Posts Tagged ‘linkedin’

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.



September 10, 2015

Communication was always the key differentiator for good project managers but what is ‘new’ in the world of effective communication in this modern ‘social’ and ‘distributed’ world – what do ‘real’ project managers think?

‘Like most project managers, I have had both successes and failures in my projects. In post project analysis communication is still at the heart of both success and failure. In my discussions with project managers, I hear the same thing on every project, regardless of the project size, what has doomed the failed projects is not learning how to effectively communicate with the intended audience, ensuring that each communication is complete and understood’


And others felt that in this ‘new’ project world there was a ‘new’ challenge (and presumably then, opportunity):

‘Communication skills become even more important as the Digital Generation comes of age in project management’

‘As project managers we learn there are many ways to communicate, however the most effective communication is face to face and this is where I see problems with the digital natives. They have grown up with casual communications across all types of media, but lack the maturity and understanding to manage formal business and face to face communications with diverse audiences’

‘For anyone who is looking to become a successful project manager the ability to learn and practice communicating in all types of media is important, but face to face communication is critical’

Just take a look at these recent statistics:

Facebook continues to grow (numbers from earnings call for the first quarter of 2013) –

  • Daily active users have reached 665 million
  • Monthly active users have passed 1.1 billion for the first time
  • 751 million mobile users access Facebook every month
  • Mobile only active users total 189 million

Twitter is the fastest growing social network in the world by active users according to a 2013 GlobalWebIndex Study –

  • 44% growth from June 2012 to March 2013
  • 288 million monthly active users
  • Over 500 million registered accounts
  • Twitter’s fastest growing age demographic is 55 to 64 year olds

YouTube (from YouTube’s own blog) shows its reach into our culture (and our time) –

  • 1 billion unique monthly visitors
  • 6 billion hours of videos are watched every month
  • YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

Google+ is making an impact on the social media universe and is now the second largest social network

  • 359 million monthly active users according to a GlobalWebIndex study

My personal favourite (feel free to send me an invitation to connect) LinkedIn, which is the largest business network

  • Over 200 million users

Throw in webinar tools and instant messaging and podcasts, blogs, and a whole bunch more that are no doubt ‘really hot’ but that are currently passing me by (where is a Gen Y when you need one?) and you get a whole lot of new and old ways to communicate as a project manager.

That seems to be the essence of the problem, communication has always been a challenge, even when you had only a few ways of doing it, but now there is an explosion of means and project managers are confused over what to use and when. Dealing with the mass of traditional and social communication channels is causing problems.

‘I want to keep with all the new ways of ‘talking’ to my team and stakeholders and not miss out on a better way of providing updates, reports or team exchanges but I just don’t have the time to learn all the new stuff without dropping other important things’

Are you feeling the challenge of the ‘Tweetfacelinkblogpodoogle’ world?


The above is an extract from ‘Real Project Management’ published by Kogan Page (2015) Amazon – you can also find out more with the PMI hosted webinar I presented based on this book.

I will explore this subject in a lot more detail in my new book ‘The Social Project Manager’ due to be published by Gower in December 2015

Alien Project Management

July 10, 2015

Project Management and the Alien Encounter


I suspect that you will all know this story:

Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. A wise man explains to them: ‘All of you are right. The reason every one of you is telling it differently is because each one of you touched the different part of the elephant. So, actually the elephant has all the features you mentioned’.

This is a good story which shows that to explain and understand something that is complex requires the full picture. Each of the blind men was correct but together they had the greater understanding.

Through a number of LinkedIn discussions I asked the following question:

‘We all know the terms of definition for project management but, to get outsiders to understand what we do, how would you simply describe project management to someone who has no idea what it is.’

Now it may just be me – but I am pretty sure it isn’t – people outside of project management don’t get project management. My family have no idea what I really do and here’s a test, ask any project manager you know to answer one simple question. They must answer quickly, no thinking time; just respond! OK. Look them in the eye and ask them ‘what does a project manager do?’ – I bet half them will mumble something along the lines of ‘they manage projects …’ Not very helpful.

So back to the ‘alien encounter’ and I feel that we need to get a few things out of the way here. Naturally as expected people responded with comments ranging from ‘If an alien arrived here from outer space then they probably know more about project management than we do’ – a fair point – to a comment written in ‘Klingon’ (and thank you to another contributor who sent me a translation) – and of course the classic ‘I thought that project managers were aliens’ – very good and ‘no’ but the sponsors could well be. So here are some of the good suggestions along with some of my comments (and I of course thank all of you who submitted ideas):

‘Making sure that it doesn’t cost you more and take longer than planned to do something all the while anticipating any adverse conditions or obstacles that may stop you from achieving your goals and planning how to overcome those if they occur. Coordinating people to do the different activities as they occur and making sure that we achieve the end goal. Actually when I explain it in simple terms like this people look at me as if to say well that doesn’t sound very hard surely anyone can do that!’

[Lesson: Describing things in a simple way may make them appear simple to do.]

‘A way of reducing the pain’

[This makes us sound like a headache pill]

‘Project Management involves thinking before acting, making good choices based on good knowledge, keeping everyone informed who needs to be informed and balancing the need to do a job well with the limits of our purse.’

[Nicely put]

‘If they got here, shouldn’t we be asking them the question? No offence to the team from NASA, but we must learn from the market leaders.’

[Warned you about this type of response but I like the market leader concept]

‘Getting something new and exciting done with a group of people!’

[Sweet and looking at it from a different angle]

‘The true definition of a project, according to modern acceptation, is a vast undertaking, too big to be managed, and therefore likely enough to come to nothing’

[A little negative perhaps but I hear the pain]

‘As we travel through the space and time continuum, project management is the universal tool that enables our journeys to take the shortest route through space, over the shortest duration of time while using the smallest number of qualified carbon units possible.’

[I like the agile style here and there were a lot of ‘journey’ based explanations suggested]

‘It’s worth pointing out to the aliens that project management also requires the ability to perform miracles, and that project managers are actually miracle workers. Like Jesus who fed multitudes with two fish and five loaves, we also have to miraculously deliver unrealistic expectations in unrealistic timescales with a limited budget. That takes a very special skill, which makes project managers very special beings.’

[I go along with the proposal that we are special beings but not quite sure of the supernatural skills – I am hearing more pain]

‘A recursive scientific art aimed at achieving the goals that were set at the beginning and which needs to be achieved within the boundary of inherent applied or existing constraints. Of course this would have to be followed with the legitimate explanation…’

[Over my head for sure]

‘Project Management is a Verb, not a Noun.’

[A good thought, slightly off topic but I do like it]

And so they went on (thank you to everybody again) – a mixture of desperation, humour, and deep thinking. So why is it so hard? Here we are with an alien (or friend or relative or neighbour) and we have 5 minutes to tell them what we do. Surely it should be simple?

Albert Einstein said ‘If you can’t explain something simply; you don’t understand it well enough’ Really? I think that we know project management pretty well and we certainly have plenty of documentation on the subject to help us out and we have been doing it for quite some time now. Leonardo da Vinci declared ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.’ So we are all unsophisticated now as well? Definitely not. It feels like I have started a journey but have not reached any destination with this one.

In a final desperate attempt to get something useful to conclude this article I texted the online answer service 36663 who declare themselves ‘the UK’s most accurate text question and answer service, knows pretty much everything’. After 5 minutes I got this reply:

‘Project management is the planning, execution and finalization of projects. It involves identifying resource requirements and controlling quality.’

I mentioned this to the alien that lives in my teenage son’s room, mostly playing on the X-box, and he just said ‘What?’


5 Lazy Years

May 5, 2014

Welcome; you are warmly invited to join me for a celebration of a major milestone in my life – 5 years ago I submitted the manuscript for The Lazy Project Manager to my publishers and the whole ‘Lazy’ journey began for real.

And so this is ‘5 Years of the Lazy Project Manager’ Part 1.

Part 2 will be out on 1st September and this will celebrate 5 years since the book was actually published and made available to the general public around the world.

The Lazy Project Manager

I did wonder how exactly I should commemorate this momentous (to me anyway) event and decided in the end to take a quick look at what you, the general public, were saying about ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ now in 2014 exactly 5 years on from the original manuscript being written.

To be honest it doesn’t feel like 5 years since I locked myself in my home office and, with pieces of paper and post-it notes of ideas and thoughts stuck all over the walls, I wrote and wrote and wrote. 8 days later the first rough    draft was done and I sat back, drained my final can of Red Bull and considered my ‘masterpiece’ (well all authors think that way…). It would be many months later that the real test would come, that of what the general public thought, but here we are with thousands of copies sold (and still selling – as I write this it is currently at #35 in the US Amazon charts Amazon US for example and has been translated in to German and Portuguese so far) and so I think it fair to say it can be described as a ‘success’.

If you haven’t read the book or want to read one of my other ‘Lazy’ books check out my special ‘5 years on’ offer at Book Offer

And it is not just a book now – it has evolved and grown in to a series of offerings that promote the theme of ‘Productive Laziness’:

As well as all this thousands of you follow me on Twitter @thelazypm, or are connected to me on LinkedIn Profile – if not then it is time to follow and link!

What a 5 years – thank you – thank you everyone.

And so back to what you, the general public, are saying about ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ now in 2014.

Self-googling is something I have done, of course, 1) because it did help identify what was working and what wasn’t with regards to online marketing and the interest in the ‘Lazy’ message and 2) I was interested in what people said or thought about me. This self-googling has also been called ‘ego surfing’ and I did a lot of this in the early days, less so in recent years, but now I am back and checking out what is being said.

Searching for ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ here are just a few of the more interesting ones I found:

And you can learn more:

  • One day workshop in Sweden Arkatay
  • One day workshop in Germany Scitus
  • One day workshop in UK APM
  • Or contact me to talk about how I can help your organisation Peter Taylor

Thank you once again for an amazing 5 years – here’s to the next 5 and a 10 year celebration of all that is ‘Productively Lazy’ in 2019

Peter Taylor Lazy PM Books


Join the discussions on LinkedIn in the Project Sponsors Group

April 3, 2013

Join us in the Project Sponsors group as well: It is said that a project is one small step for a project sponsor and one giant leap for the project manager. Wouldn’t we all feel so much better if we knew that the project sponsors’ one small step was a good one? Join the Project Sponsors group here on LinkedIn to help raise the standard of project sponsorship for everyone.

Check out the new book as well