Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good Does Triumph!

I heard some fantastic news today.  I am not going to name names as to protect the innocent, but I had to talk about it.  There is someone in my network that I consider a mentor and someone I look up to.  He is absolutely capping off an incredible year!

The story starts with me as a very young and naive consultant.  I knew that I had some knowledge and passion to do the job right, but I was very new.  I was given a very exciting assignment to help an organization create service level agreements and standard operating procedures.  I had done this before for other organizations, but this one was a definite challenge.  In fact, for many of you that have heard me speak before, some of my favorite stories that I tell came from this engagement.  This was the first time I met this man.  He challenged me, made me laugh, but above all, he showed me how to lead with integrity by example.  At the end of the engagement, there were some tough decisions that had to be made.  There were a couple of people on the staff that were not in the right positions to make them successful, there were some changes that needed to be made internally, and there were some political decisions.  As the suggestions were offered, this man grilled me from every angle to ensure that we had uncovered everything.  I then watched him make some tough decisions.  Additionally, I was able to watch him act on the decisions.  What I learned was to always put people first.  Always take care of those around you and they will in turn take care of you.

For the next several years, we kept in touch.  I became a resource for him that he would reach out to from time to time.  Better yet, we became friends.  I told this man that anytime, anywhere, I would come work for him.  I got the chance not too long ago.  However, the organization that I had fought for 10 years to become a part of was changing, and it was changing in a way that didn't match the direction I was heading.  I also saw the organization leaving the values that had made it so great.  My suspicions were confirmed when shortly after I left, they laid off two of the most ethical men that I had ever known.  My friend was one of those.  On top of that, his wife was diagnosed with cancer.  My heart ached for him.  What do you do?  What do you say?  How do you help?  In the greatest of trials for him, he never lost his faith.  He never lost what made him so special to everyone that knows him.

I heard today that this mentor that I think of so highly just landed a very nice position at a company that is exactly the organization that he can thrive in.  In addition, his wife just had a scan after treatment and the cancer is in remission.  I got a chance to talk to my friend today and I can't help but think back and smile.  He has no idea the impact that he has made on my career and how I believe that many things that we did back so many years ago shaped me to the man that I hope I am.

I spoke at an event today and I took my 3 year old son with me.  He was an absolute angel.  At the end of the event is where I had heard the news and I got the confirmation from my friend shortly thereafter.  As my son and I were having fun together, I took a chance to reflect.  I can't wait to teach my son the values that I believe this man stands for.  I can't wait to tell him about someone that has shown such courage, compassion, and faith for so many years.  I can't wait to tell him that even in some of the darkest times.....good really does triumph!

No day but today,


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Where is Andrew Shepherd?

I am channel surfing in the hotel and I stopped at "The American President."

No matter what side of politics you are on, where are the men like Andrew Shepherd?  Integrity, leadership, and the ability to admit when he is wrong.  If you click on the link, you will hear one of the best 5 minutes in the movies.  I don't necessarily agree with the politics, but the way he takes a stand is definitely worth it.  It is a great speech.  Especially when he says that "America isn't easy." 

Neither is running projects or large organizations.  It takes guts to stand up and say what is right.  It takes integrity to report status as it should be.  It takes vision to truly be a leader and not just a manager.  My favorite line in the whole movie is when Andrew (Michael Douglas) states, "I was so busy keeping my job....I forgot to do my job.....well that ends today!"

I think that quote is perfect for project managers to remember.

No day but today,


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Time Out!

Sometimes in life....I wish we could just call a time out.  It works in sports, it works (sometimes) for little ones.  I wish at times that I could simply hit the pause button and regroup.

Tonight is one of those nights that I am really missing my family.  I have been on the road quite a bit and things have been very busy which is great.  We also have a family vacation coming up in the next week that is a dream vacation.  However, I want to be there right now.  I want to be with them right now.  They say behind every great man is a great woman.  That is certainly the case with me.

I live a blesssed life.  We work hard and play hard.  My goal in life was to ensure that my family would not want for anything.  I can provide them the opportunities and the lifestyle that they always wanted, but sometimes that costs me in time and relationship capital.  I am blessed to own R2 and to be able to achieve a much greater work/life balance than I have ever had before.  However, there are still times when I have to console over the phone or hear about issues from a distance that makes me so greatly want to be home.  It is a choice that we have made as a family and we are doing a great job of being a family.....and by no means is this a complaint or a "wish" for a change.  Just sometimes, I want a time out.  I want to invent the machine that I can use 3 times per half that just stops everything, lets me transport home and hug the kids, visit with my wife, and regroup.  Then hit the magical pause button again to resume.

Sometimes, I just want a time out!

No day but today,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do you want me to be honest?

"No....lie to him....he likes it!"

That is a quote that has always stuck with me from Mr. Mom.  Classic movie!  I had no idea that in the real world, it is the truth!  I am noticing a huge issue and disconnect between the executives and their project teams.  This was evident even today as I worked with a client. 

The project team has been told that the project must meet a certain date which is literally one month away.  The code for the project is not complete, they are weeks behind in testing, and the product is barely standing.  However, they are still going to push untested code in production.  The definition of in production is to put it on the desktop, roll it out, but tell people not to use it.  Here is the best part.....according to the project team, this is what the executive wants.  They are under the impression that he is fully aware of all of these facts and he would rather say that it was in production at a certain date than it to be pushed back and properly tested.

This is all to common in many businesses today.  I bet that if a frank discussion was had with the executive, then a different decision would be made.  I have been interviewing executives for my next book and I am being told from the executives that their teams would not do what happened at this client.....yet it was.  How do we become so disconnected?  How do we allow this to occur?

It is time for open and frank conversation and for PM's and executives to understand the reality of their relationship.  Through education and understanding, you can have your cake and eat it too.  I just want to make sure it is cake that I am eating (and not crow!).  That is my rant for tonight!

No day but today,


P.S. "Jack, you're doing it wrong!" - Mr. Mom

Monday, November 9, 2009

Calculating Return on Investment

I get many questions at seminars about ROI (return on investment) calculations.  Many people utilize this measurement for project selection.  There are several variations of the formula.  Depending on the information that you have available, the complexity of the calculation can grow.  Here are a couple that I use:

Simple:  (net profit / total investment) X 100 = ROI

If you are projecting a profit of $25 on an investment of $160, then the calculation is:

(25/150) X 100 = 15.625%

More complex:  Net Income + (current value - original value) / original value X 100 = ROI

This formula can be used for ongoing multiple year revenues.  For instance, if you purchased $5,000 in stock which is now valued at $5,200 and you have earned $100 in dividends, the calculation is:

((100 + (5,200-5,000) ) / 5,000) X 100 = 6%

Hope this helps!

No day but today,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blogging a Status?

Interesting thought!  I was reading an excerpt from Andy Wibbels titled "Blogs and Business: What You Must Know" and he suggested utilizing a Blog for project status.

He stated that "Blogs can provide an instant snapshot of a project's status, an archive of past reports, and an easier way to access deliverables.  You won't be annoying your employees by clogging their inbox with an 8 gigabyte PDF."

Clearly he has worked with PM's that have a fondness for charts and graphs!  However, it does provide an interesting thought.  Many companies are looking for ways to go green and many have not invested in a Project and Portfolio Management type of technology.  Some companies utilize Sharepoint for this, but it too can become cumbersome in navigation.  Blogging can be a perfect fit for those.

I have seen many organizations still want the ill-fated printed status report.  They must have their red/yellow/green!  The question is, when is the last time a decision was made off that status report?  When is the last time someone in your company stopped a project because it was red, or put more resources on a project when it went yellow?  If the answer is "never", then maybe a change to the way it is done is warranted.

In any case, the article did make me think!

Until next time!


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quick Tip for WBS

There are many people that want to know how to get started doing a Work Breakdown Structure.  Some people have never done one and don't want the first one to be at their company.  I have two quick tips to assist:

1)  Practice with a charity or a church.  These organizations desperately look for volunteers and especially volunteers who can help organize and run events.  This will give you an awesome opportunity to practice!  Call the United Way and introduce yourself.  There will always be an opportunity to help your community!

2)  Here is a quick way to get started.  Send out the scope to the team prior to the meeting and ask them to send back an Excel spreadsheet of the initial tasks that they can think of.  From there, do a mail merge onto address labels and put those on sticky notes.  Before the first meeting, go ahead and put the sticky notes on the wall.  When the attendees come into the meeting, have them start putting the tasks in order before the even sit down.  This will cut down the awkward silence that generally starts these types of meetings.  In very short order, you will have a great network diagram to use for your project.

Of course, you could always use a technology like Nxt Note as well.  Very, very cool technology!  Check it out!