integration projects for nearly 40 years, using both Agile and traditional approaches.

Adam started as a software developer, and then moved into pre-sales technical support when the IBM PC launched. He launched his project management career after he helped to close a significant government deal. The head of projects said: “You helped sell it. Now, you can deliver it”.

Since then, Adam has worked for companies ranging from 1-person startups to global tier-1 vendors and customer organisations in roles ranging from hands-on project manager through to General Manager of Systems Integration.

In those roles, Adam has been responsible for delivering hundreds of projects, ranging in budget from $5k up to over $100m. Adam also volunteers his time and skills with non-profit organisations.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Notes on the Beta Version

The Context to this Book

Defining a Project Manager

About this book

Chapter 2 – Why do Information Technology Projects Fail?

Introduction

Projects & Failure: A Long-Term Affair

Cobbs Paradox

Knowing the causes of your own destiny

Methodology Capture

Complicatedness

Making problems “Wicked”

Projects fail because we make them Fail

Why have organizations not resolved "Cobbs Paradox"?

Methodology Structure, Selection and Use

Discipline

Undermining the Role of Project Manager

So the Solution is another Methodology?

Conclusion

Chapter 3 – Why is Leading Software Development Projects So Hard?

Introduction

Software Development is Hard

Managing Software Development is even harder

Fundamental Problems Elaborated

The Endless Search

Conclusion

Chapter 4 – The Failure of Methodologies

Introduction

What is a methodology?

Pre-Waterfall

Waterfall

Plan-based or Deterministic Methodologies

Alternative Approaches to Software Development

The Agile Movement

The Baby and the Bath Water

The Double-edged sword of Methodologies

Benefits of Methodologies

Problems with methodologies

The Great Methodological Paradox

Methodologies for Software Development Project Management

Using Methodologies

Who uses methodologies properly anyway?

The Agile Manifesto

Plan-based (“Waterfall”) vs Agile

The “Paradigm Trap”

How do we avoid the Paradigm Trap?

Zombie Processes

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Conclusion

Chapter 5 – A Bridge to the Future: Foundations of Principle-based Management

Introduction

The Conflict between Technology and Art

Principle-Centered Management

Managing Complexity

Hard and Soft Management Approaches

Complex Adaptive Systems

Holacracy

Self-Organizing Teams

Trusting People to do their jobs

Thinking fast and slow

Nudge Theory

What does this have to do with project leadership?

Principles lead to models of behavior

Principle-Based Leadership

Genesis of Principle-based Project Management

Reject Methodologies; Embrace “Hacks”

What is a Hack

Checklists

Conclusion

Chapter 6 – Principle-based Project Leadership

Introduction

Principle-based Project Leadership

Guided by higher-order principles

How does Principle-based Project Leadership work?

Project Mindfulness

Stand Outside your project

Project Management: What are our Values?

Building a delivery framework from the inside out

Building your own principles

Conclusion

Chapter 7 – The Project Action Principles

Introduction

Project Action Principles

Structure of the Project Action Principles

Dealing with Complexity: The dynamics of PAP’s

Conclusion

Chapter 8 – Project Action Principle #1: Achieve Outcomes, Rapidly

Introduction

Project outcomes

Outcome-less interactions

Work-based outcomes

Bringing an outcome focus to your project

Strategies for PAP #1

Introduction

Models for PAP #1

Techniques for PAP #1

Conclusion

Chapter 9 – Project Action Principle #2: Enable Customer Value, Interactively

Introduction

Your customer is not your friend

A project delivery problem?

Definition of a customer

Definition of customer value

Customers decide the value that a product has: nobody else

Natural Customer Advocacy and the Badass User

Customer Value Perspective

What do customers want? It’s not features

Direct customer contact

Embedding a Customer Value perspective into your project

Strategies Summary for PAP #2

Models Summary for PAP #2

Techniques Summary for PAP #2

Conclusion

Chapter 10 – Project Action Principle #3: Build Shared Models, Verifiably

Project Action Principle #3

What is the secret to ‘herding cats’?

But the secret is not to herd the cats!

What are shared mental models?

The power of shared mental models

Verification of mental models

Representations of models

Strategies Summary for PAP #3

Models Summary for PAP #3

Techniques Summary for PAP #3

Conclusion

Chapter 11 – Project Action Principle #4: Eliminate Teaming Threats, Ruthlessly

Introduction

Why don’t we have better teaming?

Teaming threats

Removing teaming threats in your projects

Strategies Summary for PAP #4

Models Summary for PAP #4

Techniques Summary for PAP #4

Project Team Charter

Principle-based Self-Organizing Teamwork

Conclusion

Chapter 12 – Project Action Principle #5: Suppress Project Entropy, Selectively

Introduction

Project Entropy

Manage or suppress?

Entropy Management Leverage

Strategies Summary for PAP #5

Models Summary for PAP #5

Techniques Summary for PAP #5

Conclusion

Chapter 13 – Using the Project Action Principles

Introduction

This is not a typical “How To” guide

Why do the 5 Project Action Principles work?

Working with existing methodologies

Simplicity, always Simplicity

The Leverage and Extension of Human Capabilities

Tools Techniques and Methods

How to Use

Developing Your Project Management Principles

Conclusion

Appendices

Introduction

Summary

Appendix 1: Errors Created by Team Misfocus

Introduction

How to Use The Observations

Team Imbalances

Appendix 2: Pursuing the Perfect Project Manager Revisited

Rethinking “The Perfect Project Manager” by Tom Peters

The original post

The Honey in the Lion

Conclusion

Appendix 3: Customer Advocacy and Understanding Customer Value

Introduction

Customer Advocacy

A Taxonomy of Advocacy

Conclusion

Appendix 4: Are the Risk Management activities on your project a WOFTAM?

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