Project Management

An Influential Project Manager

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Today, more than ever, a project manager needs to be an influencer. The purpose of this blog is to stimulate your journey towards greater influence. With influence, you can overcome the roadblocks thrown in your way, overcome opposition, align stakeholders and, enjoy your role even more. However, since I know you are busy, the posts here will be short (about a minute), thought provoking and also drive you towards action. Feel free to connect with me, ask me questions, and share what's good here.

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Am I Right, or Am I Wrong?

The Biggest Threat to Change

In Defence of Being Nice

Mental Agility: Five Reasons Why You May Lack It

The Politics of Escalation

Am I Right, or Am I Wrong?

Do me a favour, don’t tell me that I’m wrong, or that I’m right, unless you can prove it. That’s rude and insulting to me. 

How would you like it? In this day and age, that your experience and intelligence, you’d be justified in being offended.

By all means tell me you disagree, the you have different views, or have drawn alternative conclusions, but to tell me I am wrong is personal.

This is a subtle but extremely important point as we all move forward in this new world. Recent events have made it more apparent than ever that our hitherto reliance on authorities is at best questionable. Our need to think for ourselves, clearly and deeply, on matters than impact us, has never been greater.

Think about it. If I have reached a conclusion on something we share a concern with, how do you know, how can you ever know, that I am right? Hopefully, if I’m bold enough to share my decision, my conclusion, I’ve done my homework. Objectively researched the jumble of information, checked sources, considered others’ views on the matter, matched this with my personal experience. But I may have just heard something on the news and decided to agree with it.

Even if I am right, that right may only be right for me in my life and with my agenda. My rightness does not make it right for you.

Blindly accepting another’s view or decision is yesterday’s game, or maybe, yesterday’s mistake. In this new age, do your own thinking AND acknowledge others’ right to think for themselves. And if their disagreement with you doesn’t really make any difference to you, how about tolerance of their views?

That said, we all have that pesky little habit of labelling people as right or wrong rather than recognising the stimulant for that label is just their thinking and personal decisions.

Here’s a promise, I’ll do my utmost to change that habit and when we have a difference of opinion to cheerfully enquire how you reached your conclusion. Can you promise me the same?

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It is always good to connect, so feel free to reach out to me either here on the Project Management website or on LinkedIn. See you soon!

Posted on: June 03, 2020 09:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Biggest Threat to Change

Right now, the biggest threat to change, and our future, is the unconscious pull back to change as normal, or change that didn’t change very well.

We all have new experiences that change can happen fast and big, should this be more or less the new normal for change?

Who would want to go back to change at a snail’s pace, except our old selves, our old habits, and those of our stakeholders.

The new change paradigm should be fast, big, safe and easy! And it is easy, when you know how, But be wary, old habits die hard. 
Thoughts?

Posted on: May 22, 2020 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

In Defence of Being Nice

If you are one of the many people who get told that they are too nice, hold on a minute. Just because your line manager or mentor has said this to you doesn’t mean you should change. Why?

  1. Nice works. Not in all situations I grant you, but there is a lot to be said for the benefits of being nice, particularly in the longer term (check out The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler).
  2. They could be biased. Many managers operate on their own model of success and miss the obvious reality that what works for one person may not work for another. “Nice people” being “not so nice people” is painful. Acting contrary to your own values creates a strain on your integrity and is also hard to pull off. So, not only can it be very painful to the person pretending to be “not so nice”, but it is also painful to watch — and rather unconvincing.
  3. Nice does not necessarily mean soft or weak. Finding ways to set boundaries, limits and learning to be more assertive can be quite easy for nice people without betraying their integrity (take a look at Crucial ConversationsFierce Conversations and even Difficult Conversations — I’m sure there are more, just search “conversations” on Amazon!).
  4. Relationships can suffer much more when nice people turn not so nice. The shock and surprise can create greater bad feeling and also feelings of guilt on the part of the perpetrator (or is that traitor?).

 

So, if you are told you are too nice, by all means learn to assert yourself more, but also prepare a pushback — demonstrate and argue your case for staying the way you are. Here are a few ideas…

  • List examples of where “nice” won the day for you in your role.
  • Find examples of the loyalty benefit you have created within your network.
  • Identify other senior figures in your organisation that have a reputation for doing great work and are regarded as nice people.
  • Collect examples of public figures whose modus operandi is nice.
  • Counter wise, find examples of the opposite which created bad results.
  • Read The Power of Nice.

And finally, go on, you make a clear decision that you are prepared to take the consequences of retaining your niceness.

More on this Topic


Review the latest content on the Influence Blog.

Let's Connect


It is always good to connect, so feel free to reach out to me either here on the Project Management website or on LinkedIn. See you soon!

Posted on: April 24, 2020 09:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mental Agility: Five Reasons Why You May Lack It

Agile thinking is vital to meet the problems and challenges raging through the world, and the world of work today.

To maximise your own ability to be mentally agile, check off the reasons why it may be eluding you - or your colleagues.

  1. You don’t need it: 100% agility is nonsensical. Once the problem has been analysed, decisions made and a clear path forward agreed, Mental rigidity is required to keep to the path, come what may. If you keep rethinking things all the time, being agile and coming up with new ideas, traction and progress will be lost.
  2. You don’t think you need it: If you don’t think you need to be agile, you probably won’t be agile. After all, why change something that has been working so well for so long?
  3. Unshakable beliefs: Rigidity relies on firm beliefs about the problem in hand. When you become agile, you start to question, challenge and change your beliefs. Until beliefs start to flex, new solutions will remain illusive.
  4. Inhospitable environment: Your mental agility may (and perhaps rightly) be muted because of the unshakeable beliefs of those around you. To express a wild idea only for it to get shot down is a risk not everyone is prepared to take - especially if the negative consequences could be big.
  5. Inhospitable emotions: Mental agility can also be muted by your own emotional responses to the wild ideas that you have. Unless you can combine emotional agility with mental agility, your ideas may never see the light of day.

Now, with this checklist (and it’s not exhaustive) comes awareness. With awareness comes more choice. I wonder, what will you choose to do differently, how will up shift up your agility in a changing world?

More on this Topic


Review the latest content on the Influence Blog.

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It is always good to connect, so feel free to reach out to me either here on the Project Management website or on LinkedIn. See you soon!

Posted on: April 16, 2020 08:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Politics of Escalation

In all big relationships, be they supplier, outsourcing or strategic alliances, escalation processes are inevitable and necessary. They are formal procedures to resolve intractable problems between the parties. While accepting that these processes need to be used, and should be used, I do feel that they are often overused, and over-relied upon to solve problems.

Why? Well, to provoke a little debate:

  1. Escalation presents an easy excuse at lower levels to pass responsibility up the chain of command.
  2. The pervasive myth that senior people are better placed to solve these problems.
  3. Failure to build trust and credibility at the appropriate levels.
  4. Absence of a positive, proactive, and collaborative problem-solving mentality.
  5. "It's the way we do things round here."
  6. It makes senior people feel important and useful.

There are many reasons why escalation should be minimised to the levels necessary for acceptable governance and compliance. For instance:

  • Introducing more people to the process, especially those in powerful positions, magnifies the complexity rapidly. Instead of the two people closest to the problem working on the solution, immediately, many other agendas come crashing into it (both professional, personal, legitimate and frankly, suspect).
  • Cybernetics (a rarely mentioned methodology within the field of systems thinking), teaches that the best place to respond to complexity in the organisation’s environment is in the boundary-spanning roles. The intelligence system (top bosses) should be kept informed but are unlikely to be able to contribute much to the immediate problem.
  • As the level of power flying in to solve the problem rises, the emotions rise too, especially fear of negative repercussions.
  • Senior management has other things to do.

I'm sure you can think of more.

So what?

If you're considering escalation, challenge yourself hard:

  • Is this the best way to achieve the outcome you want?
  • What damage will it do to your opposite number?
  • How can you build your relationship with your opposite number so you can work more collaboratively?
  • How is escalation going to change the problem and make it harder to resolve?
  • Is your decision to escalate correct rather than personally convenient?
  • Have you failed by resorting to escalation?

If you're on the receiving end of escalations:

  • Should you really get involved? If so, in what way?
  • What are you doing to inadvertently encourage escalations?
  • How are your actions/reactions today perpetuating these problems?
  • Step back, what's the strategic solution to escalations?
  • How can you train, help and support your team to resolve problems?
  • How much are these escalations costing you in time?
  • What is the opportunity cost to you and your business?
  • Is your love of solving problems getting in the way of your strategic leadership?

Yes, I am being deliberately provocative. My rationale is that there are always many ways to look at anything that is happening. When you're deep in the detail, it is really hard to see these alternatives unless someone like me grabs your attention and says, “Hey, what if this is true?”

I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. The problems escalations are causing; the costs; the approaches you are taking? Indeed, what is the best practice out there for ensuring escalation is appropriate and positive?

 

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It is always good to connect, so feel free to reach out to me either here on the Project Management website or on LinkedIn. See you soon!

Posted on: March 05, 2020 06:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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