You choose the title of this post

Reading a magazine’s very last page and very last item sounded very familiar to me in a different context. It quoted Emma-Jayne Winson, the first female jockey to win the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s oldest thoroghbred race, in 2007. Here it is from May 2015 issue of Canadian Business.

wpid-20150701_121233_20150701151720977.jpg
Ask a jockey: Is it hard to build a relationship with a horse you’ve just met?

“When I took lessons, I remember complaining that I wanted to ride this horse every week, and I never got the same horse. I always got a differet one. But being on horses that maybe I didn’t get along with taught me to be a better rider and to communicate better with animals that weren’t necessarily on the same page. It’s amazing how you can assimilate something so simple into everyday life.”

Now relate this story to the times when you wanted certain key people in your team, but couldn’t; or had to operate with constraints that you felt were slowing you down. I believe every challenge shapes us to be bit more flexible, innovative, disciplined, collaborative and resilient.

One mantra helps instead of complaining or whining, it is change the mindset. Accept that it is not an ideal situation (rarely ideal conditions exist in any environment, be it business or social), but how can you make the best use of it and what way you are going to learn from it. Usually, all such circumstances become good stepping stones.

How Project Managers Can Help Retain the Talented Resources

Michigan Central Train Station in Detroit

Organization rise and fall based on people involved in leading, managing and supporting.

It has become a deciding factor for success in any organization to hire, nurture and retain the great talent.  Organizations have in past gone out of way to attract key talented resources from competitors.

There might be fancy deck of powerpoint presentaton produced by HR professionals on available programs to do all that, but is it the reality on ground? Is it working?  Are key people leaving organization or moving to different department? How can you ensure the success of your initiative if key talented resources do not want to stick around? As a project manager you get to see things first hand if policies or programs are working as expected.

Also, I think, it is not only HR’s function to attract and keep talented folks but project managers play a vital role in it. Job security, clarity of direction, level of engagment, opportunities available, benefits and work environment determine how talented resource make their mind up but Project Managers can also influence talented resoureces stay by  –

  1. Marketing the project, its benefit to customer and organization along with in what way it  can help resource grow professionally;
  2. Keeping the account of talent levels of each resource’s skills, background and career goals to make informed decisions;
  3. Offering or arranging mentoring sessions & directing the focus of talented and motivated employees to groom and engage resources;
  4. Delegating in light of what resources can or can not do, level of hand holding required, comfort level in taking risk for project success;
  5. Keeping the communication lines open, first listen then guide and supervise so that resource feels connected and knows he/she makes the difference;
  6. Accepting that mistakes will be made by resources, plan accordingly and anticipate to develop future leaders and managers;
  7. Finding challenging and creative assignments for talented resources so that resources can grow;
  8. Rewarding and recommending the resources in presence of key stakeholders;
  9. Giving or arranging opportunities to attend conferences, meetings and training to sharpen their saws; and
  10. Explaining how project management fits into the life cycle of product development or any project – it’s not asking for status and producing late tasks report.

This is a list of 10 points to start your thought process, please share what else should be added.  Hope to find out from your valuable contribution through comments.  Thanks for reading.

Fountain of Wisdom

Rose & Robert Skillman Library in Detroit has engraving “The Fountain of Wisdom Flows Through the Books“. To drink from this fountain, I continue to read books and here are some that I have completed recently and would like to share with my subscribers and visitors.  I have more detail posted here.

These 3 books are totally unique but fit in for a balanced approach towards any leadership or managerial role that you play in your life.

  1. Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down John P. Kotter, Harvard Business Press, 2010
  2. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t Jeffrey Pfeffer, HarperBusiness, 2010
  3. It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships Tommy Spaulding, Crown Business, 2010

Why Should You Read These 3 Books?

Buy-In:  A leader or manager has to sell the idea, proposal or get an agreement.  Getting people buy-into is the critical task.  You will learn two things – first, how to protect your good ideas from being shot down and second, how to win the support of stakeholders when it really matters.  Naysayers will use 4 strategies of fear mongering, delay tactics, confusion and/or ridicule to derail the idea.

As we all know that good idea alone will not survive. This book offers 24 major attacks or objections (that people use time and time again) and how to handle them properly. Link provides 24 responses to these attacks.

Skillman Library in Detroit
Skillman Library in Detroit Courtesy: Wikimedia

Power:  For a leader or manager, being power less is not an option. If you can influence any decision, you got some power. Projects and initiatives of people who are associated with people of authority gets their way in any organization.  Some might have the different opinion of the use of power (i.e. Machiavellian style), but lets use the perspective that if you have power, you can do more good to your cause, organization and society. I will add quote from Baltasar Gracian:

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.  The Art of Worldly Wisdom, 1647

This book contains excellent advice and analysis about gaining power in corporations and politics.  You may not agree with all that is said like perception is reality (but for how long?), but its a good read and use what you feel appropriate with good intentions.

It’s Not Just Who You Know: Leaders and managers accomplish a lot by building rapport at all the levels, they are resourceful and get the work done for greater good.  This book fits right where both other left.  If you believe that great relationship in life make all the difference, you will enjoy it. Author does not give out any specific formula but shares his own experiences and then elaborates on how one should apply them in life. I used this book to learn from someone’s life how genuine interaction helps build great relationships.

This book is not you scratch my back and I scratch you back type but follows Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends…

Author shares many inspiring stories and all underscore that relationship building begins with your genuine and sincere attention on the others and it’s not about you. Do not push for the things that you want, figure out what they need.  Also, author stresses that exploiting relationships for quick personal gains or favors will eventually ruin the foundation and it soon becomes transactional business relationship.

As a leader, you do not want to accomplish a lot in business but also would like to have strong relationships similar to great balance sheet or super annual report.  If you miss out building genuine and sincere relationships at all sectors of life, work and business included, you will be alone at top.

References:

  1. http://www.kotterinternational.com/KotterPrinciples/BuyIn/AttacksAndResponses.aspx

7 Step to Effective Networking At Any Event – For Starters

I have been a shy networker before.  I attended the meetings/conferences with many business cards in my pocket but I rarely exchanged business cards and developed any new contact. I had good questions in my mind to ask but hoped that someone else would ask.  It wasn’t working out for me.

After reading many books, studying other successful people and learning from some of my friends – I found out where I was failing.  I was mainly staying in the group of people I knew.  I had objective to gain from the event but not to contribute something in some way.  I hoped someone else will show interest in me and will strike conversation and only phrase I used to initiate conversation was, “How are you today?”.  I got rid of shyness, gain confidence and equipped with knowledge by knowing that we all have unique styles of interaction and capabilities.  Asking question or solution proposed to clarify any issue will not only help me but many others.   We all benefit from each other thru interaction.  Now, one of my friend says, if I am not working then I am networking.  I guess, its good compliment!

It’s not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. – Anonymous

Networking is the must-have capability for any professional these days.  We all need good networking skills and should take advantage of connections we develop at any professional symposium or meeting.  Networking is absolutely the primary technique that is used to find new job opportunities, career transition or career advancement.  While we all attend various meeting, active on LinkedIn (and social media) and attend seminars with networking as one of the objectives; but many times it is not accomplished that well.    

Here are 7 points to keep in mind for effective networking at any event –

  1. Setup your agenda for the event & find what unique perspective you bring.
  2. Choose your sessions in advance if its multi session event and jot down your questions on the topic.
  3. Arrive early to meet people; also participate in the sessions by asking questions or sharing your perspective.
  4. Sit with strangers and introduce yourself – don’t wait for others to make move.
  5. Initiate conversations – go beyond “Hi, how are you?”.  Show interest in others and listen.
  6. Share expertise and help people solve issues discussed, make note of what you offered to the new contact.
  7. Follow-up with your new contacts after you get home.

Other Useful Link –

http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_12_Tips_for_Shy_People

11 Principles of Leadership

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.

7 Blunders of the world

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was a great leader, lived his life for others and his words of wisdom have given direction to many.  Doesn’t matter what we do or where we stand in life, these 7 mistakes, if committed will result in ruined life or career.  These 7 mistakes are called 7 blunders of the world.

  1. Wealth without work
  2. Pleasure without conscience
  3. Knowledge without character
  4. Commerce without morality
  5. Science without humanity
  6. Worship without sacrifice
  7. Politics without principle

For more info on Mahatma Gandhi, please visit http://www.mkgandhi.org/

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

Don’t Settle – Stay Hungry – Stay Foolish

Who does not know Steve Jobs? His vision and life has made a huge impact on our generation. I came across this post. He shares his life lessons with students at Stanford in 2005. No doubt he is wonderful person around and I wish him good health.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Text of Steve Jobs’ Commencement address (2005)Posted using ShareThis

3-Rs for Leaders

  1. Read more
  2. Reflect more
  3. Risk more

Leaders ought to read a lot to stay ahead.  Each day is blessed with new discoveries and useful information.  Using the 80/20 rule, find out what is out there that you need to know.  Co-relate how changes in the world going to shape your world. Read more = Plan

Leaders take tough decisions all the time, they are the face of the organization.  Leaders chalk out the course of action in the midst of challenges.  Reflecting on the decesions taken and the one you are about to take is going to determine if you are an authentic leader – who knows where his True North is.  Reflect more = Check

Taking new risks, coming up with new ideas and having the drive to materialize them, thinking out of the box, leading organization into a totally new direction are the key qualities leader has.  Listen more and observe more.  Taking calculated and smart risk is also creativity. Risk more= Do and Act.

These 3 Rs fit into Deming’s Plan > Do > Check > Act; a continous improvement loop.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.

Life is bigger than that!

2008 is nearing the completion of business work days and it was one of the eventful year.  We have seen all from US election to Canadian elections, Wall-street meltdown to Automotive bailout, Saturday Night Live comedy to economic worries.  All the stuff, never thought of. 

But when it comes to our professional life, one needs to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.  I have mentored and provided guidance to few people over the year and have also asked for advice from my peers.  Some people either make small issues into big problems or do not even have clue what is wrong.  Here are some of the points to consider-

  1. Get feedback from your boss; have 1 on 1 regularly (weekly or monthly) to align objectives.
  2. Grow your professional network by volunteering at work, in community or join any organization.
  3. Understand that everyone is different; workplaces are diverse.
  4. Totally messed up? If you are honest, you’ll get another chance.   Life is bigger than that!
  5. Do not just focus on getting credit of everything you do or say.  Give credit where deserved.
  6. Be careful about sarcastic sense of humor.  It may be wise to stay quiet.
  7. If you do extraordinary job you get promotion as a result. Its not the other way.
  8. Help others grow and learn.  Don’t be afraid that someone will steal your idea.
  9. Take vacation or take time out.  Its must to revitalize your energies and focus.
  10. Try to listen.  Pay attention to your superiors and peers.
  11. Dress according to your job profile, at least.
  12. Do not make ‘difference of opinions’ at work your personal issue.

I firmly believe if we are serious to improve ourselves, we can start afresh anytime.  Its never too late and Life is bigger than that! 

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

Fast, Cheap AND Good

Good, Fast or Cheap

Can’t pick any two? You also need all three – fast, cheap and good? 

It has been very commonly used set of options in I.T. when offering an alternative or usually when dealing with issues from outsourced service.  Someone will come and say – “Pick any two!” 

Sometime ago I was involved in a project where we had to pick any two options and it was very hard to leave out the third one.  Many times we had to leave ‘cheap’ and other times ‘fast’,  for us ‘good’ was essential and paid the price accordingly.  We had to compensate for third left out option through continuous improvement.  I kind of thought that this is the  dilemma every one will be facing.  But it is not the case as I am finding out.  Things are getting better.

Continue reading “Fast, Cheap AND Good”

PMI Membership Benefits

I volunteer at my PMI (Project Management Institute) local chapter called Great Lakes Chapter (www.pmiglc.org).  I enjoy the benefits of PMI membership in form of monthly magazine called PM Network and accompanied paper called PMI Today.  Both are informative and I have gained a lot by reading both publications. 

Many people join organizations enthusiastically and then with very little involvement and different priorities, fail to renew annual membership and later claim that they did find not much benefit of membership.  Becoming member in your professional organization and participating actively gives you opportunity to network with best people in your trade and increase your domain knowledge.

I found couple of interesting benefits while reading PMI Today paper and thought of sharing it with you. Here are the benefits-

  1. Attend PMI meetings/events at discounted price;
  2. Networking opportunities with professionals in management;
  3. Read PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge);
  4. Read business books on-line;
  5. Download a global standard;
  6. View the results of PM research projects;
  7. See articles from PMI publications for the last 7 years;
  8. Search for jobs, consult with a career coach and have your resume critiqued;
  9. Request a custom research;
  10. Order books and other materials at a discounted price;
  11. Use a career framework to help guide your career; and
  12. Get PM Network and PMI Today publications.

I would suggest that if you are in project management, get involved with www.PMI.org, join your local chapter and participate in making project management indispensable for business results.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!

Referenced – PMI Today – April 2008

Cheese Moved? Doesn’t Matter.

We, as a professional, are hired by organizations to deliver results and perform. As time passes, our daily job becomes our universe.  We spend our energies resolving problems, improving processes, saving money and many other good things.  Sometimes we are ignorant and sometimes we are so busy handling all the situations at the job, we do not realize that whole world has changed and we are still there.  We find that new technologies, processes, ideologies, concepts and trends have taken over what we used to do.  And when we realize, then blame our employer for not guiding us, showing us the right path, etc.  Remember, we are professionals and professionals know all about their field of expertise.

 When I see clueless people in the situations when their cheese (i.e. work) is moved (or gone), I tell them to stop complaining but learn the lesson from it and take action. 

Here are 11 points I tell (and remind) people to avoid becoming obsolete

  1. Subscribe to professional/trade  magazines and journals and read ( or go to library, but stay up-to-date on what is happening).
  2. Bookmark and frequently checkout websites dealing with news & views related to your field of expertise.
  3. Read some good books on the subject.  Check Amazon.com’s ratings and views before buying. 
  4. Become member & get involved in professional organizations in your chosen field.
  5. Volunteer your time & services in your chosen field or for any good cause.
  6. Mentor and guide other people, help people grow, offer help selflessly.
  7. Attend seminars or conferences; it does not matter if you got to spend few hundreds from your own pocket and on yourself.
  8. Read some good self-help books on personal development and personal finance.
  9. Grow your network, if good people can not find you; you go out and find for your networking.  Interaction is the key.
  10. Always keep learning new things in your chosen field, and
  11. Change with time.

You will find out many successful people are already doing these above mentioned things to grow their professional network and knowledge base. 

I am certainly interested in what you got to say on this subject.  Everyone has unique experience and lets share our thoughts and learn from each other.

 Thank you for visiting and reading the post.  I appreciate it.  Have a good time.

What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There


I read many books in 2007 and one of the best that I want to mention here is What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith.This book is all about how successful people become even more successful.  There are tons of books on leadership and management out there but this is something.  In my case, book had very good title that got my attention plus it had Ford CEO Alan Mullaly‘s recommendation on the dust jacket, I decided to give it a try. The book was a wonderful read, I read it very slowly enjoying each page filled with new insights and examples – just like I am sipping tea in early spring morning.

Sometimes people get to almost at top by dedication, integrity and excellent work, and then do not get there (to the real topand achieve greatness and may be fame as well). There are many factors contributing to get there but author has identified 20 habits that hold person from getting there. These are very common bad habits that cost a lot in long run such as – not listening, beginning conversation with ‘but‘, speaking when angry, playing favorites, etc.

Visit author’s website www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com  for more info and free resources. 

Here is link to the list of 20 bad habits identified in the book.

The beauty is the way author has explained these common habits and their impacts on others in organization is just like a sage speaking to you.  I have heard from many of my peers and seniors who read the book on my recommendations,  came to me and thanked me. I hope I get a chance to meet him personally and I would pass all those thanks to Marshall for writing such a nice book. If we are getting such an advice compiled in a book, its the best deal for your career.

I am glad that I read it and would recommend to all leaders, aspiring leaders and managers to read it with open mind and make our organizations more successful and in return we also grow with others.  Let me know what you find out.

Thank you and have a great day!