First blog post

Welcome to my blog!

My new book, “Project and Program Turnaround” is being published by Taylor & Francis – CRC and will be released December 15, 2016.

This book was derived from my passion to help all programs and projects work at their highest potential and to succeed. Focus is given to navigating that critical transition from new idea to successful implementation that all new projects and programs must accomplish. This challenge applies to all business genres. The book provides valuable, lessons for all leadership and participants on these teams.

I believe this book is also of high value for executive who are responsible for multiple programs and projects to help select and mentor their leaders.

In addition, I endeavor to provide students of business valuable tools for their future leadership. I believe this early insight will help propel these talented men and women to the front of their line.

I look forward to comments and questions from all readers! I will be regularly visiting this blog to answer questions and share events.

Sources for this book include the CRC website and  Amazon/books. It may be purchased now.

Thank you and the best of luck with your pursuits,

Thomas Pavelko


18 thoughts on “First blog post

  1. I have a webinar scheduled for December 13 from 11:00 to 12:30 eastern time. I will be discussing the subject of my book. You can joint by simply becoming a member of the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute (just Google ITMPI, it’s free!) and clicking on the December webinars. Hope you can attend!
    Thomas Pavelko


  2. I have a webinar scheduled for January 25, 2017 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 eastern time hosted by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is entitled, “Project and Program Turnaround” and will highlight the subjects of my book. If you are a member of PMI please sign up for this event as soon as you can, as the registration for the webinars fill up quickly. If you are not a member, you will finding joining online is easy. Hope you attend and have questions!


  3. My publisher has provided me a code that will reduce the purchase price of my book by 20%. Will be glad to forward this code to you. My personal email is on

    Hope you have the chance to attend my Project Management Institute (PMI) webinar scheduled for 12 noon US eastern time, January 25, 2017. It will cover some of the contents of the book.


  4. Webinar Question: “Selecting the team for the Turnaround – Good to have old members or best to choose some body outside the program … Or mix? Which is best?”

    Answer: It is usually best to select someone from outside the program but within the enterprise to lead the program or project Turnaround. But is best to have as much of the rest of the original team stay on the program, including second level leadership. It has surprised my how enthusiastic the rest of the team members are to subscribe to a plan and organization that allows them to succeed.

    Of course, when starting the Turnaround the organization of the project or program may need to be changed. During this time various tasks teams may be created or eliminated. Strive to reuse the existing subordinate leadership in new task teams that are created. If possible, try to find a senior role for them that keeps them on the effort. Their knowledge of the program, customer and team members is invaluable.


  5. Webinar Question: “are distributed programs – across many locations more prone to failure. Are these the projects you are having to save most often?”

    Answer: A program or project that has elements distributed across multiple locations is usually not the cause of the program failure. But it is important that these separate portions be as independent from each other as possible (low message coupling and high functional cohesion referred to in presentation and book). It is also important top leadership and other affected leads and team members periodically visit the other sites their work interfaces with. Even if their daily communication is infrequent, a face-to-face trust will have been established.

    Appreciate, availability of needed facilities and/or customer needs sometimes necessitate separating parts of a project or program.


  6. I would like to answer three questions this time as they are a little more simple.

    Webinar Question: What site does the discount code apply to?

    Answer: The site is The discount coded is MZQ36. This will take 20% off the retail price of the book.

    Webinar Question: (SLIDE 17) What are “IPT”s?

    Answer: IPT stands for Integrated Product Team. These are usually task teams in a program that have members directly reporting to the team full or part time for every team service needed. This includes members providing all needed business, quality and risk management support functions. All members are managed by the IPT lead. The IPT usually independently tracks it’s business performance.

    There is often a diminishing performance return from this approach because some services are less expensive if established only once in a program and not separately for each task team. Programs or projects on step are often a hybrid of central service and IPT type teams.

    Webinar Question: Another contributor I noticed that often contributes towards programs not to stay on plan is the frequent changes the customers imposing to the operating organization and their senior management. How best you believe we can handle issues of this nature that often demoralizes the program teams?

    Answer: Customer changes after a program or program turnaround is started sometimes happens. If it does DO NOT show frustration. Remind the team that the customer has the prerogative (withing the limits of a contract) to change the program. However, do reexamine the Turnaround Commitment and change the Turnaround Plan, the Program or Project organization, the team functions, the budget allocation and more that is needed in response to the customer change. The program or project manager (Turnaround Lead) must always be executing a current, well evaluated and detailed plan that achieves the needs of the customer. And the customer must understand the often sizable impact of changing the requirements for the program


  7. I will speak at the Silicon Valley Project Management Institute Meeting at the Alameda County Social Services Building located at 31955 Liberty St., Fremont, CA – Millennium Room (A120). It will be conducted on March 1, 2017 from 6:30 pm to 7:30. Attendance is free. Look forward to meeting you and discussing your questions!


  8. : 1/25 Webinar Question: Do you recommend instilling meeting discipline by bringing folks in from outside the team to model behaviors like scribe & facilitator, or do you focus on teaching the team to learn and apply them?

    Answer: From my experience, good meeting discipline will only be instilled if the team members exercise good meeting habits. You might have a member of the project or program turnaround leadership work with the meeting lead to make sure the process is accurately followed. Also, the meeting lead should should experience this good meeting discipline in any project meeting they attend. The benefits of good meeting discipline should be apparent to all team members. If it is instructed by people outside of the program it may appear tentative and parochial to the team. It must be exemplified by the actual team membership and leadership to take root.The little extra effort will be returned many times and help keep the program on step!


  9. 1/25 PMI Webinar Question: “There are many comments in this webinar relating to the possibility of multiple root causes. Do you recommend using the “5 Whys” on each of the different paths?”

    Answer: The “5 Whys” is one of a number common ways of drilling down to the root cause. The point I should emphasis is there is always just one root cause. When there are multiple causes identified for a failure or anomaly they are usually the intermediate failure symptoms stemming from the actual single root cause.

    For example, a mechanical structure may have failed vibration testing because of an observed crack in a composite layer and a structural joint that de-bonded. These two observations are intermediate symptoms resulting from a common single root cause. This root cause could be for example, misuse of the bonding agent due to insufficient training of a new assembly technician, or an error in the application of the analytical tools used to design this structure.

    If something is designed or planned well, the chance of an unexpected fault cause occurring is very small. Therefore, the chance of multiple unanticipated fault sources occurring at the same time is virtually zero.

    If you still have multiple problems identified as having caused a failure in new process, system or device you have not yet determined the root cause. And if you do not want the failure to occur again, you must eliminate the root cause.



    Answer: The turnaround is conducted while the program is failing, not after it has failed and is being terminated. When a program has completely failed there is often some sort of termination penalties payed to the customer. There is added cost with helping the program team members find other jobs, decommissioning any facilities that had been used and storing any work product that had been completed. At this point there would be a very large cost to then reestablish facilities and pull the team back together, even before initiating the turnaround plan. Most enterprise will not consider making this investment after a program or project has failed.

    It is possible the enterprise may want to pursue a similar program or project in the future due to changes in requirements or business conditions. In this case, I recommend leadership reviews the guidance I offer in the webinar and my book to increase their likelihood of succeeding.


  11. This is one of the last questions from my 1/25 PMI Webinar: “Where does one find a good scheduler and what are the attributes of a qualified one? Should this be someone with a PM background?”

    Answer: A good scheduler does not have to be professional scheduler. They can even be a very junior person just starting to work for the enterprise. For many projects or programs this role may only be part time, depending how frequently the project or program is reviewing its progress.

    It is essential however that the Turnaround Lead (Program or Project Manager) announce to the enter team that this person has been given the role of gathering all status on program or project status. The entire team must be informed that this person has been given the authority to ask questions and analyze the status and progress of the program or project. It should be known by the entire team that if the scheduler believes that some part of the effort is holding back current status information, that he or she will inform the Turnaround Lead.

    This scheduler must be willing and able to engage and probe all of the project or program work areas. They must be pleasant, professional and fair but tenacious about understanding complete status. They must have the aptitude to understand the status details they learn and ask needed questions about areas they are not familiar with. They must identify and monitor all the major inter-dependencies between the program or project tasks. The must integrate all the data they collect, summarize the progress status of the project or program and highlight risks and problem areas. The must understand how to use and maintain the project or programs schedule tracking tools and processes that has been selected.

    This good scheduler will provide an independent and complete perspective of the execution status of the program or project based on real data. They do not have to have a PM background.

    The more experienced scheduler will often have the additional ability to tactfully draw out recently developing changes and/or issues in scheduled work for the different teams. This valuable “sixth sense” comes with practice. We are all understandably reluctant to convey a possible setback in the work we are leading, unless it is inevitable. But a “heads up” regarding risks before they become issues is important for a program to stay On Step.

    On one large program I led I had a very pleasant young lady perform this role. She made sure she was aware all current program facts, supported by data. She sometimes had a more current and realistic understanding of program schedule status than the leadership team did … including me! Her excellent work avoided many mistakes.


  12. Still another set of questions from my 1/25/17 webinar.

    These two questions are similar so I will provide a single answer for both,

    “How do you implement a turnaround plan with scarce resources, i.e., PM is also the manager of a unit and has to do both operations and project management.”

    “My root cause is lack of qualified resources, how to obtain more resources for the turnaround plan? How to deal with a turnaround plan falling behind?”

    Answer: If you believe you are not allocated enough resources to complete the program or project you must document a clear and complete argument for your appeal with multiple alternatives to remedy the problem. Then present this to your leadership.

    But first! I would discuss your concern with one or two of your closest program associates, preferably leads. By doing so you must verify that program leaders agree that the resources allocated to your project or insufficient. The may have additional remedies in mind that you may not have thought of. It is possibly that the resources you have been allocated are in fact adequate if you take a different approach. You do not what to approach your leadership for more resources unless you absolutely need them and you have the backing of your team.

    I recommend you then arrange a meeting with your leader (or the best one if more than one), one-on-one with your documented argument. I find often a short series of hard copy PowerPoint charts is fine. You must avoid overwhelming/embarrassing your leader with more than the two of you. Your presentation must clearly show where you and your team believe more resources are needed, recommend a number of ways incorporating them and predict what work will be deficient if the lack of resources is not remedied.

    This discussion must NOT be an ultimatum from you! But instead a simple review of what you and your team believe the facts support. Be prepared to hear and evaluate alternative recommendations from your leader.

    Also, your appeal may improve you likelihood of success by your leader allocating more resources to your program, but you may not get all you asked for. From my experience that is the most common outcome. You may still be pressured to innovate and work “lean” to achieve all your program or project commitments.


  13. 1/25 PMI Webinar question (almost the last one) “What happens to the Project manager during turnaround? Is he automatically replaced by the Turnaround Lead?”

    This is an important question. I discussed the qualifications need for a Turnaround Lead and the potential sources for this person in chapter 2 entitled “Who Leads the Turnaround” in my book, “Project and Program Turnaround”.

    In general there are four sources for the Turnaround Lead. They are, an independent consultant, someone from outside the program or project in trouble and a different enterprise, someone from a different program but within the enterprise or someone from within the original program.

    Because of the distinctly different approach usually needed to save a program or project, selecting a Turnaround Lead from the original leadership team is difficult. Maintaining the original program manager is virtually impossible. It is simply against basic human nature for a leader to completely discard their original plan for a program and build a completely new one. Especially in the short time needed to save a failing program.

    Usually this original program manager is given mentoring by the enterprise managements and additional training so they can do better next time, then given another assignment. They should fully understand where their planning/execution was deficient and be given another chance to lead program or project in the future.

    Sometimes the original program manager will even be relieved the Turnaround Lead took over the program leadership. They may have discovered they did not enjoy performing the essential planning and leadership tasks.


  14. My final 1/25 PMI webinar question: “you make turnaround plan when your program or project is already failed. You come with turnaround plan, how can you make sure that turnaround plan will be successful or how do u mitigate the risks to make turnaround successful?”

    Answer: Just a little clarification. I believe I discussed this in an earlier answer I provided.

    One rarely starts a Turnaround after a project or program has completely failed. At this point, the customer and enterprise have spent large sums of money to disperse the team members and collect and store the work that had been accomplished before the closure. In addition, there may have been contract termination fees or penalties the enterprise had to provide.

    It is possible that at some later date the customer/enterprise decide they want to pursue the same or similar program. It is possible that a similar contract and team structure will then be established. But this is not a Turnaround; it’s an new project or program.

    Given that you are executing a Turnaround plan, I have provided some of the top level process tenants needed to make it successful. For example, risks are mitigated with a risk management plan that is separately documented or a part of the Program Plan. This usually includes the assembly of a Risk Management board that meets periodically. Also, the Turnaround leadership must evaluate any concern that is brought forward from any team member, including members from the customer, supplier and the enterprise.

    I tried to cover as much of this as process possible in my one hour webinar. Please refer to my recent book, “Project and Program Turnaround”, Taylor & Francis, 2017 for complete details. (it may be purchased via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or CRCpress with 20% discount with my publishers code, MZQ36)

    Thank You!


  15. I conducted a live speech for the Silicon Valley chapter of the Project Management Institute on March 1. It was very successful! All the attendees were very experienced program and project managers. I thought their questions, comments and discussions of their personal experiences were very important. One listener said she had listened to my January 25 PMI webinar and was incorporating the suggested use of a scheduler in her team. Another mentioned their team was now focusing on my recommended distinction of individual commitments (promises) versus just “goals”. Even these accounts of basic attempts to improve project and program performances are by far the most gratifying feedback I receive!
    I was honored by having my book “Project and Program Turnaround” selected for February review for by the Project Management Institute book club. On February 26 my 30 minute opening webinar for the book review was published and is available for listening on the PMI webinar website. Readers will be asked to comment on the book during the following 10 week review period. I am greatly looking forward to all comments! There will be a closing live one hour webinar conducted by PMI in May where I will answer all questions including those posted during this event. If I am unable to answer all questions during the hour I will post the remaining questions with answers on this website, my author website at and the PMI website.
    I am enthusiastically looking forward to these wonderful opportunities to add clarity to lessons I observed from my experiences.
    Thank you!


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