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Sunday, November 29, 2015


     “Every person in this room is in sales,” he said.
     This charismatic guy stood in front, facing a dozen-plus of us middle managers in a smallish organization, a daily newspaper operation.
     He came and stood behind me. He put his hands on my shoulders.
     “Jim, here, shows a lot of promise for sales leadership. He should work at it.”
     What? I tell myself. Hey, man – I’m an editor. I don’t do sales. I do news.
     This sales leadership thing was an alien concept. To all of us.
     Still, the presenter kept at it for two or three 11-hour days. There was no noticeable effect on me – or the guys from production, accounting and other functions who weren’t out there selling ads, subscriptions or news dealerships.
     Not then.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Where Projects Leave the Tracks

    I wonder what the boss was thinking during those first few sessions.
    We were exploring Project Management in response to someone’s concern about the prospects for this fine old company. Its products were large, complex and individually crafted by skilled workers who had been at it for a long time. This was a high-end operation, much admired for quality.
     Its process was very customer-driven, characterized by uncontrolled scope, nonexistent budgeting and loose scheduling. The entire workforce devoted itself to one beautifully crafted product at a time.
     This was very expensive, and otherwise not well suited to a world of rising costs, increasing competition and a marketplace tossed by ever-changing global competition.