The Anti-PMBOKxidant – Courage

kimberlychickencollage.jpg“Hey, has anyone seen my rubber chicken?”  He goes with me everywhere as I travel the world spreading the word about breakthrough leadership and execution excellence.  You might say he’s a “frequent flyer”, or perhaps even a “frequent fryer”.  One thing is for sure, he’s vital to my work, which mainly focuses on helping people overcome the biggest obstacle to their success – their own self-limiting assumptions and beliefs.  When I want to help people learn something from the rubber chicken I just hold him at shoulder height and release him.  “What causes the chicken to fall?”, I ask.  “Gravity?”  That’s not the answer I’d give.  Not if I was determined to be a menace to mediocrity, a person who is committed to creating breakthroughs in their projects and in their life.  No, “gravity” is the victim’s retort.  The real reason the chicken falls is because I released him.Now there is always “gravity” out there on our projects – things we can’t control – but it’s no use rocking back and forth moaning “woe is me” while all hell breaks loose on the project.  When the doo-doo hits the fan a true project leader asks “How did I contribute to this and what do we need to do now to deal with this?”  It seems like a simple enough lesson, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to learn.  It takes courage to accept responsibility for what is happening around us, to avoid blaming circumstances and other people, and to focus on what we can do to make a positive difference.  Winston Churchill said “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”  Continue reading

More Tequila, Por Favor!

tequila_-726505.jpgI recently spent 4 days working in Mexico for the first time.  Eye-eye-eye!  What a place!  There wasn’t a Taco Bell in sight.  The tequila was more aromatic than the most savory brandy, and the seafood was as fresh as a daisy, served raw like the sushi in Japan, but with incredible spices and sauces that made the flavors bounce out of my mouth and do a samba dance on my tongue.  This was an eye-opening experience for me because I previously have only been a tourist in Mexico, soaking up the sun and indulging in a margarita or two.  Get ready, world, Mexico is becoming a center of technical excellence for software development!

THE CULTURE -Forget every stereotype you ever heard.  Beneath the mariachi music and spices beats a global pulse.  Multicultural doesn’t begin to to describe the experience of being there as a business person.  One night you can be dining in a world-class hotel, and the next you can be enjoying the world’s most delicious hot dog (real meat!) from a street vendor.  After passing a couple of calves and chickens on the road, I arrived at a spa where I enjoyed an incredible facial and shiatsu massage.Continue reading

Lights, Camera, Get Me the Hell Outta Here!

scared-monkey.pngLast week I spent 3 days in a TV studio in Tokyo filming 7 hours worth of my maniacal approach to breakthrough leadership. The 14 thirty minute shows will first air on Japanese business TV, and then be available for all the world to see on a broad band learning channel associated with one of the most successful global business schools in all of Japan, Kenichi Ohmae’s Business BreakThrough organization.

When I met Mr. Ohmae he was sporting a painting of a little soldier on his fingernail, something entirely out of alignment with everything the “experts” had told me about stodgy old Japanese businessmen. (I guess the world is changing faster than the experts can keep up!) Now 10 years ago I would have considered this video opportunity a dream come true. But the only feeling that I had as I pushed my way through the teaming masses in the humid subways of Tokyo was complete and utter terror. “Make love to the camera.” my friend advised. I just hoped I’d get to be on top. Continue reading

Tokyo Really Does Rock

road_destroyed_by_japan_quake.jpgThis morning started off just about like any other day – dreams of transforming the planet, concerns about my own inadequacies in that department, and thinking about what I might have for breakfast.  But soon my day took a turn for the more unusual . . .  I had quite a scare this morning as I was soaking in the tub when the 7.4 earthquake began.  There I was, surrounded by water, really enjoying the rocking motion of the . . . tub!  Finally it dawned on me that the waves were kind of big for a bathtub.  Then I noticed that my necklace, hanging from the hook on the door, was swinging rhythmically in tune with the waves.

Funny how the mind works during a crisis – I jumped up, asking myself aloud “What should I do?” repeatedly.  Then I did what every fashion conscious gal would do . . .  washed my hair, brushed my teeth, got dressed and then put on my lipstick.  As I headed  downstairs to have breakfast (and to see if anyone else was as panicked as I am) I decided I had better take the stairs in case the elevators weren’t working.  The door to the stairs were locked!  Now a whole new level of panic began to set in as I realize that the hotel I have been staying in hundreds of times in the past 2 years has locked my emergency escape route, the location of which I had carefully made note of every visit.  There was elevator music playing in the hallway, so I thought, “what the heck!”, I’ll use the elevator.  Continue reading

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

Inspiration from Angels with Fur

catbath.jpgMy cats are a great source of inspiration to me. They seem fairly content without many possessions, they do what they want to most of the day (poke around in small holes for rodents, then sleep), and they don’t complain much as long as they get plenty to eat and have someone pay a little attention to them now and then. One of my cats, Dinky, is truly a miracle cat. She came to our home over 16 years ago with her brother Oscar. She was already 3 or 4 years old, and had a big piece of wire holding one of her leg bones together that could be felt through her fur. A tiny runt, she was picked on by Oscar, then a succession of bigger cats, all of whom she outlived.

What I admire most about Dinky, however is how she dealt with great adversity. Several years ago she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer growing in her leg, which she had gotten from the anti-leukemia vaccine. Her leg had to be removed up to the hip in order to save her life, and the vaccine manufacturers were very happy to pay for the whole operation. I wondered how a little cat like her could manage on just three legs, but the vet assured me that a back leg was something she could limp by without. Continue reading

Strangers Make the Best Friends

japaneseswordcrazyguy.jpgMy work takes me to lots of different places, mostly Japan. My home is in Silicon Valley, California, and I’ve lived there for as long as what my dad calls “a coon’s age” . . . which never made sense to me because i don’t think racoon’s live that long, but – hey – I’m no expert on mammals. Having lived there almost 2 decades I’ve made a boatload of wonderful friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but traveling as much as I do, my friends are often thousands of miles away and 17 time zones off. I;ve had to learn to make do without them most of the time.

No worries, it’s “strangers to the rescue”! Yes, I’ve found that strangers make the best friends. They don’t know my checkered past, are fascinated by me (mostly because they don’t know me well), and are not yet irritated with my habits and quirks. In fact, strangers frequently find my curious behaviors somewhat intriguing, even considering them among my positive traits.   And, since they haven’t had to put up with me for a decade or more of friendship, they are more tolerate of my playful, sometimes hyperactive, behavior. Continue reading

If Only I'd Bagged a 14 Point Buck . . .

deerhead.jpgDon’t expect your family to be impressed when you finally become famous. Last year I published my first book, “Scrappy Project Management – The 12 Predictable and Avoidable pitfalls every Project Faces.” It was a huge success. (Well, certainly nothing on the order of Harry Potter, but pretty big for a project management book) We had 150 guests at the launch party, and the book has been among the top project management books in the US since the October hullabaloo. What’s my family’s reaction? I’d have gotten more attention if I’d gone hunting and dragged home a deer with a big set of horns. You see, my family loves hunting and they get all excited about a deer flung over the hood of a car or a nice freezer full of freshly butchered deer chops. (I’m actually quite a good shot myself, but refrain from hunting because I don’t want to kill cute animals, even if I do eat them occasionally. ) But would they get an adrenaline rush from a family member writing a book on project management? Definitely NOT on the top ten list of things that gets them to put aside the remote control.  Even though they seemed less than impressed with what took me 3 years to produce (heck, that’s WAY longer than the 9 months it took for my siblings wives to produce grandchildren), I sent my mom and dad a book, and both brothers, too. They promptly used them to prop up their computer monitors to achieve a more ergonomic PC configuration (I think my mom swatted some mosquitoes with it first). Continue reading

I'm Not a Bitch, I'm Just Scrappy

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For years I thought I was a bitch. Then I realized I was just scrappy! When I was younger I wanted people to think I was nice, but then I noticed that it was a lot easier to get my way if I was pushy. Unfortunately, being a bully works. Over the years I’ve made numerous trade offs between my integrity and some business result that I pushed a little too hard to get. But even when I thought I was just being appropriately persistent, determined or intense, I’ve noticed that it’s a fine line between bitch and doormat. Presented with what appeared to be a choice between these two opposites, I gravitated towards bitch every time.

Some people tell me that the world is a spectrum of possibilities, that I needn’t choose between the extremes, that I tend to perceive the polar endpoints rather than more moderate options. It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I’ve begun to realize that there are more moderate approaches, like being firm yet tactful, or gracious, yet determined.   But these approaches require a great deal of self-awareness, skill and care, so when I’m tired, or stressed out, well, bitch wins.Continue reading

EXPERT PROVES MURPHY’S LAW IS ALIVE

ohcrap10.jpgPROJECT MANAGERS SUCCEED BY GETTING “SCRAPPY”

Kimberly Wiefling, author of “Scrappy Project Management: The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls Every Project Faces,” helps project managers succeed when communications and timelines break down, results seem impossible, or teams are non-performing.

Murphy’s Law states: If something can go wrong, it will. According to international Project Management Consultant, Kimberly Wiefling, Murphy’s Law is alive and well – and living inside of every project supervised by a project manager across the globe. By helping Project Managers to “get scrappy,” Wiefling, the author of “Scrappy Project Management,” shows project managers how to thwart Murphy’s Law, and succeed by avoiding the 12 predictable and avoidable pitfalls every project faces.

“Projects are messy,” says Wiefling. “Every project manager is going to encounter some, or all, of these 12 predictable pitfalls, no matter what the project. For example, communications will break down. Timelines will go by the wayside. Goals will be clear to some but not to others. Employees might feel demoralized, or machines will go haywire.” Continue reading