Wednesday, December 22, 2010

For the Manager Who has Everything.

Sure, you want to give your favorite manager a gift this holiday season. The guy/gal seems to have everything going for him or her. What can you give to add some joy to this person’s life?

Hours of seemingly endless struggle are now over.

Might I suggest a book from Inc. Magazine’s list of The Best Business Books of 2010? A quick review will show 25 books from various management disciplines.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trust in the Gulf -- Boot on the Neck

Department of the Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, made the following statement on CNN: "Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum to carry out the responsibilities they have..."

Salazar's remark has now been widely circulated. How do you think the Secretary's statement affects the level of trust between the administration and BP?

How would you react if your client or a user group spoke to you like that? What if your manager told you that he was going to put his boot on your neck until you fulfill your responsibilities? I wonder whether the administration considered what effect its violent tone would have on the trust of those involved in the solution. Perhaps the administration doesn't believe trust has a part to play in the success of this unfortunate project.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Project: Stop the Oil Leak

Leadership, Ownership, and Trust are extremely important in successful large IT projects. I concluded this after conducting some research a few years ago (see Sacred PM Practices). In the years since, I have looked around to see how these attributes play out on my own projects, and in the world.

America's eyes are focused on the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spill. The stopping of the leak and cleanup could be considered a project -- it is a temporary effort, there is a beginning, some objectives, and an end. Just for fun, let's call this project, Stop the Oil Leak. During the next few posts, I'd like to share some of my observations of this project, and hope that you will share your own.

On May 27th, President Obama declared, "I am responsible." This would seem to address the attibute, ownership. Once he admitted that, it was clear who is responsible for the success or failure of this project. As an aside, I think BP is the owner of this project, but that probably speaks more of my personal views of accountability, and less of project ownership.

Was this declaration a good move by the White House? Do you believe it relieved the executives and employees of BP? Who do you think owns this project?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Loss to the Consulting Industry

There is sad news out of the consulting world. David Maister, consultant to the consultant, has reached the momentous decision to retire. Dr. Maister has spent the last three decades studying and counseling consulting firms. While I never did get a chance to see him speak in person, I have read his books. Managing the Professional Service Firm was always near at hand while I established my small consulting practice a few years ago. I am confident that his advice kept me from turning down many wrong paths.

For those interested, you can catch a glimpse of him in a few videocasts.

I wish him great success in his well-deserved retirement.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Murder by Numbers

The day before we disembarked from our ship, the cruise director emphasized just how important it is to complete our passenger questionnaires. Apparently, the cruise line's management places a great deal of weight on passengers' responses. Bonuses are decided. Promotions are offered. Staff is terminated. This cruise director even directed us to rate a feature as Exceeded Expectations when it didn't necessarily. After all, "the numeric rating for Exceeded Expectations is the range 100-75. A score of 75 translates to a grade of C in school. That doesn't seem right." The cruise director's ten-minute monologue was followed up by the same message supplied by the maitre d' after dinner.

I once worked for a company that placed a lot of emphasis on project scorecard ratings. Our San Francisco office always received 100% ratings. When our General Manager investigated this apparent success, clients revealed that the San Francisco Practice Manager was strong-arming the results. If ratings were anything below 100%, the Practice Manager would visit the client and talk the client into 100% scores. Unfortunately, metrics-based performance measures revealed little about the San Francisco office's performance and tended to sour business relationships with its clients.

I am all about performance measures. I believe in the ideal, that which is measured, improves. Gleb Reys' Personal Development blog provides some examples for those who would like to see this in action. However, basing performance solely on customer reviews can negate the customer experience. There must be a balance in the organization among customer/client feedback and other performance attributes. Have you ever seen the proper balance? If so, what does it look like?