“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.” It takes courage to lead a project to success amidst challenges, setbacks and circumstances that wreak havoc on what was such a nice and tidy plan at the start. I don’t think the PMBOK mentions courage. Personally I think there needs to be a whole chapter on that one. It’s essential to greatness in project management.
Last month a professor teaching in a university project management program wrote to tell me that he was requiring two texts for his project management class this fall. One is the PMBOK. the other is my “Scrappy Project Management – The 12 Predictable and Avoidable Pitfalls Every Project Faces”. He thought they were the perfect pair to give his students a good view of both sides of the project management coin. Me, I’m a physicist, and I think they are sort of like matter and anti-matter. If we mix them together there may be total annihilation. Anyhow, he’s running a “Scrappiest Project Management” contest – you might want to check it out if you are a scrappy sort.
Meanwhile I encourage you to consider how you are “holding onto the chicken” in your projects. it’s easy to blame circumstances, or the lack of resources, or too aggressive of a schedule, or unenlightened management, for project failures. But once we accept the fact that we are responsible for what happens in our projects, regardless of the circumstances, we receive the gift of true empowerment . . . SELF-empowerment . . . giving ourselves the power to do something positive about it!
Stay Scrappy, Kimberlyby