Posted by: kerrywills | April 29, 2016

I don’t swing the bat much, but when I do…

Spending most of my time in meetings I am very conscious of behaviors in them. I find that in many meetings many people have opinions and want them to be heard. This generally leads to long dialogues and debates over nearly every topic. While it is important that people feel heard, I think there should be some discretion used.

The way I approach meetings is using a baseball metaphor; I don’t swing the bat a lot but when I do I tend to get hits. This means that, during meetings, I don’t tend to interject my thoughts on every topic but rather only talk when I think I have something valuable to add to the conversation which will progress the outcomes of the meeting. Conversely, the strategy of swinging the bat every time may get a few hits but generally leads to more strikeouts.

Batter Hitting Baseball

So my advice is to pay attention and only swing the bat when you think you will get a hit. This may mean taking some topics offline but the result will be more robust and valuable conversations and you may even win the baseball game.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 22, 2016

When I get anxious, I organize

I am an anxious person by nature and so I worry a lot. At work, I worry about plans, risks, meeting commitments, open action items, gaps in processes, and lots of other things. So when I get anxious, I go to my default approach which is to organize. Some examples are highlighted below

  • I make lists. Lots of them. What is great about lists is that they enable you to capture all of the items in one place and get dates and names so they can be tracked to closure.
  • I draw pictures. I find that this helps to convey messages and gives something for people to look at and react to instead of an abstract conversation.
  • I make presentations. These help to organize my thoughts and tell the right ‘story’ for what I am trying to convey.

Dont-agonize.-Organize.

So maybe it is part of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I find that when I make a list I feel better because everything is captured in one place. Then I can look at the list (obsess) and cross things off (compulse) and then feel better.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 15, 2016

The Parthenon of Programs

I have planned and managed many programs in my career and I believe that there are several critical pieces for success. They can be organized into a picture that sort of looks like the Parthenon. This was a building that lasted nearly 2500 years and so our programs should also be set up in a structure that will endure a long duration.

  • The “foundation” is Structure which means ensuring thay programs are set up properly to maximize effectiveness. This can include proper organization and clear roles and accountabilities to ensure that the work is planned and managed well
  • Building on the foundation are three pillars. Processes and Tools are used to manage the work and people and enable the teams to operate effectively as well as provide transparency to management. People are what make the structure successful and enable the program to meet their goals. Planning includes schedule, cost, resources and operations and provide a baseline from which to understand trends and impacts
  • The “roof” of the Parthenon is Management and builds on having the pillars in place. These pillars allow for transparency and insights into the risks so that decisions can be made

Parthenon

This picture over-simplifies the complexities of each of these but can be a good framework from which to look at programs. Without any one of the components there would be significant problems

  • Missing Structure: There will be confusion in roles, gaps or overlaps in responsibilities and inefficient delivery
  • Missing Process and Tools: Lack of transparency of progress or risks
  • Missing People: Will always mean poor results and low morale
  • Missing Planning: Missed dates and commitments for schedule, scope or cost
  • Missing Management: Ineffective issue resolution, communications and delivery

So the entire structure of the Parthenon is needed to be successful and your program can stand the test of time, just like the Parthenon in Athens.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 8, 2016

Don’t get the Gremlins wet

I remember seeing the movie “Gremlins” when I was a kid back in the 1980s. Gremlins were small creatures that, if they ever got wet, would spawn off other creatures and multiply. We have similar gremlins on programs which also seem to multiply.

  • Scope
  • Cost
  • Complexity
  • Resources
1

I may look cute….but don’t get me wet

Many of these items start to multiply which then gets the program out of control. The key is to control the gremlins so they don’t get wet and multiply. For projects this means setting up the right levels of diligence and transparency to track and manage when they are starting to trend out of control. This can include detailed financial tracking and reporting, schedule tracking and resource management.

So, while the gremlins may seem cute at first, we must make sure we follow the rules so they don’t spawn out of control.

Posted by: kerrywills | April 1, 2016

The lost art of being succinct

I spend most of my work day on two things…

  1. Meetings
  2. Reading/responding to messages

In both activities there are an abundance of people who drag on topics during conversations or write really long messages (in some cases it is the same person doing both). I understand that it is important to recognize details (in fact it is principle #2 in my book). But people need to recognize their audience and the high number of work things to pay attention to.

1.jpg

What happens is that the key messages get lost in the ‘noise’ of all of the other words, caveats and opinions. So, I propose a few things…

  • Keep messages (verbal and written) short
  • Use fonts and colors to highlight key points
  • Use bullets to lay out specifics
  • Focus on the important points

So, get to the point. Please.

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