Disclaimer: this blog entry does not have a direct relationship with Project Management but is intended to share some thoughts after finishing the lecture of Total Recall : My Unbelievably True Life Story, by Arnold Schwarzenegger. I highly recommend its lecture, specially to those that have interest in bodybuilding, movies or politics, or that just wish to enjoy a few hours of plesant light reading.
When Arnold was 15, he had set very clear plans for himself; he wanted to conquer Mister Olympia and move to the US. To gain motivation, he covered the walls of his small room – located in a remote tiny village outside Graz, Austria – with pictures of famous bodybuilders at that time. He trained several hours a day, always with a wonderful smile on his face. People would ask him why he looked always happy, especially after a five hour intensive training. He would then say “Every repetition I do takes me one step closer to my goal”. Fast forwarding a few years, he ended up moving to the United States and winning Mr. Olympia seven times. He then became a successful real estate entrepreneur, one of the highest paid Hollywood actors and a republican governor in otherwise usually democrat state of California. Not only did he become an invincible champion, but he also transformed bodybuilding from a sport practiced by a few people in knocked out gyms to a worldwide recognized discipline with milions of followers. The key to his accomplishments can be summarized in the following three points:
Extreme hard work. A day has 24 hours. Do not expect to accomplish the extraordinary by doing the ordinary – 8 hour work, 8 hour sleep, 8 hours leisure.
Having a vision. Without it, one just wanders without any set direction. For one of his earlier movies, he had to drop about 30 pounds. He had to change the vision he had for himself, from muscular Mr. Olympia to a ripped athlete. Although he had a limited time to do so, having a vision allowed him to timely achieve the goal.
Setting clear goals. These goals will allow the realization of the vision stated above. By not having clear and defined goals, risk of wandering in the land of nowehere is very high. And time is scarce (and precious).
This is where Project Management comes in. At the end, the three points above can also be applied, with some customization, to projects and their succes. Eveything is linked.
I recently completed a survey to analyze my problem solving profile. This is based on a research-based instrument named Basadur which has been developed from fundamental theory and empirical data from a large sample of people working in a broad cross-section of organizations.
In short, four categories are identified, bearing in mind that everyone is a blend of of these:
Ideally, a heterogeneous mix of all four styles should be present in any organization in order to create balanced teams capable of tackling tasks from problem finding through implementation.
The research shows that certain industries or roles have a higher component in one of these categories. For instance, an artist or school teacher rates high in Generating, a scientist or strategic planner in Conceptualizing and an engineer or IT analyst in Optimizing. Turns out that a Project Manager typically rates high in Implemeting, and this is precisely the result I obtained upon completing the survey. An implementer is caracterized by the following traits (extracted from Basadur files):
Thus, if you are a Project Manager, it is highly likely that Implementation is your most prominent problem solving trait.