Posts Tagged ‘Manager’

The ESP connection

November 18, 2017

The following is an extract from my new book ‘How to get Fired at the C-Level: Why mismanaging change is the biggest risk of all’ in association with my friends at Tailwind Project Solutions – previous extracts followed a series of 5 Challenges that I think every organisation should consider, and consider very carefully – and now we will look at the 5 tests of control:

Another quick test of control is the ‘Executive board to Sponsor to Project Manager’ relationship or the ‘ESP’ connection test.

Let’s start with the simplest form of this test by asking ‘Is there one?’.

Does the executive team interact with project sponsors on a regular basis, perhaps are they even the executive sponsors themselves? And do the sponsors interact and engage on a regular, bi-directional manner with the project managers?

Come up with a ’No’ at any of these connections and you have trouble ahead. You do need all three and you do need them connected and communicating.

If you don’t declare a complete and utter ‘No’ then the next step of the ‘ESP’ test is to consider any weak points in this ‘Executive board to Sponsor to Project Manager’ relationship. Here we can go back to the question of do the executives understand change (and projects), and/or do the change sponsors understand what it means to be such a sponsor, and how to go about being and effective sponsor, before arriving at the project management community and asking they know what they are doing, do they have experience and are they supported in skills and tools and method?

Such a consideration will allow another perspective on the robustness of your entire change management structure and to focus where there is a need.

One point here. If there is a problem at say the ‘E to S’ connection and also at the ‘S to P’ connection, then the priority has to be to focus and fix the ‘E to S’ problem first as the higher the issue the bigger the issue is in my personal experience.

TAKE THE TEST: Consider each level on the ESP connection and evaluate the change leadership maturity at each level – then assess the strength of connection at each of those touch points, ‘E to S’ and ‘S to P’.

Tailwind Project Solutions was formed in 2014 to provide a bespoke approach to project leadership development. Owned by Director & CEO Alex Marson, the organisation works with large FTSE 250 clients including some of the biggest companies in the world in the Asset Management, Professional Services, Software, Automotive, Finance and Pharmaceutical industry.  The company has a team of world-class experts who provide a bespoke approach to the challenges that our clients have, and the company was formed because of a gap in the market for expertise which truly gets to the heart of the issues clients are facing – providing a robust, expert solution to change the way that companies run their projects.

At the time, the market was becoming flooded with training companies, providing a ‘sheep dip’ approach to project management, and the consensus was that This didn’t solve the real challenges that businesses and individuals are experiencing in this ever-increasing complex world of project management. The vision was to hand-pick and work with the very best consultants, trainers and coaches worldwide so that Tailwind could make a difference to their clients, to sit down with them, understand their pain points, what makes them tick, and what is driving their need for support.

These challenges being raised time and time again are in the project leadership space, from communication issues, not understanding stakeholder requirements or having the confidence to “push back”, lack of sponsorship support, working across different cultures, languages, levels of capability and complexity. We expect more from our project managers – we expect them to inspire, lead teams and be more confident.

Tailwind’s experience is vast, from providing interim resources in the project and programme management space, supporting the recruitment process, experiential workshops, coaching – from project managers through to executives, providing keynote speakers, implementing PPM Academies, PM Healthchecks and Leadership development. The approach is created often uniquely – to solve the real challenges of each of their individual clients.

http://tailwindps.com/

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ABI Evaluation

September 30, 2017

The following is an extract from my new book ‘How to get Fired at the C-Level: Why mismanaging change is the biggest risk of all’ in association with my friends at Tailwind Project Solutions – previous extracts followed a series of 5 Challenges that I think every organisation should consider, and consider very carefully – and now we will look at the 5 tests of control:

ABI stands for ‘Allocate, Burn or Invest’ and is a way of looking at how organisations truly ‘manage’ their change investments after they are sanctioned.

From the previous ‘Control Test’ of portfolio value you will now know the ‘what’, that is the ‘what is the value of our change investment’, which is an excellent start.

Now we come to the ‘so what’ part.

‘So what do we do with this change investment?’

The ‘A’ for allocate is when an executive team take the first part of the process very seriously and exhaust many, many hours scrutinising business proposals and change propositions, evaluate alternatives and options, ponders long and hard, challenges and re-challenges the change advocates and then allocates the money, whilst at the same time (in much the same way as in the Men in Black films) erase their minds of the change investment and everything that just occurred in order to carry on with the rest of their business responsibilities and business as usual.

What happens with this ‘Allocate’ path is that there is no ongoing control of the changes that have been launched and success is very much dependent of the under-lying organisational team and the priorities that the feel they have. Success is possible but far from ensured.

The second answer to the ‘So what do we do with this change investment?’ is the ‘B’ for burn. The allocate option works to some degree if there is some maturity of project delivery inside the organisation, it works if there are people who care, and it doesn’t work if these are not in place. In this situation, the allocate actually becomes a ‘burn.

Anything that is approved will be left to burn away (think of it as money on a bonfire) and be destined to not deliver most or any of the expected business benefits. Without management and control and accountability, alongside that maturity in change delivery, it will be wasted – perhaps not truly burnt but money used a little here and a little there, a resource ‘borrowed’, and a little help provided over there on that other important activity. The bottom line is it will go and the benefits will not replace its disappearance.

The third, and final, answer to the ‘So what do we do with this change investment?’ is the ‘I’ for investment. Here are in that happy place where the executive team do take the first part of the process very seriously and exhaust many, many hours scrutinising business proposals and change propositions, evaluate alternatives and options, ponder long and hard, challenges and re-challenge the change advocates and then finally allocate the money, but they do not forget all about it. They remember, they care, they enrage, they get updates and ask for status analysis and business benefit realisation progress and so much more.

Forgetting ‘burn’ (and I think you will agree we should) then ‘allocate’ means to distribute (resources or duties) for a particular purpose, which is a bit of a one-way process, whereas ‘invest’ means to ‘put (money) into a commercial venture with the expectation of achieving a profit – less of a one-way process and more of a ‘two-way/we’d like to get something back’ process to me.

And this requires ongoing and continual interaction with the change underway.

TAKE THE TEST: Think of your own organisation and (honestly) decide if you are an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘I’ type of executive team? You might even take it down to the individual executive team member (or make it personal to yourself perhaps) asking ‘is this person’, or ‘am I’ an ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘I’ type?

Once you know this you can contemplate what this means for that big number you came up with in ‘The true value of change’ exercise.

Tailwind Project Solutions was formed in 2014 to provide a bespoke approach to project leadership development. Owned by Director & CEO Alex Marson, the organisation works with large FTSE 250 clients including some of the biggest companies in the world in the Asset Management, Professional Services, Software, Automotive, Finance and Pharmaceutical industry.  The company has a team of world-class experts who provide a bespoke approach to the challenges that our clients have, and the company was formed because of a gap in the market for expertise which truly gets to the heart of the issues clients are facing – providing a robust, expert solution to change the way that companies run their projects.

At the time, the market was becoming flooded with training companies, providing a ‘sheep dip’ approach to project management, and the consensus was that This didn’t solve the real challenges that businesses and individuals are experiencing in this ever-increasing complex world of project management. The vision was to hand-pick and work with the very best consultants, trainers and coaches worldwide so that Tailwind could make a difference to their clients, to sit down with them, understand their pain points, what makes them tick, and what is driving their need for support.

These challenges being raised time and time again are in the project leadership space, from communication issues, not understanding stakeholder requirements or having the confidence to “push back”, lack of sponsorship support, working across different cultures, languages, levels of capability and complexity. We expect more from our project managers – we expect them to inspire, lead teams and be more confident.

Tailwind’s experience is vast, from providing interim resources in the project and programme management space, supporting the recruitment process, experiential workshops, coaching – from project managers through to executives, providing keynote speakers, implementing PPM Academies, PM Healthchecks and Leadership development. The approach is created often uniquely – to solve the real challenges of each of their individual clients.

http://tailwindps.com/

Professionalise Project Management

August 1, 2017

The following is an extract from my new book ‘How to get Fired at the C-Level: Why mismanaging change is the biggest risk of all’ in association with my friends at Tailwind Project Solutions – the extracts follow a series of 5 Challenges that I think every organisation should consider, and consider very carefully – this is the final of the five challenges:

Invest in great project management skills – not just project managers

And how can you Invest in great project management skills? Perhaps we might begin with the PMO.

Since PMOs lead the project management community – either directly or indirectly, according to your PMO model (see appendices) – then by considering what the best PMOs offer we can gain some insight and see that:

  • The best PMOs have consistent, repeatable PM practices across the enterprise. All projects are held to the same standards and requirements for success. They have also eliminated redundant, bureaucratic PM practices that have slowed down projects
  • The best PMOs have the most experienced PMs in place and have a program underway to recruit the best PMs, develop their existing PMs into the best and to maintain this level of quality and experience
  • The best PMOs sponsor training and facilitate communities of practice to promote PM best practices in their organisations. Such communities of practice provide PMs with a forum to share their knowledge and share experiences

You can see that is not just a matter of recruiting the best project managers. That helps of course, as does developing the best project managers. Nor is it just having the best sponsors in place (we have covered that in some detail already), although having the best sponsors means that there should be a path for project managers to become sponsors.

It is not just about the provision of a ‘lean’ framework for these sponsors and project managers to work to – and by ‘lean’ I mean that every part should add value and not create unnecessary waste.

And it is not only about having a great project community – think way wider than just project managers in that community – or about having amazing education, mentoring, coaching or any means to raise skills.

It is about having all the above and anything else you can constructively think of providing to create an environment that provides and celebrates great project management skills.

To understand Challenge 5 further take a look at these three arguments:

  1. Project Management will always be a niche capability
    1. It’s the skill and experience of the individual project manager that makes or breaks a project;
    2. The need for success means that projects have to be driven by a ‘niche capable’ project manager;
    3. General managers will never have the time, the experience, the training, or indeed the skills, to manage any project beyond that which is simple in its goals;
    4. No executive gets promoted because of their project management skills; they get promoted for other reasons. Executives do not need project management skills but project sponsorship and product ownership skills.
  2. Project management is a core skill
    1. If you believe, as most evidence is now directing us, that we are moving to the ‘projectification’ of society, where work is less and less a line activity and delivered in the majority through projects, then it is clearly vital that all managers now understand the dynamics of projects and have basic skills and understanding of the process of project management to make the most out their organisation’s investments;
    2. All managers need to think in terms of controlled and carefully monitored delivery of outcomes, against a fixed budget and expectations of a quality outcome, that is as projects;
  3. Project management is both a niche capability and a core skill
    1. Project management methodology is a ‘core skill’ that all managers need to be aware of but, the actual project management activity is still a ‘niche capability’, for which additional training and experience are required to be successful;
    2. Managing a small, simple project is no big deal and most people can do it. Managing a large, complex project with substantial risk, diverse stakeholders, a geographically distributed team, multiple constraints and high stakes is best reserved for experts;
    3. The successful business of the twenty-first century recognises the value of niche project managers working under a supportive executive that has a foundation of project core skills.

I personally believe that there will always be a need for project managers, but what is also needed these days is a new management capability of successful project delivery. One man can’t do it all on his own (even Batman has Robin by his side).

All of which, I believe will make you reconsider the full project delivery capability within your own organisation, and then consider how well you and your organisation are supporting these project leaders.

To completely address Challenge 5 – invest in great project management skills – not just project managers – for as many people as possible to ensure that ‘projects’ are appropriately understood, and supported as a consequence.

We have now explored the five key challenges

  1. The challenge of investing in the right portfolio dashboard (getting a good and accurate view from the very top);
  2. The challenge of investing in real professional project sponsorship or executive leadership (project sponsors are from Venus if you remember);
  3. The challenge of investing at the C-level in a chief projects officer and, ideally, a PMO (added to the C-level);
  4. The challenge of investing in the means to know the true status of your strategic change/project investment (having good analysis and good reporting)
  5. The challenge of investing in professionalising the project capability and competence within your organisation (professionalise your project management).

It is now time to take stock, and to assess your own organisation’s position regarding these five challenges.

In the subsequent blogs we will cover five test points to apply against these 5 elements before moving on to describe five simple steps to move forward with all of the above in a controlled manner.

Tailwind Project Solutions was formed in 2014 to provide a bespoke approach to project leadership development. Owned by Director & CEO Alex Marson, the organisation works with large FTSE 250 clients including some of the biggest companies in the world in the Asset Management, Professional Services, Software, Automotive, Finance and Pharmaceutical industry.  The company has a team of world-class experts who provide a bespoke approach to the challenges that our clients have, and the company was formed because of a gap in the market for expertise which truly gets to the heart of the issues clients are facing – providing a robust, expert solution to change the way that companies run their projects.

At the time, the market was becoming flooded with training companies, providing a ‘sheep dip’ approach to project management, and the consensus was that This didn’t solve the real challenges that businesses and individuals are experiencing in this ever-increasing complex world of project management. The vision was to hand-pick and work with the very best consultants, trainers and coaches worldwide so that Tailwind could make a difference to their clients, to sit down with them, understand their pain points, what makes them tick, and what is driving their need for support.

These challenges being raised time and time again are in the project leadership space, from communication issues, not understanding stakeholder requirements or having the confidence to “push back”, lack of sponsorship support, working across different cultures, languages, levels of capability and complexity. We expect more from our project managers – we expect them to inspire, lead teams and be more confident.

Tailwind’s experience is vast, from providing interim resources in the project and programme management space, supporting the recruitment process, experiential workshops, coaching – from project managers through to executives, providing keynote speakers, implementing PPM Academies, PM Healthchecks and Leadership development. The approach is created often uniquely – to solve the real challenges of each of their individual clients.

http://tailwindps.com/

Lazy but looking to be Busy

July 7, 2017

“Life? Don’t talk to me about life.”

 So said Marvin from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Marvin, more fully known as Marvin the Paranoid Android, is a robot manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. He is equipped with “Genuine People Personalities”  technology which is designed to make him more like a person. Marvin is a severely depressed robot. He’s regularly so depressed that, when he gets bored and talks to other computers, they commit suicide and die.

And life, others say, is what happens to you whilst you are busy making other plans. That is very true in my own very recent experience as I am now back out in the big wide working world seeking new challenges and new opportunities.

 After two and half great years investing heavily in a Global PMO and in project and program management, the company I was working for have done a complete U-Turn and abandoned project management as a primary focus and, as a result, don’t feel the need for a Head of Global PMO. Warning to all you PMO leaders out there, you are never completely safe…

 And so, I speak to my world wide network of friends, peers, colleagues, and social acquaintances to seek any and every opportunity to continue my work in PMOs, project management development, and delivery of change.

 Speaker – Trainer – Workshops – General scaring the hell out of C-level executives – MC – Event host and/or manager, PMO development and re-engineering, and, well, pretty much anything else related to the project world – that’s me.

 Anything I can help you and your company with, anywhere in the world, then please get in touch and get the Lazy Guy back being Busy (and productively lazy) once again.

 Thank you. Peter

 

 

Peter Taylor is a PMO expert who has built and led four global PMOs across several industries, and has advised many other organisations in PMO and PM strategy.

He is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on project leadership, PMO development, project marketing, project challenges and executive sponsorship.

In the last 5 years, he has delivered over 250 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

Know the value of your change

July 3, 2017

The following is an extract from my new book ‘How to get Fired at the C-Level: Why mismanaging change is the biggest risk of all’ in association with my friends at Tailwind Project Solutions – the extracts follow a series of 5 Challenges that I think every organisation should consider, and consider very carefully:

Challenge 4 – Invest in good analysis and good reporting

A great place for your new CPO, newly appointed after completing Challenge 3, to start perhaps is in ‘Project intelligence’.

We will come on to the definition of this term in one moment but to begin we need to clearly differentiate Challenge 1 – Invest in the right portfolio management, which was all about knowing what your true portfolio value is. Challenge 4 is all about correctly understanding the status and the health of that portfolio, and all the projects and programs that make up that portfolio.

This is ‘Project Intelligence’.

There are probably as many definitions of intelligence as there are experts who study it. Simply put, however, intelligence can be described as the ability to learn about, learn from, understand, and interact with one’s environment.

This general ability consists of a number of specific abilities including:

  • Adaptability to a new environment or to changes in the current environment
  • Capacity for knowledge and the ability to acquire it
  • Capacity for reason and abstract thought
  • Ability to comprehend relationships
  • Ability to evaluate and judge
  • Capacity for original and productive thought

Environment in this definition has a wider meaning that includes a person’s immediate surroundings, including the people around him or her. Environment in this case can also be something as small as a family, the workplace, or a perhaps a project team.

A project, as we all know, is a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end (usually constrained by date, but can be by funding or deliverables, undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, and usually to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent functional work to produce products or services.

But what if you combine ‘intelligence’ with ‘projects’, what would you achieve? Well a successful project manager certainly needs to address the specific intelligence abilities:

  • Adaptability to a new environment or to changes in the current environment – projects are all about delivering change and the ability to oversee such change requires a great degree of adaptability.
  • Capacity for knowledge and the ability to acquire it – projects also require a continuous learning process to understand the change that is being delivered, the lessons that are there to be learned. The combined knowledge of the core and extended project team offer the best platform for project success.
  • Capacity for reason and abstract thought – logical application through the methods of project management will deliver a degree of likely success, the ability to ‘think outside the box’ and supply beneficial adaptations to process and solutions will deliver the rest.
  • Ability to comprehend relationships – projects are all about people and the relationship of people with other people.
  • Ability to evaluate and judge – such is the essence of project leadership and decision making.
  • Capacity for original and productive thought – problem resolution and the comparative analysis of options is a constant need in good project management.

In all aspects, the project demands the intelligent project manager.

But what else is required to support successful project delivery, not from the individual’s perspective but from the organisation as a whole?

Here we can introduce a new term that refers to these requirements; Project Intelligence.

Project Intelligence (PI) refers to the skills, processes, technologies, applications, metrics and practices used to support successful project delivery from the organisation as a whole.

Common components of Project Intelligence include:

  • Project Management skills, maturity and certification (from project contributor through to senior project (or program) roles)
  • Project Sponsorship skills and maturity
  • Project Methodologies and practices
  • Project Management Information Systems
  • Project (or Program) Management Office (PMO) activities and focus (supportive, directive, controlling)
  • Executive/Management skills, maturity and experience in project delivery
  • Project based organisational maturity
  • Project Support technologies (Resource Management, Skills Database, Scheduling and Time Management, Cost Management etc.)
  • Project Dashboard and Reporting technologies

Project Intelligence aims to support a project based organisations successful project capability.

Whilst we may believe we understand all of these components of PI perhaps we should explore a few of them in some detail.

For example, many organisations have a growing capability in project management skills, this is the next challenge, Challenge 5 – Invest in great project management skills – but many do not specifically train beyond the project management role itself. They don’t develop great project sponsors, going back to Challenge 2 – Invest in non-accidental project sponsors – nor do they train people to undertake objective lessons learned activities either.

Executives in general have acquired project knowledge – well let’s be honest here, it tends to be project experience and usually ‘experience’ of a painful type – but few will come close to understanding the mechanics and skills of being a project leader unless they have been through the ‘project delivery’ world. This is Challenge 3 – Invest in a Chief Projects Officer in part but beyond that, why not consider some form of education – projects for the non-project managers – so that the widest audience can understand why projects are different.

And the deployment of project dashboards is, sadly, often a means to either move swiftly away back to safe operational issues if the dashboard looks ‘green’ or raise a lot of unhelpful noise when the dreaded ‘red’ appears; just when the project needs all the positive help it can get. This is this challenge, of course – Challenge 4 – Invest in good analysis and good reporting.

Project Intelligence is all about having the very best environment to nurture and deliver project success through the needed skills, processes, technologies, applications, metrics and practices.

You organisation deserves the best possible ‘knowledge’ about your change projects and therefore Project Intelligence is what you need.

Here is another thought

I saw something for the very first time the other day, and it was one of those ‘why on earth have I never seen this before it is so obvious…’ moments.

I was reviewing a portfolio dashboard at a software vendor and they, as I have seen many times in the past in many systems, offered me views by project manager, business unit, location, value, phase and so on. But then I asked, and was delighted to see (after a simple sort edit) a view of the portfolio by… yes, you guessed it, by sponsor.

And why not.

Portfolio management should be much more than just a prioritisation of projects and resources exercise. It should be the representation in projects (and programs) of the competitive strategy that will allow business executives to convert their intentions into reality.

So, this is pretty serious stuff then.

All of this is placed in the hands of project managers, and they need to be held to task and held accountable but in the words of Standish ‘The most important person in the project is the executive sponsor. The executive sponsor is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of the project’

To me, these days anyway, for the executive team to be able to view their portfolio also by project sponsor and to see who of these ‘ultimately responsible’ people are performing (and who are not, thereby putting the business strategy at risk) should be a ‘no-brainer’.

When it comes to financial accountability, it seems—at least anecdotally—that projects often go over budget, deliver late, and deliver less than was expected . . . and there are absolutely no significant consequences at sponsor level. No one appears to be accountable and no one gets removed.

Now, if something goes wrong in the ‘real’ side of the business—sales down, profits falling, share price dropping—then it seems like something will be done and someone will be held accountable. Maybe this is because this is seen as ‘real’ business and ‘real’ work and as such has to be taken seriously.

Project sponsorship needs the same strength of focus and importance of status. The success or failure of a project is a direct reflection on the sponsor as the keeper of the organisational vision.

A ‘sponsor’ view of the project portfolio is an absolute key to this in the future I believe, and fits exactly into Challenge 2 – Invest in non-accidental project sponsors and this Challenge 4 – Invest in good analysis and good reporting.

Executives; demand this today!

Tailwind Project Solutions was formed in 2014 to provide a bespoke approach to project leadership development. Owned by Director & CEO Alex Marson, the organisation works with large FTSE 250 clients including some of the biggest companies in the world in the Asset Management, Professional Services, Software, Automotive, Finance and Pharmaceutical industry.  The company has a team of world-class experts who provide a bespoke approach to the challenges that our clients have, and the company was formed because of a gap in the market for expertise which truly gets to the heart of the issues clients are facing – providing a robust, expert solution to change the way that companies run their projects.

At the time, the market was becoming flooded with training companies, providing a ‘sheep dip’ approach to project management, and the consensus was that This didn’t solve the real challenges that businesses and individuals are experiencing in this ever-increasing complex world of project management. The vision was to hand-pick and work with the very best consultants, trainers and coaches worldwide so that Tailwind could make a difference to their clients, to sit down with them, understand their pain points, what makes them tick, and what is driving their need for support.

These challenges being raised time and time again are in the project leadership space, from communication issues, not understanding stakeholder requirements or having the confidence to “push back”, lack of sponsorship support, working across different cultures, languages, levels of capability and complexity. We expect more from our project managers – we expect them to inspire, lead teams and be more confident.

Tailwind’s experience is vast, from providing interim resources in the project and programme management space, supporting the recruitment process, experiential workshops, coaching – from project managers through to executives, providing keynote speakers, implementing PPM Academies, PM Healthchecks and Leadership development. The approach is created often uniquely – to solve the real challenges of each of their individual clients.

http://tailwindps.com/

Farewell to Black Sabbath

February 1, 2017

On the 4th February 2017 I will attend, with my daughter, the very last ever (well they promise it will be the last ever, ever, ever) Black Sabbath gig, nearly 50 years after it all started.

black-sabbath-the-end-tour

For those who are not of my era or who aren’t aficionados of heavy metal, here is the short history:

Black Sabbath are a heavy metal band from Birmingham, England, consisting originally of frontman Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and Bill Ward on drums. Like many bands over time they have gone through many personnel changes but three of the original members are back for this, The End. Simply put, they invented ‘heavy metal’ and produced four genre defining albums in 2 short years.

The response to these first two albums was instantaneous. ‘Black Sabbath’ reached Number Eight in Britain and exhibited staying power in America, staying in the charts for 65 weeks. ‘Paranoid’ repeated the feat, peaking at Number 12 in the U.S. and charting for 70 weeks; while reaching Number One in the U.K. in a 27 week run. Both albums were certified gold within a year of release.

http://www.blacksabbath.com/

Last year Black Sabbath, now with 75 million album sales behind them, announced international dates for their last ever tour, entitled ‘The End’. The band have said ‘when this tour concludes, it will truly be the end. The end of one of most legendary bands in Rock ’n Roll history’.

And I will be there, at the end, 43 years since I first saw them play – London, Hammersmith, May 21st 1974 – (and yes that is a very sobering thought, and yes, I am getting old thank you kindly for noticing that). In fact, I was ten years younger when I first saw them on stage than my daughter will be when we see will both see them climb on to the stage this month, play no doubt all of their greatest hits and take a final bow and head off stage to … immortality, in a musical sense at least.

If you don’t agree with the ‘immortality’ thought, then you must at least give them the legacy of being both the first and also one of the best heavy metal bands that we have ever seen or heard from. You may not like the music, but no one can deny what they have achieved or how many other musicians they have influenced over the many years that they have been around.

After nearly 30 years in project management it is only natural, from time to time, to consider what legacy will I, and my fellow project managers, leave behind for the next generation of project managers? After all it has been the major part of my working life and a period of intense development of the ‘profession’.

Perhaps personally I can consider that my writings, including ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, can be one form of legacy, but in general how have the ‘Accidental Project Managers’ done?

Well I would argue ‘not bad’ should come back on the report; the growth in awareness of all things ‘project’ and the maturing of all of the professional communities, along with the focus on project skills and methods in most organisations is a pretty good place to be today. Plus, there is a vibrant wealth of knowledge out there (books, websites, blogs, podcasts, communities of practice, magazines such as ‘Project’ and so on) that project managers today can tap in to.

Yes, of course, 100% of projects are still not successful (and probably never will be) but project health is so much better these days in general and much of this is to do with the investment in project managers (training, support, certification etc) – the days of the ‘Non-Accidental Project Manager’ are definitely with us. The respect that organisations give project management is hugely increased from my early days, when it was barely even noticed or spoken about.

But there is much left to be done naturally; raising the standard of executive sponsorship, connecting business strategy to project based activity, making project management a default step on the path to the top, the ‘C level’, of an organisation etc.

But all in all I think we should be proud of our achievements and be confident that the generation of ‘Intentional Project Managers’ entering the project management world today have a great legacy to build from.

And personally? Well I’m no Ozzy Osborne (actually there are some photos somewhere that have me trying very much to look like him back in the 1970s) and I’m no Black Sabbath either, and I have sold nowhere near 75 million copies of The Lazy Project Manager, but I’m pretty happy with the success that I have achieved and love each and every connection I receive on LinkedIn or follower on Twitter. I respect and enjoy each of the 60,000 podcast subscribers out there in project management land, and I thrill with each presentation or keynote I get to deliver around the world.

And so, I have no plans as yet to start my own ‘The End’ tour but I salute one of my heroes, Black Sabbath, thanks guys for all of the music and all of the emotion over the years, I look forward to being a small part of the last ever, ever, ever Black Sabbath gig in Birmingham in a few days.

And when that time comes that I deliver my final presentation I can only hope that the audience feel a miniscule part of the appreciation that I, and my daughter, and all of the other members of the audience will feel when the final note is played and the cheers rise for the perhaps greatest heavy metal band ever.

Thank you.

Peter (still Paranoid after all these years)

Puppy Love

November 19, 2016

It is OK, you can relax – I am not launching in to a version of the (in)famous Donnie Osmond song, but the house has a new puppy.

pretzel

Well to be brutally honest, after only 7 days, it is really that the puppy has a new house since pretty much everything revolves around this 4 lb bundle of chaotic energy and general cuteness.

Even I, who didn’t want a dog – we have cats; cats are easy, arrogant and aloof but they show you just enough love to make sure you keep feeding them and keep the central heating on in the winter for them – yes, even I, must admit that ‘puppy’ is quite the charmer.

But my goodness has it caused disruption in the house by its arrival. The general mess, noise, piles of incredibly annoying squeaky toys (why do they have to make that awful sound), training pads lying in nearly every room and two very, very grumpy cats stalking outside are just some of the impact results. Life as usual is on hold right now.

But we will get there, it will all settle down eventually.

Anyway, you know, it reminded me of something I teach about project teams.

Long ago, Bruce Tuckman defined the stages of teams as ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’ (and now ‘mourning’ as well as project teams disband quickly and move on to other projects and other teams) – I am sure you all know about this – it has been around since 1965 (the fifth stage was added in the 1970s) – but if you don’t know this model then you should, start here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Tuckman

But the part many project managers forget is that project teams do not (usually) all gather on day one of a project and disband on day ‘x’ at the end, instead resources come and go throughout the project and this therefore has the result of multiple disruptions to the ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’ process.

Don’t believe me? Then get a puppy…

The point is, you may have formed your core project team and successfully navigated the storming phase, normalised and might well be in that beautiful performing phase being incredibly productive when bam! A new key subject matter expert team is called in and, through no malicious intent on their part, drags the team backwords in to the storming phase most likely.

Just think about this when significant new resources come on board, and be prepared. The closer your team is the faster you will progress back to the norming stage but there will be a few days of rough progression more than likely.

And as for the puppy – I should use its name shouldn’t I – the puppy, ‘Pretzel’, will no doubt settle down, the house will settle down and normality (a new normality for sure) will resume.

Pretzel may not be the love of my life but it is rising the ranks fast damn its cute puppy fluff, deep dark eyes (it is always the eyes isn’t it), and general licky love.

I am sure I didn’t want a dog.

 

 

 

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor is a PMO expert currently leading a Global PMO, with 200 project managers acting as custodians for nearly 5,000 projects around the world, for Kronos Inc. – a billion-dollar software organisation delivering Workforce Management Solutions.

Peter Taylor is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on project leadership, PMO development, project marketing, project challenges and executive sponsorship.

In the last 4 years he has delivered over 200 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

The Social Project Manager

November 4, 2016

The Social Project Manager

Balancing Collaboration with Centralised Control in a Project Driven World

We human beings are social beings.

We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others.

Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities.

For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

Dalai Lama

Social project management is a non-traditional way of organising projects and managing project performance and progress aimed at delivering, at the enterprise level, a common goal for the business but harnessing the performance advantages of a collaborative community.

There is a paradigm shift ongoing in many organisations that is all about finding a practical balance between the challenges to traditional project management made by what is known as Project Management 2.0 – which encouraged a move away from centralised control of projects and instead promoted the value of team collaboration – and the practical recognition that large scale projects do require a stronger form of centralised control and governance.

It is this balance, if correctly made, that will take the best of both worlds and move project management into the highest levels of performance and achievement, into the world of the social project and therefore the world of the Social Project Manager.

Naturally the starting point for conversation around social project management is with the project management role itself; what does this specifically mean for any project manager, what should they think about, and should they adjust their behaviour? But let’s expand this thought process to the project team as a whole and consider how such social tools impact the team performance.

Thought: I believe that all project team members, including the project manager, who welcome any approach that reduces the amount of time invested (and for the greater part wasted) in meetings.

Add to that the ever-present challenge to project managers of getting true commitment to the project goals from contributors then an approach that achieves this will also be welcomed.

If we consider the world of the project team, of which the project is part of course but also a separate entity in itself – and one that can be constantly in flux throughout the project lifecycle with team members coming and going, joining the team with their skills and time and then leaving to return to their ‘business as usual’ roles and responsibilities.

Thought: If you have ever managed a project for any significant length of time I am sure you will recognise, as I do, that the project becomes a ‘being’ in itself and takes on a ‘life’ within the organisation and project community.

As such the concept of communicating ‘to the project’ is one that I personally find logical, it becomes in many ways ‘one of the team members’.

I feel we can think of the communication as at three levels, all interacting with each other and crossing boundaries – social means fewer boundaries after all so perhaps we should say ‘without boundaries’ – but to understand the types or themes of project conversations then the diagram below might help:

I describe these as the three elements of ‘social’ project communication – and it is critical to empower all three and provide a seamless flow of engagement, interaction, conversation, and idea generation, decision making and team-building through all channels.

peter_taylor_keynote_v3

Considering ‘social within project’

Beginning with social within project then this is the communication about the project components, the tasks, the activities, the challenges and the team members themselves, the mechanics of meetings and reports and briefings, together with the deliverables and benefits.

Everything that is to do with the project lifecycle and the end goals of the project.

When is ‘A’ required? What will happen if ‘X’ happens? Can we get help from someone on ‘Y’? Are we going ahead with ‘B’? What did we learn from ‘C’? And so on.

Here the social project management team engages with each other to share knowledge and update each other on progress, seek assurance and help, encourage and congratulate, solve problems and celebrate achievements. It should be a self-regulating activity with the team contributing and providing knowledge and wisdom to each other, it is when the sum of the parts is definitely greater that the whole.

This ‘team’ will include the project itself based on the previous insight that the project becomes itself is a “member of the project”, with whom other project members can communicate, and who can communicate with other project members.

Collective purpose is shared and reinforced through this social within project communication and, as we have seen, by using a social project management activity stream and project-centric communication, the feedback about what is going on with the project becomes nearly constant which adds to the value of this type of project communication.

Considering ‘social about project’

I noted in another of my books ‘Project Branding’[1]  that ‘I learned something very important a long time ago, when I first started out in project management: no matter how good a job you do, if you don’t let people know, then most people just won’t know!’ and I went on to advise that ‘The art of project marketing is to ensure that your project is understood, expected, appreciated, welcomed, and supported within its organizational home (and, if relevant, the wider community of stakeholders. Such acceptance is crucial to long-term success, since this is where the project deliverables will eventually be implemented, once the project has been completed. Project marketing is the proactive process of educating all stakeholders about the value of your project deliverables in order to aid successful delivery and acceptance.’

Social about project is this very world of project marketing and perhaps even project branding which is the purpose and process of ensuring that your project is well known (for good reasons) and is well understood, together with the right levels of expectations set for the widest community of stakeholders.

Considering ‘social around project

Think of your own working day, today or yesterday – it doesn’t matter. Now think about how much of the day, at the start over your first coffee, when you bumped in to so and so at the water cooler, at the start of that meeting with the team from the other building, or when you joined that conference call with the remote users… how much of that time was spent in talking about non-project matters? Non-work matters actually. How many minutes during each event and how many hours in the day?

This doesn’t make you a bad working or lazy, it makes you human. Human to human interaction is social in its very nature.

Humans are in fact highly social beings. We all like to be surrounded by friends and family and co-workers and we all valuing being able to share our own personal experiences with others, and to hear what others wish to share with us in return. In fact the recent appearance of all of the various social tools, and their incredibly rapid adoption illustrates the fundamental desire for social belonging and interpersonal exchange.

Therefore it has to accepted that whatever ‘project’ or ‘business’ orientated social tools that you provide will also be used (hopefully respectfully) for ‘around project’ social communication and this is actually a good thing.

It helps bond team members (we will see this in the later section around remote and virtual teams) and adds an honest ‘human’ aspect to the communication. This in turn can only aid the project.

Therefore, looking at these three elements of ‘social’ project communication, I believe that the best social project managers, the ones who understand the value and potential of this new social world, will be the ones that combine these elements into one cohesive communication experience.

To a degree it is a leap of faith and perhaps very different from how project managers have gone about the job in the past.

Thought: One of the significant issues that I uncover which project managers who have only just started on the project management journey is the bad practice of channeling as much communication as possible through themselves, thereby creating a bottleneck for decision making and an unnecessary burden to the time of the project manager

It is a time of change and, as discussed, there is a paradigm shift ongoing with a move away from centralised control of projects and a rise in the value of team collaboration for many organisations and therefore project managers.

It is about taking the best of both the traditional project world and the opportunity of the new social project world, the world of the Social Project Manager.

 

social_pm

The Social Project Manager, Balancing Collaboration with Centralised Control in a Project Driven World Dec 2015, Gower (Peter Taylor)

 

 

 

 

 

Peter Taylor is a PMO expert currently leading a Global PMO, with 200 project managers acting as custodians for nearly 5,000 projects around the world, for Kronos Inc. – a billion dollar software organisation delivering Workforce Management Solutions.

Peter Taylor is also the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on project leadership, PMO development, project marketing, project challenges and executive sponsorship.

In the last 4 years he has delivered over 200 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

 

More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

[1] Project Branding: Using Marketing to Win the Hearts and Minds of Stakeholders; Nov 2014, RMC Publications, Inc (Peter Taylor)

Executive Project Ownership

May 25, 2016

I need your help with the research for my new book ‘ How to avoid getting Fired at the ‘C’ Level’ (working title) – looking in depth at the reality of executive level engagement and understanding of the business change that they have ultimate responsibility for, through the project portfolio that they own, for the organisations that they lead.

Your privacy is guaranteed and therefore I would hope for a completely honest response to all questions; good, bad or otherwise, plus we are only talking about 10 questions and so barely 5 minutes of your valuable time is required.

sm_primary

You can access the survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Executive_Project_Ownership

 

Thank you.

 

Peter Taylor

 

‘The Lazy Project Manager’ – author, speaker and head of a global PMO