Friday, September 30, 2016

Staying Aware

Topsham RFC
There is a lot going on at the club at the moment both on and off the pitch. The next big event is Bonfire Night, and as it falls on a Saturday this year and our 1st XV are at home it could be massive. I'm leaving the details to the Bar and Events sub-committee this year but I'm also making sure I'm aware of what's going on.

One sure sign of a poor project manager is one who doesn’t know what's going on in his project. He may keep questioning the team to find out, but that will only irritate the team members and it is not the way. We need to become silent and listen with our inner selves. If we don't understand something, don't strive to figure it out, step back, be calm and the way will become clear.  

Try softer rather than trying harder. Stand back, let go of trying and we will begin to understand what's going on. Let go of trying altogether and then things will really start to work out.  

The Way  
So 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's no point in trying to second guess the future, it will be what it will be. So stay in the present and attend to what's happening now.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Look and it cannot be seen.  
Listen and it cannot be heard.  
Grasp and it cannot be held.  
These three are indefinable,  
Therefore they are joined as one.  

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

Friday, September 23, 2016


I have long been interested in how we measure success in project management. The standard answer is of course: deliver the project on time, within budget and with all the required features and functionality delivered. On agile projects it is: with all the required features and functionality that can be delivered in the available time and budget. 

Of course the project should also deliver benefits to the business in line with the business case, although strictly speaking, that is not the project manager’s responsibility. So maybe a poor project manager would stop there.  

But of course true success can only be achieved when the project has delivered something that the users are happy to use. In addition to the users there is also the project team; can the project be regarded as a success unless the team also are happy with the outcome?  

The Way  
So a poor project manager concentrates on getting the project in on time and within budget. A slightly better project manager adds delivery of the required features and functionality. 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.  By fostering success in the users and team we can share in that success and truly say “that project was successful”

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

Love disgrace as if frightened. 
Honor misfortune as the human condition.  

Why love disgrace as if frightened?  
Love because of being unimportant.  
Obtain it as if frightened.  
Loose it as if frightened.  

Why think of honoring misfortune as the human condition?  
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.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Staying Calm II

River Otter at Budleigh Salterton, Devon
A slow stroll along the beach, ending up with this stunning view (the photo was taken on Christmas Day a few years ago). My favourite way of calming down. It always works!

Friday, September 09, 2016

Staying Calm

There can often be a lot of pressure in projects, simply by their very nature and also by task and deliverable inter-dependencies. If that wasn't bad enough, management always want it quicker if not also cheaper and better!

Things are not helped if the project manager responds to management pressure by interfering with the team and creating a lot more pressure in the process. When that happens the team can become quite disoriented and begin to lose its way. The lesson we can learn from the Agile approach is that the project manager stands back and lets the team do it. Even the Scrum Master is there to facilitate and not pressurise the team.  

The Way  
The wise project manager is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees happening around him. Stay still and calm and be guided by your inner feelings, not what you are being told. The rest of the team will pick up on this and stay centered. When we pause and take time to reflect, the way becomes clearer.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:  

The five colours blind the eye.  
The five sounds deafen the ear.  
The five flavors dull the taste.  
Galloping and hunting madden the heart.  

Desires lead one astray.  
Therefore the sage is guided by his stomach,  
And not his eye.  
He discards the one and holds the other. 

Friday, September 02, 2016

Inner Space

The start of the new rugby season is always exciting and for Topsham RFC it is even more so as we have been promoted to the Cornwall and Devon league (the highest we have ever reached). Watching the two pre-season friendlies against Exmouth RFC and Sidmouth RFC (both in higher leagues than us) and seeing the new coach (Chris Whitehead, former Exeter Chiefs hooker) and players starting to work together as a team was great. Our first league match is tomorrow away at Falmouth, so fingers crossed.

The Way
Agile project management is all about empowering the team and that is very much in line with the way. When the members of a project team work together on a project there is a concept of an inner space created by the team. This defines how they work together and even the mood of the team. It is the context for everything which happens within the team.  

Poor project managers tend to focus and concentrate on what the members of the team are doing and saying. They are also concerned about what is happening and what people are saying outside the team. The wise project manager knows that it is what is happening inside the team that is important. The silences and inner space reveal the team’s essential mood. Therefore the wise project manager pays attention to the silences.

The Tao  
Lao Tzu tells us:

Thirty spokes join the wheel’s hub,  
It is the center hole that makes the cart useful.  
Shape clay into a pot,  
It is the space within that makes it useful.  
Cut doors and windows to make a house,  
It is the space within that make it useful.  
Therefore advantage come from what exists,  
Usefulness comes from what is not there.