Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.


As they say;

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 


However, planning is subject to life–and life happens!


One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan’s Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Snowflakes Are Unique

Thought this was an interesting analogy. 


A colleague refers to some customers as snowflakes.


At first, I didn’t get it. 


Then I understood. 


Every snowflake is unique. 


Based on how the ice crystals fall to the ground through different temperatures, moisture levels, and atmospheric pressures, the shape of every snowflake is different. 


Sometimes when it comes to project management, customers too think they are unique, different, and special.


They think that solutions that work industry- or enterprise-wide could never work for them and their wholly distinct ways of doing business. 


Hence, as I learned, the term snowflake. 


For those of us who have been around the project management block a few times, we know that while there are specific customer requirements, most of them are not all that unique. 


And when some customers simply don’t want to do things differently than they’ve done it before, there can be greater resistance to change. 


Hence, the “We’re special. We’re different” reframe along with the standoffishness, doubting, circling the wagons, throwing up obstacles, or just refusing to fully participate. 


Obviously, it’s a lot more difficult to modernize and transform through technology and business process re-engineering when your customers aren’t on board. 


So it is critical to manage organizational change, address the questions, the fears, and elements that are truly unique, and bring the people along as true partners. 


Not every requirement is a snowflake and neither is every customer, but we have to manage the similarities and differences in every project and make sure it improves performance and meets the needs of the customer and the organization. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

All Aboard!

So when the train is pulling out it’s a loud call by the conductor of:

“All Aboard that’s going abroard.”


With project management, it can be the same too. 


Once an organization has decided to move out on a project and make the investment of time, resources, and reputation:


– Either you get on the train and help feed the engine of progress


OR


– You get left behind.


– You get thrown off the train.


– You get run over by the train.


There really are no other alternatives. 


My advice is get with the program. 


The train is moving out.


The organization is going to deliver on its promise. 


Get the h*ll on!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Paradigm

So a colleague has this sticker (with a do not image) on their computer that says:


“But we’ve always done it that way.”


They told me a funny story about the lady that made the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off.


One day, her daughter asked, “Why mom do you make the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off?”


The mother answers and says because “My mother always made it that way!”


So they went to her mother and ask the question and they get the same answer again.


Finally, they went to her great grandmother and ask, “Why do you always make the ham with the head and tail ends cut off?”


And the old lady takes a breath, pauses, and says, “Because, we didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the whole ham!”


Just thought this was a great lesson on critical thinking and also on “asking why.”


Change can be brought about by questioning underlying assumptions and historical ways of doing things and bringing an open mind and fresh light to it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fruitful Discussions

I liked this guidance from Dr. Britt Andreata on addressing conflict through managing difficult conversations


Here’s how the typical bad scenario unfolds:


1. Problems begin with another person (e.g. annoying or unwanted behaviors).  


2. People start building their cases – listing the wrongs done to them, collecting corroborating evidence, and seeking validation from others.


3. There is a tipping point in terms of frequency or intensity of the problems that lead to a confrontation where accusations are made and blame is attributed. 


4. Then the aftermath in terms of a animosity, loss of trust, and a damaged relationship.


Here’s a better way to deal:


1. Problems begin with another person.  


2. People spend some time reflecting on why the behavior is affecting you, getting clear on what you want to correct it, and trying to see from the other person’s perspective. 


3. The tipping point is sooner in terms of the frequency and intensity of the problems–so you nip it in the bud earlier–and you have a conversation with the other person where you have reframed the other person from an adversary to a partner (e.g. you’ve questioned the facts, assumptions, conclusions along with your emotions, beliefs, and actions–and you’ve looked at alternative narratives to these) and you take responsibility for your part, share your experience and goals to improve things, invite their perceptions, and “co-create solutions.”


4. Follow through with the other person to work together, implement the changes, and hold each other accountable to address the issues. 


The amazing thing about this approach to conflict management is that assuming the other person isn’t truly bad, evil, or gunning for you is that we can look at things from constructive perspective where we own our part, and they own theirs, and together we work together to make things better for everyone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

QC + AI = S

Quantum Computing (QC) + Artificial Intelligence (AI) = Singularity (S)


Quantum Computing – Computers using subatomic particles to superprocess atincredible speeds and with less energy–it’s similar to massive parallel processing, but in the case of Qubits, they can store more than just 1s and 0s (bits–a binary state), but rather can be both o and 1 at the same time (a “superposition”).  So for very large problems (“exponential scaling”), instead of processing (computing one step at a time), you can process all options simultaneously to find the very best (“optimized”) solution by eliminating all options that don’t fit the algorithm.


Artificial Intelligence – Computers simulate intelligence, using language, perceiving their environment, reasoning to draw conclusions, solving problems usually done by humans, being creative, and where they can actually learn and self-improve!


Singularity – A state of runaway hypergrowth from the attainment of computing superintelligence, where computers are able to autonomously build ever smarter and more powerful machines that surpass human understanding and control leading to unfathomable changes to human civilization. 


The Information Age is giving way to the Intelligence Age, and it is all ready to explode. 


We are getting to the point of no return…


(Source Photo: Screenshot from YouTube with attribution to the move, Lucy“)

Project Manager – The DIRECT(or)

So I learned this cool acronym for the roles of a project manager:


DIRECT


The project manager directs the project (similar to a director who is the project manager of a movie).


Here is how the project manager DIRECTs the project:


Define – Identify the opportunity or issue that the project will address including, the vision, scope, resources, and measures of success. (i.e. the “Charter”).


Investigate – Explore options and pros/cons for each (i.e. an “Analysis of Alternatives”).


Resolve – Solve and resolve (i.e. commit to) the course of action that will be pursued (i.e. “Project Plan”).


Execute -Do the project and track/manage cost, schedule, scope, quality, risks, and actions items (i.e. “Scorecard”).


Change – Identify process and technology techniology changes, test these, fix outstanding items, and make the cutover (i.e. “User Acceptance Testing,” “Punch List,” and “Go Live Plan”).


Transition – Migrate people to the new solution, communicate the changes, overcome resistance, and conclude the project (i.e. “Communications Plan” and “Lessons Learned”).


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)