The Project Notebook

New Journey to Oz … Results at Last

As a committed, lifelong learner, I try to read a lot of books, particularly as they may apply to management and business. After hearing much about The Secret, I finally obtained a copy a year or so ago. While some of the premise is rooted in modern day physics and string theory, there is an element of “mysticism”. No matter how much I’ve thought positively about it, I’m not able to attract enough wealth to play a significant role in stamping out disease and hunger, or even help an afflicted family member or friend.

In January while in a book store in Washington DC, I tried another book, Bright Sided. While Barbara Ehrenreich has a good point about the over promotion of positive thinking over less emotional analysis and a more balanced view, I finished the book feeling like there was no actionable recommendation.

A few days ago, I heard about the 2004 revised release of The Oz Principle, and find now I can’t put it down. It was originlly released around 1994, but the authors felt an update was required and have a few sequel works to build on the original principle. The principle is accountability, and the need for results by looking within for cause, rather than in the actions of others. The authors suggest this is a great way to build leadership. Its filled with great examples of how accepting accountability can pull us out of the “victim” thinking (its not my fault, I don’t know why this is happening to me, something or someone other than me and my actions made this happen) and achieve postitive results. Some famous examples include Jack Welch, Janet Reno, and Bill Clinton — embracing accountability helped them weather adversity and get results.

I’m still reading and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this book in the future.

GTD for PMs Part V – How to Work with GTD

I thought that in this installment, I would take a look at how to best interact with folks (like me) that like to get things done.

Have a Specific Due Date in Mind

People who like to GTD probably work best with a specific due date. If they are told ASAP, it goes into their queue for prioritization. Preference is generally given to date driven tasks, after which they will do their best at prioritizing. My “plate” is typically so full (family and friends, work, volunteer projects for PMI, etc.) that ASAP tasks will frequently be bumped along.

Have Realistic Multi-tasking Expectations

People who can GTD multi task with the best, but there are just some things that shoulddn’t be expected. Some tasks require more focus — when doing them they won’t be checking email or be on their cell phone. Related to this is driving — I’ve really limited the use of the phone while in the car. Our California freeways are getting too congested for this to be safe. There is an interesting debate on this topic on LinkedIn Answers.

Understand that Innovation and Creativity Take More Time

While working on the Quick Estimating Tool which earned me and my fellow inventors a patent, I was very fortunate to work with folks that understood this. The initial idea came very quick — it was one of those “flashes” — after reviewing the problem and what direction the solution was headed in. This sort of breakthrough doesn’t happen every day. Most of the time, we work very hard get a little creativity. Be sure to provide more slack for creative tasks.

Have Other Realistic Expectations

Its not always possible to squeeze in one more thing, meet unrealistic deadlines, or other unrealistic deliverables. People who get things done generally do not require a lot of external motiviation, so they are usually working hard to meet your needs.

Allow for Planning Time

Perhaps the single most important way to work with folks that are project managers and get things done is to be sure to allow time for planning. My schedule typucally fills up quickly, usually a week or two in advance. If we can schedule work for three or even four weeks out, that is going to assure you will get your deliverable in the timeframe you need.

GTD for PMs – Part IV

You’re pretty good at keeping up with both your project work (more planned, organized and scheduled) as well as other tasks, but every now and then … INCOMING! Unplanned and unscheduled tasks come pouring in. I found a pass, run, or kick strategy works best here.

Delegate or recruit help for as much as you effectively can and where you trust you will be supported. Especially where you trust that the task will be done and will be returned to you in good order when you need it. That helps eliminate items on the list you will need to address for a while.

This may also include saying “no” to some things, but its best to use that 2-letter word sparingly. Better: Say “Yes, but here’s what I will need to do to get this done as you have asked …”. Then ask the requestor to provide the support or resources you need. Negotiate the deadline too.

In any respectable large workload, there are probably more than a few things which require considerable effort to finish. Before your deadlines hit, run as many of these down the field as you can. Do the hard part, but stop short and don’t complete the last 15-30 minutes of work. This is where you may need to put in some extra effort as well. Work at nights or over weekends to continue to run as many tasks down the field as you can.

As the deadlines near, you will start collecting back the delegated work and have all your tasks down the field. With all your balls lined up just short of the goal line, start to kick tasks over that goal post. Complete those last 15-30 minutes of work just in time to meet all the needs.

Now of course, my scenario is idealistic. You may not be able to get everything over the goal line in time. Following this strategy will get you as close as possible. Then, if anyone expresses disappointment that your didn’t finish it all, you have an ideal opportunity to discuss how a project management approach would have assisted you in meeting the unrealistic goals and expectations.

PMP® Challenge Question – 9/15

On 9/1, we had a fairly simple question: What leadership style is being exercised when the team is brought together to discuss a problem and work as a group to solve it?

The answer: consensus.

Now here’s the new challenge:

What’s the difference between leadership and management?

Any thoughts? Add a comment or drop me a line at

Past Articles

Links and Buttons

Add to Technorati Favorites

Blogging Fusion Blog Directory

San Diego Blog News

Submit Express Inc.Submit Express - SEO Services


All opinions on this blog are those of the site owner and do not reflect the opinion of any other entity. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies; The Project Notebook does not make warranty as to the correctness or reliability of the site's content. If you believe something on this site is inappropriate and should be removed, please contact the site owner at sdcapmp at aol dot com.


"PMP" is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute.


© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP