Scrappy Pitfalls – Synopsis of Scrappy PM

burningmanbugIf you are genetically gifted with the ability to get results that other people claim are highly unlikely or darn near impossible, you don’t need to read this. But if you are faced with an insurmountable “To Do” list, here are twelve predictable (and avoidable) pitfalls that could stand between you and your goals.

1. Forgetting about the customer. Henry Ford said that the company doesn’t pay employees a salary, the customer does. The employer is just the middleman. But many businesses operate as though the customer is an afterthought. If you want to be successful, be completely and unrepentantly obsessed with the customer, whether internal or external.

2. Failure to set clear goals. According to a blizzard of studies and my own observations over the past 20 years, the number one reason people don’t achieve their goals is that they don’t have clear goals. Fear of failure prevent people from clear goal setting or makes them settle for fuzzy, ambiguous goals. Double your chances of success by making sure that you and your co-workers have shared, measurable, challenging, and achievable goals.Continue reading

No Oxygen at the Top – Project Management Challenges at the Everest of Organizations

bth_everestIf you’ve ever been inside of a tin of sardines you will have a pretty good idea of what it’s like to ride the subways of Tokyo during rush hour – only in the subway the sardines are still alive. Even though we are packed together with greater intimacy than most sexual encounters, my inscrutable Japanese companions manage to wear a mask of serenity and composure. Most of my fellow riders have their eyes fixed on their mobile phones, looking up train schedules, checking email, texting their pals, or doing a little shopping on-line. These 21st century urban dwellers use their phones for everything! (I’m told that the average mobile phone purchase in Japan is over $50!) My phone works there, but it costs a bundle per minute, something approaching the cost of a college education, so I tend not to use it much. Instead, I’m looking around to see if anyone else notices that those of us fortunate enough to have a seat have our faces at crotch-level with the people standing.Continue reading

There is No "I" in TEAM

teamcircle.jpgThomas Edison, when asked why he had a team of twenty-one assistants “If I could solve all the problems myself, I would.”  Another rather amusing fellow I know said “There is no “I” in TEAM, but there is an “I” in WIN!”  Whatever your philosophy, working in a team is challenging, especially when separated by distance and time zones.  Team work requires taking into account the views of others with whom you may not agree, and working with people who may seem irritating, stubborn, or just plain sociopathic at times.  And there is always some level of conflict, which most people don’t enjoy (although some people argue for sport!), so the road of “journey shared” can be a bit rocky at times.Here are some survival tips based on my 20 years of working in teams:

AVOID TEAM WORK!

–          Well, only if you don’t NEED a team, of course!  If you can accomplish the goals without investing your time and energy into building a team, avoid working in a team.  Teams should only be used to accomplish what cannot be accomplished alone.  If you are playing a game that only a team can win, you’d better have a team!

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb

CHOOSE TEAMMATES CAREFULLY

–          OK, we don’t always have a choice of who’s on our team.  But, your individual success will be tied to the success of the team, so when you do have a choice, be selective in choosing teammates.  Personality clashes and lack of shared values are a recipe for lots of angst and very little progress.  I’ve quit plenty of teams, and even jobs, to escape torturous teammates.  Life is just too short!Continue reading

The Power of Negative Thinking – Engineering Management in Reverse

img_1274.JPGMost of my work revolves around the power of creating breakthroughs through extreme optimism and hideously positive thinking for which “hyperbole” simply isn’t a big enough word. I frequently rant and rave about the hazards of know-it-alls who poo-poo every idea and wield their negativity like a scythe, cutting down anything new or imaginative in its path. But the popularity of negative thinking is undeniable, and, like most veteran business leaders, I’m a pro at it. I was reminded of this when I recently received a note from a guy I used to work for at HP who, after reading my book, mused “It seems a bit cynical. Is that intentional?” Jumpin’ Geezus on a pogo stick! Yes, of course it’s intentional! Any human being who’s been a manager in the corporate world for more than a couple of hours and hasn’t become a tad cynical simply hasn’t been paying attention.

Negativity for its own sake is an annoyance at best, and a soul-sucking experience similar to what I imagine a psychic vampire would produce. But in the right hands, it’s a weapon of mass construction, freeing the mind of half-hidden dark thoughts, and an on-ramp to the superhighway of results in your business. Jump in, strap in and hold on ‘cause we’re going to take the curves up on two wheels.

Negative Thinking is Easier, I’m Positive!
Perhaps due to some quirk of evolution and slight survival advantage (my apologies to the creationists out there), human beings seem to find it easier to think of things from a negative perspective. Don’t believe anything I say, of course; check it out for yourself.
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Increased Emotional Intelligence and Teamwork Through Snack Foods

M&MsUnless you’ve spent your entire career with your face bathed in the light of your computer monitor, you’ve probably come across the concept of emotional intelligence. Popularized by Daniel Goleman at the end of the last century, emotional intelligence, or “EQ”, can be condensed to three criteria: self-awareness, the awareness of our impact on others, and the good sense to make better choices as a result of that awareness. (I’m not recommending increased awareness, mind you, because I was a heck of a lot happier when I thought other people were to blame for all of my problems. But if you want to be an effective leader you’ll probably have to risk it.)

There’s no guarantee that a bunch of high EQ people will form a high EQ team (witness the US presidential campaign), but it’s a good start. Reflecting on a couple of decades of leading and working in teams, I’ve had the opportunity to work in teams that that were emotionally intelligent, and in teams with the collective “EQ” of a scallop. Emotionally intelligent teams are a lot more fun, and get way better results. The Enneagram, available from The Enneagram Institute and numerous other sources, is one tool that I’ve found extremely useful for increasing the EQ of a team.Continue reading

Learn about the Scrappy Guides and Scrappy Project Management

scrappy-project-management-big.jpgScrappy means ATTITUDE.

Scrappy means not relying on a title to be a leader.

Scrappy means being willing to take risks and put yourself out there.

Scrappy means doing the right thing, even when you don’t feel like it.

Scrappy means having the steely resolve of a street fighter.

Scrappy means sticking to your guns even if you’re shaking in your boots.

Scrappy means being committed beyond reason to making a difference.

Scrappy means caring about something more than you care about being comfortable, socially acceptable, or politically correct.

Scrappy means being absolutely, totally committed to extraordinary results.

Scrappy means EDGY! . . . and is your edge in achieving outrageous results even when they seem impossible.

The Scrappy Guides help you muster the courage and commitment to pursue your goals-even when there is no evidence that you can succeed. They will be your shield against the naysayers who will try to undermine you, and they will give you comfort during the inevitable failures that accompany most worthy pursuits. When you fail, fail fast, fail forward, in the direction of your goals, lurching fitfully if you must. Continue reading

Wild Success in 2008 through Optimism and High Self-esteem

istock_000000882290xsmall.jpgIn spite of much rhetoric on the subject, and the holy grail of the triple constraint, you cannot measure your entire worth as a project leader, or the success of your project, purely by whether they are on-time, on-budget, and feature-complete. In fact, to do so could create a negative spiral that further undermines your chances of success.

Marcus Buckingham, of First Break All the Rules fame, argues in The One Thing You Need to Know that people and teams do not perform at their best when they are realistic. Great managers get the best performance from people when they build their self-assurance to the point of helping them to become unrealistically optimistic. And great leaders achieve the best from their organizations when they rally people to a better future and get them to be unrealistically optimistic about the prospects that things will get better.

Optimism is a Strategy

Unrealistic optimism and high self-esteem are key factors in individual and team success. However the project management environment isn’t exactly brimming with unbridled optimism and positive reinforcement. Quite the opposite. Continue reading