We’ve been visiting family in Iowa over Thanksgiving. More eating going on than blogging. But, inspiration is everywhere.
At Thanksgiving, we recognize what we are thankful for: family and friends, our way of life, things that make us safe or happy, and opportunities for abundance. So, Thanksgiving could be an exercise in awareness. By gathering together and recognizing what we have to be thankful for, we become more aware of what we have. When we focus on this, it makes our lives better and more productive.
As project managers, we have the same need. We have to be aware of our strengths, our assets, and our opportunities or we can’t make use of them.
I can think of times in my life and observations of others’ where we’ve focused on our problems and lost sight of our strengths. It makes you unhappy and unproductive. A good friend and coach described it as “getting into our crummy (we used another word) little box.” In that box, you only see what is wrong and not what is right. You focus on problems rather than the things for which you can be thankful. The problems seem to be overwhelming because they are all you can see in the box. Awareness is how you get out of the box.
In the world of leadership blogs encouraging managers to be leaders, I have a tiny niche where I encourage project managers to develop consulting skills. This week, to balance my tendency to be a non-conformist with how most people look at things, I’ve been thinking I need to put all the leadership, management, and consulting skills into context with one another. Maybe you will add my little niche idea to the more obvious links between project management and leadership if I can come up with a good sports analogy and a cool managerial model. So, here’s the “Five Tool Player” model for successful management of projects and organizations.
A superior baseball player is often called a “Five Tool Player.” This player excels at:
- Hitting for average
- Hitting for power
- Running bases with speed
The epitome of five tool players is generally thought to be Willie Mays. Mays is near the top of all these categories for all time. Also, Willie Mays’ had an inspiring good natured approach to the game that drew respect and admiration. Willie put it all together to make his team and his organization more successful.
How do we become the Willie Mays of project managers? We should aspire to develop five skills as well. Here’s a picture:
“Try to leave this world a little better than you found it.” Robert Baden-Powell (founder of the Boy Scouts)
Boy Scouts was good for me. While I didn’t earn many awards, the values taught stuck with me. The value expressed by Baden-Powell’s quote is a good one for us as project managers.
When we manage a project, do we leave our organization and the people involved better than we found them? Is this our responsibility as a project manager? I think it is. Preparing to talk about “The Other Side of Risk,” it struck me that this is part of what I’ve been trying to say.
I found Jessica Hagy’s blog today. Thanks, Jack Tollefson, for sharing it on Linked In. I love it. Jessica’s simple diagrams communicate compelling messages.
Sometimes Jessica uses Venn diagrams. I like Venn diagrams because, to me, they illustrate the balance between two essential qualities or positions. Like risk and opportunity, project management and consulting, scope and outcomes, practicality and perfection, the destination and the journey. To me, it’s not either/or, it’s the intersection between the two. Finding the right intersection gives you balance and allows you to move ahead and accomplish great things. It’s where you find The Other Side of Risk.
Here’s one from Jessica’s blog on Forbes that I like.
See what I mean.
P.S. Since it’s election day:
Dear Those Newly Elected,
Find the intersections. Please.
“With great power comes great responsibility” (Spiderman’s Uncle Ben). Great power and responsibility means taking risks. Turning risks into success requires awareness, acceptance, and management.
What inspired this great wisdom, you ask? My new scooter and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
My little 50cc Kymco scooter was the source of my first scooter inspired post, “50cc’s of Patience,” last June. With my 50cc scooter, I was less concerned about risk and more aware of the gap between capacity and expectations. My Kymco served me well, but a year of experience left me wanting and ready for a ride with more potential and staying power. So my fun and economical two stroke chainsaw on wheels found a new happy home and I traded up to a 2010 Honda SH150i.
The Honda is 150cc’s of awesome power and efficiency (really!). The new Honda scooter is faster and cleaner. It’s fuel injected and has a catalytic converter. It gets the same great 90 MPG as the Kymco and is dramatically cleaner per the EPA. It cruises lazily at 40mph with speed to spare and easily totes my 150 pounds plus office backpack up the steepest of hills without strain. It’s more steady and secure in the swirly winds of a busy arterial. I love it.
But, just as I got over confident with the Kymco’s ability to max out at 40mph and suffered some engine push back, I could risk getting over confident with the easy speed and handling of the Honda. I was warned of this when I first started riding. Hearing about my scooter, friends’ responses were so consistent I thought I’d become Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” asking for a BB gun (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”) I’d hear “Motorcycles are dangerous.” “People don’t see you.” “I used to do that but I don’t anymore. It’s not safe.” Clearly, my new power and responsibility required heightened risk management. Fortunately, my motorcycle safety class covered the topic of risk with surprising sophistication. Continue reading