Are we there yet?

Amazing Pyramid Geometry

Amazing Pyramid Geometry

“Rome wasn’t built in one day” my mother used to say. And neither were the pyramids, I’m sure. Or any other worthwhile project.

But how do you know it will be built at all? Or when it will be completed? How can you keep your enthusiasm, your motivation going while the going gets rough?

It is an important question for me, because I spent the last 3 months building a dwelling for myself. Oh the trauma of dealing with builders! I will be making regular contributions to this forum as soon as I recover from my emotional pain! But seriously, I learnt a heck of a lot about project management from doing this one small project, and I want to share that knowledge. I’ll break it down into small digestable bites.

To start my series I commented on my social media recently as follows:  “The year is 10% complete – have you achieved 10% of your goals already?” It was a loaded question and it drew a lot of responses! Basically I was fooling around with the idea that we have burned 36 days of the year already, and that if we continue along this line we will reach 360 days or 3600 days with the same result. Essentially:

    If you keep on doing
    what you have always done
    You will keep on getting
    what you’ve always gotten

So the real question is not how much time I’ve spent. In isolation, it is meaningless and not a good indicator of progress. The better question might be: What have I delivered already, against a list of what I should have delivered.

The best example of how “time” and “progress” relates comes from the comedian Jerry Seinfeld who said: You can measure distance by time. “How far away is it?” “Oh about 20 minutes.”

Now that gives a lot more useful information. And so does “Earned Value” when used in Project Management monitoring and control. Watch this space for some ideas on Earned value soon.

Plans for 2011

Crystal Ball

Crystal Ball

As I’m writing this, it is the morning of the 3rd January 2011. It is a new year lying ahead, full of promises and potential. Many people have made New Years Resolutions that they have already broken, other’s haven’t even started working and are still on vacation or travelling. Schools are only due to open in a week. And most people are making New Years Resolutions. Will they happen? How will we know we managed our resolutions?

And I’m left wondering about success. Why is it that sometimes people are successful, and sometimes not? Well, to be honest, what is success? Oh, and in whose opinion were they successful, or not? Is success the end in itself, or just a temporary pause on the way?

And is success associated with happiness? With feeling good? Feeling good about yourself? Or what about the other people that are not feeling so good about you feeling good? Or is it things (objects; toys; earthly possessions) that make you happy? Owning, dominating, winning? Is it necessary to be happy to be successful?

What will make you happy then? What is happiness? What, very specifically, will make you happy? Are you devoting energy and time and resources to get those feelings of happiness that will make you successful. Oh, is it the other way around?

Personally I have a strong suspicion (I am by no means an expert!) that gazing into a crystal ball to predict the future is not going to bring happiness or success or love or whatever it is that you are craving. Neither will cheating or stealing for that matter, nor will owning lots of goodies or winning. When somebody wins, the other party loses and there can be no happiness.

I think happiness and success are very internally focused. It comes from inside. And it is not associated with getting or receiving or owning or winning, but definitely intimately linked to giving, sharing and encouraging. It is outward bound, away from you, it is losing (so to speak).

I’m going to make two quite sweeping statements. The first is that achieving a goal, any set goal, makes us happy. Of course, to know that you achieved the goal is important, so putting some measurements in place to let you know when you reach that end point will be helpful.

The second statement is that we feel happy when that goal is helping somebody else, making them reach their goal.

So the two summary words are: Do it, for somebody else.

My goodness, I think I’ve just defined the job role of a project manager! Are we a happy bunch or what!

Happy Chinese New year 2011

Happy Chinse New Year

Happy Chinse New Year

It getting harder and harder to keep track of everything that is happening around us. When I was little (?) we had a calendar on the fridge door, and there were only a few things to remember because we kind of kept to one religion and one family.

Nowadays you have a multicultural, multinational, extended family scenario and if it weren’t for Outlook (oh yes, more – or less – of that later) I would be dead meat.

So anyways, the Chinese year of the Rabbit starts on 3 February 2011 (today) and it is the year 4709 by Chinese calculations. Their calendar has been around ten times longer than our Gregorian jobbie. It uses different events to mark the passage of time and feels a little bit more in keeping with nature although that could be simply because they choose animals to symbolise the periods. You can read more at this blog.

So, to all my Chinese friends out there, here’s wishing you and yours a fabulous year ahead. Thank you for bringing some interesting new perspective into our lives.

New Years Resolutions 2011

2011 Resolutions

2011 Resolutions

Well, the celebrations are over and a lot of people are going back to work tomorrow. It is Sunday evening, the sun is setting, and I’m reflecting on where I am and where I want to be. Time for some New Years Resolutions. Again.

Over at my other blog I mentioned some of the things I might be interested in doing in 2011, but it was frivolous and very un-serious. Since this is a more serious blog, I thought I should be writing about more serious stuff.

And that is where I got stuck. I couldn’t really find something that would fit nicely into the category of “New Years Resolution“. Don’t get me wrong: I have already made some business decisions for 2011, and I’ve got plans to make 2011 an exceptionally good year.

But “New Years Resolutions” are not the same. They always seem to contain the things on your “Impossible-To-Do” list. For some odd reason that I fail to understand people (including me) put things on their New Years Resolutions lists that are very hard to do, and for which there is no apparent motivation.

Then I decided on a brilliant plan: I’m going to make New Years Resolutions for 2011 that are S-M-A-R-T. You know, the Simple, Measurable and Achievable stuff. Here is my updated list:

1. I am going to gain another 5kg in 2011.

2. I am not going to drive at the speed limit in 2011.

3. I will not renew my gym contract in 2011.

There. I feel better already.