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Project Managers: Are You Looking for a Red Herring?

Project Managers: Are You Looking for a Red Herring?
By Ammar W. Mango

Here is a picture to help you find it. For those not familiar with the term, a red herring does not exist, except in someone’s imagination. This is why in business lingo, when someone says, for example, that “throw him a red herring,” it means that ask him for something that does not exist and impossible to achieve. Usually the request is made for a few reasons:

  1. to use you as a free resource.
  2. to get you busy and keep you away hunting for the impossible.

  3. to prove that you are incapable of getting the job done.

  4. to try to get you to achieve something that is almost impossible.

It is not only customers that ask for red herrings in the workplace. Managers do this to their subordinates quite often. Professionals even do this to themselves.

To demonstrate, here is a personal example: A long time ago, a friend called me urgently, telling me that he has a great opportunity that he wants to pull me in on. Read the Complete Article

Profound “Aha’s” and “Duhhh’s”

Profound “Aha’s” and “Duhhh’s”
By Ammar W. Mango

Project Management practitioners call them lessons learned. These are lessons from things gone right and things gone not so right on the project. It is easy to talk about things gone right but not the more important lessons; opportunities for improvement, or what some call mistakes.

I want to leave dry Project Management Lingo and stick to what happens in real life. In reality, lessons learned are broken down into two categories: Ahaaa’s and Duhhh’s. Aha moments are those of discovery and learning. Usually they have to be profound to provoke an Ahaaa! the longer the “aaaa” part the more profound the experience. Then there are “duh” moments. These are not as welcomed. They usually are statements made by others when we finally see what is supposed to be an obvious basic fact. These are profound, but we do not know that when we make the mistakes. Read the Complete Article

1+2=Business Success: An Empirical Business Success Formula – If There Ever Could Be One!

1+2=Business Success: An Empirical Business Success Formula – If There Ever Could Be One!
By Ammar W. Mango

Have you been to a crowded restaurant and noticed the place next door completely empty? When I see this, I try to guess what is the difference between the two; why is one seemingly successful but not the other?

I have had my share of successful and not so successful ventures, and as a consultant, I have also consulted to both types. It seems like there is an empirical formula of some sort at play when it comes to which businesses make it and which ones do not. I call it the 1+2=Business Success formula. It goes like this:

There are three key elements to business success. “1” of the elements is not like the other 2 this is why it is called the “1+2″ formula.

The element that is different and held separate is God’s guidance. Read the Complete Article

Three Dangerous Routes and a Proposed Safe Route for Dealing with Conflict

Three Dangerous Routes and a Proposed Safe Route for Dealing with Conflict
By Ammar W. Mango

There are dangerous yet tempting routes many take in conflict resolution. Here are three dangerous routes to avoid:

  1. Immediately be biased to your side of the issue. For example: if I am a supplier team member and there is a conflict between the client and the supplier, I immediately start looking selectively for facts that support the supplier’s point of view. Same happens if I am on the client side. Both sides of course feel justified in what they are doing as they need to protect their interests. Long term, the interests of both sides are served when a fair resolution is reached, regardless whether supplier or client is at fault. This is not theory, this is reality proven from what happens in real life. If a supplier is known to take a defensive position and to point fingers to client regardless if he is at fault or not, then he will become long-term out of favor with clients and will gain a bad reputation.
Read the Complete Article

Social Responsibility, Again

Social Responsibility, Again
By Ammar W. Mango

It is dangerous when social responsibility becomes an occasional task that we get over with; like a charity dinner, a charitable donation, or a volunteer job. With this type of definition, companies and individuals feel they have a carte blanche to be irresponsible socially in how they deal in business. Is this becoming a trend? And if yes, what is the solution? And what is my role as an individual to reverse this mentality?

We all hear the complaint about corporate responsibility statements, where companies say something and do the exact opposite. One such global company I dealt with has in their published statement the following: “We have a responsibility to be an active member of the communities in which we live and work.” I had a phone interview with their HR manager about a year ago, about a capacity building project in one of their middle eastern locations. Read the Complete Article

Eleven Project Managers You Do Not Want on Your Project

Eleven Project Managers You Do Not Want on Your Project
By Ammar W. Mango

A good Project Manager is key to project success. We all know of stories of good project managers who were able to succeed in leading very tough projects, and unfortunately some not so good project managers who messed up rather straightforward ones.

I put together a list of eleven types of project manager behaviors that you need to keep an eye on as they might be detrimental to project health. Here they are in no particular order:

The absent managers: Their hearts are somewhere else, not in the job. The project is a way to get a paycheck. The main goal is to stay employed but not to do anything spectacular. It is just another job for them.

  • The Schedule lovers: All they see in the project is the schedule and tasks and the dates, and the assignments, but not the reality of the situation and not the big picture.

  • Read the Complete Article

    The Project Stakeholders: The Role vs the Person

    The Project Stakeholders: The Role vs the Person
    By Ammar W. Mango

    Some prefer to look “objectively” at projects that they focus on the roles people play rather than the persons behind the role. The rationale is that by focusing on the role, they stay objective and do not let personal matters play a role in their judgment or interactions. While on the surface this looks great, based on what we were taught about not to take business personally. In reality, there are aspects of business that require a “look” at the personal aspect of the people we are dealing with, and for others to also see us personally. While objectivity is needed and role accountability is key, it is naive and harmful to blind ourselves from the persons we are working with, as persons.

    There is confusion out there between how “not to take things personally,” versus understanding and employing the personal elements to improve chances of project success. Read the Complete Article

    The Quest for the Technical Project Manager

    The Quest for the Technical Project Manager
    By Ammar W. Mango

    It is becoming less common but it is still out there; the demand for the technical project manager. To deny the role would be unrealistic, but to assume that it is all that is needed as far as project management, that would be more unrealistic.

    From experience, and some of you might agree, that a technical project manager cannot work alone, without someone playing the role of the “business” project manager. Usually companies figure that out too late, or even never figure it out, and blame failures on incompetent resources or project managers. The truth is that the main problem is in the attitude of management and how the role of project manager is looked at.

    Some say that the term itself “technical project manager” is counter productive, since a project manager is a project manager, and should take care of business and leave technical to technical. Read the Complete Article

    Organize Projects into Programs and Reap the Rewards of Change

    Organize Projects into Programs and Reap the Rewards of Change
    By Ammar W. Mango

    The area of Program Management is still widely misunderstood. Ironically, it is as old if not older than Project Management. When the 1950’s pioneers started building Project Management models like the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Critical Path Methods (CPM), and Program Evaluation and Review Technique, a program was almost always in mind before the project.

    A program aims at achieving a benefit. So, when a governmental agency undertakes a project to encourage a paperless environment, even if the project is completed successfully, it does not mean that it was able to bring the institution closer to paperless environment. A project is always about specific deliverables, and by definition is completed when its required deliverables are complete. So, who will ensure that these deliverables are used, and that they fulfilled the business need for which it was undertaken? Read the Complete Article

    Why Successful Project Management Is So Illusive

    Why Successful Project Management Is So Illusive
    By Ammar W. Mango

    A lot of what experts say seems like common sense: “Plan well,” “communicate with team,” “manage your stakeholders,” etc etc. All of it seems like the old adage : “Buy low sell high” kind of advice. We all know we need to plan. We all know that communication is important. Yet, in real life, none of that takes place; we do not plan and we do not communicate. So what gives?

    In reality, many of us abuse project management. Every time we have a project, we go about it the same mechanical way of filling the necessary forms with the necessary information, get approval, start work, and collect and report on progress, and handle issues and risks. Yet, the project fails, again. The reason might be that we did all the “mechanical” parts of project management. There is a missing important part: The intelligence. Read the Complete Article

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