Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Got a story to tell?

I started work with a new client this week. One of our conversations revolved around adoption of the program we were implementing. This is a pretty common theme in a lot of projects I work on, how to get people to buy in to your vision.

I came across an article on this topic on Harvard Business Review. One of the interesting recommendations of the article was to tell stories. As a former Navy guy, I have heard my share of sea stories. While entertaining, sea stories also had a lesson to teach. It was usually about how to avoid doing something stupid, exemplified by someone doing something stupid.

But stories can help in business as well. I often tell stories of how a previous client did something similar and what their outcome was. Sometimes, in spite of my best advice, I have had clients do stupid things. More often though, they stories are of success. The story drives a point home better than providing statistics or giving recommendations without any backing.

So what stories do you have to tell? How will your stories help you move your project forward?

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Brand Called You

I had an article published yesterday on Projects@Work on Seth Godin's latest book, Linchpin. I've been a fan of Seth Godin since he spoke at the PMI Global Congress more years ago than I want to think about. It was at the conference that I was introduced to Fast Company magazine as well.

From Fast Company's "The Brand Called You" to Linchpin, the focus has been on how you need to take charge of your future. So have you worked to refine your brand? You may be thinking that you don't need to because you work for a company and don't plan on becoming a free agent. Even if you do work at a company, you still need to think about your brand. As Godin points out, if you are just a cog, you can be replaced by a cheaper cog.

So where do you start? One good technique is to become the expert on something; be it project management, your company's products, or some technology. Then you need to get the word out that you are the expert and help people out. This is what Godin calls giving your gift.

As an example, I was one of the first people to get my PMP certification in the organization I was working in at the time. I started helping other people get a better understanding of project management. First, it was some half-hour "brown bag" sessions at lunch and eventually I put together a half day intro to project management for people in the department. This wasn't in my job description. No one asked me to do it. I did it because I was developing a passion for project management and I wanted to share it. People started to think of me as the guy who know how to run a project, and the big, high profile projects started coming my way.

So figure out how to brand yourself. What do you have to offer your organization? What problem do you want to be known for solving?