Posted by: kerrywills | March 27, 2015

Playing Escalation Stratego

I used to love playing Stratego when I was a kid – this is the game where you send out different armies to attack your opponent. The strategy was that some pieces could “beat” other pieces and that you have to guess which pieces they had.  For example a General could beat a Colonel, but then the spy could beat the General.

Sometimes on projects I feel like I am watching people play Stratego at during an issue or escalation. One person may send out an e-mail which then gets replied by someone else who copies someone higher in the organization. Then the other person may reply copying in their higher ups and so on.  This game of management escalation is always interesting to watch – my Director beats your PM…well my Senior Director beats your Director…and on and on.

“Hmmm should I play my Director piece or my VP piece?”

How about instead of the escalation Stratego game we just figure out how to solve things ourselves! Then there would only be one ‘team’ on the game and therefore everyone would win. Unless we have a spy…

Posted by: kerrywills | March 20, 2015

Philosophizing vs Operationalizing

On every program that I have worked on, we have had a delivery process and tried to incorporate lessons learned back into that process. What I have found is that it doesn’t matter how well the process is documented or what artifacts exist because it comes down to how strong the project team is and how well the processes are operationalized into the work that people do.

For example, saying that document reviews and signoffs should happen is very different than making it part of scheduled meetings or a plan template that PMs use. I am also a fan of checklists for people to review key points, since many times processes become cumbersome with many documents to sort through.


I think about process, and therefore I am. Unless I am not….


The key message for us should be not just to document processes but to find ways to make them part of “how we do work” as opposed to an encyclopedia that sits on our desks which we never use. Otherwise they just become philosophy books.

Posted by: kerrywills | March 13, 2015

Genuine or “Gen-You-Win”

I believe that one of the most important characteristics that a leader can have is being genuine. This makes people trust you and want to follow you because they believe that your interests are real and that you are sincere. Leaders who are viewed as having agendas or being self-serving do not last long because they don’t get the support from their teams. People can sense when someone is not being genuine pretty easily and get a bad impression that would last a long time and possibly influence their behaviors.


 So, as leaders on our teams and in our organizations, we should always strive to be authentic in our interactions. This way we can create a GENeration where YOU WIN based on leadership. Sorry, it’s cheezy, but I enjoyed the play on words.


Posted by: kerrywills | March 6, 2015

Stay on top of your work

For those who read my blogs you know that diligence is a common theme in my postings. I do believe that many professionals do not stay on top of their work (mostly due to complexity of work and being overwhelmed and not necessarily on purpose) and therefore the Project Manager becomes the person who has to follow up on actions, issues, risks, etc.

But sometimes I get frustrated when Project Managers do not stay on top of their work, because if PMs don’t do this then no one else will. This means keeping plans updated, issues/risks maintained and actions followed up on. PMs should be constantly looking at plan dates and due dates of RAID items to ensure that they get met and not missed.



So it is really on us to stay on top of all of the moving pieces of the projects and ensure that nothing gets missed. This means keeping lists, updating plans and chasing people down. That is our destiny and we should embrace it!

Posted by: kerrywills | February 27, 2015

Is it possible to focus?

I spend my entire day in meetings. Every time, though, there are multiple concurrent distractions…

  • Instant messaging about the meeting from people in it (e.g. the play by play, making fun of people, reacting to commentary, planning next steps, etc)
  • Instant messaging on other topics
  • Text messages on my phone
  • eMails
  • People stopping by my office to talk

Focus-Logo Final

In most meetings I have all five happening at the same time so I find it difficult to listen/participate and do these things. I find it even harder to NOT do these things since there really is no “work” time when I am not in meetings. So I force myself to take notes in OneNote during the meeting which helps me to organize the content and listen for key points. It also helps me to have documented information for later (since my memory is worse than my inability to focus).

Unfortunately, I think this is just the reality of the workplace today and we have to learn how to deal with it because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do them at different times and not concurrently. What do other people do to focus? Hey look a squirrel…

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