Monday, October 27, 2014

Tom Peters and Soft Skills

I recently had the opportunity to hear Tom Peters speak and I have to say that even at the age of 71, he still has a lot of energy and passion.

He began the talk with his experience coming out of college with an engineering degree. He found the math and science classes did little to prepare him for the real world, the people part of the equation, or the “all important last 99%” of being successful. It’s the soft skills that are hard, the people and relationship skills but that’s not what is the focus of education.

He then went on to talk about the Agile Manifesto and how that is the key to successful project management. From here, he shared some other pieces of wisdom
  • Politics is life, relish it. If you don’t like politics, you probably shouldn’t be managing projects
  • While intelligence (IQ) is important, having good emotional intelligence (EQ) is more important
  • Whoever tries the most stuff wins. Again, sounds like the idea popular in agile circles about failing fast.
  • To be effective, you need to “suck down” and help the people on your team. He didn’t use the phrase “servant leadership” but that’s what it sounded like to me. 
  • There’s no excuse for a poorly run meeting. Take the time to prepare so that it is effective. We can’t get rid of meetings. 
I found it interesting that so many of his ideas aligned with the principles of agile, even though his background is not in software. I’m often asked if agile can be applied outside project management and I think his presentation shows that “being agile” is important regardless of what field you are in.