Project Management Institute
The Project Leadership EXCELLENCE 42
Tom is speaking in Phoenix (+63F temperature shift from Vermont) to the Project Management Institute's North American Leadership Institute Meeting 2014. "I am excited beyond measure--I've been waiting 48 years for this," he says. "I got my construction engineering masters degree from the civil engineering department at Cornell in June 1965. My thesis was on something very new--PERT/CPM. That is, Program Evaluation and Review Technique/Critical Path Method. Oh, and there was RAMPS/Resource Allocation and Multi-Project Scheduling. The statistical methodology was intimidating, but my brain was then supple, and I nailed it with a document on, more or less, the impact of varying standard deviations of critical path events. Gauss, Bayes, and others were my lodestones. Then off I went to practice civil engineering--as a U.S. Navy Seabee (from Construction Battalion) Ensign in Vietnam in 1966. Whoops. Though building complex structures such as bridges and fortified Special Forces Camps, I didn't need a lot of PERT/CPM/RAMPS. But I sure as hell could have used some people skills--not to mention a little time behind a bulldozer or grader's control panel. I.e., I was loaded for bear academically re project management technicalities, but AWOL on the 'last 95%'--'PAP'/People and Practicalities. I was royally pissed off at Cornell, and let my faculty advisors know it when my deployment ended and I went home for a bit of shore leave prior to returning for Vietnam deployment #2. Little did I realize that the 'missing 95%' I was so irritated at Cornell about was what I'd research and write on 16 years later in a book titled, In Search of Excellence. (Remember the ISOE battle cry: 'Hard is Soft. Soft is hard.' The 'hard' numbers are flabby/soft as hell; and the so-called 'soft' 'people stuff' is the true enterprise bedrock/'hard stuff.') Book or not, I've never given the lecture I wanted to give on project management--until now. You'll find here the PowerPoint I used, 'The Project Leadership EXCELLENCE 42.' You'll also find a PDF version of the PLE42 PowerPoint. I've also attached two related papers, 'Getting Things (THAT MATTER) Done Against the Odds and in the Inky-black Shadow Cast by the Guardians of the Status Quo,' my implementation summa; and 'Systems Have Their Place: SECOND Place,' which argues that systems only achieve their potential if the culture of the organization is appropriate and well imbedded; culture, that is, is the lead variable. To put you in the appropriate mind set, I'll share here the first slide of my PMI presentation. Peter Pronovost is the Johns Hopkins doctor who brought the checklist into healthcare. It has saved a staggering number of lives. Peter quickly ran into a stumbling block in the road to implementation. Hospital culture usually had to be dramatically altered for the checklist to work. For example, nurses had to be fully empowered to stop the process in train if the doctor skipped a step; that is, 'simple' checklists were predicated on true teamwork. Peter wrote about it in his superb book, Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals. Herewith, the extract that served as the text of my 1st PP slide: 'When I was in medical school, I spent hundreds of hours looking into a microscope--a skill I never needed to know or ever use. Yet I didn't have a single class that taught me communication or teamwork skills--something I need every day I walk into the hospital.' Hope you find this stuff of some value.