Thursday, December 22, 2022


I had a rather miserable birthday yesterday, thanks to my latest problem, an anomoly in my left cheek. It's probably another cancer but I don't get to hear the results of the biopsys or the scans until January. Meantime My face hurts and my nose is bleeding so I couldn't get taken out for my birthday lunch. Sometimes life just sucks!

The Project

I've now completed the final chapter of Agile Time Management and am just going back through everything to double check on stuff etc. I'm also submitting the contents for peer review with the rest of the team (David, Graham and Anna), so hopefully they will spot anything I've missed. The publishers are going to release it as an eBook initially (as paper book sales are currently down) in February, with a print edition being released later in the year.

The Way

A selfish project manager will alienate the project team, or worse still, the team will think that is the correct way to behave and start to develop similar characteristics.  The wise project manager shows enlightened leadership through service.  He puts the well-being of the team above that of himself, for this is the way of the project manager. 

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us:

The sage stays behind,  

and proceeds.  

Is detached from all things, 

and continues.  

By not having a personal agenda,  

He is able to accomplish great things.  

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Great Mother

 The Project

I'm now well into Agile Project Management in easy steps and the book is now due for publication in February 2023. I've just finished Chapter 3, titled Understanding Yourself and I've based it around life as a journey, learning from the Tao as usual.

The Way

Much has been written about what a project manager needs to do but very little on the way he should do it.  We have all probably met 'hard' project managers, who drive their team and themselves, but it is maybe more difficult to recall the 'soft' project managers, the ones who achieve quietly and seemingly with little effort. The wise project manager brings out his feminine side (unless of course she already happens to be one of the 20% of project managers who is a woman, in which case be thankful and be yourself), for this is the way of the project manager.  

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us:  

The spirit of the valley does not die,  
It might be called the Great Mother.  
The origin of heaven and earth.  
Ever present and everlasting.  

Use it, it will never fail.  

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Grass Dogs

Following the good news that my cancer has finally been cured after suffering through the Radiotherapy and Immunotherapy, we decided to celebrate with our first holiday in three years, Island hopping (by ferry) in Greece, should have been a great holiday Crete, Santorini, Paros, Naxos and Mykonos but Trailfinders let us down, five of the six hotels were in completely the wrong location for what we wanted to do, which was explore the Islands. To cap it all we have both gone down with Covid-19 since we returned. 

This is going to be quite a short post.

The Project

Back to the project in hand Agile Project Management in easy steps, I just got the first draft chapter finished before we left and I am waiting to hear what the publishers think of it so far. 

The Way

I think the term ‘Grass dogs’ is quite appropriate for this blog, as it is the term used in The Tao to indicate that things might be good or bad. Let us hope they are good but be prepared it they are bad. The light of awareness shines equally on what is good and what is bad.  One person is as worthy as the next. 

The Tao
Lao Tzu tells us:

Heaven and Earth are not humane, 

Considering all things as grass dogs. 

The sage is not humane, 

Considering all as grass dogs.


Monday, August 01, 2022

The Way is not a Thing

In my last post I told you that the immunotherapy treatment was taking its toll on me and it got progressively worse. It reached the stage where I had to ask them to stop the treatment, which they reluctantly agreed to, but insisted on giving me a whole sequence of scans to check progress. I would like to say that due to my powerful visualization and positive thinking I managed to cure myself, but that would be untrue. It seems the immunotherapy has actually worked. Today I had final confirmation that the cancer is gone. I am on a steady course of reducing the steroids they put me on and will be able to talk to my GP about what other drugs I can stop talking (hopefully the blood thinners). So life suddenly looks a whole lot rosier.

Agile Time Management

Initial feedback from my two experts was that it sounded like an advert for "4,000 weeks: Time and How to Use it" and anyone picking up my book would put it down and go and find that instead! Point well taken, I have now completely re-written it coming at it from the basis of similar open source information. 

Meantime I am still experimenting with my bread making (for fun) and writing up the story of my life (for my son and daughter) and what I wish my father had done for me. But I must make it a bit more humorous, I don't want it to be a dull read.

The Way

The Way is not a Thing; it is a single unifying principle. It is about how things happen. Poor project managers think that if they follow a methodology they are running their project the right way, but that is not the Way.  The Way cannot be found and it cannot be learned, it simply is. The wise project manager runs his project by following natural laws and the single principle, for this is the Way of the Project Manager. 

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us:

The Tao is like a well,  

It is used, but never used up.  

It is like an eternal void,  

But filled with infinite possibilities.  

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Simple Wisdom


The immunotherapy treatment is taking its toll on me in a number of ways, the most recent is arrythmia, which is leaving me feeling quite unstable. After numerous scans and other examinations it sounds like I am going to need to start taking blood thinners to prevent blod clots and a possible stroke. But first I have to have yet another CT scan and ECG and talk to my general practitioner, which will be another two weeks. Meantime life goes on...

Agile Time Management

I have now finished the draft of the first chapter and am awaiting feedback from son David (the Agile expert) and wife Anna (the language expert). At the moment I'm not totally sure if it is going to work so I might seek wider feedback. Meantime I am still experimenting with my bread making and writing up the story of my life. This last is for my son and daughter and is what I wish my father had done for me. I'm actually quite enjoying it but I must make it a bit more humorous, I don't want it to be a dull read.

The Way

The poor project manager is ambitious and eager for success. He wants to get on and needs to demonstrate how clever he is, but this only creates havoc for the project team, who will feel ignored or worthless. The wise project manager ignores how people percieve them and concentates instead on what the team need to do thier work effectively and protects them from external inteference. 

Getting things done will happen in a calm way, the team doesn't have to look busy, just effective. If the team act normally and co-operate with one another, they will achieve great things. The wise project manager makes sure the team functions well and that what they do is effective. This is simple wisdom, for it is the way of the project manager.

The Tao

Lao Tzu tells us:


Do not glorify great men, 

And the people will not quarrel. 

Do not treasure valuable possessions, 

And the people will not become thieves. 

Do not show them temptation, 

And they will not be confused.  


Therefore the sage would lead by: 

Emptying people’s minds, 

And filling their stomachs. 

By weakening their ambitions, 

And strengthening their bodies.  

If people lack cunning and desire, 

Those who scheme will not dare to meddle. 

Practice not doing and all will be well. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Trying Too Hard

Personal Update

Many thanks to those of you who send me kind messages about my cancer. I waited quite a long time before posting an update as there have been several ups and downs. Put briefly, my throat cancer has cleared up following the radiotherapy; but cancer has spread to both lungs. They can't operate or risk radiotherapy as one of the cancers is very close to my heart, so after some deliberation they have just started me on immunotherapy (intravenous drugs every six weeks), which may or may not work, time will tell.

Meantime I started throwing myself into high-intensity exercise together with walking rugby and swimming but I overdid it and ended up with a fractured patella and a hernia. I should have known better at my age! 

The Project

I have just started working on a new book on agile time management. Merging conventional time management wisdom (which I have already published a book on), with an agile approach. It was partly triggered by my reading "Four Thousand Weeks" by Oliver Burkeman. 4,000 weeks refers to our average lifetime and I realised that I am well into my last hundred or so so I had better crack on and hopefully I will get it finshed in time.

I won't try too hard however.  I once received some excellent advice from a ski coach.  He said that I should try softer rather than trying harder.  “Imagine that the handles of the ski poles are little canaries in your hands”.  Several dead canaries later I finally stopped trying so hard and it worked!  Of course I immediately got very excited at my success, crossed my skis and had a spectacular crash!  The way is not always without a sense of humor. 

Project managers who drive themselves and their team think that they will be admired by their management for their efforts.  In fact they are often laughed at.  People who tell you how good they are and how hard they work are likely to be insecure.  People who try and impress you with the demands and complexities of their job are probably confused by it themselves. 

The Way 

Now consider the opposites.  People who don’t try too hard will usually achieve what they are working for because they are working within the limit of their competence.  People who admit that they are always learning from what they do are the ones with the real knowledge.  People who make things seem simple and easy to understand are the ones who really know what they are talking about. 

The wise project manager does not make a fuss about things.  He allows things to happen and unfold at their own pace while observing them, for this is the way of the project manager. 

The Tao 

Lao Tzu tells us: 

Everyone sees some things as excellent, 

Therefore other things become bad. 

Everyone sees some things as good, 

Therefore other things are not good. 

Having and not-having produce each other, 

Difficult and easy bring about each other, 

Long and short reveal each other, 

High and low support each other, 

Tone and voice harmonize each other, 

Before and behind accompany each other.  


Therefore the sage acts without motive, 

Teaches with no words of doctrine. 

The ten thousand things arise and fall, 

But he has no claim of ownership, 

Endowed but no claim for payment. 

Meritorious work done, then forgotten. 

Therefore it lasts forever. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

A New Begining

I have just completed my first five weeks of radiotherapy and have two more weeks to go, so fingers crossed. The side effects are starting to show, the skin around my neck feels like it has beeen sunburnt and looks like it as well (bright red). I'm having to put moisturiser on several times a day. The NHS nurses and the staff at the RD&E in Exeter are really great and supportive, what a great project team. Everyone knows their role. But at the end of the day it is up to me and my body to get through this. So I decided to go back and have another look at life and maybe try to draw out some of the wider learnings from it and not just concentrate on the project management aspects. I will start it here from a project management perspective and as usual see where the way leads me.

The Way

The way cannot be learnt, it can only be known, so this represents a new look in my quest for that knowledge.  There will be darkness but out of that darkness will come knowledge of how things happen. 

Lao Tsu tells us: 

The Way that can be told is not the eternal Way. 

The name that can be named is not the eternal name. 

The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth. 

With a name the mother of the ten thousand things.