Say it with Samples

In last month's post we discussed “Social Learning” and the use of role models as a learning tool. Another excellent way for organizations to speed up the educational process lies in creating “reference samples”. Reference samples are examples of key deliverables that demonstrate what high quality deliverables should look like. Much like a picture says a thousand words a set of good examples encapsulates much more information than can readily be communicated verbally. Examples can capture good p...
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Social Learning

Being something of a Systems Thinker, I often find myself reflecting on events to see if I can understand the cause and effect relationships that drive the outcomes we attain. Working in the field of education, that interest has caused me to look deeply into the way individuals learn and how different modes of teaching achieve different outcomes. When we think about training we typically think in terms of training classes, academic courses and the ubiquitous two day workshop. Despite the prom...
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Externalization

Much like the famous twelve step program used for dealing with substance abuse, a first step in addressing the issues that lead to project failure is a willingness to admit that a problem exists. Facing up to a mistake or being willing to take ownership for events that we feel reflect poorly upon us, is something that many find hard to do. In the political realm that exists whenever human beings interact, there is an inherent fear that an admission of failure will hold forth unimaginable cons...
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Befuddle, Bewilder and Baffle

In the Project Management world, it’s a refrain that is repeated in almost every training program offered around the world; communicate, communicate, communicate. Despite the fact that students of Project Management are told that as much as 80% of a Project Manager’s time is spent communicating, in most Project Management training courses, as little as 5% of the time is dedicated to the topic of communications. Even then, most courses simply expose students to some basics ideas (such as the send...
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Beginner’s Mind

At the recent Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Lisamarie Babik of Menlo Innovations gave an excellent talk entitled “Beginners Mind”. For those not familiar with the expression, the term refers to the open and receptive state of mind that we have when we’re beginners at something. The concept is based on the observation that beginners approach things differently from those who see themselves as experts. Where beginners are receptive to new ideas, try to think...
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The Sink Side of Sink or Swim

Everyone understands that moving from being a “doer” of things to being a “leader” of things can be a difficult transition to make. What gets less attention are the transitions that occur as people move from leadership roles in smaller projects to similar roles in larger projects. A number of troubled projects I’ve recently reviewed have suffered from problems as a result of people moving into roles for which they were poorly prepared. For the purpose of illustrating the types of issues invol...
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