Friday, August 18, 2017

Appearing Foolish

At last the end is in sight! The end of the cricket season that is and the start of rugby. We can't put the posts up yet but we are running our men's trials this evening with a BBQ to follow. Plus we've a pre-season friendly down at Sidmouth on Tuesday evening. Just enough to whet the appetite. Roll on September. Meanwhile the walking rugby goes from strength to strength and I've started registering the players ready for the new season.

Project Management
Some project managers like to be seen as experts on everything and they are always ready to give their views on the right way to do something, regardless of how little they actually know about it. Some also like to appear busy and never have any time to deal with the little niceties of life. But they do always seem to have enough time to check up on the team members and interfere with what they are doing.  

The wise project manager tries to keep things simple and may often appear to do be doing little. This lack of needless intervention allows the team to develop and be productive and effective. But it can sometimes appear that the project manager is sitting there with no idea of what to do, which can be disconcerting for a team member who is used to project managers behaving more dynamically.  

The Way  
When the wise project manager speaks, it is often to say something obvious and it can sound simple. Because what he says is also honest it may seem perplexing. The project manager’s stillness may even appear to be foolishness. But the project manager’s stillness overcomes the team’s agitation. The project manager’s consciousness is his primary tool and this is what gets things done.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Great perfection seems defective,  
Great straightness seems crooked.  
Great dexterity seems clumsy.  
Great eloquence seems awkward.  
Movement conquers cold.  
Stillness conquers heat.  
Purity and stillness set things in order in the universe.  

Friday, August 04, 2017

Owning or Owned

Sorry I haven't posted for a couple of weeks but my Fridays (posting day) have been very tied up. On the walking rugby front there was a meeting of the clubs who have got walking rugby going up at Bristol Rugby, which was very encouraging. Our numbers are steadily growing at Topsham and one of the Devon RFC committee is coming to join us next week. Meanwhile pre-season training has started for the men's and women's squads and we have a couple of pre-season friendlies to look forward to. While on the admin side we are just about finishing off the budgeting process for 2017-18.

Project Management
I was talking to a couple of people the other evening about how people get into project management. Some chose to work as project managers as they are interested in it, some choose it as a career choice, while others have it thrust upon them. I think I fell into the latter category, although I grew to love it.

Good project managers do it because they enjoy managing projects and bringing change to their organizations. Wise project managers also want to develop the people on their project teams and their organizations to make them more effective. They also want to develop themselves so that they become better people.  

However some project managers just do it in order to get ahead and earn more money. They don’t care about the people who are working on the project or those who will be impacted by it, just as how they are perceived by the senior people in the organization.  

The Way  
The problem with owning a lot is that the more you have the more you have to look after. The poor man doesn’t need to lock his door; the rich man has to live in a gated enclosure surrounded by security. The more you have, the more you have to lose. Is that owning things or being owned by them?  

The wise project manager knows that giving up things will make him truly richer, so be still and discover your inner security.   

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Reputation or oneself, which matters more?  
Wealth or happiness, which is more valuable?  
Success or failure, which is worse?  
Great attachment will lead to great waste.  

Excessive hoarding will lead to heavy loss.  
A contented man avoids disgrace.  
Knowing when to stop avoids danger.  
So acting one can last a long time.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gentle Intervention

The Project
Finally completed Earned Value Management in easy steps, thanks to lots of good feedback from David M, Graham M and David C-C. The publishers are now reviewing it, so far no queries or questions, so fingers crossed. Meanwhile onto the next project, updating Sourdough Bread Made Easy, I've lots of new material to add in and quite a few bits to update.

Many things can cause conflicts on a project: tight schedules, tight budgets, other peoples’ priorities, human resources (or the lack of them), technical opinions, interpersonal conflicts and administrative procedures to name but a few. The project manager has to deal with these conflicts to keep the project on track. I have known some project managers that take the approach of confronting things head on and insisting on things being done their way but that is not the way.

The Way  
The wise project manager takes a gentle approach to things. If there is a problem, he tries to identify the cause of the difficulty, first making sure it is not something he has or has not done. If someone is being difficult, the wise project manager is assertive about the issue but does not over-react. He is gentle with them and explains what he wants to achieve. He explains why it matters and trusts in his consciousness shedding light on the issue. But if that doesn’t work, he still does not over-react, for that is not the way. 

Instead the wise project manager steps back and yields knowing that their resistance will relax. The wise project manager understands how much, how little can achieve. 

The Tao
Lao Tzu tells us:

The softest thing in the universe,  
Overcomes the hardest.  
That which has no substance,  
Can penetrate where there is no space.  

I thus understand the value of being motiveless.  
Teaching without words.  
Actions without motive,  
Are rarely attained in the world.  

Friday, July 07, 2017

Creative Energy

We had our AGM at the rugby club this week. Good turnout (probably because we opened the bar and had free food) and there was a good bit of lively discussion.

Creativity in projects often comes from the interaction between opposites. If everyone on the project is in total harmony and agreement things will be very peaceful but there will be no spark. Getting the team round a table and discussing an issue or a challenge can often lead to sparks flying but that can prove to be a very creative process.  

The Way 
A poor project manager will try to force others to do what they want and will ultimately be undone by it. The wise project manager acts in a facilitation role rather than trying to drive the team. In some ways a wise project manager is more of a follower than a leader. His role is to foster and encourage the creativity of the team members. 

In order to lead the wise project manager learns how to follow. In order to prosper the wise project manager learns to run the project simply. The natural balance of nature and of the team will ensure the right outcome. Follow others, live simply and encourage the creativity of the team, this is the Way.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us: 

Tao begot the one.  
The one begot the two.  
The two begot the three.  
And the three begot the ten thousand things.  

The ten thousand things depend on the female,  
And embrace the male.  
Men dislike that which is helpless, insignificant or bad,  
But this is how kings and lords describe themselves.  

When things diminish, they will increase.  
When things increase, they will diminish.  
That which is strong has no control over its death.  
This will be the basis of my teaching.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

Disturbing Wisdom

Someone wise once said "expect the unexpected" and it has often been repeated. It is true of life in general but it does seem to be particularly relevant in project management. But no matter how much we try and expect the unexpected, unexpected things will happen on a project and it is important that the project manager finds out how and why. 

The wise project manager finds out and acts accordingly. The poor project manager, even if they do manage to find out, dismisses it as nonsense. The poor project manager thinks kindness is weakness and selflessness is not the way to get ahead.  

The Way 
People who do not see how things happen are skeptical about the wise project manager’s behavior. Because his motives are obscure he is hard to figure out. It is not easy to understand a person whose foundation is invisible. But this is the way things happen.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:

The best scholar hears of the Tao,  
And practices it diligently.  
The average scholar hears of the Tao,  
And sometimes practices it and sometimes not.  
The foolish scholar hears of the Tao,  
And ridicules it.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017


I once asked my old Tai Chi teacher, Yano, what the ten thousand things were. He just smiled and poked me in the stomach (he was like that). It was obvious, I should have thought about it or meditated.

Meditation requires peace and quiet but in the hurly-burly of project life it sometimes seems that there are very few moments like that. But we do need these moments of tranquility to slow down, take stock and re-charge our batteries.  

The Way  
The poor project manager worries about what is happening or not happening on their project, frets about what else might go wrong and gets angry at life and the world for their problems. That way lies despair!  

The wise project manager uses the time to meditate calmly, returning to his inner self and becoming silent. What is happening when nothing is happening? What is the difference between what is happening and how it happens? 

Through meditation we can start to understand the process and through understanding the process we can begin to understand the principle. This is the way things happen so we begin to understand what is happening on the project .

The Tao
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Returning is the movement of the Tao. 
Yielding is the way of the Tao. 
The ten thousand things are born of being. 
Being is born of not being. 

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Root of Things

Not a very good start to the Lions tour so far, narrow victory over a scratch side and losing to the bottom club (albeit one with eight All Blacks in it) the Auckland Blues (my son David's team). Next up the Crusaders (the top NZ side) tomorrow so it doesn't get any easier. Meanwhile walking rugby is going well but we are struggling to get volunteers for our Groundforce Day (sprucing up the clubhouse and grounds) tomorrow.

The Project
I currently have three people reviewing the content of the new book and the silence is deafening! Should I start to worry as it's due to the publishers by the end of the month!

When things start to get difficult on a project it is sometimes tempting to abandon the way. A poor project manager will try to use pressure to influence events, but the harder he tries, the worse things will get. When we try to interfere with nature, nothing works right. Things start to go wrong, the project team becomes disillusioned and the project ends up failing. We need to recognise that power comes from the natural order of things. Natural events are potent because they act in accordance with how things work. They simply are.  

The Way  
On a project we are all team players. Success comes through co-operation and providing a service to others. Therefore the wise project manager is not self-centred; he nurtures the team, co-operates with them and is their servant. Potency comes from knowing what is happening and acting accordingly. Freedom comes from obedience to the natural order. This way the project progresses, the team is happy and the project is in harmony with nature.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Of old these arise from the one:  
The sky was able to be pure,  
The earth was able to be tranquil,  
The spirits were able to be spiritual,  
The valley was able to be abundant,  
The ten thousand things were able to be alive,  
And the rulers were able to lead.  
All these came about.  

If the sky was not pure it would split open,  
If the earth was not tranquil it would erupt,  
If the spirits were not spiritual they would vanish,  
If the valley was not abundance it would wither,  
If the ten thousand things were not alive they would be extinct,  
If the rulers did not lead they would be toppled.  

Therefore cheap is the root of expensive,  
Low is the root of high.  
The rulers consider themselves alone, bereft and unworthy,  
Fail to use worthless as their root.  Is it not so?  
The substance of the vehicle is not the vehicle.  
Do not wish to be shiny like jade,  
Be dull like rock.