The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Loyal Mealer, Author at UCSC Extension in Silicon Valley

Loyal has more than 28 years of project engineering and management experience in R&D, manufacturing, and information technology. He has worked in the high-tech industry as a design engineer, R&D section manager and manufacturing engineering manager, and has led teams that included virtual and telecommuting contributors from all over the world. He is an expert in the use of collaborative technologies for virtual teams and has led advanced technology development efforts to improve the effectiveness of virtual workers. He is founder of calendarism.com and leads a blog site for virtual teams and collaboration tools at commutezero.com. He has a degree in Electronics and Computer Science and lives in California's Silicon Valley. Loyal can be contacted at loyal@commutezero.com

Building a greenhouse can highlight critical elements of a successful project in any discipline – part 2

Building a greenhouse can highlight critical elements of a successful project in any discipline - part 2

The process of procuring and building a greenhouse has given me some very concrete examples of some of the most important elements of a successful project.  In part 1, I covered these elements: start with a good plan, build a great foundation, assemble the right team, and solve problems creatively. Here in part 2, I’ll […]

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Building a greenhouse can highlight critical elements of a successful project in any discipline

Building a greenhouse can highlight critical elements of a successful project in any discipline

My wife, Karen, and I recently relocated from the Silicon Valley to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. The process of selling a home, finding a rental here, and moving all of our belongings, including a 250+ potted plant collection, took seven months and was nothing short of excruciating. Having successfully completed the move phase, […]

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Time is money in products, too!

Time is money in products, too!

On a closely related topic to my last post, I would like to relate a recent experience I had with a consumer product that illustrates one very important aspect of consumer products that is often not given enough importance in the product development priority list: User Interface Speed. We have been satisfied owners of a […]

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Time is money in product development

Time is money in product development

You have all heard the old saying, “Time is money”. Well, obviously, this one is very true. Especially in our modern, fast-paced world of rapid product development cycles and short time-to-market windows, every second lost in a product development cycle means lost customers, lost sales, or even business failure. So, what are you as a […]

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Update on Whiteboard Tools for Virtual Teams

Update on Whiteboard Tools for Virtual Teams

The design goal of many collaboration tools is to reproduce as closely as possible some aspect of the face-to-face meeting experience so that virtual project teams can be as productive as co-located teams. What I have found is that some tools developed for virtual teams actualy work better than the process they were built to […]

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Update on desktop sharing for virtual teams

Update on desktop sharing for virtual teams

A well-performing virtual team makes effective use of a wide range of collaboration tools. After the various forms of communication discussed in my last post, any self-respecting virtual project team must have access to a decent desktop sharing tool. In the past few years, the options and quality available here have grown significantly. To work […]

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Update on Key Communications Technologies for Virtual Teams

Update on Key Communications Technologies for Virtual Teams

As someone with a great deal of personal experience working in virtual teams and having managed a collaboration technologies research team for several years, I am very familiar with the obvious as well as subtle problems with the collaboration tools available today. As  I am sure you know, there are just way too many tools […]

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EE to PM: Why would I do that?

EE to PM: Why would I do that?

The posts by Ed Gaeta this last week plus our most recent poll results reminded me of a mental image I developed years ago for why I enjoyed being a project manager so much. After many successful and rewarding years as an electrical engineer, why would I want to move away from hands-on technology to […]

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Resolving Disagreements in Virtual Teams

Resolving Disagreements in Virtual Teams

One of the more difficult team dynamics project managers must face from time-to-time is conflict. The ‘conflict’ can be project-related or interpersonal, but either way, strong feelings are often involved, making rational resolutions difficult. For virtual teams where face-to-face time is rare or non-existent, conflict resolution can be especially challenging, even for the highly skilled […]

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The Future of Virtual Project Teams, part 2

In the first part of this series I talked about how future project leaders may select team members for their projects. In this installment, I will discuss the future of virtual team spaces, which include real-time tools that facilitate ‘in-person’ sharing of information and the online work spaces where project documents are stored. Real-Time Sharing […]

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The Future of Virtual Project Teams

The Future of Virtual Project Teams

I always enjoy imagining what the future will be like for all sorts of things: transportation, energy, architecture, space exploration, and the everyday chores of life. Perhaps it is my lifelong interest in science fiction, or perhaps I just want to believe that a better world is possible. One thing is for sure: all great […]

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Go Ahead, Be Bold!

Go Ahead, Be Bold!

I’m sure you’ve all heard that old saying, “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” That adage applies just as well to project managers where ‘bold’ equals ‘risk-taking’.  I’m also sure you’ve all attended at least one management pep talk about taking risks (if so, you may […]

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Teambuilding for Virtual Teams

Teambuilding for Virtual Teams

Every project manager worthy of the title knows why effective teamwork is critical to project success. All members of great teams know their own roles, limitations and strengths, as well as those of everyone else on the team. They use this knowledge to avoid duplication, anticipate problems, and quickly determine who is most able and […]

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How Good Are Virtual Team Relationships?

How Good Are Virtual Team Relationships?

In my many years working virtually, I’ve come to realize that business relationships with virtual colleagues can be every bit as strong as those with colleagues in a traditional office setting. I’ve had many people tell me that face-to-face is the only way to build teamwork. Until fairly recently, however, I had no concrete examples […]

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Are you spending too much time planning?

Are you spending too much time planning?

This may sound blasphemous to a professional project manager, but it is possible to over-plan. I have seen it happen countless times. It begins with a project manager with moderate analytical tendencies (e.g., an engineer) who has access to that ubiquitous project scheduling program, Microsoft Project. Actually, it does not have to be Microsoft Project–any […]

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Knowledge Management for Virtual (and non-virtual) Teams

Knowledge Management for Virtual (and non-virtual) Teams

Properly managed project documentation is critical for all types and sizes of projects. After all, the project documentation is the only real output from most projects. It is not the prototype that matters. It is the production documentation that includes things such as material lists, part drawings, assembly instructions, diagnostics, and source code that defines […]

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Whiteboarding for Virtual Teams

Whiteboarding for Virtual Teams

One of the most useful things I have learned leading teams is that pictures are a very effective way to help people understand complex ideas. I am sure you have all heard that there are auditory learners and visual learners, but in my experience, a good visual is much better than audio for most people. […]

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Project Progress Trend Analysis

Project Progress Trend Analysis

If you are like most project managers, you wish you had a better real-time handle on the progress of your project so you could predict when you will finish or when a change is needed in order to stay on track. I have used a simple yet powerful method that is applicable to most projects […]

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Multi-Tasking in Project Meetings

Multi-Tasking in Project Meetings

In my many years in the technology industry, I’ve spent thousands of hours in meetings, most of them as boring as all get-out. During this time I’ve seen many interesting changes. I’ve seen meeting presentation technology evolve from flip charts and story boards, to overheads, to video projectors, and most recently, to laptops in front […]

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Communicating Effectively in Virtual Teams: Part 4 of 4

Communicating Effectively in Virtual Teams: Part 4 of 4

In this final part of my series on communications in virtual teams, I will discuss the most important medium to evolve so far during the computer revolution: e-mail.  Pretty much everyone has an e-mail address these days, and many of us have several.  E-mail is the primary information channel in corporations across the globe.  It […]

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Communicating Effectively in Virtual Teams: Part 3 of 4

In this part of the series on optimizing virtual team communications, I’ll cover Instant Messaging, or IM as it is commonly called.  IM has evolved a great deal from the early consumer versions in the mid 90’s. It is now recognized as an important additional channel of communications in the corporate world, filling a hole […]

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