Friday, April 21, 2017

Rules and Regulations

Poor project managers go in for fancy theories, which end up distracting the team from what is happening and saps their energy. Where rules and regulations are applied to the work of the team it breeds dissatisfaction. The project team will start to split into fractions and infighting will start to develop between them. The wise project manager must know when to stop.  

On the other hand, where there are no fancy theories or prejudices to split the team into fractions, there will be harmony. Where the work of the team is grounded in an obvious and natural righteousness, there will be no need for rules and regulations.  

The Way  
The way cannot be defined, it just is. It is the single principle responsible for every event or thing. The wise project manager has regard for this principle and as a consequence the team will trust him.  

The wise project manager returns to an awareness of what is happening and the single principle that lies behind it. Focusing on this single principle is the most potent aspect of leadership. From this the wise project manager will learn how things happen 

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

The Tao is eternally nameless.  
Its simplicity, although imperceptible, cannot be grasped.  
If kings could grasp it,  
The ten thousand things would follow them.  

Heaven and earth cause sweet dew to fall,  
Not just on the worthy but on all alike.  
Men will not need to force it,  
All things would take their course.  

Once the whole is divided, the parts need names.  
There are already enough names,  
One must know when to stop.  
Knowing when to stop, thus avoiding danger.  

The existence of Tao in the world,  
Is like a river flowing home to the sea.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Intervention

It's good to see that (son) David's book: Scrum is easy steps is now out on Kindle, print version to follow shortly. He managed to get it written while finishing off his MBA and working full time as a Business Analyst/Scrum Consultant, no mean feat.

Meanwhile I plod on with EVA in easy steps, I reckon I'm about half way with the text but still lots of graphics to do. I'll probably take a break from it this (long) weekend and watch a bit of rugby. 

Intervention
This weeks subject is intervention and that's a characteristic of a poor project manager. They interfere in the work of the team and insist on things being done their way. The team members begin to feel their work is not valued and the team will be weakened. What may, at the time feel like a victory to the project manager, is actually a failure. Team members who have been bruised in this way will become less open, more defencive and resentful.  

The Way  
The wise project manager does not interfere. He knows that a special awareness is called for if intervention does become necessary. Facilitation is the way of the project manager.  

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Weapons are tools of misfortune,  
They are not the wise man’s tools.  
He uses them only when necessary,  
With calm and detachment.  
Victorious but without glory.  
Those who glorify, 
Are delighted in the killing.  
Those who delight in killing,  
Cannot achieve their ambitions in the world.  

Friday, April 07, 2017

Interfering

The Project
I'm getting into the heart of the matter now for Earned Value Management in easy steps and realising that it does have some good points after all. When I had to use it (as the client insisted on it) I just thought of it as an unnecessary overhead. I've set myself a challenge to add a chapter on Agile EVM, which should be really interesting as it's almost an oxymoron!

I'm not getting to spend as much time on it as I would like at the moment as I've a lot to do on the day job. It's the end of the club's financial year and on top of everything else I need to get the gift aid claim in but it means an awful lot of typing. The good news is that a couple of new volunteers have stepped up and they are able to take on some of the stuff I've had to do up until now. As ever I need to let them get on with things but be there if they get stuck and need any help or encouragement, which brings me nicely onto today's topic.

Not Interfering
Some project managers just have to interfere in their team members’ work. It might be due to their own insecurity or a lack of trust in their team members. Maybe they are selfish, think they know best or just want to take the credit for everything. The result is that the team members will start to react against it. If the project manager then tries to use force, conflicts and arguments will follow. The project team will begin to disintegrate and the climate will become hostile.  

The Way  
The wise project manager understands the way, does not interfere and uses as little force as possible.  He guides the team without pressurising people and without fighting to have things done his way.  He has a light touch and neither defends nor attacks.  By leading selflessly and harmoniously he will grow and endure

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

When you use the Tao to advise a ruler,  
Military force is not the right way to rule.  
This will tend to cause resistance.  
Goodness will bear fruit enough.  

Achieve results, not the victor’s laurels.  
Achieve results, but not through aggression.  
Achieve results and not arrogance.  
Achieve results, but not through acquisition.  
Achieve results, but not through violence.  

Force is followed by loss of strength.  
This is not the way of the Tao.  
That which goes against the Tao soon ends.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Paradox of Trying

If a project manager tries to use too much pressure or force to get things done it is sure to backfire on him. By constantly intervening and interfering with the work of the team any team spirit will soon be destroyed and the quality of the work will go with it.  

The poor project manager tries to control the team rather than nurturing and encouraging them. By trying too hard and pushing the team they are blocking progress rather than encouraging it.  

The Way  
The wise project manager stays centred and grounded and encourages the team to function well by assisting them and dealing with any issues they may have.  He knows he is there to support the team and encourage them, not to interfere.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

He who would take over the world and change it,  
Will not succeed.  
The world is sacred,  
It cannot be done.  

He who would try to change it, will suffer defeat.  
He who would try to seize it, will fail.  
Some creatures act, some follow.  
Some snort, some praise.  

Some are strong, some are sick.   
Some bully, some destroy.  
Therefore the sage dismisses,  
The excessive and the extravagant.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Setting an Example

The Project
I've just had the go ahead from the publisher to start work on "Earned Value Management in easy steps" and I've given myself a three month deadline, so here we go again! Apologies to everyone I told I had retired, but I couldn't resist it. 

I've mapped out the chapters and topics and started on the text but there is going to be a lot of work to get the charts and other illustrations right. I might try generating them from MS-Project but it might be easier to hand build the in Adobe InDesign (the editing tool we use).

Even though I'm right at the start of the project I find that today's post is about the middle to late stages of a project, when there are often battles to be fought by the project manager. At the same time there will also issues and problems to be resolved and some team members may need help and encouragement.  

The Way  
The wise project manager needs to act as both a warrior and as a healer.  As a warrior, showing power and decision, he displays the Yang or masculine aspect of leadership.  But most of the time the project manager acts as a healer in an open, receptive and nourishing way.  Providing assistance and encouragement to the team members is the feminine or Yin aspect of leadership. 

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us to:  

Know the strength of man,  
But protect the feminine.  
Be as an example to the world.  

Know the honour, protect humility.  
Be as a valley in the world.  
As a valley in the world,  
The eternal virtue shall be sufficient.  

Return to the state of the uncarved block.  
When the block is carved, it becomes useful.  
This for the sage is the example of adulthood.  
A great tailor cuts little,
And does not destroy.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

Subtlety

Happy St Patrick's Day to all those with Irish blood/Guinness flowing in their veins (I think I count under both qualifications) and good luck to Ireland in Dublin tomorrow when they attempt to spoil England's party. If they can beat the All Blacks in New York they can surely beat England in Dublin, especially with Jack Nowell left on the bench! Meanwhile Topsham RFC still face an uphill struggle to avoid relegation but if they can match last week's performance they could still do it. So that's the important stuff out of the way, and talking of the Way this weeks subject is subtlety

The Way  
Poor project managers knows that they need members of the team to carry out the work on the project, but they fail to recognise that they also need to serve these people. If there is no mutual need and mutual respect they are missing the point and will not see how things happen on the project.  

The wise project manager has an awareness of everything that needs taking care of on the project; he misses nothing.  In return the members of the project team need the project manager to steer them in the right direction and facilitate their work, and this he does willingly.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

A good walker leaves no footprints.  
Good speech is free of flaw and fault.  
Good calculation needs no tally or writing.  
Therefore the sage takes care of others,  
And does not abandon them.  
This one might call enlightenment.  

The good man provides a model for the bad man.  
The bad man a student for the good man.  
No matter how clever one is,  
If the teacher is not respected,  
Or the student not cared for,  
There is a great potential for error.  
This might be called an important subtlety.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Staying Centered

There is a lot going on around me at the moment (I won't call it turmoil but it's sometimes a bit close to it :-) and it is all to easy to get distracted and carried away. So it is essential to stay centered and grounded. Being centered means we can keep our balance both physically and mentally. One of the things I remember from one of the more vigorous forms of the martial arts I once studied was the stance of the Ox.  Feet firmly planted on the ground, fists clenched by ones side, rock solid, totally grounded and ready for anything. I wouldn't recommend this in a project team meeting but the mental equivalent could work. The project manager who is centered and grounded can work with erratic people and critical situations without harm or fear.  

On the other hand a poor project manager will not be stable and can easily be carried away by the intensity of leadership. He will easily get distracted by what is happening around him, will make mistakes of judgment and loose his way.  

The Way 
The wise project manager is not subject to passing whims or sudden excitement. He knows where he stands and what he stands for. He is stable, has a sense of self and will not be knocked off balance.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Heavy is the root of the light,  
Still is the master of the agitated.  
Therefore the sage, travelling all day,  
Remains centered.  

Though there are beautiful things to be seen,  
He remains unattached and calm.  
Why should the master of ten thousand chariots,  
Act like a fool in public?  

Lightness is the way to lose one’s root.  
Impetuousness is to lose touch with who you are.  

Friday, March 03, 2017

Back to the Way

Just got home after a three week holiday in Auckland and the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Great country, great to spend some time with son David and his wife Anneke, and great to see the Auckland Blues (after a terrible season last year according to David) win the first game of the new season with an outstanding seven-try 56-18 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne. Meanwhile at home Topsham continued their battle for survival with a 36-28 win over Cornish Pirates Amateurs and Exeter Chiefs sit second in the Premiership after a draw with Wasps and wins over Worcester and Newcastle, but enough about rugby.

Earned Value Management
My publishers have been in touch to see if I could do a book on EVM so in the quiet moments away I've put together an outline synopsis for it. We will probably go for publishing it as a short e-book in the first instance as no-one is sure how big the market is for it. Then maybe expand it into a full book or shrink it into a chapter in the next revision of Effective Project Management in easy steps. Just when I thought things were getting quiet but then that is the Way.

The Way
Describing the Way is not easy as it is not a thing and it has no form or qualities. The way is simply the principle of how everything works. It is unity, it is universal and it determines everything.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Something mysteriously formed.  
Born before heaven and earth.  
Standing solitary, alone and single.  
Constant and unchanging,  
Ever present and in motion,  
But it cannot be compromised.  

Perhaps it is the mother of the ten thousand things.  
I do not know its name,  
So I shall call it Tao.  
Trying to find a name for it,  
Invokes thoughts of greatness.  
Being great, it flows.  
Flowing it moves far away.  
Having gone far, it returns.  

Therefore Tao is great,  
Heaven is great,  
Earth is great,  
And the wise man is also great.  
These are the four great powers of the universe,  
Man follows the earth.  
Earth follows heaven.  
Heaven follows the Tao.  
Tao follows what is natural.  

Friday, February 03, 2017

Trying Softer

I find myself under a lot of pressure in my day job at this time but am trying to stay calm and do what I need to do to get things done. I know I can rely on the rest of the team to do the right things so I can let them get on with it.

The urge to try harder when things don't quite go right is a common one, but a project manager trying too hard is a sure sign of insecurity and incompetence. When we are in control and know what we are doing we are relaxed and at peace with ourselves and our project. 

The Way  
The wise project manager knows that trying to rush things gets you nowhere. He knows that fame will complicate his life and compromise simplicity in his day to day work. He knows that selfishness obscures his deeper self. Therefore he avoids all these things. He does his work and moves on. 

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Standing on tiptoe is not steady. 
Being self-centered is not enlightened. 
Being self-righteous is not respected. 
Boasting is not being grown-up. 

Those who follow the Tao,
Call these surplus food or baggage.  
Something found bad.  
The followers of the Tao avoid them.  

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trust

One thing I have observed over the years is that a wise project manager does not spend all his time talking about problems and issues.  He gets on and does something about them and only speaks when it is necessary. He demonstrates what needs to be done by his behaviour rather than by what he does.

The poor project manager tries to impress his team and project stakeholders by talking about what he is doing, but it carries little weight. Being dramatic or egocentric neither does any good nor looks good. When we try and force things to happen, those things will go wrong. So what is the right way?

The Way  
When we do the right things by following the Way, we will be rewarded and the right things will happen. So the wise project manager trusts his team and in turn the team trust him.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us: 

To talk little is natural.  
A whirlwinds does not last all morning.  
A rainstorm does not last all day.  
Why is this? Heaven and earth!  

Even heaven and earth cannot make things eternal,  
So how is it possible for man?  
He whose concern is Tao,  
His path is Tao oriented.  

He who is virtuous,  
Experiences virtue.  
He whose concern is error,  
Loses the way.  

When you are at one with the Tao,  
The Tao welcomes you.  
When you are at one with virtue,  
Virtue welcomes you.  

When you are at one with error,  
Error welcomes you.  
He who does not trust enough  
Will not be trusted.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Letting Go

Things are very hectic at the rugby club at the moment, lots of things to try and sort out including preparing our budgets for next financial year. The last project (extension to the spectator viewing area and safety barrier) was completed successfully and we got a grant from the RFU towards the work, which was nice. Car park improvements and an electronic scoreboard come next. Meanwhile we've an away game down at Lanner, in deepest Cornwall on Saturday so a fun day out for all.

The Paradox of Letting Go  
When the going gets tough it is sometimes hard to let go, yet when we stop trying, things fall into place all by themselves. Poor project managers drive themselves and their team harder but that is not the way. 

The Way
The wise project manager adopts the Yin or feminine approach. By giving up trying and going with the flow they can overcome obstacles and achieve their objectives. When we give of ourselves we become more. When we feel exhausted we will grow strong again. But most importantly, when we desire little a great deal will come to us.  Let go in order to achieve, this is the wisdom of the feminine.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Yield and overcome,  
Bend and be straight,  
Empty and be full,  
Wear out and be renewed,  
Have little and gain,  
Have much and be confused.  

Therefore the sage embraces the Tao,  
And is an example in the world.  
Not by nature conspicuous,  
Therefore they shine bright.  
Not by nature aggressive,  
Therefore they achieve recognition.  

They do not quarrel,  
So nothing can quarrel with them.  
Strange the saying “Wrong is the model for perfect.”  
Can this be an empty saying?  
Be truly whole,  
And return to the Tao.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

To Jump or not to Jump

Welcome to 2017
I trust you all have a happy and rewarding year. As usual I will be dripping in my thoughts, meditations and opinions as we go, with a little bit about life (or the continuous learning program as I like to think of it).

Speaking of continuous learning, I was contacted by Emily of Master of Project, regarding their training courses. I promised to take a look and I did. They do seem to have some good courses, both in terms of learning and towards accreditation, plus a very nice web site. Well done Emily. I will test out their free Agile Scrum Overview and report back. Meantime their web site is at: masterofproject.com if you are interested.

For myself, I have a number of small projects on the go at the moment and was reflecting on the fact that projects can sometimes get very confusing and it is not always easy to see the way. If the way was simple, it would be easy to see that one option would be right and another wrong. But projects are not like that, they tend to be noisy and confused, with competing calls for attention coming from all sides. 

Poor project managers tend to jump every time someone yells. Wise project managers calmly point out that to jump would impact on other activities and asks the jumpee to consider which other project activities they would like to be put aside to allow the jumper time to plan and execute the jump on their behalf.  

The Way  
If we accept that everything is connected in some way (even the people asking us to jump), then we are always potentially on the way. If we struggle and fight against what is happening then we will surely loose the way. If we accept, in silence, that things are the way they are, then we move forward along the way. So in times of turmoil the wise project manager holds onto the belief that everything happens according to one universal principal.  
Be calm and clear, and think about the results of taking actions before reacting. Then take the actions that will gently steer the project back towards its objectives.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

The greatest virtue is to follow only the Tao.  
The Tao seems wild and obscure.  
So obscure, so wild,  
But within it there is form.  

So profound, so dark,  
But within it there is essence.  
This essence is very real,  
And within it there is truth.  

From the very beginning until now  
Its name has never been forgotten.  
To observe the source of all things.  
How do I know the nature of the source?  
Because of here and now.