Being Ready to Bloom

flowersEver had that itch to be somewhere beautiful? Well South Africa has an array of amazing spots to visits that can attest to the diversity and beauty of our country. One such a place is Namaqualand. It is not much during most of the year, but spring brings with it a burst of colour and its splendour can barely be captured by camera.  More than 4000 types of seeds sit in wait for the perfect moment to bloom. Timing is everything and so they wait for the right circumstances. Everything has to work together, including the wind, rain and temperature, to ensure that the environment is ready for this spectacle.

It is not so different for projects. If you want to see real beauty in the success of your project it is important to understand the dynamics within your project, organisation and team and wait for the right moment. It all has to come together at the right moment just like the flowers of the Namaqualand. Too little rain means no flowers, too strong winds leads to flowers that quickly withers. No wind means not enough pollination, little rain implies not enough damp soil to help a seeds grow. So all elements are needed…even those that we sometimes consider to be roadblocks to our success.

And therein lies the art of project management. Those of us having had the privilege to manage projects before knows that a lot of the success of the project lies in the ability of the project manager to know when to block the wind and when to let it blow through. It is knowing when rain is needed and when rain is going to be damaging to the mind-set of the team.

Getting to see your project bloom is definitely fortunate, but getting it to bloom in its diversity is even more special. Too early will have not enough flowers bloom or too late will see most of the blossoms already withered. Both will leave you disappointed. Timing is thus everything and celebrating the differences that lies within each team member and directing the differences to bring together a solid team performance is part of the skillset needed from the project manager.

The Namaqualand flowers will mean nothing if there is nobody who make an effort to witness its splendour every year. Tourists (both international and local) flock to the area every year between August and September and create an economic bloom for accommodation establishment and local businesses in those areas. Similarly it is necessary for the project manager to sell the project success to those within, and outside the organisation and thus create an economic bloom for the organisation, the project team and individuals who can benefit from the success of the project.

So in summary then, the project manager’s role in project success should never be underestimated, diversity should be embraced and successes celebrated. That way the beauty of success can be enjoyed.

Written by: Lizette Venter,  September 2018

5 Things you should know about Project Management

image 5Within the world of Project Management we tend to think we have it covered. Yet when the tire proverbially hits the tar, there are always a few things from the woodwork that we did not think of. It tends to be more complicated and more intricate than what we realised at first and therefore my objective with this article is to shed some light on the things I have learned that just happens to be important.

The first thing you need to realise as a project manager is that you are not always welcome. Yes that is correct, there is always some resentment at the beginning as there are a few mindsets that needs to shift. One of the first that come to mind is that of the techies that think they are better equipped to also manage their project. Now some do have the skills, but if you are honest with yourself you cannot be the gate keeper and the one delivering the goods. The second is that of the client that see you in the way of what they want. Their objective is to get as much work done for as little pay and if they want to change their mind mid-way, they will do so and you are in the way of that objective. Then there is a mindset called the boss syndrome. Here we deal with resource managers, sponsors and owners that own the work and the resources needed to get it done. If they have a different task in mind, who are you to tell them differently. I am sure there are a few other mindsets that you might think of that fits the bill. So don’t expect to be valued, but show your worth. They will thank you for it later.

The second lessons that I learned was that administration suck, but is so necessary. Yes those time consuming tasks of going through minutes to ensure it is representative of what was said, ensuring scope documentation is aligned to contracts as signed off, change requests etc. Those things that we think we can do without because the project is in such a good place can be a saving grace on the day the project turns. Evidence of the paths taken and the picnic stops helps provided a map of the journey taken and can help your team and you towards auditable justification.

The third lesson I learned was to never underestimate personalities. Politics and character differences are often things that nobody talks about, but can lead to stormy encounters in safe coves. They need to be dealt with diplomatically, effectively and their effects neutralised before the damage to team and project are done. These stormy encounters can lead up the food chain pretty quick and defocus the team and steal the show.

Plan and measure. It sounds like a cliché but there is never enough time put into planning and never enough time thinking about how you get measured. Yes and I do understand that sometimes you cannot plan in detail, but even the basics of planning aren’t always done.  This also implies planning for measuring. Knowing your customer and establish measurement criteria that talks to what is important for him/her is important.

The last thing that you need to take note of is balance. It is such a simple word for a world full of unhappiness. Nothing in your project is worth the sacrifice of a marriage, or time lost with loved ones during their last days, health, being there for children and good conversations. If you want your project to succeed you need to know when to burn the candle and when to let it go.  There is no retry on lost time and no remedy for regrets.

There are probably a few more things that you need to know, but these provided clear guidelines for me in my journey as a project manager and consultant. I have seen many unnecessary turmoil around these that could have been better handled if we just knew these five simple things.

Author: Lizette Venter

Date: August 2018

World without ethics


Today, I once again came to realize that loyalty means nothing, people’s word is not their honor and they will screw you in an instant if that leads them one step up on the proverbial ladder. Sure we shouldn’t write blogs when we are in the mood I am, but it makes me wonder the lengths people would go for an extra buck. No wonder we are plagued with a world full of corruption. Unfortunately when you do this at the beginning of a project, to what unethical lows would you go?

Most interestingly to me is the total lack of realization on their part that their actions are truly unethical. It is as if there is no moral compass. And even worse they let others do their dirty work for them…This is a doggy eat dog world is it not, and if you cannot ware big pants, maybe you need to get out of the wardrobe? I do hope that those that did me wrong today’s ears are ringing, but what do we do when we are faced with such blatant unethical behavior? Do you vent as I am doing right now?

Well I can tell you, from first-hand experience that venting does not help. It just makes you feel more angry and disillusioned especially when it is people you have known and regarded highly for a long time.  So do you pull the sword and confront the person. My parents always taught me to never burn bridges, but as soon as you pull a sword you run the risk of burning that bridge and if you don’t confront them, they will just live in bliss doing to others what they did to you. Alternatively block them out of your life and ignore them. Highly mature is it not….

Ok, so theoretically, and let me stick to that for a moment, you need to know how to deal with conflict situations like this, in order to be a good, principle centred leaders and project managers, and in order to do this, you need to have a few well-grounded principles to stand by. Pulling a sword and confronting somebody is not the same and therefore it is necessary to have your emotions well at bay before you deal with this and to have your facts straight.  Dealing with it when you are angry will not do you any favours.

When you are however a Christian, you need to pray for wisdom and strength to deal with this appropriately and then you need to be willing to wait for the right moment and the right answer. No blogs, email messages, whatsapp or sms. Somethings are better done face to face and sometimes it is better to just walk away. Walking away however implies letting it go and letting it go implies forgiving those that did you wrong, even though they might never ask for your forgiveness…and then there is me writing blogs…eish, so still a long way to go.