50cc’s of Patience

Sometimes we take things for granted. Especially if we’ve been at a thing for a while and have gotten used to it.  We might think we are asking for the same results, but we are really pushing beyond what we should expect. We expect more, but get less. So we are disappointed in the thing and try to fix it.  But, the problem might not be with the thing.  It might be with us.  I experienced this riding my scooter.  I learned that we have to balance push with patience; speed with capacity.  And, to be patient, we need to get feedback on what’s possible and what’s happening.

I have a Kymco People 50cc scooter that I ride to visit Olympia-area clients on days that aren’t too wet or cold. It conserves gas, and it’s fun. Maybe too much fun.

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Attitude Flip

The more I think about the idea of finding what can go right, the more I think it’s a basic attitude shift that we need to apply to everything we do in project management.  Whether it’s managing risks, managing scope, or solving problems, the tools and techniques we use can be flipped a bit in our minds to also find ways to maximize what can go right.

Project managers love solving problems.  It may be that we become project managers for this very reason.  We LOVE solving problems.  We look for problems to solve everywhere.  Work, home, and Angry Birds.  We like projects because most projects are about solving problems.  We ask “What problem are we trying to solve?” when we need to focus our team on the objectives of a project.  But, do we let our bias for solving problems cloud our ability to use our problem solving talents to find what can go right on our projects? Continue reading


It’s been a cloudy rainy week here in the great Pacific Northwest.  I need some sunshine!  It lifts our mood and makes the flowers bloom.  Your projects need sunshine, too.

Your project is most likely part of something greater, part of an organization, a contributor to its business objectives.  Do you understand that connection and how you are dependent on it?  I think that every project’s success depends on the support it gets from its owning organization.  Part of finding what can go right on a project is to describe the ideal amount of support that you need.  Support from the organization, like sunshine on flowers, grows successful projects.  The better you understand the support needed, the more likely you are to deliver a successful project. 

One way to think about factors supporting project success is to consider adding a new plant to your garden.  Sometimes I’ll see a great new plant and think how good it would look here and there around our big yard.  My wife says to buy at least three and spread them around to see where they will do best.  She’s right.  While we can control to some extent the water, soil, and nutrients the plant gets; we can’t control the sunshine.  The sunshine ultimately forms the plant’s microclimate.  Too much or too little sunshine and you get an unhealthy plant.  The problem with projects is that you can’t buy three and spread them around.  When we plant a project, we have to get it the support it needs.   Continue reading

“We’re Engaged!”

I heard those two enchanting words a few weeks ago from my nephew and his wonderful girlfriend.  Immediately, I could imagine all the eventful things that would happen between then and the August wedding.  Weddings are pretty big projects, after all.  Dozens, maybe hundreds, of people make changes in their lives to come together in celebration of a new life for two people they love.  Those making the plans set objectives, constraints, and timelines.  They identify stakeholders and strategies, find people they can assign work to, and then they make commitments and get things done. And they do it with the sort of zeal, creativity, and commitment that is part of the most successful non-wedding projects.  All this comes from the power of those first two words – “We’re engaged!”

Who really becomes engaged when an engagement happens?  Is it just the future bride and groom?  I think it’s everyone who will be at the wedding or who will help the couple celebrate in some way.  Their collective engagement makes the whole event special Continue reading