What gets in the way of you and your coworkers accomplishing your goals and objectives? Are technical issues or attitude and relationship issues the most likely causes of project dysfunction?
Spiritual and emotional intelligence and methods, like mindfulness meditation, that enable increased awareness and practical action are means to optimal performance.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ghandi: “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” It is so easy to blame others and think that we cannot make a difference. If we would give in to that thought, nothing would change. We probably would still be hunters and gatherers.
Changing our Mindset
In the highly interactive leadership workshops I provide for Japanese corporations, there is an exercise where I hold an object at shoulder height above the ground and let it drop to the floor. I then ask the participants, “What caused the object to drop?” The overwhelming response is “gravity” which of course is a potential answer. After some encouragement, someone will softly say “you,” which is the answer I am looking for. Gravity is a force we have to live with and cannot change. The real reason, however, the object drops is because I let it go. Only after I let go, can gravity do its work.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis is regarded by many as a seminal text in the use of statistical performance analysis within the world of professional sports. In Moneyball, Lewis focuses on American baseball. He describes how the Oakland Athletics baseball team utilized the data-rich sport to enhance its performance and, subsequently, other areas such as player recruitment. This book and the associated film starring Brad Pitt have been reviewed on by various critics and has garnered favourable reviews from statisticians and non-statisticians alike.
We all take it for granted that we will be interfacing with computer technology when managing a project. After all, every PMBOK® Guide knowledge and domain area interfaces with computer technology. Most people simply are not appreciative of the tools they have today because, rightly so, we seem to focus on what lies ahead. But for a moment, let's walk down memory lane.
Interview with John Furlong, CEO of Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games By Roving allPM Reporter, George Bridges, PMP
Article reprinted with permission from Project Management Institute, Inc., March 2011 PM Network magazine
With the global influx of government stimulus money, there has been no shortage of publicly funded megaprojects. The blitz of multi-year, ultra-expensive endeavors all came wrapped in promises to spur growth, create jobs and extend urban infrastructure.
If they succeed, that is.
And that’s looking like an awfully big “if,” judging by some recent spectacular government-funded flameouts.
The United States heralded the US$8.7 billion project to build a tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City as the country’s largest public works project. It was awarded more than US$3 billion in federal funds at a time when President Barack Obama’s administration has made infrastructure spending a cornerstone of its economic stimulus efforts. Yet despite entreaties from his administration and offers of additional funds, the much-hyped megaproject was shut down by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in response to predictions that the final price tag would run US$5 billion over budget.
The definition of a mega project will depend on one’s perspective and experience. According to Wikipedia, Megaprojects are typically defined as costing more than US $1 billion and attracting a lot of public attention because of substantial impacts on communities, the environment, and on organizational budgets. The term mega may actually have different definitions, depending on the financial capabilities of an organization. The word Mega, as we know it, comes from the Greek word megas, meaning large or great. Depending on your organization, mega could be applied to many types of projects. If you are moving a large group of people from one location to another and the move involves construction of a new facility, all of the utilities, and satisfying the needs of multiple functional groups, that could be considered a mega project. Let’s just say that mega projects, regardless of how you define them, require some “mega thinking.”
The rapid increase in technological capability, particularly in the realm of communications, is changing our world and how its business is conducted. At the same time, these changes are adding complexities to projects, large and small, in ways that were not foreseen even three or four decades ago. Not terribly long ago, most projects were done locally (with some notable exceptions proving the rule) – teams were co-located, the project manager had regular and direct access to project team members and most of the other stakeholders, team members worked in one or two shifts, and communications were face-to-face. Today, project managers and directors, even those managing relatively small efforts, face a significantly different project environment. Communications are frequently done virtually; access to global resources allows project work to take place around the clock. The rapidity of technological change places additional burdens on the project manager and their project teams as they try to ensure that their project’s product can provide business value in a changing business environment. In large or mega-projects, complexities are logarithmically compounded.
It is easy to see a large, complex project and become overwhelmed. I am reminded of the recent Dallas Cowboy Stadium that was built near my mother-in-law’s house a few years back and hearing the program manager who led the effort talk about how he successfully manages a megaproject. Basically, it breaks down to a few major concepts: find the best fitting team, let the experts do their best work, and automate as much tracking and reporting as possible. These concepts were keys to my success leading a megaproject for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for many years and although that size pales in comparison to a $5 Billion dollar football stadium, the same concepts scale. The project for the IRS was the development and maintenance of a software program, the 13K+ revenue agents and the large automated batch mainframe processing systems used to calculate, assess, correct, audit, and report on taxpayers. These systems would collect more than $1 Billion in additional revenue for the U.S. government each year, were made up of millions of lines of code, and interacted with dozens of other internal IRS systems. This software was considered mission critical for the IRS and would help them make or break their annual compliance goals, which might bring unwanted attention from Congress or high ranking officials.
Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project – A Landmark Healthcare Mega Project in the Middle East. By Mohamed Khalifa Hassan PMP, PgMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, MCTS
Named after the late Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah a landmark hospital construction project, is underway in the State of Kuwait. In a region which boasts of many record-setting structures including Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world), the Kuwaiti government is keen to optimize the utility and lustre of its development projects. It is actively investing in projects aimed at developing world class facilities which maximize welfare services, both for its rapidly growing population as well as visitors. Once in service, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital will be the largest, most modern and well equipped healthcare facility in the Middle East.