I enjoyed Dan’s post today. Also note the early comment regarding clarification vs. simplification. Both concepts apply. Finding what can go right involves being able to see and sort options; and be willing to explore them to find real opportunities. The better we understand our vision and purpose, the more good opportunities will pop up. Thanks, Dan.

Leadership Freak

Fog

Fog rolled in last week in Central Pennsylvania. Warm temperatures collided with cold snow and gray mist blanked our valley. Everything slows in fog. Everything’s more dangerous.

Complexity creates fog; simplicity clears it.

Simplicity produces clarity; clarity enables confidence.

Confidence fuels progress.

Causes of complexity:

  1. Fuzzy purpose. Life is more complex and confusing for those without purpose. Clear purpose informs and emboldens decisions.
  2. Options. Eliminate options to shed light on future paths. Options paralyze. Say, “No,” to a few options and find, “Yes.”
  3. Imagined obstacles. I’ve watched fog roll in while those doing nothing explain why it can’t be done. When exploring options begin explaining why they work. Say, “Yes and…,” instead of, “That won’t work.” Will every option work? Of course not. Explore it before you kill it.

Creating simplicity:

  1. Courageously admit you don’t know. Pretending you know is the worst fog of all. Cowards pretend they know. Courageous leaders say…

View original post 165 more words

Redefining Yourself

“You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream…”  C.S. Lewis

A constant theme in my work life has been to redefine myself every 4 years or so.  I’m not sure why it happens, but it’s always worked out well.  Maybe it’s why I like project management and consulting.  This work is about redefining things.

cultivating-a-relationship-with-yourselfLast week I started a new job.  I’m not an independent consultant anymore.  Now, I’m an employee of the State of Washington.  Again.  I spent the first 20 years of my career in the public sector serving in the Air Force and working for Washington State.  Those were good years, but I wanted to see more of the working world.  I wanted to know if people in the private sector worked smarter, harder, or more productively.  After 18 years being part of private companies and owning one, it’s apparent to me that people are the same everywhere.  Everyone is willing to work hard for something and others that they believe in. Continue reading

Defining Realistic Perfect Outcomes for Your Project

I often say that imagining perfect outcomes is a useful step in defining project scope. I ran across two things this week that say this message is misguided. I still think I’m right. Let’s work through it.

If you haven’t seen a post from me on imagining perfect outcomes, here’s the idea. We often miss opportunities to achieve benefits on a project because we focus on controlling scope and risk. At the start of a project, I want to be sure we imagine perfect outcomes in terms of getting what we want; and getting it in a way that helps the organization and its people grow. These opportunities should be included in our scope. I think using the word “perfect” helps make this happen.

Here are the two things I ran across this week:

liga contra el cancerbeachwalkers young

Continue reading

Don’t Leave People Out of Your Project’s Scope

Dan Rockwell’s year end posts are getting me ready for the New Year.  canoeThis one reinforces the part of “the other side of risk” that encourages you to consider the project journey and how it will support the people who will make it.  Setting objectives for how you will support your people and organization identifies often overlooked tasks that make the journey enriching; and that need to be part of your project’s scope.

Thanks to Dan for persevering with regular posts over the holidays while I take it easy.

http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/beyond-typical-s-m-a-r-t-goals-in-2013/

Happy New Year everyone!

Seek Perfect Outcomes

I encourage project managers to seek perfect outcomes before narrowing the scope of their project.  This helps find what can go right on a project.

I love it when Dan Rockwell backs me up (even inadvertently).  Check out today’s Leadership Freak post:

“8 Ways to Choose Wide Over Narrow”

He starts with:

4 perils of narrow:

  1. Shuts down rather than turns on.
  2. Closes off rather than opens up.
  3. Rejects rather than explores.
  4. Pulls back rather than reaches out.1953_wide_tie

I think this post reinforces my thoughts about finding what can go right by looking for opportunities for perfect outcomes and journeys.  So, don’t be afraid to go wide.  Enjoy.  Thanks, Dan.  Here’s the link to Dan’s post:

http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/8-ways-to-choose-wide-over-narrow/#comment-56701

Thanks for reading.

Giving 51% on Your Project

In the last week I spoke with three new project managers.  They were all in organizations that practiced limited or no project management.  Each was frustrated with how hard it is to be a project manager where the boss just wants to get stuff done.  The boss says “we don’t have time to do project management!”  You’re thinking “we don’t have time not to…”  What to do?

lady trampMaybe the answer is to meet halfway.  Meeting halfway can be helpful in marriage and consulting, why not in our projects?

Did this happen to you on your wedding day?  Older married male guests catch you alone, put their arm around your shoulder, and share a nugget of wisdom that will ensure wedded bliss.  It happened to me.  Not all were nuggets of gold, but one was.  Continue reading

Leaving Things Better Than We Found Them

“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.

Continue reading

If Project Managers Ran the Presidential Debates

As a project manager, I find the presidential debates disturbing.  If I were going to hire one of the candidates to manage the challenging project of reforming any of the major issues we have to solve in the next four years, I couldn’t make the decision based on the debates.  In fact, there isn’t much the candidates are saying or posting now that is useful for that decision.

We need to see which candidate will be best able to bring out and deliver creative solutions.  Our issues have risks with probability too high and impacts too great.  Our future leaders have to be able to deal with this.  They have to see a path forward, be willing to compromise if necessary, and get things done.  I want the presidential debates to show me who can be the best at collaborating to get things done, not who can be the biggest A&*H@!#.

Looking only at their past experience and track records, I think I could vote for either one.

Continue reading

My Project Management Philosophy

I find myself frequently trying to restate the philosophy of “The Other Side of Risk” in my posts.  As well as making this today’s post, I’ve placed this summary of my project management philosophy on its own page in the blog for ongoing reference.  I expect it to evolve over time as a snapshot of what I’m trying to say or reinforce in the blog posts.  Each post is about going deeper into or more clearly understanding this philosophy; and to see examples of it in real successful projects or everyday life.

We should do three things to find what can go right on a project:

1. Balance project management focus on scope, schedule, budget, and risk with equal focus on opportunities for organizational and personal growth. Include selected opportunities for growth in the project scope.

2. Imagine perfect outcomes to identify strengths and opportunities to grow and develop.  Consider the perfect outcomes in defining project scope so that the project contributes to where you really want to go.

3. Make the journey as important as the destination.  We should build people up as we go rather than exhausting them to achieve project scope within constraints.  Achieving the outcomes and growth expected from the investment always goes beyond the project. The journey should be one people want to continue.

Doing these things doesn’t undo the valuable project management processes we learn as we become project managers (see the Project Management Institute’s “Project Management Body of Knowledge”).  It complements them by ensuring that we find ways to engage and support the people who will be doing the work on our project and delivering on its promises in the long run.

I hope you will give this philosophy a try and let me know how it goes.

Thanks for reading.

Copyright Glenn Briskin and “The Other Side of Risk” 2012

P.S.  As a bonus, read Dan Rockwell’s current post on “Two Ways to Overcome the Pipe Dream Problem.”  As always Dan provides inspiration and provokes deeper thought.  I found that this post reconnected me to and clarified my thinking about “The Other Side of Risk.”  I hope you will agree.

Tuning Your Project Steering Committee

Imagine a bicycle wheel perfectly tuned and spinning without wobble or wasted motion.  Each spoke is adjusted to balance and support every other spoke.  This is the foundation of a fast and safe trip on a bicycle.  If a wheel is out of tune, energy is lost to friction, the rider becomes less stable as the bicycle picks up speed, and vibrations threaten bearings, brakes, and safety.  The risk of a trip ending crash goes up.

Imagine a project steering committee.  Each person at the table is important to the project’s success by way of their support within and outside the project.  Imagine each person at the table sharing a common vision, understanding one another’s perspective, and trusting one another.  Each person may not always agree with the others, but each is committed to the project’s success.  They are able to set direction, discuss issues, make decisions, commit resources, and communicate supportively to the organization and project stakeholders.

Imagine your project steering committee.  Are they in tune with a common vision, understanding of one another’s perspectives, and mutual trust?   If not, your project may feel wobbly, unstable, overheated by friction, and unresponsive when you need to change speed or direction.  It may be time to tune the wheels. 

Continue reading