When does a set of complex tasks become a Mini Project?

Last week I had organised a workshop for the team. It was about Project management.

The whole thing came about because we have an inconsistent approach to PM in the wider team. That inconsistency makes hard work for all of us.

  • we cannot easily see who is working on what

You might say, a classic resource management issue. Actually it is not. The team leaders have a very good understanding what the workload of their guys is and what they can add or what has to wait. No, the issue is different. The people in the other teams don’t know that workload and as such their expectations to get things done is not matched by possible actions.

  • we cannot report on project progress consistently

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With Intention!

I’ve seen people busy themselves with reports, spreadsheets, documentation, and meetings. I’ve heard it a thousands times “Gosh, I don’t know how you do it, I don’t even know where to start so much work is in front of me.”

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This sounds to me like the rabbit in front of the snake, unable to move a muscle and petrified. The rabbit is quite capable of outsmarting the snake. But some instinct doesn’t allow it to do this. It’s like the person who is hording seemingly important tasks and not getting any done. In that case it’s not instinct but habit. Nonetheless, it takes an outside nudge to jump out of it.

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Doing the right things

When I was still at High School my Dad explained to me the difference between efficient and effective. Or in plain English, doing things right compared to doing the right things. I could see value in both and debated about what is better. It took me some time and a fairly extreme example to understand the importance of the distinction.

These days lean manufacturing, lean thinking, and lean approaches are the holy grail. Since Toyota became the standard in efficiency there are few organisations that don’t follow that herd. And boy, there are some amazing savings to be made. Having the right structure in place and everybody knows what they should be doing it is like cogs and gears churning along at full steam.

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Inbox – Doing – Done!

It has been some time that I’ve talked about GTD (Getting things done) and in the next few days I’m on a discovery what other people do in that space. Nothing was closer then to re-align my thoughts and habits on the topic as preparation. Hence I’m sharing this with you and welcome your feedback!

Inbox

Years ago I had 2 baskets on my desk: “In” and “Out”. Life was easy, incoming tasks usually came by internal mail or were created on a notepad as a result of meetings and phone calls. Everything ended up in the “Inbox”. I sorted those tasks daily to these criterias

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Master the Difficult

There are many things I’m not good at. Playing the guitar for example. My wife tells me I have the perfect hands to learn playing. My desire to do so is not there.

My son Niklas on the other hand decided some years ago to learn just that. He loved listening to music and he loved my wife Susani playing the guitar. I didn’t notice first he started learning to play. He’d asked Susani if he could try on the old guitar. Sure, she said.

She saw him trying and watched a while. “Stop that”, she said. She gave him her “good” guitar, which was well tuned. “Now you can hear what you are doing!”

He asked questions: how is this? why is that? listen, does that sound alright?

He listened to Youtube clips and learned with his iPod touch for hours. He got his own guitar for his next birthday. He takes more care of that then the car he’s driving.

Now, 3 years later he plays bloody well. Really.

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Does knowledge drive action?

A year ago I attended a webinar about change management. The speaker, Peter de Jager, was talking about what makes changes fail and what are good changes. He had a nice little list

Good Change Change failures
management of the change is facilitated management is dictated
good communications about the change poor communication
lots of planning lack of planning
all stakeholders are involved no involvement of key people
pro’s and con’s are clearly identified the change is not reality based
clarity of change objectives no clear benefit

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It’s OK not to be perfect!

I have a workmate who has brilliant ideas. He comes up with things to improve processes or generally make tasks easier to complete. First I gave him free range. “Make it happen!”, I said to him, “and show me what you’ve done next month. Let me know if you need anything or get stuck.”

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