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Managing By Walking Around

Categories: PMO Leadership

Walking (noun) / to advance or travel on foot.
Managing By Walking Around

What is MBWA..? Chances are, if you are a manager and are over 50 years old, you know what MBWA is and probably have had management training in the technique. Back in the days when we had our business departments, in some cases divisions, all in the same office building and we managed face to face, MBWA was just one of many leadership techniques. But, if you are a manager under 30 years of age, you might not have ever heard this term. In fact, you may not even had any kind of management training and development. How times have changed!

MBWA - Manage by Walking Around.

Though I formally learned about MBWA in new manager training years ago, I experienced it first hand even before that. The year was 1983 and I was an Account Manager in Dallas. I was having lunch with my customer, a value added reseller of ours, and point of contact for our relationship. We were at their company cafeteria and it was a Wednesday. Now, you might be thinking, after three decades, how could I possibly remember that it was a Wednesday? Well, I remember for a fact that it was a Wednesday because on Wednesdays the company cafeteria served Prime Rib and every Wednesday we would have our customer/vendor status meeting and working lunch. Just me, from the vendor side, and my point of contact, from the customer side.

On one of these Wednesday’s and for no particular reason, a well dressed gentleman sat down and joined us for lunch. I immediately recognized this gentleman, though he had no reason to know of me. The only thing stranger than his sitting down and joining us were the two egg rolls and small ice tea on his tray. Not that I have anything against Chinese food, but it was Wednesday, prime rib day.

After joining us, this gentleman proceeded to ask us our names. He needed no introduction. He went on to ask us about our areas of responsibilities and our measurements as well as how business was going. And by how business was going, he didn’t mean good or bad.  He asked for details such as Year to Date percent of quota, forecast for the year, and top 3 sales opportunities for the month.

Throughout the conversation, he offered ideas and suggestions. And as our little lunch chat was coming to an end, he gave me his business card and offered that if I ever needed any help or had a problem in working with the company to give him a call. He also asked for my business card and told me how important my efforts and support were to the company. He then told the two of us to give him a call as soon as we achieved our reseller objective for the year so he could congratulate us. And, the sooner the call, the better. We learned quite a bit from this man’s suggestions and ideas. We are also quite inspired to achieve our goals and we continued on with our working session with renewed vigor and resolve. We were pumped up and it felt great.

That is the effect that MBWA, Manage By Walking Around, can have on others. It is a leadership technique that has withstood the test of time and that can be used by any manager, especially the PMO Manager.

Oh the company, it was EDS. And the gentleman that joined us for lunch in the company cafeteria, he was Ross Perot, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of EDS.

Posted on: August 26, 2012 04:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

PMO Crossword Puzzle - How PMOs help the business

Categories: PMO Tips

PMO Crossword Puzzle - How PMOs help the business
Just for fun, today's blog post is a PMO Crossword Puzzle. The theme is "How PMOs help the business". To view answers to the PMO Crossword Puzzle, click here. Printer friendly versions: PMO Crossword Puzzle, Answers.


Posted on: July 19, 2012 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

PMO Crossword Puzzle - PMO Time Passer

Categories: PMO Tips

PMO Crossword Puzzle - PMO Time Passer
Just for fun, today's blog post is a PMO Crossword Puzzle. The theme is "PMO Time Passer". To view answers to the PMO Crossword Puzzle, click here. Printer friendly versions: PMO Crossword Puzzle, Answers.


Posted on: July 09, 2012 11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

PMO Crossword Puzzle - Things you might find in your PMO

Categories: PMO Tips

PMO Crossword Puzzle - Things you might find in your PMO
Just for fun, today's blog post is a PMO Crossword Puzzle. The theme is "Things you might find in your PMO". To view answers to the PMO Crossword Puzzle, click here. Printer friendly versions: PMO Crossword Puzzle, Answers.


Posted on: May 04, 2012 11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The New Project Management Triangle: Part 2 - Business Acumen

Categories: PMO Leadership

Acumen (noun) / the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain.
The New Project Management Triangle: Part 2 - Business Acumen

Most project management professionals are familiar with the term, the project management triangle. In the traditional project management triangle, the three points of the triangle (scope, time, and cost) refer to the triple constraints. Originally, it was intended to help with intentionally choosing project biases and analyzing the goals of a project. It is often used, and many would suggest misused, to depict project management success as measured by the project team's ability to manage the project, so that the expected results are produced while managing time and cost. Speaking at the Gartner Group PPM and IT Governance Summit, Mark Langley, the President and CEO of the Project Management Institute, offered the following pearls of wisdom, "If we continue to speak of project management only in terms of scope, time, and cost, then project management as we know it will fail us. We need to speak of project management in a new language, the language of business, with the project management triangle having at its three points (1) technical project management in terms of what we know of per our certifications, (2) business acumen, and (3) leadership." With this comment and perspective, Mr. Langley was given a loud and lasting applause by an audience of several hundred CIOs of today's leading companies, an audience not easily pleased nor impressed.

Addressing one of those new points of the project management triangle, today we have ten tips for PMO manager and project manager business acumen. These tips come to us from Barrett Brooks, who is currently writing a book on this all too important subject.

  1. Ask questions. The absolute dumbest thing we can do when entering the workplace is not ask questions. Yes, we might sound stupid for five second. But if the 'stupid' question prevents embarrassment for the entire team or organization later, was it really that stupid?
  2. Learn. Our ability to learn is our greatest asset. Seek to good in many skill sets and an expert in at least one.
  3. Industry knowledge. Be informed about your industry and your business environment. Without industry knowledge, your ability to add value to your organization will be limited.
  4. Business skills. Even if your present job does not require them, develop business skills. Learn how to read your company's annual report, the operating statements, and most importantly the business strategy.
  5. Add value. Seek to add value in any way possible. If you don't have the opportunity to add value then it might be time to find a place or role new where we can. Within three months of starting a new job, we have enough experience and we should have learned enough to be a valuable resource to someone in the organization.
  6. Communicate. Become a conversationalist. All workers need to talk. No matter what the role, the ability to create conversation will immensely increase our chances for success in our job, projects, and tasks.
  7. Write. Even though your business school might not have taught it, writing matters. Haphazard email is rampant in the work place and writing is becoming a lost skill. Those who do it well stand out. Consider it an investment – learn to write clearly, concisely, and with impact.
  8. Network. Seek to continually build meaningful relationships. When done right, networking is good. Spend time with colleagues. Work an extra hour to have an extra lunch with a colleague. Quality time with colleagues will help you develop new perspectives and skills.
  9. Welcome exceptions. There are exceptions to most rules. Exceptions represent business judgment. Rather than mandating rigid processes and policies, welcome exceptions to the rules.
  10. Goals. Set stretch goals, not 'good enough' goals. Setting mediocre goals that get accomplished is not nearly as impressive as setting stretch goals, some of which might not get met. The point of stretch goals is to inspire personal and professional growth. If we are punished for pushing for growth and coming up short, we need to find a new workplace.

It takes time to develop good business acumen. There is no class and absolutely no certification for business acumen. Anyone, in any job or position, can develop and cultivate business acumen skills. You don't have to be a C-Level executive to develop and exhibit good business acumen.

Posted on: April 13, 2012 01:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

I hope, when they die, cartoon characters have to answer for their sins.

- Jack Handey



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