“Watch your thoughts, they become your beliefs.
Watch your beliefs, they become your words.
Watch your words, they become your actions.
Watch your actions, they become your habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.”
From: The American Spectator
“Of course everything “works” by sufficiently low standards, and everything “fails” by sufficiently high standards.”
From: The American Spectator
“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
From: The American Spectator
“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
From: association for project management
A good article about fear of reporting accurately.
Every company that I have ever worked at and every program I have ever ran struggles with one fundamental problem….”what does it mean to be in yellow status?”
I am a believer in transparency and will put the status of my projects to yellow if there are risks to the program. I personally think that going straight from green to red is a bad reflection on the project. But let me distinguish that I believe there are two types of yellow; (1) Risks that need to be raised for awareness but do not need attention and (2) Issues that require action or attention. It is important to manage expectations so people know which yellow you mean.
- I think something is missing…
I know some corporate cultures are afraid of yellow (and red) because it results in lots of yelling and unwanted attention. I believe that this actually promotes a behavior of PMs not reporting issues, thinking that they can manage the issues themselves and then only reporting on them once they are really bad and beyond the point they can be fixed.
I also see people fall into the “I can handle it” mindset so they don’t want to report on items until they become a much bigger problem. Yellow should not be considered a bad thing but more of acknowledgement of risks or asking for help. If I was a senior leader, I would like to know that someone is aware of and monitoring these risks versus telling me it is green every week.
What do others think of reporting yellow status?
From: Adventures in Project Management
“Common sense is not a gift, it’s a punishment. Because you have to deal with everyone who doesn’t have it.”
“The tragedy is that so many have ambition and so few have ability.”
“You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.”
“The purpose of bureaucracy is to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline.”
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.”
A useful list of evaluation comments for that difficult-to-evaluate employee.
- “Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom…..and has started to dig.”
- “His men would follow him anywhere…but only out of morbid curiosity.”
- “I would not allow this employee to breed.”
- “This employee is really not so much of a ‘has-been’, but more of a definite ‘won’t be’.”
- “Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.”
- “When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet.”
- “He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.”
- “This young lady has delusions of adequacy.”
- “He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.”
- “This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.”
- “This employee should go far…and the sooner he starts, the better.”
- “Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.”
- “A gross ignoramus – 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.”
- “He certainly takes a long time to make his pointless.”
- “He doesn’t have ulcers, but he’s a carrier.”
- “I would like to go hunting with him sometime.”
- “He’s been working with glue too much.”
- “He would argue with a signpost.”
- “He has a knack for making strangers immediately.”
- “He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room.”
- “When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell.”
- “If you see two people talking and one looks bored…he’s the other one.”
- “A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on.”
- “A prime candidate for natural deselection.”
- “Donated his brain to science before he was done using it.”
- “Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming.”
- “Has two brains: one is lost and the other is out looking for it.”
- “If he were any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.”
- “If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you’d get change.”
- “If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the oceans.”
- “It’s hard to believe that he beat 1,000,000 other sperm to the egg.”
- “One neuron short of a synapse.”
- “Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled.”
- “Takes him 2 hours to watch 60 minutes.”
- “The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.”
From: The Blogannath Rolls On
- Talk with each other, don’t guess what others’ thinking.
- Be friendly to people around you, wearing a smile can change your day.
- Treasure the friendships you have, you don’t need to be friends with everyone.
- Hang out with positive people who can boost your energy.
- Ask questions if there’s something you’re not sure about.
- Follow what your heart tells you.
- Accept things and people to be imperfect.
- Accept the fact that you’re imperfect as well. A man’s got a limit.
- Don’t always ask “why?”, ask “why not?”.
- Forget what others think of you and demand for you.
- If you want to cry, just cry. Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak.
- Be mature, and be playful still.
- Treat others as you’d like to be treated; give out what you want to receive.
- Stop expecting yourself to please everyone around you.
- Don’t let the weather affect your mood. You can’t control the weather but you can handle your emotions.
- Get some sleep when you’re tired, don’t stay up late for no reasons.
- Get up early to enjoy the quiet morning.
- You have the control over your body, ignore others’ judgement on it as long as you’re healthy.
- Eat healthily, yet there’s no need to stop eating all the sweets and snacks as they can add fun to your life.
- Don’t get addicted to alcohol, drugs and cigarette.
- Only eat when you’re hungry, not because you’re sad or bored.
- Do exercise regularly.
- Think about what you have now and feel satisfied about it.
- Always buy what you need, not what you want. Your desire is endless.
- Don’t want to have something only because others have it.
- Be true to yourself and don’t lie to others.
- Don’t be afraid to say “I love you” to people who you care about.
- It’s okay to lose your temper, just don’t hurt anyone.
- Don’t argue for the sake of fighting, discuss with reasons.
- Apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
- Allow mistakes and forgive others.
- Be opened to learn about new stuff.
- Don’t hide yourself, you should meet the world.
- Keep a notebook to take note of important things.
- Learn to use technology to simplify your daily life.
- De-clutter and make space for yourself to work or do whatever you’ll do.
- Learn to cook, so you won’t eat-out too often.
- When you buy things, buy them with cash and avoid using credit/debit cards.
- Find the job that you like to do.
- Set a goal for yourself.
- Make priorities for what you want to do.
- Do something that you’ll feel proud of.
- Learn from the past, let go of your guilt and move on with your daily life.
- Find out what’s most important right now and focus on this.
- Hope for the best; plan for the worst.
- Have faith in yourself (and God).
- If there’s anything you hate to do, just stop doing it. (Yes as simple as that!)
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
“There are two kinds of fools: those who can’t change their opinions and those who won’t.”
Here is a good article with relevant tips for management of virtual teams:
Consider this now familiar view from the field:
“I’ve run a virtual team for the past 18 months in the development and launch of [a website.] I am located in Toronto, Canada. The website was designed in Zagreb, Croatia. The software was developed in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Zagreb, Croatia; Delhi, India; and Los Angeles, USA. Most of the communication was via email with periodic discussions via Skype. I had one face-to-face meeting with the team lead for the technology development this past December.”
Could this be you? Virtual teams have become a fact of business life, so what does it take to make them work effectively? On June 10, 2013, I launched a discussion around this question on LinkedIn. The result was an outpouring of experience and advice for making virtual teams work. (I define “virtual teams” as work groups which (1) have some core members who interact primarily through electronic means, and (2) are engaged in interdependent tasks — i.e. are truly teams and not just groups of independent workers). I distilled the results and combined them with my own work, which focuses on how new leaders should assess and align their teams in their first 90 days. Because that’s really when it’s most important to lay the foundation for superior performance in teams — virtual or otherwise. Here are ten basic principles for making this happen:
1. Get the team together physically early-on. It may seem paradoxical to say in a post on virtual teams, but face-to-face communication is still better than virtual when it comes to building relationships and fostering trust, an essential foundation for effective team work. If you can’t do it, it’s not the end of the world (focus on doing some virtual team building). But if you can get the team together, use the time to help team members get to know each other better, personally and professionally, as well to create a shared vision and a set of guiding principles for how the team will work. Schedule the in-person meeting early on, and reconnect regularly (semi-annually or annually) if possible.
2. Clarify tasks and processes, not just goals and roles. All new leaders need to align their team on goals, roles and responsibilities in the first 90 days. With virtual teams, however, coordination is inherently more of a challenge because people are not co-located. So it’s important to focus more attention on the details of task design and the processes that will be used to complete them. Simplify the work to the greatest extent possible, ideally so tasks are assigned to sub-groups of two or three team members. And make sure that there is clarity about work process, with specifics about who does what and when. Then periodically do “after-action reviews” to evaluate how things are going and identify process adjustments and training needs.
3. Commit to a communication charter. Communication on virtual teams is often less frequent, and always is less rich than face-to-face interaction, which provides more contextual cues and information about emotional states — such as engagement or lack thereof. The only way to avoid the pitfalls is to be extremely clear and disciplined about how the team will communicate. Create a charter that establishes norms of behavior when participating in virtual meetings, such as limiting background noise and side conversations, talking clearly and at a reasonable pace, listening attentively and not dominating the conversation, and so on. The charter also should include guidelines on which communication modes to use in which circumstances, for example when to reply via email versus picking up the phone versus taking the time to create and share a document.
4. Leverage the best communication technologies. Developments in collaborative technologies — ranging from shared workspaces to multi-point video conferencing — unquestionably are making virtual teaming easier. However, selecting the “best” technologies does not necessarily mean going with the newest or most feature-laden. It’s essential not to sacrifice reliability in a quest to be on the cutting edge. If the team has to struggle to get connected or wastes time making elements of the collaboration suite work, it undermines the whole endeavor. So err on the side of robustness. Also be willing to sacrifice some features in the name of having everyone on the same systems. Otherwise, you risk creating second-class team members and undermining effectiveness.
5. Build a team with rhythm. When some or all the members of a team are working separately, it’s all-too-easy to get disconnected from the normal rhythms of work life. One antidote is to be disciplined in creating and enforcing rhythms in virtual team work. This means, for example, having regular meetings, ideally same day and time each week. It also means establishing and sharing meeting agenda in advance, having clear agreements on communication protocols, and starting and finishing on time. If you have team members working in different time zones, don’t place all the time-zone burden on some team members; rather, establish a regular rotation of meeting times to spread the load equitably.
6. Agree on a shared language. Virtual teams often also are cross-cultural teams, and this magnifies the communication challenges — especially when members think they are speaking the same language, but actually are not. The playwright George Bernard Shaw famously described Americans and the British as “two nations divided by a common language.” His quip captures the challenge of sustaining shared understanding across cultures. When the domain of team work is technical, then the languages of science and engineering often provide a solid foundation for effective communication. However, when teams work on tasks involving more ambiguity, for example generating ideas or solving problems, the potential for divergent interpretations is a real danger (see for example this Anglo-Dutch translation guide). Take the time to explicitly negotiate agreement on shared interpretations of important words and phrases, for example, when we say “yes,” we mean… and when we say “no” we mean…and post this in the shared workspace.
7. Create a “virtual water cooler.” The image of co-workers gathering around a water cooler is a metaphor for informal interactions that share information and reinforce social bonds. Absent explicit efforts to create a “virtual water cooler,” team meetings tend to become very task-focused; this means important information may not be shared and team cohesion may weaken. One simple way to avoid this: start each meeting with a check-in, having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging. Regular virtual team-building exercises are another way to inject a bit more fun into the proceedings. Also enterprise collaboration platforms increasingly are combining shared workspaces with social networking features that can help team members to feel more connected.
8. Clarify and track commitments. In a classic HBR article “Management Time, Who’s got the Monkey?” William Oncken and Donald L. Wass use the who-has-the-monkey-on-their-back metaphor to exhort leaders to push accountability down to their teams. When teams work remotely, however, it’s inherently more difficult to do this, because there is no easy way to observe engagement and productivity. As above, this can be partly addressed by carefully designing tasks and having regular status meetings. Beyond that, it helps to be explicit in getting team members to commit to define intermediate milestones and track their progress. One useful tool: a “deliverables dashboard” that is visible to all team members on whatever collaborative hub they are using. If you create this, though, take care not to end up practicing virtual micro-management. There is a fine line between appropriate tracking of commitments and overbearing (and demotivating) oversight.
9. Foster shared leadership. Defining deliverables and tracking commitments provides “push” to keep team members focused and productive; shared leadership provides crucial “pull.” Find ways to involve others in leading the team. Examples include: assigning responsibility for special projects, such as identifying and sharing best practices; or getting members to coach others in their areas of expertise; or assigning them as mentors to help on-board new team members; or asking them to run a virtual team-building exercise. By sharing leadership, you will not only increase engagement, but will also take some of the burden off your shoulders.
10. Don’t forget the 1:1s. Leaders’ one-to-one performance management and coaching interactions with their team members are a fundamental part of making any team work. Make these interactions a regular part of the virtual team rhythm, using them not only to check status and provide feedback, but to keep members connected to the vision and to highlight their part of “the story” of what you are doing together.
Finally, if you are inheriting a team, take the time to understand how your predecessor led it. It’s essential that newly appointed leaders do this, whether their teams are virtual or not. Because, as Confucius put it, you must “study the past if you would define the future.” It’s even more important to do this homework when you inherit a virtual team, because the structures and processes used to manage communication and coordinate work have such an inordinate impact on team performance. You can use these ten principles as a checklist for diagnosing how the previous leader ran the team, and help identify and prioritize what you need to do in the first 90 days.
From: Harvard Business Review
- “Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he’ll have to touch it to be sure.” –Murphy’s Law
- “Anything you lose automatically doubles in value.” -Mignon McLaughlin
- “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” -Brian Gerald O’Driscoll
- “The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.” -Erma Bombeck
- “When I die, I want to die like my grandfather, who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.” -Will Rogers
- “Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.” -Unknown
- “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar
- “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” -Abraham Lincoln
- “Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in one ahead.” -Bill McGlashen
- “Children: You spend the first 2 years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next 16 telling them to sit down and shut-up.” -Unknown
“Good IT pros are not anti-bureaucracy, as many observers think. They are anti-stupidity.”
“A word to the wise ain’t necessary–it’s the stupid ones that need the advice.”
“Polished perfect isn’t better than perfect, it’s merely shinier. And late.”
From: Seth’s Blog
Another great pointer to references from Glen Alleman:
Here is a handbook for developing credible Integrated Master Schedules. There are many suggestions but this one comes from the place where schedules are critical.
Once you have your credible Integrated Master Schedule, you’re going to want to keep it that way and assess its credibility.
With these two documents, you’ll have a starting point for creating schedules that actually describe what done looks like in units of measure meaningful to the decision makers.
From: Herding Cats