Managing Priorities vs. Managing

October 29, 2009
David Allen, the “Getting Things Done” Guru, has an article in the UK edition of Wired, published on the internet. If you world is full of things–especially in a corporate world–this is a very insightful and worth reading the whole thing.
Interesting idea:
I think the economic crisis was created because too many smart people focused too much on their priorities.
A vast majority of professionals are in “emergency scanning” mode. Their self-management consists of checking for and acting on the loudest immediacies – in email, in the hallways and on the phone. Everything else is shoved to the side of the desk, and to the back of their mind. Because they’re focused only on “priorities”, and are paying attention only to the most intheir- face stuff, everyone else has to raise the noise level to “emergency” mode to get any audience at all. Sensitivity and responsiveness to input are criteria for the evolution of a species; and many an organisation has a nervous system that keeps them low on the food chain.
The addiction to this myopic view of what’s “most important” is not self-correcting – it is self-perpetuating.

Sometimes your highest priority may be to just get some unimportant things done.

Scientific Data Does not Support This BBC Headline

October 15, 2009

So this guy takes a hike in the Arctic and concludes a) ice in the Arctic is soon to disappear, and b) opening shipping in the Arctic will be bad for the world. This is getting a lot of attention on the BBC web site, BBC television, and BBC radio.

Yet the science, satellite measurements, etc. that I’ve read and studied do not support these conclusion. Further, the Arctic has never been closed for shipping and has been in use for years.
Great PR for a point of view, I guess.
Which is puts the world more at risk? New policy based on great PR and bad science, or new policy based on science?
Read more from Watt’s Up on “Top Ten Reasons Why I Think Catlin Arctic Ice Survey Data Cannot be Trusted

Making Microsoft Project Work

October 15, 2009

When asked what I do, I say “help people and teams make great investment and project plans.” This is a huge topic and is much more than just scheduling the project.

However, inevitably the conversations turns to how to use Microsoft Project and how “I tried it once but could not make it work”, or “my guys tell me Project can’t do [this or that].”
While this gap in knowledge will often provide an opportunity for me to help them, I freely give away some simple rules for making Microsoft Project work:

  • Schedule, plan, and estimate deliverables … not Tasks. Keep “todo’s” out of Project. Let people manage the todo’s. Let Project compute the cost/schedule.
  • Keep the plan in Project as “high level” as possible. There is no “standard” work package size and believe no one who says otherwise. Use judgement and think.
  • Focus your brain power on you and your team’s energy to define the logical sequence of the project. Get the critical path network as right as possible while at the same time keep it “simple enough”. Sometimes yet more complexity is a great thing because probably that complexity is indeed in the project you are about to embark upon and there is no reason to avoid it in your project model. Better to let complexity hit you in the model than let it take you by surprise in real life.
  • Put no start/end dates on any task except for the start. Break this rule when in fact the date is a date that will not ever change, e.g. the date and time of a future solar eclipse … things like that. Project deadlines are never fixed in Project even though the boss or client insists “it must be done!”
  • Fix project deadlines in Project in the Deadline field. Let Project alert you when Project forecasts your plan is computing forward as missing future deadlines. [Hint: use the built-in field “Status Indicator”.]
  • A detail but worth a lot: properly manage the mpp files with respect to versions, backup, etc. Avoid relying on manual methods like email, file shares, etc. wherever possible. Create “one version of the truth”, and if not true, make it so.
If this topic interests you, contact me.

Discussion Deleted on Apple Mac Discussion Forum

October 13, 2009

Gosh, but I received an email today from “Apple Discussions Staff” telling me that my posting on the “Apple Discussions” has been removed. I tried to launch a “discussion” about battery life experienced by others. I posted this “discussion” on the “Apple Discussions” forum dedicated to “Power and Batteries on a MacBook 13-inch Aluminum (Late 2008)”. Gosh, but I guess it too controversial as they sent me this. Three people replied before it was deleted (see bottom). Guess they don’t like “discussion” on their “discussion” forum.

Dear Robert,

Recently you posted a poll on Apple Discussions. We are including a copy of your message at the end of this email for your reference. We understand the desire to share experiences in your topic “What is Your Battery Life?”, but because these posts are not allowed on our forums, we have removed your post.

These forums are intended for technical questions that can be answered by the community. We want everyone to be able to contribute to our forums and have their issues addressed. We feel that we have a very strong community and that it is an excellent resource for users to get assistance. I encourage you to continue using the Apple Discussions while abiding by our terms of use. The Apple Discussions Use Agreement, which also includes helpful information about using Apple Discussions, is located at

If you would like to share your experiences with Apple directly, you can submit feedback here:
As part of submitting feedback, please read the Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy linked to the feedback page.

Apple Discussions staff

This message is sent from a send-only email account. Any replies sent to this address are deleted automatically by the system.

A copy of your message for reference:

Collecting info about what would be a reasonable expectation of how how much time to get on a battery charge using a MacBook. I get at most 2:25 as shown on the battery indicator (top right of screen), but in clock time about 2 hours max.What about you?

Three people provided me their experience before the posting was deleted:

1. Battery life really depends on how the computer is being used (screen brightness, disk burning, wi-fi, BT, etc.) and can vary considerably. Just sitting here surfing the web about 4 – 5 hours for me.

2. Basic web browsing (low brightness)- 4 hours. Streaming video/Music – 2.5 hours

3. I have similar battery life as the other 2 posters, with optimal energy saving settings, about 4.5 hours. If I’m playing a video game, I can expect about 1.5 hours give or take.

UK Government Abusing Children?

October 10, 2009

This is a gross mis-use of taxpayer’s money. £6 million to do scary bedtime stories–a father is telling his child how scientists found that global warming “was being caused by too much CO2, and it was the children of the land who’d have to live with the horrible consequences”. I wish we had a much certainty and solutions as this for our other problems in the world.

Google Wave?

October 3, 2009

If anyone reading this has a spare Google Wave invitation, I’d greatly appreciate having the honor of taking one from you. I’m keenly interested in collaboration technology and am considering some ideas. At this juncture just want to get a look at it, especially the API.