Posts Tagged ‘project speaker’

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/

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/

Add to the C-Level

June 22, 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 3 – Invest in a Chief Projects Officer

Well it starts with strategy formulation which is no longer the annual exercise it used to be – nowadays it is an ongoing iterative activity.

And since each strategy gives birth to one or more projects this adds to the portfolio constantly. Often, it should be honestly admitted, in some form of infinite capacity model – just keep adding projects and we will sort out the resources later.

The idea of a chief project officer is not new but it can be described as ‘emerging, with more organisations investing at this level in one person to represent the change programs at the highest level. If you think about CEO’s being most often fired for mismanaging change then it is a ‘no-brainer’ you would have thought if your portfolio is a significant one and – based on Challenge 1 – Invest in the right portfolio management – it is often more significant than you might think (see previous blog).

When project management, projects and change are elevated to the ‘C’ level of importance, one of the distinct advantages is it can no longer be viewed as optional, distracting, annoying, special or unimportant by all the other business functions. A Chief Projects Officer, or whatever title you may wish to bestow on this position, should make it easier to manage change initiatives across an organisation, should reduce that organisation’s exposure to the impact and potential; realisation of major risk, and can drive lower costs through economies of scale. All of which should deliver better results across the board, with higher engagement of all stakeholders and impacted employees.

A Chief Projects Officer (CPO) is typically responsible for providing governance over an organisation’s internal projects – external, or customer facing projects can be also covered but that is entering a slightly different world – with a focus on:

  • Ensuring all projects support the current strategic objectives
  • Managing the overall portfolio risk to the organisation
  • Driving efficiencies in delivery and economies of scale
  • Managing resource requirements across the project portfolio
  • Ensuring that all change is led by a skilled professional project management community
  • Leads, and is aided by, the PMO
  • Reports to the executive team

And how can you get a ‘CPO’?

Well why not fast track one through the project world?

I have seen in the companies that I have worked for, and I am sure that you have all seen it as well, the special ones amongst us that are on a fast track up through the organisation destined for the hallowed ground of ‘C’ level appointment. We all watch in awe and wonder at the skill and ability in acquiring new skills and mastering new responsibilities and generally doing a whole better than us.

And there is nothing wrong with that at all. They experience the company as broadly as possible with experiences in finance and in sales and in marketing and in manufacturing and even sometimes in services perhaps. They get first-hand experience of the component parts of the businesses that they will one day lead and this is a valuable preparation. These are the ones identified as having future leadership potential and any company will invest in such people for their joint futures.

Sadly, I have yet to see a future ‘C’ work their way through the project arena, the PMO, the project management practise. It seems as if, when it comes down to it, that the project side of the business (as opposed to the operational side of the business) is maybe a little less important, a little less attractive?

There is a danger of course in putting a non-project person in charge of projects.

A comment from my recent PMO Survey summed it up with ‘the management in charge of the PMO are highly experienced operational managers, each with a significant and solid track record. Unfortunately, that expertise does not translate into projects where the deadlines, delivery management and interaction between different role-players are significantly more acute than in operational management’.

So perhaps the ‘C’ is not immediately destined for the PMO leadership role but surely there is a critical need for such future leaders to understand the nature of their ever increasingly project based activities.

Take an action all of you executives – talk to the ‘powers that be’ and to the fast track talent development agencies in your companies, and open up your PMO with an invitation to ‘come on in and enjoy the experience’.

In the long run it will only benefit the PMO, your projects, you yourself and, of course, the organisation. Projects are here to stay and with the increase in project activity inside organisations then really the next generation ‘C’ level should understand as much as they can about our world.

 

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/

How project management can improve your business

June 20, 2017

 

We all know that effective project management is a key contributor to a project’s success. Still, we often forget to think about the bigger consequences that project management can have on the rest of business. Working on your project management skills does a whole lot more than boost your resume, it has serious impact on your business’ bottom line. Now that’s a definite selling point for any potential employer.

Share knowledge across your company

No-one understands who works where and who knows what more than a project manager. With experience managing human resources across your projects, you’re well equipped to help a business build a culture of knowledge sharing. By using project management skills to identify where specific skill and knowledge sets are, you’re well equipped to strategically share your talents’ expertise across the organisation.

Make the most of the resources you have

By being held accountable for resources at every project phase, you become aware of where in your company resources are abundant, and where they are scarce. Project management teaches you to keep track of where human resources are and what they have to offer. You also learn the limitations and possibilities that come with managing a budget – all of which is integral to running a business. You can manage customer expectations when resources are scarce, find ways of improving productivity and reduce business costs by putting the right people in the right places.

Manage time and budget like a pro(ject manager)

Knowing how to manage a budget and keep projects tracking to deadline is one of a project manager’s most valuable skills. Managing the budget and timing for an entire business, however, is something only a project manager at the top of their game can handle. By bringing your expertise to the table, you can use your valuable skills to deliver business insights that other professionals might miss. Project managers run a tight ship, and that’s often the approach businesses need.

Strive for continuous improvement

Project managers learn to continuously improve their processes and find new, more efficient ways of completing tasks. In today’s age of disruption, businesses need this approach on a company-wide level. By implementing new processes on a company-wide level, you can instigate the change that sees profits rise and productivity skyrocket.

However, you can’t just expect everyone to jump on board straight away – and project managers know that. Great stakeholder management skills are crucial when it comes to rolling out any change or improvement in a company. Having experience managing stakeholders across teams and departments is a great card to have in your back pocket when managing a business.

Having a project management approach to managing business is more than just a nice philosophy – it’s common sense. Great project managers are well equipped to shine in the world of business. Improving your skills and applying them at an enterprise level is a sure-fire way to start your path to success.

If you’d like to improve your project manager skills, without having to leave the workforce, consider studying a Master of Project Management online at Southern Cross University Online. Flexible study loads mean that you can strengthen your experience with postgraduate study without putting life on hold.

How to Get Fired at the C-Level

March 3, 2017

I am delighted to announce the release of my new book – How to Get Fired at the C-Level: Why Mismanaging Change is the Biggest Risk of All

how_to_get_fired

Getting fired at the C-level is easy – and this book will tell you exactly how to go about it with ruthless efficiency.

But perhaps not getting fired is your preferred outcome and, if that is the case, then you might have a challenge or two in the arena of strategy execution since the number one reason CEOs get fired is mismanaging change!

Leading executives, it seems, do too little about strategy implementation, do not apply the appropriate level of attention to such critical organisational change, and often relegate sponsorship and leadership to lower management, whilst the c-suite get on with their ‘day jobs’.

‘How to get fired at the C-level’ will explore this challenge, and since all challenges are really opportunities, will show ways to not only significantly reduce change failures but also how to dramatically raise the capability, speed, and success rates of delivering strategic change in your organisation.

It also offers a simple means to evaluate executive engagement, and to offer a series of very practical steps to let you be the person who puts the ‘C’ for change into the ‘C’ level.

Author: Peter Taylor is 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’.

www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – free podcasts also in iTunes

Big challenge: Getting your project team to work as a team!

February 17, 2017

A guest post by my friends at Genius Project

teams-picture

A project team is a group of people who work together on a project with a common goal. They have different skills and specializations but their work all culminates in the delivery of the project.

Numerous studies have shown that a project progresses effectively when the team is working on activities that are clearly defined and planned. While it is important to set a timetable and targets, some companies are confronted with cultural differences, dispersed geographical locations and different working methods. Teamwork is not always so simple!

Here are some tips to increase collaboration in your project team.

  • Roles and responsibilities must be set from the get go. It’s necessary for everyone to know their objectives and mission to be able to work in their role effectively. In addition, it’s important to define the project leader and who to contact in the event of a problem or change.
  • Encourage employees to share their opinion. It’s important to provide input during meetings and discussions. The team is more dynamic and responsive when the players propose solutions and share any difficulties. A team always benefits from the discussion and the different opinions are enriching.
  • Organize useful meetings. We cannot say enough that transparency is essential in project management. This transparency makes it possible to have a positive dynamic within the group. Collaborators are informed, instructions are clear and information is distributed. A meeting should only be held if there is a need. The meeting should have a simple and precise objective. It may also be recalled that the project kick-off meeting is also important for a project team. It allows team members to get acquainted.
  • Spend time as a team. Team members need to spend time together informally. Activities outside the office are essential for strengthening group dynamics. Whenever possible, this reinforces the feeling of being part of a team. Team lunches are easy to organize and equally effective.
  • Communicate. Communication is an essential criteria for successful projects. Meetings, emails, online discussion groups … there are many possibilities to ensure optimal communication when delivering a project. Email is not always an indicator of the quality of communication, and that’s where project collaboration tools come in. Genius Project offers a “wall”, akin to most social media platforms which is integrated into the project management software to facilitate communication within the team.

A connected project team is essential to successful project delivery. Organization, communication and planning enable employees to gain a global vision of the project, to understand the issues and to be more effective in their respective roles.For more information about Genius Live!

You can visit the Genius Project website.

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)

New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2016

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement, such as losing weight, doing exercise, giving up smoking etc

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Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts apparently, and the Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took what is known as the ‘Peacock vow’ at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalrous behaviour in the coming year.

But despite all of the good intentions at Midnight on the last day of the year many, if not most, do not stick to their resolutions it seems, success appears to be somewhat illusive. The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions, according to one piece of research, was people setting themselves unrealistic goals, while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.[1]

A study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting (where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying ‘lose weight’), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

This last year I was fortunate enough to travel to 11 countries, on a total of 51 flights (I visited some countries more than once, the US many times in fact), and covered 124,000 miles in total. I presented on many subjects including ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ (still popular after all this time), PMO leadership, Sponsorship and many more, but in 2017 I have a new resolution, one that has been nearly 12 months in the making.

My new book will be released on 13th March 2017 and it is called ‘How to get fired at the C-level’ with the sub-title of ‘Why Mismanaging Change is the Biggest Risk of All’.

The idea of the book is that it offers a simple means to evaluate executive engagement in strategic change, and to offer a series of very practical steps to let the person (or people) who puts the ‘C’ for change into the C-level.

Of course, it is all about projects but it is targeting at the highest level in organisations.

Therefore, my New Year’s Resolution is to engage at least 10 organisations at this C-level and have robust conversations with them about such matters as professional project sponsorship, investment in project management and true portfolio management, amongst other matters – check out Mars and Venus as one example of what I am talking about.

I will though, require your help to do this.

The book will be out, as I said, in March, there is a presentation developed and there are two short sharp (1-2 hours) workshop developed to engage and drive the C-level to clear understanding of challenges in this area and offer simple practical advice for improvement.

A sort of ‘How not to get fired at the C-level’ plan of action if you like.

The help I need from you, if you feel this is a challenge in your own organisation, is to get me an invitation to talk to your executives, to help them see the reality, and to help them make the necessary changes to become truly successful at strategic change delivery.

Thank you in helping me with my New Year’s Resolution.

How can I help you?

Well think of this, in the very early hours of 2017 by all means set yourself a target for personal improvement in the coming year but remember the key lessons:

  • Don’t overload yourself: Be realistic with what you can achieve perhaps set only one goal
  • Share your goals: If people know about your goal they can a) help you along the way and b) perhaps act as an incentive to keep going
  • Keep track: Think about how you will monitor your progress, remember that those small measurable goals work better than a big end year target
  • Make it happen: Don’t just set some goals then forget about them, too many people do that and achieve nothing, instead take action

 

Happy New Year to all and make it a ‘Productively Lazy’ one!

 

Peter

 

 

 

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] https://www.finder.com.au/press-release-new-year-resolutions-2014

When Projects turn to a Tower of Babel

November 7, 2016

Different countries, multiple languages, global organizations…The challenge of international projects

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In this day and age, international teams and projects affect most companies; and they can often be a source of headaches for project managers. They must be managed from different countries and in multiple languages.

Needless to say, international projects prove to be strategic for companies that wish to remain competitive. So, how can you manage international projects when it’s already difficult enough to carry them out locally?

By following a few basic rules, an international project is no more complicated than any other. Like all projects, two things are essential: planning and organizing.

A Tower of Babel

The biggest challenge for international projects is communication. It’s much easier to exchange with colleagues face-to-face. But since this isn’t always possible, a communication strategy needs to be put into place.

Poor communication can result in distortion, delays, or worse, a complete loss of information. This miscommunication can be fatal to a project and its trajectory.

Errors can often be attributed to a lack of communication or insufficient documentation tools. Some tools are simply not suitable for geographically disparate teams. The unorganized distribution and sharing of information via emails and document attachments, makes collaboration very difficult for the various stakeholders. And monitoring project progress, issues and processes without interruption, becomes almost impossible. To address these problems, international project teams use a communication and project management platform. This platform enables them to gather information and to work in close enough proximity to “normal” conditions, ie. managing a project team that’s in the same office.

During the establishment of a communication strategy, we recommend considering the following:

Distance:

Multinational projects involve teams and stakeholders who are geographically separated and the personal relationship with employees is almost non-existent. From a strategic point of view, regular meetings tend to enable better collaboration and therefore, the ability to react more quickly to changes and issues. Nothing is more real for managers, stakeholders or team members than the personal exchanges they have with one another. This is why it’s important to plan meetings in person when it is possible.

Language:

Usually, global teams work in a multilingual environment. And the language barriers often lead to delayed, false or imprecise information. It’s therefore essential to define a general language for communication.

Corporate Culture:

Teams located around the globe can have different management styles and ways of working. It’s important to communicate these cultural differences. This will improve team productivity for leaders and stakeholders, in order to have the right expectations when problems occur.

Time Zones:

Working with an international team requires coordinating activities across multiple time zones. Project managers must develop a strategy for providing regular meetings to communicate with certain team members of that time-zone. This way, objectives will be reported in every region. In addition, team embers can serve as informants and provide feedback to global leaders.

Access to information:

Ensuring access to relevant information for an international team is more complex for global projects. Especially since going into the office to ask a colleague a question isn’t an option! That’s why it’s important to establish specific processes, such as, documenting the details of the project and ensuring that important information is accessible to all. Quick access to information is essential for the effective management and success of a project.

As we’ve seen, international projects are subject to unique challenges in terms of communication and decision-making. It’s necessary for organizations to consider solutions to deliver projects on time and ensure customer satisfaction, despite the geographical distance of the team. Documentation and communication are essential factors. Genius Project provides a tool for document sharing, archiving, annotation and commenting on documents. The software takes the role of the connector and centralizes information. There’s no need to request the latest version of a document from colleagues who won’t be responding until the following day. The information is in good hands and the project can move forward at any time!

 

For more information on Genius Project you can visit Genius Project ‘s website.

Old Man Flying

October 14, 2016

OK, so this morning the postman arrived.

Well, I hear you say, what is so unusual about that Peter, surely it happens every day doesn’t it?

And yes, you are right, it does.

But today was different – it wasn’t the usual selection of bills to be paid and advertising rubbish – oh no, today I received two very conflicting messages about my life.

Let me explain.

Exhibit A

After nearly two years ‘in the air’ to the US I have reached a milestone of the highest level with Delta – which is very nice, certainly has its advantages, and is generally a good thing.

delta

Message: Busy, working, traveller, professional, valued

Now let us trip lightly across to the second letter.

The one that is somewhat contradictory to the first one.

Exhibit B

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Now, I freely admit to 35 years’ experience in project management.

I know what you are thinking young lady in the front row of the audience, how can there be so much experience crammed in to such a young and attractive body… but that is the case. And to add to that, project management was by no means my first job – go do the math (as my American colleagues would say).

And so I accept, somewhat grumpily, my increasing years – you can’t fight time after all.

But come on, an invitation to visit a Retirement Village! Seriously!

Not happening – not a plan.

Message: Time to stop being busy, think about slowing up at work, staring at the ‘no longer valued’ career/life precipice

Point

Is there a point to all of this or am I just struggling with a dilemma of my life?

Actually I think there is. I’m productively lazy, I have a fascinating and varied life with the PMO leadership role, the Lazy Project Manager speaking engagements (other topics are available so please visit my website www.thelazyprojectmanager.com), writing (yet another) book, and generally enjoying travelling the world (just off to Orlando as I write this for example) and meeting new people and so on, and so on.

A work colleague told me that I should bag a room with a big window as it will make me happier in the retirement village – bless their little cotton socks, they will be escorted out of the company very soon, trust me.

My compromise is that I will enjoy the ‘those who need more time to board the plane’ option and secure a window seat on the plane, and keep on working.

I’m not ready to give up yet.

And don’t you dare give up on us ‘Boomers’ – we know one hell of a lot after all these years.

Thank you – I’m going for short power nap now to recover.

 

Peter Taylor

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 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 http://www.thelazyprojectmanager.com – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.