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Focused Performance 0

Jump start your 2015 business planning. Russell Martin & Associates has created The Focused Performance Bundle. The package includes everything you need to facilitate the planning sessions with your team. lou russell

Once you know where you want to go and where you don’t want to go in 2015, start brainstorming initiatives that will take you there.  It’s likely that each of these initiatives will generate multiple projects.  How do you pick which projects to do?  How do you prioritize the work over all four quarters of 2015 without adding so much project work that it’s impossible to focus on any of it?  Prioritization allows you to pick the projects you can charter utilizing a project sponsor and project manager who drive a project schedule for accountability.

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See What You Get (Ltd Time Offer).

Lou Russell is the CEO of Russell Martin & Associates and L+earn, an executive consultant, speaker, and author whose passion is to create growth in companies by guiding the growth of their people. In her speaking, training, and writing, Lou draws on 30 years of experience helping organizations achieve their full potential. She is committed to inspiring improvement in all three sides of what she has dubbed the Optimization Triangle: leadership, project management, and individual learning.

Lou was a great guest and I am sure you will enjoy the podcast.

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Sales Trustworthiness 0

Charles Green, author of a series of books that have long been a favorite of mine,  I own them all, discussed in  a past podcast with me the trustworthiness and who is the most trusted professional. Can you guess before reading below?

Related Podcast and Transcription: The Trust Equation (A copy of Charles’ books are listed)

Charles:     About sixty thousand people have taken it, and, I guess, some of the headlines… to me the most interesting headline is, and let me take you as a test case here, Joe – who do you think is more trustworthy, men or women? What would you guess? Don’t over-think it.

Joe:     Oh. Women.

Charles:     Oh, you’re absolutely right. It’s true, and is statistically, significantly true, and more to the point, when I asked people like I just did you: which one do you think is more trustworthy, 98 times out of a 100, people will say “women”, which I think is also kind of a proof. Secondly, it turns out that almost all of that difference in the study between women being more trustworthy than men rests on women getting higher scores in one of those four components. Let’s see if you can guess which one it is. Credibility, reliability, intimacy or self-orientation? Which one do women do better at?

Joe:     Intimacy.

Charles:     You are correct again. You’re batting a thousand. Women are statistically, significantly better at that. Now, related, there are other studies, besides this one that, looked at professions for example – who has highest and lowest trustworthiness? No surprise, lawyers and politicians are at the bottom. Lawyer in Europe do a little better than here. Who do you think is at the top of the list? The most trustworthy profession in almost every survey you can think of? Want to guess?

Joe:     Oh, no. I can’t even… the quality professional.

Charles:     Well, people, usually, come up with, you know, doctors, or pharmacists, or teachers, or whatever. Now, number one is nursing. Nurses are the most trusted profession. Which makes sense when you think about it. If the doctor says you’re going to up and walking in a month, and the nurse is, “Honey, it’s going to be eight weeks,” you know, whom do we believe? We believe the nurse. We’re very comfortable sharing intimate things, our bodies, our minds, our thoughts with nurses, and it’s no accident that nursing is predominantly, not entirely, but predominantly a feminine profession. All these things fit together – female, intimacy, and nursing. It turns out that the biggest factor, the one with the most power in the trust equation, and we didn’t expect it going in, is intimacy.

If you want to create trust, or sense of trustworthiness, the biggest single lever that you have is to be able to create a sense of intimacy with other people. It’s also no accident that conmon know that too, by the way. So, they know dummies and that’s the one they go for. You know, “I’m your friend, you can trust me. I have your best interest at heart. I understand who you are.” It’s a preferred tactic of con-men, for good reason.

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Peak Learning Mind Map 0

Looking through my Accelerated Learning information, I ran across an old favorite of mine, Peak Learning.   This work is based on the Accelerated Learning trend of the 90’s. I appreciate so much of that work since it is laid out base largely on the learning style of the individual versus on the way we want to construct learning. I also think teams and to some extent organizations develop a certain learning style that we should recognizing as we our developing training programs.

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Forming a Quality Group 0

This is the last in series of interviews that I had with Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting. We have covered subjects from Trystoming to Value Stream Mapping.

A complete list:

One of the things Bob is most proud of and enjoys the most is the group of quality people that he collaborates with in his place of residence, Charlotte, NC. He discusses the start of this group and a few of the struggles they went through during the formation.

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Hoshin Kanri Overview 0

I asked Anthony Manos is a Catalyst with Profero, Inc. to give me a quick overview of Hoshin Kanri and his comments are below.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Using Hoshin Kanri

Anthony Manos:  Absolutely. I mentioned a couple of things like doing the pre-work, priming the pump of understanding what’s going on in the environmental stand, checking the different things out. Environmental scan, things like the economy, what’s going on socially?cultural, what’s going on with suppliers, competition. We just get the teams to go, “What do you think is going to happen over the next few years that might have an impact on you?” I’ll admit it, and this is one of those things that, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Obviously, when you’re trying to predict things, you’re never going to be perfect. But Joe, I remember, this is a few years ago, and when we were going through our planning session, someone mentioned, “Well, what happens if oil goes above $50 a barrel?” Of course, we had a laugh. It’s a good laugh now, but back then, we were wondering what would happen.

I think it’s very interesting, because from people’s different points of view of where they’re at, when you make a statement like that, “Well, what would happen when oil goes above $50 a barrel?” Back then, by the way, one of my initial thoughts was, “Wow, plastics costs might go up because of the oil.” But it’s very interesting.

Another team or group, when they were talking about what happens to things like gas prices, they mentioned, “Well, fewer people are going to drive.”

So, it’s very funny how, by putting these concepts out there, you can have different points of view and try to determine how it would affect your organization. Getting that stuff out in the beginning really helps. Of course, doing the standard things like a SWOT analysis, what I notice is a lot of people use SWOT, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but I don’t think they really know about how to go about to do it.

A couple of the tricks of the trade that we picked up over the years is, when you’re doing your strengths and weaknesses, which are supposed to be internal to the organization, one of the tools we’d use to help a company, especially if they’re new at this, is we used the Baldridge Award criteria categories. There’s leadership, planning, customer focus. There’s the measurement, analysis, knowledge management, human resource focus, process management, and results. So we do ask them, “What are your strengths and weaknesses in each of those areas?”

This just makes it easier for them to put something in a bucket. “Give us some strengths and weaknesses of your leadership. Give us strengths and weaknesses of your customer focus.” Companies don’t have to do it this way, but we’ve found that when you can give them a little structure to start out with, that really helps out a lot.

Then what we do is, with opportunities and threats, which should be external to the organization, we use a model like the Porter’s Five Forces, where they can look at things like suppliers, strengths and weaknesses of their suppliers, of substitutes that can people can replace your product or service with someone else’s, new entrants, buyers, and rivalries. Once again, it’s just a little bucket that they can put their opportunities and threats.

Joe, at this point, I want to mention that a lot of times, people just think the opposite of an opportunity is a threat, or a threat just flipped around becomes an opportunity. We really try to make sure that they understand that it’s not always that way. There are certain things that threats are a threat, an opportunity might be an opportunity. Once we get to that point, I think their brains are full, and they’re ready to go to the brainstorming portion of it.

Typically, we’ll start out with just a little statement like, “It’s five years in the future. You guys are tremendously successful. What does it look like, and how did you get there?” Then we just let them go to town, just let them brainstorm and come up with ideas. We just use a little Post-it Note method. They can write them up there, we throw them up on the wall. We get the team to go up there and make an Affinity diagram, start to group these things so they can see.

It’s like, “Wow! You see all these wild and crazy ideas. These are great ideas. This has really liberated us from doing the day?to?day things so that we can really think, ‘What’s that quantum leap? What’s that thing that’s really going to give us that breakthrough to move us forward?'”

Then from there, we do some other things, like a Gap analysis. Where are you guys at today in this category? Then, maybe, where would you like to be? Then another little tool that we use is drivers, means, and outcomes, so we just try to look at the categories.

Does A cause B, or does B cause A? Or does A drive B and B drive A? We try to determine if things are drivers, which means these are the things that will make things happen. The means, which is these are things that are the way to get it done, and then outcomes, like, these things are going to happen.

That really opens up people’s eyes to like, “Wow! What should we really start to focus on?” From there, we can start to put together their high-level plan. If companies want to use an X?Matrix or tree diagram, whatever it’s going to be, we help them put that together.

Then from there, they go into that term called “catch ball.” Catch ball is when they actually just pass it down to the other levels of the organization, to communicate, get buy-ins, get their plan set. They throw it back up, and there’s usually communication to it. “Yes. This is looking good,” or, “No. We’d like for you to take a look at this portion of it again.”

Based on the size of the organization, it might go down another level, and et cetera, et cetera. This is one of those ways that you get alignment within the organization. Anyone that’s a value?adder would actually see what their day-to-day task or job is, how it actually…

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What knowledge are you supposed to capture? 0

Do you capture everything?

Is everything a lesson learned?

How do you decide what you need to capture for the closeout?

I asked Mel Bost a Principal Consultant in BOT International’s PMO Practice who specializes in PMO best practices, project lessons learned, and program management those questions in a past podcast, Related Podcast and Transcription:  Learning in Project Management.

Mel:                 That’s a good question. I’m writing this book which is going to be out shortly. In my blog, I talk about this process in capturing and documenting lessons learned. Really, what I’m defining there is what I call significant events. A significant event is something where you may have a major deviation between expected result and actual result. That would probably be easy for a project manager to sit down with his project team and list 50 things that ought to be improved. I say take the top 5 or 10 where you’ve had a significant deviation between expected and actual result. Focus on those 5 or 10, if you’re able to do that, you’ve got the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of the value to be gained is probably in the first five or six lessons learned significant events that you identify. The rest of them trail off very quickly, but there can be a lot of things.

If an organization has a robust risk management plan in place, they are 90 percent of the way toward having a lessons learned process. They’ve already defined some potential risks. If those risks get triggered in a project and they have a mitigation plan, they’ve already identified some significant events. The definition of risk and carrying that out for a project, having that risk identified, and if it’s triggered, if it’s significant and you’ve got a mitigation plan, that ought to go right at the top of the list of lessons learned. When you say how do you know, what do you need to capture all the knowledge? I’d say pick the top 5 or 10 lessons learned, something where you had a major deviation between expected and actual result.

Joe:                  My next question is how do you share that knowledge? How is that shared so that knowledge is made explicit to other people?

Mel:                 Different organizations have handled that in different ways. Certainly some of the larger organizations, we have, especially the large oil companies have put knowledge management systems into place. Even companies like Schlumberger, which is an oilfield service organization, they were one of the first companies to put together a knowledge management system where they actually go in and put it into a database. Depending on how sophisticated the organization is, I’ve even seen a couple instances in NASA where organizations have developed what they call a knowledge-based risk. In other words, they’re using their knowledge database to inform their risk managers of previous project problems before the initiate a new project. I think it’s up to, once again, the individual organization.

In the case of ConocoPhillips, when I worked there, one of the first things we tried to do was to have a breakfast forum among our project managers and invite some of the project managers who were just completing projects to talk about lessons learned. We videotaped those, and we put them into a SharePoint system, so anybody goes out and look at those. We promoted that to all our project managers, especially those who were going to initiate a new project that was similar to one that had just been completed. Today, we have a project server system out there from Microsoft project that incorporates a lot of that and allows capture of lessons learned.

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A Project Charter, You Gotta Be Kidding Me 0

I was thrilled to have Lou Russell  of RMA Associates as my guest next week on the podcast.  She is a project management guru who cut her teeth in Accelerated Learning. In fact, she wrote the book,The Accelerated Learning Fieldbook: Making the Instructional Process Fast, Flexible, and Fun. Tune in to find the connection.

An excerpt from the podcast on her thoughts about Project Charters:

Lou Russell: One of the other things I think is just mystifying to me is that everybody, when left to their own devices, will skip project charter, skip it completely, and just do a schedule, because we have software for that. But we really don’t have the software for project charters – I guess we have templates, but it’s not cool enough – it doesn’t have, like, software. So, that means it mustn’t matter. Well, the project charter defines why you’re spending money on this project instead of something else. It gives you the whole reason for being of the project, and you skip it and build a schedule that’s supposed to actually be right? How can it be right? You don’t even know what you’re doing. That makes me crazy. That’s one of my little blasphemous pet-peeves, sorry.

Joe: I think you hit a very good point, because when you read any project management book, though they are discussing scope and charter, you are sitting there just waiting to get started.

Lou: Let’s go. Let’s build stuff.

Joe: That’s the feeling you get. What I like about your Project Manager for Trainers, OK – I mean, I love that book, because it’s very much, “Do it!” You know, here’s a charter, but do it.

Lou: Given that you’ve had the proper conversations, so let’s put that on the table – given that you’ve managed to capture long enough to get the need – basically, the project charter should take less than 45 minutes – it’s a draft. It’s always a draft. There’s no way you can build a final project charter before you’ve started the project. You don’t know what’s going on. It’s going to evolve. It’s an organic, evolving thing, as is the plan, and if neither of those are evolving – I know someone right now is having cardiac arrest about this – “You’re supposed to control a project!” No, you can’t. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the business. Anyway, if it isn’t changing, then no one needs that project – you should be cancelling it right now.

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