Monthly Archives: August 2010

Get Your Hands Dirty

Most project leaders realize it’s their job to focus on the overall strategy and progress. Few project leaders, and few humans for that matter, are inspired by tedious tasks. Yet from every strategic cloud, some tactical rain must fall. Continue reading


Be the Coolest Team on the Block

Psychology tells us that humans have a strong innate desire to be embraced by a group. Celebrate that! Make your project team the “coolest team on the block.”

Create a sense of affiliation by giving your team a name, a slogan, or a logo, even if you’re the only ones who use it. (Remember having “secret handshakes” with your best kid pals?) Foster a healthy bit of  exclusivity and let them revel in how cool they are.  Occasionally have “team meetings”  in a pub or Starbucks on a Friday afternoon, over snacks and beverages. In the age of Skype and webcams, you even include remote team members.  Set up “intramural” fun activities with other project teams, athletic or not– lunchtime poker, anyone? This also helps build networks. You can influence this whether you’re the most senior person on the team, or the most junior. Give it a try, and let me know what other ideas you come up with.

Getting a Project Team Unstuck

Sometimes your project team gets stuck in the mud. It may be early in the project when you’re first trying to build a plan, or it might be later when choices must be made and a decision just circles the drain.  There are so many variables and unknowns, and no one feels confident about committing.

What can you, The Project Manager,  do to get your team unstuck? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Choose your words carefully. Using the word “plan” can throw everyone off.  Some people equate the word “plan” with “commitment.” What you really want to develop is an Assumption-Based Scenario. The team lays out a scenario of timelines and costs, assuming certain events, resources, technology, and so on. The assumptions are documented along with the scenario.  Now you have something to run up the leadership flagpole, to gain support for satisfying the assumptions of the scenario.  The exercise is usually iterative as assumptions are either accepted or rejected, but it gets you past the team deadlock.

2. Meet in a different place. It may seem trivial, but the change in environment will provide different stimuli to thought processes. If you absolutely positively cannot move the team to a different location, then at least ask people to sit in a different seat. I notice quite often that teams who meet regularly tend to establish a routine seating pattern.

3. Form a Think Tank. Generally on larger project teams, there are at least a few people who really “get it” and have great ideas. Sometimes, the dynamics of a larger team meeting inhibits their participation. Invite a couple of them to a “think tank” session to help you sketch out some ideas. Then, either ask them to present these ideas at the next group meeting, or if they’re uncomfortable, you can do it, saying “hey, I was kicking some ideas around with Suresh and Mariann, and I wanted to throw it out there for us to discuss.”

What other ways have you gotten a team “unstuck?”

First Art Show for Perspectives Gallery!

Got great news today! My portfolio of fine art photography was accepted into into the 11th Annual Bloomsbury Fine Art & Fine Craft Festival, an outdoor juried show and sale which runs September 25 – 26th.

Now, I don’t how selective they are… so I would have been REALLY bummed had my application been rejected. Especially since the application required a photo of my booth, which entailed setting up the whole rig in my driveway on a 100-degree day, recruiting my kids to assemble 15 wooden easels, hauling out the large framed pictures, snapping a few shots, and then undoing it all in reverse.

So I’ll be there September 25-26th in the charming village of Bloomsbury, NJ. My tent is bright screaming red– thought I’d go for something different than the usual white canopy. Hope to see you there. I’ll send out a reminder before the event.

“If I Only Had A…”

Welcome to Heart, Brains, & Courage,  the name of this blog, and also the parent entity for “Pam Stanton, The Project Whisperer.” Continue reading