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.
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”.
One of the things we all spend a lot of time in business doing is reviewing other people’s documents. They may be text documents or slide decks. We can spend huge amounts of time trying to get our head around what the writer(s) meant. Sometimes, for example in responding to a tender, really understanding the document is critical to ongoing success.
I am often asked what makes a great project manager. Like any question of this sort the asker is looking for some simple mantra that is universally true. Life’s a bit more complex than that, but I can give an indication. I think there are five personal characteristics that are fundamental to any delivery role:
I have worked in over 10 different quite varied countries in Europe, Asia, North America and Australasia. I have travelled in many more. I have friends all over the world. I am also a change management professional. Bring all this together and I tend to think I am fairly aware of cultural sensitivities in different environments.
I go through fads of reading lots of blogs and then ignoring them for a while. At one level I think the short style of a blog encourages precise thinking - it’s hard to write something value adding in a very few words.
My bag was mislaid on a flight to El Calafate, Argentina. Unfortunately so was my wife’s. We have lost luggage before, so we tend to carry essentials in hand luggage and pack half and half in each hold bag so we at least each have some stuff. We had not thought of losing both bags.
Waiting at the luggage carousel in late 1999 in Kathmandu, two bags quickly arrived. The third, with all of my son’s stuff in it, never did. Finding ourselves in Kathmandu for 36 hours, with a 12 year old with no clean clothes when about to fly on to Paro in Bhutan was a bit of a problem.
About 18 months ago I was routed on a flight via Rome. This was slightly bizarre and quite irritating as there was then an 8 hour wait for my connecting flight. It wasn’t a cheap flight, but I looked for a positive solution. No matter I thought. I will take the opportunity to go into Rome for a few hours, have lunch and then come back for my flight. It seemed a great plan.
Change management literature is full of advice about the importance of clear objectives. Clarity is always recommended: why are you changing, what do you want to achieve, what will it be like when the change is complete? Business language is replete with associated terminology: objectives, goals, outcomes and visions.
The first question surrounding any new project management book should be – why? There are thousands and thousands of project management books, and amongst those thousands there are quite a few that are very good. We all have our favourites.