Posts Tagged ‘project fun’

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


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 (

[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 yet?

Project Managers are from Mars and Project Sponsors are from Venus

February 28, 2014

‘We are unique individuals with unique experiences’ John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is a book written by an American author and relationship counsellor John Gray. It has sold more than 50 million copies (yes that is one or two more than my own best-selling book The Lazy Project Manager) and spent 121 weeks on the US bestseller list.

The book and its central metaphor have become a part of popular culture and so I found myself, as I thought about the ongoing Campaign for Real Project Sponsors that I began back in 2011, that maybe we could think of project managers and project sponsors in similar terms.

The book states that most of common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental psychological differences between the genders, which the author exemplifies by means of its eponymous metaphor: that men and women are from distinct planets – men from Mars and women from Venus –- and that each gender is acclimated to its own planet’s society and customs, but not to those of the other.

Now it is possible that this comes in to play if say the project manager is a man and the project sponsor is a woman – as in the book Strategies for Project Sponsorship (Management Concepts Press) by Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead and myself – to aid the understanding in the book of the two inter-playing roles we (a suggestion from the lady from Venus, Vicki, actually) agreed to separate the roles by gender. But let’s not go down that path for now – let us assume that gender plays no part in this and that the two roles, the two people, are both from project ‘Planet’ (sorry maybe that was just a tad too corny but you get my meaning).

For project success many sources of authority[1] boldly declare that good project sponsorship is critical but sadly the reality of the situation is less than perfect. Often—very often—project sponsors will have received no training or support for their critical role. In Strategies for Project Sponsorship we confirmed that with 85% of organisations declaring that they ‘had sponsorship’ in place but 83% confirmed the worrying truth that they did nothing to support or train or guide these project sponsors.

Many speak of the ‘accidental project manager’ but the reality is that the current generation of project sponsors can also be considered the ‘accidental project sponsors’. Although they may not have any background in project management or project-based activity, having reached a senior level within their organisation based on other achievements, they have assumed or have been given that role. Remember that there is not currently any official body of knowledge for project sponsors to help them understand best project sponsorship practices.

And yet project sponsors don’t just need to support projects; good project sponsors also support the project manager and project team. It is said that a project is one small step for a project sponsor and a giant leap for the project manager. Wouldn’t we all feel so much better if we knew that the project sponsor’s one small step would ensure that the complementary giant leap would lead to a safe and secure final landing?

The project sponsor/project manager partnership is one that really needs to be a good partnership built on a relationship of trust and mutual objectives.

‘If I seek to fulfil my own needs at the expense of my partner, we are sure to experience unhappiness, resentment, and conflict. The secret of forming a successful relationship is for both partners to win’ John Gray

Project sponsorship is not about an ‘either/or’ situation but a ‘win/win’ for both the project sponsor and the project manager, it is, after all, about the project and therefore about the business benefit.

If we look at the flipside of project success we can see this inter-connection and the consequences of getting it wrong:

Project Failure

This is a list of top project failure issues and clearly the lack of good project sponsorship can contribute to the unrealistic goals, the poor alignment, lack of resources and lack of leadership – in this case the project manager from Mars has one heck of a gaping hole to try and fill. Equally with a lack of good project management this contributes another vacuum of leadership, team engagement issues and poor risk management – in this case the project sponsor from Venus has no hope of dealing with the consequential impact.

In the book we found that the best of project sponsors operated in a very balanced way, being involved in the project, being objective about the project, being supportive of the project and project manager, and being reactive to project needs. The project manager clearly needs to be as equally balanced.

We also found that the best project managers understood what a good project sponsor should do and how they, as project managers, needed to behave within the reality of the partnership that they had, and with the project sponsor that they were ‘given’. Like the saying goes ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives’ it has to be appreciated that the same is true of project sponsors.

Each project sponsor (and each project manager) will be different, will be imperfect, will have strengths and weaknesses but if the combined relationship of the two roles, the two people, both understand each other’s responsibilities and capabilities then the best balance possible can be achieved for an effective and positive relationship (and subsequent project success).

‘Relationships thrive when communication reflects a ready acceptance and respect of people’s innate differences’ John Gray

If you work in an organisation that needs to develop your project sponsors from Venus (and maybe also your project managers from Mars) then maybe check out the book, or contact me to find out how I can help. And spread the word, we do really need everyone to join the Campaign for Real Project Sponsors; there is a lot (a lot) of work to be done.

As an example, the latest PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge[2] (Edition 5) is a valuable and extensive document of reference with 185,230 words of wisdom crammed inside. Sadly of those words only 159 refer to project sponsorship at all, I’ll raise it to 179 words by generously including the 20 words in the glossary that refer to ‘organisational sponsorship’ – I am being generous as it mentions project sponsorship as one word ‘sponsor’s’ (and Project Sponsor is not in the glossary as a term). Anyway that means this most widely referenced body of knowledge has a mere 0.01% content related to the ‘most important person in the project…’[3]

OK I hear what you are saying, Peter that is the ‘Project Management’ body of knowledge so don’t be so harsh. Well maybe I might take the point (actually I wouldn’t, at the very least we should see a whole lot more about how the project manager needs to interact with the project sponsor but for the sake of this particular argument …) so let’s move across to the perspective of the organisation.

The OPM3 / Organizational Project Management Maturity Model[4] looks at the overall maturity of project based activity inside and organisation so there is no escaping the project sponsor on this one is there?

Well it seems that the answer to that question is surprisingly a big fat ‘Yes’.

Out of the 151 Self-Assessment Measures only 1 is related in any way to project sponsorship; ‘Are the sponsor and other stakeholders involved in setting a direction for the project that is in the best interest of all stakeholders?’

At least it is question number 1 on the list.

And of the 600 Best Practice measurements only 3 reference project sponsorship, numbers 1440, 1450 and 5460.

See what I mean? Still don’t think we have a problem?

This needs to be taken seriously and changes need to happen, fast.

There is some fantastic work going on with and for project managers, we have landed on Mars and we are setting up home and making it look dammed good; but the balance is all on that side. Venus, on the other hand is pretty much undeveloped and in need of a real make-over.


You can find out more at and you can also join the LinkedIn group – Projects Sponsors, to continue the discussion. Or contact me at

‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools. As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase’ Michael Greer

Peter Taylor is the author of two best-selling books on ‘Productive Laziness’ – ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.

In the last 4 years he has focused on writing and lecturing with over 200 presentations around the world in over 20 countries and with new books out including ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’, ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’, ‘Leading Successful PMOs’, and ‘The Thirty-Six Stratagems: A Modern Interpretation of a Strategy Classic’ – with a number of other book projects currently underway.

He has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’ and he also acts as an independent consultant working with some of the major organizations in the world coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers.

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 and  – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

  • Keynote
  • Presentations and Lectures
  • Master of Ceremonies
  • Inspirational Workshops
  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Authoring

[1] Check out Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession™, March 2013 and CHAOS Manifesto: The Year of the Executive Sponsor (Standish) 2012 and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC: Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Practices 2012 – The third global survey on the current state of project management as just a few.

[2]. The PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition is the preeminent global standard for project management from PMI. It provides project managers with the fundamental practices needed to achieve organizational results and excellence in the practice of project management.

[3] One of PMI’s foundational standards, the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) – Third Edition is a guide to achieving organizational project maturity.


Is your project Ticketyboo?

January 9, 2014

This article is an extract from my book on project management fun – The Project Manager Who Smiled – available HERE AT MY ONLINE STORE

One of my favourite words to update anyone on a project status is ‘ticketyboo’.

Use it and I will guarantee that you will stop them in their tracks and most likely start a conversation that will be entertaining and enjoyable.

But what does it mean?

Well there are a number of theories regarding the origin of the expression but in general terms is ‘all in order, satisfactory, as it should be’ or ‘Everything is going fine and things are proceeding smoothly or quickly’.

It first appeared in the early 1920s and was in general use by the 1940s. It is still used in the UK by people of ‘a certain age’ apparently and has become rather old fashioned (well that puts me in place doesn’t it).

There is one theory that it is a relic of the British Colonial presence in India and it may have originated in the British military with one of the most accepted and common theories connects it to the Hindi expression ‘Tikai babu’ or ‘Tickee babu’ meaning ‘Everything’s alright, sir’.

It could also be the combination of the phrase (favoured by toffs) of ‘that’s the ticket’ with the childish phrase of ‘peek-a-boo’.

There are others who believe that the expression may have originated in Scotland, where it’s the title of a popular children’s song. In fact a song called ‘Everything Is Tickety-Boo’ was recorded by Danny Kaye[1] way back in 1958 as part of the film ‘Merry Andrew’.

I have also been told that this expression is heard more often in Canada these days, but I can’t confirm this at all except that as the term was popular in the RAF, and there were many Canadians working with the RAF during the war then the adoption of the term would make sense.

Regardless of origin and regardless of historical meaning I still maintain that it is one great word to sum up your project (hopefully) and one brilliant word to get people talking to you, and talking about the project as well.

And so I give you ‘ticketyboo’ – use it today, why not?

You will find yourself totally ‘ticketyboo’.

Want more fun?

Then get your copy of The Project Manager Who Smiled today – available HERE AT MY ONLINE STORE

[1]Feel free to look this up on YouTube and have fun learning the lyrics at your next project team meeting.