Start with Needs and Wants

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” – Peter Drucker So many people start with solutions, and then wonder where the customers are. It’s the proverbial, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The truth is, if all you have is a hammer, then get better at…

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The Top 10 Project Management Books

"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra." — H.E. Luccock Being an effective program manager at Microsoft means knowing how to make things happen.  While being a program manager requires a lot more than project management, project management is still at the core. Project management is the backbone of execution. And…

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Cuttable Scope

Early on in my Program Management career, I ran into challenges around cutting scope. The schedule said the project was done by next week, but scope said the project would be done a few months from now. On the Microsoft patterns & practices team, we optimized around “fix time, flex scope.”   This ensured we were…

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Program Management Blog Posts at Your Fingertips

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra.” — H.E. Luccock Welcome to my roundup of blog posts from across Microsoft on the art and science of Program Management. The Program Manager role is a very powerful one.  I think of it as a technical entrepreneur that blends customer focus, with technical…

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Write the Story for Your Project

Are you leading an epic adventure and don’t even know it? When you are leading a project, it helps you and those around you to have a simple story of the impact you plan to make. As one of my mentors always challenged me, “How will the world be different when you’re done?” For example,…

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Inspire a Vision with Skill

One of the most important skills of an effective Program Manager is to inspire a vision.  If you can’t paint a story of a better future, then all bets are off. Change is tough enough.  People need a good reason.  They need to see a better future in their mind’s-eye.   They need to believe in…

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The Key to Agility: Breaking Things Down

If you find you can’t keep up with the world around you, then break things down.  Breaking things down is the key to finishing faster. Breaking things down is also the key to agility. One of the toughest project management lessons I had to learn was breaking things down into more modular chunks.   When I…

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The Art of the Agile Retrospective

I’ve been asked to do a lot of Agile retrospectives around Microsoft over the years.  I don’t know how it started, but it started several years ago when somebody recommended that I lead a retrospective for their team, and then it caught fire from there.   In this post, I’ll share a simple recipe you can…

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Team Execution Patterns and How the Work Gets Done

I was white boarding and naming some team execution patterns the other day with a few colleagues.  Here’s what we ended up with: Core Team "One-Man Band" + Best Efforts vTeam “Community Will Do It” Matrix Projects Just because you’re on a team, doesn’t mean it’s teamwork. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the…

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Agile Life-Cycle Frame

As a program manager, it’s tough to shape a process with the team, if the team can’t “see” it.  When you have a mental model you can share with the team, things move a lot faster.   The problem with life cycles and end-to-end processes, is that people don’t usually know what the end-to-end actually looks…

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