Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Dharma and Team Performance

In his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra talks about the law of Dharma. He states that each of us has something that we can do better then anyone else in the world, and we will be successful when we understand what this is and follow this path. I came across something similar in Jim Highsmith’s Agile Project Management. He states his opinion as “nearly everyone has the potential to be above average at something. It’s a managers’s job to help them find that something.” I had a boss once, when talking about a poor performer, stated it as “maybe their light would shine brighter on another basket.”

The idea is the same; our team will perform best when we have the right people on the team. So how do you know if you have the right team, or even if you’re in the right position?

I was once in a job that I hated. There were a lot of office politics and micro-management. Because I wasn’t happy, my performance wasn’t at its best. I eventually got out of there and found something much better.

So how do we put together that perfect high-performing team? As the project manager, we need to be enthusiastic about the project. If we’re not sincere, the team will know. The project also has to be aligned with strategy. If we’re doing a project that doesn’t seem to make sense for the company, this to will cause friction. Finally, the rest of the team has to want to be part of the project. If team members don’t want to be there, they aren’t going to perform at their best.

So is your light on the right basket?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ethics versus Morality

I was reading some Buddhist teachings on morality recently. Morality is a foundation of Buddhism. At the basic level, one should not harm others. Beyond this, the next level is to help others. I started thinking about this and how it compares to ethics.

So is there a difference between ethics and morality? Many people might think the two are the same concept. When one digs a little deeper, it will become apparent that they aren’t.

The PMI statement on ethics is straight forward; represent yourself truthfully (including your PMP certification), don’t lie about your qualifications in business, and don’t become involved in any conflict of interests. Nothing new here, is there?

Morality goes deeper then this. Think about “do no harm.” I recently came across a situation where a project manager was leaving their company and the project they were leading. They didn’t do anything to help the organization prepare for their departure beyond spending a couple of hours getting the new project manager up to speed on the day they left.

From a PMI perspective they didn’t violate any ethics, but from a Buddhist perspective, they violated do no harm. They could have better prepared the organization and the new PM for the transition. The project was impacted and the organization was harmed because of their lack of action.

So while ethics are important and a good starting point, a good project manager must go beyond this and use morality in their actions.