Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If Lao Tzu were a project manager - part 5

"The sage guides his people by putting himself last" - Tao Te Ching, chapter 7

Servant Leadership has been a popular phrase recently, but clearly it goes back a long way. In modern times, Robert Greenleaf wrote the book “The Servant as Leader” in 1970 and others like Stephen Covey, Peter Senge, and Ken Blanchard also supported the notion. However, writing from 4th century B.C.E. India also supported the idea of the leader as servant.

So what is servant leadership? The leader first decides to serve and then leads as a way to serve. It emphasized collaboration over a hierarchical control structure. Trust is important and power should be used ethically. Since project managers don't always have hierarchical power anyway, this can be a good model to follow. You put your project team first and help them succeed, which will bring success to the project itself.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Agile or Traditional, How to Chose

Here's a link to an article I've written recently on how to decide if agile or traditional is the best approach to a project. Enjoy.

Agile Article

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

If Lao Tzu were a project manager - part 4

"And the sage’s greatness lies in taking no credit" - Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2

To me, this quote talks about team building. As project managers, we are leaders and as leaders we have to give serious consideration to the development of our team.

I interviewed a project manager recently that I think exemplifies this quote. We were discussing how she ran her projects and the topic turned to team development. She did a number of things to recognize her team, from financial incentives for performance to recognition on birthdays and other small things like cooking dinner for the team. She looked for opportunities, big and small; to tell her team they were important.

So what have you done today for your team? Deepak Chopra would say your gift doesn’t even have to be something material. It could be a show of appreciation, a compliment, or even a silent prayer for them. So go be a leader.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If Lao Tzu were a project manager - part 3

"So the sage only looks at what is really real. He doesn’t look at the surface." - Tao Te Ching, Chapter 38

So here I am doing a project in the Nordics. One of the topics of discussion has been on status reporting. I have seen a lot of organizations that use the red/yellow/green stoplight motif for their status reports. I have also seen project managers that figure out how to manipulate the data so that their project will appear as green until things really fall apart, at which time they go to red. Taking this approach doesn’t really help because management can’t see when things start to go wrong and when they need to step in to assist.

An effective organization will have true transparency in their reporting. When an issue surfaces, it is communicated without fear of “shooting the messenger.” There’s not a focus on who’s to blame, but on how to fix things. Without this type of open communications, status reports aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another day, another country

I'm on the road again, this time to Copenhagen. My project involves assessing how well projects are being run in the Nordics region for my client. I'll be interacting with folks from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

The cultural side of this project will be interesting. Although my client has grouped all these countries together to run as a region, they are each unique. It gets back to the discussion about the world being flat or not. To what degree do you have to consider culture when working across multiple countries, even when they are close together?