Author Archives: Pat Weaver

Rethinking Leadership and Governance

Rethinking Leadership and Governance is the second paper in the series Project Management in the time of COVID. Governance and leadership are mutually inclusive. Leaders define and support good governance, while leadership is enhanced by good governance.

This paper looks at the definitions of governance and leadership, then describes Australia’s pre-pandemic environment in terms of those definitions, followed by an overview of our first two years of lockdowns. The final section discusses how reviews and reforms of governance and leadership practices may be applied to develop the new normal needed to counteract the problems of the past.

Download the paper from:  https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ORG-060.php#COVID

PM World Journal is a free monthly project management journal, see more at: https://pmworldjournal.com/

What is an algorithm?

Surprisingly, the answer to this apparently simple question depends on the year you asked the question!

The term algorithm comes from the name of the Persian mathematical genius, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c. 780 – c. 850). Algoritmi is the Latinized version of his name ‘Al-Khwarizmi’. In his lifetime he produced influential works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography.

From the perspective of numbers, Al-Khwarizmi formalised the concepts of the Hindu-Arabic number system we use today, and the decimal point. 12th century Latin translations of his textbook Algorithmo de Numero Indorum codified the Hindu-Arabic numerals, and introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. In medieval Latin, algorismus simply meant the decimal number system which became an English word by the 13th Century (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_Musa_al-Khwarizmi).

Another of his books, The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing was a revolutionary move away from the Greek concept of mathematics which was essentially geometry. It was first text to describe the use of algebra, in an elementary form, for processes such as solving quadratic equations. The book was translated into Latin by Robert of Chester in 1145, and was used until the sixteenth century as the principal mathematical textbook of European universities. The term algebra comes from the title of this book (the word al-jabr meaning completion).

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the term algorithm came to mean a set of step-by-step rules for solving a problem. Then in the early part of the 20th Century, Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, worked out how in theory, a machine could follow algorithmic instructions and solve complex mathematics. And the rest is ‘history’.

For more on the history of numbers, calendars and calculations see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY-010.php#Overview

Australian Research Project

A research project funded by the PGCS needs your input: “Mental Health of Project Management (PM) Practitioners in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Sector during COVID-19 Pandemic

If your work is PM-oriented in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector, you are cordially invited to participate in this online questionnaire survey by reflecting on your own PM-oriented work experience during the CoVID-19 pandemic. This survey is anonymous and will take you about 15 minutes.

About the Project:
Unprecedented changes due to COVID-19 pandemic have introduced new psychosocial risks for mental health of project management (PM) practitioners in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector. This research is aimed at improving mental health status of PM practitioners in the AEC sector during COVID-19 pandemic by evaluating psychosocial risk factors and their interventions, thereby establishing a mental health management framework, which is expected to help improve mental health status of PM practitioners in AEC sector.

Project Team:
This study is sponsored by the Project Governance and Controls Symposium (PGSC) , Australia , and has been approved by the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval Number: H14637). The research team includes Assoc Prof Xiaohua Jin, Dr Robert Osei-Kyei, Prof Srinath Perera, and Mr Bashir Tijani from Western Sydney University and Mr James Bawtree from PMLogic.

Link to the survey: https://surveyswesternsydney.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0k7H6XF90TKfqvQ

Cost Overruns on Early Canal & Railway Projects

Our latest paper looking a the evolution of cost engineering and the causes of cost overruns has been published in the May edition of PM World Journal. See the full publication at: https://pmworldjournal.com/#in-this-issue

Cost Overruns on Early Canal & Railway Projects looks at some of the canal and railway projects built in the same general timeframe as second phase of the industrial revolution.  The objective of this paper is to identify and understand the reasons for the cost control challenges on many of the canal and railway projects built between the 1760s and 1840s identified in our earlier paper The Origins and History of Cost Engineering (download from: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY-020.php#Process1)

While the difficulties in determining a realistic cost for a new class of project are understandable. The evidence suggests that in addition to the lack of empirical cost information, the problem with many of the cost estimates may have been caused, or exacerbated, by various combinations of poor governance, questionable ethics, and optimism bias.

Download Cost Overruns on Early Canal & Railway Projects: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P207_Canal+Wagonway_Cost_Overruns.pdf

It’s a wrap! Over $15,000 donated to UNICEF

Project Managers 4 The World, Charity Event on April 27 & 28, 2022: 24 hours talk around the clock in support of children and families from Ukraine is over.  The event was a great success thanks to Patric Eid, Oliver F. Lehmann, and a panel of 24 speakers from around the world:  https://charity-conference.com/speaker-list-april-27-2022/

I am proud to have been a part of this unique, 100% volunteer event.

My presentation was: Governing and Leading Projects using Earned Value Management (EVM). Good management and good governance require good information. When implemented effectively EVM is a robust, practical system focused on assessing and supporting the managers of a project. Based on the framework in ISO 21508, this presentation will provide an overview of the 11 steps needed to implement EVM effectively.

The presentation (PDF) can be downloaded from: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-040.php#Overview

There’s no fee or registration to download the paper, but please take a minute and donate to UNICEF’s work with children in Ukraine:  https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/war-ukraine-pose-immediate-threat-children

The PMI Talent Triangle™ Updated

The categories used by PMI’s certification renewal system to record PDUs have been updated. The new terminology is:

Ways of Working (Previously Technical Project Management) Whether it’s predictive, agile, design thinking, or new practices still to be developed, it’s clear that there is more than one way that work gets done today. That’s why we encourage professionals to master as many ways of working as they can – so they can apply the right technique at the right time, delivering winning results.

Power Skills (Previously Leadership) These interpersonal skills include collaborative leadership, communication, an innovative mindset, for-purpose orientation, and empathy. Ensuring teams have these skills allows them to maintain influence with a variety of stakeholders – a critical component for making change.

Business Acumen (Previously Strategic and Business Management) Professionals with business acumen understand the macro and micro influences in their organization and industry and have the function- or domain-specific knowledge – to make good decisions. Professionals at all levels need to be able to cultivate effective decision-making and understand how their projects align with the big picture of broader organizational strategy and global trends.

The Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) handbook has also been updated. For more information, links and downloads, see: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-TPI-023.php

Saint Expeditus the Patron Saint of Projects?

Saint Expeditus also known as Expedite, is considered the patron saint of urgent causes, he is commemorated by the Catholic Church on 19th April.

According to tradition, Saint Expeditus was a Roman centurion in Armenia who became a Christian and was beheaded during the Diocletian Persecution in 303 A.D. The day he decided to become a Christian, the Devil took the form of a crow and told him to defer his conversion until the next day. Expeditus stamped on the bird and killed it, declaring, “I’ll be a Christian today!”

Achieving an expeditious completion of difficult challenges (and avoiding procrastination) has been a problem throughout history.  In the past, some have sought the help of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, and time (the month of January is named after him), others have prayed to St. Expedius, the patron saint of the patron saint of urgent causes, to bring a conclusion to long running issues (particularly law cases). Maybe this could continue today.

While the foregoing outline is accurate, not much else is known about the Saint. His real name is unknown, possibly Elpidius, and there are several legends dealing with the reason his name was changed to be a pun of rapidity, but the most likely explanation is a copyist’s error. But, notwithstanding the doubtful origins of the Saint name, pictures of him were in existence in Germany in the eighteenth century which plainly depicted him as a saint to be invoked against procrastination and we can all do with some help in this regard. Viable alternatives may be St Anthony (Miracles), or St Jude (Lost Causes).

Myths and Legends – The Origins of Standard Gauge Railways

This article debunks a story I’ve used on a number of occasions to highlight the power of standardization. It seems the legend surrounding the creation of the standard gauge for railways is an artistic creation rather than an effective way of explaining the known facts.

Our latest article, Myths and Legends – The Origins of Standard Gauge Railways grew out of the research undertaken for The Origins and History of Cost Engineering and the soon to be published The First Railway & Canal Projects

The article shows that unlike the elaborate myth, standard gauge appears to be the consequence of random chance. These findings raise a number of important issues:

  1. While a good story is an invaluable communication tool, the connections within the story need to be as robust as the facts they connect.
  2. Don’t look for complex solutions when there’s a simple explanation (Ockham’s razor), function follows form regardless of the century.
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of random chance.

Download the Myths and Legends – The Origins of Standard Gauge Railways

See more on the history of project management: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-ZSY.php

Project Managers 4 The World – 24-hours talk around the clock

Project Managers 4 The World are running a 24-hours talk around the clock in support for children and families from Ukraine on April 27 & 28, 2022: https://charity-conference.com/

The full line up of speakers is now locked-in, all we need is for the project management community to support our efforts. All you have to do is donate to participate $10 to $999 (or more), it’s your choice – all proceeds go to UNICEF to help support for children and families from Ukraine. After donating, a Zoom link will be forwarded to allow access to the event.  

See more on the event home page: https://charity-conference.com/

Practical EVM

Introducing Earned Value Management (EVM) into an organization needs a staged approach. There is a need for new tools, new processes, and a management culture change to make use of the new information.  Implemented properly, EVM is far more than a simple ‘add-on’ to either the scheduling tool or the cost management tools. Both of these systems are still needed, to support the added value created by a practical Earned Value Management System (EVMS). An effective EVMS is a performance management system designed to assess and assist the performance of the project’s management team.

Our latest article Practical EVM, looks at using the Easy EVM Workbook as a low cost, practical stepping stone on the journey towards creating the management culture and systems needed to take advantage of a fully-featured EVM software tool.

Download the Practical EVM article:  https://mosaicprojects.com.au/Mag_Articles/AA015_Practical_EVM.pdf

See more on Earned Value Management: https://mosaicprojects.com.au/PMKI-SCH-040.php