Project Management Risk, Actions, Incidents, and Decisions (RAID) Register

Risks, Actions, Incidents, and Decisions (RAID) Registers are ubiquitous in project management. No surprise then that I have my own take on the device. Being one to make do with what I have available, instead of pining for tools, applications, and systems that I don’t have, I have made a RAID Register in Excel 2007. It is based on what I think is useful, practically achievable, maintainable, and what Excel 2007 will allow. But wait, there’s more! I have made the RAID Register and its documentation available FREE to all my avid readers out there… OK, getting back to reality, follow the links below if you’re curious. I’m still getting to grips with the system, but what I found works is that if you click on one of the links, the file will open. What you see may be a poor and inoperable facsimile of my actual file(s). If you’re still curious, you can then use File|Download to save your own copy and have a play. Raid Register Template Raid Register Documentation I welcome any constructive feedback and suggestions, thanks for your time....

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Evidence-Based Management Site

If you’re interested in Evidence-Based Management (EBM), check out this site, by two of my favourite authors, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton. Here’s a taste of their of their Five Principles of EBM: Face the hard facts, and build a culture in which people are encouraged to tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant.  … you’ll need to check out their site for yourself … 🙂 Also, consider checking out their books, down-to-earth common (or not so common) sense. I’ve bought, read, and learnt lots from: Pfeffer and Sutton: Hard Facts: Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action Pfeffer: What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First Sutton: Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn From the Worst The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilised Workplace and Surviving One That...

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TED.com – a treasure trove of diversity

I can’t recall how I discovered TED.com, but it was probably due to both an abundance of spare time and a lack of focus which afforded me the luxury to follow seemingly random links. From TED.com: “TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.” For an organisation that has been around for 28 years, I’m surprised that I only learned of its existence about a year ago. But having discovered this treasure-trove of ideas, I now visit frequently, often several times per day. The value of the TED videos for me is the diversity of topics and ideas – far better in my view than usual parade of television programming. I’ve watched dozens of TED videos now, and rarely do I abandon the presentations prematurely. Even if the topics, such as Jazz, are not my usual core interests, I find each presentation has a teachable point of view (TPOV) and I value the diversity presented. Take for example the presentation by Stefon Harris on Jazz titled There are no mistakes on the bandstand. My takeout from the presentation was that a Jazz band can be seen as a metaphor to represent organisations in general, i.e., a group of people who together are working towards a common objective (one hopes). With a Jazz band, as in other organisations of people, an odd note (or occurrence) is not in and of itself a mistake; Stefon’s view is that “[t]he only mistake lies in that I’m not able to perceive what it is that someone else did.” The mistake is to not notice, to ignore, to not explore, to not build on the idea. Whether an idea in an organisation is worth investigating, following, or building on is not so much the point. What is the point is that we should acknowledge the contribution, see if we can build on it, and see where it takes us. Even seemingly inappropriate contributions should be...

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Are we really impressed by negative people?

Have you ever been impressed by a critical evaluation of a topic or a person? How about a negative critical evaluation? I have, and I was so affected. And I have also been with people who are universally critical; they were hard work, to the point where it was almost as if the will to live was, as with Harry Potter and the Dementors, being literally sucked out of my body – but that’s a story for a different day. This summary won’t provide any solutions, only some insights – the topic of the perceptions of negative evaluators is too vast and the contexts too varied to imagine that we can do more than dip a toe into this particularly deep ocean of complexity. In 1983 Teresa M. Amabile’s paper titled Brilliant but Cruel: Perceptions of Negative Evaluators was published. The paper was modest in its scope; it sought to examine the hypothesis “that negative evaluators of intellectual products will be perceived as more intelligent than positive evaluators.” It is not immediately obvious that there should or would be a difference in how positive and negative evaluators are perceived. It is tempting to assume that the perception of the evaluator should be based on the content of their evaluation, not on whether they manifest a negative or positive stance. In Amabile’s study, the participants rated two almost identical evaluations of a literary work; one evaluation had a negative stance, the other a positive stance. The quote “only pessimism sounds profound, optimism sounds superficial” is a nice and simple(istic) summary of the study. Amabile confirmed the hypothesis by finding that negative evaluators where not only perceived as more intelligent, they were also believed to be more competent and have more (literary) expertise than positive reviewers. In contrast however, positive reviewers were seen as more kind, fair, likeable, and open-minded in comparison. It must be pointed out however, that as with many topics, context is important. Other studies have found that when evaluating (say) politicians (competing subjects) – mixed positive and negative evaluators were perceived as more knowledgeable than more uniformly positive or negative evaluators. We can speculate that someone who is uniformly positive in evaluating various politicians (or other competitors) might be perceived as naïve (even politically biased and therefore discredited), since politicians have different views, affiliations, and abilities. However, when evaluating “cafeteria workers, movies, cities, and college courses” (non-competing...

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Organisational Stories and Myths

What are we to make of organisational stories and myths? It seems as though yarns, gossip, stories, and myths have universal appeal, but should we take them at face value as a representation of a truth, reality, or facts of an event? People such as Yiannis Gabriel study the stories we tell and the myths we perpetuate, and it turns out that stories serve deep physic purposes; stories have wish-fulfilment aspects to them that allow us to create and express emotions that might be otherwise hidden. Stories it seems almost have a life of their own, ‘careers’ as Gabriel put it, separate from the events that precipitated them; it’s almost as if they want to survive by their retelling, morphing, embellishment, censoring, and retelling anew. Gabriel identifies three major types of stories: The comic story, surrounding deserved misfortunes, cock-ups and other quirky or unusual events; it is accompanied by mirth and laughter, and provides a moral amnesty by permitting the expression of ideas which would otherwise remain silent. The tragic story, spawned by undeserved suffering and trauma; it generates the Aristotelian mixture of fear and pity, and may lead to the attribution of guilt to legitimate objects of aggression or to supernatural principles. The epic story, centring on battles or contests won and the great deeds through which crises are resolved. It generates pride and inspires commitment. (Gabriel, 1991, p. 440) Stories can entertain, they can inform, they can be used to relieve tedium, they can also be used to enhance group cohesion by stressing what is salient. To achieve such diverse objectives, it is important, compared to the objective facts of the topic, what stories contain and what they leave out; stories can be seen as “poetic reconstructions of events in which the accuracy of the narrative is sacrificed in the interest of fulfilling vital needs and desires, sometimes unconscious ones, shared by organisational participants.” (Gabriel, 1991, p. 428). Stories also may provide clues about emotions, topics, or views that are not easily surfaced or revealed by the usual survey techniques (Gabriel, 1991, p. 428), as their relative informality allows risqué expression. Stories as symbolic artefacts, are carriers or expressions of meaning, and are not encumbered by such requirements as the accurate representations of facts. But whose meaning is represented? A difficulty we humans have as creators and perpetuators of stories (and other symbolic forms), is that within...

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