Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.
There is a trap it is easy to fall into and, if you fall into it, you will lose out on many opportunities in life. This is the trap in which you look at successful people and assume they are the lucky ones. You may think they get all their ideas right first time and never have had any problems in achieving what they have. Your impression may be reinforced by the media’s continuous portrayal of successful people leading completely perfect lives: they never faced roadblocks, they never trip up, and they are never bored. You could not be more wrong if you think like this.
I was not the most diligent of students first time around. The pleasures of a vibrant social life seemed much more interesting. But I ploughed my way through 4 years of a double honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. Like many graduates, I have never practiced my academic disciplines. I have never worked as an engineer or an economist, and much of what I learnt has been discarded to the dim recesses at the back of my mind. I can at least say I had a brilliant time at university.
Project reporting is an important aspect of project delivery. There are many reasons to develop regular project reports. Project reports create a focal point for clarifying the precise status of a project and for providing information which helps key stakeholders to perform necessary supporting actions as well as manage customer expectations.
Ronald Coase the Nobel prize winning economist died recently at the ripe old age of 103. I have an economics degree and remember, very vaguely, having his theories explained.
The American philosopher Thomas Nagel ends his short book “Mind and Cosmos” with these words:
“The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but in this case the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive. I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two – though of course it may be replaced by a new consensus that is just as invalid. The human will to believe is inexhaustible.”
One of the habits I have observed in management is the tendency, in trying to solve a problem, to focus in one area, when it is a different issue that lies at the bottom of the challenge being faced. A key reason for this is the questions that are asked.
When is it appropriate to say no to a piece of work? If you are in professional services, are a contractor or consultant there will be regular times when client work is in the offing. Then you need to think “should I do this piece of work”.
This is a piece about consultancy and the ethics of consultants in one specific area.
I was in one of my client offices the other day, sitting at my desk ploughing through some work, developing a thought piece for the client. Next to me were a couple of people I do not know, who were engaged in a little light banter. They were talking about the company, the work they were doing, and how things were going – but nothing too deep or serious, just chit-chat. At one point one of the people said “of course, no one here knows I am not an employee.”
Does anyone care about job titles? I think the answer should be no, but it seems to me that lots of people still worry about their job title. Yet pretty much any job title is increasingly meaningless outside of a very specific context.
As a consultant I have worked in a lot of organizations. Those organizations have varied in terms of culture, location, scale and sector. During my time in all these organizations there is one phrase which I hear most often. I suspect it is one that every other consultant, business advisor or contractor hears. And that phrase is “we are different”.