Nice project teams vs Respectful project teams

confirmation-bias
image credit Ted Bauer

– This is the nicest project team I worked with, my fellow colleague shared enthusiastically.

– What makes it ‘nice”? my curiosity jumped in.

– It’s the harmony. We think alike, act alike, talk about the same…

I could notice that they even wear similar glasses frames. Those black, thick, square looking frames. It’s just the fashion trend, perhaps.

I worked with very nice project teams and not-so-nice project teams. The former give you the feeling of daily comfort, cosiness even. The latter are like a good hot bitter -sweet coffee, with a long-lasting after taste. I prefer the latter.

These teams tend to be more productive, focused, diverse, authentic, out-spoken and result-driven. They are exactly the type needed to deliver projects on time, within budget and with lasting effects. The culture of these teams is of respectful openness and unbiased information sharing of any kind. They are truthful to themselves and the project’s sponsor/client.

I wondered what is behind, what makes them the way they are. The article by Jonah Sachs “At work a respectful culture is better than a nice one” offered insights and answers to my questions.

As a project manager, one has to ask him/herself: do I want it nice or truthful? Do I create and maintain a culture of safe sharing of information? Do I tune in my emotional intelligence to react to all kind of information coming from all members of the team? Do I have a ‘confirmation bias”? What effects these have on the project team members?

As Jonah Sachs puts it: “Those further from the centers of power risk more and have little to gain in terms of increasing group harmony by speaking up. So they don’t. To make matters worse, women, more than men, have been raised with cultural expectations that they will be always be nice, further silencing important but perhaps inconvenient contributions they might make. Nice workplaces thus quickly become tyrannies of conformity and inequality. ” more https://work.qz.com/1260571/at-work-a-respectful-culture-is-better-than-a-nice-one/

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Thought of the week

Work-life balance is not about a balance. It is about boundaries, choices and priorities. Choose wisely!

Measuring impact

I literally absorbed the article “AEI’s President on Measuring the Impact of Ideas”, which appeared in Harvard Business Review. The author Arthur C. Brooks, the President of American Enterprise Institute—one of the oldest and best-known think tanks in the USA – gives many insightful perspectives on measuring the success of think tanks on the ideas market.

I drew parallels to the development work where demonstrating impact was a challenge even before the “golden era”. Donors need to show evidence to the tax payers that they’re creating value with what they give. They need to see data. Having an intangible product or a number of short lived outputs impresses no one. The (hopefully positive) change needs to be seen and felt.

The article helped reminding that a clear and genuine metric for success is a good start in any development project. Yet, one tends to turn it, for a variety of reasons, in a formal ticking-the-box exercise or toss it all together on the “no-one-reads-it-anyway shelf”.  I found that by simply asking the members of the team “why are we doing this? how will we report against it in one/two year time?” helps in crafting a realistic and committing metric.

Thanks for the inspiration, Harvard Business Review! The link to the article: https://hbr.org/2018/03/aeis-president-on-measuring-the-impact-of-ideas?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

Strategic planning explained to kids and not only

– What are you going to do on this mission, mom?

– Help an organisation with Strategic planning, sweetheart.

– What’s strategic planning?

Explain this to a five year old. And then to a group of 20 board members, all of whom are lawyers.

So the strategic-planning-explained-to-kids-and-adults-story goes like this:

You are happily building your legos. At some point you’ll hear me “Dinner is ready!”. You know you want to finish building your lego-that would be your aim/objective in strategic planning. Dinner time is your timeline, same in strategic planning.

You follow your lego instructions-that would be your activities in achieving your objective. Your lego bricks are your resources. If the time to dinner is too short and you want to finish on time, you may need to call for help. That would be your parents/partners’ support.

Your satisfaction with the lego built and its compliance with the picture on the box would be the criteria/marks to assess your result.

That in short, my dear, is strategic planning.

Thought of the year

2017 felt as a year of resilience testing more than before. Constant demands. Changing circumstances. It brought the knowledge of thyself and others to a new level. Humanity was put to test. Relationships evolved. All these are precious gifts of knowledge.

Thank you, 2017!

2018, let’s make the most of it and continue to thrive!

Inspired by “Those leaders with strong self-knowledge – who have a clear understanding of their skills and shortcomings, their frustrations, and their core principles – are more likely to sustain those needed reserves of resilience to thrive through adversity and change.” Ron Carucci, The Better you know Yourself, the More Resilient You’ll Be, Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/09/the-better-you-know-yourself-the-more-resilient-youll-be?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social