When Project Managers plan implementations, they often do not adequately anticipate failure despite the risks associated with any project. Rather, they plan for the best case scenarios driven by the budget, deliverables, sponsor expectations and deadlines. And despite their best efforts at project management, failure rates remain high.
Project implementations can fail for a number of reasons — ranging from unrealistic expectations, poor methodology, poor requirements, inadequate resources, poor project management, untrained teams, unrealistic budgets, to poor communication and more. With such a long list of factors that can lead to failure, the chances of project implementation success seems low. Those chances can be improved by adopting these 5 best practices. These will help establish a clear understanding of expectations among all the stakeholders—be they business, sponsor, project team, to vendor partners and end users.
The entrepreneur Project Manager
Every project manager, during their career, short or long has worked with or heard of some PM who was the absolute best. The one on whose team everyone wanted to be and the one who always managed to deliver the desired results.
Now, every Project Manager knows that being able to scope, budget & schedule projects and being able to guide them through its lifecycle are the average days work. The bare minimum any PM should be capable of.
So, what are the qualities of a Super PM? What does it take to move beyond the ordinary and into the extraordinary?
I believe it is a Mindset. More specifically, the entrepreneurial mindset.
The best PMs have learnt through their experiences that to not just succeed but to exceed, one needs to think beyond just the basics of project management. It is not just enough to know about scheduling, budgeting, subject matter, etc. & somehow push the project through its phases towards its final milestone. These extraordinary PMs have realized that to be really successful, one has to be able to look beyond the mundane & rise beyond the ordinary.
They have adopted the entrepreneurial mindset.
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
A couple of definitions to consider:
a. Entrepreneur is a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk
b. Mindset - a mental attitude or inclination
According to Schumpeter, “the capabilities of innovating, introducing new technologies, increasing efficiency and productivity, or generating new products or services, are characteristic qualities of entrepreneurs”, while Robert B. Reich considers “ leadership, management ability, and team-building to be essential qualities of an entrepreneur”.
In a recent article on entrepreneurship, Dan Schawbel states that “A major shift is taking place, replacing the typical definition of an entrepreneur — “someone who starts a company” — with a newer definition, one based on the innate mindset of a person who sees opportunities and pursues them.”
And, as per the Financial Times, “The entrepreneurial mindset as refers to a specific state of mind which orientates human conduct towards entrepreneurial activities and outcomes. Individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets are often drawn to opportunities, innovation and new value creation.
Characteristics include the ability to take calculated risks and accept the realities of change and uncertainty.”
So, an entrepreneur is a take charge, self directed person who rounds up important resources & services to deliver a product or service to consumers that is of value. Now, while this description can describe any manager, there is one very critical difference between an entrepreneur & a manager. While most managers are very capable & dedicated to their work, only an entrepreneur manager, will consciously & subconsciously, act as if they have personal equity in the initiatives success or failure. It is not “just a job” for them. Entrepreneurs know that they cannot fail and that their failure will lead to the failure of the entire business or initiative.
Similarly, for each & every project, an entrepreneur PM will take extra initiative and considerable to ensure its success. This mindset of “personal ownership” is what sets this type of a PM apart from others. This mindset also drives the PMs efforts towards setting higher standards for performance & achievement. Entrepreneur PMs realize the importance & centrality of their team’s effort & work to deliver great results. They know that while they themselves cannot perform all the tasks & roles on a project, they are ultimately responsible for its success or failure and the impact on its stakeholders.
No project on its own is perfect or the best. There are always risks associated with it. And it is not difficult to assign blame for failure. If one looks for, they can find innumerable reasons such as blame the SMEs, sponsor, budget, the team, etc. to blame for failure.
For the entrepreneur PM though, success is the only way to go forward. They are personally invested in its success. Hence, they are never reactive & don’t accept excuses. They proactively approach each and every project and will demolish every barrier erected in their path. They will do whatever effort is required to find the solutions which will guide the team & project towards success. Their sense of project ownership is always high; innovation is a way of life; their appetite for risk is high and they are always striving for the betterment of the project.
A project is always undertaken to create something new or unique, even if it is a small update. The new product or service cannot be initiated by machines. Not as of now. Hence human resources are the most critical for a project for its success. Entrepreneur PMs know that.
Some common characteristics of entrepreneur PMs:
· Get’s the “big picture”
· Leader & motivator
· Team builder
· Patient (not easily rattled)
· Great listener & communicator
· Strategic & Organized
· Technically sound
· Effective task delegator
Entrepreneur PMs are often not the most technically qualified. In fact, my observation is that often, the most technically qualified & experienced people don’t make the best project managers. Technical competence is important to some extent for project management but not critical. Skills such as being proactive, understanding people and their goals, taking ownership, being able to “get the big picture”, etc. are more crucial for a project’s success.
Entrepreneur PMs are driven professionals who strive to excel and the thought of being able to interact with great minds daily, guiding them and extracting ideas excites them. An entrepreneur PMs mindset is analogous to that of a CEO in that they are always striving on delivering high value to all their stakeholders.
These days project budgets don’t stretch to nice things like bonuses for all team members for when the project completes on time. If the team members don’t work for you then you probably can’t give them a pay rise either. You might not even get enough in the budget left over for a party at the end of the project. Even if you do, you might be hampered by local tax laws that specify how much you can give gifts in lieu of financial amounts, and you could make it harder for people to complete their tax returns by giving any sort of bonus at all.
Common practice on projects is to take people out for a meal or even to a bar for drinks, but if your budget is tight you might have to resort to getting people to pay for themselves, or for you to pay for the first round of drinks, for example. There are other ways to motivate your team without it looking like you are being too stingy.
So, if you can’t motivate people to do a good job with financial incentives, what can you do to ensure they perform well (or to reward people who did perform well)? Here are some ideas.
Grant time off
You might have to check with their line manager, but granting someone time off in lieu of extra hours worked can be a great way to reward project team members who have put in extra hours during a push on a project, or a go live weekend. It’s also worth checking with HR about the policy for this, as you could be setting a precedent, but it is definitely worth considering.
Being ‘allowed’ to go on a training course might not seem like much of a reward. After all, surely this is part of your normal contract of employment with your boss – they should be providing training anyway. But in times like these where extra cash for training is hard to come by, operations managers might not have a training budget. You, on the other hand, could offer developmental activities as part of the project, and then encourage people to try out their new skills. There’s even a process for this in thePMBOK® Guide – Develop Project Team.
BY MARK SANBORN
We live in an age that seeks quick fixes and easy answers. Sometimes leaders abdicate their thinking to others and accept "prevailing wisdom," which is often an oxymoron.
I grew up, like most, accepting many things at face value. It wasn't until I started giving important issues like leadership a second and third thought that I realized I'd been believing what turned out to be some serious leadership myths.
Here are seven leadership lies and why they simply aren't true:
1. "All managers are leaders." Truth: some managers can lead and others don't or cannot. Management is a subset of leadership, not its equivalent.
Managers are good at setting up, monitoring and maintaining systems and processes. They hire people. But if they can't bring out better performance in people and take the organization beyond where it is, they aren't leading.
Leadership always involves change, improvement and growth.
2. "Some are born leaders." Truth: even someone with a predisposition to lead must learn the skills of leadership.
A young person who is 6'6" might have the predisposition to play basketball, but he or she still needs to learn the skills before they can play successfully.
Leadership might be more latent in some than others -- and you can't always tell -- so focus on what is developing someone's behaviors, not their biological background.
A blog combined with twitter & tumblr can be a great marketing resource for a small business. Once you create create compelling content, these services can help you get great visibility. I have heard & read a lot about the power of Wordpress, Blogger, etc. They are all good, no doubt, but from a pure beginners perspective where the goal is just to publish a customized blog in the simplest possible way, I have found that Weebly (www.weebly.com) is one of the best in its simplicity. Once I had my content organized, I was able to put together a website of 6 pages in 2-3 hrs. It is very intuitive, easy to understand and wholly drag & drop. Creating a blog is even simpler, as the template is pretty ready made and you just to start writing. Adding videos & pictures is a breeze as well. If you do need help in any aspects of your business or online marketing, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 443-422-3463.
*I have no referral dealings with Weebly.com. I just like the application.
Demise of the Business Card as we know it??
As an Entrepreneur, Consultant & Business coach, I wear various hats in my work life. Some of the various activities that I do overlap, like as a Coach & Consultant but my role as a start-up has no direct connection to the other roles and I guess quite a few of us face the same scenario. I also attend quite a few networking events as these are important for my work. Having business cards is important for me and for quite some time, as my roles have increased, I have stressed about the right path to reconcile these various roles. I even considered having multiple cards or cramming all the information on one but both those were not very appealing. vCards have existed but they were nothing more than a collection of simple data. And then I discovered CardCloud (www.cardcloud.com) & Dooid (dooid.me) and voila, problem resolved. Having an email today, especially for a professional or business owner is nearly as ubiquitous as using credit / debit card while shopping. CardCloud, is very mobile-centric but also has a web presence, which I find very useful because I, personally finding working on a laptop much more easier than on creating something on a smart-phone. With CardCloud, one can create different business cards which can contain different company, contact and social media details. Now, one can have various cards for their various roles, easily available in the same space. You can upload your logo, picture and almost everything detail that a functional business card contains. When you are at a meeting, convention or conference and need to share your details, choose the profile that you want to share and simply email the information. The application records the details of the person who you shared the information with, when and where. If the person receiving the v-card has the application installed, they can see all the wonderful formatting you have done, else, it is a neatly organized vCard.
Dooid.me is quite different but performs a similar function. This application is more like your personal website with all your details, including social profiles organized in one place. You can choose your own background ala twitter and can also create a bio of yourself and upload a resume if you need to. The webpage is mobile optimized which renders beautifully in an android or iOS mobile device. You cannot have multiple profiles under one page but can choose to select what you want to share with someone. There are a lot of details that a user can make password protected and choose to share on a as needed basis.
I found both of these apps very useful. I tried a few others but did not find them as user friendly or feature rich as these two. That is my personal opinion. I am aware of RFID embedded b-Cards which are more durable and wi-fi enabled so that you can keep those cards (your contacts) updated of any changes that may happen in the future but as I have not personally tested them out, I cannot comment on their usefulness. But from the web apps that I have been using, I feel, that we are seeing the demise of the physical business card as we know it. So, for me, for the time being, GOODBYE physical b-Cards and HELLO feature rich V-Cards.
by Adam Gottlieb (www.frugalentrepreneur.com)
If you are a small business owner or a self-employed professional, and you are reading this post, then you’ve heard (probably numerous times over) that you should be including social media in some way in your marketing. For some of you, you are also hearing that social media should be used in your customer relations.
But beyond this vague knowledge, when it comes to the implementation, many of you are getting it wrong, and you may not realize just how much your social media efforts are actually cutting in to your income when they supposedly should be increasing it.
A Few Words About Where I am Coming From…
The idea for this post has actually been percolating for some time. It all started with a recentinterview I did about content marketing for small businesses working with limited resources. That got the wheels spinning. Then, I wrote a post a few weeks back about why some small businesses should not actively market themselves on location-based social media platforms. Finally, over the past week, I’ve been mulling over a book put together by Danny Iny over at Firepole Marketing called, Engagement from Scratch which offers a ton of insight about how business owners can build a loyal and engaged online audience (a big shout out to Ti Roberts who alerted me to this great free resource.)
I want to start off by saying that I have nothing against social media for business owners. On the contrary, I fully believe that with the right approach, businesses can use various social media platforms to increase sales, improve customer experience, and gain immensely valuable market feedback.
What I do have a problem with is the way these platforms are being thrown at small business owners as the holy grail of accomplishing all the things just mentioned above. And a holy grail social media is not.
Social Media Enhances; It Can’t Create Something From Nothing
There’s a great deal of social media hype out there- a lot of it baseless. I believe that many social media evangelists are playing on the vulnerabilities that small businesses tend to have, such as limited resources, limited experience, and limited reach.
There is also a physiological component here: many small business owners and self employed professionals don’t fully recognize the value that they have to offer their customers and thus are looking for ways to compensate, to add some extra appeal to their offerings. Social media savvy has somehow become this elusive stamp of competence and quality.
The result is that there is a literal movement of businesses and individuals who are going through a lot of hoops, spending a great deal of time and money, and many are technically making all the “right” moves on social media, yet they ultimately end up unsuccessful. For all the success stories out there, we just can’t push under the rug the thousands and thousands of individuals and small businesses and even big businesses, that were unsuccessful in their social media campaigns- regardless of the platform.
Where are they going wrong? The vast majority of the time, I’ve found that it’s a matter of perspective.
Social media at its core is a medium of communication and information sharing. It canenhance what already exists to build something greater, much like binoculars or a microscope can enhance your sight- it can extend your reach, improve your customer response time and effectiveness, help you learn about your customers, and market trends. But we have to get away from this Social Media God complex. Social media alone cannot do all these things and especially not for free. If you’re blind, don’t bother looking through a pair of binoculars…
It boggles my mind how this message can still be promoted.
To the extent that business use these platforms to merely amplify their message and reach, to the extent that they truly understand what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing in our Internet-based world, and to the extent that they truly try to connect to their customers, to address the actual flesh and blood people behind those social media accounts, online purchases, and survey responses, to that extent they will be successful.
Read the rest of the article
www.frugalentrepreneur.com has posts and links to some very economical or free resources that can help entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial PM's alike.