Monday, October 31, 2011

Project Management in Nonprofits

It seems the usual way for the Project Management discipline to enter nonprofits is through their IT departments.  Most if not all IT departments that generate software or arrange hardware installations have some level of understanding of Project Management tools and techniques.  So the good news is that there is an avenue for Project Management to enter nonprofit organizations.

Unfortunately, I have heard and observed that only bits and pieces of the discipline make it out of the IT department.  There appear to be some misunderstandings.  For instance, moving post-it notes around on a wall is not Agile (a popular approach to managing projects, especially in software development); and, as one of my professors said to his students in the first class of my first grad school course, "Knowing how to use Microsoft Project doesn't mean you know how to manage projects".  Using Kanban and project management information systems are useful tools for a project manager.  However, execs who are initially introduced to them usually miss the point.

The central idea is to obtain business value by getting the most out of what you have, and if you don't have enough - to recognize that and decide whether it's worth it to get more or just can the project.  There are many layers of skills needed to do that but unfortunately it seems most nonprofit execs only get a superficial introduction to cute tools rather than a full explanation of how to use Project Management to focus organizational energy like a laser in order to further their organizations' strategies.

Guess it's about time I make an article about the use of Project Management in nonprofits a higher priority.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NPManagement articles about teams are buzzing again

Articles about teams on the site have surged again.  This happens quite frequently.  Sometimes they stray from the top for a month or two, but there is always a resurgence of interest.

Is this because many recognize the power of teamwork and they want to tweak and slightly improve what their teams deliver?  I doubt it. 

My guess is they are members of teams that are major sources of headaches and they're looking for something to make that dull throb in their foreheads lighten up a bit.  I hope they find the info on the site helpful.  If even a few people find something that helps them obtain the sense of mission, empowerment, and sheer energy that comes with great teamwork, the site is well worth all the effort that this team puts into it.


Monday, October 17, 2011

New article at about making management decisions

We will miss Steve Jobs.  He drove the invention of things that I didn't know I wanted, and soon I needed them.  But it wasn't his legendary force of will alone that led to success, it was also because Mr. Jobs put the "art" back in smart.  His decisions were often risky and frequently brilliant.  Mistakes?  Of course.  That comes with taking risks (and with being human), but the payoffs more than made up for any losses.  A lot more.

This post isn't meant to be an homage to Steve Jobs and the NPManagement article isn't the secret to having his success.  However, the article "The Art and Skill of Decision-Making: Are you making good managerial decisions?  Are you sure?" addresses some major pitfalls in how we make decisions.  These are not problems that arise due to a manager being substandard in some way.  They arise because managers are human.

If you're human, you might want to take a peek.