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Sunday, December 05, 2021

A Case for Character - Rewind

 The character issue has been in the forefront as of late.  One of the most famous case's of a man’s character being called into question was President Clinton’s when he lied to the American people about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  Many other cases have been in the news lately regarding ministers, politicians, teachers, and others.

In the 1996 Presidential campaign, Senator Bob Dole made the character issue one of the cornerstones of his campaign. Senator Dole believed, as well as many of us, that character and personal integrity are more important than Gallup poll results, political campaign slogans, or 30-second sound bites on the evening news.

In his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey discusses character by putting it into terms of what he calls the “Character Ethic” (32).  The Character Ethic is based on basic principles such as, humility, integrity, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, fairness, service, patience, modesty, and the Golden Rule.  The Character Ethic defines the parameters by which personal character is measured.  By using principles as our guiding beacon, it can be concluded that success and self-respect come from incorporating basic principles into our daily lives.

Character builds on the idea that principles guide our effectiveness and to many extents our self worth.  Principles according to Stephen Covey are “natural laws that can’t be broken” (33).  Most rational people would agree that principles are universal in all societies.  They are common to almost every major religion, ethnic group, and social institution throughout the world.  Principles are fundamental truths handed down through the ages that have universal application.  Principles should drive our values, and values in turn give us a direction for our lives, much like a roadmap.  “Values, are the worth or priority we place on people, things, ideas, or principles.  Principles are self-evident and are enabling when understood” (Franklin Covey 11).  If our values are derived from principles (and they must be to have good character), we, by default, will have a solid foundation on which to build good character.

Most reasonable people would agree that one of the most important groups of people that must possess and exhibit a strong Character Ethic are our leaders.  Too many times we are disappointed that our leaders are unwilling or unable to take a stand for what is good, decent, right, and fair.  We see examples in the media every day where corporate, political, and religious leaders take the easy way out.  They do what is best for them, and their constituents, and not what is in the best interest of society.  Many people over the course of the last 15 years have fit in this role.  Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Bill Clinton, and Richard Nixon all conjure up memories of men that have made poor decisions, based upon selfishness, and not principles.  When leaders fail to rely on principles to make the important decisions, they are no longer credible or fit to lead.

Character, as stated earlier, uses principles as its underlying foundation.  Our own personal values must be derived from these principles to start the process of building character.  We have learned from the public mistakes of others that you cannot have good character while neglecting core principles.  We all must keep trust and trustworthiness as core principles, without which, it won’t be possible to obtain or keep a reputation as having good character.

Effective leaders, and all people must have the trust of others, and more importantly, must be worthy of that trust.  Trust, is not given, it is earned.  Once you have lost people’s trust, and especially if you are considered to be a leader or role model, you have immediately lost much of your effectiveness with your constituents.

Character, is not something you acquire overnight.  It is a result of a lifetime of effort.  It only takes one incident for your character to be called in to question.  Once your character comes into question, even for a single issue, such as a lie or indiscretion, your reputation, and all that you have worked towards, will be called into question. 

In the end, we would all do well to surround ourselves with people that exhibit high ethical standards and lead principle-centered lives.  These individuals, will help us along our journeys by showing us through their example how to live and work in a world which seems to no longer hold the Character Ethic as fundamentally important.



Works Cited

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Fireside, 1990

Franklin Covey Co. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Training Program Manual. 1998 ed.


Thursday, December 02, 2021

Enough!


Chapters from the book "Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life " by John C. Bogle.

Buy this book if you have had Enough.

"Too Much Cost, Not Enough Value"
Too Much Speculation, Not Enough Investment"
"Too Much Complexity, Not Enough Simplicity"
"Too Much Counting, Not Enough Trust"
"Too Much Business Conduct, Not Enough Professional Conduct"
"Too Much Salesmanship, Not Enough Stewardship"
"Too Much Focus on Things, Not Enough Focus on Commitment"
"Too Many Twenty-first Century Values, Not Enough Eighteenth-Century Values"
"Too Much 'Success,' Not Enough Character"

Mr. Bogle begins with this:

"At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, 'Yes, but I have something he will never have; Enough".

Monday, October 11, 2021

Project Management Office Setup Thoughts


  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of existing project managers and project support personnel
  • Develop a basic project management training plan for the entire organization to familiarize all with the project management verbiage and practices
  • Identify and provide specialized advanced training for all project leaders and functional managers
  • Develop a project management office (PMO) to provide enterprise coaching, and to develop and manage your organization’s project management methodology
  • In addition to the methodology, the PMO should develop and maintain standard project management templates for the organization to use
  • Ensure that existing projects are audited and meet your organization’s minimum project management standards
  • Setup a program where your PMO provides coaching to less experienced project managers and oversight of all enterprise projects
  • Ensure all projects have Lessons Learned captured

Monday, September 27, 2021

Cleverness and Problems

Albert Einstein said "A clever person solves a problem; a wise person avoids it". After reading this quote, it reminded me that project managers spend a lot of time (or should be) avoiding problems. One thing that can help project managers to avoid problems is following a defined process, or more specifically, a Project Management Methodology (PMM). At its core a PMM is a set of agreed-upon processes that assists project managers to deliver predictable project outcomes.

To create a PMM you need to define all project management processes, procedures and policies used to deliver your organization's projects. Also, don't forget to develop or obtain a set of project templates as they are an important part of any PMM. Finally, you must develop a training program to introduce and educate your organization about the new PMM.

KEY POINT - When developing a PMM ensure you must include input from your lead project managers and any other personnel that have a stake in your project management outcomes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Dogma and Open-Mindedness

Dogma is living with the results of other people's thinking. Be careful when allowing the opinions of others to smother your inner voice, but do remain open-minded to new ideas and information.

Open-mindedness - When we close our minds to new information or opinions it is often because they go against our beliefs or take us out of our comfort zone.  Admitting to ourselves that new ideas and information that go against what we feel is right may make us feel that we were/are wrong.  That is OK.  Open-minded people are open to new ideas and new information even it they have to admit in the end they were wrong when believing something else.

As a project manager we rely on our beliefs and experiences and the beliefs and experiences of others to bring our projects to success.  Be open-minded and encourage everyone on your team to express their ideas and opinions.

Friday, September 10, 2021

 People and Life

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou


As a project manager there is no more important responsibility on your project than working with your stakeholders to establishing trust and creating an environment that is built on respect and follow through.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Listening is Hard!


Listening is hard because it involves keeping your ego constrained long enough to consider what is being said before formulating your response.


Wisdom often lies in the pause between stimulus and response.


Few people listen well, which makes good listeners all the more relevant and important.


When someone starts talking, our focus should be:


1. Listening intentionally to what they are saying

2. Ignoring patterns in their speech and forming conclusions 

3. Putting said about whether we agree with what they are saying until they have finished   speaking


When we quickly prepare responses as a listener the conversation becomes about us. When the other person does the same meaningful communication ceases to occur.


Rather than making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person's perspective. You don't have to agree with them, but you owe it to them to be respectful and open minded.  


Remember and put to use one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits - Seek first to understand then be understood.


We should make it a habit to seek understanding with one another.  A conversation is not a competition to make a point, but rather an exploration of each others thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and biases.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Your Last Project



It has been said “You only live as long as the last person that remembers you”.

In Project Management it has been said that “You are only as good as your last project”.  While this statement may see unfair, it is nonetheless true in many environments.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Be, Say, and Do!

 


Three action steps when working with others, per Ajayi Jones

1. Be: Write down what’s important to you, and what’s worth fighting for. 

2. Say: When you don’t see eye to eye with your boss or disagree with the rest of the room, ask yourself these three questions. If you answer “Yes” to all three, speak up.

“Do I mean it?” 

“Can I defend it?”

“Can I say it thoughtfully?

3. Do: Match your thoughts with your actions

Fair warning: Just because you follow these steps, it doesn’t mean your team will automatically be on the same page. It’s more that these practices force you to check in with yourself, and know that you said what you needed to say. 


You’ll leave the discussion knowing you tried.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Variety is the Spice of Life

It has been said that variety is the spice of life.  We can fear variety (change) because of its unknown impact be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological.  Variety often means trusting others and stepping into the unknown with courage.

You must embrace change to experience the spice of life!


Tom Brady has some thoughts about change Life is about always changing and adapting to different things. Today, the world wants to blame, and shame, and guilt, and fear everything all the time”


Do you blame others when changes go wrong?  Do you fear change? 


Sometimes it takes courage to embrace Variety!

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Ignorance of Things

Nobody should be embarrassed for not being familiar with the Sunning-Kruger effect, the cognitive bias in which the more incompetent or ignorant you are about something the better or more knowledgeable you think you are at that thing.