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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Attributes of Great People

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.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Your Project Sponsor is a Risk

Enterprise IT applications are supposed to help organizations with collaboration and cost reduction. Additionally, they should assist in gaining personnel efficiencies by helping to provide access to information required to make timely management decisions. As every project manager knows these enterprise applications can be difficult to implement, and often don’t deliver on their promises. Why is this? I believe the number one reason for enterprise software implementation project failure is the lack of a strong, engaged, focused, and available executive sponsor.

IT customers are demanding more from their software and want results that help them reduce their bottom line, gain efficiencies, and do more with less. Line managers have a justified fear of giving up control of their legacy applications because of past IT miscues and screw-ups (YES, ALL IT DEAPARTMENTS ARE GUILTY OF MISCUES AND SCREW-UPS). A project manager’s job is to help integrate departmental business processes across the enterprise to help ensure the software meets the customer’s needs. A project manager can’t accomplish this task on his or her own. Implementing an enterprise software application can be a daunting task and requires the skills and talents of many people. When these projects fail responsibility is shared by all stakeholders, but the blame falls equally between the project manager and the project sponsor.

PM FOR DUMMIES 101 - In order to successfully implement enterprise IT applications organizations first need to create the culture and climate that ensures investments in information technology contribute to a desired future outcome rather than continuing past practices.

Project Manager Tip – PLAN then DO Quickly. The just “do it” culture is usually a culture fraught with project failures and ruined careers. Run from a job that requires that the project manager follow the failed mantra that says “Ready, Fire, Aim”!

Many departments in today’s organizations feel they are locked into their legacy applications and are resistant or refuse to change. This legacy thinking is the main impediment to change (i.e. your project). Some people refer to these legacy applications as “code museums”. The people holding on to these legacy applications don’t have the vision of the enterprise. For this reason it is important to have a senior executive as a project sponsor when implementing an enterprise application. The sponsor articulates the vision and drives the change to the culture, PERIOD. NEVER forget this fact.

Finally, the executive sponsor must understand the technology being implemented, the culture where the change is taking place, and the benefits of implementing the desired solution. He or she must be willing to “kick some ass” to get the solution implemented in a timely fashion, and ensure the solution provides the required benefits to the organization.

Remember: An invisible project sponsor is your project’s biggest risk.