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The Difference Between Focus and Tunnel Vision




tunnel-vision-01‘One more click, save the file and then close it.’ This is what I thought and did.  Or so I thought.  Because, did I really?  A few moments later my computer gave me the error message, “file upload not possible”.  Oops. What happened?
The last two hours my team and I were working on a project plan for the next six weeks.  It was a really creative and productive meeting.  Spirits were high. Not only could we reflect on our past accomplishments of the last three weeks.  We also had a clear picture of what we wanted to achieve the next couple of weeks.  In order to save time, we captured all planned work packages in an Excel file on a big screen for everyone to follow.  Once our session was finished I did some minor cosmetic changes to the file, saved it (or thought I did) and then closed it.  But, things did not go as planned. – Soon I found out that not only was the file not uploaded to our server, but it was nowhere to be found on my local computer.  If you ever worked on a file for a long time and then had to find out that the work of the past hour or so was erased, well, let’s put it this way: it does not make you happy.  So, this is where I was yesterday.  When I realized the dilemma I called our local IT support and asked for help.  Gee, I had no idea how these folks can be so calm and patient in moments like these.  They listened, asked some questions, guided me through some procedures on my computer.  And then – nothing.  The file could not be found.  Sh…t.  Furor and frustration grew in me rapidly.  ‘How was this possible?! I saved the file before I closed it.’ The next 2 hours I continued sorting through all the files I touched yesterday.  Time stood still.  The more I searched the more my frustration vanished.  And was replaced by resignation.

What does this story have to do with ‘focus’?  A lot.  In the moment of ‘crises’, if you want to call the described dilemma, I completely concentrated on this one file, the product of two hours of work.  I tried everything technically possible to retrieve it.  And I lost time for other, more productive and creative things.  When it became clear that the file was lost, I should have stopped looking for it.  This is hard at times, very difficult indeed. Facing the unquestionable truth often is.  And yet, it may be the only thing to do.
What I mixed was ‘focus’ and ‘tunnel vision’.
The only thing I could think of was this one file, the energy it absorbed to create it and the frustration I felt when I was afraid that I lost this piece of work.  I did not look left or right.  As a result, I did not only lose the file I also relinquished valuable time for other things.  The 2-3 hours I spent searching for the file could have been used to re-do the work.  As a matter of fact it would have taken me probably only around 45 to 60 minutes.  I may not have been happy about this extra work.  But possibly even improving it.  And I could have done something else afterwards.  Learn from my technical incapabilities and move on.

Learning to focus

clarityToo often when we focus on something we completely phase out our surroundings.  Losing sight of the bigger picture.  We are trapped in our tunnel vision.  We think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But actually it may only be a remnant of our imagination.  When you want to or need to focus, do so with a peripheral vision.  Relax, breathe, become aware of what’s happening around you, then start your work.  But not without closing your eyes, ears and senses for your surroundings. Be present and focused at the same time. It is not a contradiction; it is a help and path to a fuller awareness, concentration, more productive and meaningful work and happiness.

So, what happened with my lost file?  I never found it again. Luckily I had a printout of the table my team and I were working on.  Retyping the file we actually found a number of mistakes, shortcomings and gaps we did not recognize earlier.  We corrected them in no time and after less than an hour we had a new, corrected and actually better project plan.

Posted in: Centeredness, Miscellaneous

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Why ‘Job Satisfaction’ May Be The Wrong New Year’s Resolution


As the new year is just around the corner it’s this time of the year many of us come up with glorious (or not so glorious) New Year’s Resolutions.  Unfortunately, most of these don’t last long.  Makes you wonder how sincere they were in the first place.  Excuses vary from “it was not the right resolution”, to “I was just too busy” and “my job doesn’t allow me the space for my resolution”.  And there are many other excuses.  And they are just that:  “excuses”.

But what a resolution which may very worth the investment?!  Let me suggest one which I strongly believe in.

Don’t be misled by the lofty goal of “Job Satisfaction”

We all have to work.  However, how many of us are really happy with and in their job?  Does your job merely satisfy your needs?  Do you like it?  If so, what is it that you like?  Is the people, the environment, the salary, other perks?

Job satisfaction is definitely something worth striving for.  And I believe that every employer should care about its employees being satisfied with and in their jobs.  For, if not, performance is likely to suffer resulting in poorer productivity, lower quality, dissatisfied customers, less sales and hence profits. It is a spiral downward.

However, job satisfaction is not enough!  Satisfaction is great, at first sight.  But then it is just that “satisfaction”, it is enough, mediocre, average, far from better or even best. Why should “average” be sufficient?! It is not.  What to do instead?

Happy 2015Create a happy workplace!

As an employer, find out what makes your employees happy.  Not solely in the sense of pleasure.  Happiness is much more than that.  It involves passion for doing something or being with other people or in a specific environment.  It involves purpose, i.e., something people can relate to and identify with.  People know why they are doing something and they believe in it. They share a common purpose.  They are driven by it.  Hopefully, this purpose coincides with the purpose and mission of your company or organization.  If not, well, you may have a problem or two along the horizon (meaning de-motivated employees).
These days it is no longer sufficient to hire people and expect them fully believe and support the purpose or mission of your company.  If you want to attract and retain talents you have to find out what drives, what motivates them.  What makes them happy.

As an employee, what do you love about your job? What makes you happy?  If you don’t have a happy workplace, of course, you could go to your boss and ask for help.  But, hey, it is your life.  Rather than looking for outside help, start with yourself.  What drives you day in day out? What are you passionate about? What gives you pleasure?  And how can you bring this into your job, where you can find it?

Hence, here is my suggested New Year’s Resolution:

Create a happy workplace!

P.S.:  Here’s a link to a related article.

Posted in: Happiness

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This Season Give Yourself One of the Greatest Gifts Possible


Holiday Season – It’s the time of the year when we spend extra time with our beloved ones, family and friends, celebrate, exchange gifts, having a wonderful time.  And be happy.

What is it that makes us happy?  Is it the special time of Christmas?  Or is the moments where we make other people happy that give us this special kick?  Or is the many little things that make us happy, that make these days truly special?

Personally, I think it is the combination of these things.  And more?  Whatever it is, enjoy it, live it, feel it, be actively aware of these special moments, be and live in the present to the fullest.

And then, go a step further and ask yourself how you can carry this spirit to tomorrow, next week, next month and next year.  I am not talking about developing a big new year’s resolution – which most people tend to forget after a few days anyway.  I am talking about a simple, yet possibly disturbing, life-changing and at the same time exciting thing:  being yourself.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/when-you-start-being-yourself-these-10-amazing-things-will-happen.html?fb_action_ids=10152654440889315&fb_action_types=og.shares

When You Start Being Yourself, These 10 Amazing Things Will Happen

When you start being yourself, amazing things will happen.  Not for last, you will be happier.  Explore yourself, be.

Then share your experiences.  Create the space for others to find and accept themselves. This way you, too, can contribute to making others happier.  And this in return will make you even happier.

Simple? Yes. But who says that happiness has to be difficult to find.  It’s already here.

Happy Holidays!

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Institute

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Surviving in a Matrix: Simple Techniques for Effective Project Management in a Matrix Organization


You love projects.  You love good project management.  And you love the exhilaration of power teams and project success.  BUT you are struck in a matrix?  Not the matrix of the movie.  But the matrix of a strong line organization where projects have all but a miserable existence.  The line organization is dominating, politics is prevalent, people care more about securing their own posts, maintaining the status quo and thus focus on their daily tasks, not willing to look outside their box or even beyond their own desk.  Projects?!  Gee, hell no!  Those are activities where you have to work with people from other departments, maybe even in cross-functional teams.  But, what do those folks know about my area of expertise.  Nothing!  Hence, it is better to keep things as they are.

Does this sound familiar? Or, have you ever experienced or heard of such an organization and setting? – If so, continue reading.

Surviving in a Matrix: Simple Techniques for Effective Project Management in a Matrix Organization from Thomas Juli

On Thursday, 2 October 2014 from 11:30 AM – 1 PM EST I gave a free webinar for the IT Metrics and Productivity Institute.  The webinar is entitled “Surviving in a Matrix: Simple Techniques for Effective Project Management in a Matrix Organization”.  In this webinar I introduce a simple, yet very pragmatic approach to structure, plan and set-up a project in a matrix organization with strong line management and a weak project culture. I explain the need and value for developing a compelling project motivation, vision and objectives. I outline how to engage stakeholders in building a work package structure, outlining a project organization, implementing an early warning system for plan deviations, establishing risk analysis and management. Last but not least, I elaborate on how to cultivate continuous learning in a matrix organization.
Don’t stay stuck in your matrix.  Learn how to survive in your matrix, introduce effective project management techniques and become a master of your own project success.

Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Project Management, Project success

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The MVP Model for Project Success


I believe that for projects to excel and evolve into WOW projects it is not sufficient to focus on project objectives and even less so on requirements.  One of the reasons is that they are subject to change.  If involved project members and stakeholders believe them to constitute the foundation for the project, such changes ought to lead to terminate the project, unless they don’t really know what they want to do or strive for.

WOW Projects
WOW Projects are projects that add value, projects that matter, projects that make a difference, projects that leave a legacy. And those are projects that bring happiness into our daily lives – on the individual. team and customer levels.

Successful WOW projects are characterized by a strong, commonly understood and supported motivation and vision by all involved parties.

  • The motivation describes why the project starts in the first place.  This could be a problem that needs to be resolved or an idea worth exploring.
  • The vision delineates the ideal state in contrast to, for example, the problem that triggered the project.

Both motivation and vision are long-lasting, they are not necessarily time bound.  Unlike projects which are time-boxed, having a start and finish date.  Corollary, motivation and vision set the overall direction of a movement of which a project is a stepping stone.  In other words, motivation and vision may serve as a compass during the complete project life cycle.  Project objectives and requirements may change, the motivation and vision don’t.  If they did, a project lacks the necessary foundation of existence; if continued it may become a zombie project but that’s pretty much it.

In short,  for projects to excel and evolve into WOW projects you need the full understanding and support of your MVP – motivation, vision and project goals – by all project team members and stakeholders.

Sparks for WOW projects

Developing an MVP for a project is the first prerequisite for developing successful WOW projects.  It doesn’t stop there.  Project work is teamwork.  Hence, it is equally important to develop MVP’s for both the team and the individuals.

MVP Model and WOWRegarding the latter, individuals, project leadership ought to provide the space for individual team members to identify and share their personal MVP’s, i.e., what motivates them to work on the project, what they envision and what concrete goals they may have.  Sharing personal MVP’s may be strange for some people.  But then, if you are seriously interested in developing and sustaining a successful WOW project wouldn’t you want your teammates to know what drives you, what you expect, what you want to contribute and vice versa?!  Sharing personal MVP’s helps move a group of individuals closer together and thus contribute to team building.

Finally, aligning all three MVP dimensions – project, individual and team – is where magic can happen; it is the spark for WOW projects.  It takes teamwork to the next level.  It is like three separate entities moving into the same direction at an accelerated pace, not because of external pressure but intrinsic motivation.  The outcomes are greater happiness, productivity, quality and, last but not least, results.

Build your MVP’s for project success

Even the longest journey starts with the first step.  On this token, I encourage you and your team to have a closer look at your own project(s).  Please let me know if you’d like me to help you build WOW projects through customized workshops and trainings.  Workshops can be as short as 2 hours or several days depending on your needs.  Or, if you like, I can accompany your journey over a period of several weeks through coaching and consulting.

Posted in: Institute, Leadership, Tools, Uncategorized

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Let Happiness Turn Your Project Around



Ever wondered what could turn around your struggling project, or shape a project that it tells a story and convinces others just be hearing about the project?  Well, there could be a simple remedy.  And that is to link happiness to your project.  – Ok, let’s start slow.

This week I conducted a seminar on project leadership.  In one of the central exercises smaller groups worked on fictitious projects.  Seminar attendants could pick whatever topic, issue or question they cared about.  One group chose to ponder how to improve time management for students obtaining a graduate degree while having to work full-time and nourishing a family.  Another group analyzed ways and means to improve a business partnership with suppliers.  And yet another decided to talk about the need of drones for the German military.  At the end of each exercise session teams presented their results.  They shared their views what motivated them to work on their particular project, what they envisioned and what specific goals they were pursuing.  Not too surprisingly the project with the military drone got rather passive looks and no real feedback when they presented their project.  This changed when I asked the teams to address a simple question with respect to their project.  “How does your project contribute to happiness?”  That’s it; just this simple question.

HappinessI was curious what the teams would come up with.  Especially the drone project.  After all, linking a military weapon, defensive as it may be intentioned, with happiness?!  That would be a tough sell.  Well, things did not quite work out as assumed.  When it was their turn everybody expected them to talk about the various functionalities of a military drone, its specifications and how to use it in combat.  But instead the group talked about peace enforcement, conflict prevention and support for human rights.  And they talked about it in an appealing way that reached people and caused their emotional reaction.  All of a sudden, nobody was thinking of the weapon any more but how to help achieve world peace.  What happened?  Addressing the question “How does your project contribute to happiness?” project members checked for their inner motivation – not warefare but peace and stability – and they shared it openly and honestly.  This touched people, they could relate to the team’s motivation, even identify with it.  Instead of being doubtful and deprecating, not only did they appreciated the project presentation but even asked how they could help the team.

A project which moments earlier was dull, cold and tiring became lively, meaningful and attractive.  A simple question “How does your project contribute to happiness?” triggered the change of the nature of the project, its momentum and the attitude of team members and observers.  So, next time you face a troubling project, ask the team this question, “how does your project contribute to happiness?, and see what happens.

 

Posted in: Happiness, Leadership, Project failure, Project Management

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A Happy, Happy Conference – PMI NL Summit 2014


I have just returned from a fabulous conference:  the PMI Netherlands Summit 2014 in beautiful Zeist, NL.

It was an honor and great pleasure to open the conference with my own keynote on “Leadership, Happiness and Project Success“.  In my presentation I explained why and how leadership and happiness are the key ingredients to project success.

A lot has been said and written about leadership and how it affects project success.  But ‘happiness’?!  Well, not so much.  This is sad I think for ‘happiness’ brings in the human factor into the equation.  It’s ok to satisfy the customer.  But is it sufficient?  I don’t think so.  If you and your team aim for a happy team and a happy customer it can take your project to a higher level.

Scientific research has shown that our brains work better when they are ‘happy’.  And when our brains are at ‘happy’ that positivity will ripple out to others and can raise productivity.  Hence, whenever you aim to promote happiness in your project you can likely improve performance and productivity.  Not bad, isn’t it?!

So, what is ‘happiness’?  How do you define it?  

Well, not so fast.  I am not sure if you can or actually want to come up with a formal definition of ‘happiness’.  It is personal, subjective in nature.  And yet, (most) people will agree that ‘happiness’ is great and worthwhile striving for.  The 3 P’s – pleasure, purpose, passion – give us a hint what ‘happiness’ entails.  In the context of a project I think that the purpose and passion characteristics of happiness a central.  In other words, you and your team have to have a common understanding of the motivation and vision of the project.  They need to know, support and share it.  Not by force but because they want to – on the project, individual and team levels.

Have a look at my presentation to learn more about it.

Happiness is a choice

At the conclusion of my keynote I invited the audience to take action to create a happier life.  For this purpose I handed out GREAT DREAM postcards.  It lists 10 key to happier living based on a review of the latest scientific research relating to happiness.

Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the research suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The first five (GREAT) relate to how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. The second five (DREAM) come more from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

GREAT DREAMS postcard image

I want to thank the Action for Happiness movement for providing these postcards at no charge.

Take the Action for Happiness pledge

Giving a keynote on ‘happiness’ is a great experience. It gave me the chance not only to talk about happiness to a large audience but actually make people happy.  What a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity!

Learning more about happiness and how it can help us grow successful projects is one thing.  Applying the principles in our daily lives is another and more powerful thing.  Hence, I am asking you, the reader, to visit the Action for Happiness website, take the Action for Happiness pledge and start living a happier life.

Action for Happiness Pledge
“I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me”

 

Posted in: Centeredness, Happiness, Keynotes, Leadership, Project success

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Do It With Passion and Succeed


I believe that one of the key factors for happiness at work, and this includes projects, is PASSION. Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.

Passion in a groupThis meaning by itself is still fluffy if you expect a formal definition of the term.  Alas, I am not sure whether or not it is a) possible or b) desirable to offer a formal definition.  Passion is, just as ‘happiness’, very personal and subjective in its meaning and its implications. Hence, I like to stay it with the attempt of the offered description of passion, i.e., passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in, something bigger than yourself.

Careful! Passion is contagious and the gate to being and expressing yourself

And yet as ‘passion’ is subjective as it may be it is not limited in its scope.  Passion can be contagious.  Look at a group of people who are passionate about their activities, may it be music, sports or work.  When you observe them not only can you see the smiles in their face, you can literately feel and sense their passion, their excitement and energy.  These people share something in common, something that moves them, something that excites them.  And they love every minute of it.  What would you do as an observer or bystander?

I can speak for myself: most likely, watching a passionate group of people would make me smile for I like it when I see people who are happy. And I may even admire them for having found their passion and expressing it.   It is cool and it is worthwhile striving for.  It may remind me of my own passion.  Or it may remind me that I yet have to identify my passion in a specific area and express it.  Fact is that expressing your own passion releases energy and it comes back to you multifold in a very positive way.  It is a ‘flow’ state where time seizes to exist and you enter a state of ‘being’.

Achieving a ‘flow’ stateIMG_1958

Achieving a flow state is a wonderful experience.  It is fun, exhilarating, exciting, stress-relieving, enjoyful, dramatic and pure.  It is multi-dimensional in the sense that it can come from your work or project, from your own personal self or from and with your team, or – even better for a project or work setting – from all of these levels, i.e, individual, group and project levels.  This is what happens in WOW projects.  WOW projects are projects that add value, projects that matter, projects that make a difference, projects that leave a legacy.  And those are projects that bring happiness into our daily work life.  Both on the individual and team level.

Passion is a key ingredient to this WOW experience.  So, go out, find your passion and do it with passion.

Learn more

Learn more about how to find your passion and use it in your projects at work.  For example, have a look at my seminar “Finding the Spirit of WOW Projects“.

I will be giving a keynote address on ‘Leadership, Happiness and Project Success’ at this year’s PMI Netherlands Summit on Thursday 12 June 2014.

Posted in: Happiness, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events, WOW projects

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Select for success – with happiness


In April I will be a speaker at this year’s Project Zone Congress in Frankfurt, Germany.  Listen to what I shared in an interview with Stamford Global.  The whole interview is available at http://projectzonecongress.com/news-articles/select-success-interview-thomas-juli

http://www.stamfordglobal.com/userfiles/PZC2014/Badges/stamford_badges_05-02.pngSelect for success – interview with Thomas Juli

Submitted by Helina.Pukk on Fri, 2014-01-24 15:59

Thomas Juli is an experienced professional on leadership in project and program management, consulting and training, as well as in teaching. He previously worked for SAP, Sapient and Cambridge, but has now committed to helping others improve their leadership skills through which to experience more project success. He is a welcomed quest at conferences and his book has gained lots of followers. We recently talked to Thomas about what is needed for project success and what happiness has got to do with it.

Excerpts:

Thomas Juli: First of all, whenever I say this title people say ‘Well what do you mean by happiness and how does this fit in?’ and I explain ‘You know, there is an equation for project success and that is: LEADERSHIP + HAPPINESS = PROJECT SUCCESS’. And people look at me asking What do you mean? –Because happiness can be a result of project success’ and I say ‘No. It’s the other way around.’ For example, people say ‘I want to be promoted to the head of PMO and then I will be happy’, and then they achieve this stage. Are they happier? No, because life continues. Happiness is not linked with a career move or to anything. But if you’re happy internally and the team is happy, you can really create a lot of things because team synergy is “Team Magic”, what I call it.

Listen to the podcast here or download the whitepaper of the complete interview.

http://www.project-roadmap.com/project-portal/attachments/download/971

 

Posted in: Empowerment, Happiness, Institute, Leadership, WOW projects

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Search for Happiness as a Prerequisite for Project and Business Success


Happiness is a key ingredient for project and business success. Happiness, of course, is very subjective.  On the other side there are three elements that are recurring when asking people about their understanding of happiness.  These three elements are:

(1) pleasure

(2) purpose

(3) passion

While pleasure seems obvious to most people, purpose and passion go deeper.  They imply that in order to find happiness you have to know what your driver – your purpose – is.  Seems simple?  Yes, it is, or it ought to be.  Unfortunately, a lot of people fall prone to their own hectic lifestyle and calendars, pressure from society and business.  As a consequence they move further and further away from knowing their purpose.  They are becoming hamster running in a wheel, spinning faster and faster.  No wonder it is more likely that you get a response to the question “What makes you unhappy?” rather than the question “What makes you happy?”

Interestingly when you ask a child the question “what makes you happy?” you are more likely to receive a response.  How come?! I believe it is because children have less fallen victims to external pressure (even though they too can have quite a weekly schedule with sports clubs, music lessons, etc.).  They live in the moment, can – or shall we say, are allowed to – be passionate about their activities.

[Image credit: premasagar]

[Image credit: premasagar]

Hence, today, let’s stop for a moment and ask ourselves what deep inside motivates us, what we are passionate about.  Let’s listen within and find the spark of happiness which makes our lives so much easier and at the same time moves us closer to happiness and success.

Posted in: Happiness

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