Posts tagged “Lessons

The Pixar Process

Posted on June 30, 2017

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The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in NYC had a fascinating Pixar exhibit in 2016. Getting a small peek into the work within the studio gives a real appreciation for the concepts (like simplexity) that are applied in the Pixar process: And how research, collaboration, and iteration wrap around Pixar’s story wheel: “…You are sure right about the importance of a good story in movies. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of work (and rework, and rework and rework) to get it right. And even then quite often we’re not 100% pleased. As John Lasseter likes to say, our films don’t get finished, they just get released.” –Pete Docter While they’re no slackers when it comes to research,…

Theory of Mind

Posted on February 17, 2017

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I once had a client turn down a proposed project manager due to perceptions. The manager had worked with the client previously and had familiarity with the environment – which was a selling point – but his role on previous projects had been more supportive than directive, and the client could not picture him operating in a lead role. To the client, it was as if the person stepping into the project manager role was the exact person that had ended the previous project a few years ago. There was no consideration of the experiences that had transpired in the meantime, the other projects that made the lead more valuable. Or the fact that developments happen outside the realm of our observation. It relates to Theory of Mind,…

The Financial Swim

Posted on September 4, 2015

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As summer comes to an end, I was asked to provide advice to departing interns. Alongside the professional development discussions, I always recommend mastering personal finances. While it may take time to gain experiences and chart an individual financial path, here are my basic ‘SWIM’ recommendations to get started. Save Aggressively Save at least half of your income. You probably can’t do this with a high debt load, so get out of debt. Why save fifty percent plus? Traditional lower savings guidelines assume you’ll have consistent salaried income over your career, and you may not. You’ll also want to avoid dependence on individual work income or social support in the long run. If financial independence is a priority, push your savings rate to 80-90%.…

Lessons from Maersk CFO

Posted on February 14, 2014

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Maersk CFO Trond Westlie outlines his rules for success in Issue 9 of EY’s Capital Insights: Use what’s already in the business but improve upon it. Even though you may have different views on how things should be done, the business has evolved over many years. You need to optimize what is already in the business. You have to make sure the processes that drive the finance and performance management functions are structured and transparent. Everyone in the organization needs to know about them. Get rid of budgets. They are a waste of time. The world is changing so much, so the only thing budgets are good for is cost control. And most businesses know how many cars, offices and people they need, so…

Project Management Lessons from Iraq Reconstruction

Posted on October 25, 2013

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Lost opportunity is the underlying theme of the final report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars, and billions more in Iraqi funds, was spent across more than nine years of stabilization and reconstruction operations. An estimated $8 billion was wasted, in part due to poor program management. A few reported lessons for next time your project: Plan Ahead Plan in advance, plan comprehensively and in an integrated fashion, and have backup plans ready to go. In retrospect, the Iraq reconstruction experience looks like nine one-year programs rather than one nine-year program. Set Accountability Require robust oversight from the operation’s inception. Establish clear ownership, roles and responsibilities. Ensure unity of command and unity of effort. Your project organization…

Management Lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Posted on April 8, 2013

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On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit exploded in the Gulf of Mexico while drilling the Macondo well 49 miles off of the Louisiana coast. The explosion killed 11 workers, started a massive oil spill and resulted in tens of billions of dollars of economic damage. Based on the findings of The National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling,  the disaster was a culmination of management failures by BP, Transocean and Halliburton. We should learn from their mistakes. Background In March 2008, BP paid $34M to the Minerals Management Service for an exclusive lease to drill in a nine-square-mile plot in the Gulf of Mexico. BP served as the legal operator for this block, and Macondo…