How to Deliver Perfect Projects

This is what happens to projects in the real world! Don't get caught out!

This is what happens to projects in the real world! Don’t get caught out!

PROJECTS THAT ARE ALWAYS WORTH DOING:

1] Copying your competitor:

Find a product that your competitors are selling and then do the same. Copying is the sincerest form of flattery, plus as they are likely to be better than you, the fact they are doing it means it has got to be a good idea

2] From any management book:

Just filter the ideas from a bestseller like ‘13 Habits of Smug Know Alls’ to fit your company profile plus if it goes pear shaped then you can always say Conglomerate Plc did this successfully in 1995 and it was someone else’s fault that it didn’t work here.

3] The standard ‘can’t fail to impress’ projects list:

a] Cost reduction by downsizing the work force

b] Departmental reorganisation

c] Firing the existing provider of an outsourced function and hiring another similar company.

THE PROJECT TEAM:

The Project Manager:

Project Managers organise stuff, like meetings, actions and risk registers. Be nice to the PM, because you don’t want any actions assigned to you. The Project Manager is ideally a contractor so can be blamed and then fired if things are not going well.

The Programme Manager:

They provide progress and status reports plus presentations. Can also be wheeled in front of management to explain what is happening, saving you the time finding out. Also need to be kept on-side, as the presentations they create will be used by you to justify your job.

A Deputy:

They take notes and tell your peers and other stakeholders what to do and then hound them, whilst you take on the onerous task of handing out the plaudits and any good news.

The Expert:

The only person on the project team that knows what they are doing and also has the detail, they are usually passionate and incomprehensible but vital or you’ll deliver a chocolate kettle – lovely but useless.

The Stakeholders:

Usually a couple of appropriate Middle Managers. Their teams are supporting the project or delivering parts of it. They don’t want to be there as this is extra work for no benefit to them. Don’t make eye contact or you’ll get excuses.

 A P.A.:

Fierce ones round everyone up by reorganising their diaries for you. Friendly ones bring you buns and can get you out of meetings when you need to exit fast.

 PROJECT TASKS AND ACTIONS:

These are perfect storms of overlaps and infighting. This is good as you can use the teams’ antagonism towards each other to ensure they don’t bother you with any trivia or work and by showing favouritism to individuals to ensure that they suck up to you and do your bidding rather than the teams

 Briefing the team:

In a nutshell you need to communicate that it’s a key deliverable for the board, you’re only interested in the big picture so you don’t want problems only solutions and as a motivator add that if it doesn’t come together on time and on budget they are all fired, sorry downsized.

Updates:

Demand monthly updates, or weekly if you think you can get away with it, as a full blown, chart ridden, metric heavy presentation. These should be 20 or 30 slides and needs a one page executive summary of the important bits, as you won’t have time to read the rest.

Report back to the board:

This should be monthly and saying how well its going. Don’t take anything but the summary to the meeting or some clever clog is going to start questioning the data. If asked to provide more detail, simply say you will take an action to get back to them on that and then castigate your team for not including the answer in the summary. Also remember to never get back to a questioner with an answer they don’t want. Better not to get back to them at all, if possible, as it will only encourage further questions.

Actions:

These are tasks that need to be completed before the next project meeting. Think Bubonic plague here. Keep away from Actions and anyone who might give you one. To stretch this tenuous metaphor further, if you are a carrier then feel free to infect others.

Steering boards:

An unfortunate fact of life is that things don’t always go to plan and because you are an MCA you don’t have a Plan B anyway. So if a project you are leading is going pear shaped, start looking for scapegoats. Your project team members are the first obvious choice and you may need to throw one or two to the wolves during the project anyway. To paraphrase a French Admiral commenting on the execution of an English Admiral: ‘It’s to encourage the others’.

However this is small fry and the action is expected. The crucial requirement is to involve your peers, so set up a ‘Steering Board’ for the project. This needs to include the Senior Management of any department involved or affected by your project. At this level they won’t be ‘detail’ people so you can get away with telling them very little. Keep it simple and talk about ‘joined up approaches’, ‘key issues being addressed’ and ‘corporate governance’. Your steering board will lap this up and by the mere fact that they turned up can now be allocated partial blame in any cock up.

Project end:

There are two types of project endings. The first finishes on time, on budget and achieves its objectives. This type doesn’t concern us here, as it is a very rare occurrence and you just have to claim the plaudits. In reality, most projects fizzle out when either its clear it won’t work or when the collateral damage to the rest of the organisation becomes so great that your colleagues get nervous and jump overboard, i.e. they stop turning up to meetings.

Both are positive results. There’s no blame attached and you are remembered for the positive reports that indicated clearly you were on top of the task the whole time it was running. You can also afford to look slightly disappointed that the project was ended and will get some sympathy from the senior management for its cancellation. Always, of course, put a brave face on it and say how you can also see the ‘big picture’ that they can and fully understand and support their wise decision to can it.

Extract from the best selling How To Get To The Top Without Working Too Hard (Dick Lannister)

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and all good online stores

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 13.59.21

 

Advertisements

New TESCO offer set to restore confidence in ailing grocer

For those who may not know Tesco PLC is a multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer. After Walmart, it is the second-largest retailer in the world measured by profits and second-largest retailer in the world measured by revenues. It has stores in 12 countries across Asia, Europe and North America and is the grocery market leader in the UK. But  it’s now in trouble for allegedly telling porky pies about its recent profits. A new Mediocre company we Brits can be proud of! Take a look at the share price. Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 18.41.10

And this crisis has hit the other side of the pond as poor old Warren Buffet is now down to his last $70.3 Billion as he loses heavily on Tesco shares. (Please note that If you are able to donate to the WB I’m very nearly broke fund please do so that we can assist the poor guy in his dotage. As usual send all donations to Dick who will pass them on taking only reasonable expenses out)

There is however some good news. With the departure or suspension of many key Tesco Executives, rumours are circulating in the City of the imminent appointment of Torvil DeHavilland-Pratt, noted Marketing guru and a Director of the Institute of Mediocre Management, as Most Senior Executive RS VP Promotions at Tesco In an exclusive interview, Torvil revealed how he has married together the financial expertise of the remaining Tesco Accountants and the stores reputation for low prices. So coming to a store near you will be the  Get more Cash for your Cash! instore promotion He explains: “The prices for brand new and genuine £10 pound notes will be slashed. They were previously on sale at £14.99 each but will now be only £12 each or 2 for £22.99. If these notes are invested in the new Tesco Investment Trusts Upgrade Programme or TiTsUp customers will receive an interest rate of between -10% and +10%” Typical Example of whats bound to happen to your investment:

Buy 10 x £10 notes at £14.99 each £149.90
Introductory discount (2 for £22.99) £34.95
Actual price for customer £114.95
Total at end of 5 years cumulative interest (with assumed interest rate at 10%) £185.13*

“That’s over £70 profit from your TiTsUp fund”, explained Torvil, “compared to none if you’d kept 10 x £10 notes in a tin under your bed for the same time. And if you put in £100,000 and why wouldn’t one? You would get £71,000 yes £71,000 for doing nothing but acting smugly for 5yrs.” So Dick Lannister says ignore Warren Buffet, what does he know? With Torvil likely to lead the way at Tesco, sell everything you own and invest in this famous Mediocre UK company’s fantastic scheme.

* Please note that your capital rate ratios portfolios can levitate gravitationally both in a vertical and upwards scenario but also move in an anti-positive direction which may result in your fiscal remainder being short of a contribution or two at the end of term.

The 7 Habits of Mediocre Management

via Blogs I Follow — WordPress.com

There is a very successful book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen R. Covey. The premise is that by aligning your behaviors to these Seven Habits then you can achieve almost anything you want. But what happens if your company is run by a psychopath, the middle management are incompetent and your co-workers are as effective as chocolate tea pots. You’ll need the following habits to survive.

The Seven Habits of Mediocre Management

(1) Be Reactive:

Whatever you do don’t start anything new. If it hasn’t been done before its bound to fail, as your competitors would have thought of it first and obviously decided it was too risky. Only do something if has to be done e.g. putting a fire out. Otherwise the safe not sorry mantra is: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

(2) Always Think of the Consequences:

If you have to start something new and god forbid, innovative, what happens if it goes wrong? Can it be traced back to you? If it can, set up a ‘Steering Board’ or at least a Works Committee so you can spread any blame by ensuring collective responsibility. If it goes well, your boss will take the credit so don’t concern yourself with that scenario

(3) Prioritise Yourself:

Put yourself first. After all you are at least less mediocre than your peers. So what can you get out of this? Is there a promotion or pay rise involved? Make sure that you are front and centre of any activities that are visible to your management and are bound to succeed or at the very least not to fail. Your team, direct reports and anyone else directly connected to the project should be in no doubt that your happiness is their job security.

(4) Never Apologise or Explain:

It’s an old truth but one practiced by the Captains of Industry, Politicians and Royalty for generations. You must always remember it’s never your fault. Even if you made the original decision, someone should have interpreted it in a way that did not cause the catastrophe it created. That’s the point of a ‘Team’. Plus of course, all should remember that in the unlikely event you do go down, they go down with you.

(5) Communicate Effectively:

Communicate information only a ‘need to know’ basis only. The ‘Team’ should not have the ‘Big Picture’ as it’s far too hard for them to understand. They should just follow any orders that are given to them, whether written, verbal or via ‘guidance’ delivered in the pub. Telepathic employees are like gold dust, so ask all the team to work on that skill, it saves so much of your time time if you actually have to pass on stuff.

(6) Build a Team:

You need do-ers, a note taker, a PowerPoint expert, a sycophant and an expert. Make sure there is only one expert, two will just contradict each other and this will involve decision making in a subject area you have no idea about. The do-ers should be told what you expect to happen and the expert will look aghast at the time scale and budgets allocated. Let them fight it out between them. The PowerPoint guy does the status reports, the more pages and complex the less likely to be commented on negatively at your review with your boss. The sycophant provides coffee and biscuits. The note taker (ideally a sycophant as well) is to ensure evidential proof that what ever you said or did was the right thing.

(7) Your Boss is Always Right:

A Mediocre Boss will practice these habits so expect to be managed in that way. The advantage is you know what to expect from the behaviors so don’t get caught in any fall out. If your Boss is a complete $*!@*% then sycophancy is the best defence.