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Friday, May 28, 2010

Tom Peters on Social Media

An Amateur's View of Social Media Circa May 2010 Disorganized Musings

Tom writes - "On the evening of May 26, I made my first "presentation" (an informal talk) on social media. The affair, called "Sweets & Tweets," was held in Georgetown and hosted by corporate social media consultant Debbie Weil. I participate in social media somewhat myself, but in no way, shape, or form am an expert. Moreover, I did not spend an enormous amount of time preparing—the talk was intended to be "off the cuff." But with my obsessive penchant for lists (ah, engineers), I did jot a few things down which I shall simply call "musings from an incredibly old guy and unadulterated amateur" on social media:"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thick Skinned Project Managers

Many people have fallen into a bad habit of taking things too personally because they want to protect the smaller picture (self) instead of the big picture (other people, relationships, the situation, and sometimes the truth). How do we get through the times where having a positive attitude seems impossible? Well, we can always choose to act as if the positive feelings/attitudes are still there. It is that simple, and it is always our choice.

We choose all of our feelings and actions. No one else is at fault for what we think, what we feel, and how we act. As Project Managers we can't let others dictate how we feel about ourselves. Project Managers by nature need to have thick skin and can't let the opinions of a few dictate how we feel and act.

It isn't a radical idea to believe that we can choose how to behave, regardless of how we feel. Additionally, by changing our behavior we might just discover that behaving differently can change how we feel. This changing of behavior knocks aside the notion that feelings help us find truth, especially when we are trying to assess an important business or life situation.

I feel that the old saying "Perception is Reality" is destructive. Many people act solely on what they perceive. Perception is only Perception. We can argue about what Reality is, or is not, but basing Reality on what we perceive can really screw up Reality for us and everybody else.

Mental Note for Slow Learners: Sometimes it seems like you can't change anything. Sometimes by changing yourself you change everything.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Project Manager as Planner (Revisited)

I think everyone agrees that one of the primary responsibilities of the project manager is planning.  As part of the planning process, the project manager's main responsibility is to build the high-level plan.  However, it is the responsibility of the line/functional managers to build in or provide the details of the plan.  We know that the project manager does not or should not control the resources that will ultimately do the work, but the project manager is responsible to see that that work is done right, on time, and on budget with expected quality....and the customer is satisfied with the project results.  

Some items to consider when starting the planning process are:

  • Define your tasks using non-technical language, and include descriptions or notes detailing the work involved

  • Create milestones in your schedule to help track progress and use them as quality gates

  • Ensure you have agreement with the line managers about the skill sets required of his or her resources
    Ensure that key stakeholders assisted in building the Scope Statement, Project Objectives and the Project Plan.

  • Define up front how you will measure performance

  • Define up front how you will measure quality

  • Ensure you have a strong project sponsor that is engaged and supportive

  • Use Communication plans to keep everyone informed

    While there are many other things that will go into the planning process, I believe the above list is a good start.  

    Do you have a comment?  Leave it here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Project Bottlenecks

Gary Hamel writes in the article “Strategy or Revolution”/Harvard Business Review - “Where are you likely to find people with the least diversity of experience, the largest investment in the past, and the greatest reverence for industry dogma? At the top!”

What is the message here?  Manage the people at the top to ensure project success!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." -- MLK Jr.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Trust But Verify (Always)

To be successful in project management and life you must be trusting, but also trustworthy. I learned a difficult lesson recently that blind trust can be a flawed strategy.

Always, always remember, trust must first be earned! Trust takes time, effort, and commitment in order to grow and and be sustaining.

We need to be trusting of others, but first we need to ensure our goals are aligned and we take the time to build a meaningful partnership. Don't rush this phase!

You can't build a long lasting relationship without trust, and you can't have a meaningful relationship with petty self-serving people that are only out to serve their own agenda.

Be trusting, but be vigilent. All that glitters is not gold.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Differences Between a Good and Bad Leader

Here are a few of my thoughts regarding good and bad leaders

Good Leaders...
need to have a vision that is different, but still able to be accepted by the masses.
step outside of their comfort zones to make change happen
take risks, make sacrifices, and sometimes pay a cost to achieve their vision
instill confidence in others because they themselves are confident
build consensus
with charisma can change organizations
are encouragers
are positive
have the interests of others above their own
attract followers
bring new perspective to problem solving
are enablers
are an inspiration
Bad Leaders...
drive wedges in between people, teams, and organizational structures
don't stand up for their peers or their subordinates
behave like children when they don't get their way
gossip and spread rumors
don't reward others for their accomplishments
use "technobabble" and jargon to confuse others
believe they are smarter than everybody else
are unaware (sometimes) that most people don't respect them
dictate policy and doctrine almost exclusively via e-mail or memo
are invisible to most of the organization
don't want rules, processes, or procedures... except for others
prescribe before diagnosing
don't solicit input from others unless it is to validate what they already believe
kill organizations through their arrogance and unwillingness to listen
are silent when they should speak
speak when they should be silent
Bad leaders are hurting our organizations, our governmental institutions, our local schools, churches, and neighborhoods.  Bad leaders poison many of those around them, run organizations into the ground, and are culture killers.
Do your part to eliminate the "cancerous" effect caused by bad leaders. Be a "good" leader by exhibiting the necessary leadership principles and ideals that inspire and motivate others. 
Don't be just another talking head. 
Be visible, don't gossip, be respectful of others, build consensus, and most of all be honest in all of your dealings.