Fountain of Wisdom

February 18, 2011

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
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15 Ground Rules for Project Team Management

March 9, 2010

People with diverse professional experiences and background have totally unique perspective on any issue.  When a new team is assembled for any project, its vital for the success of that project that all team member are aware of  the ground-rules for the project; similar to any sport.  You may have to read it to team and give a copy for reference.

Here is an example list that I have used for a project to keep team aligned.    Such ground-rules certainly eliminate unnecessary confusion and your business customer and team members like it defined beforehand.  Make sure, you also follow it and implement it.

  1. Project manager is the primary contact for any project related communication.
  2. All team members maintain their contact info on the team contact list with contact preference.
  3. All members attend required meetings and conference calls; if unable to attend, meeting organizer to be notified.  If key contributor is unable to attend, request to reschedule the meeting.
  4. Any planned day off or vacation must be communicated in advance to project manager so that project plan can be updated and impact to work, if any, can be analyzed.
  5. All project team members have access to project plan and  project logs (in a standard document format) and are aware of the assigned tasks and due dates.
  6. All team members are to be consulted about the reasonableness of the plan prior to management approval.
  7. All team members are required to validate their assignments and time allocated prior to the plan is baselined.
  8. All project team members have the responsibility to proactively notify the project manager about tasks, duration or dependencies they believe are missing (or any other needed changes to the plan) and confront issues directly and promptly.
  9. Project team members have the responsibility to notify any potential difficulties in meeting the schedule for any assigned tasks as soon as it is known by the team member.
  10. Each project team member is responsible for ensuring anticipated workload conflicts with other assignments are brought to the attention of the project manager.  Team members should ask for help if feeling “stuck” or falling behind the schedule instead of waiting for miracle.
  11. All team members are responsible to own, follow-up and provide updates on the assigned task (including but not limited to any identified risks, issues, changes, approvals, clarification from customer).  If any delay is observed, escalate to project manager.
  12. All  meeting minutes, key decisions, assumptions and business rules must be documented and all action items must be followed up and assigned to a resource with expected completion date. These items are usually mentioned in casual conversation.
  13. All project team members understand the scope of work.  Any work performed must be in the project plan and is in the project scope.  Anything that is absolutely needed but not part of the project plan, must be brought into project manager’s attention.
  14. All project team members confront issues directly and promptly.
  15. Only project manager submits all final deliverables to business customer for sign-off or approval.

What are other key things that you have found useful and we can add to this list?

Thank you for your visit and have a great day!


Quotes for Managers

September 23, 2009
  1. Star performers are never expensive, but mediocre performers are unaffordable – Georges Doriot
  2. It is a bad plan that admits of no modification. – Publilius Syrus
  3. A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. – William Shedd
  4. We tell our young managers, ” Don’t be afraid to make a mistake.  But please don’t make the same mistake twice.” – Akio Morita
  5. The best motivation consists of getting a player to understand that his self-interest and the team’s are inextricably bound up. – Walter Kiechel III

Thank you and have a great day.


Quotes for Managers

August 14, 2009

 

Here are 6 quotes for I.T. managers from Norman R. Augustine

  1. Hardware works best when it matters the least.
  2. A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.
  3. One of the most feared expressions in modern times is ”The computer is down”.
  4. It has been wisely said that the world is not interested in the storms you encountered but in whether you brought the ship in safely.
  5. If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.
  6. The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Thank you for visiting and have a great day.


3-Rs for Leaders

May 19, 2009
  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.


Project Management – Useful Links

April 8, 2009

We learn a lot from the Internet these days and rely on up-to-date information.  Personally, I’ve learned a lot from my fellow bloggers and other websites on Project Management to stay ahead of the curve. 

There are many other on-line resources but  I would like to share following list of blogs/websites that I frequently visit and would like to thank for their time and energy for sharing knowledge and doing the great service to on-line community.  Thank you and keep up the good job!

  1. http://www.betterprojects.net
  2. http://www.pmhut.com
  3.  http://www.thepmpodcast.com  
  4. http://herdingcats.typepad.com
  5. http://www.ravensbrain.com
  6. http://pmcrunch.com
  7. http://www.allpm.com
  8. http://www.amakar.com
  9.  http://leadinganswers.typepad.com

I hope you will also bookmark these sites and learn about the profession. 

Thanks for visiting and have a great day!


Capture Planning Assumptions

February 23, 2009

Your boss approaches you and tells that workplan is very good but customer wants to know how can we deliver the project sooner than promised?  Now you have to come up with a new workplan or make some adjustments based on new findings.  You put your thoughts together and go on to make changes/update and deliver the final document with required changes. 

And then your boss asks, why this task is due this particular day and why are we taking this long to complete, etc., etc…

You might have answers for most of the questions your boss has asked but it is of prime importance that you document all the assumptions you made while planning, does not matter how small or evident those assumptions are.

I would capture following –

  • why are you making these changes or what is the objective and if these objectives are aligned with customer expectations;
  • what are high-level or global assumptions for the plan being put in place (standardized assumptions);
  • why making change to time/scope/cost;
  • what are risks that can derail the work;
  • what are the opportunities that you are counting on;
  • who are the critical resources you have based your work on;
  • what exceptions from standard process did you make;
  • what compromises are built into the plan;
  • what is the impact on existing process (if any);
  • for budget tail of it : dollars spent per month; and
  • what are the key milestones.

I hope these are the basic questions that we should be able to answer from a Project Management perspective when talking about assumptions.  Let me know what your thoughts are and what else could be added to the list?

Thanks for reading it, appreaciate your feedback.


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