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Ed Gagne - Enterprise Project Test Leader
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Issue # 33 February / March 2011

Pow'Rful Presentations Newsletter

 

February / March 2011 - Perspectives

Pow'Rful Presentations is a relatively monthly investigation of ideas, strategies and techniques to assist readers be more present in life, better project managers and make effective presentations (in all senses of the word).
  
This is combined newsletter for February and March 2011 to demonstrate a different perspective. How better to walk the talk for this newsletter's theme than deviate from the normal "One newsletter per month" frequency?
  
Disclaimer - depending on your background, and my South African origins, you may find some of my spelling and grammar to be "imaginative".

© Wayne Botha 2011

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What is your perspective?

Here we are - 14 project managers doing the annual planning session for my department while the snow falls outside on a cold day in January. With nothing to occupy my mind while colleagues debate the usual wordsmithing of the third bullet point of the second SMART Annual Performance Objective, the psychologist in me observed my test subjects (I mean colleagues, of course.)

  

If you have participated in a bad strategy retreat or a mindnumbing goal setting session, then you can relate to my story. Think back to a session that made you want to run to the nearest bar and drown all memories of your experience. Here are some of the characters in my setting - you probably observed some characters in your setting.

 

The blocker/complainer. Every idea is rejected. "They won't let us do that." "Yes, but the leadership needs to change before we can change - we can't do anything about it."

 

The devil in the details. He responds to every suggestion with "How will that work? Procedure 64.b, sub-paragraph 3 clearly states that we need the application form by Tuesday every week." Which then leads to further discussion until the idea has less chance of progressing than an Olympic sprinter in a swamp.  
 

The social climber, aka Miss Chameleon. Ideas are supported or rejected based on perceived social status in the group. You know the type - The boss has GREAT ideas and subordinates always have worthless ideas.

 

The self-esteem basket case. Every idea is somehow his idea and every achievement last year was a direct result of his involvement. He must top every idea with his own spin on it.  

  

The important point from this experiment is this. You and I typically respond to new ideas and approach debates from our preferred perspective. In fact, we are so predictable that you can probably imagine how a person will respond before the next idea is even suggested to a group of people that you know.

 

Try this experiment with someone that you frequently interact with, such as your executive sponsor.

 

Step 1. Prepare you status report as normal.

Step 2. Play out the status meeting in your head. What will you present? How will the sponsor react? What will his mannerisms be? What words will he utter?

Step 3. Hold the status meeting.

Step 4. Debrief after the meeting. How did the actual meeting compare with the meeting you imagined in step 2?

  

Here is your learning. To manage your projects successfully you need to develop your creative thinking skills. You can't think creatively if you always respond to new ideas and challenges with the same approach, without the capacity to change.

 

If you see the world through only one set of lenses, always and only have one perspective on everything then you are holding yourself back. You can't see things in a new light or gain a larger understanding of the world if you dismiss every perspective that is not your own.

 

In the coming week - observe yourself and others. Can you see other perspectives or do you always react in only one way? How else could you react to a situation on your project? If you always jump into action, observe how colleague react in similar situations. Ask yourself "What would Wayne do in this situation?" Taking a moment to consider how someone else reacts is enough to help you grow a new perspective.

 

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Managing your professional development - checking in. 

Remember when you set your goals to develop your professional expertise in 2011? It is now the middle of February. How are you doing? We are six weeks into the year - have you made six weeks of progress on your career goals this year so far? 

 

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Project Communication and Buy In.  

Never underestimate the amount of communication your project needs for stakeholders to buy in to it. Some stakeholders don't like change and your project may fail because of their natural inclination to unknowingly resist change.

 

This basic principle was brought home to me on a project that I am observing. The project manager meets with various department heads to secure resources and share status. The project manager needs Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and assumed that the department heads would communicate the project needs and status down to the SMEs.

 

Instead, SMEs were assigned to the project and are left with more questions than answers. Project leadership is absent while SMEs debate "Am I doing this, or are you doing task #47?" "When is the next milestone date and when is our report due?"

 

The result is sub-optimal project performance. If your team doesn't know what their contributions are expected to be for the project, then they can't plan and definitely cannot contribute their expertise to the project in a meaningful way.

 

Make it easier on yourself. When SMEs are assigned to your project, meet with each one and communicate their role on your project. Show them the project plan. Tell them what is coming up and how many hours you expect to need them on your project.

 

Similarly, host awareness sessions and training sessions for the affected stakeholders. Keep them informed of the changes your project will bring into their world. You can't get buy-in without communication. And you probably cannot over-communicate.

 

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I am very proud to announce that my latest book "Beyond The Certification" is published and will be available on my website shortly.  I interviewed thirty very seasoned project managers and asked "What does it take to manage projects in the real-world?" Their answers are captured in "Beyond The Certification."

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Get more value on my blog, facebook and   View Wayne Botha's profile on LinkedIn

Email me with any problems or questions that you have about project management or presentations and I will attempt to address them in a future newsletter.

More next time!

Wayne Botha


Copyright 2017 Wayne Botha Email Wayne Cell: 860.214.4897