Project Management in Real Life

Sharing my Project Management adventures and some tips. I try to keep my articles brief and to the point. Project Management is an Art, Science, and Discipline.

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Recent Posts

The Project Presentation

The Problem Solver

My Project Management Zen Moment

The Project Manager with dirty hands

I need to make this Meeting happen

The Project Presentation

The big day is here to present a proposed project to stakeholders. You prepared a slideshow to provide visual aids so you make a clear presentation. Looks like you are well prepared for this presentation.

I have been to two presentations that blew up with displeased stakeholders. 

Presentation of a proposed cell phone tower in a residential community. It was presented at a neighborhood board meeting. The Project Coordinator started the slideshow and fielded questions that could not be answered. The Project Coordinator started to get nervous and stopped the slideshow and kept dodging all questions from the angry stakeholders. The chairman of the board had to jump in to address the Project Coordinator, he said can you provide the answers? He could not. The presentation was a failure. The Project Coordinator was not sincere to say I will get back to you on that question and just kept on presenting without being able to answer any questions.

Presentation of a proposed major neighborhood road work improvement project at a community town hall meeting. This presentation was slick and well prepared, but it ended in the community disapproving of it. The Project Managers did not crack under fire from the community. They kept their composure. Why did their presentation fail? They did not do a good job collecting traffic data and community input for the presentation. I call the examples they gave cherry picking and the community knew that they were cherry picking. 

Lessons to be learned from the two failed presentations.

1) Have subject matter experts available to help you field questions that you cannot properly answer. You need to anticipate the questions of the stakeholders in advance so you need to be well prepared. It's just common sense.

2) You think you have a polished presentation that will wow the stakeholders. Make sure you have accurate data to support your presentation.

Posted on: October 26, 2018 07:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (21)

The Problem Solver

A good Project Manger is the problem solver that needs to know how to respond fast to get a resolution with acceptable outcomes to keep a project moving. Don't just be a delegator. Jump in and work with the team to a find solution. 

Having the ability to sense trouble is an asset for a Project Manager. Staying cool and taking ownership of the issue avoids any confusion on who is the point person to get a resolution delivered. You will work with subject matter experts or become one on your quest for a resolution. 


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in March 2016)

Posted on: September 08, 2018 07:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

My Project Management Zen Moment

The view from Magic Island on the island of Oahu.The view from Magic Island on the island of Oahu.


Project Managers need to get out of the office and find a place to refresh and have there zen moment to find the elusive pieces of the puzzle that their project is missing. The Pacific Ocean is my favorite place to have my zen moments when I need to find a solution for a project. 

Find your favorite zen moment place where you live. Just clear your mind and relax.


(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on in August 2018)

Posted on: August 03, 2018 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

The Project Manager with dirty hands

We need Project Managers that leads by example and jumps in to help any project team member when they are in need of help. I do not like the term "Servant Leader", it sounds like it came out of the 1700's.

Project Managers need to get their hands dirty too. Don't just direct and watch the action sipping your cup of coffee. Involvement with your team to make adjustments to keep the project moving is important. Be there for your team. If there is a task you can do, then do it.

A good example of a Project Manager getting their hands dirty was a Data Center inventory project that I was involved in. I was the Systems Administrator assigned to inventory every piece of hardware / software in the Data Center. The Project Manager got on his hands and knees in the Data Center to help me take inventory and create the Data Center floor plan.

I have gotten my hands thirty on many of my own projects looking underneath the Data Center tile floor to plan hardware projects. 

Just get your hands dirty. It's a rewarding experience when you can help out. There is soap and water to clean your dirty hands when you are done.

Leadership with no borders sounds better than Servant Leadership.

Posted on: June 25, 2018 07:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

I need to make this Meeting happen


You need a meeting scheduled with a short notice. You are dealing with project team members on campus, different locations, and remote team members in different time zones. Sounds like fun.

Make a checklist of who needs to attend this meeting and who is an optional nice to have if they can attended.

Start selecting all the players for the meeting on the calendaring software that your company uses so you can see the date / times that they are available. Indicate required attendee or optional attendee. You will see a lot of meeting conflict dates and times because this is a short notice meeting. Just press on with the best date / time to schedule your meeting.

Select an appropriate meeting subject name to express the urgency of the short notice meeting. Give a brief summary of the reason for the meeting. Create an agenda and attach it to the meeting invite. Provide the conference call number for team members that will not be able to attend the meeting in person.

I call this the take no prisoners approach to scheduling a short notice meeting. If you try to accommodate everyone, it will not happen. The clock is ticking and you need answers and resolutions to issues. Explain to your Sponsors and Stakeholders that you are dead in the water because you can't schedule a meeting. People will juggle their schedules when you make an urgent compelling reason for the meeting.

That's why you are the Project Manager. Your job is to make things happen.

Posted on: June 15, 2018 08:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

"I'm sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth."

- John Lennon