Monday, August 10, 2020

Staying Aware

It seems that sales of the new book (Sourdough Bread Made Easy: second edition) have taken off. My first thoughts were that everyone had been awaiting it with glee. My second thoughts were that with the Covid-19 pandemic and lock down, more people were staying in and baking their own bread. That seems to fit with this blogs theme of staying aware.

One sure sign of a poor project manager is someone who doesn’t know what's going on in his project. In his insecurity, he may keep questioning the team to find out, but that will only irritate the team members and it is not the way.

The Way

We need to become silent and listen with our inner selves. The wise project manager stays in the present. The past is over and done with, there's no point in thinking about what might have been. Likewise there is no point in trying to second guess the future, it will be what it will be.

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us: 

Look and it cannot be seen. Listen and it cannot be heard. Grasp and it cannot be held.

Grasp the strangeness which is Tao. Mindful of what exists now. Knowing the ancient beginning, is the essence of wisdom.  


Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Project Success

I have just finished my latest project, updating and releasing Sourdough Bread Made Easy: second edition. It is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book. So nothing to do with project management, but after walking rugby, baking sourdough bread is my second favourite hobby.  

For a project manager, success on projects is usually measured by whether the project is delivered on time, within budget and with all the required features and functionality (or on agile projects with all the required features and functionality that can be delivered in the available time). 

A poor project manager concentrates on getting the project in on time and within budget, a better project manager adds the required features and functionality (I like to think I ticked all three boxes on the book update).

The Way  

But the wise project manager includes and cares for the users, the team and all the other project stakeholders.  He lets them be the judges of whether or not the project is successful (so I await the judgement of my readers).  

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us:
Misfortune comes from having a body.  
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?  
Therefore honor life as yourself.  
Have faith in the way things are.  
Love the world as your own self,  
Then you can truly care for all things.  

Monday, May 18, 2020


It is really a long time since I've posted anything, but I am getting old, 77 at my next birthday if I'm lucky enough to survive. So locked in with nothing to do except look at my current books and one cried out for an update. Nothing to do with project management I'm afraid, but my now best selling book Sourdough Bread Made Easy. So I'm working on that, in fact I've nearly finished. 

My other project management books are in the process of being handed over as part of my succession planning to David Morris and Graham Moore. The deal with them is that the next release is a joint book with both our names on it, the one after that is all theirs. The only book I haven't been able to plan a hand over for is Effective Time Management in Easy Steps, so if anyone out there is interested in taking it over let me know. It really does need updating.

So back to the way for a moment and thinking about CoVid-19 there are a lot of people worrying about the risk of catching it and dying. So maybe we should meditate on that for a moment.

Some people fear life, some fear death and some waver between them.  Lao Tzu tells us that each of these three groups represents thirty percent of people.  Applying this to project management we could say that fear of failure and apprehension about success, together with wavering between them causes tension.  This in turn causes people to make mistakes in critical situations, which can have fatal consequences for the project team.

The Way
The wise project manager represents the ten percent that have the wisdom to accept that these polarities are simple facts and so enjoys the dance of existence.  The wise project manager knows that everything comes and goes so there is no point in grasping for or clinging to things.  Why worry about what might or might not happen?

A ferocious dog will go for an excited or anxious person, while a conscious and centered person can walk past unharmed.  The wise project manager does not worry about success or failure and this freedom keeps him safe from harm.

Lao Tzu tells us:
Between birth and death,
Three in ten are followers of life,
Three in ten are followers of death,
Also three in ten are of a nature,
Which actively leads to death.

Why is this so?
Because they live a substantial life.
It is said that he who has a good grip on life,
Meets no rhinoceros or tiger on his path.
Rhinoceroses can find no place for their horns,
Tigers no place for their claws,
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death.

In terms of the Tao death does not exist, it is just a transition from one state to another.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Being Open

First my apologies; it is a long time since I've posted anything and the reason is I have been busy on things other than project management, but project management has once again appeared on the horizon, so I should address it.

On the book front I am in the process of succession planning: the new release of Agile Project Management in easy steps is co-authored with David Morris and the new release of Effective Project Management is being co-authored with Graham Moore. They will be taking over the books from the next release and I know I am leaving them both in good hands.

Back to project management and my current issue: what should a project manager do when one of their team seems to struggling to deliver what's needed. One of my old bosses once told me I should be tougher with people when they failed to deliver but that’s not my way.  Some project managers seem to think that being a leader means they have to impose their own value system on their team, but this only leads to resentment.  The wise project manager demonstrates leadership by being the servant of the team.  He follows the team’s lead and is open to whatever emerges.  Being open and attentive to the needs of others is more effective than being judgmental.  

The Way  
The wise project manager expects the best of people and they live up to it.  People naturally tend to be good and truthful when they are being received in a good and truthful manner.  The wise project manager may seem to be naive and childlike in this uncritical openness to whatever emerges.  But openness is more potent than any system of judgment ever devised.  The wise project manager judges no one and is equally attentive to all.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

The sage has no fixed agenda.  
He is aware of the needs of others.  

I am good to people who are honest.  
I am also good to people who are dishonest.  
This is true goodness.  

keep faith with people who are sincere.  
I also keep faith with people who are insincere.  
This is true faithfulness.  

The sage dwells in harmony,  
His agenda seems confused.  
To the sage all are as children.  

The term ‘children’ refers to children of the mother (Tao), to the sage the goodness of any of the children is the same as his own goodness.  

Friday, April 27, 2018

Unclutter Your Mind

I am in the process of running a time management course for the staff of the rugby club and it is quite like old times. Getting people to find out exactly what they do and why they do it is the first step, then they can move on to identifying the things that matter and concentrate on them. Hopefully they will stop doing the things that don't matter for that is the way.

The Way  
The wise project manager understands the purpose of methodologies, tools and techniques and knows if and when to use them, but he allows them to fade into the background.  He is following a process of uncluttering his mind and simplifying his work.  As he relies less on knowing what he should do, his work becomes more powerful.  His consciousness is far more potent than any methodology.  

By giving up trying to do the right thing, the project manager and the team will become far more fruitful, for this is the way of the project manager.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

In the pursuit of learning,  
Every day something is added.  
In the practice of the Tao,  
Every day something is dropped.  

Less and less is done  
Until non-action is achieved.  
When nothing is done,  
Nothing remains undone.  

True mastery is gained,  
By letting things take their course,  
Not by interfering.  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Back Again

Well it seems like a long time since my last post but here I am back again.

The Project
As part of my succession planning, I've started working with an old friend and colleague Graham Moore on the next edition of Effective Project Management in easy steps. I did the same thing with my son David Morris on Agile Project Management and I plan to do the same on each of my books as they come up for a new edition, sharing royalties for that edition, then handing it over completely after that. Well I am 74 so it's about time I took a step back. I'll report on progress from time to time.

Walking Rugby
My other project at the moment is organising a walking rugby festival for 14 April. It's being sponsored by Devon RFU and I've got guest sides coming from Reading, Salisbury, Bristol, Gloucester and Kingswood rugby clubs. I hope to get a few from Devon to build the sport locally but I need a fair bit of help in getting it going. There are many ways of plotting or measuring how well a project is performing. My own preference is for a simple deliverable checklist (or function list) with the team member responsible for the delivery together with the planned and actual completion dates.  

The Way
The wise project manager is aware of what is happening on the project in the here and now. This is much more potent than complex interpretations of work completed. Stillness, clarity and consciousness are more immediate and will give a better understanding of what is happening. By staying in the present and being aware of what is happening, the wise project manager can do less yet still achieve more.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Without going outside,  
You may understand the order of things.  
Without looking through the window,  
You may see the way of things.  

To go far, is to know less.  
Thus the sage knows without going,  
Sees without looking,  
Accomplishes without motive.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

No Win/No Lose

Great excitement at the club this week as they will be filming next week's Rugby Tonight (BT Sport) at our very own Topsham Rugby Football Club. It will undoubtedly be chaos but I'll hopefully be able to get a plug in for walking rugby. Meanwhile we are working on three project proposals for improvements to the grounds and clubhouse, which nicely brings me on to:

Project Management
While it’s good to have a happy project team as it tells you that things are going well, there will always be some conflicts of opinion in the team, and that’s only right and natural. There is no point in the project manager trying to stamp these out, as they actually create energies which are creative forces. Often a spark of genius or a great idea will evolve from heated discussion about the different ways of doing something.  

However a poorly run project can look more like a battlefield. If the project manager loses sight of how things happen, differences of opinion will turn into quarrels which can begin to devastate the team. This all comes down to the project manager’s attitude. Trying to score points will not shed light on what is happening on the project. Wanting to be right will blind people to the real work of the project.  

The Way  
There should be no personal wins and no personal losses in project team work. The wise project manager knows that it is important to be content with what is actually happening and not get worked up about what might or might not happen. The only thing that matters is the team. If the project manager nurtures the team they will be successful.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

When the Tao is in the universe,  
The horses haul manure.  
When the Tao is absent from the universe,  
War horses are kept near the city.  

There is no greater calamity than greed,  
No greater misfortune than avarice.  
So he who knows that enough is enough,  
Will always have enough.