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MS Project in business consulting

It is comforting to see that I’m not the only one skeptical about using MS Project. See here the post by Steve Shu.

He gives all the good reasons not to use this program. Unless really necessary, perhaps. Like implementation project involving army of consultants. For more human-scale business consulting engagements, Excel does just fine IMHO. Simple is better.

Unfortunately, there is one but important reason sometimes people insist on having MS Project deliverable – it looks sophisticated and lots of work. That’s one reason I would never agree with, but this is real life.

Of these MS Project deliverables, once delivered, I never saw any being used by the client (e.g. reviewed and updated) even once.




Exciting times

A major news shook our small world yesterday, one that might be seen as an end of an era. It’s all related to personal team issues, so I will spare the details.

I could compare my reaction with one of my friend’s, and there was quite a difference. One between “what will happen now” initial mindset (friend) and excitement (mine). There are now more options, not less, and I can’t see it as a downgrade.




Gene Zelazny on presentations

As of introduction:

Gene Zelazny is the Director of Visual Communications for McKinsey & Company and the author of Say It with Charts and Say It with Presentations. Since joining McKinsey in 1961, Zelazny has provided creative advice and assistance to professionals in the design of visual presentations and written reports.

I asked Zelazny his opinions about today?s presentations and how consultants can prepare winning ones.

Interview here. I was referenced to the interview by Guerilla Consulting.

Excel monkeys: in-cell charts

Best excel trick that I’ve seen for a good while:

In-cell bar charts

These bars are created with in-cell formulas and do not use chart objects. Pretty lightweight and may well be useful.

Take the opportunity to explore the whole blog. Last post deals with Tufte-style charts in Excel.

I was once briefly exploring the topic of Edward Tufte and data visualization theory; if you are somehow into data analysis, you would benefit from doing likewise (so you can create charts and not “chartjunk”). From that time, I found this link to gallery of data visualizations in my bookmarks.

I got promoted!

Yesterday the most awaited Excel arrived, at last, and there was a moment of silence as everyone in the open space started opening it and then burst of comments. Almost everyone that I know and that was eligible made it, so there was much rejoicing. There was only one exception known to me, and an unfortunate one.

So now I am a consultant on a position of Consultant… never really thought it would get this far, when I first came here. Most significant for me: some particular people who positively contributed to the process, rather than its final outcome.

Nevertheless, I’m under a ton of things now and still need to recover from it – but I have a ticket to Hong Kong as well as apartment’s design that I like, and this is a lot already.

Outing in airport Bemowo

I’m just trying to recover from our yesterday’s outing, which this time took us to Bemowo airport.

Outing in Bemowo

Before that, our ever-growing consulting workforce barely found enough space in a cinema theater and took its annual dose of success stories and outstanding results achieved during the last year. Seems that we are doing truly fine, and plan to get even better. (read more…)

ConQuest Consulting annual meeting

Yesterday I took part in an annual meeting of ConQuest Consulting. For those who may not know, ConQuest is a student consulting association, till recently the only one of kind in Poland. I worked with CQC for something like three years, starting as an IT support, and leaving after serving as a board member.

First of all, congrats to the new Board and Monika, the next President!

ConQuest Consulting new Executive Board

(read more…)

Should business apps be pretty?

While consumers benefit from the slew of new, user friendly applications delivered by the Web 2.0 companies, business users are stuck in a world where ease of use and aesthetics is hardly considered. This at least in the view of the article by Will Sturgeon:

David Girourard, SVP of enterprise at Google, claimed a major difference is that business software has seldom been designed with an end user in mind, whereas consumer technologies are only as good as the demand they can create by being desirable to end users.

Then:

He added: “Innovation is happening in the consumer world. Enterprise software is entirely bereft of soul. It is designed for business not for humans.”

However, he added that there is no reason why business apps should not address issues such as simplicity, pleasure or even aesthetics.

Do business users need to enjoy the applications that they are, after all, obliged to use anyway? Would this add value? Answers aside, selling this idea to the system guys might be a different story.

Why management books fail to inspire

It was when I tried to complete my ‘About me’ page that I first ran into problem with selecting business books that I could call inspiring. After some thinking I was able to indicate one, a book on strategic scenarios by Kees van der Heijden. Now it seems my ambiguous feelings towards management science found a much better articulated foundation in the article by Matthew Stewart, quoted by Nick Carr:

As I plowed through tomes on competitive strategy, business process re-engineering, and the like, not once did I catch myself thinking, Damn! If only I had known this sooner! Instead, I found myself thinking things I never thought I?d think, like, I?d rather be reading Heidegger!

My grandpa, a technical university professor, used to say that the only things worth studying are the difficult ones, and consequently enticed me to explore mathematics, statistics, and IT related topics. Even if never fully bought into his total contempt for “soft stuff”, like psychology and marketing, I always felt there was so much truth to his view. Again M. Stewart:

(…) the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like ?out-of-the-box thinking,? ?win-win situation,? and ?core competencies.? When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn about something other than business administration.

Leaving St. Charles

I left St. Charles after my first training there, which took the whole last week.

I don?t know how the campuses of Microsoft, Google, etc. look like, but they must be somehow similar to Q Center in St Charles. Away from the city, environment created by spacy buildings and their green surroundings leave little to distract from work. I?m not sure if I would like it, but it seems productive.

St Charles Q Center

In any case, I wouldn?t survive long on the diet they are serving here. I thought I could any amount without any adverse effect, but here I could feel how each bite is taking my slenderness out of me.

I met a nice Brazilian girl on the last day. She was going to visit New York as well, but got scared off by hotel prices. 150$ minimum, she said. How can you go to New York not even knowing where would you sleep? Hey, that’s exactly the way I was going to go there.

Touchscreen sportello

I just returned from the train station, where I bought a ticket to Warsaw for tomorrow. I had a peculiar experience at the ticket office and I didn?t have a camera with me, not even a crappy phone one, shame on me. The picture is worth thousand words, and video would be even better, but I don?t have neither, so I will go for words.

At the station, the ticket seller was sitting in front of a machine which instantly attracted my attention. Instead of the old ordinary computer that I got used to see there, it was a shiny, actually cream white, new piece of equipment with a monitor and a printer, but interestingly, no keyboard. (read more…)

Heartless

Yesterday it turned out that Karina, our Russian teacher, is also a chiromancy fan. Upon reading my palm she discovered that I have no heart line – that’s why I’m perfect consultant, heheh:)

Maybe I should get that restructuring job last year, after all.

She also concluded that I always do what I’m told. Manager I am working with vigorously disagreed.

In talent we trust

I owe to Steve Shu for the opportunity to read (only now) this interesting essay by Malcolm Gladwell about talent mind-set in the context of Enron situation:

http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_07_22_a_talent.htm

Of particular interest, for me, the research showing pitfalls of basing one’s confidence in his intelligence instead of in his persistence and efforts.

Then, as could be expected, smart people vs smart organization issue.

I found accidentally that the essay even ended up as an example for analysis of good writing.

Sights of Munich

I just came back from a short, secret mission to Munich. Missions like this are what I like in this job.

Here are some photo highlights from my stay, starting from the impressive Munich airport.

Munich airport

More photos below. (read more…)

Blogging policy

I wrote a post on why consultants do not blog once. Among other things I noted that I failed to find any kind of blogging policy of my own company.

Nothing has changed since, however, in the meantime I found this blogging policy of IBM (pdf).

Seems I would be fine with it.

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