Canada Cost Post-Saving Math

Freising, Munich area, Germany

(On the photo, a post(wo)man delivering mail to the residents of Freising, Munich area)

Door-to-door mail delivery to urban customers has been phased out in Canada in the last five years.

This was a major cost-saving initiative of Canada Post. As a performance improvement specialist, I doubt its value for Canadians.  Without a doubt, there is a better way to improve efficiency, instead of going into this cost cutting death spiral, as Tom Peters put it in his book “The Excellence Dividend.”

Since 2013, the only rationale offered by the Crown Corporation was that two-thirds of Canadians don’t have mail delivered right to their doors already, so the other five million should not complain. And a local public servant obligingly added at the time that this is even better for the elderly citizens – to have a daily walk to the communal “super-mailbox”…

But I digress. Let’s just do the math. Continue reading “Canada Cost Post-Saving Math”

Advanced Project Management Secret: Shared Values

Values PM 2.0

 

Requirements can make or break your projects. Depending on your personal level of PM maturity, you will make sure that you have clarified them on one, two, or three levels. Here’s what can further improve your chances to deliver the project successfully: shared values of the team.

The secret is in the proper composition of your team. Assembling the right team is highlighted in a recent McKinsey report as one of the key practices that define the “art” of project leadership.

Granted, you will not always have the luxury to hand pick the team members. In the worst case, you are parachuted into a failing project and have to make do with what you have. Even in this worst-case scenario, what I suggest here will help – if you take personal values of your team members into consideration.

In short, personal values are needs, and they refer to desirable goals that motivate action. Thus above all, you need to make sure that at least your core team members’ values are aligned with the Goal of the project.

Continue reading “Advanced Project Management Secret: Shared Values”

The Recipe for Project Success: 3 Requirements + 10 Values

success values

The three key reasons why some projects fail are:

  1. Requirements
  2. Requirements
  3. Requirements

There is but a grain of joke in this PM joke: requirements are key. In real life, three different sets of requirements could and should be identified during the project initiation.

Requirements-1: The Spec.

First requirements that come to mind are the “standard” ones: what exactly we have to deliver. If the “what” is not defined properly, different interpretations of the requirements will lead to reworks, conflicts, delays etc.

Although requirements definition and requirements management is an important part of the PM’s job, it is important to go one level higher and make sure that we understand the business context.

Requirements-2: The Constraints Triangle.

If you’ve read this far, you are probably not new to the project management. Hence you know that the triple constraints – Scope, Time, Cost – are part of PM life, and that another PM not-exactly-a-joke insists that you can pick only two. Continue reading “The Recipe for Project Success: 3 Requirements + 10 Values”

Shared Values of Self-Made Millionaires

Human Values

There’s an interesting article posted recently on LinkedIn Pulse. Jeff Haden put this in his post headline, making it almost instantly viral:

“8 of 10 Self-Made Millionaires Were Not ‘A’ Students. Instead, They Share 1 Trait.”

The trait, of course, is their willingness to learn.

While I agree with Jeff Hadden, that is not news. Similar observations were made before.

According to Tom Corley’s study of “Rich Habits”:

“85% of millionaires read two or more books a month that help them grow.”

Indeed, Elon Musk, one of today’s most admirable business leaders is known for having taught himself – literally! – rocket science by reading books. Moreover, according to his brother, Elon used to read two books per day when he was a kid. Continue reading “Shared Values of Self-Made Millionaires”

Elon Musk Q7

Elon Musk Q7

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”

How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?

(Originally answered on Quora)

Most probably you want to share your surprise that Elon Musk, who reportedly stayed overnight at Tesla site on many occasions, still looks and behaves like a normal sociable person, gives interviews and is altogether in good health and good spirits, right?

This is because he is fortunate enough to have a solution to the ageless dilemma of “work-life” balance.

For most people, this problem exists, and exactly in this form – work vs. life – implying that the negative portion of your existence, called ‘work’, is balanced out by the positive ‘life’. When the balance is in place, then the negative impact that work leaves on your personality and health is cured by the positive emotions you get from what happens after work. Or that is how the unfortunate majority sees it.

 There’s not much of an overlap between the Life and Work, and as this overlap is not considered healthy, we are advised by holistic gurus that we must disconnect, shut off etc. and not mix the two. Hence, there’s not enough room to have both, we either displace one at the expense of the other, or meticulously separate them, having not enough of either as a result. The rest is a multitude of ‘chores’, neutral in their nature; we just take them for granted, neither good nor bad. Continue reading “How can Elon Musk put in 80-100 hours a week and still have a life?”

What are the identifiers of a bad project?

bad project

To answer this question (asked on Quora), we need to define the meaning of “bad” in “bad project.”  As an old project management bit of wisdom goes, there are three main reasons why projects fail (and thus may be identified as “bad projects”):

  1. Requirements
  2. Requirements
  3. Requirements

Continue reading “What are the identifiers of a bad project?”

Brian Fetherstonhaugh: “The Long View”

Required Reading

Over the weekend, I have read a very interesting book – “The Long View” by Brian Fetherstonhaugh.

Brian Fetherstonhaugh is the Chairman & CEO of OgilvyOne, but the book is not about marketing. It is a thoughtful but clear feedback on his personal career experiences, supported by “business cases” from the careers of other successful individuals. Continue reading “Brian Fetherstonhaugh: “The Long View””

Make Every Minute of Your Life Count Towards Your Goal

My Goal

If you want to be efficient, you must work towards your goal – always.

Even if you are chatting with a colleague about last weekend’s BBQ, you should have a goal.

Perhaps your goal is to have a short break before you get back to work. But you must be consciously aware of this intermediate goal and make sure that it is leading you towards your Goal. Of course, you may need to stop and think what your main Goal is.

One of my teachers, when he was doing his advanced degree, had the tagline “PhD in 3 years!” inscribed literally everywhere around him. He even had it as his screensaver text popping up on the monitor after a few minutes of inactivity. It helped.

This poster will help you make your day – your week – your life – more efficient.

Download poster as pdf.

What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better

What Makes Life Worthwhile

Once in a while you get news that makes your life worthwhile.

Last week a colleague sent me a text with the phone number of a former client: “He wants to speak with you.”

I called the new mobile number right away and learned that Vlad has been promoted to the top position at an oil production (E&P) company. For a professional, this is an incredible achievement!

Continue reading “What Makes Life Worthwhile? Good People Made Better”