Working the Fundamentals

October 15, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Teamwork 

With all the time we have watching our kids in their activities this fall, a pattern begins to emerge. All of these activities involve practice and drills intended to improve proficiency in fundamentals of each activity: dribbling and passing in soccer and basketball, scales and chord progressions in guitar, footwork drills and off-ice practice in figure skating. While the kids generally loathe this portion of their activities, there’s a good reason for this: they are working the fundamentals. Read more

Deadlines and Commitments

September 27, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Agility, Project management 

While some projects absolutely must be high quality, and others might be physically constrained by size, there is one dimension that is clearly the most prominent point of discussion on projects of all shapes and sizes: When must it be finished? Read more

Expertise vs. Teamwork

September 22, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Project management, Teamwork 

We were working through a project management workshop that I have blogged about in the past, where we have a fun blend of theory and practice centred around a brief construction project. With more than enough resources to go around, we decided to try to design an experiment for the last round that might help answer the question of which is more valuable: expertise or teamwork? Read more

From Training to Education

September 7, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Quality 

It is interesting to see what happens at some point in almost every workshop I run. Just after talking about some topic, often a topic where I get up on a soapbox and go off on a rant that takes us well beyond the standard training fare, I’ll have a few people come up to me at the next break. Almost in unison, they suggest that their managers need to hear what I had to say about this topic. For me, it’s an indication of the difference between training and education. Read more

Certification vs. Education

August 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Quality 

Way back in 1939, the great and powerful Oz had this to say to the Scarecrow, who was in search of a brain:

“Why, anybody can have a brain, that’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pucilanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain.

Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have.

But they have one thing you haven’t got – a diploma.

Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatis Committeatum, E. pluribus unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D. (Doctor of Thinkology).”

Receiving that piece of paper didn’t make the scarecrow any smarter, as evidenced by his screwing up pythagorean and isosceles triangle theorems. He clearly received an empty credential.

More than seventy years later, we still struggle to recognize the distinction between certification and education. Read more

Best Intentions

August 16, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Quality 

We’ve all been in situations where we find ourselves slogging through our work, and the focus (if there is any focus at all) is to get the work done, rather than get it done well. Certainly household chores can fall into that category, and around the office there are similar activities like month-end reporting that can feel more like drudgery than uplifting activity. It becomes easy to find excuses for not getting the work done, procrastination becomes an art form, and while the result might pass muster, it certainly isn’t a masterpiece. When the core work we do starts to feel this way, when we just want it done and over with, it’s time to rethink what’s going on. Read more

Come Together

July 5, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

Conflict in a team setting is one of the natural hazards of the workplace. Unless you are on a project with no schedule pressure, and no technical challenges, and a single obvious way to get the job done, there will be some form of conflict (if you do happen to work on that sort of project, then you’re probably going to have to deal with the challenge of keeping yourself awake). Different perspectives of how to get the work done are healthy, but when we get into situations where it gets personal, trouble is brewing. Listening to how we express our frustrations with someone else on the team can be quite revealing. Read more

Leveraging the Frog in the Pot

July 1, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, Process, Quality, Teamwork 

Everyone has heard of that metaphor of a frog in a pot of water: put the little guy in hot water and he’ll jump right out, heat the water gradually and he’ll just hang out there. The gradual changes are too subtle for him to perceive them and do anything about it. This explains why a lot of team environments are the way they are, and might even give us an idea about what we can do about it. Read more

Pushing Too Hard

May 24, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: People, Quality, Teamwork 

We often make commitments to get things done within a given timeframe. Whether the time constraint was handed to you or you chose it is moot, as long as you have agreed to the commitment. If that time commitment is firm, and you find that it is not looking possible at some point, strange things start to happen. Read more

Spotting Potential Conflict

May 4, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

With almost any team endeavour, whether it is called a project or not, there will be ample opportunities for stresses to creep in, for decisions to be made that don’t make everyone happy, for things to not go according to plan. Just as with any stresses, if left unchecked there is a really good chance that matters will only get worse. Everyone on the team needs to be able to spot when something is not quite right, and deal with the issue at first opportunity. Read more

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