PMTip - mistakes are human & build trust

We really learn when we screw up.  It stings and stays with us.  Work and school seems to have taught us to be embarrassed and hide the mistakes we make.  Also too often when mistakes happen, one of the first questions is who did this vs what systems broke down to let this happen.

Similar to a project, we need to manage our people in ways that allow mistakes and promote learning and growth.   Constant communication is the new way to work.  However, that will show the true side of each one of us.  So often we get afraid, we need to communicate our work through a report where we can strategize how to answer.  We need to take away our feedback until we can formally respond.

A great article shared through D. Cannell's blog was

PMTip - Failure is OK -

Had to rant to this one, is so important & not openly talked about.... (see 51 sec video)

Failure and doing new things goes hand in hand, yet we get so caught up in attaching negative connotation to failure.  Or worse yet, pointing a finger. The negative is only if you fail and do the same thing over again... then that is called bad process.

So don't be afraid about failure, it always happens in projects where things do not go according to plan - is important to know to not do it again and learn from it and adapt.  Remember, definition of a Project is: temporary and unique, whereby unique means doing new things/first time things.

Failure comes from something not going according to plan
Success comes from learning new things
Project plans involve doing things unique (never done before)
Project plans and Success will always have a ton of failure
So be ready for failure, learn from it and be okay with it, it is part of your job and ability to grow you and your company!

Thoughts - Teamwork Trumps Technical -

I was at a Dance Competition this weekend. International Judge said most important thing is Showmanship (how group works together). Said is more important then Technical.  Awesome, JUST like projects.

This past year PMI introduced a new focus area called Stakeholders.  This shows the trend in PMing but also aligns so beautifully to so many things in every day life where performance is key.

Too often we get caught up with the Scope and the requirements (How and What to do).  We focus so much of our contracts and agreements and negotiations on these parts. If you really think about it, these things are easy and they will follow suit if we remind people, that stakeholders and team work and how we will get along when we need to perform, is the most important thing.

PMI has formally done this by stating the Stakeholders is now a Knowledge Area that sits up at the top near Scope, Schedule and Budget.  An easy definition of Stakeholders is "who the project impacts, or who can impact the project".  So is important for us to:
- identify who the stakeholders are
- set processes on how they will work together (through the good times and the bad)
- remind everyone that disagreements means passion and if we work together then success will happen

PMTip - Online PMP Training Trends -

True value from training or consulting can be increased if people are more available, focused and committed (able to balance with their bigger priorities). Also need to find a way to step out and miss an afternoon or a few hours if needed. Part of what I see changing (which enables the statements above) is the ability to link online tools and techniques with customer solutions.  Providing customers what they need with an expanded window as to when they can access it.  In addition, the online solutions can leverage alliances and other best practice sources on the web (one vendor will never have all the answers but a great value is to utilize the vendor plus the links they recommend for that project or solution).

The Project management Institute (PMI at is the most globally accepted methodology and also thus has the most sought after and recognized certification, the Project Management Professional (PMP).  Advancements by the PMI include areas related to online tools (website, book store, blogs, forums, publications, courses, etc).  As part of this movement, NexLev (SK based PM Company) now provides online learning courses in project management.

A VERY exciting aspect of one NexLev`s courses is that it is certified by PMI and addresses the pre-requisite to challenge the PMP test.  Also this course is now certified by another organization highly promoting Certifications and PM as a profession, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA at  It still takes 35 hours to complete, but is instructor lead, supported and collaborated with all over the web.  So it is done at your own time and can be reviewed and delved deeper at your own pace.  This approach also has more people available to add to the course (video taped) to help provide multiple perspectives and learnings from different experts in the field. Can check it out at
or also be sure to check out the PMI website for other vendors that are now starting to provide this new level of service.

This is yet another example of how the PM world is changing with the use of technology, if you want to check out one more URL focused on advancements of technology and how fast we change, this guy has incredible passion and is a good one to follow:

PMTip - Managment styles

Kindergarten to grade12 uses "Learning Approaches" that can easily be leveraged for "Adult Management Practices". In the past, a PM managed with authority, power, experience and expected loyalty.  Now one manages with influence, communication, experience/knowledge combinations from the team, collaboration, innovation and speed of decision making.

For each successive project a team works on, the Influencing style builds stronger loyalty, productivity, commitment and performance. The first style (authoritative) degrades in all of the above with each successive project completed.

Managing through influence, social skills & collaboration are common top topics at conferences. Studies have been done for the past decade through Universities, whereby a manager will be selected that has a great personality versus one that is more experienced or knowledgeable about the work. Old days one was hired due to an extensive resume. New days one is hired due to their fit with the team and culture and has to first pass HR personality interviews before they even get to the technical interviews.

This shift of management selection aligns with the growth of the internet, where knowledge can be gathered so quickly (don't have to go to a library and order a book that will arrive in 30 days).  Also with flatter organizational structure more experience is available through a team of collaborators versus one highly experienced managed and a team of subordinates.

Too often a manager has too much micro-management and is telling them:
- what to do
- how to do it
- then checks in continuously to manage how they are doing it or making sure they do it like they would

Another approach to gain the most value from team members is to first ensure there are clear objectives or outcomes that are being attempted, then mange through the Four Cs:
- Communication
- Collaboration
- Creativity
- Critical thinking

The Four C's are making a name for themselves and becoming popular in the new ways for Children Education.

This philosophy was reminded to me today when I met with a savvy Superintendent from the Saskatoon Public School Board. This is a goal they have to better prepare kids for their careers. It is not all about passing a test, but about preparation for the next level of ones path in life they are about to discover.

Maybe as adults in the work world - we can take a lesson how they are teaching the kids. I is never too late for us to adjust our management and training styles.

Can check out a sample Four C's website:

HOWEVER, very IMPORTANT......don't forget, in the project and work world - cash is so very important. Thus the trick is to not let people we manage go too far down a path that is mistakenly not aligned with the objectives.

This is where Monitoring becomes such a critical aspect of how to deliver project work.  This is where weekly and monthly reports are okay.  But if you wanted to try some of the social media type softwares that are taking such a strong foothold in the work world (blogs, chat rooms, messengers, face-book type posts, etc) then you will get the true, transparent updates and can act earlier - when a "yellow flag" is raised, versus a "red flag" is raised.

This is also where a PM should be open to embrace new tools that allow more effective monitoring and communication (technology and virtual tools are the key).

Water - Earth Day Apr 22 - Kids questions are great

Congrats, April 22, another Earth day! I may be biased but would love more focus on water recovery from polluted sources (waste + innovation = resource). Also more focus on avoiding over-complicating things and breaking things down - tackle them one piece at at time (much like a project approach).

In SK we think we have abundant, clean water sources, and we do, but it is up North where most people do not live. Same goes for Canada.  We still are quite naive - but we are getting better.  I do not need to talk about  conflicts and social issues how people live (stay home from work to fill their water jugs) in areas of India, Middle East, E. Asia, etc.

Every year water and earth sustainability gets more attention, and is well deserved!

I recently spoke about water and sustainability at at a school in front of 4 classes of grades 7 and 8.  It is so nice to get back to the basics when facing such massive topics and challenges. The questions were amazing but also scary.  The kids were so great.  One of the questions asked was:  "This sounds like a lot of challenges ahead, what do you think we can do."  My reply was..... "I wish I knew - if things today are not doing so great I am hoping that future generations, decision makers and leaders which will be people like you, will be more innovative and find better balances and sustainable solutions"

It was so exciting to hear the questions they came up with, so open, transparent, simple and genuine with care.  They seemed to simplify things, breaking it down to small little things that we can do.  At least this way we can start, does not have to be a massive plan that takes too long to get off the ground.  Sometimes we adults complicate things and wait until every light ahead is green before we even start to move.  Great first steps.... are to continue to grow our awareness.  Another step is to take different perspectives to get to similar results..... e.g. try to not change things drastically for e.g.  don't have to "stop" irrigating a lawn, but use recovered water instead of potable water.

A great site to visit to learn more on water is of a United Nations member for Canada, Bob Sandford, can call or email him, he is a great speaker and really hits home with his material and passion, or can check him out at URL: 

Another great URL gaining momentum in Canada is:

Thoughts - Training vs Education vs PD

Our company is starting to use the term PG (Professional Growth).  PG depends on Objectives & Constraints.  PG includes training & education and links it to the path of growth (work related and/or personal related). PG embraces online approaches since it occurs continuously.

Training happens every day.  Types include:coaching, mentoring, trial & error, meetings, reading, etc. Education happens every day, including; listening, reading and if tested it becomes formal.

Types of training and education we often think about are face to face sessions, instructor lead, schools, conferences, etc.

Maybe this is because we grew up where Instructors stood in front and told us what we needed to learn and how to learn it. Then in the work world often get judged on weaknesses that have to be developed (Professional Development).

The new way to think is to focus just on the strengths, weaknesses take care of themselves. Grow the strengths and the person will grow.  Weaknesses also often enhance our strengths. Then the next thing needed is a diverse, collaborative team approach.

Now to grow and enable the strengths, do it as often as you can so you must find ways to do it at a low cost.

This is where the world of online growth and learning has become one of the biggest industries and fastest changing. Online courses allow access to anything you want, when you want it, where you want it and at a fraction of the cost.

You can check out the blogs of Darren Cannell (see on left of his site, over 5000 articles) of a globally recognized person that specializes in this area.

Tools - Social Media Linking Tool

Great tool with real simple workflow to help connect social media sites (post in only one site and the others automatically will update the same post).

Enter your post into a blog, then the tool called IFTTT will also automatically add the Title and URL to the other social sites you select. 

Site URL is:

Here is my first workflow test :)

PMTip - Ranking the Project Priorities

If change is new constant, we must continuously emphasize our priorities.  In a project, stakeholders need to know rankings of: Scope, Schedule, Budget and Quality.  They CANNOT all be equal.
Too often a project is run without clear knowledge by the team and acknowledgement by management as to what is the main priority for success.  During all projects, changes happen and the art of change control and balancing trade-offs occurs. 

Trade-offs revolve primarily around the areas of: Scope, Schedule, Budget and Quality.  All project stakeholders must know the rankings. Which one is most important and must stay the course in accordance to the plan - it cannot change.  Then which one is ranked the lowest so it becomes the first one to change as needed.

Example: if Budget is the king, it cannot move, the project must finish within XY budget.  Then the others must be ranked, for example Quality is number 2, Scope is number 3 and Schedule is number 4.  If changes are needed then Schedule is looked at first. Attempt to alter number 4 and still achieve project success criteria (sacrifice trade-offs in the area of Schedule).  Then if that is not enough, in sequence, can look at Scope, then Quality.  Finally, only as a last resort, would one look at budget.

So be clear and communicate the rankings to the team, since you will want their involvement to help develop innovative ideas how to respond to changes. This prioritization will also help people be more aware of risks that can impact the high ranking areas (tune in their focus). You can create a simple table in your charter, have the four headings and rank them from 1 to 4 in order of importance.  

Often we are naive in the sense that "change will not occur much to our project". Be open in your discussions as to which area will be managed first when the changes start a coming. Also, collaborate as much as possible on how to manage the changes and stay within the prioritized success criteria.

PMTip - Primary vs Secondary Priorities

When you ask someone"how are things going?".  Do you ever get the response "I am sooo busy".  Come to think of it, this also happens a lot in "non work life" with friends and acquaintances that I have not seen in a while.  This is sad.  Life is too short at work or at home to be sooooo busy.

At work there is a good chance one gets overwhelmed.  However, this does not mean one is "too busy".  Find the root cause. Often the person does not have clarity on their priorities or does not have them categorized into which need to be completed (primary) and which can be done off the corner of the desk with low expectations (secondary).

Being too busy leads to poor quality, low performance and higher levels of stress & anxiety. All management & employees will agree to this.

A GREAT habit to get into to help manage project quality and stress & anxiety is to be systematic and transparent about capacity.  A good PM and Sponsor should be very open with this process and supportive in early stages of the project.

At all times, one should know what their Primary Priorities are and must ensure that their manager is on the same page as them (same priorities). Primary Priorities have a high probability of success (should be completed) and are aligned with the resource capacity and capability.

Then as normally happens, during the day or the week, new priorities come into play.  Each human has a limited amount of capacity, so when the new priorities come into play, the art of trade-off occurs.  Which priority takes precedence (stays as a Primary) and which priority falls to a lower level to the corner of your desk (Secondary Priority).

A great way to help manage this and be effective at communicating to management is having a Priority Matrix or an Objectives Log (there are many software and systems for this).  Each day, one should review their Primary Tactical Priorities/objectives (maybe keep 3 per day) and also each Monday (in parallel), one reviews their Primary Strategic Priorities/objectives (maybe keep 3 for the week).  Then as new ones come into play, you adjust accordingly with feedback from management.

Generally, you could have 10-20 daily objectives that are secondary and maybe another 5-10 weekly objectives that are secondary. Your lists of secondary objectives will never deplete, this is what also ensures you have a job to go to the following week :-)

A great science revolves around this and in part being true to the capacity loads of a resource ties into aspects and teachings of Organizational Design.  A great source to read further can be found at

PMTip - Use of Templates

In early stages of a project, the culture must be figured out ASAP to determine what PM approach is the best fit for success. In addition, often a company will have their own set of templates.  These will also be highly influenced by the culture.  If coming into the project and you have templates used in past projects or other cultures, be prepared to integrate templates as deemed fit.

Don't be afraid to question a company template.  Ask when it was created and by whom.  One of the signs of a mature organization is a formal review and upgrade of all PM tools, systems and templates on an annual basis.  Typical templates include: Charter, Scope Statement, Future Strategies, Lessons Learned, WBS, RAM, Org Chart, Communication Matrix, Resource Matrix, Risk Log, ODA Log, Procurement Plan, Budget, Schedule, Project Plan, etc.

For example, we recently took on a project where the Sponsor has a Charter template they want utilized.  The template does not have any sections focused on the "why".  No sections asking how the project was selected, how it aligns to the business or asking about the justification and or value and why it is important to be completed.  These are critical points within a charter. Also the template had a very definitive budget section, with a plus or minus budget contingency of 10%. Often in a Charter, the plus or minus can be 50% to 100%.

This does not mean it is a bad template, it means that it is different then practices that I would normally follow or that are defined by other Methodologies such as the PMI.  So one must be sure that the approach is also aligned by all stakeholders.  From my perspective, I would want to be within the Initiation Stage and use a Charter Template ( as per the PMI approach).  But they are wanting to jump to the Planning Stage with a budgetary Project Plan Template.

Again, no project is ever cookie cutter and all projects have their different levels of priorities and constraints. So our immediate next step was to ensure everyone was on the same page and as quick as possible, review the overall PM Approach, tools/templates and expectations around each.  This worked well but identified many areas that we had to document in order to "customize" our PM approach all in the name of increasing project success and decreasing project risk.

PMTip - Culture

Often I get a question, what is the best PM Method to use, or what templates to use, or how to deal with the org structure.  These questions do not have a simple answer, thus often the answer is "depends".  One of the biggest influencers of the answer is the Culture.  This came to mind after I attended the Saskatoon Ukrainian Dance Competition.  There you witness the gathering of a common culture.  Then I compared that to the India Vegetarian Event I attended a few weeks ago.  Again, great similarities yet a different approach.  

This can be related to how to approach a project.  Based on the culture first of the Executive, Sponsor and PM (leadership).  Then the Project Team.  Then look at the company itself.  Based on this, one should be ready to adapt the approach.  This also will directly influence so many aspects as to how you carry out your project process groups or phases (Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor & Control, Close).

Reminding you that an approach may work in one culture but not in another.  That is proof of the challenges that Project Management can have in trying to say one size fits all, or following a Cookie Cutter Approach that came from a best selling book.

Be confident in your cultures and embrace them, they will be the ultimate influencer of success. 

Thoughts - Entrepreneurial Qualities

Often is seems we are brought up to go after those secure jobs with those large sized companies (over 500 employees).  Is there really any security in large companies???  Or are they now too slow to adapt and too afraid to take risks on a person so actually carry more risk then the small or medium sized organizations?
What percentage of employees are more drawn to qualities of working with entrepreneurs, take a look a these qualities of that type of leader, if you ike to work for these types of people. Or maybe if you align and are a budding or existing entrepreneur.  Small and mid sized companies are becoming dominant forces of employment, research and innovation within Canada and are slowly being recognized as this (as they also get more savvy to conduct their own strategic lobbying and policy influencing…..  so don't be afraid to talk about these qualities openly

Check out the link

PMTip - Laughter, Productivity & Innovation

Do you want to increase productivity in your projects, grow levels of trust (break down barriers) and improve levels of innovation.

Low hanging fruit available to us all includes:   Infuse your meeting with laughter.

Before doing that, ACTION REQUEST:  take 2 min to thank people around you (at work, volunteering, etc) that make you laugh.  Thank them on behalf of your health and also the improved productivity of the work you do.  We don`t formally recognize the benefits our work environment gets due to laughter.  Sadly, maybe too many "old school managers" that don't want to hear the word "fun" in the work environment.

If you want to improve productivity, create mini breaks of pleasure in your meeting and also through out the work day.  Just like how we go on vacation, humans need the "mini-breaks``.

When something is perceived as funny, the pleasure and reward center of the brain is activated the same area that is activated during other types of highs (e.g. cocaine, sex, etc).

Laugh as hard and as often as possible.  Integrate it into your work environment.

FORMALLY start each meeting with a joke (assign it to the team and take turns).  Share the fun.

 Sample highlights from a recent link:
  • Dr. Bellace says that laughter releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which serves as a reward for the brain, creates a sense of euphoria, and plays a pivotal role in our motivation to continue the behavior.
  • Dr. Bellace notes that the benefits of laughter include improved immune functioning, stress relief, increased tolerance for pain, improved cardiovascular health, reduced anxiety, and improved mood.
See link for more details....

Water - Cnd Water Scarcity

Ow, ow, ow, when I hear people brag about how much water Canada has, I often bang my head on the wall - poor, poor wall.

Within Canada there is a wide-spread perception that Canada’s water sources are high in quantity and pristine in quality. This perception has leaders in the science and political community alike, stating things such as “we must start planning for the future when we will face water shortages”. This is False.

TODAY, Canada regularly has areas of the country in drought every year. With global climate change the extreme weather variations from floods to droughts make things that much more difficult to manage. Canada has annual disasters related to water management (Winnipeg floods, Calgary floods, Quebec floods, Ontario floods) that are costing the country billions of dollars.

Other aspects of water management often overlooked or with misconceptions include:
·        Location of fresh water (majority within Canada is in the North - not accessible),
·        Water flow (majority of fresh water flows northwards - not easily usable),
·        River sources (majority of Western Canadian Rivers utilize glaciers as a source which are aggressively depleting every year),
·        Clean water reserves (supplies are being converted to dirty water reserves due to new pollutants, failed wells between aquifers, high mixing with salt/phosphates/suspended solids, etc),
·        Consumption (is growing exponentially, human society growth and business growth demands it).

The SK Water Recovery Consortium is planning to make a difference and about to get some wings, stay tuned :)

Tools - Social Media best practices

Starting to see more of the limitless potential of social media and more importantly the fundamental concepts of sharing and communication in a real time environment!!

Some good basic shares:

10 Sloppy Social Media Mistakes to Fix NOW

Why Measuring Social Media MATTERS | Social Media Today

One more little more out there, has the history of utilization of this new world

Thoughts - Define: Leadership vs Innovation vs PM