Showing posts from 2023

The Journey to Agile Transformation: A Scrum-Based Approach

The concept of Agile transformation, particularly in industries perceived as traditional, such as publishing, often comes with a heavy dose of skepticism. A pivotal moment in my career was steering such a transformation for a publishing company’s engineering team, aiming to adopt Scrum methodologies. The journey, although fraught with challenges, offers valuable insights into driving change even in the most unlikely environments. Overcoming Leadership Hesitancy Initially, the transformation encountered resistance. A new boss, with roots in a different era of publishing, held the belief that Agile frameworks, with their iterative nature and flexible deadlines, were incompatible with the rigorous deadline commitments of our industry. This underscored a common misunderstanding of Agile: it’s not a lack of structure or discipline, but a more responsive and efficient way to manage projects. Despite efforts to clarify this, my explanations met with resistance, leading to a professional parti

Managing Workload Overwhelm as a Project Manager

 As project managers, we often pride ourselves on our ability to handle complex and demanding workloads. However, there comes a point where the scales tip, and we find ourselves swamped, trying to stay afloat amid the myriad responsibilities of our role. The reality is that being overwhelmed isn’t just common; it’s a serious issue that needs addressing for the sake of our projects and our well-being. Recognizing Workload Overwhelm The signs of being overwhelmed are not always as obvious as a backlogged to-do list. They manifest in constant worry about deadlines, the feeling that you're always playing catch-up, and the inability to disconnect even after office hours. This can lead to stress, burnout, and even mental health concerns, all of which are topics that, unfortunately, carry a certain stigma in the workplace. Initiating the Conversation About Workload Admitting to yourself and to your superiors that you're at capacity is the first, often hardest, step. In an environment

Coping with a Micromanaging Boss: Strategies and Insights

The line between diligent supervision and micromanagement is often a blur in the workplace. Although well-intentioned, a boss who micromanages can create a stifling and counterproductive environment. Recognizing the signs and learning to cope with such management can make all the difference in maintaining one’s professional sanity and career trajectory. Understanding the Signs of Micromanagement Recognizing a micromanager becomes easier when you know the traits. Having endured the trials of working under such management, I can attest to these behaviors: Reluctance to Delegate: Trust is not a micromanager’s forte; they hold tasks close, even when delegation would be more efficient. Excessive Control: Over-involvement in every step and persistent check-ins disrupt workflow and autonomy. Overly Detailed Instructions: Instructions become exhaustive scripts, leaving little room for personal judgment. Constant Update Requests: Interruptions for progress checks become part of the daily routi

The Dopamine of Delivery vs. The Satisfaction of Team Interactions

In the realm of project management, two contrasting sources of fulfillment often emerge: the thrill of delivering results and the enriching experience of team interactions. Both aspects carry their unique set of rewards and challenges, often acting as the dual engines that propel a project forward. The Rush of the Delivery The "dopamine of delivery" is a phrase that encapsulates the sheer exhilaration project managers and team members feel when they hit targets, meet deadlines, and deliver tangible results. It's that hit of neurotransmitter-induced happiness that comes from checking off a task on the to-do list, the pride in seeing a product or feature go live, and the satisfaction in reaching milestones. This chemical reward system is hardwired into our brains, motivating us to pursue goal-oriented behavior and giving us a sense of achievement when we complete tasks. However, it's not without its pitfalls. Overemphasizing delivery can lead to a relentless chase for t

Proactive Strategies for Project Managers with Time on Their Hands

As a seasoned project manager, you're accustomed to the hustle and bustle of juggling tasks, meeting tight deadlines, and driving teams toward project completion. But what do you do when the pace slows down and you find yourself with a surplus of time and a shortage of work? It's not an unusual scenario, and while it can lead to feelings of frustration or worry about your place in the team, this can actually be a golden opportunity to amplify your career and personal growth. Here's how to leverage those quiet periods for maximum benefit. Take Initiative and Communicate When you notice your workload becoming lighter than you can handle, the first and most crucial step is to take initiative. Reach out to your supervisor or team leader and convey your eagerness to shoulder more responsibilities. Illustrate your capabilities and articulate how you can contribute to the wider objectives of the organization. Show your passion for work and your readiness to embrace additional chal

Embracing AI: How to Enhance Your Work Without Sacrificing Authenticity

As we wade deeper into the digital age, the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our daily tasks is becoming more integral and, quite frankly, fascinating. Yet, when considering the integration of AI into our professional lives, there's a lingering question about the balance between utility and authenticity. Through my experiences, I've discovered ways to leverage AI to streamline tasks without losing the personal touch that defines my work ethic and professional output. Crafting Legal Documents with AI Assistance One of the more surprising uses I’ve found for AI is in generating formal documents such as a power of attorney. Initially, I was skeptical. Would an AI comprehend the nuances and gravity of such a document? To my astonishment, it did— with a little guidance and some meticulous proofreading on my part. The AI created a draft that served as a sturdy foundation for the final document. This experience was a revelation, illustrating that with precise instructions, AI c

A Journey Through IT, with Eyes on Sustainability

Navigating different sectors has provided me with a unique perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Here’s a brief look into this transition. My Professional Background Starting in ministry and mission work, I understood early on the value of community impact. My career trajectory later took me to prominent corporations like AMC Networks, NBC Universal, and ViacomCBS. There, I focused on program and project management, which taught me the intricacies of team dynamics and project execution. Living in Brazil twice and gaining fluency in Portuguese gave me a broader understanding of diverse cultures. My academic background, including a Bachelor of Ministry and Master of Arts in Management, along with credentials like PMP, CSM, and ITIL Foundation, equipped me with industry-specific skills. Outside of these roles, I also engaged in volunteer initiatives, such as the Uberlândia Development Initiatives. Lately, I've been inclined towards sustainability. For me, it represents

Beyond Profits: The Rise and Role of CSR in Modern Business

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has reshaped how companies approach their roles, emphasizing their impact beyond mere profitability. With shifting societal expectations, businesses are increasingly recognizing their broader influence on society, community, and the environment. In this exploration, we'll delve into the progression of CSR, spotlight two dominant models guiding its application, and discuss the challenges and opportunities companies face in embracing these principles. The Roots: Stakeholder Model At the heart of CSR's foundation lies the stakeholder model, which expands the scope of responsibility beyond shareholders to a more inclusive framework. This model emphasizes that corporations owe duties not just to shareholders, but to a broader spectrum of stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers, customers, and the environment. It envisions businesses as entities integrated within their communities, necessitating a consideration of the broader ramifications of

Asking for a Raise: A Strategic Approach

In my experience, there's a delicate balance between self-advocacy in the workplace and timing your career moves wisely. This balance becomes most critical when the question of a raise comes into play. I've seen firsthand the repercussions of ill-timed requests for salary increases and the subtleties involved in these high-stakes conversations. Understand Your Value, But Also the Company's Position Reflecting on past interactions with colleagues across different companies, it's evident that many don't fully grasp the importance of timing when it comes to asking for a raise. I recall a project manager and a developer, from separate organizations, who approached the situation without due consideration of the company's status, leading to awkward or detrimental outcomes. The Missteps Both individuals seemed unaware of the impending layoffs at their respective companies. This leads one to wonder if anyone aware of such a precarious company situation would dare to req

The Art of Decision-Making in Technology: A Case Study in Rigor and Diplomacy

Decision-making at the corporate level, especially when it involves core technology that will be used internationally, is never straightforward. It's a high-stakes game where the right call can propel a company forward, and the wrong one can be a costly setback. A few years back, I was at the helm of such a decision—a pivotal project that taught me invaluable lessons about rigor, diplomacy, and the power of a structured approach. Understanding the Stakes At the outset, the challenge was clear: we had to choose between leveraging our in-house technology or adopting a solution from an external vendor. The implications of this decision were vast, affecting not only our operational efficiency but also our market competitiveness. This was not just a technical decision; it was a strategic one that demanded a methodical process. The project involved a multitude of international senior executives, each with their own set of opinions and interests. The diversity of perspectives was as much

Distinguishing Between Product and Project Managers

Specialization of roles and apparent similarity of job titles can create confusion. Product Managers and Project Managers play pivotal roles, but there are often misunderstandings about their responsibilities. There was a time, early in my career, when I played each role for different companies, but that was before I settled into specializing in project management. Hopefully the following will help demystify what each does.  Product Manager: The Visionary Vision Ownership: Product Managers are the guiding force behind a product's direction. They own its vision and ensure all efforts align with it. Strategy Synthesis: They craft and convey the product's strategy, ensuring everyone works towards a cohesive goal. Feature Definition: They decide what features a product should have, ensuring they resonate with the overall strategy. Content Focus: Product Managers concentrate on content, ensuring it aligns with the audience's needs, whether it's user interface or experience.

From Academic Pursuit to Real-World Impact

In 2020, as part of my capstone project for my Master of Arts in Management: Project Management, I found myself facing a unique challenge. At the heart of this challenge was a community center in Uberlandia, Brazil, and the barriers they faced in receiving international support. Their website was exclusively in Portuguese, making online donations almost inaccessible for those unfamiliar with the Brazilian banking system or the intricacies of international transfers. The more I thought about it, the more a solution became evident: establishing a US-based nonprofit to bridge this gap. A Personal Connection: From Brazil to Computers My connection with Brazil runs deep. Not only have I lived there twice and visited many times, but I also speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese. My children were born in Uberlandia. During my second stay in Brazil between 2013-2015, I was approached by a local, hoping to set up some computers donated to a community center by a bank. Although they were older models

Agile Misinterpreted: Setting the Record Straight on Deadlines

The realm of publishing, like many other industries, has not been immune to the sweeping changes brought about by technology and changing work dynamics. Among these changes is the adoption of Agile methodologies, particularly in teams that intersect with technology and project management. I'd like to share a personal anecdote that highlights the misconceptions about Agile, even within progressive industries like publishing, and why it's essential for leaders to understand its real value. A Step Back in Time Years ago, I found myself working at various publishing companies. At one such company, an opportunity arose that would have been a significant milestone in my career – leading an Agile transformation for an engineering team. They were keen to evolve into a full-fledged scrum team, and the head of engineering was supportive of the initiative. However, the journey hit an unexpected bump. One day, while discussing the transformation with the head of engineering, my then-new bo

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility and Its Evolution

In today's ever-evolving business landscape, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is gaining increasing significance. In the book "Business Law" by J. Morgan (2019), CSR is defined as an approach where businesses consider both internal and external communities. This goes beyond merely looking out for shareholders and emphasizes the importance of considering employees, the environment, and society at large. In essence, it's about businesses recognizing their broader role in society and considering the wide-reaching impacts of their decisions. Two Dominant CSR Models: Stakeholder and Triple Bottom Line Morgan elucidates two popular approaches to CSR: Stakeholder Model: Under this model, businesses owe duties to various entities - their employees, customers, suppliers, and various communities, including the local community and industry competitors. This model encourages businesses to look beyond mere profit and consider how their decisions impact social,

From Chaos to Coordination: Why Project Managers Matter

In the realm of technology and business, the process of migrating from an on-premises infrastructure to the cloud is no small feat. This kind of transformation can be likened to shifting an entire organization from its long-standing roots to a completely new environment. Such an undertaking not only requires technical prowess but also a meticulous plan. Here’s a tale from the tech trenches that underscores the pivotal role of project managers. Imagine an engineering team gearing up for a cloud migration, potentially to AWS. Everything seems to be in place. They have a robust plan, thanks to their diligent project manager who delineated the entire migration process into several "waves." Each wave was strategically designed, factoring in which parts of the company would be affected, which servers would be shifted, and even the stakeholders that needed to be engaged at each phase. The beauty of this strategy was its clear communication. By dividing the migration into waves, stak

The Law Merchant: An Ancient Framework for Modern Commerce

The world of business and trade, with its intricate transactions and multifaceted legal intricacies, may seem like a modern phenomenon. But if we trace back the threads of history, we'll find that trade has always been accompanied by its own unique set of rules and customs. One of the most fascinating aspects of this historical tapestry is the 'Law Merchant' or 'Lex Mercatoria.' Let's delve into its origin, significance, and legacy. The Origin: The Law Merchant began to take shape during the medieval period in Europe, roughly around the 11th to 12th centuries. As towns and cities grew, so did the need for a standardized system of commercial laws. Traditional local customs or feudal laws were ill-equipped to handle the complexities of growing trade. Thus, merchants themselves started developing their own set of customs and practices. Key Characteristics: Universality: One of the primary features was its universal nature. Since trade was often cross-border, it was

A Journey Towards a Career in Sustainability: Merging Preparation, Purpose, and Passion

Throughout my life, I've held a deep desire to make a meaningful difference in the world. Early on, I expressed this passion through ministry and mission work. More recently, I've dedicated time to volunteer work. Now, I've come to realize that my path forward lies in a profession centered around Sustainability. I'd like to share why I believe this transition aligns perfectly with my lifelong aspirations. A Foundation of Purpose: My journey began with a strong sense of purpose in ministry and mission work. These experiences instilled in me the importance of compassion, service, and making a positive impact on people's lives. Extensive Program and Project Management Experience: Over the years, I've grown professionally as a Program Manager at renowned companies like AMC Networks, NBC Universal, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, and ViacomCBS. These roles have provided me with the skills and expertise necessary to manage complex initiatives and build

The Evolution of Work: Adapting to the Age of Automation

In the ever-evolving landscape of employment, certain professions that once played crucial roles in society have quietly faded into obscurity. Draftsmen, switchboard operators, elevator operators, typists, stenographers, and countless others have become relics of a bygone era, casualties of the relentless march of progress. Today, we don't long for their return, but it's worth contemplating the challenges that these transitions posed to individuals and communities alike. Imagine a time when being a draftsman meant meticulously handcrafting intricate technical drawings or when switchboard operators deftly connected calls through a labyrinth of wires. Elevator operators guided passengers safely to their desired floors, typists transcribed volumes of documents, and stenographers skillfully captured spoken words in shorthand. These professions were once vital, providing livelihoods and contributing to the functioning of society. As these jobs gradually faded away, it must have been

Navigating the Streaming Quandary and Media's Next Frontier

The media and entertainment landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. As companies scramble to capture the digital-native audience, the race for building streaming apps and amassing subscribers has taken precedence. However, this race has created a paradox. Instead of replacing traditional cable due to its affordability and convenience, streaming is morphing into a fragmented and costly mosaic. With the proliferation of platforms, subscribers find themselves juggling multiple subscriptions to get the content they want, making it neither convenient nor budget-friendly. But where did it go wrong? And more importantly, how can it be fixed? The primary misstep is the tunnel vision focus on subscription numbers instead of harnessing the true potential of digital platforms. The intrinsic value of streaming isn't just in replicating the traditional viewing experience online, but in transcending it through technological innovation. It's not about merely porting content onto a digital pl

Balancing Act: Maximizing Shareholder Value vs. Serving Stakeholder Interests

In the ever-evolving landscape of business ethics and corporate responsibilities, a pivotal discussion emerges – Should companies solely focus on maximizing shareholder value, or should they navigate the often convoluted path of serving the diverse and occasionally conflicting interests of all stakeholders through corporate social responsibility? Maximizing Shareholder Value vs. Stakeholder Theory The crux of the debate lies between two predominant theories: one advocating for the primacy of shareholders' interests and the other, known as the Stakeholder Theory, advocating for a more inclusive approach that considers the interests of all entities affected by the company’s operations. The former prioritizes profit, often emphasizing short-term gains, whereas the stakeholder theory emphasizes a duty of care beyond just shareholders, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between businesses and societies. Personal Perspective: A Duty of Care Beyond Profit Drawing from my professional

Taking Charge of a Chaotic Project

In the fast-paced world of project management, unforeseen challenges are bound to arise. One such challenge is inheriting a critical project that is in disarray, compounded by the sudden departure of a key resource. This missing individual could be a lead engineer, product manager, or any other essential member of the project team. To make matters more complex, this project may have changed hands multiple times. Unfortunately, this specific situation is one that many project managers have encountered. In this blog post, we will outline the essential steps for a project manager to regain control and set the project on a path to success. Step 1: Assess the Current State The first and most crucial step is to assess the current situation. Gather all available project documentation, including any incomplete plans, reports, or notes. Meet with team members, stakeholders, and clients to understand their concerns, expectations, and pain points. This assessment will provide valuable insights in

The Art of Preparing Stakeholders for Project Planning

Embarking on a technology project can be an exhilarating endeavor, filled with the promise of innovation and progress. However, the success of such projects hinges on more than just assembling a group of individuals in a room. To ensure that a project planning meeting yields productive outcomes, project managers must lay the groundwork, communicate requirements effectively, and align stakeholders before the collaboration begins. In this blog post, we will explore the crucial preliminary work required to prepare stakeholders for participation, highlighting the significance of proper preparation and alignment in achieving accurate project milestones and dates.Establishing the Foundation: Before diving headfirst into project planning, project managers must set the stage by undertaking preliminary work. This phase involves assessing the project's objectives, identifying key stakeholders, and defining their roles and responsibilities. It is essential to ensure that all individuals invol

Pay Down Technical Debt

Every tech team I have ever worked with had technical debt to deal with. Some were able to handle it by allocating a portion of time and resources to it, often on a sprint-by-sprint basis, while others never seemed to catch up. The worst offenders in creating technical debt in my experience have been startups who, under the gun to deliver, were compelled to move fast and break things. Major businesses don't get off the hook though. When budgets are made the focus is on what we are going to build for the end user, not what we need to improve invisibly on the backend.  Businesses and therefore development teams are under immense pressure to deliver products and services that meet the evolving needs of their customers. With tight deadlines and limited resources, it's easy for software development teams to prioritize speed over quality, leading to the accumulation of technical debt. Technical debt refers to the cost that arises when software development teams take shortcuts, leadin

Project Management in Action: Enhancing Communities through Projetos Sociais Estação Vida and Uberlandia Development Initiatives

Introduction In the bustling city of Uberlandia, Brazil, lies the Shopping Park neighborhood, which has undergone significant changes over the years. Despite its humble beginnings, the community has made great strides in urban development. However, it still faces challenges, particularly regarding social vulnerability and access to essential services. In response to these needs, Projetos Sociais Estacao Vida emerged as a beacon of hope and empowerment for children and young people in the area. Alongside this, the establishment of Uberlandia Development Initiatives (UDI) created an avenue for international support and fundraising. This essay explores the location and significance of the Shopping Park neighborhood, the activities and impact of Projetos Sociais Estacao Vida, my personal involvement with the community center, the establishment and goals of UDI, and the recent achievement of fundraising for security cameras. Additionally, it highlights the connection to project management i