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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Deciding to Change

The Personal Productivity Improvement process that is going to succeed must have the beauty of laying out a low-demand approach that can produce major change over time.

I had an invigorating discussion on the Project Management applications of this concept Thursday night with the participants in a program of the Maine chapter of the Project Management Institute. I asked the 30 or so people present to choose (with Lego blocks as ballots) the most important factors among 10 that pertain to management of a typical project.

The election outcome, largely tracking with my experience in this exercise over the years, put Communication, Planning/Task Definition, Teamwork and Goal Coordination among Stakeholders at the top of the list.

And those are pretty much what people have no time for in real-world Projects. They feel they just have to get going, and have no time for Communication, Planning, etc. Their sense of urgency creates a pressure for action without forethought. And this bad habit persists, however many times Projects stumble and fall because of poor decisions about priorities.

Same with life in general. We roll along in unthinking acceptance of the idea that there’s no other way to live. On the contrary, a couple of relatively simple decisions, faithfully executed, can have a marvelous effect in helping you find out what you’ve REALLY decided to do with yourself.

Tune in tomorrow. There’s a practical payoff in it for you.

For a fuller version of this post, click here.


  1. Jim, thank you for your presentation Thursday night at the Maine Chapter of PMI.

    After thinking about your Lego block poll (and I put all my blocks in the communications) and looking at all the other options, they all seem to come down to communications. Goal Coordination is a communications exercise, Planning and Task Definition may not take communications, but it is the communication aspect of the output that is important. Process management is communication and effective problem solving takes communication. Bottom line from my perspective PM is communication and the better you are and the richer your communication is, the better a PM you will be.

    Stephen D Buyze PMP
    Work it UP, Director of Operations

  2. Jim, what you say is true of all team endeavors. Skipping communication destines a project, or even ordinary daily business, to unnecessary re-work at best and failure at worst.

  3. Jim says:

    I can't quarrel with the emphasis on Communication -- but I'm looking for the root causes of Project success or failure. What is it you're communicating? For example: There can be repetitive, unproductive, frustrating communication if the key stakeholders have different expectations for what the Project is supposed to be accomplishing.

    How do the stakeholders arrive at Goal coordination? By Communication, of course. So, while Commmunication is the lifeblood of the Project, it is a support function when compared to a primary factor such as Goal Setting or Task Definition.