Category Archives: Planning a Project

John Foley’s High Performance Framework

“What I learned most from being with the Blue Angels has nothing to do with flying itself.  I learned that the process of engaging at this high level, when my very life depended on successful communication, accurate information, trust and follow through, is the same process leaders and successful individuals use to achieve excellence.” – John Foley

Imagine being part of an elite, highly trained team who routinely achieve levels of extreme precision, then asked to improve your performance by 300%.  John had to transition from a Navy carrier pilot to Lead Solo of the Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team and learn to fly a plane at speeds of more than 500 miles per hour & in formations as close as 18 inches from his teammates.  John became one of the top pilots in the world by applying principles that would become the basis for his unique Diamond Performance® Framework.  By using the Blue Angel methodology as a model, he developed a framework for excellence that has informed his life in a profound way and has guided his approach to achievement.

I had the honor to hear John Foley speak at our Peak Performer Event in Arizona this past week for my work and I wanted to share a few highlights from his very inspiring speech.  Each of John’s frameworks below can be implemented in any organization or position, but I wanted to relate these key points in the context of Project Management.

The Diamond Performance® Framework:

  1. High Performance Zone: The gap between your current state and your goals for the future.  By decreasing this gap, you’re in the “High Performance Zone.” What obstacles are preventing you from moving from your current reality towards your stated goals?  As a Project Manager, we often think of ways to take the current state/process and reach towards the highest potential by increasing efficiencies for an organization.  Is time, resources, costs, or something else preventing you from reaching this desired goal?  As a project manager, it is our duty to reach these goals, even though it may take an army to accomplish them, so what can be done to achieve these goals?
  2. Belief Levels: The process of developing a vision for your true potential and deepening the commitment and buy-in to that vision.  Belief Mindset is about the: Process, Product, People, and Purpose that is larger than yourself. What are your Limiting and Liberating Beliefs?  As a Project Manager, do you belief in all that you do in your day-to-day position in managing different projects?  Do you belief in the processes you implement/improve upon, the products/services you support, your project team members, and having a purpose to wake up each more and perform your duties at work for the organization you work at?  
  3. Brief: The practice of creating disciplined standards for preparation and planning through focus, processes, and checklists.  Reflect on each grateful moment that occurred in the past 24 hours and think about what you are about to look forward towards in the next 24 hours.  What are the key disciplines you, or your team, must adhere to as you close performance gaps?  What distractions must be identified and avoided?  As a Project Manager, before you head into work, have thought about the positive things that you have done recently and plan to do?  It’s important to have a positive mindset before walking in the doors to work each morning, as it sets the tone for the day.
  4. Center Point: The alignment of individuals and teams on priorities and a focal point.  Is your Center Point in alignment with your team’s Center Point?  As a Project Manager, are your priorities in alignment with your organization and your team members?  It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page, so everyone is working towards the same goals. 
  5. Contracts: The system of using agreements to build trust in order to achieve greater levels of execution.  Build Trust is broken into 3 parts: Competent, Commitment, and Character. What are key verbal contracts between you, your teammates and clients?  As a Project Manager, it is important to build trust in your project team, so others can rely on you to complete tasks and helps to build a positive reputation.
  6. Debrief: The system for continuous improvement that creates an environment of open and honest communication and reinforces accountability, trust, and teamwork.  Be open, place no blame on others, provides an opportunity to reflect, and causes you to look inward first. Does your team have a commonly understood and adhered to process for creating a safe environment, for capturing critical learning’s, and for celebrating success?  As a Project Manager, I refer to this step as our Lesson’s Learned sessions, as it is so important to do at the end of any project.  This helps you to continue to do what is working well and improve on those items that are not going so well.
  7. Glad to Be Here: The attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for: being alive, opportunities, and people.  What is it about your organization, its people, and your work opportunities that give you that greatest sense of gratitude?  As a Project Manager, this is a great statement and mindset to have, as not everything is positive in life, but causes you to reflect and remember what is most important.
Are you Glad to Be Here?  Are you going to seize the moment?
John Foley can be contacted at:
Twitter: @johnfoleyinc

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How Do You Gauge Success in a Project?

Success can mean different things to everyone.  For example, if you completed the tasks you set out for your day, then that most likely means a success to you.  So what makes a project successful?  Is a project successful by answering yes to any of the below questions?

  • Does the project meet the established time and budget criteria?
  • What beneficial impact does this project have on the customer?
  • Has the project meet its return on investment?
  • Has the project altered the infrastructure of the organization to increase future business success and customer impact?
  • Is it simply enough just to the complete the project?

Main Four Items that are Success Measures with the Ability to Complete the Project:

  1. According to the desired specifications outlined in the project plan
  2. Within the specified budget
  3. Within the promised time frame
  4. Maintain keeping the customer and stakeholders happy

Importance to Measuring Success

  • If you cannot measure the SMART goal, you cannot control it, but which if you can’t control it, you cannot manage it.
  • Ability to assess the current performance to monitor and control the project to make sure the project object is met on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of stakeholders
  • Adjust any project initiatives during the project to take action sooner, rather than later
  • Set goals to achieve an objective
  • Ability to anticipate any potential deviation that needs to be corrected
  • Is the quality of the product the project is delivery up to expectations
  • Improved quality of communication by keeping everyone informed, on track, and involved in the project

Tools to Help You Measure Project Success:

  • Give a survey to the stakeholders in a project to see what feedback you receive
  • Have a lessons learned session
  • Complete a SWOT analysis on each element of the project (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Project Budget Comparison between the beginning and the end of the project
  • Project Schedule:  Was the project completed on time?
  • Project Scope Outcome how the stakeholders expected?
  • End-user opinions of the project

What other tools do you use to measure a successful project?

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Project Turkey Management

While preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting task for any individual, I thought to myself, what better way to look at this most anticipated meal that comes once a year, in terms of project management!  First, we’ll look at the 5 Phases of Project Turkey Management.

5 Phases of Project Turkey Management:

  1. Initiate: Come up with the idea of Thanksgiving Dinner plans with family and friends
  2. Plan: Gather recipes, make a shopping list, make a WBS, make sure you communicate plans to family/friends
  3. Execute: Cook the dinner
  4. Monitor/Control: Make sure the food is ready to enjoy by all
  5. Closing: Meal ends and ask your guests to provide feedback on the meal

Create a WBS for the Thanksgiving Meal: 

  • Outline the highest level of the courses of the meal: Appetizers, Salad, Main Course, Dessert, and Drinks
  • Under each course, add the individual dishes you wish to serve
  • Further sub-divide the individual dishes by adding the major & minor ingredients, which helps you to prepare the shopping list or “project bill of materials”

How can Project Management Skills help with the Thanksgiving Meal?

  • Help plan your holiday dinner with all the dishes ready to serve at the desired time
  • Planning ahead helps to ensure you have the sufficient time and room to bring it all together at the desired target for a large crowd.
  • Help reduce the number of trips and time spent in the grocery store
  • Help organize and determine which dishes you should prepare first & cook to optimize on your oven/microwave/stove time
  • Increase efficiencies in the cooking process
  • Reduce the number of surprises

Have you ever planned your special Thanksgiving meal using tools from your Project Management toolbox?

I am very thankful for my family, friends, and tangible things, such as a home and food, but also for my followers of my blog.  I started this project management blog earlier this year and I have been absolutely blessed with the opportunity to meet so many project managers from around the world and learn from you!  I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family friends and enjoyed some yummy turkey with all of the fixing! 🙂

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Project “People” Management

People are absolutely the most important assets in any organization and especially when working on projects.  Therefore, it is essential for project managers to be good human resource “people” managers, which includes developing a human resource plan, acquiring the project team, developing the project team, and managing the project team.  What makes a good project manager great is their ability to motivate project team members to deliver the best work they can possibly do on a project.

In order to develop a human resource plan, it is important to identify and document the project roles, responsibilities, skills, and reporting relationships.  A human resource plan includes an organization chart for the project, detailed information on the project roles and responsibilities, and staffing management plan.

Some Key Tools for Defining Roles and Responsibilities on Projects To Build a Human Resource Plan:

  • Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM): Matrix that helps to allocate the work to responsible and performing organizations, teams, or individuals, depending on the desired level of detail.  Click Here for An Example
  • Staffing Management Plan: Describes how and when people will be added to and taken off the project team.
  • Resource Histograms: Column chart that shows the number of resources assigned to a project overtime. Click Here for An Example
  • RACI Charts:Illustrates the following (Click Here for An Example)
    • Responsibility for who does the task
    • Accountability for who signs off on a task/authority
    • Consultation of whom has the information necessary to complete the task
    • Informed of whom needs to be notified of a task status/results

Please click here for a Human Resource Project Plan.

Please comment below with your thoughts and suggestions on Human Resource Plans, as I’d love to hear from you!

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Strategic vs. Tactical Project Manager

As project managers, we often find ourselves buried in several tactical activities in our day-to-day job, so we spend less time on strategic planning.  So, how can you overcome this?  Can you do both activities?  To begin, let’s define the difference between tactical and strategic.


  • Short-term goals & objectives
  • Micro-oriented
  • Focus on SMART goals and How to get things done
  • Day-to-Day Activities that will move the company forward to achieve the strategic plan
  • Planning Focus Mainly: 1-18 Months
  • Example:
    • Are the projects on time, on budget and going well?
    • Do the project team members know what they should be doing?


  • Long-term goals & objects
  • Big picture thinking
  • Macro-oriented
  • Part of your company’s Mission
  • Focus on the Who, What, and Why
  • Planning Focus Mainly: 3-5 Year
  • Example:
    • Where the company wants to go and what it needs to achieve the goal
    • Improve ROI, increase shareholder value, gain market share
    • Are we working on the right projects to meet our business needs?
    • Are we investing in the right areas to meet our strategic goals?

In thinking of all of the tactical activities in which you engage in as a project manager, such as documenting details, answering questions, describing functionality, responding to feedback, etc., ask yourself:

  1. How much time is your time taken up by tactical activities?
  2. It is because you are the only person in the company who knows how to answer these questions?
  3. Everyone else is busy and you are the only one that has free time?
  4. Only you can do these important tasks?
  5. How much time do you spend thinking on a strategic context?

Project managers whom think only on tactical tasks are focused on increasing the performance of projects, but what is good performance without a strategic purpose?  It is important to think strategically to see how your projects align with the big picture/purpose, goals, and value of the organization, as it can change the requirements and the way your implement the project. In order to become a successful project manager, you have to be “stractical,” which means you think strategically, while you execute projects tactically.

Most project managers engage in these tactical activities because they have done those tasks in the past. Can you think of some tactical tasks in which you could delegate to others, so you can spend more time thinking strategically?  Can you be proficient at both tactical and strategic proficiently? What tips can you share on how to find the best balance between being tactical and strategic? Please comment below, as I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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Planner Skills & Tips

There are several different job positions in the work world that require planning skills outside of project management field, such as financial planners or event planners.  One might describe a planner as one that is:

  • Goal-oriented
  • Always looking ahead/Future
  • Pervasive
  • Organizer
  • Looks for ways to increase efficiency
  • Flexible
  • Creates/follows processes
  • Pays attention to detail

How Does One Become a Better Planner? 

  • Informal Education: Perhaps you read, watch, or learn from other planners on how they execute an event or project and ask questions/take notes
  • Formal Education: Maybe you took a class, such as project management or system analysis & design, where the professor teaches design the current system through diagramming and look for ways to improve the system or even when you work on group projects
  • Experiment: Plan a nice dinner for your family and answer the questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why and how you are going to execute this event

Planning Skills Considerations:

I feel planning skills can be used on all different types of projects, but some success factors that can help you are:

  • Have Domain Knowledge: For example, if you are a project manager for a construction project to build a new hospital, you should have a background on how to build a building, knowledge in safety regulations, what are the required needs for a hospital, etc.  You may understand each phase that a project goes through, but having domain knowledge in your specialized area you are managing a project is also important.
  • Have Enough Resources:  Different project sizes can be challenging, as you maybe great at planning a small birthday party by yourself, but planning a party for a community event is a larger task, which requires more resources, time, money, and coordination to plan for.  Ask yourself what resources you have and those you might need to complete the task.
  • Make a Task List: It’s important to make a task list of each step that needs to be completed in order to complete the overall project goal.
  • Triple Constraint: Keep in mind the scope, time, and cost of the project when planning a project.

 What helpful planning tips can you share?  Please comment below, as I would love to read them!

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Triple Constraint in Project Management

Great Video on Improving Your Ability to Deliver Projects: The Triple Constraint by Andy Kaufman, PMP.  Check out his website at:

What is the Triple Constraint?

  • Scope/Quality: clearly expresses the agreed-upon desired final results of the project
  • Time/Schedule:  detailed timeline of each component required to complete the project
  • Cost/Resources: what resources need to be applied or assigned to the project in terms of money and effort in order to implementation the project

Challenges with the Triple Constraint:

  • Each of these three items are known to work in tandem with one another in a project, therefore, if one of these elements is extended or restricted, the other two items will then also need to be either extended/increased in some way or reduced/restricted in some way.
  • Prioritizing the importance of the triple constraint with your client.  For example, your client may only care about bottom line, meaning they may have a strict budget that you cannot go over X dollars.

Project Manager Roles:

  • Educate your Client: inform your client that the project has to be completed at a certain level of quality, in a certain amount of time and particular amount of investment made in order to make the project successful.  For example, if the project has a time restraint, you may need to look into increasing the resources assigned to the project, or have the quality/scope reduced.  
  • Finding the Right Balance: when making any adjustments to any of the three components and knowing the effects each has to the project, you will be able to plan your projects better, analyze project risks, and protect your organization from the problems of unrealistic client expectations and master the project itself better
  • Gauge Project’s Objects: The triple constraint helps the project manager to gauge whether a project’s objectives are being met and whether the project was a success

Triple Constraint Formula: Cost * Schedule = Quality

Please feel free to share any tips that you might have that could help others to better balance the triple constraint in their projects.  Thank you!

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