Why Product Development Needs Project Management

My second blog post for LiquidPlanner, Why Product Development Needs Project Management, relating my experience trying to do product development with no project management process. It does not go well (though it was better than the company with too much product development process).


What every engineer should know about project management

Project management in an innovative environment is the art of herding very smart cats. It’s the project manager’s (PM’s) job to make sure everyone is working on the correct tasks, that risks are being managed and communicated, and that the stakeholders (i.e. the decision makers) have the information they need to make informed decisions. It’s not the PM’s job to make decisions, but only to make sure the needed decisions are being made by the right people who have all the information they need (or at least, as much of it as possible). For the PM to do her job, she needs certain things from the Individual Contributors (ICs). In this post I’ll discuss what the PM needs from the ICs and why she needs it, but all of the advice can be summed up in one sentence:

Communicate quickly, completely, and candidly.

If you just do that, you can’t go wrong.

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Metrics need to add value or they’re just a waste of numbers

Any freshly minted MBA will tell you What gets measured gets manageda quote often misattributed to management consultant Peter Drucker. Everyone is obsessed with metrics, measuring every element of a business and making decisions based on this data. In the era of “Big Data”, this is even truer. And I’m not here to say otherwise, exactly. I’m a big fan of calculating, tracking, and listening to metrics. But I’ve seen them misused often enough that I want to throw a cup of skepticism on the fire of metrics: not enough to put out the fire, but enough to create a smoky cloud of uncertainty. The fire will keep you warm and scare the wild beasts that roam the forest, but it won’t pitch your tent or clean up after dinner.

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The Poorest County in the Country is in the middle of the Saudi Arabia of Wind

This post was originally published with Sustainable West Seattle in February 2011. 

The latest rankings show that the poorest county in the Country is Ziebach County, South Dakota. Two Indian Reservations make up this very rural county with a population density of 1.3 people per square mile (as compared to  816 people per square mile for King County). This is a place where more than 60% of the people live at or below the poverty line (a family of four making less than $22,000 a year).

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