Posts Tagged ‘project speaker’

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

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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.

How many licks does it take to get to the centre of a lollipop?

September 30, 2016

I saw the above recently and a) I wondered why does that matter and who cares anyway, and then I thought b) you mean someone has actually investigated this?

I saw the headline on an article from Live Science where it was explained that science now has an answer to the famous question asked in the iconic Tootsie Roll Pop commercial (no idea what that is? Well go check it out on YouTube).

The answer apparently is 1,000. Well that is one answer at least.

The article states that – From the experiments, the researchers created mathematical formulas to explain how fast the materials dissolve. Just for fun, they tackled the “How many licks?” question, and found that a lollipop with a radius of 0.4 inches (1 cm) licked at the equivalent to a flow rate of 1 cm per second would reveal its centre in about 1,000 licks. Of course, plenty of real-world factors affect that number. Online, posts about Tootsie Pop licking experiments report numbers ranging from 144 to 850 licks. “It could be 500; it could be 1,500 … It’s kind of a crude estimate,” study leader Leif Ristroph, a physicist at NYU said. “But it seems like it’s working pretty well.”

In the end though it is not how many licks does it take but it is the pleasure in enjoying the lollipop – remember that – and of course, it is all about your technique, a nibbler, a biter, a full frontal assaulter, or a take your timer. It just doesn’t matter really; the science is just the science; the lollipop is the treat.

In my recent book ‘The Social Project Manager: Balancing Collaboration with Centralised Control in a Project Driven World’ (Published by Gower) I speak about the various aspects of value that social project management, supported by social project management tools, can provide.

I note that collaboration, which is the heart of social project management, means proactively sharing and actively helping.

The best kind of mind-set a team can have is one of proactive sharing. For one thing, sharing enhances collaboration and takes away selfish “fiefdoms.” For example, instead of people hogging info and becoming roadblocks for productivity, project data can be stored in a central database for all to access.

I also observe that self-organization beats top-down management every day.

Self-organizing teams aren’t rogue cowboys doing whatever they want. They’re flexible, responsive teams that decide how best to attain goals and deadlines set forth by management. Thus team members distribute tasks amongst themselves, plan their own work schedules within the set deadlines, and may even decide who is best equipped to lead a certain project.

The goal of self-organization is to encourage self-actualization of team members: to bring out their sense of ownership of the project and their decisions. Studies have shown that if you decide on your own task load, you will feel more responsible for your work, and usually even more motivated to execute at your highest standards.

And finally I declared that communication beats guessing, I trust no-one out there is going to argue with that one?

And that brings us back to the lollipop ‘science’.

Someone has the answer – almost certainly, and if not the answer some real insight in to the potential answer or solution(s) – and therefore the wider your social network extends, the more open and inclusive you are then the faster you will be able to connect with the persons, or people, who know the answer to what you are asking.

And when they do help you out in this way – give them a lollipop, why not?

‘Back, you know, a few generations ago, people didn’t have a way to share information and express their opinions efficiently to a lot of people. But now they do. Right now, with social networks and other tools on the Internet, all of these 500 million people have a way to say what they’re thinking and have their voice be heard’ Mark Zuckerberg.

Now it was whilst writing this article that the question (urban myth it turns out to be) of ‘why don’t duck quacks echo’ came to my mind and so I asked the question, and duly received the answer.

Well the answer as provided by Salford Acoustics is that a duck’s quack does in fact echo and they did this as part of the British Association Festival of Science using ‘Daisy’ the duck. Again, check it out yourself right here.

Ask enough people and you will receive the answer, or possibly several answers, but at least you will be better informed.

 

 

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 Open Door Policy

September 23, 2016

The importance of being accessible but in a controlled way

I’m all for being there for people, honest I am. It’s just that people take advantage of it if I am.

So for the ‘productive lazy’ project manager I would suggest that it is perfectly acceptable for the lights to be on and for no-one to be at home; not all of the time obviously, and at critical times access and visibility are all too important. But for the rest of the time, why not let the whole of the team work a few things out for themselves, take some degree of responsibility and decision making, and generally get on with the tasks at hand.

Being there when you are really needed and being there all the time are very different things indeed.

Being reachable in a controlled manner, and within an acceptable timeframe, to answer appropriate questions (and not stupid ones) is equally important. The last thing you want is a long line of people queuing up at your desk waiting to ask advice, and you phone flashing with an ever increasing number of messages, all the time whilst you inbox is reaching capacity with incoming demands for your attention.

This can lead to the ‘lights on all the time’ syndrome, a very dangerous condition:

‘What should I do now?’

‘Breath’ you might reply

‘In or out?’

You have so many other more useful things that you could be doing, like reading a good book in the comfy chair for example.

Avoid the swamp

This is linked in so many ways to the communication topic already covered. If you create a communication plan that guarantees to swamp you from day one, what is the benefit; to you or to the project?

None!

The plan should ensure you are not seen as the oracle for all matters, nor that you are the bottleneck for a constructive information flow within the project team. Most projects develop communication plans in a certain way; that is as a plan that is the documented strategy for getting the right information to the right people at the right time. We all know that each stakeholder has different requirements for information and so the plan defines what, how and how often communications should be made. What project managers rarely do is consider and map all communication flows, official, unofficial, developmental or complete, and do a load analysis across the project structure of these communication flows. Of they did they would spot bottlenecks much earlier on that they normally do, usually this is only identified when one part of the communication chain starts complaining about their workload.

Consider the open door policy

The ‘open door’ policy has become a real management cliché.

‘Of course’ managers pronounce in a firm voice’ my door is always open to you all, day or night; I’m really there for you’.

Empowerment in this way has become more an entitlement for the project team than a project manager’s choice; they just expect you to be there when they want you to be (and not even when they need you to be there either). An ‘open door’ policy can easily transform a project manager’s role from that of an authority, and managing, figure to that of a subservient accommodator with little chance for exercising control on those that demand access to them.

Be a good manager

The best manager is the probably the one who reads the paper or MSN every morning, has time enough to say ‘hi’ at the coffee machine, is isn’t always running flat out because they are ‘late for an important meeting’. By that I mean that a good (an obviously ‘productively lazy’) manager has everything running smoothly enough that they have time to read the paper or MSN and so on. This is a manager who has to be confident in their position and capabilities.

A good manager will have time for their project team, and being one who has everything running smoothly, will allow that to happen.

A good manager does not to be on hand twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. They do not have to have the answer to every question nor do they have to be the conduit to the answer to every question. There is a whole project team out there – go talk to some of them – they probably will have a much better answer to hand anyway.

Think about number one

You honestly want the best for yourself as well as for the project; I understand that, so give yourself that chance. Have you ever met a project manager who has put themselves down as a project risk? ‘Yeah, well I am just too nice a guy, can’t say no, can’t turn someone away, love to chat’ – likelihood 80%, impact 100%, mitigate now!

But hopefully by now you also want to apply the productive lazy approach so consider this; let the team deal with 80% of the communication, 80% of the questions, 80% of the issues, and let the 20% come through you for consideration and guidance. You don’t even have to ‘solve’ that 20%, I would further suggest that only 20% of this 20% are likely to be answered by yourself in an adequate manner, there are always others that can better advice.

Think about the rest

OK, you have dealt with the ‘thinking about number one’ thing, now what about your team? Well by dealing with ‘number one’ you will have already done the team a huge favour. You will be accessible when you need to be accessible. The lights will go on as and when they are really needed – it is a kind of ‘green’ project management policy.

The worse thing that can happen is that just at the moment when there is a ‘clear and present’ need for someone to speak to you, whether that be on a project or on a personal matter, you are just too tied up with a whole pile of nothing to even give them the time of day. Remember the whole ‘respect’ and ‘reputation for team support’ team thing we spoke about earlier, well this is a major contributor the that.

Analyse and reduce

And this is not a one off action; you need to keep on top of this as well. Projects change, communications develop, and roles flux. Do a quick analysis of what information and queries flow through you, and how and regularly re-assess. Can others deal with some of this? What are the important components that you should be involved in? Are there too many questions and communication from certain sources? And so on.

Make sure that everyone knows that the lights will go on and when and how they can turn that light on fast if they really need to.

A project manager’s tale about the importance of position

This one is not my tale; it is the story of a friend of mine, a friend who is, of course, a project manager. A project manager who I know to be very good at team building, a real ‘people’ person.

Picture a new project with a new project office. Apparently the company my friend was working for had reserved some brand new office space in a building that they were going to move other departments in to in the coming months. In the meantime the project team could take over one floor.

Now, I have been in many project offices over the years ranging from a single desk to a temporary office unit (grey boxes that get lifted in to place by a crane and officially described as ‘relocatable and modular accommodation’ apparently). But, by all accounts, this new building that my friend moved in to with his project team was superb.

He chose a nice new desk by a window and with a view facing the doors so that he could see all that went on, people coming and going, working (or not working I guess), and so on.

And so life was good and thus did the project move forwards in a pleasing way.

The only feature that was lacking was a decent coffee machine. They had a temporary one to begin with but the team waited with baited breath for the new, top of the range, super-dooper, hot beverage dispenser.

It arrived one week day morning, wheeled in on a trolley barrow. My friend was elsewhere at the time on important project business. When he arrived back in the project office he was somewhat surprised to see that his desk now had a new neighbour. A coffee machine.

‘Hey, grab a coffee, its great’ was the general cry from the project team. I am sure that that is what he did, before walking the two feet back to his desk.

The project office was full now and so it was too late to move desk. Oh well, a great project office with a great coffee machine was not something to make too much fuss about.

And then things went downhill:

Day 1 – People started saying ‘hello’ each time they lined up for a coffee at the machine by his desk.

Day 2 – People started conversations as they waited for their freshly simulated brewed cup of java by his desk.

Day 3 – People started sitting on his desk, whilst they waited for coffee, said ‘hello’, engaged in conversation and were generally sociable.

Day 4 – People asked him where the spare coffee cups were and what ‘error 54g’ was.

Day 5 – People asked him what the telephone number for the coffee repairman was so that they could report ‘error 54g’ and get the coffee machine fixed.

Day 10 – People started using the phone on his desk whilst waiting for a coffee etc.

Day 15 – The project manager left the building.

In actual fact he did move desks, he manage to secure a small space across the landing from the main project office. It wasn’t ideal as he was now removed from the project team but, on balance, it was better than the alternative.

It doesn’t matter that you want to run an ‘open door’ policy in order to be as accessible to everyone, if you want to get on with your job you do need some ‘space’. To be right at the centre of everything all of the time is not conducive to being a good project manager.

It was the coffee machine or the project manager, and the team made it clear that the coffee machine won hands down!

A final comment

So for the ‘productive lazy’ project manager it is perfectly acceptable for the lights to be on and for no-one to be at home; not all of the time obviously, and at critical times access and visibility are all too important. But for the rest of the time, why not let your project team work a few things out for themselves, take some degree of responsibility and decision making, and generally get on with the tasks at hand.

Being there when you are really needed and being there all the time are very different things indeed.

‘You never know till you try to reach them how accessible men are; but you must approach each man by the right door’. Henry Ward Beecher

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.

Tips for Project Success in the Automotive Industry

September 11, 2016

A guest post by my friends at Genius Project

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Automotive projects present challenges to companies with regards to time management, capacity and budgets. Here are a few ways to help put the right tools in place.

Automotive projects are often very complex. Project management software can help manage this complexity

For example: In Germany, 80 % of the project in the automotive are delivered but only 30 % of these projects are delivered without delays and meeting budget. (2014, GPM Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e.V., German association for project management)

Modern automotive companies are often organized in phases. This organization means they separate the actions and projects of automotive production according to APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning), in phases or stages. One of the most practiced management methods for APQP was developed by Edget and Cooper. It consists of defining the phases and process steps, marked by checkpoints and milestones.

When choosing project management software, the automotive industry must take into account the requirements and processes of the industry. In the best case scenario, the APQP process is already integrated into the solution. A project management software, guarantees compatibility with industrial processes and standards, such as phases, milestones and APQP. By integrating these functions, the tool also supports service product development in the automotive industry, in a suitable manner.

In addition to features relating to the sector, the software also offers basic functions of project management. These basic features are not available in the same way among project management software developers. Basic functionality, for example, can be made for all members of the project within the company, but also for external access, regardless of the phase of a project or the details of planning; and at the very least, they can rapidly obtain a global vision. It also has the ability to include as many phases as required. It should be easy to make minor changes in each phase without substantial administrative involvement.

When it comes to planning timelines, Gantt charts are considered some of the most important tools offered by project management software, to visually represent phases and milestones. Project planning requires precise resource management software that’s integrated with the system. This is not only in regards to human resources, but material resources as well. Many tools take into account time sheets and show project progress, one by one.

Changes, including those related to deadlines, have a significant impact on costs, but can also have an impact on budgets. In this context, precise tracking of costs and budgets is an important criterion when choosing project management software. Precise resource planning, especially with regards to capacity and budget, is a decisive factor for project success, and should be equally considered as flexibility, ease of use and compatibility with other applications, when choosing the right software.

Genius Project is an enterprise project management solution and a market-leading software in the automotive industry, thanks to its classic features for project management.

Find out more about the powerful features of Genius Project at Genius Project

 

Bringing a whole new meaning to ‘Business Casual’

September 2, 2016

The other day a work colleague made the following observation to me ‘You bring a whole new meaning to business casual’ was what they actually said, and they most certainly were not referring to the clothes I was wearing at that particular time.

men-tie

Let’s start with what exactly is ‘business casual’ in the general meaning of the phrase:

noun: business casual – relating to or denoting a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear, but is still intended to give a professional and business like impression.

Business casual has become the standard in many work environments in recent years but there is no general agreement on the definition of the term itself, ‘business casual’ seems to be reliant in finding the right meaning based on several factors; industry, company, number of employees, culture, internal role versus customer facing, geography, climate, local culture, age and probably a whole lot more.

But we all know someone, in the workplace, that seems to be confident in whatever they are wearing. Capable of carrying a presentation, a meeting, a conversation regardless of how the clothes that they are wearing fit, or perhaps align, to what the others in the same presentation, meeting or conversation are wearing. They have in some ways transcended ‘business casual’ or even ‘business formal’ (I am presuming that is the correct term for the opposite of business casual by the way).

I personally found myself in a situation where I had to ‘transcend’ in this way, and it didn’t immediately feel comfortable and it was as a result of a tie, or lack of tie, or more accurately a tie being in the wrong place.

I had to do a presentation at a company that I had been working at for some time as a project manager/consultant and the dress code at this organisation was ‘business casual’. But the presentation was a more formal one with some senior stakeholders from the board attending and therefore I concluded that in this situation it was more of a ‘business formal’ occasion and required a tie to be wrapped around me in a manner that I had longed enjoyed it not being wrapped.

Anyway, I selected a tie from my limited options (can you tell I am not a tie lover?) and placed it carefully over the chair in my home office the night before I had to travel up to the company location just to make sure I didn’t forget it.

As a result of my careful planning I naturally grabbed all of my necessary belongings in the early morning, phone, laptop etc, and headed up the motorway only to realise when I arrived at the visitor’s car park, and went to put the tie on, that it was in fact still safely hanging over my chair some 120 miles away. Forgotten.

Despite a panic search amongst my colleagues for a spare tie I had to enter the room with an open necked shirt and deliver my presentation.

It went very well, thank you for asking, and in the post-speaking period I was happily answering questions and generally holding court with many people, including the senior stakeholders (who wore very impressive ties I have to say) without any detrimental effect.

I, of course, tie lover that I am not, felt this proved the fact that ties are the clothing of the devil and not to be trusted near one’s neck in any situation. Christian Grey can keep them as far as I am concerned, whatever the colour.

Now of course if the dress code is say shirt but no tie, jacket optional and you turn up in torn jeans and a t-shirt this would be a really hard act to carry off but I have certainly seen some great speakers on the circuit for example who dress exactly like that, and conversely I have seen a lot of suited and booted (and collared and tie’d) speakers who were really bad. Really, really bad in some cases.

But back to where we started, the observation to me ‘You bring a whole new meaning to business casual’.

I take that as a compliment. Productive laziness is perhaps the performance related soul-sister of ‘business casual’. Being comfortable and confident in what you do, in the safe knowledge that you are indeed effective and efficient without the constraints of the organisational ‘tie and collar’ rigid processes is a good thing I believe.

So please break free and act ‘business casual’ in what you do.

Occasionally you have to follow process, there is a time and a place for casualness, and occasionally even I have to wear a tie (November 2015 was the last time I believe) but mostly you don’t and life, the business you work for, and you, are all the better for it.

 

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.

Bangers and Mash

August 19, 2016

Now if you are from the UK you will 100% know what I am talking about, and if you are from Canada, Australia or New Zealand (I am reliably informed) you will also have a good chance of knowing what ‘bangers and mash’ are. But, if you are from elsewhere and haven’t had the personal pleasure of enjoying a mouthful of ‘bangers and mash’ (tasty) then you are probably completely confused.

For the record, ‘bangers and mash’, also known as sausages and mash, is a traditional British dish made up of mashed potatoes and (typically) fried sausages.

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The sausage part (or ‘banger’) may consist of a variety of sausage flavours made of pork or beef or a perhaps even a Cumberland sausage (if you are being posh) and the dish is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, baked beans, or peas, preferably – in my personal case with ‘mushy peas’. And so we are off again aren’t we? You have no idea what mushy peas are do you? Sorry, go look it up on the world-wide web of wonder.

Why ‘banger’ I hear you ask? Well, the term is attributed to the fact that sausages made during World War I, when there were meat shortages, were made with such a high water content that were very liable to pop under high heat when cooked, whereas modern day sausages don’t have this attribute, they just sizzle, delightfully so.

I wrote an article a while ago on ‘The Business of Meaningless Words’, about the growth in bland tired and need-to-be retired clichés LinkedIn Article but there is another aspect to such ‘code’ that isn’t meaningless but still needs to be known, or translated, in order to communicate efficiently.

‘Bangers and mash’ for example is not shorthand for ‘sausages and mash’ but rather an alternative term, colloquial, perhaps even slang, but still if you say started work in an English pub that both served good beer and ‘pub grub’ food then you would need to know what it was for sure. I’d be in there ordering it!

PMI’s White Paper on Communication states ‘Communication is what allows projects — and the organization — to function efficiently. Conversely, when key players at any level fail to deliver their end of the communication bargain, projects face unnecessary risks’

And one of the levels of failure can be in not explaining terms to people who do not know them and, here’s the balance, asking what terms mean if you don’t know them or understand their meaning.

See what I did there? Yes, it is a two-way responsibility. Explain, don’t assume understanding together with ask, don’t fake understanding.

Got it? Excellent.

Right I’m off for a quick bevvy, and fancying a nice plate of bubble and squeak for supper with perhaps a chip butty on the side[1]. How about you?

 

 

 

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] You have no idea what they are either do you? Go look it up on the world-wide web of wonder.

Life or Laptop

August 12, 2016

In my bestselling book ‘The Lazy Project Manager[1]’ I have one chapter entitled ‘Breathe Normally’ where I describe the following situation:

You are on yet another flight, either to or from your latest project engagement, somewhere in the world. Maybe you have been lucky, maybe the flight is on time and you know your luggage is safely stored in the overhead locker, you are not seated in the middle seat between two sumo wrestlers with body odour and this flight does offer complimentary in-flight beverages.

You settle back in your seat and begin to drift in to that ‘yet another flight’ snooze, vaguely aware that the cabin crew member is, for the one thousandth time, explaining to you how to complete that complex conundrum of buckling and unbuckling your seat belt. You begin to disengage from the world around you…

But wait! The lady in the uniform, vainly talking to everyone but knowing no-one is listening in return, is about to utter a supreme piece of wisdom.

In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop in front of you from the panel above. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, straighten out the strap, and pull the strap to be sure it is tight on your face. After you are wearing it securely, a tug on the hose will start the oxygen flow. It makes sense to put your own mask on first, before helping others. Breathe normally.

Breathe normally.

To begin with I used to think that this was the craziest thing possible to say. If I was ever on a flight where the oxygen masks were to drop down you can be sure that I would place the mask over my face, pull the strap as tight as possible, tug the hose until I felt the sweet taste of oxygen flowing. But the last thing I would do would be to breathe normally. I would breathe like it was my last moments on this earth (or air at this point, earth presumably about to enter the equation in a rather nasty crashing, crushing, exploding sort of way).

Breathe normally.

Not a hope in hell!

But actually breathing normally is really, really good advice. Being calm, wasting less energy, wasting less oxygen, thinking clearly and considering the situation in a reasonable, objective manner is absolutely what is most likely to help you to survive.

In the project world when all around you are going crazy with panic then breathing normally will allow you to consider the situation, assess the core issues, plan a response and carry out the actions with the minimum amount of effort and to the maximum effect.

Emirates_logo_svg

 

I was sadly reminded of this advice when I read about the crash of Emirates Flight 521 which was a scheduled international passenger flight from Thiruvananthapuram, India, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, operated by Emirates using a Boeing 777-300.

On 3 August 2016, the aircraft carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew crashed while landing at Dubai International Airport. All 300 people on board survived the accident and were safely evacuated from the aircraft. This, of course, is an excellent outcome considering what happened to the aircraft very shortly after the evacuation had been completed, and all credit to the crew for managing this situation.

Emirates is one of my preferred airlines and I have only positive experiences from the many miles I have journeyed under their care.

But there were some disturbing images recorded in the smoke filled plane with passengers attempting to retrieve luggage from the overhead compartments instead of focusing on the clear priority of getting everyone off the plane as quickly as possible. Perhaps this is human nature, certainly this is not the only example of this behaviour – other plane emergencies have experienced similar actions.

The thing is we all face priorities, daily, and we all have to make decisions, sometimes difficult ones, but rarely can you be faced with such a simple decision as in the case of EK521. There is nothing I own that outweighs my own life. Simple. And there is nothing I own that outweighs another person’s life either. Simple.

Breathing normally is critical and sometimes those decisions that you have to make, for yourself, and for those around you aren’t even decisions at all, there is only one answer.

Thoughts

Whilst no passenger died sadly Jassim Al Baloushi, a firefighter, died while battling the flames aboard Emirates flight EK521 and my thoughts go to his family for their loss.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, commented ‘We offer our condolences to the family and friends of the nation’s martyr and we pray Allah grant them patience and solace’.

Saif Al Suwaidi, director of the General Civil Aviation Authority, said: ‘I salute his ultimate sacrifice that kept many from harm’s way. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family’.

 

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

[1] https://www.amazon.com/dp/1908984554/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_1LxRxb8Y62D8J

Warning Signs Your Sponsor Doesn’t Care About the Project—and How to Change That

July 8, 2016

Critical to any projects success is having a good project manager we all know but after that then it is pretty important to have a good project sponsor, in fact it can be argued that the project sponsor is the more critical role; but, like the saying goes, ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives’ and the same is true of project sponsors.

There are many ‘types’ of project sponsor and some are really good at what they do but most can, at best, be described as the ‘accidental project sponsor’ – never having been trained, supported, or advised as to what is expected of them.

In ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ the authors offer advice on many types of sponsor with suggestions for ways to work with them, or compensate for their ‘skills’ or ‘interest’ gaps. They also speak of the concept of a ‘balanced sponsor’ – being involved in the project, being objective about the project, being supportive of the project, and being reactive to project needs.

If your sponsor offers none of these key attributes and remains distant from the project, disengaged and/or disinterested, then first you need to find out the root cause:

  • Do they not know how to act as a project sponsor?
  • Or do they not believe in the project and don’t want to be associated with it in any way?

Test the reality with a one-on-one with the sponsor. If they are willing to give you time for such a meeting then it may be more a case of the former in which case:

  • Speak honestly about the issues that you are facing and the challenges your project is dealing with as a consequence of their lack of involvement.
  • Discuss what is expected of project sponsors and what the business also expects.

If it is the second reason then go back to the business case and explore the original thinking:

  • Did they have concerns at the start about the business case – and if so what were they?
  • Or do they see the role of the sponsor as a nuisance that is an added burden to an already busy schedule?

Based on this understanding you can plan a means to re-engage the sponsor if possible, and if not you need to plan to ‘fill the gap’ through your own efforts and any additional executive support you can obtain.

It has been said that ‘A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager’ – but wouldn’t we all be that much happier if that ‘giant leap’ was supported by a really focused and competent project sponsor?

 

 

 

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.