Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Get the Right Talent on Your Team

Years ago I managed a large group of software engineers. At the time, it was very difficult to recruit software engineers from here in the United States, so we started sponsoring talent from overseas (China, Russia, India, etc.) and bringing them here to work.  When the economy recovers the IT sector may again have to look overseas to fill many software developer and IT vacancies. There just aren’t computer science majors coming out of American universities to satisfy the current and upcoming demand.

My point is corporations will either have to outsource IT jobs to other countries or look to bring in talent from other countries using an immigration lawyer if they can’t find the right talent within our own borders. The same principles apply to your project teams. If you don’t have the right talent in your company for your project team, consider looking to outside contractors or consultants to fill these roles.

I believe that outsourcing jobs overseas or bringing in workers from outside your borders shouldn’t occur except as a last resort. Having said that, I also realize that companies can’t grow if they can’t hire the right talent.  Never settle for what is available when staffing your project teams. If you can’t find what you need within your company don’t be afraid to look externally. The job you save may be your own.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Great Quotes!

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”—Helen Keller

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”— James Dean

“The two most powerful things in existence: a kind word and a thoughtful gesture.”— Ken Langone, founder, Home Depot

“The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.”— William James

“Don’t belittle!” — OD Consultant, on the essence of a well-functioning human community

“If you don’t listen, you don’t sell anything.”— Carolyn Marland/MD/Guardian Group

“It was much later that I realized Dad’s secret. He gained respect by giving it. He talked and listened to the fourth-grade kids in Spring Valley who shined shoes the same way he talked and listened to a bishop or a college president. He was seriously interested in who you were and what you had to say.” —Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Respect

“What creates trust, in the end, is the leader’s manifest respect for the followers.” — Jim O’Toole, Leading Change

“If you can’t state your position in eight words or less, you don’t have a position.” —Seth Godin

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead

“Make your life itself a creative work of art.” —Mike Ray, The Highest Goal

“Have you invested as much this year in your career as in your car?” —Molly Sargent, OD consultant and trainer

“The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.” —James Yorke, Mathematician, on chaos theory in The New Scientist

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” —Oscar Wilde

“People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust.”—Howard Schultz, Starbucks

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” —Charles Darwin

“We may not be interested in chaos but chaos is interested in us.” —Robert Cooper, The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—General Eric Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Gandhi

“We eat change for breakfast!”—Harry Quadracci, founder, QuadGraphics

“If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” —Mario Andretti

“You can’t behave in a calm, rational manner. You’ve got to be out there on the lunatic fringe.” —Jack Welch, retired CEO, GE

“We have a ‘strategic’ plan. It’s called doing things.”—Herb Kelleher, founder, Southwest Airlines

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” —The Shawshank Redemption (Tim Robbins)

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”—Steve Jobs, Apple

“Groups become great only when everyone in them, leaders and members alike, is free to do his or her absolute best.”—Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman, Organizing Genius

“The best thing a leader can do for a Great Group is to allow its members to discover their greatness.”—Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman, Organizing Genius

“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not.”—Isabel Allende

“Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional.” —Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factor

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”—Napoleon

“Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it". Michelangelo

“If you’re enthusiastic about the things you’re working on, people will come ask you to do interesting things.” —James Woolsey, former CIA director

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe.” —Winston Churchill

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."—John Quincy Adams

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”—Karen Lamb

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jerks at Work (Revisited)

A book was written not long back entitled "The No A**holes Rule". In it, the author - Robert Sutton -discusses how "A**holes" a.k.a. "work jerks" can cause major disruptions in the workplace. The author  defines work jerks as "people who pick on those beneath them and leave others feeling belittled and sapped of energy. They use their power to schmooze those above them and beat down those beneath them. Much of the rest of their time can be spent bullying their peers".

My takeaway from the book is that jerks at work have a negative impact on the bottom line. They always cost organizations more than they are worth, and they cause upheaval that is harmful to individuals as well as the organization they work for.

What can we do when confronted with jerks on our projects? When possible we should avoid and ignore them. We can also look for ways to work around their influence and create partnerships with others that are willing to help. If somebody believes falsely that being a jerk will get them to the top quicker, there isn't much you and I can do about it. One thing is certain, we don't ever want to emulate their behavior. Jerks are poisonous, they are detrimental to project progress, and the value they sometimes create is erased by the disruption they cause.

Jerks almost always know they are jerks. They don't believe in Win/Win, they believe in Win/Lose (they must win, others must lose). Jerks are self centered, have large egos, and we aren't going to change them.

Project Management Rule: Project managers have to get the job done in spite of work jerks.

As project managers, we must learn to work with all types of people and get our projects completed on time and on budget in spite of them and their behaviors.  Remember, when confronted by a jerk be patient and respectful. Kill them with kindness. Don't forget that jerks can have influence over your project and career, and they occasionally have good ideas. There biggest flaw is they lack good character.

Project Management Rule: Work jerks don't subscribe to lofty ideas like fairness, cooperation, self-discipline, or integrity. 

They are reactive, many times "enemy-centered", and concerned about defending their desires and rights.

The bottom line is that work jerks lack emotional maturity. One definition of maturity is the balance between courage and consideration. Companies and organizations need to do a better job of screening for jerks during the hiring process. They need to know that studies have shown work jerks cost them more then they produce. Organizations don't need people in a leadership or any position for that matter that have questionable character, a win/lose work ethic, and a Scarcity Mentality.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Project Teams Members Need These Things

Project team members will perform at their peak when they:

Clearly understand and embrace the project's goals

Understand clearly the expectations put upon them

Understand how success will be measured

Understand the expectations of the project manager and sponsor

Believe their concerns will be listened to and addressed

Believe the project manager and sponsor are 100% committed to the success of the project

Understand that constructive, open, and free flowing communication is appreciated and welcome

Know they will be recognized and rewarded for their achievements

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Don't Try to Please Everyone

As we manage our projects, we need to remember to spend the bulk of our time working with our advocates and supporters, not answering or arguing with our critics. If you say you don’t have critics on any of your projects than I say you probably aren't pushing hard enough, and that means you probably aren't a very good project manager. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Trust and Leadership

I was reading the book "The Truth About Managing People" today and thought I would post a couple of excerpts from the book about leadership.  The link to the book is at the end of this posting.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you manage people, or are a project manager.

In regards to leadership, the book states, "When we trust someone, we assume they'll act honestly and truthfully and be reliable and predictable.  We also assume they won't take advantage of our trust.  Trust is the essence of leadership because it's impossible to lead people who don't trust you. "

Some quotes from the book to gain the trust from others....

Be open

Be fair

Speak your feelings

Tell the truth

Show consistency

Fulfill your promises

Maintain confidences


I think this is a great book.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One Rule from the Nordstrom's Employee Handbook

Nordstrom's Employee Handbook

"For years, Nordstrom’s Employee Handbook was a single 5×8” gray card containing these 75 words:
Welcome to Nordstrom
We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.
Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.
Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.
During this time, Nordstrom had the highest sales per square foot performance in the retail industry"
Does your company have a "Rule #1 for its employees?  

When you review your employee's performance does their employee appraisal include a review of his or her customer service strengths and weaknesses?  Regular formal appraisals (quarterly, or better yet monthly) will help your employees improve their skills.

Do you provide your employees with regular training to ensure they are providing the highest level of customer service?

Does your company survey its customers to find out their level of satisfaction?  

Are your customer survey results used as part of the employee's appraisal process?

Remember, you can't manage what you don't measure, and you probably aren't providing excellent customer service if you aren't surveying your customers and providing continuous customer service training to your employees.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Effective Project Teams

Teams are dynamic and always changing.  Teams work when the individual team members unite around a common goal and have a vested interest in each others successes.  Once team members begin to bicker and fight amongst themselves, the team begins to lose its effectiveness and the reputations of the each of the team members can suffer.

Once teams lose that "all for one and one for all" dynamic the whole team loses.  Win-lose relationships on teams are never an option.  There are only two options when working with another person on your team.  You either both win or you both lose.  The team leader and team members must openly discuss issues that hinder the team from performing at their highest level and work through the issues quickly.  Lingering problems between team members can only fester and worsen, which drags down the effectiveness of the whole team.

EMOTIONAL OUTBURST - team members that display a pattern of destructive or caustic behavior to others (inside or outside of the team) should be removed from the team immediately.

Remember, when working through team dysfunction, compromise doesn't satisfy anybody and doesn't solve problems.  Collaboration is key to working through team issues and getting team performance working at a high level.  Compromise and capitulation are flawed strategies for working through problems as they don't support a win-win outcome.

In closing, keep in mind that poor listeners are not good collaborators.  In order to be an effective team leader you must listen carefully and think win-win while working through problems with your team.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Your Estimates Are Wrong!

I have been burned more times than I can count by bad estimates. What can a project manager do to help ensure the accuracy of estimates?  First we should understand the basics behind the estimating process (there are many more than I have listed here). Some are:

• The more unique , complex, or larger the project, the more of a challenge it will be to get good estimates

• Estimates are only as good as the estimator is at predicting the future

• "Padded" estimates are not always bad as long as the padding is communicated (... and as long as the Project Manager is the one doing the "padding")

• An estimate is not a bid

• Estimates using sound estimating practices, performed by experienced estimators from clear specifications should never be negotiated

• Ballpark estimates are guesses and should be treated as much by the project team, management, and the project sponsor

Other items to consider when estimating are:

• Ensure the statement of work or contract is clear and understood by the person(s) doing the estimates

• Ensure that a schedule or mandated date doesn't drive the estimating thought process

• Include Risk Management in the estimating process

• Ensure that estimates take into account the skill level(s) of the person(s) that will do the work

• If your work breakdown structure (WBS) is flawed, your estimates will be inaccurate

Accurate estimating is an art and a science. The estimator (or team) must take into account historical data from past projects, the team's knowledge and experience, the project risks, the statement of work and other project information to make the best estimate possible.

Keep in mind when planning your project that estimates aren't hard and fast numbers. They are guesses, however they should be very good guesses if you have good estimators and are following tried and true estimating practices.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Project Is...

Project managers get in trouble when we try to complicate things. In my career, I have worked for many different types and sizes of organizations. Some have embraced Project Management and others have made excuses so as not to be constrained by what they believe is a process that slows things down (adds cost and overhead). I have preached the same message for years. Project Management is designed to help reduce or eliminate rework and surprises at the end of a project.

So why don’t some organizations see the value of Project Management? Usually it is because they do not understand the benefits of Project Management, they do not trust the Project Managers they currently have, or the ones they have encountered in the past. OK, we can accept that, however, what we should never accept is the idea that Project Management just adds cost and overhead.

We need to educate those around us about the difference between projects and other organizational work. Senior management needs to realize the fact that work is basically broken down into two areas: Operations (focused on Maintaining) and Projects (focused on Change). Most organizations do an adequate job of managing their operations; however, my experience (limited as it is) has shown that projects and the support of project management vary greatly.

Every organization has projects; sometimes they are just too busy to realize it. As project managers, we need to keep fighting the good fight of educating the influencers in our organizations about the benefits of Project Management. In addition, we need to realize that the benefits of Project Management are demonstrated in the successful implementation of projects. Do not preach the benefits of Project Management; demonstrate them by walking the walk and talking the talk.

So, a project is:

A temporary endeavor to create a unique product or service

Constrained by a finite budget

Constrained by a finite timeline (defined start and end date)

Composed of interrelated activities

Focused on attaining one or more clearly defined objectives

The last point needs to be stressed. Without clearly defined and agreed upon objectives your project is doomed to fail from the start. I would also add that your project does not have a chance for success unless you have an engaged, influential, and respected executive in the role of project sponsor.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Project Management Requires Discipline

Discipline is the act of encouraging a desired pattern of behavior. George Washington said: "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak, and esteem to all". In other words, discipline is the glue that holds organizations together. 

We can't have agile and effective project methodologies or organizational processes without discipline. In short, effective discipline requires effective organizational oversight.  Finally, discipline begins at the top and works its way down. Organizations with poor discipline have weak, ineffective leaders at the top.  Weak, unengaged, ineffective leaders kill organizations. Can you say Enron?

Remember, the lack of project discipline is the fault of all project team members, but the cause of a lack of discipline lies at the top of the organization.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stages of Creating Major Change

The below was adapted from the book "Leading Change" by John P. Kotter (see more 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
    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

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Five Good Free Kindle Books (Non-Fiction)

The Truth About Personal Performance (Collection) - by Robert E. Gunther []

Three full books of proven solutions for supercharging personal performance! Prepare for any audience, negotiation, or decision-compel attention and motivate action-manage anxiety or anger-use nonverbal communication-negotiate with people you love (or hate)-build (or repair) trust-make decisions with imperfect data-and much more!

How McDonald's Got Its Groove Back - by New World City []
How did the lumbering fast-food giant McDonald's cure its own sclerosis and become a newly lean, hungry competitor? Its comeback offers lessons for leaders everywhere in focusing on what their customers really want. For example, don't react to competitors, react to customers. When you broaden your market appeal, don't abandon your first customers. Don't skimp on product development.

33 Million People in the Room: How to Create, Influence, and Run a Successful Business with Social Networking - by Juliette Powell[]
Social networks are no fad. They’re a permanent reality: one that offers immense opportunities to smart, innovative businesses. Now, top social networking consultant Juliette Powell reveals how dozens of innovators are driving real ROI through
social networks–and how you can, too.
Powell’s wide-ranging research, including coverage on Barack Obama's successful online strategy in his bid for the presidency, focuses on technology, media and gaming companies, leaders in fashion, beauty, publishing, finance, retail, event planning, and beyond. These powerful narratives illuminate the reality of doing business on today’s social networks as never 

The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You?ve Lost It) - by Sandy Allgeier []
Can you be trusted? Right now, someone is asking that question. If they decide to trust you, they’ll work with you, care about you, open up to you…help you live a more successful, more fulfilled, happier life. If not, you’re on your own…
Build the Strong Personal Credibility You Need to Live a Truly Great Life
*Learn the secrets of personal credibility that make trust possible
*Use the plan to earn trust and respect from those you encounter in your daily life
*Enable others to have confidence in you by following the 7 easy steps
*Follow the Personal Credibility Factor’s steps to repairing credibility when you’ve lost it

So What?: How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience - by Mark Magnacca []
It’s tough, but true—the people you’re trying to communicate with, sell to, or convince don’t really care about you. Nor do they care what you’re offering them—until they understand exactly how it’ll benefit them. If you recognize that one hard, cold fact—and you know what to do about it—you’ll make more money, achieve greater success, and even have more fun!

In this book, world-renowned sales consultant Mark Magnacca shows you how to answer the “So What?” question brilliantly, every time—no matter who’s asking it or what you’re trying to achieve. This book will transform the way you communicate: You’ll use it every day to get what you want—in business and in life!

Overcoming Perfectionism: The Key to a Balanced Recovery - by Ann W. Smith[]
Do you have to be perfect to lead a healthy life? Ann Smith discusses how perfectionism may have benefits but is ultimately an obstacle to quality living as it prevents intimacy and lowers self-esteem. This book offers practical hints to letting go of your superhuman syndrome and being imperfect. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Poor Project Communications Can Hurt the Whole Team

When project teams are surveyed at the end of failed projects, poor communications is always cited as being one of the major causes. Why does this keep happening? Why is project communications so poorly executed so often. My short answer is that many project managers (and managers) are arrogant, inattentive, and oblivious to the feelings and needs of the project team.

Project managers are busy, and often they don't make time to manage project communications effectively. Also, the project manager may think they are doing a good job communicating, but that may not be the case.

Project managers must remember that the project team is made up of individuals. Each person on the team has a preference for the types of communication they like to receive, and each person processes communications differently.

Some things to monitor that may point to poor project communications are:

Trust - Does the team trust you (the project manager)? How do you know? Everybody will not trust you all the time. Team members that don't trust the project manager will not be open in their communications. They will tend to either shut down, gossip and spread rumors, or challenge the project manager at every turn

De-motivated - Where are we going? Is the team going where we said we were going when we started? Did we clearly state where we were going before we started?

Whining - Despair and anxiety take over the team or key team members. Infighting is prevalent and people are starting to talk openly about the project being a failure.

Incompetence - Team isn't sharing information and learning. Perhaps the team has had little to no training, or the training received was of poor quality.  Perhaps some team members should be fired from the team.

All the above can be overcome, however it requires that the project manager is listening and changing strategy when necessary to get the team back on track. Just because you are a project manager doesn't make you a good communicator, however ignoring problems like the ones mentioned above will make you a bad project manager.

My two cents are, be a leader. Lead through your communication and your ability to motivate your team to get the job done. Be on the lookout for the above warning signs. When you see the signs act quickly, follow-up, then continue to monitor.  Remember people may need to be removed from the team.

Poor project team synergy is the fault of the project manager. There are a lot of incompetent project managers that are hurting our profession because they either refuse to alter their communication styles or are too arrogant to change. My advice to them is to change their ways or leave the project management profession.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Collection of Project Management

I posted these a few years ago and thought they deserved a repost.

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.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Great Project Team Leaders

If you watch professional sports you often see the positive results of a great coach and a great team (Go Tampa Bay Rays!).

Great team results come from good coaching, and the right team talent all coming together at the same time to obtain a mutual goal...Winning!

A project manager is often thrust into the role of team coach.  A coach is a critical component of the team, and their job involves ensuring the team is ready and able to deliver the "desired results".  No matter what your style of communication, or your level of team building skills, it is important to lead the team in a way that ensures they use their talents to their fullest potential.

My Three Random Team Rules

1.)  You must know each team member's skills, talents, and abilities and manage them accordingly.

2.)  As team leader you must be respected, you must be a tireless champion for the cause (desired results, winning, meeting milestones, etc), and you must form a bond built on trust with each member of the team.

3.)  The weakest relationships you have on the team can often be your project's biggest risk.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Steps to Political and Project Success

Assess the Environment
Who are the relevant stakeholders?
Who are the most important stakeholders?
Where does the power lie?
Whose actions will impact the project most (Negative or Positive)?

Identify the Goals/Needs of the Stakeholders and Sponsor
What are the stakeholder's motivations?
What are the sponsor’s motivations?
What are the organizational motivations?
What are their psychological motivations?
What is their overt motivation?
What is their hidden (covert) agenda?

Know Thyself
What are your strengths and weaknesses as you perceive them?
How are you perceived by others?
What are your personal values related to your workplace?
How can you compensate for your weaknesses (actual and perceived)?

Define the Problems
What are all the relevant facts?
What are the underlying assumptions (both True and False)?
What is Reality?

Develop Solutions that Work
Avoid premature solutions that don't account for the four steps above
Obtain user buy-in to the solution
Obtain Sponsor buy-in to the solution

Test and Refine the Solutions
Initial solutions are tough and usually difficult to sell
Continually refine and test your solution
Get sign-off from all relevant stakeholders and your sponsor

A solution that does not take the realities of the political environment into account will fail. Don't be naive when it comes to internal politics.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mistakes and Consequences

Project managers make mistakes and must deal with the consequences of these mistakes continually. Dr. Stephen Covey talks about mistakes and consequences and we should consider his words carefully.

As Dr. Covey states, "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequence of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern” (See Dr Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to learn more about the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence). He continues, “We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, be we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us”. To take this further, Dr. Covey says, "We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of these decisions may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result."

Dr. Covey continues, "Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we choose the attendant consequence. When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other".

What does this mean? As project managers we have the capability to motivate and empower members of our team by demonstrating honest and ethical behavior. At the other end of the spectrum we can send our projects (and reputations) quickly off-track if we are dishonest or unethical. We must be willing to quickly admit our mistakes and at times suffer the consequences.

To quote Dr. Covey again, "Our response to mistakes affects the quality of our next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment, and we are empowered again. It is not what others do or even our mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things".

We all make mistakes. We must atone for and make amends to others for those mistakes quickly. In my opinion, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes is the biggest obstacle to personal growth and strong relationships. As Dr. Convey says, "By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods”.

Have high integrity and make and keep your promises. Your projects (and your life) will be the better for it.