Split Personality

I’m a project management consultant.  Does that make me more a project manager than a consultant, or more a consultant than a project manager?  Or, am I equally both?  Aargh, I’m so confused!  One day I’m like “Let’s get to the bottom of this problem and get it solved!” and the next day it’s “How do you think things are going, what has been or could be better?”  My personality is split!  Help me work this out – I need someone to listen while I rant about which one I am or need to be and why.

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The Room of Requirement

I’m trying, against my usual nature, to be predictable and consistent with my blog. I could be doing better this summer. If you are familiar with a Pacific Northwest summer, you know that you take it when you can get it. Last week and this one we’ve been blessed with both summer weather and granddaughter visits. First the eight year old, and now the five year old. The blog has had some tough competition. But, it has some new inspiration, too.

Reading kids stories, the fantasy world mingled in my mind with the realities of my clients. Sitting in a client meeting to define requirements for new software, my mind wandered to Harry Potter and the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts. Hogwarts’ Room of Requirement, as defined by www.hp-lexicon.org, “is a magical room which can only be discovered by someone who is in need.” “The Room is located on the seventh floor, opposite a tapestry showing Barnabas the Barmy trying to teach trolls to dance the ballet. To make the Room appear, a person has to walk past the section of blank wall three times concentrating hard on what is needed.”

This makes finding the room of requirement seem relatively easy, but, as Dobby tells us: “Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not…”

Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement magically supplied solutions to his needs. On our projects, it would be useful if a Bridge of Requirements would magically appear. If there’s one thing we should imagine going perfectly on a project, it’s building a bridge between the people seeking a solution and the people delivering the solution.

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The Mt Baker Project Management Institute chapter asked me to present on The Other Side of Risk.  That was great for me for two reasons – a good reason to visit our grandkids near Bellingham (home of the Mt Baker chapter), and a push for me to continue to clarify what I mean by The Other Side of Risk.  I have my new blog and a good gut feel for what I’m trying to say, but how to clearly present it in 50 minutes to a group of peers?  Was I ready for that?  I liked how the presentation turned out on paper, but in the end, I didn’t find out what my peers thought.   On the other hand, it turned out to be a valuable and rewarding journey.

Wisely, the Mt Baker chapter cancelled its meeting.  The northwest finally unveiled summer in all its glory last week.  Sunshine, breezy, and 80 degrees won out over a room with no windows, rubber chicken, and a novice guest speaker.  Risk mitigation triggered on Saturday and I got an email from the Chapter about the meeting cancellation.  That was OK because Marcia and I had a great drive and I had a captive audience to rehearse my talk.  Continue reading

Day Camp Dead

“I’m Day Camp born

And Day Camp bred

And when I die I’ll be day camp dead!

So, Rah Rah for Day Camp

Rah Rah for Day Camp

Rah Rah for Day Camp

Ray Rah Ray!”

YMCA Day Camp 1950s-70s, Author Unknown

This was the anthem for the West Des Moines YMCA Shady Creek Day Camp (Iowa) during my years connected to them.  Going to camps – day camp and residence camp – have had a big influence on my life, and probably on my work over the last 40 years.  They were fun.  They built my confidence.  They made me less of an introvert.  They taught me leadership.  They created an affinity between me and an amazing, beautiful woman who married me 39 years ago (and catches errors in my blog posts).  They taught me that we are at our best when, regardless of how hard something is to do, we try to make it fun and focus on what can go right.  Continue reading

Don’t Give Me What I Asked For, Give Me What I Need!

If I advocate for finding what can go right with your project, and I help you manage the project, I should start with getting a clear understanding of the outcome you expect.  What is the best possible outcome from the time and money and effort you will expend on your project?  Why are you doing it, really?  What will be different, in the best possible way, when you are done?  What do you want the journey from here to there to be like?

Notice, I used the word “outcome,” not “scope.”  I think “outcome” goes beyond “scope.”  Continue reading