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What Combat Tracking Taught Me About Project Management

Let me be clear from the start. I don’t have any military service and don’t claim any expertise in combat tracking (aka tactical or mantracking).  Tracking skills are developed over years of practice and use just as other skills are honed.

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The author, front row, center

My exposure to tracking occurred while I was a member of a civilian Search & Rescue (SAR) groups in the northeast US.  A diverse group of volunteers from carpenters to corporate attorneys, we were trained in map-reading, first-aid skills, the Incident Command System (ICS), and various search methods. When someone went into the woods and didn’t come out, we would be activated to go find them.

I jumped at the opportunity to train with one of the most respected combat trackers in the world and classmates from the military and law enforcement.  My thinking was that if I could learn tracking under difficult conditions then I would be a better civilian SAR member.

After a couple days in the woods getting dirty and soaked while tracking and being tracked by professionals, what did I learn by this experience that can possibly apply to Project Management?

Continue reading What Combat Tracking Taught Me About Project Management

Are You a Collaborative Project Manager?

minions-croppedThe current issue of Clinical Researcher includes an article that discusses how Project Managers influence parallel planning and collaboration between research sites and sponsors.

The article reveals the criticality of a well-run clinical trial, noting that trials that did not have a patient enrolled within the first two months were “significantly less likely to achieve” their their enrollment targets “despite the length of time the trial remained open“.

The authors make several common-sense observations on parallel planning and collaboration between managers who are co-managing a project, including:

  • Regardless the project management system used, project leadership is key to a successful outcome; leadership may be identified by title or delineated based on roles and responsibilities
  • Documented communication between the project managers helps ensure parallel planning and alignment of timelines within their respective entities
  • Taking a consultative approach and involving key stakeholders very early in the project generates “pride in ownership”

Any of us who have actually co-managed a project know how challenging the effort can be. Co-management challenges can be particularly thorny when the managers are employed by different entities with different cultures (e.g. a for-profit sponsor and a not-for-profit site).  Here are several additional thoughts on parallel planning and collaboration in co-managed projects based on my personal experiences.

Continue reading Are You a Collaborative Project Manager?

Consent for Better & Faster Decisions

While exploring governance in business over the past couple of years I encountered both Sociocracy and Holacracy.  Both of these approaches to governance have been associated with self-directed groups, and both have wrongly been identified as forms of anarchy.  I’ve read about these approaches, attended introductory workshops, and participated in discussion groups –  but I don’t claim expertise (I’m not a trained facilitator in either Sociocracy or Holacracy).   I have applied some of what I’ve learned in daily practice, particularly consent decision-making which I feel can lead to better and faster decisions.

What is Consent Decision-Making and Why Use It?

The basic idea behind consent decisions (aka formal consensus) is that the consent process splits-the-difference between autocratic decisions that are quickly mandated, and endless debate as can be encountered in group consensus decision-making: Continue reading Consent for Better & Faster Decisions