Inspired Project Teams

Enduring Wisdom & Guided Challenges to Help Project Teams Achieve Their Best

  • Jun 17

    Starting this month I will be publishing all my new blog posts, articles and other announcements at my WORTH SHARING website. I will continue to create articles and videos that are relevant to the topics you usually find here, including thoughts on inspiring project teams, motivation, team building, creativity, etc.  To find these at the WORTH SHARING website, just click on the “Inspired Project Teams” tab (see diagram below).

    Go to "Inspired Project Teams" tab, Mike Greer's WORTH SHARING website

    Why the Convergence? 

    The short answer is this:  To help you find all the stuff I believe to be “WORTH SHARING” in one location, no matter what the topic. (For a more detailed discussion, click here.)

    Subscribe to the News Feed!

    To make sure you never miss any of my new blog posts, articles, videos or announcements you can subscribe to my WORTH SHARING news feed via you favorite news reader or your Kindle.  Here’s how:

    _____________________________________

    Go to WORTH SHARING RSS Feed & Subscribe!

    _____________________________________

    Go to Amazon Kindle Subscribe Page for Mike Greer's WORTH SHARING website

     

  • May 26

    Image: Modern Gulliver weighed down by home ownership

    Recently we sold a summer home that we had owned for more than 20 years. Located in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, where we grew up, it provided us with a yearly change of scenery and the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and family. The place was great for holding cook-outs and bonfires or  just hanging out and watching birds, rabbits and deer cross the yard on their way to the hardwood forest out back.

    After a few years this double-home lifestyle began to take an increasingly larger toll on our peace of mind. In the winter, while we were safe and warm in California, we worried about pipes bursting in the empty Pennsylvania house as temperatures plunged below zero and stayed there for days at a time. And spring thunderstorms (often accompanied by hail or even tornadoes) posed their own threats to the place. To make sure everything was okay during these weather outbreaks we would have to ask relatives or a neighbor to brave the elements and check on the place.

    And then there was that large, green lawn. Unless we returned very early in Spring, we’d have to make arrangements for it to be mowed and tended by those same volunteers. Eventually, of course, we’d arrive and whip that big yard into shape. But this typically took the better part of a full day every week we were there.

    Over the years, our time in PA was increasingly spent on additional maintenance chores. The water from the well was brought into the house by a submersible pump that had to be repaired and eventually replaced. And the iron-saturated water, a legacy of ground-water contamination by local coal strip mining during the 1950s, had to be treated with strong chemicals in order to be usable. These chemicals, in turn, would become saturated themselves with iron, requiring monitoring. If you waited too long to replace them, you might find that your laundry, instead of becoming clean, had acquired a deep red-brown permanent stain.

    Eventually an ancient natural gas well that supplied the house with gas for heating and cooking simply ran out of gas. So we had to arrange for the local gas company to install a brand new gas line to the place. (It had never had a “gas company” gas line!) What’s more, those torrential rains that kept those beautiful hills green finally resulted in leaks in the roof and foundation that had to be repaired by specialists.  And there were many other chores large and small that our ownership of the place had earned us.

    After a few years of this split-home-base lifestyle, we started to realize that we were living in constant home maintenance mode, no matter where we were. Since each house stood exposed to the elements all year long, each gradually developed issues that had to be urgently attended to during our part-time stays there. (We typically spent about 6 months in each place, while the other, empty place simply stood there baking in the sun or hunkered down in the wet or frozen precipitation.)

    Everything You Own Owns You Back!

    One day, as I was shopping for the supplies for still another home maintenance chore, I began to feel particularly weary of this maintenance-intense lifestyle. In fact, I felt downright claustrophobic!  Trapped by all the stuff I owned!  It was at that moment that I heard these words bubble up through my consciousness: “Everything you own, owns you back!”

    WOW!! What an epiphany!  I shook my head in disgust and mumbled, “You can say that again, brother!” Every thing I owned was revealing its own maintenance demands. Everything – all those plumbing fixtures and walls and ceilings and heating units and roof shingles and rain gutters and electronics and appliances and gas lines and electric lines and landscaping elements — even the tools to do the fixing– all this stuff was consuming me with maintenance demands!  Everything I owned absolutely owned me back!

    I felt like Gulliver on the beach in Lilliput. But instead of Lilliputians staking me to the sand, I was crushed by all these things, each with its little rope attached to me, nailing down my psyche and my time and my effort.

    It was then that I experienced a huge shift in my consciousness. I could no longer count these things among my blessings. Instead, they had all become burdens. Discussing this with my wife, I discovered that she was feeling the same way. And before long we sold that second home in the country and experienced our first California winter in more than two decades absolutely free from the worry of freezing pipes back East. And this was followed by a CA spring and summer that were free of the fear of Eastern thunderstorms and tornadoes and undone maintenance chores. We were free!

    The Lesson Learned: Acquire with Care!

    Two decades of split-home living taught me a lesson I now know deep in my bones: I absolutely must be conscious of everything I acquire, as I acquire it, since everything has the potential to extend its tentacles deep into my peace of mind and suck the life out of my life!

    Think about it: If you’re a responsible adult, you honor your commitments whether they are to simply maintain the stuff you own or follow through with a new process you’ve just set up and agreed to use. Some examples: You have a car, you take it in for maintenance, check the oil regularly, make sure you have enough gas to get where you need to go. You have a lawn, you mow it, edge it, maybe even weed it once in a while. You have a dog, you walk it and pick up its waste. You tell your team you’ll do weekly project status reports, you do your best to prepare and distribute them, even when you don’t feel like it. You commit to a Project Post Mortem, you take the time to organize it and execute it and prepare that Lessons Learned report, even though everyone is thoroughly sick of the project and just wants to move on!

    The point is that responsible adults feel the pull of commitment from everything they own, everyone they agree to serve and every process or tool they agree to use. All these things acquire “mind share” and a certain amount of effort in maintenance. In short, the relationship with any acquisition is reciprocal!  It may give you something, but you will be giving something in return, even if it’s just a little of your peace of mind.

    So the next time you are about to buy something or commit to use a new process or develop a new business relationship with someone, step back and ask these four questions:

    1. What is the purpose of this?
    2. How much effort will it take to maintain?
    3. Is this worthwhile? (Will there be a large enough return?)
    4. How much energy will this pull from my creativity, my peace of mind, my family and the quality of my other efforts?

    Then think carefully about your answers to these questions. And commit to your acquisition cautiously. After all, ultimately everything you own owns you back!

    ====== Other Articles/Podcasts You Might Enjoy ========

     

  • Apr 28

    Image: Authority & Responsibility in Balance (scales)Remember the first time you were trusted — truly trusted — to act on behalf of someone? Maybe it was babysitting your kid brother so your parents could have that special night out or taking care of your aunt’s favorite plants and her beloved old dog while she went on vacation.  You know the kind of trust I’m talking about: the kind that weighs on you a little and causes you to take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I can do this! This is really important and I can do this!” Remember what that felt like the first time you experienced it?

    That kind of trust can be a powerful motivator. And it can be even more compelling when it’s accompanied by the full authority– money, tools, decision-making power — to take action.  Feeling the responsiblity for handling an important job and knowing you have the authority to make things happen somehow helps you stand a little taller and strengthens your resolve to do great work — to prove that the trust isn’t misplaced. So, in the end, trusting people completely can inspire them to do their best.

    So You Say You Trust Me? Prove It!

    To clarify, it’s not enough for you to say, “I trust you to do this job” and then withhold meaningful authority by requiring me to ask your permission to make simple decisions or by forcing me to beg for resources to get the job done. No. If you really trust me to do the job, then you’ll give me the full authority (decision-making power, money, tools, people, etc.) that enables me to do it. By granting me this breadth of authority, you prove that you trust me. And, given that proof, I will be more likely to work hard to ensure that your trust hasn’t been misplaced.

    This balance between authority and responsibility is an important component of all sorts of human relationships. When we strive for and maintain this balance, we ultimately prove that we respect the dignity of those whom we’ve tasked with doing a job. In ethical terms, getting this balance right is simply the fair and decent thing to do!  Whether the work to be done is within the context of your family, a formal work team in an organization or society at large, it’s critical to achieve. This little video illustrates:

    Greer’s Challenges

    The questions below can help you make practical use of these ideas.

    Reflections

    Reflect on these questions:

    • Are you conscious of the authority/responsibility balance when you assign work to team members?
    • Do you have enough authority to do all the chores assigned to you? (If not, how might you get this authority?)
    • What specific actions could you take on behalf of your project team or yourself to better balance the authority and responsibilities of everyone working on your projects?
    Team Challenges 

    Ask your team:

    • Do you feel adequately empowered to do the work assigned to you? (If not, what additional power or resources do you need?)
    • Do you recall any specific situations in which you lacked adequate authority (resources or power) to do your job? (If so, what can we do to prevent this from happening again?)
    Project Manager Challenges 
    • Make certain that everyone on your project team has the power to get and use all the resources they need to do their assigned tasks.
    • Make certain that everyone on your project team has the power to make all the routine decisions necessary to keep from getting “stuck.”
    • Make sure you don’t micromanage your team.
    • If you are currently being micromanaged by your senior managers or don’t have enough authority to make key decisions to keep your project moving or lack the resources (people, tools, money, etc) to get good results, then resolve to do what you need to do (have that “tough talk” or confront that difficult senior manager) and get your authority and responsibility in balance!

    Learn More…

    Check out these related Inspired Project Teams posts/podcasts:

  • Mar 28

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt is from "Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy" in The Project Management Minimalist]

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Everybody knows you need to do these things, right? But here are some reminders why they’re so important.

    “All nighters” generally don’t work. How many times have you heard about someone studying all night for an important test, only to show up at school, “go blank,” and then blow the test? The two pictures below show why that happens.

    neurons-firing

    The image on the left represents a properly firing neuron in the brain, complete with an efficient electro-chemical exchange that permits good thinking. The picture on the right represents a neuron that’s clogged by accumulated waste products. This neuron is unable to work properly. It’s owner may think of himself as a hero-workaholic, sitting for hours and hours on end at his computer. But his brain is full of waste products and there’s no way he’s really thinking clearly. So he’s not doing anyone any favors by working too long without rest.

    These waste products can only be cleared by two things: 1) Rest… allowing blood flow to take away all the crud and bring in fresh chemicals for proper firing, and 2) nutrients that provide those fresh chemicals. The moral of the story: You gotta get enough rest and allow your brain to clear/replenish its chemicals if you want to be effective.

    But don’t take my word for it. Here are some quotes by a couple of guys who’ve spent their careers researching the topic of peak performance among athletes, business people, and others:

     “… our capacity to be fully engaged depends on our ability to periodically disengage.”

     “[Periodization is] maximizing performance by alternating periods of activity with periods of rest… ‘work-rest’ ratios lie at the heart of periodization, a training method used by elite athletes throughout the world.”

    —  Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, in The Power of Full Engagement

      Then there’s this from Evan Robinson’s review of research on working in “crunch mode:”

    “Productivity starts to go down each day after 4 – 6 hours of continuous work. After enough hours, productivity goes to zero or may even become negative due to extra errors & mistakes.”

    Evan Robinson, Why Crunch Mode Doesn’t Work: 6 Lessons http://archives.igda.org/articles/erobinson_crunch.php

    And finally, Loehr and Schwartz remind us of the value of drinking enough water:

    “… research suggests that drinking at least sixty-four ounces of water at intervals throughout the day serves performance in a range of important ways.. Inadequate hydration …. compromises concentration and coordination.”

    —  Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement

     So c’mon. You know better!  Make sure you get enough sleep, rest, and water.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt was from "Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy" in The Project Management Minimalist]

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    Go deeper! Check Out These Articles:

  • Feb 27

    Realtor selling house with modelOne of the toughest, but most mission-critical, responsibilities of a project manager is to get people excited about the project before there is anything to show. We ask potential champions to engage and connect with something that isn’t yet real — something that exists as a concept only. Once they “buy in” and become enthusiastic, they can rally the support of their colleagues, help to pull together project funding and open the doors to key SMEs and gatekeepers. But how can we inspire support for a non-existent finished product?

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Jan 29

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt is from "Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy" in The Project Management Minimalist]

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    “… the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.”

    - Dr. Martin Seligman in Authentic Happiness

    Seligman, former head of the American Psychological Association and founder of the positive psychology movement and science of happiness, has conducted substantial research on the topic of signature strengths and how they relate to happiness and success. His findings: When you identify and use your signature strengths as often as you can, particularly in your work, you will be more likely to be happy and successful.

    Here are four things you can do to leverage your signature strengths:

    • Go to Seligman’s Authentic Happiness website
      ( http://www.authentichappiness.org ), sign up for free membership, and complete the VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire.
    • Think about your Signature Strengths and think about the kinds of things people do in your organization.
    • Volunteer to do small chores that use your Signature Strengths.
    • Volunteer for entire projects that use your Signature Strengths.

    And remember: If you can’t always use your Signature Strengths at your workplace, you might want to volunteer at a local non-profit or charity that could use your talents. Not only will you be making the world a better place, but there’s clinical evidence to show that you’ll probably be happier!

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt was from "Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy" in The Project Management Minimalist]

  • Dec 27

    Images from "Forgive Them..." & "Meditation Fact Sheet" posts

    In case you missed them, here the five blog posts I wrote for this website in 2013 that meant the most to me. And even if you’ve already seen them, they may be worth a second look. Happy New Year!

    Bonus… A Freebie!

  • Dec 9

    PM-Flashblog-Cropped-Cover-Art

    Could you use a little PM sermon to help motivate you and your team? Then you gotta get this free e-book!

    On September 25th at 0100 hours GMT project management (PM) bloggers from all over the planet published blog posts to answer this question: “What does project management mean to me? (a project manager’s sermon).”

    Conceived by Australian PM expert Shim Marom, publisher of the quantmleap blog, this #PMFlashBlog was the first-ever world-wide synchronized PM publishing effort.

    Henny Portman, a #PMFlashBlogger from the Netherlands, created this infographic illustrating the true global distribution of the authors:

    Image: Henny Portman's #PMFlashBlog author location infographic

    Allen Ruddock, Director of UK-based ARRA Management Ltd., took on the challenge of collecting, compiling and creating an e-book from all the #PMFlashBlog blog posts published. (Check out Allen’s upcoming webinar “3 Biggest PM mistakes…”)

    The result of all this hard work was a powerful collection of heart-felt (and sometimes humorous!) blog posts that will help you discover the true meaning of PM as seen through the eyes of PM experts and practitioners from all over the world.

    === Other Free e-Books & PM Freebies ===

    === Other Articles You Might Like ===

  • Nov 21

    [Link image: This is a sample from PM Minimalist]

    [This book excerpt is from "Taking Care of Yourself:  Managing Your Priorities, Time, & Energy" in The Project Management Minimalist]

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

    “Interruption is the enemy of productivity…Those taps on the shoulder and little impromptu get-togethers may seem harmless, but they’re actually corrosive to productivity. Interruption is not collaboration, it’s just interruption. [These] break your work day into a series of ‘work moments.’”  — Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson in Rework: A Better, Easier Way to Succeed in Business

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Oct 25

    Last month Shim Marom, who publishes the quantmleap blog (which he calls a “Collection of thoughts about project management and other important things”) challenged bloggers from all over the planet to step up on their podiums and share their “sermon” with the world in answer to this question:  “What Does Project Management Mean to Me.”  What’s more, in a fun twist on the assignment, Shim asked these bloggers to synchronize their blog posts so they would all be blasted out at the exact same moment on September 25!  In short, Shim organized a #pmFlashBlog!  

    The result? 70 (yep, seventy!!) blogs simultaneously issued forth words of wisdom from their creators as each alternately struggled to find and then joyfully share their “meaning of project management.”  Below are a few samples from the #pmFlashBlog world-wide event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Subscribe @ iTunes Michael Greer's Profile
Michael Greer's Facebook profile
    follow me on Twitter
    The PM Minimalist Collection