10 things to do when stuck in a situation

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.  – Alan Cohen (A prominent businessman from Florida)

Once you find yourself at a fork in the road, or clueless about which path to choose from – you wonder …..where should I begin this journey?  I have been there many time.  Sometime stuck or sometimes clueless.  I ask others and choose what fits in. You will be amazed how many resources are available for help and how different perspectives let you find the right solution. Choice is always yours, some times things work out as expected, other times you find out what does not work.  There is no template or documented way as we all have unique abilities and unique challenges. 

You have the solution, all you are doing is uncovering with the help of others. Because it is meant to be like that.

But when should you begin asking? After doing your home work. If you do not do your home work, you will be overwhelmed by choices and might be victim of analysis paralysis. Here are some thoughts to prepare you to ask help from others, in many cases you do many of these things in parallel:

  1. Use mind mapping technique to put thoughts, situation and desired result on paper.
  2. Talk to couple of your trusted friend and seek advice who has been in the similar situation.
  3. Check with a life coach, a professional mentor or an expert is situation requires professional input.
  4. Contemplate and jot down best-case and worst-case scenarios.
  5. Do on-line search, check out blogs, forums, libraries or book stores.
  6. Join a group, attend networking event, take a class where like-minded people will gather; or take a vacation, sleep well and go for a walk or jog with all the advice, a solution may pop-up automatically.
  7. Do not do all thinking in the head alone, jot down your thoughts and give them shape by arranging them as they make sense.
  8. Put a milestone chart for action steps. Start with question mark and end with desired outcome. Then fill with monthly and yearly milestone.
  9. Now describe what needs to be done to achieve those monthly and yearly milestones.
  10. Stay up-beat and keep focused.  Don’t be bothered about nay sayers. Per Nike’s tag line – just do it!

Any decision you take, remember Steven Covey’s 2nd principle – begin with the end in mind.  We all do most of the things but my experience working with others is that folks do not write or do not jot down any of the plan. You got to do it.

Further reading/references:

  1. Seven steps to problem solving – http://www.pitt.edu/~groups/probsolv.html
  2. What is mind-mapping – http://litemind.com/what-is-mind-mapping/
  3. Scenario planning – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenario_planning

8 Leadership Quotes

  1. Strategy is not the consequence of planning but the opposite, its starting point. – Henry Mintzberg
  2. Run with your head the first two-thirds of a race and with your heart the final third. – Jack Daniels
  3. A good team is a great place to be, exciting, stimulating, supportive, successful. A bad team is horrible, a sort of human prison. – Charles Handy
  4. In adversity, remember to keep an even mind. – Horace
  5. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. – Phillips Brooks
  6. The secret of getting things done is to act. – Dante Alighieri
  7. Constant dripping hollows out a stone. – Lucretius
  8. The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example. – Thomas Marell

Integrity – Key Ingredient for Success

Integrity Ninja
Guard Your Integrity

February is Black History Month.  I was reading on Mr. Frederick Douglass and one of his quote came in front of me.  So profound and tells a lot about personal quality!  If one lacks integrity, will lack true sense of happiness and accomplishment in life. This quality in leaders and managers takes the organization to new level.  This is age of integrity and accountablity.   As a trusted advisor to your boss, friends, or to any institute, your currency is Integrity.

Frederick Douglass: I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.

Here are some selected Quotes for Leaders and Managers:

  1. Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people. – Spenser Johnson
  2. Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will. – John MacDonald
  3. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence. – Frederick Douglass
  4. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  5. It’s not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity. – Francis Bacon

Marcus Aureliu: Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

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.

10 Early Indicators of Problems & Framework To Solve

We all strive for higher productivity, quality and efficiency.  We implement processes in place to achieve great results but with time, we got to review and renew so that our organization continue to deliver good value to customer.

Early indicators of unhealthy organization requiring a thorough check of processes

  1. Increase in employee overtime
  2. Over budget and late delivery of products
  3. Higher help-desk call volume due to various issues
  4. Higher employee turnover or absenteeism
  5. Frequent customer complaints or low customer satisfaction
  6. No feedback from employees for improvement or disengaged employees
  7. Low worker morale due to work environment conditions
  8. Poo or declining sales
  9. Negative buzz on social media
  10. Direction-less employees due to lack of leadership

The moment you see these symptoms of productivity drain, you got to spring into action.  What actions you take mainly depends largely on your unique situation which may include feedback surveys, quality training, leadership training, communication training, team building activities, and developing new / refining processes, empowering employees. Never go the route of micro-managing.

Here is framework I follow to find solution

  1. Assess the situation with the help of subject matter experts
  2. Frame the problem in broad terms and why it need to be addressed now
  3. Describe the desired outcome if problem is solved to the satisfaction
  4. List three best options to solve the problem
  5. List pros and cons of each option
  6. Get consensus on the single option from the team
  7. Explain why this chosen option will work and what are its constraints/risks
  8. Implement or empower the implementation

I would be interested to know from your experience what other indicators can be added to this list and how do you solve the problems.  Thanks in advance for sharing your valuable thoughts and stopping by.

This list is based on my personal experience and is not through any scientific study.

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given..

  1. Don’t ask for what you don’t want.
  2. You carry five balls in the air; all but one is made of glass. Glass is health, family, friends, spirituality. Rubber is career. Juggle well.
  3. Be passionate but not emotional.
  4. Master hard skills early in your career. Master soft skills to get ahead later in your career.
  5. Know when to ask questions – sometimes in a group, sometimes one-on-one.  There is big difference in perception and outcome in these two situations.
  6. Always do what you say you will do.
  7. Take lunch – you are not that important.
  8. Read the cover of sports page every day (no joke!).

I was reading Canadian Business magazine‘s The Next Power Elite cover story and found these gems at the bottom of the page.  I could not resist sharing with my readers. Credit for the content goes to August-September issue of Canadian Business.