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Yesorno: what to do when faced with the impossible


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My talk at Emerging Tech Week, Philly, 2011: when asked to take on more work, don't just say yes or no, have a conversation and manage the project portfolio.

My talk at Emerging Tech Week, Philly, 2011: when asked to take on more work, don't just say yes or no, have a conversation and manage the project portfolio.

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  • 1. Say Yes–Or Say No?What To Do When Faced With The Impossible Johanna Rothman New: Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects @johannarothman +1-781-641-4046
  • 2. You’re a Developer, Manager,Tester, Project Manager…You’ve got tons of work to doOther people interrupt youYour manager asks you to take on another projectYou’re multitasking! 2 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 3. Let’s See Multitasking in ActionI need 4 volunteers to do 4 little projects... 3 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 4. Problems of MultitaskingCostlyConfusingImpossible to predict 4 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 5. Costs of MultitaskingStopping your current workSwapping out the current workSwapping in the new work…and sometime later, swapping the originally currentwork back in 5 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 6. Personal Cost is “Whiplash” 6 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 7. YES 7 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 8. Yes Can Get You Into TroubleSaying ‘Yes’ leads you to agree to work you may not havethe people or time to do And agreeing to something on the spur of the moment might lead you to agree to something you don’t know anything aboutA True Story 8 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 9. No is a Necessary Tool 9 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 10. No Can Get You Into TroubleIf you only say ‘No” or say ‘No’ in the wrong way or tothe wrong project, you can run into political troubleA True Story 10 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 11. Maybe 11 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 12. Maybe is a DisasterThe people who want to hear “yes” will hear yesThe people who want to hear “no” will hear noAll of those people are your senior managers 12 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 13. A Little ExperimentWe’re going to practice saying some words 13 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 14. So What Do You Do?Communicate in multiple ways Show what’s going on Rather than assume the stated project description/ deadline is the only viable possibility, negotiate Use words other than only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ 14 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 15. Pictures Explain the ProblemProject portfolios are excellent for explaining what’s goingon at the lowest level and at the highest levelAs you explain the portfolio, walk your manager throughyour priorities and how they support your mission 15 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 16. Combination View:Low and Mid Level 16 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 17. Project Portfolio: High Level 17 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 18. A Picture May Not Be EnoughHow do you say “no” right now?Discuss togetherWe’ll debrief together 18 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 19. Approaches to Say What You Mean“Not right now” and offer a Describe effects (contract staffnew date required)“This is what I can do” “I can do that and …” describe“Here’s what I’m doing—what the effectsshould I stop doing?” Explain why request makes noPrioritize the work sense (be careful ) “Show me your current “Here are some alternatives.” priorities” “Here are the risks”“When do you need this?” Offer a date for a date 19 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 20. Prepare for the ConversationTalk frequently with your manager You can ask for one-on-onesDevelop your project portfolio Your project portfolio is your personal backlog 20 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 21. Convincing Management Multitasking is a Bad IdeaSpeak management’s languageExplain costsUse the portfolio to explain relative rankingTimebox work into chunks 21 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 22. Speak Management’s LanguageRecognize management work is different from technicalwork 22 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 23. Show Management Pictures: No Context Switching 23 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 24. Show Management Pictures: With Context Switching 24 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 25. Timeboxes Help Manage Multiple Project WorkContext-switching during one day is expensiveConsider One-week iterations One-day iterationsIf you must change projects, wait until the next day 25 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 26. ChunkingBetter estimates so you can break work into smallerpieces Separate sizing from durationBuilding a ranked product backlog even if it’s a personalproduct backlogIntegrating testing with development so you don’t have toreturn to work much later 26 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 27. Guidelines for Accepting More WorkIt’s strategically important work for you and theorganizationYou can do the workIf not, has to be on your not-to-do list or unstaffed worklist 27 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 28. Your Yes’s and No’s Can WorkKnow what you have to do: develop and maintain aportfolio Your personal backlog What’s unstaffed workThink about how to say NoBuild a relationship with your manager before you havethe requests 28 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 29. It Doesn’t Matter How ManyProjects You Start; It Matters How Many Projects You Finish 29 © 2011 Johanna Rothman
  • 30. There’s More...on me to stay in touch with you? Sign up for my emailnewsletter online. Or give me your card. Or fill out ayellow form. 30 © 2011 Johanna Rothman