Thursday, December 17, 2009

Go towards the light

There’s enough to do (for most project managers) just keeping existing projects on track and moving, the additional burden of ongoing process improvement is more often than not pushed to the side since many consider it a nice-to-have/low-priority effort. I think this is one of the biggest failings a project manager falls into. We (PM’s) are paid to reduce risk and as a result provide for a higher probability of success – right? If you believe in that, than our primary function should be process improvement even at the risk of the current project. Think about it, a failed project today in an effort to ensure dozens of successful projects going forward as compared to pushing a failing project through and then tackling the next project about to move into failure status soon after. We need to continue to move towards improvement, move towards the light at the end of the tunnel to ensure that when we leave, we leave a better environment then when we started. Step back, take a breath and look at the big picture.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It’s about forgiveness

Projects come and go, many are soon forgotten and some stay in people’s memories for a long, long time…usually the more painful ones, the ones that ruin careers, ruin friendships, marriages, dreams. Some people have problems moving on and often hold life-long grudges against those they think were the main culprit for those evil projects. Fortunately for me all of my projects have been very successful (just kidding).

I think we all owe ourselves and our current and/or former team mates a once a year complete clear the painful history, put the smile back on our faces, lift a beer in celebration of the attempt forgiveness day and I think its most appropriate around the Holiday Season (Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah and Happy Kwanza and all the other year end holidays)…learn ye lessons from the past, but let the painful memories that stunt our growth and happiness be forgiven and forgotten.

(image from

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The greatest obstacle to overcome – desire

I’ve been in different companies and in different positions and the one common theme throughout all is the outright avoidance for the #1 obstacle to change – desire. A company might be doing great or it might be on the way to nothingness, the people could be top notch or very mediocre, the work environment ranging from open and happy to slave-like and demeaning…processes non-existent to CMA Level 5 – there seems to be no common theme in what makes the people in the decision making position have the internal desire required for real improvement. Desire is the one base element needed for change, change is a very uneven, scary place to be, one that many people avoid at all cost…but for those with the desire, one that could provide the greatest benefits – but sometimes not.

The biggest push back often heard is that the company is doing great, or at least good enough, stay with the known and continue to gain rewards. That’s the old wait and see the train coming at you syndrome.

Another is the knowledge that a bad or poorly executed change could cost the person their job…this is actually the same as above – wait and see the train coming. If you’re not gaining and you’re treading water safely why swim? Sharks! Currents! Endurance! Sooner or later someone comes knocking at the door looking for big results.

The downside to being a project manager is that you often don’t have the decision making position and at best have a strong influence on the person/people that do. There’s no process to add desire, you can’t provide a drink for it (even though a few beers at the right time could help) and you can’t influence it beyond where the decisions makers want to go.

Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I Cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can
And Wisdom to know the difference;