Spotting a leader

Synopsis -  Effective 'leaders' know what quality is and feel a sense of responsibility for achieving quality.  If a person waffles, waivers or avoids discussing quality, chances are they will not make an effective leader. It's pretty clear that project success rates are higher where projects have effective leadership and lower where there was either no leader, or where those in the leadership roles didn't discharge their duties effectively.  Effective leaders align people, focus people a...
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Agile’s Achilles heel

From its birth in the software development community, the idea of ‘agility’ has risen in prominence to the point where organizations of all shapes and forms are now leveraging agile principles (or at least trying to).  Since being conceptually formalized in the 2001 ‘agile manifesto’ the ideas have matured to the point where agile practices have worked their way into the mainstream of the Project Management Institute’s PMBoK® Guide. As I’ve written about a number of times, agile concepts are ...
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Yes we can!

Synopsis: People can be productive! What most often holds them back is management's failure to take ownership of the concept of "efficiency"... It is amazing how fast humans can respond to a situation when they need to!  A recent story from Japan helps illustrate the point. When a 30M wide sinkhole destroyed a road in Fukuoka, Japan, the problem was resolved and the road fully repaired in just 7 days. As the video below illustrates this was no minor pothole. This was a 15M deep crater that cu...
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RIP Ideas

An organization’s future prosperity is of course directly correlated to its ability to remain relevant in the market place.  As we all know, to remain competitive organizations need to both innovate and invest. They need to stay in tune with their customers, be aware of shifting trends or disruptions and maintain a level of situational awareness that supports effective decision-making.  Most organizations are aware of those basics and CEO’s make efforts to stay on top of them. The “value” creati...
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I, We, You, Me – Observations on Team Dynamics

As with most Project Managers, I've worked directly with a lot of people and a lot of teams. As an instructor I've observed and coached even more. I've seen good teams and I've seen dysfunctional teams and over the years I've tried to understand what makes some teams work while others don't. Why do some teams gel so quickly while others never click? Why do some teams transcend individual efforts to perform as a whole, while others remain ineffectual? Why do some teams become lifelong friends and...
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Culture’s Cogs – Expectations

Synopsis: Expectations are the medium through which a culture propagates. Expectations can be set through words, use of benchmarks and through actions. This post is part 3 in the Cultures Cog's series of posts. Click here for - Part 1 If a culture is to propagate it needs a medium through which to flow. As suggested in the culture's cog diagram shown in part 1 of this series, expectations are a vehicle through which cultural norms are transferred from leader to team and peer to peer. In th...
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You’re hired!

Synopsis: It's simple logic. If you want to thrive in today's job market you have to have the skills employers are looking for. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in employment trends in past 20 years has been a growing emphasis on candidates having a "portfolio of skills". While technical knowledge alone was once king, employers are now looking for people with a broader set of skills. A willingness to take ownership of work, the ability to get things organized and the capacity to get things ...
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Culture’s Cogs

Synopsis: Imperatives, expectations and feedback are the mechanisms through which management's desire for high performance are translated into a functioning corporate culture. Regular readers will know that I've been studying corporate cultures over recent months. My goal is to understand how corporate cultures come to be and what management teams can do to shape positive cultures (i.e. cultures that improve quality and productivity while simultaneously lifting employee engagement, morale and...
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Everything is (not always) Awesome

Synopsis: Feedback to staff is a critical tool management can use to shape corporate culture  This year's Lego Movie spawned the song that has turned into something of an Internet meme. Likely to be 2014's most cheerful tune, the "Everything is Awesome" song tells us that we shouldn't worry about the negatives in life, instead we should focus on the positives. While that happy-go-lucky message lifts spirits and is fun, from a business perspective the song's message is something of a trap that...
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Decision Defending

The following entry is a part of the Pattern Library. The Pattern Library illustrates some of the common patterns of events that have the potential to lead to project failure. Name : Decision Defending Type: Decision making / behavioral pattern In brief : A person locks in their answer to a question and shifts from trying to understand the ideas and opinions of others to promoting and defending their own idea. Description : Decision making in a group setting can be a frustrating ...
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