Here’s how to plan and deliver your project without a project management certification: just imagine that you have to eat an elephant, and follow these steps.
- If the elephant is really big, find the way to have only one elephant dropped on your plate.
- Make sure that the elephant is … well, does not move. This step may turn brutal but it is mandatory if you want to stay alive and well yourself (in case this is really an elephant and not just a dead horse).
- Take all measurements, including length of tusks and body weight. Plan the cuts (if this is your first time, use a beef chart for initial planning). Never try to eat it yourself. Just having to taste the elephant cuts here and there, you will get full, regardless, I can bet any money, so not a bite.
- Plan to keep the tusks though: they look good on your CV.
- Calculate how many meals it will make and what kind of meals; based on the findings, figure out how many eaters you will need on your team. When negotiating eaters’ availability with their line managers, make sure the eaters have the guts that are appropriate for the meal.
Note: Be cautious with diversity and inclusivity. Your team will be naturally effective AND diverse if you select players who are excited to eat an elephant. If their values are aligned, nothing else matters; disregard their racial, religious, sexual or political orientation. However, whatever they tell you, it will probably make no sense to have vegans and Hindus on this particular team.
- Depending on the climate, you may need to have the elephant eaten as soon as possible; otherwise it is going to rot, and nobody will want to eat your elephant unless you pay extra. And mind you, the smell will then follow you for quite a while…
- You may then decide to optimize your eating plan. Get your newly formed team involved in the process: a properly orchestrated brainstorming session boosts motivation and increases appetite. You must go out of the room with an updated Elephant Cuts Chart and a clear common understanding of who eats what and when. Some toddlers may need to be reminded that a mouthful of half-chewed meat does not count as eaten.
- When all the above has been taken care of, eating the elephant goes like a song. Seriously, make it fun. When work is turned into play, your team will be intrinsically motivated and therefore efficient throughout the entire meal.
- Do not forget to praise your best eaters when the meal is over. Celebrate their success. Serve them something really special, serve them yourself, each and everyone, and be genuinely grateful because they had the elephant eaten for you.
If you do all the above correctly, the team will be ready to eat an elephant for you again and again, while cheerfully chasing all predators away from you and stomping out office snakes and lizards on the way.
And the fellow tribesmen watching you from the distance will whisper with awe: That’s a really good project manager!
A few months ago, I answered this question on Quora: “How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a social life or time for exercise, etc.?” My answer collected an incredible number of views and upvotes – a good indicator that this is (A) a hot topic and (B) my answer makes sense to many.
The answer I have for you today may be even more interesting. In part, this is your answer!
Here’s the scoop. (TL,DR version: go to Elon Musk Q7 questionnaire).
Personal efficiency, effectiveness, success – have been my favorite subjects and areas of research for quite some time. A few years ago, when I launched the Collectiver site and online tool, the objective was to find out why some teams are more efficient than others. According to my research and observations as a performance expert, the best-performing teams have significant internal alignment. That alignment I measure by the basic values’ congruence of the team members. Continue reading “Elon Musk Q7”
Offer more help than you ask for.
When parents help their children grow up, they do not ask for anything in return. Nor do they expect to have a good return on this investment in the future. If they do, the ROI is often negative in the long run.
Good teachers are excited and overjoyed with their students’ success. They see themselves behind the scenes watching their students receive a standing ovation from the academia. If laughing all the way to the bank in front of their student is all they can see, never will there be a standing ovation in their lives.
Lovers want to comfort each other. Continue reading “Here’s how to make your worklife better:”
In essence, both are not new. They are derivatives from older businesses or trends that have been in existence for at least some decades: Lean is a mass-market Toyota Production System and Starbucks is a mass-market coffee retailer. Continue reading “What Do Starbucks and Lean Six Sigma Have In Common?”
I could not find the author of this quote. But it is simple and memorable. And printable.
By “easy reading” I mean really easy, i.e. big letters, just one sentence (above), and no links or other distractions.
American Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike was born on this day 85 years ago. His first novel was published on 1958 and became famous in 1960 with Rabbit, Run. During his career, Updike published 60 books. His principal themes were far from business, but I always find inspiration in his works and quite a few motivational thoughts that are worth quoting.
What is the one thing that determines your success?
Google for it, and the top answers will probably be:
- positive attitude,
followed by “trust”, “leadership”, “networking”, “team”,” good timing”, “determination” … and many other good words.
Do you see a profound gap here, both on the individual and on the organizational level? Continue reading “The One Thing That Determines Success”
If you are a professional project manager, you have been through this many times. You get a project to run, receive a list of specialists assigned to the project, start making your calls – and see that the team that you will have to spend a better part of your life with in the coming months is not really sharing your excitement about the project. Continue reading “How to Sell Your Team on Project Management in 7 Minutes”
A young manager in a major industrial company, trying to explain their reporting procedures, had trouble pronouncing the word “hierarchy.” When I did it for him after his third attempt, he was grateful – but not at all uncomfortable: “I am an engineer, you know, long words is not really my cup of tea.” Indeed, for managers with strong technical background and zero soft skills training, quite a few things crucial to their new role end up outside their cup. Continue reading “Positive Reinforcement for Engineers”
A traveler passes a construction site and sees three men working. He asks the first man what he is doing and gets a reply: “I am laying bricks.” The second says: “I am building a wall.” Finally, the third man answers: “I am building a cathedral.” Continue reading “The ROE: Return On Engagement”