According to me, me, me



Hello All, I’m back with some Happy Project Management thoughts, again, my usual disclaimer, I’m not a bitter guy, I just notice a lot of stuff, specially things we should avoid if we want to be Happy Project Managers, which I think, it’s a target for us all.


“According to me”, well, the phrase speaks for itself, there’s plenty of people around whose stubbornness will do nothing but drag them down, or worse, drag you down with them, or worst, drag yourself down alone. Who is stupid enough to act as their own advocate, or even worse, their own judge? How many times have you realized people loves the sound of their voice, so much that , “according to them” things should be always be happening in different way (their way). And there’s when you must make a decision. Will you spend your energy trying to help and hence, fighting this person, will you submit to this person or will you get the hell out of there?

These people will often deprecate, distrust, diminish and even negate or ignore well established practices, tools, ways of working, methodologies, or certifications.

I’m sure you all will agree with me, there’s no universal way of managing projects, Agile is pretty much in vogue these days and you will see many memes around, I will post on Agile later, that’s a whole hilarious buzzword these days.

“I speak enough English, I don’t need the TOEFL, people should make an effort to understand me” instead of “Honestly, I should take further lessons, study and pass the TOEFL”

“I really hate MS project, it sucks” instead of “Honestly, I don’t know how to use it”

“I don’t see any value on getting the PMP, CISSP, etc certification” instead of “Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be able to pass the test”

“I think we all should be Agile” instead of “Honestly, I really don’t know nor have the slightest idea of what Agile means, we should pursue training and a certification”

Sounds familiar? I realize how often people deprecate things with these kind of phrases with just the intention of proving that they way is better, just because they are lazy, stubborn or even ignorant.

Well, don’t be like that, you’re not as cool as you think, you are not as smart as you think. According to me, you need to get someone to validate how cool and smart you are, get a third party, a formal institution or company to prove it. Get the proper training, certifications or credentials. Well, that’s only according to me anyways. TTYL.

Just do as you’re told

14f0591a327bee47978df4c3f00cdfa4I’ll start this blog with a disclaimer: I’m really not a bitter guy (Blink). Maybe I am, but just enough to have some balance in my life so I can become a Happy Project Manager, bad vibes are good sometimes. Venting off is good also, as long as you don’t do it in an email. You can vent off in a blog that maybe nobody will read (Blink again). Your PM life won’t ever be perfect or as you thought it would be when you started thinking about being a PM.

I had a manager once, he said “I want thinking people, not lemmings”. Then I recalled that sweet PC game of the 90s, but that’s another story.

I totally agreed with this guy, I like to assume I’m working with intelligent, proactive, creative and inventive people in the team; and I like to think as myself as one of them. But then again, are you supposed to have good ideas or execute them? Maybe you’re just supposed to execute ideas, either they are good or not. Bummer, that will be most of the cases. Unless you are a creative Director of some sorts like Don Draper, which in that case, what the hell are you doing reading this blog?

Bad news, PMs are not supposed to be creative, that’s someone else’s job. You have to execute and make sure others execute regardless of how good the idea is. Maybe sometimes I have very good ideas, but then I realized good ideas are like jokes, there will be people that will simply won’t get them. Why? Well, there’s no such formula to create a good joke, there are many variables at stake. You could have a great joke, but your audience might be a total let down. Then you can have a terrible joke, but your drunk audience will cheer up and laugh out loud. You might be just a really funny guy, and you create jokes on the fly and people will laugh for hours. Maybe you´re trying too much to be funny and you’re not. Maybe you are not funny, you have a terrible joke, but you are the boss and people will laugh loudly, for sure. Do you know any funny PM’s? I don’t.

-Make a proposal, share your ideas, how do you want to do this?

-Yes Sir, I have a very good idea, we could …

-Yes, it’s good, but not that good. In fact, it sucks. Just do as you’re told

You see?  Looks like your joke was not that good, because it really did not satisfy the ultimate purpose, which was to make your sponsor/boss/customer/spouse laugh. I know,  you were very sure it was good and made sense to you, you even told the joke to other people before and some of them even laughed. I’m sure you were laughing to yourself like an idiot and eager to tell the joke, thinking “this is a good joke”. But no, it was not funny. Just do as you’re told.


Don’t brag about your accomplishments

Captura2Hey there, just getting back to this blogging stuff. Looks like I had an inspirational crisis, then I took a look at the stats on my blog and realized I had plenty of visits last month. So, I want to go back and share some funny experiences about Happy Project Management. This time I will talk about bragging about the things you’ve done.

Recently, our project team was publicly recognized for a great accomplishment in a project that made a huge difference for one of our biggest customers. This publication brought joy and happiness to all. This accomplishment was published and it followed a series of happy events during the current year, but I’ll talk about all those later, since I don’t like bragging.

Let me tell you; this project was really painful, it burned a couple of guys down, from both our team and the customer’s team. But eventually, we were able to save it not once, but twice. And it looks like we’ll be around for some time. Cheers!

I thanked the team, we congratulated each other and enjoyed these milliseconds of joy. Well, at least the few of us that were still standing and were still part of the project, we lost some soldiers along the battle. At the end, this moment was bittersweet. Why? Because most of the people have issues enjoying accomplishments, moments of happiness, and even closing deals. We are not used to success, we feel uncomfortable and awkward when this happens, our mind is prepared to deal with failure, but not with success. Specially when managing projects, we tend to remember those awry projects more often than the good ones. Take a look at these conversations I’m sure you have often:

-Hey, do you remember the eagle project?

-I hated that project, it was really bad

-Hey, do you remember the gray project? We finished on time, very few problems…

-Not really… what was it about?

People enjoy being bitter, believe me, they do. Always. They like to know things are going bad so they can blame on somebody, so they can steal the thunder of your milliseconds of Joy, so they can remind you later how bad your other projects are. Well, the bad news is that you won’t be able to change this mindset, you rarely will get warmth words, so, don’t expect them. Just be sure to take some time (two milliseconds) and enjoy your accomplishments, just don’t brag about them. And be prepared for everybody to forget about it.

Don’t brag about your accomplishments, just be sure everybody knows about them.

TTYL, Leave your comments, follow me on twitter @luishectordiaz to read short thoughts and #PMPhrases

Don’t trust anybody

CapturaI’m a movie enthusiast. I’m sure most of the movies I see end up being bad ones. But I still think we can gather experiences for Happy Project Management. It’s 1989, Lock Up, a Sylvester Stallone vehicle about him trying to purge the last few months of his conviction. Eventually he leads a small group of misfits and starts working on a couple of “projects” together, one of them was rebuilding a ’65 Mustang owned by the prison and the other one was the actual prison break.

One of the project team members told Stallone that there’s only one rule: DTA, “Don’t trust anybody”. Another project member was so committed to the Mustang project, that at some point he started thinking that the he would own the Mustang instead of just delivering it. Let me tell you, (spoilers ahead) that both projects failed. The prison break was frustrated by the DTA guy himself. The Mustang project was delivered on time but was destroyed by the prison guards, the Mustang guy died.

Our PM (Stallone) failed. He did not listen to the DTA guy, he should have kept a closer eye on him, and everyone else. The PM also failed telling the Mustang guy he was NOT the customer. Our PM failed on understanding the customer needs, the prison guards did not want the Mustang to be rebuilt. Bummer.

We all have DTA guys in our teams, in our projects, everywhere. And they exercise everyday, they don’t trust you or any of the project team members. They will be questioning you and finding ways to sabotage the project. And they will do backstabbing at every chance and listen to other DTA guys, they detect each other. I’m also sure we all have seen Mustang guys in our teams, thinking they own the project, that they know what the customer wants and that their needs are more important than the customers’. They even think they are the customer. They are also telling you everyday that your project sucks because they are not happy.

Well, at the end, they are all wrong, do you want to be a Happy Project Manager?

-Trust your team mates, but keep a close eye on them, make them feel confident and they will deliver, be confident yourself that they will deliver. And if they won’t, make sure you’ll know ahead and that they come clean about delays.

-If you are not the customer, be sure that you don’t put your needs over the customers’, and make sure none of your team mates do.

About the DTA and Mustang guys, you will never get rid of them. Bummer.


Nobody will read your meeting minutes

shred-icon2Hello. Today, I’m resuming my stranded blogger activity. I will address the debated “meeting minutes” subject today and how they can help us in Happy Project Management. I have worked for many managers, customers, sponsors, project teams and using many flavors of methodologies, but hang on, we’ll talk about PM methodologies in a future blog.

Meeting minutes. PMI says this is push communication. There’s not a consensus about meeting minutes (layout, frequency,etc ) as long as you write them and of course, publish them. Some time ago, I used to generate extensive and detailed minutes until one day my boss called me and asked me “man, are you sure somebody is actually reading your minutes? how much feedback are you getting?” Then I realized that on weekly status meetings, even on large projects with large audiences (18 people) only 5 people replied to my emails making comments on a monthly basis, roughly 7% of total possible feedback. Why? At that particular time I was working for a large organization in an even larger company, most of the technical leaders and key members where handling an average of 8 concurrent projects besides their regular operation. That means that they were already spending at least 16 hours in project meetings. Do yo think they wanted to spend more time reading an extensive and exhausting document? Is not that they didn’t want to, it was a burden on their already over allocated agendas. I reckon I skipped reading them sometimes. Then I went through a couple of old minutes and I opened the can of worms. The most common issue was misspellings, tons of them; then I found no list of attendees, dates, agreements, action items, issues. That means that nobody was reading them, nobody was paying attention.

So, should you send scarcer, briefer, shorter minutes or with less frequency? Is that going to save 30 minutes of your time and make you a happy Project Manager? Should you say “well, nothing happened in the meeting, so, I won’t send a minute, I’ll save some time”.

No way, never. I can assure you that not writing and sending  a minute will come back and haunt you at some point. You must not stop sending them, always send them after every single meeting, call or small agreement you make. If nothing happened in the meeting, be sure to make a minute that says who attended, who did not and that really “nothing” happened on that meeting. I guarantee this will save your ass and make you a Happy Project Manager. When somebody comes back, yell at you and complain, you will be able to tell them: “Did you read the minute? You should have…” 

Nobody will read your meeting minutes, but be sure to send them.