Posts Tagged ‘trainer’

5 Years of The Lazy Project Manager

May 29, 2014

Five years ago I released a small book that has made a huge impact, on myself and on many others it seems, and to celebrate this anniversary I want to know more about what you thought of the book and what else it should have had in it and perhaps what I should have left out. My intention is to write a short free eBook called ‘The Extra Lazy Project Manager’ based on your comments and suggestions and release it on 1st September 2014 to coincide with The Lazy Project Managers publication back in 2009.

If you wanted to write a short (300 word max) piece about how the book helped you that would be wonderful and I would include such contributions in the eBook.

Please spend 5 minutes to share your thoughts about the book (even if you haven’t read it I am interested) – the survey is here The Extra Lazy Project Manager Survey

The Lazy Project Manager

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Project Managers are from Mars and Project Sponsors are from Venus

February 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Project Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least it is question number 1 on the list.

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

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

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

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

SFPS_Book_Cover

You can find out more at www.strategies4sponsors.com and you can also join the LinkedIn group – Projects Sponsors, to continue the discussion. Or contact me at peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

What’s in a Name?

January 6, 2014

A big ‘yo yo’ from the master mixer TLPM

‘That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ William Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet

Or to put it another way

‘Hi! My name is… (what?) My name is… (who?). My name is… Slim Shady. Hi! My name is… (huh?) My name is… (what?). My name is… Slim Shady’ Eminem (Marshall Mathers)

I do like to have a good contrast in life and that was certainly one of the extreme ones.

But the point is that we all use tags, nicknames, brands, titles, whatever you would like to call them. Some, such as ‘Slim Shady’ aka ‘Eminem aka ‘Marshall Mathers’ aka … more than most perhaps, but we use them all the time.

The other day I was cheerfully teasing my teenage son – us fathers have to have some pleasures in life after all – about his musical tastes (a lot that I actually share with him) and particularly about some of their names.

‘Tiny Tempah’ being a good example. A huge star these days but, excuse me if you will, a rather silly name I think and one that would have normally been a real problem at school once upon a time. And then there is ’50 cent’ and ‘P Diddy’ and ‘Vanilla Ice’ and ‘Snoop Dog’ and ‘LL Cool J’ and ‘Soulja Boy’ and ‘Ice Cube’ and my favourite ‘Del tha Funkee Homosapien’.

Eventually the teenager had had enough and responded on the attack.

‘Well you call yourself ‘The Lazy Project Manager’! How dumb is that?’

Point well made I had to agree (although his allowance has been severely cut). And I am not alone out there.

Ladies and Gentlemen I kindly offer you ‘Papercut PM’ and ‘Project Shrink’ and ‘Deep Fried Brain’ and ‘Earth PM’ and ‘Gantthead’ and ‘Raven’s Brain’ and ‘Drunken PM’ and ‘Journeyman’ and, since we are on such a roll, ‘The gorilla is named Hogarth’. Quite a list and these are only a few that came to mind right now – there are many, many more great PMs out there blogging away (just check out my website for a more complete list www.thelazyprojectmanager.com ) and a whole bunch of them are known by their alter-egos.

So what is in a name? Why do we do it? I mean I do have a name that my parents bestowed upon me – ‘Peter Taylor’ – so why was ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ born to replace my perfectly suitable name?

Well in my case it was to articulate a way of being a project manager, the ‘lazy way, the ‘productively lazy way’. To be honest describing the way I work as the ‘Peter Taylor’ way or the concept as the ‘Peter Taylor Project Manager’ probably would have gone nowhere fast and I doubt if my publishers would have picked up on the book proposal.

But ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ said it all, provides a great hook in for people, and it reflects me as a person and a project manager. And over the last two years through my original website, speaking engagements, the book, the eLearning courses, the articles and associated activity ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ has become a brand. Indeed my publishers have just commissioned the second book in the ‘lazy’ series so the brand will grow in the coming months.

A brand is the identity of a specific product, service, or business. A brand can take many forms, including a name, a sign, a symbol, a colour combination or a slogan or indeed a mixture of all these. The word brand began simply as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp and a legally protected brand name is called a trademark. The word brand has continued to evolve to encompass identity – it affects the personality of a product, company or service. I would hope with ‘The Lazy Project Manager’ that brand means good service, value for money, and great entertainment through a learning experience.

So what is your ‘brand’? How do you present yourself and your projects?

There are three major categories of communication within a project Communication Plan: mandatory, informational, and marketing.

Mandatory and informational communication is, typically, well addressed by project managers; it is simple to understand and to carry out. The third element of marketing communication however is often neglected, to the detriment of the project and its likely achievement of success. Branding a project is achieved through creating a project personality with which stakeholders can have a relationship and therefore an emotional attachment; that is in essence that they actually care about the project outcomes. This personality or identity is known as the project brand and it is key to maximising buy-in and support from the widest range of stakeholders. If marketing communication wins the minds of these stakeholders then project branding should win their hearts as well.

Of course, branding takes time and money and effort, so you also need to have a project with a long time horizon. A steady stream of positive communication, combined with the positive feeling of the project branding, will help the project be successful and should help overcome any negative perceptions that the project may have.

Perhaps the simplest branding technique is to have a project name that reflects the people, the project, the company and the purpose. I have asked, through LinkedIn discussions, for people to share with me their project names and the reasons they were chosen and whether they were successful or not, and why. But I would love to hear more so please contact me through www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

Is there a ‘Tiny Tempah’ project out there somewhere? Maybe a ‘P Diddy’ school of project management might be attractive?

Anyway I am off now to watch some TV, maybe an old western with Clint Eastwood in.  I love those.

Maybe one of the ones with the ‘Man with no Name’ – what a brand!

Green Bean PMs – Happy New Year

December 31, 2013

How should new project managers learn from the ‘Old beans’

When my kids were young they loved to play one particular game at the annual birthday parties. This game involved ‘Beans’ – all of the kids standing ready and waiting for instructions and then the cry would go up of ‘Beans’ and the game would begin.

‘Runner beans’ as a call would mean that everyone had to run on the spot. ‘Jumping beans’ meant, naturally, a lot of jumping up and down in one place. ‘French beans’ meant a chorus of ‘Ooh la la’s’ and waving of arms in a posh French way. And ‘Baked beans’ meant … well you know kids so I am sure that you can work that one out for yourself. It goes without saying this is the one ‘Bean’ that they loved the most.

Then at the end a final call would be ‘Human beans’ and the kids were back to normal human beings (or back to kids anyway which meant even more noise and dancing around and general excitement).

At my new company I hear a lot about ‘Green beans’ and the challenge of inducting and developing raw talent in to the organization. So when the call goes up of ‘Green beans’ for project managers what should this mean?

I think that key to having a successful induction of the ‘Project beans’ will include:

Give them a safe place to start

Projects are, by their very nature, tricky beasts and for a ‘newbie’ to learn the practical skills of project management we should ensure that they enter the PM world in a controlled way. Hopefully being handed a new project to lead and being told to ‘get on with it’ (as I was when I became a PM) is long gone.

Rather we should allow the ‘Green beans’ to experience project reality by taking up a small part in another project managers project, and watching and learning and getting involved in a small way.

In addition, if there are project reviews, health checks, and retrospectives taking place (and I really hope that there are) then this is another great entry experience for the young ones to see and learn.

Another safe(r) environment might be internal projects – rather than external customer facing ones.

Key is to make the environment of learning a safe one.

Give them a friendly place to work

Where should they work and report when they first start out? Well don’t leave them out in the cold and without peers and project professionals around them. If you have a project practise then this is the place to nurture those ‘beans’.

Make it easy for them to ask the questions that they will need to ask and make it easy for them to see experienced project managers in action.

We all know that there is a world of difference between theory and practice so give them the support they need to move away from the theory.

Key is to make it easy for them to find out all of the stuff that will need to find out.

Give them a helping hand

Appoint a mentor from out there in project management land who will be there to listen to them from time to time and gently point them in the right direction when they need help – such a person will be invaluable to the ‘beans’ in the early days of being a project manager.

Encourage them to make the effort to look outside your organization and connect to some truly wonderful project managers and experts out there on the www. There is a huge amount of advice and guidance through local project management groups, through conferences and meetings, through the online discussions and blogs, and lots more. (It may be in this area the ‘Green’ ones might have the upper hand on us ‘Grey’ ones since all this social connectivity is second nature to them).

Key is to build the best possible network for now and the future and to use it wisely.

A final thought

And a final word for the ‘Green beans’ themselves.

Be enthusiastic at all times. Trust me; project management is a great place to be right now, you probably won’t be able to stop yourself smiling.

So when the cry goes up of ‘Project beans’ join in all that noise and excitement along with all the other ‘Project beans’ (We will be shouting and dancing as best as our ‘Old bean’ legs will let us).

I kind of wish I was ‘Green’ all over again.

Presentation Tips

December 19, 2013

You are already an expert on Presentation Skills – I mean, how many presentations have you suffered in your time at work? Clearly you can recognise a ‘good’ presentation and a ‘bad’ presentation. You have so much experience!

Here are my top 5 tips to improve your own Presenting Skills.

To Begin: Open on a high and finish on an equal high– start and finish your presentation with a story or example or key point, something that will both relax you and get the audience engaged, and leave them wanting to find out more at the end.

Getting the audience’s attention right from the beginning is essential – remember the first 10 minutes window is the first point of opportunity to lose your audience, and having lost them they are very hard to get back.

The Content: If you talk about something you know well then rehearse to control your time and avoid getting ‘carried away’. If you don’t know the subject well then still rehearse and possibly invite people who know more than you do on the subject to be there to support you if needed.

Don’t try and deliver 100% in the presentation – takeaways/hand-outs/follow-ups etc are all acceptable (after the event)

Time: It’s not the volume but the message that counts. Don’t waste people’s time.

The average presentation is 60 mins – say an average audience is 100 people so this may be just 1 hour of your time but it is 100 hours of your audiences’ time. Wasted if I you are not ‘good’ – and this is equal to 4.2 days!

Last year I presented to around 7,000 people which is a potential of 292 days of wasted time if I got it wrong.

Better to prepare and deliver a great 30 minutes rather than a mediocre 60 minutes.

Hands up anyone who has ever complained about a presentation finishing early?

And be prepared to adapt to time constraints – time of day – organisers demands etc – be flexible

The Practicalities: Or the three Ps:

  • Prepare, a well-rehearsed presentation will keep your audiences’ attention
  • Present, the smallest part time wise
  • Profit, Your audience should gain something from the experience

Break the Rules: There are a number of ‘rules’ that you may have been taught over the years.

  • 6:6:1 rule (6 bullets /6 words/1 idea on one slide) – not a bad rule but try and avoid it – use pictures instead of words, the slides (if you have slides) are for your audience and not for you!
  • Agenda – tell what are you going to tell, then tell and then tell what you have told them … absolutely not, entertain them, educate them and leave them wanting more and open to talking after the presentation
  • Thank the audience – well yes but to close this way is a very flat ending to a presentation, better to close out with a call to action or simple ‘next step’.

Break the rules and have fun with your next presentation!

And you can also still get access to the recorded version of my ‘Presentation on Presentations’ webinar at http://www.thelazyprojectmanager.com/page4.htm

 

Projects as Usual

December 19, 2013

I was a great fan of the original Batman series on television, yes the ones that look really quaint these days, and which starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin; as the two crime-fighting heroes who defended Gotham City on an almost daily basis from a range of great villains, such as The Penguin and The Joker.

Back in the 1960’s when this programme aired I loved the perceived violence (without violence – unlike the modern day big screen versions) that ensured when Batman and his trusty sidekick took on the evil geniuses’ gang members.

Biff! Bap! Bam! Kerpow! Job done!

I was, of course, always Batman when it came to play time.

Well, let me give you a new version of that style of language to consider – POP, BAP and PAU! Job done!

Any business consists of two types of work these days, the temporary project based work – led by a project management community – and the regular operational work – led by business managers.

Regular operational work consists of activities on a daily repetitive basis that keeps the business going, such as accounting, production, sales etc. Business projects are different, they are temporary tasks that the business initiates to promote build the company on some way, such as new products, marketing campaigns, new offices etc.

That said they do have some similarities – both operate under some management control – both have budgets – both should have some sort of plan etc

Now both work types contribute to an organisation’s success in terms of products, services and marketplace standing but things are changing, it seems more and more of business activity is now project based (one major company declared that over 60% of their business was now project led).

POP: Projects as projects, pure and simple (well probably not simple. More likely complex and challenging hence the need for a dedicated project manager).

BAP: Business as projects is definitely on the up as each organisation strives to achieve strategic goals and maintain/gain market share, remain profitable/successfully and differentiate themselves from competitors.

PAU: Which leads to the concept of projects as usual, a point on time that some companies have already reached, where the project based activity exceeds the business as usual activity. This may be the very nature of the business – innovative or new to the market, or it may be a more traditional business that has entered a significant expansion phase or is on an acquisitional path for example. In this situation each and every business manager needs to understand and acquire effective project management skills in order to stand a chance of being successful.

Job done:  Well not quite. Just knowing this is the case and actually having the skills in-house to make it likely to succeed are very different.

I believe that more and more people will enter the business world having gained the necessary basic and broad project management skills through schools, colleges, universities and other development routes. But each organisation will have to supplement this capability with more local skills of how they manage projects. But the future is looking very promising for the world of Projects, Projects as Usual and Business as Usual I think.

As Batman said in one of the most recent films ‘You know that day that you once told me about, when Gotham would no longer need Batman? It’s coming’.

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

Wrike Sponsors the New Book “The Project Manager Who Smiled” by Popular Author Peter Taylor

July 8, 2013

Wrike supported the release of a new book by Peter Taylor that focuses on the practical value of humor in the day-to-day work of project managers and their teams.

“If we want to work on our projects in an efficient and stress-free way, jokes and humor might be a tool no less powerful than accurate plans, helpful software and many other things,” said Andrew Filev, Wrike’s CEO.

San Jose, CA (PRWEB) July 08, 2013

Wrike, a leading provider of project management software, has sponsored the release of Peter Taylor’s new book “The Project Manager Who Smiled” published by The Lazy Project Manager Ltd. on June 1, 2013. Wrike and the author are united by a common idea of making the daily work of project teams stress-free, which became the backbone of this partnership.

“In our recent survey on working habits, good mood ranked as the 2nd strongest productivity catalyst. Over 57% of respondents said that it motivates them a lot. If we want to work on our projects in an efficient and stress-free way, jokes and humor might be a tool no less powerful than accurate plans, helpful software and many other things,” said Andrew Filev, Wrike’s CEO, in his foreword to the book. “At Wrike, we are winning at a very competitive space. That takes a lot of hard work, and one of our productivity secrets is that humor is a big part of our culture.”

“Project management is a serious business; but it is a serious business that can be a lot of fun too,” said Peter Taylor, the author of “The Project Manager Who Smiled.” “I always advocate putting the right level of fun into the project work, a good laugh not only reduces tension and relieves stress, but also helps to increase team bonding and boost morale.”

Peter Taylor is a well-known speaker, project management coach, consultant and the author of the best-selling books “The Lazy Winner” and “The Lazy Project Manager.” “The Project Manager Who Smiled” is a diverse collection of project management jokes and practical stories from the experience of different companies illustrating how humor can seriously help in work. The book includes contributions from numerous business leaders, project managers, speakers and recognized authors.

About Wrike
Wrike is the leading on-demand, online project management and collaboration software. It provides teams with a unique platform for collaborating on multiple projects in one workspace in real time. Wrike’s collaboration features give a significant productivity gain to thousands of companies all over the globe, including Adobe, EMC and Ecco. Wrike, Inc. is a privately held corporation located in California.

Wrike is a trademark of Wrike, Inc. All other product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.