Project Manager Point of View

Thanks to Kendall Lott for producing a great series of podcasts titled, “Project Manager Point of View (PM-POV).” Thanks to PMIWDC for hosting them. Thanks to Michael Hannan for introducing me to Kendall and the podcasts.

If you’re looking for thought-provoking, brilliantly produced, quick podcasts to get your creative project manager ideas flowing, check out PM-POV.

And, if you were wondering, yes I do spend my Saturday nights listening to project management podcasts.  You may be pitying me, but don’t.  First, the podcasts are fantastic.  Second, I listen while relaxing in my hot tub with a cold beer.  That, after a long week, is close to bliss.

Why not try out PM-POV? Wherever you listen, I bet you’ll be glad you did.

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Can you afford not to attend?

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I can’t afford to attend.”

That’s the first thing I hear when I ask people, “Will you join me at Accelerate Results 2016?”  People from a wide range of organizations and industries all respond the same.

Now, most of these people don’t even know how much it costs when they tell me they can’t afford it.  For all they know, it could be free…It isn’t.  They just immediately say they can’t. As a change coach, I know to question any obstacle that jumps so quickly to mind.

Then follows a Socratic dialogue roughly like this:

So you’ve asked to attend?

No, but I know there is no budget.

If there isn’t room in the current budget, what would it take to get the budget increased or go over budget?

I don’t know.  I’ve never asked to go over budget.

What do you think they’d say if you did?

They’d say the project can’t afford overruns.

So if you can’t afford overruns, does that mean you always hit your delivery dates?

No. We are often late.

Are you often late by greater than a week?

Yes, usually.

Do you lose revenue or functionality when you are late?

Yes, of course.

Do you have a rough number in mind of how much it costs your project for each week late?

Yeah, I guess.

Then you can afford cost overruns?

Yes, apparently.

Now, is the cost of being late higher or lower than the cost of attending Accelerate Results?

Oh, much higher.  At least 10 times, if not 100 times higher.

Yet you still can’t afford to attend?

…. <silence>

In the end, each person has to decide what they will do.  All I can do is help people see that what is holding them back is often as they say, “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

There’s a wealth of better results waiting for you.  All you need to do is decide to do something different.  If you want ideas for what that something different might be, why not attend Accelerate Results 2016?

Can you afford not to?

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Connections

Now is the time to connect with the information you want.  Stop waiting for the information to find you.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Subscribe to the leading magazine covering a topic you’re curious about.
  • Write to a blogger or an author that you’ve always wanted to ask a question.
  • Ask a friend for that presentation you’ve been thinking about.
  • Skype with a academic that researches the field you’re learning about.
  • Schedule lunch with a friend to discuss your ideas.

Regardless of how you get connected, the important thing is to choose to be connected and then act first.  Don’t wait.  Find what you’re looking for today.

Now more than ever, it is out there waiting for you to find it. Why not try?

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Permission to Recommend

One of my key learning takeaways from yesterday’s meeting with Dr. Edgar Schein is that all change agents must be disciplined enough to wait until they have permission from the other person, who Schein call the client, before you offer your recommendations.

Help without permission isn’t help.  It’s…abuse might be too strong a word…relationship wear…it tears away from the relationship one demand at a time.

I encourage all my change agent friends to check to be sure you have permission before you offer any recommendations.  It’ll improve your and your client’s outcomes.

Why not try?

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Farewell

Wednesday I said goodbye to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF). As is tradition, I sent a farewell email.  Here’s what it said:

Friends –

Thank you for 13 wonderful years.  You’ve challenge me, encouraged me, and made me a better person.  I’m enriched for knowing each of you, whether we always or never saw eye to eye.

Many of you have asked me “What will you say? Will you tell it like it is?” Here’s my reply.

I will never apologize for having high standards, standards you may have often thought were impossible to meet.  You have so much capability that goes unused every day because you don’t believe you, or the organization, can do better.  You can!

I will never apologize for loving my job and wanting to create systems that allowed others to love their jobs too.  The command needs as much joy as possible.  Do what you can to add to the joy each day.  It’ll pay off.

I will never apologize for expecting those to whom much is given to do much with their strengths.  No one can carry another person for long.  We each must walk our own path and that means to do better YOU have to be the one to try, to succeed, to learn, to FAIL and learn from that too.  You can’t outsource breathing and you can’t outsource improving.  It starts with you.

Develop yourself.  Lead yourself. Improve yourself.  Serve yourself so you can better serve those around you.

You have to choose what you will do with the precious time entrusted to you.  Will you challenge the status quo? Will you act while everyone else talks?  Will you support each other when the heavy hits come?  I’ve seen you do it.  I know you can.  Just believe that you can and TRY!

You are capable of driving change instead of driving people.  You are capable of running effective, joyful, energetic meetings, teams, shipyards.  You are capable of aligning all of your various issues of the day into coherent heights that all can work toward.

I’ve done everything I could over my 13 years to figure out how the system works, teach it to others, and be happy doing it.  I know some of you say you learned something.  Then, be sure to do something with that learning.  Be bold.  Try hard and learn with every try.

Though I won’t be here physically with you, I won’t be far away.  You’ll have me via the blog should you need me (http://engine-for-change.com)

.  There’s 500+ posts of stored up learning sitting there for you whenever you need it.  (I promise to get back to blogging too.) And, you can always email me at engineforchange@gmail.com or call (360) 620-5624.

It’s been my honor to serve with you.  The future is yours to create.  Go out and make the Navy as amazing as it needs to be.  The world is counting on you.

All my best always –

April

Now on to my next adventure. I start right away with Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon.  I can’t wait for what the future might bring.
Thanks for journeying into that future with me.
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Safe-to-fail profile photos

Today’s the day I decided to embrace safe-to-fail experimentation applied to my profile picture.

I’ve been using a fantastic picture of me taken years ago.  I love this photo, but I’m no longer this woman.  This was taken two kids ago, many years ago, and a lifetime of learning ago.

April K. MillsToday it was time to embrace safe-to-fail experimentation applied to my profile picture.  I’d been avoiding the possibility of failing to take a good picture, entirely ignoring the fact that I decide what photos go onto the website.  Who would post a bad photo of me? Me? This was a safe-to-fail that I knew I could win.

The photo taking process featured tons of failing.

Profile Picture

But the photo posting process was all winning.

Here’s the new me.  I hope you like it. But even if you don’t, I like it, and that’s what counts.

Profile Picture 2014

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Too Generic

In an attempt to keep change efforts relevant to large numbers of people, we keep the language generic and accessible.  The problem with this approach is that some changes call for specific language with specific meanings in order to make sense of what is really happening.

You wouldn’t troubleshoot a complex electrical system by referring to the blue wire instead of the wire between terminal A-41 and terminal B-89. Yet, we regularly do that with changes. We need more training.  We need less disruptions.  We need to sustain improvement.  Blah. Blah. Blah.

May I suggest that if your change is stalling perhaps your language is too generic.  If you’re looking to tap into both the hearts and the minds of the people you want to reach with your change, you’ll have to give them the words that explain the situation in enough detail where they’ll know what to do, when to do it, and why it matters to do anything at all.

Try a change in language and see if that helps your change drive forward.  Why not try?

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Two Minds of High Order

For those of you who love a great conversation with a good friend with a keen mind, here’s an excerpt from William James’ The Principles of Psychology (1904):

When two minds of a high order, interested in kindred subjects, come together, their conversation is chiefly remarkable for the summariness of its allusions and the rapidity of its transitions.  Before one of them is half through a sentence, the other knows his meaning and replies.  Such genial play with such massive materials, such an easy flashing of light over far perspectives, such careless indifference to the dust and apparatus that ordinarily surround a subject and seem to pertain to it essence, make these conversations seem true feasts for gods to a listener who is educated enough to follow them at all…

One of life’s greatest joys is a great conversation with a good friend.  I’m grateful to God every time I get the opportunity to slow down the pace of life and speed up the conversation.  If your week is bogging you down, seek out that other mind of high order that you can float and fly through a conversation with because the energy of the conversation will wake your head and your heart and warm your soul.

Happy Labor Day my friends!  Drive some fantastic change!

 

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