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Robert Prol Posts

Breaking the rules for the organization’s good

Organizations put controls in place to minimize risks, measure productivity and outcomes, and to make more beautiful reports. These controls are often in direct conflict with individual work habits.

People bypass controls to be more productive because the tools provided by the organization aren’t meeting the person’s needs. Rarely do people bypass controls because they want to do something bad.

Organizations can learn a lot by determining why their employees bypass the controls. If they’re bypassing controls to do a better job, invest the time and money to provide them with a comparable approved tool to meet their needs. This is how an organization improves employee engagement and job satisfaction while driving up effectiveness.

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My list of excuses

I have a list of excuses not to run. I’m tired, it’s cold, it’s raining, I don’t have the time, I’d rather read a book, it’s boring, my favorite jacket is in the laundry. It’s easy to find one at a moment’s notice.

I also have the antidote for excuses. It’s having a goal that I can’t ignore. Like a race. I used to do lots of 5 kilometer races. Then it became boring. Why drive somewhere, stand around waiting for the race to start, then for the
finishers, then drive home so I could run for 20 minutes? It didn’t make sense.

Last year I signed up for my first half marathon. I downloaded a 12 week training plan, and stuck to it. Okay, I missed a week of it, but I still kept to it. I ran in cold rain and in sweltering heat. I destroyed my iPod Nano, a Garmin 305 GPS, and a pair of running shoes. There wasn’t any room for excuses.

After the race I slacked off. I ran a few times, and pulled out my list of excuses, removing the dust and using them again. Then my wife said “why don’t you do another half marathon”? Because I swore them off. I had no intention of doing one again. Never. Again.

While attending a neighborhood Christmas party, an avid runner told me that I’d change my mind. I’d run another half marathon. A couple days later I decided I’d plan on doing three of them in 2017. I signed up for a half marathon in Newport, Rhode Island¬†on April 15th.

Goals are the best way to overcome your excuses. Pick them carefully and then focus on them. Excuses are for other people.

 

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When project failure is a success

Sometimes our greatest success as a project manager is when we’re able to make the case that a project is failing and needs to be shut down. That no amount of optimism, extra efforts, or additional meetings will generate success.

Project managers must be the one place where facts override emotions. Where data shows clearly what the current status is. We need to be above the fray holding the facts to guide the team to the cold reality.

No project manager hopes to be the wielder of the reality stick. Yet we’re often all that stands between organizational bias and reality. It comes with our roles as project leaders.

What is your favorite project failure?

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Vulnerability is a core skill for a project manager

A good project for me is a complicated one. It’s full of potholes, obstacles, and dead ends. I’m forced to think through how to overcome the obstacles. I’m not always successful in my approach.

This is when I let myself be vulnerable. I confide in the core team that I’m currently stuck and unsure of how to proceed. I ask if they have any ideas to help us move forward. This vulnerability always provides results.

Being a project manager doesn’t mean we have to know all the answers. It’s often the questions we ask that are more important than knowing the answers.

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