Lessons Learned Along the Way

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

After 37 years of leading projects, you might imagine that there had to be more than a few bumps in the road, a few failures and hopefully a lot of lessons learned. Take it from me: If you are to grow as an agent of organizational change, then you have to keep learning. Sometimes the learning comes from understanding your successes, sometimes by reflecting on the failures of others. But perhaps the most long-lived learning comes from internalizing ways not to repeat personal failures. So here are my top five lessons learned along my 37-year (and counting) journey through the world of project management…

Lessons in Vendor Management

Lesson 1: Do your own infrastructure capacity requirements.
Early on in my career, I learned to beware of computer vendor performance claims. I learned the hard way that all too often, vendors under propose needed capacity in order to get the deal--only to discover too late that more equipment will be needed to support the response time and storage needs of the organization. To avoid the embarrassment of having to go to management for more money than planned, I learned to do my own capacity and configuration calculations. Sure, this took a lot of boning up on each hardware vendor’s systems, operating environment and more, but it paid big dividends going forward.

The largest payback on becoming configuration savvy came in…

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