Adapting to a Rapidly Changing Environment

With the pace of change being extreme in today’s business world, people who can adapt rapidly are usually the most successful. You can’t afford to lag your competitors.

To be successful with change, you must gain new skills.

Jeff Haden in his article: “How To Master Any Skill (No Talent Required)”, talks about not only applying the hard work to learn a skill but the need to get out there and make mistakes to really master a skill.  Jeff goes on to show several examples about how this works.

You can’t be timid and wait until you master a skill, you need to go ahead and make mistakes.  You need to also learn how to minimize the impact of those mistakes, however.

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The Importance of Selling Yourself

Be it project management, business or consulting, selling yourself is essential.

As a Project Manager, you market confidence. You lead your team, giving them clear direction toward achieving the end goal of the project. You sell confidence to your sponsors, showing them that you know where the project is and where it is going. If an issue comes up, you communicate not only the issue but the contingency and the impact both short and long term.

In your own business, not only are you selling a product but you also are selling the experience. With the interface between you and the customer, it is the relationship that is developed that is critical to get the business long term. If you are using sales people to interface with the customer, you need to establish the overall approach so that the relationship is established and nurtured.

With consulting, you must establish from the beginning that the purpose of the interaction is to solve problems that will add value to the client.

Before the next interaction, think about how you will come across in a positive, helpful, way that will establish a valuable relationship for the customer.

Project Risk Management

Managing risk in any project is not about hoping that something unexpected will not happen or taking actions once something does happen.

Risk planning should occur early in the planning phase, where the project team looks at what might happen and puts risk elimination, monitoring and reaction tasks into the project work plan.

The team should have one or multiple sessions where they use Failure Mode and Effect techniques to identify potential risks.  Each risk should be rated as to the probability of occurring and impact on the project.  The team and the sponsors should agree at what level of probability/impact contingencies and risk reduction activities need to be put into the action plans.  Lean principles say that risk elimination should be designed into the end product from the beginning.  Each project team member needs to include risk monitoring activities into his/her plan, based on the risk management discussions.  Risk should be discussed at every team interaction, where, not only is the current risk profile is updated, but a mini FMEA should be performed to identify any new risks.

Every team member must put risk management at the top of their priority to prevent any unplanned project upsets.

What is Project Management For?

I heard a comment last night: “We use Project Managers to get us out of the &%*## can” .

Project management as practiced by the best is not to get a project out of trouble, but to eliminate the need to rush in and save the day.  Well practiced PM, uses tools, techniques and team problem solving to identify the issues up front, develop contingency plans and monitoring tools to make sure that surprises don’t occur.

The time to enlist the services of a PM is when the project is just a concept.  The PM can then help to develop a solid business case and plan the project for minimum upsets, thus insuring a successful outcome.