April 30, 2014

Happiness is... being a Project Manager

There is a lot of research on happiness these days. One of the latest books to come out on the subject is by Shawn Achor - Before Happiness. Mr. Achor gives five strategies for being happy. I found these strategies to be similar to those required for being a successful project manager:
  1. Use success accelerants - signals that tell your brain success is possible. I would liken this to collecting metrics in a project; with measurement, we have guidance on what to do to achieve success.
  2. Set meaningful goals. What is a project if not a goal to be reached?
  3. Eliminate as much as possible the negative emotions of fear, pessimism and doubt. This sounds like providing the vision and leadership that any project needs to be successful. When pessimism starts to abound, find ways to cut it short and turn it around.
  4. Share your good feelings of happiness with others. Hopefully that would happen in any team environment. I have certainly been in environments where one person's happiness inspired and buoyed a whole group (and cases where the opposite was true, as well).
  5. Focus on the positives rather than the negatives. I don’t think I have seen any successful team where there was a focus on the negative!
So, a happy person can be likened to a successful project team. How does your team line up?

April 16, 2014

Being Brave (and Project Management)

This is my year to be brave. Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave” totally captures my intent:

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

I have a feeling it’s not just me who is valuing bravery these days. I read a newsletter that touched on this thought. Lea Brovedani wrote, “Although agreeableness is positively correlated with teamwork, it is negatively correlated with leadership success.” Isn’t disagreeing sometimes a brave thing to do?

Project Managers are required to be brave. I think it should be written into every Project Manager’s job description:

  • Be willing to stand up for what you think is right (without totally alienating the customer)
  • Be prepared to let your team and executives know when things are not on track
  • Be willing to make decisions without too much grief!

All of these are acts of bravery. So, if you need inspiration for bravery as a PM or in any other role, take Ms. Bareilles’ advice:

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

April 09, 2014

Lag, Lead or Laugh

Last week I was in Newfoundland and Labrador giving a project management course.

I asked the class, “Does anyone know what a lag or lead is?”

One guy piped up, “Yes, a lag is what you stand on.”

Took me awhile...

(Thanks Jeremy, I have been laughing all week.)