Archive for May, 2010

May 19, 2010

Top Traits of a Good PM – PMI Metrolina May Meeting

I attended the local PMI chapter meeting last night.   NouvEON had a strong presence which was great to see since they sponsored the meeting last night.  I also took some notes on the speaker — of course I didn’t write his name down.   He began by outlining the characteristics that make up a good Project Manager to “Win at the PM Game” – the subject of his presentation:
1. being assertive & an extrovert
2. communication skills
3. ability to manage sponsors
4. adding value
5. presentation matters
6. ROI
There’s probably more but those are what I captured and I’d be interested in hearing other people’s ideas on what makes up a good PM.  The bulk his presentation focused on communication as 90% of what a PM does….which flowed into building trust, relationships, listening to voice of customer, knowing the audience, negotiation, defining goals/objectives, etc…   Dr Phil he was not, but he raised some good points about communcation.
One of the most important things relating to communcation was building a relationship and trust — which can be achieved through openness and our ability to communicate across time & space.   While he mentioned email, oral, and written communication — no where did he mention collaboration tools like SharePoint — which in my opinion can help achieve trust and openness and provide visibility of information.   A woman from the audience even asked about how we can build relationships & trust in virtual teams — which we ALL work in today.   The speaker really didn’t have a good response.   I almost jumped in to respond and wanted to argue that email actually is a bad way to have discussions and build relationships.  Many times, people write TOO much in an email and immediately we dismiss them or ignore their communication — which doesn’t help the overall relationship.   With email you lose context, miss discussions & important information, etc, etc….   The “message” and the meaning and actionable items often get lost in email.    Of course if we use a technology like SharePoint correctly, it can be a very powerful tool for communication, building trust, providing transparency & visibility for any team — virtually or locally in the same building (let’s face it, we often times email people down the hall or on another floor!)
Anyway, the last takewaways from the speaker were the following:
The speaker’s formula to breakdown communication and relationships:
-Simplicity + Lack of Communication – Trust – R – Credibility x Adaptability
(Unfortunately I can’t remember what the R was for).
And one participant in the audience mentioned Steven Covey’s new book “The Speed of Trust” which talks about all of this.  Perhaps the speaker read Mr Coveys book and based his presentation on it without citing him! 🙂    When that was mentioned I thought of another book I read when I first started as a consultant: “Managing the Professional Services Firm“.  There were 3 things that I remember to this day that help me as a consultant & PM:
1. Confidence
2. Competence
3. Credibility
I guess we could add a 4th C and include “Communication”….


May 13, 2010

Ten reasons why governance is like sex

This is one way to get people’s attention on governance….a good diversion before I dive into governance more….

Ten reasons why governance is like sex

At this week’s J Boye conference in Philadelphia, I joined a panel reviewing some of the “hot topics” from the event. As you might expect at a gathering of web and intranet managers, the issue of governance kept recurring.

We could debate what governance means — I define it as consistent structures and processes for making effective decisions — but everyone agrees governance is critical to long-term success.

I don’t claim to be an expert on website and IT governance, but after a couple decades of helping people make technology decisions, I’ll boil down my thoughts on the topic to one simile:

Governance is like sex.

•People tend to talk about it more than they do it, and…
•…Most people don’t do it as much as they’d like
•At least one key player needs to really want it or it will never get started
•There are many different ways to do it satisfactorily
•It’s more art than science
•It’s more successful in environments characterized by mutual trust
•Other people can give you a lot of good advice, but only you can make it happen
•You may not get it right at first, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying
•A shared sense of fairness encourages repeatability
•In the end, bad governance is better than no governance at all
So hopefully at least by now you’re smiling. If you have any particular (but not X-rated!) governance success stories you’d like to share, please chime in via the comments below.

May 4, 2010

3 Pieces of Advice from the 100 Year Old You

This was a good post from well known author Marshall Goldsmith.

The best coaching you’ll ever get will not come from another person. It will come from inside you.  Take a deep breath. Take a deeper breath. Imagine that you’re 100 years old and you’re getting ready to die. Before you take that last breath, you’re given a wonderful gift: the opportunity to go back in time and talk with the person who is reading this blog post today, to help this younger version of yourself have a better life — both personally and professionally.

What advice would the wise 100-year-old you — who finally knows what really mattered in life — have for the you that is reading this blog post? As you think of the older you, whatever advice comes to mind, just do that.

In terms of performance appraisals, this is the only one that will matter. At the end of the day, the only person that you will need to impress is that old person that will one day look back at you from the mirror. If that old person thinks that you did the right thing, you did. If that old person thinks that you made a mistake, you did. You don’t have to impress anyone else.

Some good friends of mine had the opportunity to ask old people who were facing death what advice they would have for their younger selves. Three themes emerged:

1. Be happy now. Don’t wait for next week, next month or next year. A common regret of old people was, “I got so focused on trying to get what I did not have, I failed to appreciate all that I did have. I had almost everything. I wish that I would’ve taken the time to appreciate it.”

I ‘ve asked thousand of parents around the world to complete this sentence, “When my children grow up, I want them to be…” One world is mentioned more than all of the other words combined — no matter what country I am in. What is that word? Happy.

Do you want your children to be happy? Do you want your parents to be happy? Do you want the people that love you to be happy? Do you want the people who respect you at work to be happy? Then, you go first. They want you to be happy, too.

2. Build relationships and help people, especially friends and family. When you’re 100 years old and you look around your death bed, no fellow employees will be waving good-bye. You’ll finally realize that your friends and family are the only ones that care. They are the ones that matter.

Of course, building relationships and helping people are also keys to ultimate satisfaction with your professional career. I have asked many retired CEOs an important question about their professional lives, “What were you most proud of?” So far, none have talked about have large their offices were. All they talked about were the people they helped.

The main reason to help people has nothing to do with money, status or promotion. The main reason is simple: the 100-year-old you will be proud of you if you did — and disappointed in you if you didn’t.

3. If you have a dream, go for it. If you don’t try to achieve your dreams when you are 25, you probably won’t when you are 45, 65 or 85. None of us will achieve all of our dreams. The key question is not, “Did I achieve all of my dreams?” The key question is, “Did I at least try?” Old people almost never regretted the risks they took that failed. They almost always regretted the risks that they failed to take.

No one else can tell you how to find happiness, who to love or where to find meaning. Only you can answer these questions. The best coaching that you will ever receive will not come from any other person, it will come from inside you.