Friday, September 12, 2014

79: Delivering

The Project
I finally received my author’s copies of Project Program and Portfolio Management and I must say it looks good.  The publishers have added some nice images on the chapter header pages and made very few changes to my text.  However, the delivery service by Hermes was awful, they promised it early last week and it only arrived (via another courier) yesterday and the packaging was damaged.

Looking back at the notes from my last major project I see that I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to deliver everything I would have liked.  But on the positive side, the project team were good and they felt, rightly, that they had done a good job with what we were able to achieve, so maybe it was a success after all.  While noting the things we hadn’t been able to achieve, I wrote it up their way, it was their project after all.  

The Way  
The wise project manager yields his position gracefully and returns to facilitating what is happening.  We are all one; there are no sides to take.  The wise project manager goes along with what is happening anyway.  

After a bitter quarrel is resolved,  
Grievance must remain.  
How can this be considered good?  

Therefore the sage keeps his half of the bargain,  
And yet does not exact his tally from the other.  
A man of virtue performs his part,  
But a man without virtue exacts his due.  

The Tao of heaven has no favourites,  
Constantly approving mankind.  

Friday, September 05, 2014

78: Opposites

The Project
Well Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps is now out in print and the publishers have sent me my author’s copies but I haven’t received them yet. I was going to crack a bottle of bubbly to, celebrate but it will have to wait until they arrive. I will just have to make do with a couple of pints at the Bridge Inn instead. I need it as I’ve wasted the whole day sorting out my email accounts, which both seemed to go mad at the same time. Losing all the header information, delivering the text as raw HTML or just refusing to send or receive. It would be nice to have an IT support group rather than being it! One minute the world is rosy the next it’s all gloom, it’s all about opposites.

The Way  
The wise project manager is like water, soft and yielding, yet water can wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield (living in Topsham we witnessed it ripping apart the Goat Walk and two stretches sea defence walls).  As a general rule, whatever is soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.  

The wise project manager knows that yielding overcomes resistance and gentleness melts rigid defences.  He does not fight the force of the project team’s energy, but flows and yields and absorbs and let’s go.  This ability to be soft makes the wise project manager a good leader.  This is another paradox: what is soft is strong and what is hard is weak.  

Nothing in the world is as soft and weak as water.  
But to attack the hard and strong,  
Nothing can beat it.  

Weak conquers strong,  
Soft conquers hard.  
Everything in the world knows this,  
Yet none can put it into practice.  

Therefore the sage says:  
He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people,  
Might be called ruler of the village.  
He who takes upon himself the country’s misfortunes,  
Might be called ruler of the world.  
True words represent their opposites.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

77: Letting Go

The Project
Still no news from the printers but Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps should be out any day now. It’s available to pre-order on Amazon and I just checked their web site and it says 31 August 2014 so it should be available on Monday! I always feel the tension building up at this stage so it will be nice to get the book in my hand and let all the tension go (once I’ve checked there are no errors :o)

Natural events are like the drawing of a bow.  First being drawn taunt, then the energy is released and redistributed.  To fill what is empty and to reduce what is overflowing.  But in our materialistic society those who have a lot want even more, which means that those who have little get less and less.  

The Way  
The wise project manager follows the natural order of events and does not take the consumer society as a model.  By serving the project team and being generous, the wise project manager knows abundance.  By being selfless, he helps others realize themselves. By being a disinterested facilitator, unconcerned with praise or reward, he becomes potent and successful.  

The wise project manager’s behavior works because it is based on this understanding.  His behavior may seem strange to those who do not understand.  He does what has to be done and moves on without looking for recognition.  

The Tao of heaven resembles the drawing of a bow.  
The top is lowered and the bottom is raised.  
Excess is diminished, deficiency is filled.  
The Tao of heaven diminishes surplus and fills up deficit.  

The way of man is not thus.  
He takes from those who do not have enough,  
To give to those who already have too much.  

Who having more than enough can offer it to the world?  
One who follows the Tao.  

Therefore the sage acts but makes no demands on others.  
Work done he moves on.  
He has no wish to appear virtuous.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

76: Flexible or Rigid

The Project
Last few queries from the printers dealt with so Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps should even now be rolling off the presses. The end of a project is always a little fraught and I just realized they didn’t send me a final proof to check but the only thing they should have changed is adding a few graphics to liven up the bland pages. Once I get a printed copy in my hand I can close the project.

Looking back at the handover notes from one of my old projects (strictly speaking a program), I was struck by the difference between the flexible approach we had adopted over the preceding two years and the rigid approach that the new team was going to take.  This was based on their use of a set way of doing everything on a project.  

The Way  
A poor project manager will often takes a rigid approach and is set in his ways of doing things. He will repeat what he has done before, as he ‘knows it works’.  But that will make his project management structured and repetitious and he will be unable to cope with those more ‘interesting’ moments and team processes that seem to happen on real projects.  

The wise project manager, on the other hand, knows that what is flexible and flowing will tend to grow and develop.  So he allows the team to go with the flow and things develop naturally.  

A man when living is flexible and weak,  
At death he is firm and strong.  

All creatures, plants and trees when living are flexible and fragile.  
When dead they are withered and dry.  

Therefore the firm and the strong are companions of death.  
The flexible and weak are companions of life.  

Therefore if an army is not flexible,
Then it cannot conquer.  

Strong trees are used to make weapons.  
The great and strong will fall.  
The flexible and weak will achieve.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

75: Without Motive

The Project
Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps is finally at the printers.  I had a last minute query about the lack of a comma and have added an explanation to the author’s notes so it should be available any day now.  They really are a great team at In Easy Steps.

Poor project managers try to take the credit when their teams do something good or achieve something notable.  This means the team begin to feel their work is not appreciated and won’t try so hard the next time.  Then poor project managers try to put pressure on their teams in an effort to get more work done but it just makes the team unresponsive.  

The Way  
The wise project manager is not greedy, selfish, defensive or demanding.  He has no hidden motive and knows that he can trust events to unfold naturally.  

The people are hungry,  
Because the rulers take too much tax.  
Therefore there is hunger.  

The people are difficult to govern,    
Because the rulers interfere too much.  
Therefore they are difficult to govern.  

People make light of death,  
Because their search for life is substantial.  
Therefore they take death lightly.  

He who lives without motive,  
Is talented at appreciating life.  

Saturday, August 09, 2014

74: Fear and Punishment

In most projects there will be issues with some of the team not being able to complete their allocated tasks on time.  The poor project manager tries to act as judge, jury and executioner instead of allowing nature to take its course.  He admonishes people when they don’t do something they should have.  But punishing people is not an effective way of controlling their behaviour.  The poor project manager will eventually find that punishing others will end up hurting himself.  

The Way  
The wise project manager knows that there are natural consequences for every act.  His role is to shed light on these natural consequences.  He helps people to understand what is going on rather than attacking their behaviour.  

If the people are not afraid to die,  
It is no use to threaten them with death.  
If people constantly fear death,  
And any breaking the law I can seize and kill,  
Who would dare?  

The official executioner kills.  
As to he who tries to take his place,  
This is like trying to be the master carpenter cutting wood.  
He who cuts in place of the master carpenter,  
Seldom escapes injury to his hand.  


Friday, August 01, 2014

73: Courage and Caution

Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps should be released any day now and it seems like an eternity since I put the final draft in. I haven’t yet decided what to write about next.

As ever there is a lot of conflict in the world today and we often hear the word courage applied to soldiers but that is an active form of courage that tends to get people killed.  The other form of courage is a passive or inner courage and that keeps people alive, but which of the two is better?  

As is often the case, there is no right answer to that question.  Each has its benefits and its drawbacks; neither takes precedence in the way of the project manager.  The way is about how things happen, but it does not guide us on what we should do.  

The Way  
The poor project manager, when uncertain of what to do, frequently asks for advice.  The wise project manager knows that he has freedom of choice and must therefore take individual responsibility.  By becoming more conscious of what is happening, he can see how things happen.  By seeing how things happen, he can make a decision about what to do.  The way teaches us that that what people do is their own responsibility, but the pattern of their behavior still follows natural law.  The wise project manager knows that no one else can make decisions for him, it is up to him.  

The brave in daring will be killed.  
The brave in not daring will survive.  
Of these two, one may benefit, the other may harm.  
Some things heaven dislikes, who knows why?  
Even the sage finds this difficult.  

The Tao of heaven:  
Does not contest, and yet it conquers,  
Does not speak, and yet it answers,  
Is not summoned, yet it arrives of its own choice.  
Centered yet with a good plan.  
Heaven’s net is very large,  
Very open yet nothing drops through.