Tag: troubled projects

Logframes and How to get excited about topics that bore you

Who loves logframes? I do not.

Several years ago I was drafting a logframe for a 2,5 million Euro project. I puffed and huffed over it for couple of days. It would not make progress. It was still an empty table. Then I realised that disliking it, cost me more. More time, more effort, more energy.

I came across this article these days:

How to Get Excited About Topics that Bore You, by Barbara Oakley,


A useful reading on how to overcome the boredom or the feeling of discomfort towards something that is necessary to be done.

The story of the logframe has a happy ending: the project was approved and successfully implemented. Keeping my mind on the long-term perspective was indeed beneficial.

Your professional journey as a project manager | APM – re-post

I liked this presentation, even if it seems to paint a rather rosy picture of the project manager’s life https://www.apm.org.uk/news/how-to-become-a-project-manager-video/. Not that the project managers’ life is dull. Quite the opposite on some days. I know a project manager who was once introduced by her boss as “this is our project manager who was greeted with a kiss by the deputy minister at our last steering committee’s meeting”. You may call it “perks” of the job.

From what i’ve seen so far, project management is for anyone who enjoys the action and aims higher, is ready to serve others and plans the details to the devils’ envy so that others relax.

Anyway,  if you are doing project management or plan to do it, love it – wisdom by Alfredo, Cinema Paradiso. d677799126be2a5e64c9ec72e286b296


The future is here. The future is here?

The title “Are Chatbots the Next Project Managers?” of a LinkedIn post by Aaron Montemayor Walker drew my attention: “For now, project managers can remain calm as their roles are safe, but they should be weary of chatbots slowly stealing their jobs from right under their nose.”

The article seems to imply that project managers’ job is to chat, a function that can be replaced by chatbots. I wish my job would be about mastering the skill of chatting only. Light chatting, water cooler conversation, coffee room chat….  I’ll may be try doing that. Chat for a week and then look at the project’s dashboard and show it to the project’s sponsor and board.

That article brought some good news as well: AI replaces professions with a high degree of professionalisation. “In fact, as time goes by, it becomes easier and easier to replace humans with computer algorithms, not merely because the algorithms are getting smarter, but also because humans are professionalizing. Ancient hunter-gatherers mastered a very wide variety of skills in order to survive, which is why it would be immensely difficult to design a robotic hunter-gatherer. Such a robot would have to know how to prepare spear points from flint stones, find edible mushrooms in a forest, track down a mammoth, coordinate a charge with a dozen other hunters and use medicinal herbs to bandage any wounds. ” from http://ideas.ted.com/the-rise-of-the-useless-class/

That shows that project managers are not in danger of loosing jobs to AI, at least not immediately, given the variety of skills they need to master and apply. Not as physically intense as those of an ancient hunter, but still. One more study shows that “workers who successfully combine mathematical and interpersonal skills in the knowledge-based economies of the future should find many rewarding and lucrative opportunities.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/jobs-of-future-and-skills-you-need/. for instance, negotiating with a difficult client and delivering for a financial and performance audit are project manager’s duties, which go right into this categories.

Still, no time to rest on laurels, while chatbots deliver and develop. The only way to keep a job and to continue to love what you do is to keep learning. People smarter than me know it and do it, continuously and sometimes by chatting. Even Siri, knows it 😉 

The Most Important Job Interview Question

A good project team starts with a meaningful and human centred job interview. I loved the human face this article puts on the job interview process http://blogs.hbr.org/tjan/2012/09/the-most-important-job-intervi.html from Harvard Business Review by Anthony K. Tjan. 

It reminded me about my marriage proposal, when the “Will you marry me?” question received the ” Will you?” response. A two word question meant to cement the mutual agreement and articulate the presence/or absence of a common vision. True for marriage. True for business. True for project teams.

I usually know at the end of an interview that I would not like to hear back from an employer when he/she:

1. is taken aback when I actually have questions as a follow up of his/her ‘Do you have questions” question. It closes the opportunity to find the match.

2. reads from a sheet of paper the questions to ask. If an interviewer cannot articulate one sentence, how he/she is able to assess the response? It is often a sign of simple lack of interest in the response.

Too often, I feel, employers forget that they want or need the candidate as much as the candidate needs them“, writes Tjan. And I subscribe. Not treating the job applicant as a valuable customer is a certain recipe for driving away the best. I’ve noticed it in a year of 15 international competitions and an equally high number of local recruitments. It showed me that the job interview is a two-way process. Flexing muscles as an prospective employer helps only if you hire a gym instructor and even then it can be seen as a competition rather than interest in the candidate’s talent and skills.

The job interview is the basis for building trust, a mutually fulfilling work relation and making a team work. “If you were given this opportunity, would you take it?” is THE interview question proposed by Tjan to test the foundation. I would follow it up with “Why?” and let the candidate talk.


Human resources management dilemmas: a story

Everyone was pushing for his dismissal. His client, the project sponsor, the implementing agency. All except for me. I’ve dragged on the file for four months, for as long as I could, given the pressure from all sides.

A letter from the client to the project sponsor put an end to his contract. We settled for a mutually agreed termination of the contract and a bit of extra paid days.1.4

In the three weeks that followed from his resignation letter, he displayed the model of best professional behaviour. He was cooperating in his hand-over to a remarkable extent. I tried my best to respond to all his e-mails (up to seven a day some days), his telephone calls. I knew it was important to him. To talk to and to listen to him.

There was no blame. Just a set of circumstances.

A farewell coffee, a farewell note, cc-ed to entire team and a recommendation letter. A warm shake of hands and an eye contact to last throughout years. The least I could have done.

I often missed his honesty, integrity, eloquent communication style and a sense of humour to envy. Rare qualities these days.

My takeaway lesson from this is simple: As project managers, we need to look beyond strict client-consultant relations and understand the numerous complexities involved. Thanks to this mindfulness, I would like to believe, he was fully supportive of all management interventions that were required.


his last e-mail to me                                                                                                                                   10 June 20xx

I hesitate to say, “You’re an absolute darling”, for obvious reasons … but you are.