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

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

From Telling to Asking

April 30, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Project management, Teamwork 

There are a number of flavours of project management workshops I’m involved with these days, online and face to face, running the whole show or facilitating with wider participation. One thing that they all have in common is that many of the issues have to do with team dynamics, and the many ways in which this manifests itself. Here’s another example. Read more

Focus on the Craft

April 2, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Quality 

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell provides a rule of thumb that people will get good at their craft after they have spent 10,000 hours plying it. He talks about the Beatles and their years in small clubs in Germany, Mozart and his long tenure in music, and describes the early years of Bill Joy and Bill Gates as well. I’ve heard similar 250,000 word rules for writing (I’m well past that mark and think there’s still lots to learn), and the practice time put in by some of the sports greats is legendary. Seems there is something to all this: that time – lots of time – is an important part of becoming good at something. Raw talent or innate genius will only get you so far. Read more

High Cost of Success

March 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Project management, Quality 

In all kinds of projects, despite all the theory behind project management best-practices or ‘branded’ methodologies or lifecycles, I would say that the majority of projects get done with more than a little ‘seat-of-the-pants’ effort. In construction circles you will see ‘as built’ notations on the drawings, in many projects you will see a lot of scurrying, sprinkled with some long hours, and a dash or so of frayed nerves. The project gets done, we declare success, but at what cost? Read more

What’s That PMO Doing?

February 18, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Project management 

I was running a workshop on project management yesterday, and one of the first things I did (as usual) was to go around the room to ask what people were looking for in the session. One person volunteered that back on their project, they have a PMO that drives things, and what he wanted to get out of the session was to “find out what goes on behind those doors”. I may not know what does go on behind those doors, but I do have thought or two to share. Read more

Intentional Influence

January 31, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

An important consideration in projects is that, consciously or not, we all exert influence on those around us. If we are trying to make life on our projects better, we certainly effect the behaviour of others, as well as their character. We can influence them. Read more

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