jim@millikenproject.com

jim@millikenproject.com 207-808-8878 Our book "Life is a Project: How are you managing?" is now available!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nothing Soft about Project Skills

    We call them “hard” skills because they have recognizable shape and the appearance of substance.
     By the hard skills standard, thirty years on the job earns you a presumption of competence at whatever the specialty is. BA, MBA, PCE, PMP, licenses and certificates. They all open gates because we take them as proof the holder is good at stuff.
     Now we can place that person, and make assumptions about how much he or she matters.
     While the tangible proofs of professional ability often are the objects of intense personal pride, they also have the aura of objectivity as you present yourself to the world. They are the currency of value in the competency marketplace.
     But “soft” skills, conversely, are private and local, not easy to specify on the resume: “Excellent communicator – strong team worker – known as problem solver. . . .”
     You talking about yourself? Yuck. Doesn’t work, not at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brian Williams, Brady/Belichick & Their Bosses


     It’s hard to be a fan of an executive in the same way we look at top performers like Brian Williams, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

     But once in a while an instructive juxtaposition of events illustrates for us some important issues of high-level leadership.

     This week NBC news anchor Brian Williams is on a very hot seat as NBC investigates allegations that Williams falsely lionized himself in his reports on events during his visits to battlefronts. There is a chorus of demands that he resign.

     Williams anchors the NBC Nightly News, the top-rated evening news program on American television.

     Last week, it was Brady and Belichick of the New England Patriots being boiled in widespread condemnation, accused as cheaters seeking unfair advantage in alleged deflation of footballs. Even Brady’s idol, San Francisco Hall of Famer Joe Montana, jumped on.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Project Lessons Not Learned

     “Milliken left a lot of files. I threw them all out.”
     The speaker was my successor as president of a regional newspaper editor’s association. He was chatting with another person as they walked out of a meeting room, unaware that I was standing nearby.
     I had kept a number of neatly labeled folders, notes of the planning and conduct of projects and activities during my year in the position. The files included a number of possibilities that hadn’t come through in my term, but offered promise for follow-up.
     There were notes on our attempts to recruit major national figures as speakers for our events. Members show up, and participate more enthusiastically, when there is some star power on the programs. It’s worth pursuing big names if you want a dynamic group.
     A couple of prominent people had been favorably disposed, as a matter of fact, but couldn’t make it at that time. Now they would never hear from our organization again, and the spadework was wasted.
     There were other names in those files, phone numbers and notes about member recruitment, development activities and other matters involving potential growth of the organization.
     All of it wound up in the trash at the new president’s place of business.