About Jim

Jim earned his PhD in applied physics at Harvard University in 1977 and has filled both R&D and executive roles at software-development companies since 1981. His employment history includes Texas Instruments, IBM, Landmark Graphics, and GuideWorks/Comcast. His roles have included Senior Member of Technical Staff at TI, Program Manager at IBM, Vice President of R&D at Landmark, Vice President of Marketing at Landmark, and Senior Vice President of Engineering and Development at GuideWorks/Comcast. He co-founded OnePager (originally Chronicle Graphics) in 2005 because he needed the tool himself and hasn't missed the corporate ladder ever since!

Communicating Plans to Global Teams

In today’s connected world, it’s increasingly common for project and portfolio managers to collaborate with teams across multiple countries and cultures.

In some ways, working globally is a great thing. Talent can be acquired and nurtured wherever it’s found, marketplace efficiencies can drive bottom-line benefits, and diverse viewpoints often lead to superior finished products and processes. But there are certainly challenges, too – and few see them more keenly than the project manager.

Keeping individuals and departments on the same page (and the same timeline) when they’re divided by distance, language, and culture can be difficult. As a result, many project and portfolio managers are turning to project visuals, like Gantt charts and “birds on a wire” timelines, to effectively communicate globally. Here’s why.

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Is America Turning Purple?

With Hillary Clinton scheduled to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president tonight in Philadelphia, the U.S. general election is officially upon us.

Election Results

Click the image to expand.

That means we can expect plenty of fireworks, cable news prognostication, and partisan bile in the next three months. Most of that, it’s safe to say, is best ignored. Fortunately, an election year also brings plenty for the history- and data-minded among us.

With Nov. 8 in mind, we took a look at how state-by-state voting results have changed over the last 13 presidential elections. You can find our visualization – made in OnePager for Excel – here, or expand it by clicking the thumbnail on this page. Bright blue means an overwhelming Democratic victory, and red means the same for the Republicans. Shades of purple represent a closer vote; true purple would be a 50-50 tie.

What do we learn when we examine historical voting trends this way? Quite a few things. Continue reading

Visualizing a ‘Brexit’ Project Plan

It’s enough to make any professional project manager’s skin crawl. The United Kingdom’s pending exit from the European Union – the biggest shakeup in Western statecraft since the fall of the Soviet Union – appears to be proceeding essentially without a plan.

David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, is stepping down before October. He’s said he won’t trigger Article 50 – the EU’s method for a member state resigning – in the near future; that’s up to his successor. And even when (or if) Article 50 is invoked, no one quite knows exactly how the “Brexit” itself will work – the rule has never been used.

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Visualizing Greatness: Muhammad Ali’s Pro Boxing Career

As you surely know by now, boxer, social activist and global icon Muhammad Ali died over the weekend at age 74.

While there was so much more to Ali’s life than just his boxing career, it’s stunning to look at what he accomplished (and what more he could have accomplished) in the ring.

Using Microsoft® Excel and OnePager® plan communication software, we’ve created a visual representation of Ali’s 20-plus year boxing career. Flags represent the location of his fights (the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman, for instance, was contested in Kinshasa, Zaire).

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Color-Blindness & Plan Communications: Ensuring Graphic Accessibility

It’s no secret that the smart use of color in visual plan communications is a great way to engage your audience, distinguish important elements and evoke the proper reaction.

In Western cultures, for instance, “red” typically connotes “bad” or “risky.” It’s a great way to get the message across that a particular deliverable is in trouble without cluttering your chart with extra words.

But there’s a problem with only using color to deliver critical information in a project graphic. According to the National Eye Institute, as many as 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women with Northern European ancestry are color-blind. They have trouble distinguishing – or in some cases can’t distinguish at all – between red and green (more common) or blue and yellow (less common). Green means go and red means stop, but for those with red-green color-blindness, neither means much of anything.

NFL Color Rush & Color Blindness

How last year’s Bills (red) vs. Jets (green) “Color Rush” NFL game looked to color blind individuals. h/t The Sporting News

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How Your Project Is Like The Passamoquoddy Bay

Early on in his (quite good, and recommended) “Information Visualization: Perception for Design,” author Colin Ware aptly demonstrates the importance of visuals, in terms of cognition and understanding.

“Visualizations,” Ware writes, “have a small but crucial and expanding role in cognitive systems. Visual displays provide the highest bandwidth channel from the computer to the human. We acquire more information through vision than all of the other senses combined. The 20 billion or so neurons of the brain devoted to analyzing visual information provide a pattern-finding mechanism that is a fundamental component in much of our cognitive activity.”

That’s an academic way of stating a fact that many project managers have leveraged for years: Getting folks to understand complex concepts is hard, and pictures make it easier.

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Does Tufte Still Think Project Charts Are Mediocre?

Last week, we concluded a three-part series on Edward Tufte’s theory of graphical excellence. I enjoyed the series, but was provoked to read that Professor Tufte dislikes project charts (aka Gantt charts) because they have “regressed to Microsoft mediocrity.”  I cannot let his claim go unchallenged, and I wonder if he would change his opinion if he were to examine what I present below.  So, at some risk of beating a dead horse, here is what amounts to Part Four in the three-part series, but with my anti-mediocrity perspective. Continue reading

Introducing OnePager v5.1!

We are excited to announce we have released the latest versions of OnePager Pro and OnePager Express. The two biggest changes in the new versions are…

  • Multi-page functionality – Now you can use OnePager to make a project timeline with more than one printed page. We know, we know, a 3-page project timeline is not really a one-pager, but many of you told us you would rather make a multi-page document that’s readable than a one-page document that’s an eye test. So now, when you import more tasks from Project or Excel than fit on your printed page, OnePager will automatically add a second page (or a third, or a tenth…) and give you options to customize what appears on pages 2 through infinity in terms of headers/timestamps/etc.
  • Where’s My Stuff?! – We’ve added a feature that allows you to see what happened to task bars that do not appear in your current project view. And, just as importantly, we provide you with a one-click solution to restore deleted tasks to the project view if you so choose.

You can learn much more about the latest features of OnePager by watching this video.

Thank you as always for your feedback — it helps us improve our product and give you a better user experience. And please keep talking to us, on this blog, via LinkedIn, or via e-mail ([email protected]).