Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project Management development that you don't have to go to the conference for...

That's not to say that going to the PMI Southern Alberta Chapter's PDC (professional development conference) in Calgary on Tues 12 and Weds 13th is not a smart move, it is.

If you can get to the TELUS convention centre in Calgary there's a bumper agenda of speakers with all sorts of perspectives on how to use your survivor themed skills to out wit, out last and out manage project issues!

If you can't get there watch this space as I'll be adding a link to my presentation on using project coach-mentoring to boost post PMP professional development once PMI-SAC has been the first to see it.

If not you could try and sign up with the recorded sessions IiL (only available until Dec 5th) delivered for International  Project Management Day 2013 that happened last week.  There are some great speakers on here talking on all sort of topics from trends in PM, mentorship, ISO standards and everything between. Dr Kerzner is one of the key notes talking on lessons learned providing opportunities with (international project management day founder) Frank Saladis.

If that fails you can always call on me and we can discuss how you know what development you need and where you can find it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Taming the Monkey Mind - Cultivating Focus and Co-operation!

Science is proving to us that it is possible to cultivate focus - and it's by using meditation techniques.
The benefits are more that I had thought too.

An article in Harvard Business Review Blog by Peter Bregman states:
"Research shows that an ability to resist urges will improve your relationships, increase your dependability, and raise your performance. If you can resist your urges, you can make better, more thoughtful decisions. You can be more intentional about what you say and how you say it. You can think about the outcome of your actions before following through on them."
And following through on actions is one great way to build trust and co-operation with those you interact with. It is something that  team players value in a leader or manager.

Focus is a dimension of personality that impacts life every day. On one end of the spectrum it can inhibit being successful or on the other get in the way of being sociable and flexible to opportunities in life as they arise.

In his research Richard Davidson uses the term attention and he considers what happens to it from two perspectives:

  1.  in the presence of life's emotional experiences (open non-judgmental awareness) 
  2. in the presence of normal sensory input (selective attention).

Focus or selective attention can be managed - one choses the right setting for them to work in for instance, selects the right amount of ambient noise, interruptions etc.

Open non-judgmental awareness is the ability to be receptive to what comes into your thoughts without getting sucked into it. Some buddhists call this shenpa - that hook of judgmental attachment.  Open non-judgmental attention can be cultivated by meditation.

How do you cultivate focus? Can you manage your emotions in the same way as sensory input? What about for your team?

Interesting thought!  If you want to do an experiment on your own focus/attention to test this information out I'd love you to share.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Your team does not have to like you but they do need to trust and respect you...

I really like the way Ken Blanchard of the one minute manager makes things simple and this post of his on fastcompany is no different.

Ken and Scott talk in their article about the impact of trust on being able to implement change - something project managers are all so familiar with. It's a push for a new co-authored book (of course) Trust Works! Four Keys to Building Lasting Relationships, but useful none the less.

We've long known for healthy working relationships it is important to foster respect, trust and reliability and these are underpinned by ability to communicate directly, actively listen and to honour commitments. This fits in nicely with the 4 attributes the main author, Cynthia Olmstead, states:

  • Able--Demonstrate Competence
  • Believable--Act with Integrity
  • Connected--Care about Others
  • Dependable--Maintain Reliability

As a coach I now challenge you to take this A-B-C-D and rate yourself today - how are you doing? 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Calling Project Managers of geeks, nerds and techies

If "can't live with them but can't live without them" or "they speak another language" or "I just don't understand them" is something you face every day with some of your project team then you might want to spend a few mins reading this blog post about how to manage geeks nerds and techies ...

The article is more specifically

Geeks, Nerds & Techies and Inspiring Next-Gen Mobile Solutions

Enabling next-gen mobile apps means meeting technologists on their own turf.

I like to because it underlines why we need to give these often brilliant but misunderstood or totally incomprehensible "inscrutable and eccentric bunch" what they need.

The fact is that if you find the right people as in the Jim Collins Good to Great approach “The right people (even techies), are self motivated and will not need to be fired up, and because of their inner drive will produce enduring great results,”

What this means if you don't have to closely manage these people - you have to hear them, really listen to what they are saying (even if you don't understand it all - ask intelligent questions to get the information into terms you can understand - you never know how much you'll learn by listening and developing your pseudo-tech talk. Give them the time of day and your respect for what they do.

Above all give them space to do what they need to do. It might look like nothing to you — thinking usually isn't accompanied by steam pouring out of their ears ;-)

Yes, there will be slackers but they are not the right people,  and you'll see that in their (lack of) productivity,  their (not) belonging, and their inability to baffle you with technical enthusiasm for what they are working on.  You'll know.

"Consider this assertion: Technology professionals are one of the most valuable populations of human talent in any organization – public, private, for profit, not for profit.  If you agree with that, then we as leaders must make a study of how best to motivate, influence and inspire our technologists. The burden is on us.  Many believe that technology professionals are extraordinarily valuable as I do, and yet very different from other people and therefore require us to meet them where they live as a matter of necessity."

Sometimes diamonds take a lot of polishing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ok so if you really are having trouble with the people, here are 5 excellent articles to help

Harvard Business Review has some of the best articles around when it comes to general management issues and this compendium of 5 is no slouch if you are in need of tips how to manage difficult people.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

If you are going for your PMP certification this year read this...

There is a very helpful blog post from PMChampion about the changes to the PMBoK  (version  5 has been released) and the exam change that follows this.
(  )

If you are taking any of the exams in July or August (this year 2013) this blog helps you identify which PMBoK is being used for the exam (remember PMP is a knowledge based qualification so you need to be using the right body of knowledge).

The blog also lists the changes to the PMBoK between versions 4 and 5 - more on PMO, up from 42 to 47 processes. stakeholders are in, communication has been revised, time-cost, scope and cost also updated.

Happy studying folks.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Which certification should you use as a project manager?

If you are considering certificating as a Project Manager there are many credentials and certifications available - which one you choose should depend on which industry you are in and your geography - there's a full and interesting discussion about this on LinkedIn at the moment.

The short answer to "Which certification should you use as a project manager?" is probably dependent on who you are trying to impress/ persuade/satisfy with it. Start by asking why you want to get it, then consider the options.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Running a PMO and not sure how to evaluate it?

A member of the LinkedIn PMO Coach forum Ken Martin has comprised a list of 25 possible metrics for PMO performance evaluation

Ken suggests you selective choose from them, I add you choose those which are meaningful to your organisations' business goals. Your PMO needs to fit with what your organization is trying to achieve.

There's some great research out there about PMOs much coming form the Canadian Research Chair at QUAM (University of Quebec in Montreal), Canada - you can read a summary of one of their research projects at  and this site Project Research Institute has another of their research projects under review too (

Research shows that PMOs aren't intended to last forever, they are brought into existence to fulfill a purpose: to support project operations or to control project operations.  If an organization doesn't have to have rigourous control (because lives or the safety of the planet depend on it) then a support PMO is usually much more effective but it must be meeting organization needs as well as making lives simpler.

Bottom line: by all means have a  PMO but be clear why and how it contributes to your organization's business goals.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Flexible working - it's flexible and it's work - are you doing it successfully?

This very short news article hints at one of the most interesting ways to keep team members engaged in their work - flexible working.

There are many possible reasons why flexible working is so attractive to people and how it can beneficial to your organization.

Sometimes it's as simple  as a change is as good as a rest, other times it's saving time so that you can make your child's/ partner's event, often it's one way to give people breathing space to either concentrate, catch up or simply get some quiet time (that's right not everyone is an extrovert - sometimes we just need quiet time to recharge our batteries). Think of days in flexible working as preventative mental health days!

Of course with flexibility and freedom or autonomous work comes personal responsibility. If you are leading a team  and are nervous about flexile working first seek to establish how the person's environment out of the office will help them be productive, then be clear that the flexible worker understands what it is they are setting out to achieve in this alternative setting. Basically it's a mind set shift to work outside of the office but most professional people who have been through higher education understand that more work goes on outside the classroom under their own direction than in it and so have great potential for flexible working.

Above all the key to success in flexible working is in the name - the person is still required to work they have flexibility in location and perhaps task and the time frame that work is done over but it is still work. The best way for employee and employer to get success is to be clear about expectation - what the employee gets from the arrangement and what the employer gets too. Presentee-ism helps no-one.