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Playing in the digital age



PlayingDear friends,
I like to ask you for input for my new book „Being Human in the Digital Age”?
How would you answer the following questions?
  1. What do you associate with playing?
  2. What are your playgrounds?
  3. Why don’t we play (any) more?
  4. What does it take to un-learn playing; what, to re-learn it?
Thank you so much! Namaste.
Thomas

Posted in: Agile, Book, Happiness, Human

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Project success does NOT make you happy


Project success is wonderful – we think, we believe, we are told.  But, does it make us happy? Of course, it does.  But, do we first need to achieve project success to become happy?  NO.  The opposite is the case.

Watch the video below to find out why:

Happiness comes first, success is a lovely collateral so to say.  This should make you wonder and challenge your belief and behavir that you have to work hard to achieve success.  In my own book I explain that project success is much more than the final deliverable of a project.  It is or ought to be an experience throughout your project life time; and it comes with happiness, your happiness.

So, are still working hard or do you choose to be happy and become and are successful?

Posted in: Book, Happiness, Leadership

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6 steps to unleashing your potential: The Project Management Coaching Workbook [book review]


PM Coaching WorkbookWARNING:  This is a workbook.  Do not read it if you want to read just another book on project management, project leadership, and project success.  If, however, you are sincerely interested in learning what it takes to develop and improve your project management and leadership skills and you are eager to learn why and how these are crucial ingredients for project and personal success, get a copy of this book and start working with it today.
Note that I wrote working with this book.  For it would be a shame if you were just reading this book like any other, then put it on a bookshelf and forget about it.

So, what is this book about?  The back cover states “Starting with an insightful self-assessment, The Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential offers tools, questions, reviews, guiding practices, and exercises that will help you build your roadmap to project management and leadership success.”  True.
What makes this book special is that it starts out with an insightful definition of project management and project leadership.  Susanne explains “As a manager, you are typically involved in scheduling work, delegating tasks, coordinating effort and resources, monitoring and guiding progress, building teams, and appealing to rational thinking.  As a leader, however, your role is to inspire people, explain goals, share the vision, provide focus, be a role model, monitor morale, create a positive team feeling, and unleash potential.” (p.8-9)

The book is about both: project management and project leadership.  It is this stretch that makes the workbook special.  There are a lot of books about project management and probably even more on leadership.  Unfortunately, there are only a very few that explain why and how management and leadership has to be dealt with together.  Maybe it is because it can be quite a stretch.  This is certainly true.  Just because you are a good manager does not make you a good leader.  On the other side, if you are a good project manager it is probably because you also embrace qualities and skills of project leadership.  Effective project management therefore is the combination of strong task management and people management and leadership.

The book is into 6 major parts, each corresponding to a 6-step assessment and coaching model.  They are:

Step 1: What do you want to achieve? Create your vision and mission statement

Step 2: Self-assessment: Create a benchmark of your current skill set

Step 3: 360 feedback: Seek feedback from managers, peers, and customers

Step 4: Action: Create an action plan and move forward

Step 5: Guiding practices:  Learn more about project management and leadership techniques

Step 6: Progress review: Examine your progress and determine next steps

Each of the chapters include an explanation of the core concepts and then quickly walks the reader through a self-assessment and guiding questions and principles which show the reader how to apply the principles in a daily project setting.  It is not dry theory, it is very pragmatic and it encourages you to become active.  After all, it is a workbook.

Target audience:  Whether you are a novice project manager or have been in the profession for years, you will get a lot out of this book.  Hence, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in project management, project leadership and project success.  It is also a book for a team, a department, a division or even a whole company that wants to take team and project performance to the next level.  Indeed working with this book in a team will reveal more about good management and leadership on the individual and group level than working with the book by yourself.

Shortcomings:  … none really.  Personally, I would have liked a bibliography but that’s pretty much it.

In a nutshell: (4 ½ stars out of 5)  A must-read for those who want to take project management and leadership to the next level.

Madsen, S. (2012). Project Management Coaching Workbook: Six Steps to Unleashing Your Potential. Tysons Corner, VA: Management Concepts.

Posted in: Book, Leadership, Project Management

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Master Project Complexity: Project Management and Zen

Today’s projects become increasingly complex and a test of our leadership. What do you recommend to master this increasing complexity and to show your leadership skills at the same time?

Individuals in the team and the whole team need orientation and guidance or an inspiration how to do so by themselves. Personally, I have found that the philosophy of Zen offers many insights which can help us achieves this. In simple, easy to understand language it outlines avenues to find our lost individual and project identity, overcome burdens and master challenges, reduce complexity and guide us to personal success.

My latest presentation on the very topic is now available on Slideshare.

This presentation introduces 10 Zen insights and translates them into the language of project management. It thus shows how to apply Zen insights in a project setting. Zen can help inspire us personally and how to interact effectively with our team, customers and stakeholders. Applying Zen in projects makes it easier to build teams, perform on a high level and deliver results which delight our customers and teams alike. It thus helps us and the team to evolve into a performing unit and excel.

In a nutshell, the 10 insights are the following:

1. Identity:
You have to understand, accept and embrace the actual motivation of your project.

2. Timeliness in a time-sensitive world
We must not be became slaves of time pressure.  Instead we have to ensure a creative freedom and solve problems from the distance

3. The power of vision
Projects are NOT just about SMART project objectives.  As a matter of fact, SMART project objectives without a vision kills creativity, risks results and may lead to failure.

4. Overcoming Angst and the need for action
In situations of severe stress, don’t fall into the trap of rapid action or even blaming others. Instead, relax and take responsibility for your situation.

5. Invidiualism and hierarchy
Instead of being manipulated by others, this principle encourages us to personalize our projects and thus project success.

6. Leadership and motivation
Leadership and motivation go hand in hand.  We have unleash guiding energies in our team and develop a solution- and reults orientation in our team.

7. Simplicity
There is no law that complex problems require complex and complicated solutions.  Less is more.  This is a reminder not to get lost in the jungle of details and keep the eye on the vision of our project.

8. Truth and illusion
Let’s face it, perceptions are more important than facts.  It is futile to look for a simple truth.  After all a simple truth is no more than an assumption which may be false altogether.

9. Team play
Every project is about people, it is about teamwork.  Let’s nurture collaboration and enjoy the game of projects

10. Passion
If everyone on the team understands the WHY of the project, everyone can identify him/herself with the project.  The project becomes a part of them.  This passion sets the individual and the whole team free, resulting in team synergy and team magic.

Let me know if you are interested to hear / read more about it.

Posted in: Book, Centeredness, Empowerment, Leadership

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New Book Review “Leadership Principles for Project Success” in 02/2012 edition of the Project Management Journal


I am happy to announce the latest review of my book “Leadership Principles for Project Success” (CRC Press, New York, 2011) in the latest edition of the Project Management Journal (Vol. 43, No 1, 91).

The reviewer Michael F. Malinowski writes, “The adage in Thomas Juli’s book Leadership Principles for Project Success is a good one: “Leaders act, managers react.” The five leadership principles provide solid advice to act on, to build onto your project manage- ment skills by sharpening your leadership skills. This is a good book to read and to start applying immediately to your current project.

Read more, here.

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2011 – Going Strong – A Review of a Great Year


The big and typical question you ask yourself at the end of the year how the past 12 months were, how you faired.  This year it is a simple question to answer: yes, it was a great year!  Or, shall I say another great year.  Most of my consulting this year was for an internet service provider in Karlsruhe.  Not only did were these consulting engagements challenging and intellectually rewarding it was and is convenient to our family for it is only a 35 minutes commute from Heidelberg to Karlsruhe.  One of the main reasons I am very grateful for this consulting opportunity.

Next to consulting I have been giving seminars, webinars, podcasts, presentations and interviews on numerous topics such as leadership, collaboration, learning project organizations, ethics, agile product development, team building, innovation, project management, and empowerment.  The main conferences I attended and spoke at were the PMI Global Congresses in Dublin and Dallas and the NASA Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, CA.  Wonderful events.  I can encourage every professional project managers to attend at least one of these conferences.  The learning is exceptional as are networking opportunities.

One of the major milestones in 2011 was the founding of i-Sparks I founded this summer.  i-Sparks is an open online innovation and learning community that facilitates innovation across entire systems. It provides a platform for people and institutions to discover, develop, and test new ways of operating and to put their ideas to work.  i-Sparks aims at every person or institution which is motivated to understand the root causes of today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, to rethink how people and institutions live and operate, and thus to create opportunities for redesigning business models and social change protocols, working more collaboratively across groups, institutions and sectors.

At present we are working on a first prototype which we plan to launch this coming spring.  Stay tuned and follow us on our website www.i-sparks.com.

Business is only one element in our life though it absorbs most of it these days.  Luckily there are the welcome breaks called vacation.  Have a look at my online photo albums for impressions of Long Beach,

Vail,

Vals

and South Tyrol.

So, what about next year?  The outlook is more than promising.  It is funny that lots of people talk about an economic crisis.  Unemployment is at a record low in southern Germany, economic growth is strong, the overall atmosphere and outlook are positive.  And yet other European countries and their economies are struggling.  There are numerous reasons for this imbalance.  I don’t want to start this debate.  What is worrying however is that people, i.e., European politicians and so-called experts, continue to talk about the dawn of another recession in Germany.  This, of course, can have an impact – psychologically.  Rationally and ethically, this chitchat is not comprehensible.  Let’s see what next year will bring.  I am optimistic and hope you too share this enthusiasm.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted in: Agile, Book, Empowerment, innovation, Keynotes, Leadership, Miscellaneous, Project Management, TJEP company

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Ethics and Project Success – Free Webinar on Dec 21


I invite you to my new webinar “Ethics and Project Success” which I will be conducting for the Ethics in Project Management Community of Practice of PMI on December 21, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM Local Time (UTC +0100) (1 hour), i.e., 12 noon EST.  What will it be about?  Let me share with you the abstract:

We all need and thrive for project success. But what does it take to get there? There is no doubt that good project management is a critical success factor. But is it really sufficient? I don’t think so. I claim that effective project management needs to have a solid foundation in holistic leadership. This leadership is embedded in strong project management skills, personal leadership, teamwork, and last but not least, a solid understanding and honest practice of the four codes of ethics, namely: respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility.
Based on my own experience having managed projects of all sizes, from a few to 24000 person days effort in various industries, I identify 5 team leadership principles that put the code of ethics into the context of high-performance teams. They include building a common project vision, nurturing team collaboration, promoting team performance, cultivating team learning, and ensuring team delivery. These 5 principles combined with the 4 codes of ethics encompass the core of effective and holistic team leadership. The webinar will present these principles and show how they can help build and manage a performing and winning team, thus building project success.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/c27grmq to register for this free webinar.

Posted in: Book, Centeredness, Empowerment, Keynotes, Project Management, Tools

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Webinar Presentation “The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success” now available


Today’s webinar presentation “The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success”  is now available on Slideshare and as pdf-download, here.  In addition you can download a synopsis of the presentation, here.

All of the 55 questions will be posted on the PMI IS CoP website / blog soon and I will answer all of them shortly.  Stay tuned.

Posted in: Book, Keynotes

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The Secret to Project Success


We all thrive for success.  The big question is, how do we get there?  I have provided a number of answers to this question in my book “Leadership Principles for Project Success“.  More and more people are applying the 5 leadership principles laid out in this book.  This is great as more people will experience how to ensure project success through leadership.

Now Rod Collins wrote the  latest book review on Amazon by Rod Collins.  Rod is the author of “Leadership in a Wiki World” and the owner of Wiki-Management, a company that helps companies dramatically increase their performance. As the former Chief Operating Executive of the largest health insurance business alliance in the U. S., he pioneered an innovative management discipline that produced unprecedented operational and financial performance.  His company’s website is www.wiki-management.com.

Posted in: Agile, Book, Leadership, Project Management

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Before you develop a vision you need to know what motivates you


I have written a number of posts on the importance of project vision.  I am stating that one of the most important factors of project success is building a project vision with your team.  It is crucial that everyone actively involved understands and supports this vision.  It defines the direction of your project, gives it an orientation like a lightpost in the dark.

The question is what can you do if your project lacks this project vision.  Where do you start?  This can be a difficult  and simple question at the same time.  My proposed response is this:  you have to know what motivates you to start the project in the first place.  In other words, what is the purpose of your project? Simple, isn’t it.  — Is it really?  Are you sure that you know the driver of your project?  Do you know the underlying motivation or just symptoms?

This is how I proceed.  Say, you are facing an issue (problem, challenge, opportunity, or whatever you may want to call it), ask yourself what is the real issue?  Then go on and ask Why? Take this answer and again pose the Why? question again.  Repeat this up to 5 times.  As you get deeper and deeper into this analysis you get closer and closer to the root cause of your issue.
Next, find out who is affected by this issue and what impacts the issue(s) have on them and why.  Once more, dig deep enough and pose the why?-question until you identify the true motivator or concern of the affected persons.
Continue, asking what would happen if nothing changes, i.e., the issue (you identified in the first question) could not be resolved, and ask why this is so.
Summarize your answers in a statement like “The issue(s) of … affect(s) … The impact(s) of which is (are) …”.  I call this a motivation statement.  It is the starting point to describe your vision, the resolution to the identified problem (or motivation).

The “search” for the motivation of your project may be simple or it can be quite time consuming.  Either way, this effort pays off.  You want to know what drives your project – and, if it is actually worth pursuing it.  If so, go ahead and build a project vision around it.   To learn more what it takes to build a project vision, read my book “Leadership Principles for Project Success”.  Free reading samples are available at www.TheProjectLeadershipPyramid.net.

Posted in: Book, Leadership, Project Management

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