April 18, 2014

If the student has not learned, the teacher has not taught

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For all of us with children, we understand that each of our kids understand things in their own way and, to complicate things, the way they absorb information tends to change slightly as they develop.

As business professionals, however, we tend to ignore learning styles and simply dump information into emails, shared workspaces, and whiteboards expecting everyone else to understand our words and our intent. The worst of us will then proclaim that anyone who doesn’t understand simply isn’t qualified for their position. Sometimes this goes all the way to the point of exercising hiring/firing authority to simply dismiss people who don’t see the world according to the same point of view, or not hiring them in the first place. [Read more]

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Stump the chump and the art of accountability

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This past Thursday night I delivered a presentation on understanding the 7 Wastes of Lean and how they are manifested in project management. It was the largest gathering I’ve spoken to yet, and presented some interesting audience dynamics that were far different from when I presented the same topic to about 50-60 people at the New Hampshire chapter. Overall, the presentation was fairly well received, however, and I think I delivered my point. It was good speaking experience and gives me some time to reflect on how to work a larger room. At the end of the presentation, a question was asked of me by an audience member: “How do you make people accountable?”

I won’t bore people with the usual rhetoric: Approach the sponsor for additional support, lay out ground rules for the project team, establish tasks and task owners. Those things are fairly simple and rely on utilizing tools rather than getting down into core people-centered concepts. My best advice, then, is this:

Make friends. [Read more]

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In the age of engagement, you can’t thwart ambition

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There are more articles, books and posting out there on engagement, creating engagement, the benefits of creating engagement, and so on than I can count. So, of course, I’m going to write a post about engagement (Once in a while, I do like to suppress my contrarian urges and go along with the crowd). Instead of yet another voice telling you how to generate engagement, however, here’s a tale of how to make sure it gets utterly destroyed. [Read more]

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Dad tells a story of inefficient communication, and truly wasteful meeting management

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On a recent trip home for the Holidays, I was railing about such-and-wuch workplace goings on, when my father shared a story from his days managing projects in the construction industry.

as the “steel guy,” most of his work was done fairly early in the life cycle. The steel was cut, fabricated, delivered, erected, corrected, charged back, and his end of the project entirely signed off. Nonetheless, he was bound to attend these hours-long meetings at times, just to hear how the electrical inspection and finished carpentry was progressing. His activity on the overall project was long since done and over with, nonetheless, in the name of communication, he was required to attend. The fact that the meeting would never include any information he needed to hear was entirely lost on the meeting’s organizer. [Read more]

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Follow up: Why Lunch & Learn is not for everyone

lonely_lady_loves_lunch_by_emohoc
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Last time out, my post on why I dislike the practice of Lunch & Learns drew quite a few visitors to the site, and a small handful of comments on reddit.

One comment, in particular, stuck out in my mind. Reddit user: “CivilDiscussions” wrote:

You sound like quite the slacker. In the real world, we have lunch meetings all the time. Lunch isn’t guaranteed to be “your time”

Now THAT is a fascinating take [Read more]

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Well, OF COURSE no one trusts management…..

Backstabber_by_bat_bat
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In a conversation with a seasoned manager who asked me why I believed morale was so poor in his organization, I stated that the thing most often heard wafting through the cubicles was that people simply don’t trust the management here. “Well, that’s universal.” he stated, and quickly dismissed the concerns people were uttering as just usual, typical, workplace angst.

Upon reflection, however, I realized that this problem was born from different perspectives on management’s role among the age groups in the organization.
[Read more]

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Be honest with yourself (a call to conscience)

My conscience
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I am often surprised, when presenting someone with new ideas for how work can & should be done at the reaction I receive. What strikes me as completely strange is the number of people who are certain they are acting in acccord with the best possible practices and that anything other than their own well-developed habits is, clearly, not the way to get things done.

[Read more]

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The end of summer, and the return of blogging

End of summer
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With the return of fall, there is a return to routine, which has me feeling confident once again – and so I find myself eager to write posts like this for the blog.

Which has made me completely internalize something that I had, previously, only understood as a matter of intuition and the results of some logic exercise – that actively keeping up a person’s sense of pride, confidence and – most importantly – his/her sense of purpose - yields that thing all management gurus covet: engagement. [Read more]

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Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Project Management Resources

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In order to maintain consistent project management success, it is important to learn and understand how to make the most of your resources. Making the most out of the leader, the team and the way the project is organized will help ensure a smooth process and flawless execution of your project’s goals.

– Make the most out of your project manager
– Make the most out of your team
– Make the most out of your organization style [Read more]

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Managing the complex organization

Traffic Pro
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Teams in simple environments are more able to “manage” themselves – which means they are able to organize their own activities and determine how to go about their work, assigning tasks to each person within the team. Disputes are resolved, ideas are discussed, actions are taken. All of which is to say that these teams, perhaps, don’t “manage” themselves – but, rather, that they lead themselves. Managing is, of necessity, a bureaucratic and dogmatic process. Coordinating the activities of a group of teams, especially as an organization grows increasingly complex, requires someone to help all those teams get organized. In other words, someone must manage the interactions. [Read more]

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