Seth Godin on the “New Normal”

We’re getting out from under here so I’m digging through my own stack of stuff.  It has been exceedingly hard to post, but I’ve tried not to skimp on my reading.  That’s the least I can do to stay connected.

I’ve linked to Seth Godin a number of times, and not just because of his marketing chops.  Seth’s best posts tie complex phenomena directly to the choices we make with our personal and professional lives.  His post “The forever recession (and the coming revolution)” challenges us to recognize that much of the angst of the “New Normal” is driven by one’s perspective:

Stressful? Of course it is. No one is trained in how to do this, in how to initiate, to visualize, to solve interesting problems and then deliver. Some see the new work as a hodgepodge of little projects, a pale imitation of a ‘real’ job. Others realize that this is a platform for a kind of art, a far more level playing field in which owning a factory isn’t a birthright for a tiny minority but something that hundreds of millions of people have the chance to do.

If we project managers cannot thrive in the “New Normal”, than no one can.

PM Quote of the Day — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction

Surviving PMO Success — The Process Maturity Trap

One of the unexpected challenges in our PMO journey has been that success can make an enterprise-level PMO appear less relevant.  A PMO must transform its approach to stakeholders or it won’t take full advantage of the improvements it fostered.  One manifestation of the problem unfolds thusly:

  1. An enterprise PMO composed of PM thought leaders executes a PM improvement program that delivers methodology, training, tools, and change management initiatives to its stakeholders (e.g., regional, local, unit PMOs).
  2. Those stakeholders [largely] adopt those initiatives and transform their project operations in significant and measurable ways.
  3. This transformation creates a new set of PM thought leaders, who often surpass the knowledge and hands-on experience of the original enterprise PMO.

The business problem has reversed; the enterprise PMO now becomes the organization that needs to change to reflect the new reality.  Deliverables that were relevant in moving from low maturity processes no longer work with a more sophisticated audience.  This issue is compounded by the difficulty in recognizing the changed environment.  Who wants to admit that he/she is no longer automatically at the vanguard of knowledge? 

In other words, the challenge for a successful enterprise PMO is: “Who will change the change agents?”

PM Quote of the Day — Montaigne

Fame and tranquility can never be bedfellows

PM Quote of the Day — Faith Baldwin

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations

PM Quote of the Day — Nelson Mandela

One of the things I learnt when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself I could not change others

PM Quote of the Day — Leo Tolstoy

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself

PM Quote of the Day — Soren Kierkegaard

Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.

Know exactly what your problem is…

Before we explore the personal transformation theme, I want to introduce my approach.  On my post on Toyota (here), you may have noticed that I included “12 steps” as a tag.   That’s because I plan to use the 12 Steps — the original steps as laid out in the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka, the “Big Book) — to frame some of the challenges in personal change.

Commonly, people refer to the first step in recovery as “knowing one has a problem.” Well, that’s a start, but many of us have difficulty admitting exactly what our problem is.  For example, according to the Big Book, the definition of an alcoholic is straightforward:

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control their drinking.  (Chapter 3, page 30).

Admitting this loss of control is a huge barrier, for if it is a really tough problem, then we likely can’t fully control it. How many of us share the alcoholic’s delusion that control is in reach?  How many times do we try to tweak our circumstances — work more, work less, change companies — instead smashing through that delusion?  Do we see any of our tactics in the litany of methods alcoholics use to try to drink like other people?

Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums… (Chapter 3, page 31)

PM Quote of the Day — Edmund Hillary

It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

Going forward, I’m going to approach the PM Quote of the Day posts more like jottings in a commonplace book (which is where I often note them).  Sometimes I may have something interesting to say.  But unless that “something” comes to mind quickly, I’ll just post the quote.

In 2008, I found myself struggling to come up with a few words to accompany quotes, which stymied posting anything at all.  Stymied no more!

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