What is an Agile Project, or Agile Project Management?

We continue to write about project management and our focus on Applied Project Management. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to write about Agile since it is a hot topic in business and the project management community today. The challenge is NOT with Agile Development, and we have stated enough time, we do not have any issues with the concepts of Agile Development. Our issue, and we often challenge, is the notion of phrases like “Agile Project” and “Agile Project Management.” Here is why we struggle with these terms.

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How do we define a project management methodology?

Since 2007, we in SUKAD has been advocating the necessity for organizations to develop or adopt a project management methodological approach. A project management methodology that is an essential component of the organizational project management system. Further, we often hear about predictive versus adaptive project management methods. We read the debates on Waterfall versus Agile. Some practitioners debate these topics, and Agilists promote that Agile is better than waterfall. However, these professionals do not recognize that neither Agile nor Waterfall are project management methodologies. Therefore, a set of relevant questions we often here is

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How do we assess project success?

How do we assess project success? Before one can answer this question, we need to provide the proper context and the various variables. For example, project success from whose perspective? Do we assess project management success, technical success, or objectives success? What would be the criteria for evaluating success? What would be the criteria for determining success for any of these dimensions? We will do our best to answer these questions and more here. Consequently, how to define success or failure? We need to look at this question from different viewpoints.

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How to start a project in the Uruk PPM Platform?

We posted an image on LinkedIn with a short post, but we think it led to some confusion. We will reshare the image later in this post and explain the steps of how to start a project in the Uruk PPM Platform. Some of you might have heard about this cloud-based solution that SUKAD Corp is developing, using the SUKAD Way Project Management Framework.

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What is the illusion of risk transfer?

Part of the following is from our book on Leading Megaprojects, A Tailored Approach. It is about the illusion of risk transfer that project owners might experience as a result of fixed-price contracting. We will first address the culture of fixed-price contracting, and next, we will discuss the illusion of risk transfer.

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What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?

What does it take to have a co-founder spirit? Let me start with a personal story first. In the story, which is personal, I will give you an implicit answer; i.e., read between the lines. Then I will be more explicit.

Early Childhood

The Civil War

I grew up in a small village in Lebanon. I was in my early teens when the civil war started (1975). At the end of the 9th grade, I wanted to give up school or go into a vocational training school. My dad, being an independent “entrepreneur,” was supporting the idea to quit school and come work with him. In those days, we had lost almost everything we owned, our house was burned, the villa we were building was demolished, my dad lost all of his business, and we became refugees. That is why I wanted to quit school.

A turning point

A family friend convinces my dad not to let me quit and continue to high school, which I did. That moment was a turning point in my studies since I transformed from a mediocre student to being among the top three of my class. After high school, I left Lebanon, still in a civil war, and came to the US to study, and later worked. I had never thought of myself as a risk-taker or an entrepreneur. Sometimes, I was mad at my dad for some of the risks he took and did not understand them. I did not know, or understand, or even accept that risk-taking is part of life. I thought my dad was making mistakes when he would do something risky. So I wanted to be different.

Ahmad Mounir Ajam, my dad! A man of honor, tolerance. So words can be enough to show my respect. Rest in Peace

Education & early career

I focused on my studies and worked my way through college when my parents could not send me money anymore because of the collapse of the economy in Lebanon. I did well in my education, got a job, went back to uni for a masters’ degree that was 1990. Graduating from the University of California Berkeley and with top grades, provided me the necessary education to join Exxon and later other companies. All along, I was choosing the safe route, good school, top university, excellent working environment, and global companies. However, something was missing.

Risk Averse

I guess the risk-taker blood was running in my veins. I never thought of myself as a risk-taker, on the contrary, I felt I had a neutral attitude to risks, and maybe even averse to risks. About 8 years into my career with Exxon, I was frustrated. Exxon offered me a great opportunity and excellent salary and benefits, but I was not satisfied. In the early summer of 1998, I decided to quit, without any alternative in mind. In those days, entrepreneurship and startup were not a hot topic. Fortunately for me, I started freelancing and got an opportunity to work on a megaproject (in Texas), and later officially registered a company. The company was a legal structure for my self-employment.

Passion for project management

I am sharing all of the above to share how life was framing my future. Many of the steps that I have taken up to that point were mostly reactionary and not by design or long term vision. The only constant was my passion for project management and its value in all aspects of life.

After three years of self-employment, I was offered a job in Saudi, with Saudi Aramco. I did not want to take the job, but expecting my first child, pushed me into giving up on my US company-dream and go back into the corporate world. Being an entrepreneur was moved down on my priority list. However, two to three years into my “employee status,” my father’s blood started to drive me again.

a side note, for those who do know what it means to work for Saudi Aramco, here is a hint, wealth, and prosperity for the rest of my life, if I retire as an Aramcon.

The second startup

I started to plan to startup a company again. Everyone thought that I was crazy to leave the “Aramco Dream.” In 2004, we started SUKAD FZ-LLC in Dubai, UAE. I left a $20k/month total package to go into the unknown. A new company, in a new country, and with no real salary. I ran SUKAD from 2005 to 2019; earned many leading customers and their respect for repeat business year after year. During those years, we worked on the SUKAD Way, developed CAMMP, started our blog site and YouTube channel, and published a few books.

The third and current startup

That UAE SUKAD and the work we did during the period, allowed us to transform into SUKAD Corp, a USA Startup, working on developing an innovative project management solution, the Uruk PPM Platform.

The Moral of the story

Once again, I am sharing all of the above, a personal story, to reach the point of answering the question, the question that I posted as the title of this message. “What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?” What I shared is one example and the story of a “late-entrepreneur” if there is such a term. Other entrepreneurs started earlier in life, maybe even when they were still in school or university. So, what is the point?

So far, I gave you an indirect or implicit answer to the question of co-founder spirit. I used the term co-founder instead of an entrepreneur because most startups are teams, although triggered or driven by one vision. If you prefer, you can think of the “Entrepreneur Spirit.” What is the moral of this story? What is the explicit answer to this question?

The explicit answer

I do not know if there is an answer for everyone to subscribe to. To me, here is an explicit response to “What does it take to have a co-founder spirit?” It takes:

  • The courage to go into the unknown and maybe unchartered path.
  • To accept the threat of potential failure and seek the opportunity to serve.
  • The realization that we need to find solutions to problems and practice gaps
  • To understand that entrepreneurship takes dedication, hard works, and sleepless nights.
  • To be willing to reach the verge of burnout but the wisdom to realize that the exhaustion is temporary and to be expected. Of course, that requires the rebellious spirit to snap out of it.

The Co-Founder Spirit

It sounds like a horror story, so why would anyone want to be a founder, co-founder, or an entrepreneur. Well, not everyone wants to and some of those who want it might not understand what it takes. So, why do we do it? We do it because we have the spirit.

I do realize that many do it for the glory, being a Unicorn or a Camel (a new term that I am still trying to understand). Maybe we do it to be rich and famous. Each of us has different triggers. Even if one is at the highest level of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, one would still like the recognition. However, the real answer is here. Many of us do not do for glory, recognition, or wealth. We do it because we see a need. Founders see problems that someone should address. They see gaps that must be filled. We do it because we believe in a cause. We do it because we have the “Co-Founder Spirit.”

Co-Founder Opportunity, the Uruk PPM

In closing, our startup, SUKAD Corp, and the Uruk PPM Platform can benefit in growing our startup team and we are looking for someone with the spirit to join our working, co-founders’ team.

So, if you have the passion to excel and serve, you appreciate the value of project management, you have the business development skills to help us go to market, we would love to hear from you. You would be working with me and our CIO, Neville Goedhals.

The Uruk PPM Platform
A Ziggurat - Uruk PPM Platform

How to use rolling wave planning during a phase of a project?

In the past, we wrote a series of posts and recorded videos on project scheduling, including rolling wave planning. Further, in our main book on CAMMP, Project Management beyond Waterfall and Agile, we also addressed planning in general. In the book, we stressed the need to think, act, and manage at the project level and at the stage level. Today, we have received a request, from a professional who is taking one of the SUKAD PM Quest online courses. The learner’s question triggered this post.

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What are the differences between a software tool and a solution?

When we discuss the Uruk PPMPlatform, we often say that Uruk PPM is not a software tool, it is a solution. What does that mean? What are the differences between a tool and a solution? We will answer these questions in the context of project portfolio management. Also, how do these concepts relate to the engines of project management?

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Are we learning from history, or, are we doomed to repeat it?

I am writing this article based on observations and monitoring of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) Pandemic and how the global response or lack of. I have also monitored, from a distance, how the response varies from one country to another. For example, I see my home country, Lebanon, a country weakened by decades of corruption and financial constraints, responding better than some global power. In Lebanon, I have to

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Why did I write a book about leading megaprojects?

Let me start with a few notes and clarifications. We define megaprojects as massive projects with capital costs around US$1 billion and a high level of complexity. Industrial megaprojects seem to perform better than infrastructure megaprojects. However, at best, what we have seen reported is a 35% success rate on the high end and as low as 0.5% on the questionable end. We do question the 0.5%, although it is reported by a reputable source. We also know that many organizations do follow a stage-gate process and might have project management systems. Then, why more projects fail than succeed? The response requires an analysis of the root causes. Next, the challenge is on finding a tailored approach for leading megaprojects concept to success. SUKAD has such an approach; therefore, it makes sense to write about it.

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