Posts Tagged ‘fun’

The Need for Speed

February 12, 2016

Now an immediate disclaimer from me, this article really isn’t about anything to do with speed but it is a neat title I thought.

Tachometer and arrow on 7 (done in 3d)

Well when I say nothing to do with speed it does in an indirect way.

Let me explain.

This week I found myself in a cold draughty church hall with 19 other fellow humans on what is known in the UK as a ‘Speed Awareness Course’ – yes I had been caught fair and square by a speed camera sometime late last year. The National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) scheme is designed, in the official words ‘to allow the Police to divert low-end speeding motorists to a re-education course’. The idea is that the course is designed to change the driver’s behaviour with ultimate goal of preventing the driver from reoffending in the same way.

So there you have it – guilty as charged and paying the price. I should have no complaints, and I don’t – other than why couldn’t the course have been somewhere nicer, why was I only allowed one coffee in 4 hours, why was the course 4 hours anyway when it could have been delivered in 2 hours, and why did we have to have two trainers?

All that aside and getting back to the point of this article, one of the two trainers did make a statement that started me thinking. He first asked the group ‘When did you get your driving licence and pass your driving test’ and most of us said around the age of 17 to 19, and then he asked when would we next have to be assessed for our driving skills and the common answer was ‘aged 70’ which is correct. Now even at age 70 all you have to do is apply and complete a form and you get another 3 years of driving in the middle lane on the motorways of Great Britain at 44 miles an hour (OK so that was a little stereotyping but hey you know what I mean) so no real test as such.

And here is the key – the trainer asked a final question, ‘what other activity that you have to take an exam for (practical and theory these days) can you keep doing for 53 or more years and never have to take any additional training to keep doing?’.

Now there’s a thought I indeed did think!

Consider the growth in traffic volumes in the last 50 years – consider lights, seat belts, air bags, navigational technology, brakes – consider road layouts and length of journeys undertaken – consider what that Audi A5 Sportsback I now own can do compared to my first car, a wreck of a Ford Anglia – readers can check what this actually is at their leisure but the point is it all adds up to a very different world from the point of passing a driving exam.

This is one reason I kind of like the various project management certifications out there because it is not just a matter of passing but also at renewing with evidence of practice engagement, education and contribution – I am looking at my PMP certificate as I write this (and I freely acknowledge other certifications are out there and are just as good); passed on 2nd November 2006 and renewed 3 times so far.

There must be project managers out that have taken and passed (or just stayed until the final day in some cases – you know it is true) project management courses and have never been back on any form of re-education since.

For sure practice is really, really important but I would argue that is not enough. You end up in a bubble of self-justification and personal measurement if you don’t set yourself against your peers and against the world-wide community of project managers.

Your value in the marketplace cannot be objectively measured.

And you cannot identify ways to get even better than you are, and yet there are so many ways through reading, blogs, podcasts, conferences and congresses, shared team experiences, and much, much more.

Did I at the end of the ‘Speed Awareness Course’ learn anything, yes I did and did it also remind me of some things I have forgotten, again yes it did. So was it worth it? Well yes, I just wish I taken my coat with me.

These days I am built for comfort and not for speed.

 

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Fit for Purpose

September 10, 2015

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There is a great presentation by Tom Peters where he talks about some organisations that get so big that they forget about some of the basic, simple, everyday stuff.

He produces a tiny shampoo bottle that he has taken from a hotel bathroom and he asks, rhetorically, ‘who was the average user of this bottle?’ The answer being that most likely this was going to be used by a middle-aged business traveler who more than likely wore reading glasses. He then asked, still rhetorically, ‘where was this likely to be used?’ And the answer this time was of course it would be used when the middle aged business traveler, who most likely wore reading glasses, was taking a shower. He paused for effect and summed up; this product was most likely to be used by this guy in a shower without his reading glasses in in steamy environment with water running and when he wanted to decipher between the two almost identical bottles of shower gel and shampoo. Result: frustration and improper use of products.

A definition of ‘fit for purpose’ is ‘something that is fit for purpose is good enough to do the job it was designed to do’, but you could argue that the shampoo bottle, standing next to the shower gel bottle, and sometimes also next to a ‘body lotion’ bottle, is fit for purpose. The trouble is you need to distinguish the shampoo bottle first to then use it and for it to truly become ‘fit for purpose’.

In a project all of the resources need to be fit for purpose if you, and your business, wish for the most successful and least costly outcome. People need to be the right people and skilled/trained in the right way, facilities need to be suitable to the purpose that they will be put to, equipment must be appropriate in design and availability, and the actual project deliverables need to also be deemed ‘fit for purpose’ – this is the responsibility of the project manager.

There can be shortcuts, and there can be cut backs but the end result always needs to be considered in the context of the impact of utilising something or someone that is not ‘fit for purpose’. And always be aware that such an approach can, in the end, make the deliverables so constrained that they fail the ‘fit for purpose’ evaluation.

Just don’t take the whole ‘fit for purpose’ too far:

In a circus, the Bearded Lady and the World’s Strongest Man fell in love, and decided to start a family. Soon the Bearded Lady fell pregnant.

A few weeks before she was due to give birth the Bearded Lady and the Circus Ring-Master were talking.

‘How’s it going?’ the Ring-Master asked, ‘Are you well?’

‘Yes thanks, we are very excited’ said the Bearded Lady ‘We have so many plans for the baby and we want to be supportive parents’.

‘That’s great’ said the Ring-Master ‘Do you want a boy or a girl?’

‘Oh, we really don’t mind as long as it’s healthy’ said the Bearded Lady ‘Oh and it fits into the cannon…’

Project Management Fun

June 29, 2014

How many project managers does it take to change a light bulb?

A better question to ask is perhaps ‘how many project managers does it take to have a good project?’

I think just the one, if they have a real sense of humour and an appreciation for the value of ‘fun’ in a project team.

The PM Who Smiled

Richard Branson, Virgin Group said ‘Have fun, success will follow. If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong. If you feel like getting up in the morning to work on your business is a chore, then it’s time to try something else. If you are having a good time, there is a far greater chance a positive, innovative atmosphere will be nurtured… A smile and a joke can go a long way, so be quick to see the lighter side of life’.

Andrew Filev, Wrike[1] told me ‘In our recent survey on working habits, one of the questions that we asked 2,000 team members, managers, executives and business owners was, “What stimulates your efficiency at work?” Good mood was cited as the second strongest motivator of productivity, ranking higher than such serious factors as a possible reward or fear of superiors. Over 57% of respondents said that good mood is a very powerful motivator. Only a sense of responsibility received more votes.

This data seems to show that if we want to work on our projects in an efficient and stress-free way, a sense of fun, laughter and humor might be a tool no less powerful than detailed planning and helpful software, among many other things. Winston Churchill said, ‘A joke is a very serious thing’ so let’s plug in a bit of science before you dive into the world of project management humour ‘

And there is more, Alexander Kjerulf, Woohoo Inc[2] advises ‘Think about it: You will spend a third of your life at work. You’ll spend more of your waking hours at work than on anything else, including friends and family. Make those hours count. Make them enjoyable and fun. And make sure that the results that come out of those hours are worthy of your time.

And this is not soft, idealistic, naive, hippie thinking. This is about enjoying work, certainly, but it’s also about success. Because people who are happy at work do better work. When you’re happy, you are more productive, more creative, more open, more likeable and a better leader. You’re also less stressed and get sick less often.

This also means that there’s a business pay-off to happiness. In short, happy people make for successful projects and successful projects, along with all of those happy people, make happy companies which guess what? Make more money’

In my first book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ I dedicated a chapter to ‘Having Fun’ (perhaps one of the first project management books to do so?) and stated ‘You have to laugh; well I think you have to laugh. Without a little bit of fun in every project then the project world can be a dark and depressing place. Setting a professional but fun structure for your project can really be beneficial for when the problems start to rise up to challenge your plan of perfectness. And problems will inevitably arise’.

And I know as I have travelled the world and presented at many conferences and congresses that the humour that I put into my keynote presentations makes them popular, enjoyable and, as a result, it gets the message to the audience. There is nothing worse than 60 minutes of fact based detail being presented in a monotone voice without the slightest glimmer of a smile.

There is the commonly shared piece of wisdom that declares that ‘it takes more muscles to frown than to smile’? Well it is rubbish. You will hear a whole range of numbers of muscles used but the truth is that medically there is no such balance for or against the ‘smile’ but what is a universal truth was proven in a Swedish study back in 2002 that confirmed what we already knew[3] and that is people respond in kind to the facial expressions that they encounter. If it was a frown then a frown was returned, if it was a smile then it was a smile that was returned automatically. Interestingly when the subjects of the test were asked to respond to a smile with a frown, or a frown with a smile they really struggled.

So, it isn’t any easier to be a happy face rather than a grumpy face but a happy face generally engendered a whole lot of other happy faces.

And what do happy faces make? Well a lot of things it seems.

Happy, positive people tend to live longer apparently:

A number of studies have shown that happy people tend to live longer. One study looked at a group of nuns who wrote a short biographical sketch before taking their vows. At the age of 85, 90% of the nuns with ‘cheerful’ biographies were still alive compared to 54% of the least ‘cheerful’.

So be positive and you might make it to the end of that never-ending project.

Happy, positive people have the ‘bounce back’ factor:

It seems that happiness and an attitude of optimism tend to go hand in hand. Optimistic people see bad things as only temporary and good things as mostly permanent. Their positive expectation helps them see and act on opportunities faster and to overcome set-backs easier.

So be positive and you can deal with all of that [insert expletive of your choice here] that heads your way on the projects from hell[4].

Happy, positive people are better teamies:

There is also a strong link between feeling good and doing good. Studies have shown that happy people are more willing to help others, so happy people make the world a better place.

So be positive and your project team members will be all the better for it.

Happy, positive people feel pretty good about it all:

Let’s face it, we all get a good feeling when we feel positive and upbeat, it is infectious isn’t it? The better that we feel the more we achieve and get on with others and, as a direct result, we feel even more positive as a result.

Linked to that if we choose work that we like to do and that is meaningful to us, and that is challenging as well, it can generate those peak moments of enjoyment.

So be positive and enjoy your chosen profession of project management.

And, as I say in ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, the right sort of ‘fun’ project environment can be good for you as well, ‘Done right you will have set the acceptable parameters for fun in your project, both in content and in extent, and you will have engendered that spirit amongst your project team to the point where, one day, when you are the one on a low, they will make come up and make you smile.’

Be Happy – Have Fun!

And to celebrate the value of fun in project management I released a book called ‘The Project Manager Who Smiled’

I strongly feel that this book has to go out to all of the project teams and customers I have worked with, to all of the project managers who sent me their experiences and jokes, as well as to the project management ‘celebrities’ for their ‘PM Celebrity Gossip’ contributions.

Walt Disney said ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible’ but, unfortunately, many project managers seem to think, or have been trained to think, that ‘It’s kind of impossible to do the fun’ when in reality I say ‘It’s kind of not possible to not do the fun when you’re trying to do the impossible, or something close to the impossible’.

In my previous ‘Lazy’ books – ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager and The Project from Hell’ I have included as much ‘fun’ as I can think of (and get away with), even in ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ I gave it my best shot, but with this book the shackles are off and it is 100% humour all of the way.

I hope that you enjoy it and share it all with your project teams.

Have fun and be successful!

 

 

About the author: (Serious) Peter Taylor is a dynamic and commercially astute professional who has achieved notable success in Project Management.

His background is in project management and marketing across three major business areas over the last 28 years, with the last 8 years leading PMOs.

He is also an accomplished communicator and a professional speaker, workshop trainer and consultant, and a coach focusing on PMO/PM guidance – Experience: Creativity: Motivation. Book him for your next event or training activity.

Peter is the author of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’ (Infinite Ideas), as well as ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ (Gower) and ‘Project Branding’ (RMC Publications) and ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ (Management Concepts).

If you would like to learn even more then Peter can be contacted for articles, training, workshops, presentations and keynotes at peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

 

About the author: (Fun) Peter Taylor is a recovering second generation Virgo with a penchant for occasionally dressing up as a root vegetable (see The Giant Killer Carrot of Death later on) and generally getting bored when there hasn’t been a laugh or a smile within the last 60 minutes.

His hobbies include trying to appear in the background of as many tourist photos as possible without getting spotted (apologies if you have a deranged Brit leaping up in the background of one of your treasured holiday snaps) and negotiating the release of his home from the squatters that his wife refers to as ‘the children’.

Peter is also the author of ‘The Dance of the Meerkats’ (Infinite Ideas) – his attempt at a children’s book – and ‘The Lazy Blogger’ (Self-Published) – his attempt at going it alone – as well as this book ‘The PM who Smiled’ – his attempt at convincing everyone else that you just have to laugh.

 

 

[1] Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike. You can learn more about Andrew’s views in his Project Management 2.0 blog (www.wrike.com/projectmanagement).

[2] Alexander Kjerulf is the founder of Woohoo Inc and one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work.

[3]Actually an awful lot of these studies seem to ‘prove’ what we already know.

[4]And talking of Project from Hell – have you checked out www.theprojectfromhell.com yet?

Rage Against the Machine

March 31, 2014

‘Welcome my son, welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It’s alright we know where you’ve been’ Pink Floyd, Welcome to the Machine – Wish you were Here

The Machine

Some months ago I was considering a full time role once again, my concern was ‘how long could I act as an independent consultant and trainer without actually practising project management?’, which is still an interesting dilemma for me today – any thoughts or great opportunities feel free to let me know.

Anyway I was pretty selective in what I considered but one opportunity did seem to be interesting, it was for a Global Head of PMO (this is the sort of role that I would consider in case you wondered). Eventually, after meetings with the agency and a phone interview I went for a face to face interview with the organisation in question.

It didn’t go well.

In fact it went quite badly from my point of view.

After the interview I phoned the agency and said I wasn’t interested and the main reasons were that this organisation appeared to have absolutely no passion for the projects that they were undertaking (perhaps something I could have helped with) but more importantly they were entirely process focused, and not in a good way, this rang alarm bells for me immediately. Being part of that set-up would have killed my creativity and I couldn’t see a happy ending.

Was I right about them? Well I think the answer came some many weeks later after the organisation had finally selected a new Head of PMO (and good luck to them of course, maybe they can check out my website www.leadingsuccessfulpmos.com for some PMO success style inspiration).

Their HR representative phoned me to give me the reasons that they didn’t select me for the job!

I said that I withdrew weeks ago and they said yes that was noted and thank you for the valuable feedback but that they had to follow the process of giving feedback to all candidates….

Was I right about them or what!

‘So welcome to the machine. Welcome my son, welcome to the machine. What did you dream? It’s alright we told you what to dream’

And this story is true – honestly it is.

I was recently shopping in a large chain sports store with my family. Now the main purpose of the trip was to buy some new trainers for one of my sons, and after some considerable time he finally selected an acceptable (design and brand) from his point of view pair and an acceptable (cost and cost) pair from my point of view.

He spent so long deciding that I took the chance to look for a pair of trainers for myself and chose my pair on the criteria of design and brand (and of course cost).

When I went up to pay for the goods I experienced a service engagement that was pretty unique and most certainly unforgettable. Of course the sales girl had been trained in the basics of the job and presumably had been encouraged to make the transaction an enjoyable and personal one – there was, no doubt, a pre-designed workflow in place, a process that needed to be undertaken.

So handing over the two boxes of trainers she dutifully checked the shoes – perhaps that they were a correct pair but certainly that I had the correct size.

‘Size 7’ she declared and I nodded (these were my sons trainers).

Moving on to the next box she went through the same process and declared ‘Size 9’ to which I nodded a ‘yes’, these were my trainers.

Then came the stunning moment when she looked up at me and said ‘Well you really are treating yourself aren’t you …’

Of course yes, I bought a size 7 for the daytime and a size 9 for when my feet got larger towards the end of the day!

Well I understood what she was trying to do and I appreciated the attempt at some form of real human interaction during this pre-determined process but there has to be logic in what is said and in this case there wasn’t any and so the whole thing fell apart.

‘So welcome to the machine’

A process is a systematic series of actions directed to some end, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, don’t think that I am anti-process, I’m certainly not.

But (yes there is a ‘but’) any process has to be relevant, appropriate and reasonable.

I was asked to consult for one organisation about a year ago and their issue was that ‘nobody is following our project delivery methodology’ according to the head of the PMO that I was to work with.

This organisation had invested a fair amount of time and effort in creating a single unifying and consistent methodology based on practical experience and lessons learned, they gathered suggestions for content and structure from all of their project managers across the world, and constructed what they felt was the ‘best of the best’.

It certainly looked good, was easy to navigate and had many tools and templates available to project managers.

They had developed a training program to ensure that everyone knew all about the new methodology and could access it for all future projects.

They used their marketing department to develop a complimentary series of promotional materials (hats, mouse mats, posters etc) for internal use as well as a set of flyers and other marketing collateral for customer use.

They commenced a help/support desk to gather feedback and recommendations for improvements.

They got their senior management to promote the new business tool through videos and presentations.

They even had a competition where one person could win an iPad by suggesting a great name for the methodology.

They seemed to have thought of everything…

And yet here I was a year after the launch of this all singing all dancing process trying to help them work out why ‘nobody is following our project delivery methodology’.

In fact the answer was relatively easy to uncover and exposed perhaps the single flaw in their approach to this initiative.

Customers didn’t like it as it seemed just too complicated. Now this didn’t mean that it didn’t need to be so but the delivery challenge that this method seemed to portray was in stark contrast to the apparent simplicity of the products that the customers were being offered by this organisation.

Experienced project managers didn’t like it because it mandated each and every step that they had to take and a) they didn’t believe projects were like that and b) it undermined them and devalued their professional experience.

Inexperienced project managers didn’t like it because it was over-whelming to them and as they progressed its use step by step, phase by phase, it seemed as if the project itself was on a completely different path and timescale and events overtook the theory.

In my book ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ (Gower) and the follow up companion book ‘Delivering Successful PMOs’ (Gower Jan 2015) I explored this issue and concluded that, from a PMO perspective:

  • The best PMOs are the managers of a flexible framework method to assist project managers in the delivery of projects
  • The best PMOs ensured that this framework, and the associated tools and templates, were suitable for each project as not all projects are the same

And there is the key. Not all projects are the same and not all project managers are the same.

What is really needed is a scalable and flexible and appropriate means to deliver projects that can be aligned to the experience of the project manager and is relevant to the project complexity.

For the company I was advising they initiated two things with regards to their methodology:

  • Creating a small scale, low complexity ‘project light’ version of the method with simplified templates and reduced scope
  • Promoting the full scale method (in fact it now referred to as a ‘framework’) as a reference tool for project managers to use as they see fit, with only 3 key ‘point in time’ and mandated quality milestones

They also developed a new process, which is a good thing I feel.

This profiles the projects at the initiation stage in order to understand the perceived complexity (and therefore risk to the organisation) and therefore the most appropriate project manager to use, from an experience point of view.

Time will tell on the success of this revised approach but the initial feedback is very positive.

So you can see that process can be bad, and process can be good. Just remember that any process has to be relevant, appropriate and reasonable.

And so the next time you are working on a process ‘improvement’ why not tune in to Pink Floyd[1] and consider the ‘machine’ and its impact on people.

‘Welcome’

 

[1] And ‘yes’ I was listening to them whilst writing this piece. Shine on you Crazy Diamonds!

What’s in a Name?

January 6, 2014

A big ‘yo yo’ from the master mixer TLPM

‘That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ William Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet

Or to put it another way

‘Hi! My name is… (what?) My name is… (who?). My name is… Slim Shady. Hi! My name is… (huh?) My name is… (what?). My name is… Slim Shady’ Eminem (Marshall Mathers)

I do like to have a good contrast in life and that was certainly one of the extreme ones.

But the point is that we all use tags, nicknames, brands, titles, whatever you would like to call them. Some, such as ‘Slim Shady’ aka ‘Eminem aka ‘Marshall Mathers’ aka … more than most perhaps, but we use them all the time.

The other day I was cheerfully teasing my teenage son – us fathers have to have some pleasures in life after all – about his musical tastes (a lot that I actually share with him) and particularly about some of their names.

‘Tiny Tempah’ being a good example. A huge star these days but, excuse me if you will, a rather silly name I think and one that would have normally been a real problem at school once upon a time. And then there is ’50 cent’ and ‘P Diddy’ and ‘Vanilla Ice’ and ‘Snoop Dog’ and ‘LL Cool J’ and ‘Soulja Boy’ and ‘Ice Cube’ and my favourite ‘Del tha Funkee Homosapien’.

Eventually the teenager had had enough and responded on the attack.

‘Well you call yourself ‘The Lazy Project Manager’! How dumb is that?’

Point well made I had to agree (although his allowance has been severely cut). And I am not alone out there.

Ladies and Gentlemen I kindly offer you ‘Papercut PM’ and ‘Project Shrink’ and ‘Deep Fried Brain’ and ‘Earth PM’ and ‘Gantthead’ and ‘Raven’s Brain’ and ‘Drunken PM’ and ‘Journeyman’ and, since we are on such a roll, ‘The gorilla is named Hogarth’. Quite a list and these are only a few that came to mind right now – there are many, many more great PMs out there blogging away (just check out my website for a more complete list www.thelazyprojectmanager.com ) and a whole bunch of them are known by their alter-egos.

So what is in a name? Why do we do it? I mean I do have a name that my parents bestowed upon me – ‘Peter Taylor’ – so why was ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ born to replace my perfectly suitable name?

Well in my case it was to articulate a way of being a project manager, the ‘lazy way, the ‘productively lazy way’. To be honest describing the way I work as the ‘Peter Taylor’ way or the concept as the ‘Peter Taylor Project Manager’ probably would have gone nowhere fast and I doubt if my publishers would have picked up on the book proposal.

But ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ said it all, provides a great hook in for people, and it reflects me as a person and a project manager. And over the last two years through my original website, speaking engagements, the book, the eLearning courses, the articles and associated activity ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ has become a brand. Indeed my publishers have just commissioned the second book in the ‘lazy’ series so the brand will grow in the coming months.

A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, a sign, a symbol, a colour combination or a slogan or indeed a mixture of all these. The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp and a legally protected brand name is called a trademark. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – it affects the personality of a product, company or service. I would hope with ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ that brand means good service, value for money, and great entertainment through a learning experience.

So what is your ‘brand’? How do you present yourself and your projects?

There are three major categories of communication within a project Communication Plan: mandatory, informational, and marketing.

Mandatory and informational communication is, typically, well addressed by project managers; it is simple to understand and to carry out. The third element of marketing communication however is often neglected, to the detriment of the project and its likely achievement of success. Branding a project is achieved through creating a project personality with which stakeholders can have a relationship and therefore an emotional attachment; that is in essence that they actually care about the project outcomes. This personality or identity is known as the project brand and it is key to maximising buy-in and support from the widest range of stakeholders. If marketing communication wins the minds of these stakeholders then project branding should win their hearts as well.

Of course, branding takes time and money and effort, so you also need to have a project with a long time horizon. A steady stream of positive communication, combined with the positive feeling of the project branding, will help the project be successful and should help overcome any negative perceptions that the project may have.

Perhaps the simplest branding technique is to have a project name that reflects the people, the project, the company and the purpose. I have asked, through LinkedIn discussions, for people to share with me their project names and the reasons they were chosen and whether they were successful or not, and why. But I would love to hear more so please contact me through www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

Is there a ‘Tiny Tempah’ project out there somewhere? Maybe a ‘P Diddy’ school of project management might be attractive?

Anyway I am off now to watch some TV, maybe an old western with Clint Eastwood in.  I love those.

Maybe one of the ones with the ‘Man with no Name’ – what a brand!

Happy Project Managers

December 22, 2013

Walt Disney said ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible’ but, unfortunately, many project managers seem to think, or have been trained to think, that ‘It’s kind of impossible to do the fun’ when in reality I say ‘It’s kind of not possible to not do the fun when you’re trying to do the impossible, or something close to the impossible’.

In my previous ‘Lazy’ books – ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager and The Project from Hell’ I have included as much ‘fun’ as I can think of (and get away with), even in ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ I gave it my best shot, but with this book, The Project Manager Who Smiled, the shackles are off and it is 100% humour all of the way.

And it is not just myself that believes in ‘fun’ at work, listen to what two people (who wrote the forewords to the book) have to say:

In our recent survey on working habits, one of the questions that we asked 2,000 team members, managers, executives and business owners was, “What stimulates your efficiency at work?” Good mood was cited as the second strongest motivator of productivity, ranking higher than such serious factors as a possible reward or fear of superiors. Over 57% of respondents said that good mood is a very powerful motivator. Only a sense of responsibility received more votes.

This data seems to show that if we want to work on our projects in an efficient and stress-free way, a sense of fun, laughter and humor might be a tool no less powerful than detailed planning and helpful software, among many other things. Winston Churchill said, ‘A joke is a very serious thing’ so let’s plug in a bit of science before you dive into the world of project management humour.

If we look at neuroscience research as a whole, we will find a lot of reasons why humor isn’t just fun, but also healthy and useful. First, endorphins are released, which trigger positive emotions and make difficult things seem easier. I once asked one of PMI Global Congress organizers, Paula Jayne White, about the lessons learned from orchestrating such a large event.  She emphasized the immense value of humor, stating, ‘It’s the only way to manage all of the moving parts, so that the event comes together flawlessly’.

Now, going back to neuroscience, there are also other chemical processes in the brain which make a direct impact on stress and tension reduction. Pumping some extra oxygen to the brain, laughter literally gives the brain more ‘fuel’ for thinking, working and learning.

At work, a good laugh not only reduces tension and relieves stress, but also helps to increase team bonding and boost morale. Many businesses, both big and small, demonstrate original ways to incorporate fun into work. For example, representatives of Volvo shared how they held online parties across distances. Say, a team from one country ordered food into the office in another location for an impromptu celebration; everyone loved it!

At Wrike, we are ahead of the curve in a very competitive market. This takes a lot of hard work, and one of our productivity ‘secrets’ is that humour is a large part of our culture. It keeps stress low, promotes team spirit, and boosts creativity. We create internal graphical memes that we display in our break room, fun T-shirts, and brainstorm April Fool’s Day press releases. One imaginative new feature that has been discussed is a Wrike toaster that imprints your daily to-do list into your bread. Another idea is a Wrike gamification package with a bag of carrots, a stick and a collection of Boy Scout badges.

During our regular team video-conferences that bring together multiple offices, we discuss the latest achievements and future plans, with stats, graphs, mock-ups, and other more technical things. However, we also share some of our leisure photos and fun stories. It’s a great way to get to know each other better so that the team is connected not just professionally, but also socially. Work is big part of our lives, and we love it.

There are many different ways in which humour can help you and your team at work. So, enjoy the abundance of fun stories in this book, smile and get inspired for creative solutions to the challenges you face on your project management journey.

Have fun and stay productive!

Andrew Filev is the founder and CEO of Wrike, a leading provider of project management software that makes daily work easy and stress-free for thousands of companies.

What do you want out of your work life? Think about that for a second.

If your answer is ’a steady pay check and peace and quiet until retirement’ then don’t bother to read this book. You can just go right ahead and join the army of disillusioned, cynical zombies slogging through their work life in a permanent state of ennui, though why anyone would want to, I’ll never understand.

But hopefully your answer goes a little something like this:

’I want to kick butt at work, deliver great and successful projects and make a difference. I want to wake up in the morning excited to go to work and have a great time while I’m there. I want to be an inspiration to my co-workers and everyone around me – I want them to be happy that I’m there. I want to come home from work fulfilled and with energy to enjoy my family, friends and my life.’

If this is you then this is the book for you. And what’s more, I salute you for having the stones to go against the grain and deciding to actually enjoy your work life and just have some ‘fun’.

Think about it: You will spend a third of your life at work. You’ll spend more of your waking hours at work than on anything else, including friends and family. Make those hours count. Make them enjoyable and fun. And make sure that the results that come out of those hours are worthy of your time.

And this is not soft, idealistic, naive, hippie thinking. This is about enjoying work, certainly, but it’s also about success. Because people who are happy at work do better work. When you’re happy, you are more productive, more creative, more open, more likeable and a better leader. You’re also less stressed and get sick less often.

This also means that there’s a business pay-off to happiness. In short, happy people make for successful projects and successful projects, along with all of those happy people, make happy companies which guess what? Make more money.

So read this book and learn how you can enjoy work more and be more successful. And why anyone wouldn’t want that, I’ll never understand!

Alexander Kjerulf is the founder of Woohoo inc and one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work. He is a speaker, consultant and author, presenting and conducting workshops on happiness at work at businesses and conferences all over the world.

So there you have it – ‘fun’ is good!

I do really believe in all of this fun stuff you know. Time flies when you are having fun and project work gets delivered, and delivered well, when the project team is having a jolly good time.

The Project Manager Who Smiled is packed full with ideas and jokes, inspirational thoughts and quotes, suggestions and maxims, anecdotes and all manner of good material that I just know you will steal and use in your own projects – and that is exactly what I want you to do.

Go ahead and don’t be shy out there – fill yer boots!

In between all of my personal thoughts and the great submissions I received from project managers all over the world there are some superb contributions under the heading of ‘PM Celebrity Gossip’ from some project management experts that I have had the pleasure of meeting, and in some cases, working with, in the past. I know you will love these.

And there are two fabulous case studies of organisations ‘walking’ with joy on the fun side of the project world, and not only that, seeing some real return on the investment as a result.

I hope that you enjoy it and share it all with your project teams.

Peter ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ Taylor

 

To get a great deal on the book go to www.thelazyprojectmanager.com and select The Lazy Store option

And have a smile with this YouTube video of Father Christmas meeting The Lazy Project Manager http://youtu.be/JfUqGuKNZIs

Gaining access to an Unavailable Sponsor

October 22, 2013

Gaining Access to an Unavailable Sponsor…

…goes far beyond talking the Sponsor’s Assistant into rescheduling the calendar!  It involves a fundamental shift in the sponsor’s perspective.  But how?

If you want to learn the Number 1 way to shift the sponsor’s view of you and many more effective techniques to deal with difficult sponsor behavior, register for a complimentary webinar called “Sponsor Influence Strategies– Masterclass” available for just one more week.

You’ll meet a colleague of mine, Kimberlee Williams who has advanced experience in change management, having led the global change management program for one of the largest, most respected pharmaceutical companies in the world (she’s also a former PMO leader and BlackBelt) and is now sharing her knowledge about dealing with difficult sponsors directly through this webinar. WEBINAR BOOKING

She’ll disclose her personal advice for dealing with the four mindset and behavior shifts that will accelerate a better relationship with your sponsor so you can get them to do what’s essential for project success. It also covers common mistakes and the Top 5 sponsor problems (including exactly what to do about them).

You ‘ll  receive several downloads including a very useful framework that will help you transform your role with your sponsor from ‘hands-on’ to ‘strategic advisor’, program action guide, and others. In addition, you are going to receive exclusive access to a free 3-part video series (1.5 hours) that dives into the other six project ‘people elements’ you must manage in order to be successful.  You can watch the videos yourself at your leisure and are also welcome to share them with others on your team.

Peter

PS: Don’t forget,  Kimberlee is offering a nice bonus with this program.  It’s not for sale anywhere and would probably be worth at least $65-70 USD if you were going to buy it.  You’ll get access to a free 3-part video series (1.5 hours) which explains the ‘7 critical people elements’ that most contribute to project failure rates, then covers her best tips to solve those.  It also tells you the exact technique to reframe your sponsor. You can watch the videos yourself and can share them with others on your team. CHECK IT OUT

PPS: In that program, you can learn how to post a simple reply to the video that could win you $700 USD, paid in November. WATCH AND WIN

The Project Manager Who Smiled

June 7, 2013

The Project Manager Who Smiled

Yes – it is finally (well nearly finally) here! This unique project management book – shipping 1st July

You can place pre-orders now GET YOUR BOOK HERE TODAY

Project management is a serious business; but it is a serious business that can be a lot of fun too.

I have presented to, worked with, and trained hundreds of project managers across the world and I always advocate putting the right level of fun into the project work. I have personally seen how it can improve project morale and help keep moving forwards in a positive manner even in challenging times.

Now whilst there are, quite rightly, lots of books about the serious side of the profession there are none that address the more enjoyable aspects, and so I give you The Project Manager Who Smiled.

A superb resource of inspiration and entertainment; you’ll find this book invaluable in creating successful projects since:

  • A good laugh not only reduces tension and relieves stress, but also helps to increase team bonding and boost morale;
  • When you’re happy, you are more productive, more creative, more open, more likeable and a better leader.

It is packed full with ideas and jokes, inspirational thoughts and quotes, suggestions and maxims, anecdotes and all manner of good material that I just know you will steal and use in your own projects – and that is exactly what I want you to do.

Peter Taylor is a recovering second generation Virgo with a penchant for occasionally dressing up as a root vegetable and generally getting bored when there hasn’t been a laugh or smile in the last 60 minutes. But he is also the author of the insanely successful books The Lazy Project Manager and The Lazy Winner.