Tag Archives: management

How to reduce risks on important projects.

Background on Managing Risk on Important Projects

Reduce Risk on Important ProjectsIn the context of any strategic initiative involving a significant evolution in systems, process, or organization, risk is the chance that the effort will be less than a complete success … that it will be late, over budget, perform unacceptably when completed, fail to realize the expected business benefits, or even never be completed.

There are so many factors that can contribute to a less-than-successful project.  How is a project manager to decide which to focus on and how to address them?


Milt Hess, in his paper Reducing Risk on Projects, presents a strategy for deciding which risk factors deserve attention and for integrating risk reduction into the project holistically instead of treating it as a separate activity.  This strategy turns the traditional approach to risk management on its head.  Instead of thinking about all the things that can wrong, it focuses on what has to go right.

The strategy requires that a project first establish a clear definition of success – its success targets.  The paper describes concrete steps that the project can take to increase the likelihood of meeting the targets and the questions that senior management and sponsors should ask to ensure that the project stays on track.

Here are a few of the key elements of the approach:

  • Periodically develop a forecast of the expected outcomes for the success targets. If the forecast for a target is ‘I don’t know’, the project is at risk.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the outcome.
  • Dependency on external events and agents introduces risk. Explicitly identify dependencies during the planning process, document assumptions, and monitor them regularly.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the dependencies.

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Why every organization needs its leader to try not to do anything.

Every organization has, or needs, a leader. And it is true that the power of one committed, clever person can make all the difference in the world. But no one individual, even the greatest leader, does anything of much significance alone. The simple truth is that it takes a team to lead an organization. The action motivated by this truth is for the leader to decide what kind of leader to be and then to attract, collect, and align his/her top team and collect followers.

The best leaders figure out that it is not all about them. It is about their organizations and the decision to either manage or lead is a false dichotomy. The one in charge needs to manage in order to lead and, indeed, can and should Manage to Lead his/her organization to achieve the stated vision. The top person’s job starts with managing his/her own self to lead. Continue reading

How to get back on track when a project goes awry.

Storyboard blocks_v5_finalWhen a project goes awry  and no longer performing according to plan:

  • Assign a single capable person to serve as Project Manager (PM) responsible for the entire project through to completion if one is not already assigned or if the one assigned has proven ineffective.  The PM should be someone who has previously been successful in similar circumstances in terms of project scope, scale, and complexity.  If someone with requisite experience is not available to serve as PM then arrange for the experienced person to serve as a close adviser to the PM until a new plan is in place and performance relative to the new plan is on track.
  • Have the PM work with the client, the project team, management, and advisers to pull together a revised plan. Review the plan thoroughly with the PM, the project team, and with outside stakeholders, including the client, to be sure the path to completion, all the way through to client acceptance, is well formulated, understood, agreed to, and sensible.

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How services firms should think about what they do to help leaders turn ideas into benefits.

There are many ways to provide value to leaders who seek to turn ideas into benefits. Leaders of services firms  need to get and stay clear about how they help leaders in order to perform and grow to their full potential.

Click the figure below to view a presentation on how to think about helping leaders turn ideas into benefits.

Idea-to-Benefit Cycle Presentation


How anyone can use a leadership system to increase the odds of success sooner.

The Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World workbook presents leadership system with content, work problems, cases, and templates. The collective work product forms the essential elements of a multi-year strategic plan that communicates how the organization sees itself, where it is headed, how it will get there, and what it will do to ensure the plan is achieved.

7 Truths

Those who read, study, and practice Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World know and appreciate that seven leadership truths and actions that make sense in light of them, when applied correctly, lead an organization to perform and grow according to its plan.

All seven truths are summarized in below and in this short clip:

The truths and their actions guide leaders to describe: where their organization is now, where they want it to be next, how it will get there, and increase the odds of getting it there sooner.

The seven truths and the actions they drive are each summarized below. Click on the icon at left to get a close look at each truth and a summary of the actions it drives. Page back and click on the action headers at right for a look at the introduction to that segment of the workbook.

Get Clear

Get Clear – Describe the organization in terms of whose problem it solves, how (as in how does it: do, sell, and grow what it does), how well (compared to: others, its past, and relative to its plan and projections). Lay out how its finances work with an income statement, cash flow, and balance sheet for the past two years, current four quarters, and two years hence. Continue reading

How leaders can upgrade status report submissions with one-on-one meetings to increase the odds of better results sooner.

Stick Figures of Leaders in ActionLeaders whose direct reports submit regular (e.g., monthly) status reports on progress, problems, and plans should consider re-working their approach to include more frequent (e.g., bi-weekly), one-on-one meetings, real-time (in person or via the Web) meetings to discuss submitted progress reports and to collaborate and align on how things are going, priorities, and next steps. Specifically, top leaders ask each direct report to prepare and submit a day or so ahead of meeting one-on-one:

  • An update on progress since last time including a read-out of measures previously agreed upon to track progress.
  • A list of the top three or so things s/he is working on, and for each:
    • What s/he seeks to accomplish
    • What has been done so far to accomplish it
    • What has happened as a result of what has been done so far
    • What has been learned from above
    • What s/he plans to do  next.
  • What s/he needs from their leaders and/or from others in the organization to be successful. Continue reading

Business Guru Terry Schmidt reviewed Manage to Lead for the Association for Strategic Planning; here’s what he had to say:

Review by Terry Schmidt, Management Pro



Manage to Lead, by Peter DiGiammarino, presents a structured approach to plan and implement next steps for an organization as it strives for long-term growth and performance.

I’m a business author and consultant who has read just about everything on management and leadership, but this soft cover book blew me away. It’s full of fresh content, practical exercises and an innovative linkage to on-line strategic planning templates and support resources. Gadzooks – this book verges on disruptive technology for strategic planning consultants!

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Leadership development curriculum content for top executives, and those who aspire to become top executives, is now also available on Amazon.

IntelliVen blog content is now available as interactive content.
High-end leadership development curriculum content now available on Amazon.

Whether one wants to change personal habits, implement a new information system, improve a business process, get team members to work together, increase a community’s appreciation for diversity, or even to topple a monarchy, taking seven actions driven by seven disarmingly simple truths will individually and collectively help achieve the goal.

Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World is a workbook that top educators, consultants, and executives use to help their students, clients, and staffs become effective leaders of strategic change. Manage to Lead serves as the core content for a class in Organization Leadership, Analysis, Strategy, and Development at one of the top Organization Development masters programs in the United States.

The workbook was introduced in the spring as interactive, digital content and is now also available in softcover from Amazon or as an iBook from iTunes. It introduces a straightforward framework to describe and assess any organization and provides a structured approach to plan and implement next steps for an organization as it strives for long-term growth and performance.

Those searching for high-end leadership development curriculum content should consider placing Manage to Lead at the center of their program. Contact the author to request related teaching artifacts including: Continue reading

How to think about and organize Project, Client, and Offering Managers.

Clients and Offerings
Figure 1: A business with project that deliver offerings to clients.
Figure 2: Project managers deliver offering value on time, on target, and on budget.

Organizations that offer solutions to clients manage: Projects, Clients, and Offerings as suggested in Figure 1. Managing each requires different skills and seeks to achieve different goals as outlined below.

Project Managers, see Figure 2, deliver offering value to specific clients on time, on budget, and on target. Project Managers are also counted on to extend and expand engagements in order to deliver even greater value over a longer time frame. Continue reading