Excerpted from The Project Management Advisor - 18 Major Project Screw-Ups And How To Cut Them Off At The Pass (Prentice Hall, 2004)
So we've all been to the doctor. We know the feeling of getting marched into a sterile examination room, given a gown that only covers the front half of your body, aked to step on a scale, prodded with a thermometer, asked to pee in a cup. Then there's what seems like an eternity of sitting on an examination table with your hind quarters hanging out waiting for the doctor to come in the room. Then after what seems like an eternity the door bursts open and the doctor pronounces, "Hello, I'm Dr. Goofleblat..."
With the vacation season in the rear-view mirror, many of us are going to get back to the grind of working too much, not getting enough sleep, eating poorly and not getting enough exercise. The concept of work life balance to most is just a bunch of theoretical baloney espoused by a bunch of talking-head motivational speakers and organizational leaders. There’s simply no way out of the imbalance, right?
Jane was a group manager over a team of six buyers for a large department store chain. Her team specialized in buying house-wares, including linens, sheets, towels and small appliances. Her team met every week to discuss advertised specials for upcoming weeks and any supplier issues that the team needed to be aware of. There was one linens supplier, Patty’s Linens, that has had some difficulty with product quality and the department store was experiencing higher-than-normal returns on the product. Two weeks earlier, the supplier submitted a plan for how they were going to improve the quality of their product. The department store decided to keep the supplier on for three more months to evaluate their plan and give the supplier an opportunity to resolve the quality issues. With this as backdrop, we eavesdrop on Jane’s current team meeting:
In December 2015 our son Trevor, who was diagnosed with autism at age 5, graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Film and Media Studies. Despite the challenges and all of the change Trevor endured in his college experience, he graduated with a 3.5 GPA with very little assistance. He also experienced living by himself, living with nice and not-so-nice roommates, internships, and a summer job as a photographer at a boys camp in North Carolina. He gained a tremendous amount of life experience and learned a ton about himself as a person. His graduation in December put an exclamation point on a very rich college experience. But college is only one race in the marathon called life; his next race - employment - was yet to start. Read more
Some time back I was reminded about a crucial attribute that all seasoned leaders possess. What surprised me was that it didn't come from what I do in my work life, it came from an interaction I had with my then 15-year-old son.
Sparing you some of the gory details, we had a situation where my son and I had to have some "man talk" where I expressed some displeasure with his behavior. It wasn't pretty and was very uncomfortable for him and not at all pleasant for me. Given that I took some huge withdrawals from the emotional bank account with him I recognized that I needed to have a more grounded follow-up discussion with him the next day.
I love baseball. I love watching the strategies, the big plays, the colossal errors (anyone remember poor Bill Buckner?) and the dramatic finishes. The Tampa Bay Rays, who in nine of their first ten years of existence finished dead last in their division (In 2004 they managed to beat out one team and finished fourth in their division), surprised everyone in 2008 by beating out such teams as the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees and made it to the World Series only to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies. Even though they lost the World Series, they were heroes in the eyes of millions who rooted for them and their storybook season.
One strategy that I particularly enjoy is the use of specialty players, of which the most prevalent is the "closer". The closer is a pitcher who is brought in for just a very short period of the game (typically the last inning of a game) to shut down opponent hitters and either secure a win for their team or allow a team who is behind to catch up in their last at-bat.
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