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.  

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.