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Monday, October 26, 2009

From Ordinary to Great

What common behaviors or attributes turn ordinary people into great people? Here are a few I have assembled from various sources, including Tom Peter’s book "Reinventing Work, The Project 50" .

Great people almost always have had some of the traits below:

They are Risk Takers

They often don’t appear rational

They are obsessed with success (success is clearly defined up front)

Their ideas are often ahead of their time

They can be peculiar, creative, off-the-wall

They are often described as irreverent

They have a burning passion to make their dreams come true

They are determined to make a difference

They have little tolerance for the “the way it has always been done” crowd

They LOVE to go against the grain

They have thick skin

They have charisma

They thrive on chaos and often love to generate chaos

They are great at what they do

They hate J.A.M.S – Just Another Mediocre Success (Tom Peters)

They have a positive influence on the lives of others (not everyone, all the time)

They make lots of mistakes and are quick to admit they made them

They often ask forgiveness vs. permission

They hate, hate, hate politics and petty people. (They will occasionally play the “political” game to get what they want, but they know most career politicians are disingenuous, self-centered, and are only interested in furthering their own careers.)

They are great at marketing

They are often (not always) great listeners

They are masters of the little (important) things

They know how to sell

They hate whiners, complainers, and corporate Dilberts

They aspire to something higher than themselves

They are concerned with doing the “right” thing

They often make lots of people mad (usually the politicians and career procrastinators)

They know how to laugh

They call others out for a lack of commitment or disingenuous behavior

They know that most of the “suits” are empty


Should project managers adopt some/all of these behaviors? The great ones already have.

Stephen F. Seay, PMP

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend Break - Cool Trampoline Acrobats

Future of Reading

I just bought a new Kindle and I have to say these things are really cool.  I won't give a review here because there are tons of them online, however, I will say that the Kindle's screen is much better than I expected, and the ability to upload your own documents to the Kindle for viewing is also a great plus.

Read more about the Kindle below:

Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, U.S. & International Wireless, Latest Generation)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Project Managers and Meeting Facilitation

I really do not like attending most meetings.  I find my time would be better spent doing other things. One of the reasons I dislike most meetings is they are poorly facilitated.

A facilitator is: one who brings organization and process to the meeting so attendees are able to interact effectively and make sound business decisions. They enable good meeting habits and support the group to achieve exceptional outcomes.

A facilitator provides leadership without taking control. They get others to assume responsibility and help them to participate and lead effectively.

Facilitators should:

Assist the group to identify goals and objectives around the meeting topic

Help identify attendee needs

Guide discussions to keep them focused on the agenda

Ensure assumptions are brought out and discussed

Guide the group to consensus on issues by ensuring all attendees are heard

Use tools and processes to ensure the meeting is run efficiently and good decisions are made (action items, meeting minutes, parking lot, etc.)

Lead brainstorming sessions

Help attendees to assess their skills and assist them in building new skills to support the meeting's objectives

A good facilitator can bring clarity and focus to a meeting. There are many resources on the internet, and there are many good books on the subject of meeting facilitation. Effective meetings help to build effective outcomes. Ineffective meetings can be seen as time-wasters and can alienate some of the people you need the most. If you waste people's time they probably won't attend any of your meetings in the future.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eight Stage Process of Creating Major Change

Changes is what projects and project management is all about. I like the process below for creating major change. It was taken from the book "Leading Change" by John P. Kotter (see source information at the end of the posting).

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency
a. Examining the market and competitive realities
b. Identifying and discussing crises, potential crises, or major opportunities

2. Creating the Guiding Coalition
a. Putting together a group with enough power to lead the change
b. Getting the group to work together as a team

3. Developing a Vision and Strategy
a. Creating a vision to help direct the change effort
b. Developing strategies for achieving that vision

4. Communicating the Change Vision
a. Using every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategies
b. Having the guiding coalition role model the behavior expected of employees

5. Empowering Broad-Based Action
a. Getting rid of obstacles
b. Changing systems or structures that undermine the change vision
c. Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities, and actions

6. Generating Short-Term Wins
a. Planning for visible improvements in performance, or “wins”
b. Creating those wins
c. Visibly recognizing and rewarding people who made the wins possible

7. Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change
a. Using increased credibility to change all systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit together and don’t fit the transformation vision
b. Hiring, promoting, and developing people who can implement the change vision
c. Reinvigorating the process with new projects, themes, and change agents

8. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture
a. Creating better performance through customer and productivity-oriented behavior, more an better leadership, and more effective management
b. Articulating the connections between new behaviors and organizational success
c. Developing means to ensure leadership development and succession

SOURCE: Adapted from John P. Kotter, “Leading Change,” Harvard Business School Press 1996

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Collection of Project Management Sayings - Rewind

Good estimators aren't modest: if it's huge they say so.

The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.

What is not on paper has not been said.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

If you don't attack the risks, the risks will attack you.

A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.

The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.

A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.

If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.

When all's said and done a lot more is said than done.

If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.

Feather and down are padding - changes and contingencies will be real events.

There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.

The more you plan the luckier you get.

A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.

Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.

If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.

Everyone asks for a strong project manager - when they get him they don't want him.

Overtime is a figment of the naïve project manager's imagination.

Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.

Good project managers know when not to manage a project.

Metrics are learned men's excuses.

For a project manager overruns are as certain as death and taxes.

If there were no problem people there'd be no need for people who solve problems.

Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.

Good project managers admit mistakes: that's why you so rarely meet a good project manager.

Fast - cheap - good: you can have any two.

There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.

The more ridiculous the deadline the more money will be wasted trying to meet it.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time the last 10% takes the other 90%.

The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.

To estimate a project, work out how long it would take one person to do it then multiply that by the number of people on the project.

Never underestimate the ability of senior management to buy a bad idea and fail to buy a good idea.

The most successful project managers have perfected the skill of being comfortable being uncomfortable.

When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.

If it wasn't for the 'last minute', nothing would get done.

Nothing gets done till nothing gets done.

Warning: dates in the calendar are closer than you think.

There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.

Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.

If project content is allowed to change freely the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.

If you can interpret project status data in several different ways, only the most painful interpretation will be correct.

A project gets a year late one day at a time.

A project isn’t over until the fat check is cashed.

Powerful project managers don't solve problems, they get rid of them.