Not too long ago, I believed managers were born and not made… Also, I believed leaders posses some kind of power, almost hypnotic, that make them capable of leading masses, a capability which is beyond capabilities that most people.
NPI (New Product Introduction) or sometimes seen as NPD (New Product Development) is a systematic process, customer-driven that takes an idea from an initial working prototype to a thoroughly refined and reproducible final product or service.
Of thousands of products entering the process, only a handful reach the market. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to understand consumers, markets and competitors in order to develop products that deliver superior value to customers. In other words, there is no way around a systematic, customer-driven new product development process for finding and growing new products. As a Product Manager, doesn’t matter if you want to create a new feature, a new product, a new service, a new microservice you need to have a process clearly defined, repeatable to make sure the output is always the same considering the same input.
The phrase “asymptomatic intelligence” is a term that describes most subtly the trait of people who show signs of intelligence only periodically or never. The expression appeared during the COVID pandemic, and just as there are some carriers of the SARS-2 virus who do not show any of the symptoms of COVID disease, so do people who do not show intelligence except perhaps accidentally or not at all.
Why do people lie at work? There are several major situations in which people lie in employer-employee relationship or partnership: an employee is hiding the truth from the employer (about his actions or mistakes) for he wants to obtain several professional benefits or is afraid to lose his job, an employer is hiding the truth in front of an employee when the disclosure could harm people or property under its management, in partnership relations people tell partial truths, to keep the doors open if situation becomes unfavorable in a negociation. Everyone knows without honesty in labor relations there is no trust, if no trust there is no respect, if no respect you can’t build anything lasting. Continue Reading →
From a theoretical perspective, Communication Management seems to be one of the most easiest area of knowledge in project management. In reality it is the touchstone for most managers, even for those with experience. Why is communication so important? Because 90% of the work of a manager means: communication. Continue Reading →
Today, my wife showed me a inspirational movie. The idea behind was the power of example: a child see his colleague fallen and he helps him getting up, a boy sees the gesture, remains impressed and when he get the opportunity he helps a stranger, others see the gesture, remain impressed, and they, in turn, help others… finally, starting with initial gesture of the first child, a lot of people are helping others for free, unconditional, inspired by example. Brilliant! Continue Reading →
Should PM execute superiors orders even if this will conflicts with company interests? Theory, as described in PMBoK (PMI), says a PM has moral and professional responsibility to apply always standards and best practices of management at any cost, in the interest of the company, even if it leads to a conflict of interest with direct superiors or means losing the job. Continue Reading →
In the companies I worked before, the two roles of Product Manager and Project Manager, were separate roles, because their responsibilities were different and could be done by one person. In F-Startup, the company I was initially hired as a Product Manager, the Product Manager and Project Manager job was the same thing. Despite the fact I knew the two roles can’t be played by the same person, I accepted the challenge to assume responsibilities of both roles. Initially I looked everything as an experiment, because I strongly believed I can do both function in the same time. Continue Reading →
In three of the startups I have worked, one of my responsabilities was to define performance KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the employees. As an experiment, I tried to see in what degree the Earned Value Management (SPI and CPI) parameters can be used to evaluate the performance of the employees and the projects. I started with a pilot project where I have collected a series of informations for each team/resources/feature. Continue Reading →
The only diploma, I found useful in my professional life, was the Bachelor Degree, because it helped me to get hired. The master diploma didn’t helped me to get a better job and didn’t make me smarter, but helped me to get a very cheap accommodation in one of the best student dormitories and I save the money for rent.
Today I had an argument with one of the most fanatical supporters of “Agile”, I have ever encountered. It all started with two words: PMI and Agile. My colleague argued the traditional project management, as defined in the PMBoK by Project Management Institute (PMI) is totally different from project management from “Agile”. To prove this, he made a presentation about “Agile” benefits compared to the traditional project management. I confess his presentation was exceptional, but despite his very well documented work, I couldn’t agree with his conclusions. This emerged into a scandal: Continue Reading →
-What is this?
-It’s a new Risk, Andrew.
-We have only one month until deadline and do you tell me there is a new Risk?
-Andrew, a risk does not mean it is already happened. In addition, I cannot foresee all the risks of a project from the beginning. Some risks appear or disappear depending on the evolution of the project. What do you want me to do? To tell you that the project has no risks?
-We need to talk. There are a lot of grumpy people complaining you don’t have the project under control. Continue Reading →
One day I received a very interesting job opportunity from a startup company. Everything sound interesting, job was a good match for me, so I accepted to sustain the interview. I was tested with all types of silly questions stolen from companies like Google and Apple (the biggest producers of interviews kind of “A beautiful mind”; I think you are familiar with most known interview questions like: “How Many golf balls fit in an airplane?”, “You have a 100 coins laying flat on a table, each with a head side and a tail side. 10 of them are heads up, 90 are tails up. You can’t feel, see or in any other way find out which side is up. Split the coins into two piles such that there are the same number of heads in each pile.“). Continue Reading →
At the new company I worked, one of my colleagues, very disappointed about how decisions were taken in our company, has decided to write an article on the subject “Reactive Management”. Knowing what means the word “reactive” in the current context, the subject captured my attention. Since the idea of reactive management is not new, I decided to shed a light on a number of aspects that justify the “reactive” behavior of some managers. Continue Reading →
Earned Value Management (EVM), described in PMBoK by PMI, is a technique for measuring project performance and progress in an objective manner. Although EVM involves three areas of knowledge in project management: scope, schedule and cost, when we talk about EVM, in general, it is about budget management. It is well known that EVM offers one of the most efficient method of control and forecasting during the project. Because of its complexity, EVM technique is usually used on large projects, managed “by the book”, in traditional way as in PMBoK. The question is: Can Agile framework offer the same methods and techniques of control and predictability as EVM from traditional project management? Continue Reading →
I remember how was my first job interview. At that time, I was still a student, I hadn’t defined yet a goal in life, I had no professional experience. The purpose of my life was to learn and enjoy life. If you ask me why I wanted a job, I don’t really know, because I was feeling pretty good as a student with no obligations. But all my colleagues already had a job and because I was in a direct competition with them, I felt necessary to find myself a job. For the beginning, in order to get hired, I would have worked even for free or as volunteer at the Red Cross in Africa. Few companies have shown an interest on my profile and it took quite long until someone gave me the opportunity of an interview. But in the end, an employer called me to a face to face interview.
After our fearless Start-up has failed in the most lamentable manner, I wondered: What went wrong and what could I change in the sequence of events to avoid the failure? Bankruptcy has occurred so suddenly that many employees have not recovered from the shock even after months. Everyone has been felt cheated… the big shock was when management declared the reason of bankruptcy: “[suddenly] we realized the money were gone…” Continue Reading →
April 19. The sky is blue, the air seems frozen. The wind is whipping streets of dust and the garbage is rising in a ominously swirling towards the sky. People, driven by the wind, creeps through the cars parked on the sidewalks and through the trams blocked in intersection. I get off at the last station, where trams turn by a gnashing sound of metal itself. People, cars, trams all seem to me drawn from a post-nuclear war world, chaotic and dirty. Continue Reading →
The story of a startup (F-Startup) is similar to a story of some people who turns pirates, in an attempt to get rich, not knowing what dangers await them on the sea.
There is a big resemblance between a company and a fleet of vessels. A department, inside a company, is like one ship from the fleet having the following crew: a captain (an executive director), a first officer (director/senior manager), second officer (a Project Manager), many commanding officers (team leads or others middle level managers, etc) and teams of leutanants (consultants, senior developers), second leutenants (middle level developers, etc.) and matelots (experts in different domains). Continue Reading →
March 29. We move the office, again… for the 8th time. The company is in financial collapse. The relocation was made to reduce operational cost. The new offices are cramped and much smaller. Experts are fighting for the window seats, because is the only thing they can still fight. I have never seen before The Experts fighting; the panic it’s in the air. Everywhere is chaos. Some people are sad as a tomb, others are insane happy. Continue Reading →
Cold wind. Unusually cold for mid-March. I’m walking in the city traffic, reading news from sports on my mobile phone. A car almost hit me on the zebra crossing while reading a news in TheGuardian: “Rafael Nadal crushes Roger Federer in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells…“. The match began on March 15, around 4:00 am, local time. At that hour, I was working at a personal project. I felt asleep, with product specifications in my hands, before the match ended. Continue Reading →
9:30 o’clock. On each of the office desks are laid out our resignation letters.
-What is this? I asked.
-You resignation, of course, tells my boss. So, come on, quickly, start to sign them, so at the end of today to have all the resignations in a glossary! Continue Reading →
The events from past three months, starting with the bankruptcy of the parent company and collective dismissals meant the beginning of our end. My colleague, the R&D Project Manager, announced today he will resign. After him, others and others have followed. Continue Reading →
-Talk with your people, ask them to start packing their stuff and move to the second floor! CEO said.
For me, this relocation represents the 7th move in the last year.
-Are we moving again? We have just moved last month…
-Yes. But is the last time we move… additionally, I don’t believe we have a choice… Continue Reading →
10:30 o’clock. Members of steering committee occupy silently the places in the meeting room. We open notebooks and prepare the pencils for the brainstorming session scheduled few days ago. CEO remind us the rules: “there are no bad or poor ideas, just ideas“. Continue Reading →
Simon Sinek, the author of the book Start with Why?, using the concept (“Golden Circle“=“Why? How? What?”) explains the reason why some people have success and others don’t. In order to succeed in business, but also in private life, you need always to start with the question “Why?”: “Why we do what we do? Why do we exist as business? Why some people managed to change the world and we did not?” Continue Reading →
December 20. Outside is snowing with big flakes. Only six people in the entire company. We are listening to carols songs on YouTube. Everyone is dreaming. Nothing disrupts, we talk, we joke, everything is calm, all is white, just like in Christmas songs. Today, a part of external development team are terminating their contract and leave us. Some of our engineers submit their resumes on job sites, a few others are asked to sign their resignations… Continue Reading →
Some studies say the main source of conflicts in companies are: organizational conflicts (when there is a discrepancy between actual and perceived values, needs and interests of individuals or groups of individuals), some studies says the economical conflicts (when companies lack the available resources) or conflicts about understanding the project objectives and scope are the most important (it may seem there is always an inconsistency between how a client, manager and employees understand the scope of work). All the source of conflicts mentioned above are equally important, however there is no unified opinion among experts regarding which is the key factor in conflicts. But for one thing I am certain: in all companies I worked before, regardless the type of conflict involved, the ugliest conflicts was due to improper communication. Continue Reading →
November 16. Today is Friday and The Big Launch of our new product. I reach the office at 8 o’clock and I am alone in the building. I quietly drink the coffee, send emails, make the final preparations for the product release. Although I had come first at the office, I arrive 5 minute late at the morning meeting. I begin my presentation… “The four big bad wolves” (the group of Experts) are waiting to tear me apart. Continue Reading →
We get used with the idea we are on verge to bankruptcy. Some of my colleagues start to post their CV public, some are screaming hysterical “I don’t care about job”, others are frozen by fear of not losing their job. I expect in upcoming months, we will remain without employees.
Continue Reading →
9:00 AM. The most “pleasant” way of starting a new day of work is by receiving the following shocking email: “The shareholders of this company decided 109 employees will be disposed (meaning almost all employees will be fired). The board of directors will try to find solutions and provide alternatives for his employees“. And that’s all folks, the story of our parent company ends here. Continue Reading →
CEO hired a group of “Experts” in Marketing and Sales in order to offer consultancy to executive board in our company. So called “Experts” were good old friends or former employees of CEO, with questionable expertise, with few experience in technical marketing (F-Startup was a combination of IT and Marketing programs). The shock troupe was thrown by CEO in each negotiations with business partners or whenever wanted to justified his decisions in front of shareholders using their analysis. Continue Reading →
Behind the glass walls of the big boss office, I hear a lion’s road. In the “cage” glass I see CEO, gesturing. He talks with one of our partners about our business model. He rises his hands, slams papers, laughs hysterical! His mimics moves from agony to ecstasy. If you could imagine on the other side of the phone is a man from the category of “Experts“, the discussion could be one of the most “interesting”… I imagine no one understands what they are talking about and probably one of them will end the conversation abruptly with a curse. Continue Reading →
9:00 o’clock. In the kitchen, three people are drinking coffee:
-I really do not understand how you are so calm when you know we all are going to be fired? How can you remain unaffected by the situation?… asks me the Project Manager of R&D team.
-I don’t know, I am used to… I lie shamelessly. Continue Reading →
Oct 26. A gloomy morning of October. Meeting with the company’s shareholders. CEO invited the whole group of Experts meeting and the number of invitees have reached to ten.
-I am little worried… said one of shareholders.
-Don’t worry, everything is planned! tried to reassure him CEO.
No one understands exactly what he meant by “planned” since there is no plan… Continue Reading →
Operational meeting always lasts three hours instead of one. Many times, I had the sensation we fake working (there is always someone late at the meeting or someone is tapping his Facebook app during the meeting). Of course in three hours of conversations, we talk also about serious problems: long term plans, loyalty programs, but all of them remained on the stage of wishes, at least until now. Practically we didn’t managed to sign a contract with a strategic partner and we didn’t manage to sell nothing. Although we are in deep shit, still we are dreaming at “plans will change the world“… Continue Reading →
Just before launching of our first product on market, the Sales and Marketing Experts suddenly realized we need to change some features. Because was too risky to change the scope of the product on the last minute, as a Product Owner I explicitly opposed to any changes. Seeing their claims rejected, The Marketing Experts complained to CEO, their good and old friend, and they obtained the approval for all the changes wanted. Continue Reading →
“The 30 minutes morning meeting” lasts longer than expected, because one of our Experts in Marketing and Sales get a long and “emotional” speech about marketing strategy. In the end of his monologue, I realized I din’t understood nothing. I was in the same time “fascinated” and resentful how can anyone talk more than an hour, without saying nothing concrete? Continue Reading →
Before things went wrong in F-Startup, I didn’t realized how important are the organizational process assets and implementation of best practices of Project Management in an organization, until F-Startup encountered some financial difficulties. When the cost problems were revealed, also problems related to poor organization appeared and we experienced delivery delays, conflicts, missing motivation, huge costs, fired people and other unwanted results. Continue Reading →
When defining the Brand philosophy, the Brand creators should be inspired by Martin Luther King’s motivational speech: “I have a dream“. The philosophy of a brand could sound like: “I have a dream in colors, a dream about life and people. My dream is our vision, a vision about our future, about a better world”. Brand could be defined as an unique and uniform philosophy at organization level, that bonds peoples dreams with the reality, present with the future. Continue Reading →
Today, I receive an email from shareholders. They express worries about the high costs of the F-Startup. With my natural disengagement, rapidly I reply: “Don’t worry, I know a method to reduce the costs… there is a tax deduction for software companies, if we match several conditions…” Continue Reading →
In the company I was newly employed, a new department of software for research and development was inaugurated. The first month at my new job was full of enthusiasm: I spend almost two weeks only for sticking motivational posters on walls and fit my office with an entire collection of inspirational books…
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