Posted by: kerrywills | November 20, 2015

Something to work towards

Many times on project calls, activities and action items get identified as needed. I find that a lot of times either there is no date assigned to close these or the dates that get assigned just come and go. Therefore, one effective strategy that I use is to put a meeting on the calendar as a date from which to work towards. This way, the expectation is set with team members assigned to the action that there is a meeting where an update on the action is required.


As Project Managers, it is our job to ensure that work progresses and that actions get completed. Rather than chasing down people or assuming that the item will close itself, a quick meeting is a good way to (1) remind people that something is due and (2) have something to work towards.

Posted by: kerrywills | November 13, 2015

“No man is an island”

No Man Is an Island is an expression emphasizing a person’s connections to his or her surroundings and/or other persons. This is especially relevant for working on programs in corporations today. Solutions and organizations have become very complex and inter-related and therefore it is critical that Project Managers recognize that they can not run their programs in isolation. This means that Project Managers need to recognize this and act accordingly….

  • Collaborate with other teams and stakeholders
  • Recognize the other stakeholders and teams
  • Work within company standards and guidelines
  • Ensure communication occurs with appropriate stakeholders and dependent parties


So if you or your teams think that you are an island and isolated from others, then you need to look at the map again as you may be one state in a larger country.


Posted by: kerrywills | November 6, 2015

The art of the offsite

I love team offsites. They have many benefits…

  • They bring everyone together; which is important in today’s world of virtual workers and people located all over the globe
  • They are a good way to “recharge batteries” of the team and keep everyone grounded
  • They provide working time for teams to think through problems or plan out work
  • They build camaraderie and teamwork


Offsites need to be planned for properly, though. People just shouldn’t show up without a solid plan and approach. So this means that we, as Project Managers, need to plan for them.  This should include the following…

  • Clear goals and agenda that aligns to the goals
  • Identify any prework so the team comes prepared and time is not wasted during the event
  • Plan for teambuilding/group activities
  • Plan the timing around key activities but not during critical time periods for people to be distracted
  • Allow for travel time
  • Make sure you interact with local team members if you are going to a different location
  • Approach to capture actions/decisions/takeaways and an approach to follow up on them

A well planned offsite will allow for the team to be more effective and come together and not just come back with stories of what their peers did at the bar after work.

Posted by: kerrywills | October 30, 2015

Find a career champion

I believe it is critical to find people who are willing to support our careers. I have had many supporters in my career as well as non-supporters. I still remember a very specific conversation about 10 years ago where I was considering a promotion role for a Director and my current boss at the time told me that she “would never have made me a Director.” On the other hand I have had people who have given me chances, mentored me, provided good insight and feedback and given me the autonomy to succeed.


As I have moved into management I have found much satisfaction with being a champion to my team members by helping them grow, providing opportunities (even if this means on different teams) and promoting them to senior management. This approach inspires people and optimizes their value to the company.

By the way, in the first example I gave, within a few years I became a peer of this person who didn’t want to promote me – so the other lesson learned is not to say stupid comments like that to people.


Posted by: kerrywills | October 23, 2015

Math grades

My daughter is in Middle School and math is definitely not her strong suit. She got a 38 on her first test which is pretty low and, mathematically, hard to come back from. Meaning even if she got a 100 on her next test, her average would still be a D. So now we have to do well on all tests the rest of the semester and are starting out from behind.


This is sort of like running a project where an issue occurs early on or it gets off to a bad start and you then spend the rest of the project trying to ‘catch up’ to meet the goals. The key is with continuous rigor on all activities so projects don’t start off this way. This approach is similar to how my son handles his schoolwork, which is to do well at most of it and then, when there is a problem, it can be absorbed much better.

So the key to both school and good project management is staying on top of all activities and not getting behind. Oh yeah…my daughter is back to a B+ since writing this article based on lots of hard work.


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