project management

A Common Tool Trap: the Tool Will Help Your Delivery and Planning Problems

Over the past couple of weeks, several potential clients have discussed problems they want to fix: What are the teams doing, at a detailed level? (The managers want to know when the teams will finish certain features in the short term.) How can they plan for six months at a time? (They want to understand …

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Writing Secret 4: Effective Nonfiction Writers Cycle Between Writing, Thinking, & Learning

If you’ve ever tried to write nonfiction, you probably encountered these problems: Your readers only understood what you wrote. Not what you meant to write. Only some readers got value from your pieces, not everyone. The writing you ended up with at the end might have looked very different from the piece you started with. …

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Perfection Rules in Writing? You Might Be Micromanaging Yourself

Do you ever encounter perfection rules when you write (or create in any way)? Maybe you’ve heard these statements—or you’ve said them to yourself: We must spend a lot of time “polishing” to create perfect writing. We must not publish until the work is perfect. We can create a perfect piece and it’s worth our …

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Writing Secret 3: Choose When to Use Passive Voice

Most of us writers start with bad advice, to write “formally.” We’re not supposed to talk to the reader. Or, we’re supposed to avoid stories. Worse, we’re supposed to use passive voice. That leads us to write like this: <A person> will be missed. Your work is appreciated. This work needs to be undertaken. Here’s …

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Writing Secret 2: Increase Writing Speed When You Separate Writing From Editing

Too many nonfiction writers still listen to advice from their long-ago English teachers. That advice was, “Edit as you go.” Editing as you go slows your writing and allows you to get stuck. Instead, wait until you’re done writing down before you edit. That’s because our brains work differently when we write down vs. when …

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Writing Secret 1: Use the Growth Mindset to Write in 15-Minute Chunks

Recently, several people have congratulated me on my “natural” writing. I thank them and try not to giggle. Why? Because I am not a “natural” writer. I have written and published enough that I found my writer’s voice. Instead of talent, I have persistence. I use that persistence in small, timeboxed chunks. That’s part of the …

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With Agile Approaches, No Need to “Meet” or “Enforce” Deadlines

Several of my clients struggle with their deadlines. One of them, Brad, quoted Douglas Adams to me and frowned: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” He thought agile approaches would work to “meet” and “enforce” deadlines. I asked him these questions: Do you think people don’t want …

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Low Tech Way to Visualize Your Percentile Confidence for Forecasts

Michael Mahlberg taught me something cool last week. We’re writing an article together. Part of the article is about forecasts. I was ranting and raving about how to help people see their confidence levels. He pointed me to this slideshare: Lightweight Kanban Metrics (in German).  (Don’t worry about the language.) Go to slides 24, 25, …

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