AVOID THESE 10 NETWORKING BLUNDERS – ENLIGHTENED MARKETING BLOG

Networking is a key skill in finding new opportunities. Here is the introduction to an interesting piece by Samantha Hartley of Enlightened Marketing.  Not only is this piece interesting but she has lots of other useful resources at the link below.

“Last weekend I attended an Internet Marketing conference with 180 die-hard entrepreneurs.  Everyone there was hoping to connect with potential clients, partners and vendors.  There was quite a mix of people in the room, from millionaires to newbies.

For some reason, fabulous interpersonal networking is always a powerful learning experience. Lest you think I’m focused on the negative, I’ll point out that I had just about the best time ever at this conference.  It was the perfect trifecta of learning tons of stuff, meeting super people and feeling inspired about great information to share with you.

But, sometimes “negative teachers” model things for us in ways that help the lessons stick better.  So, keep a light heart as I share these networking blunders I observed recently…..”

More at Avoid These 10 Networking Blunders | Enlightened Marketing Blog.

EMOTIONAL INTELIGENCE (EQ)

In managing any change (or indeed in handling life) an understanding of emotional intelligence theory (EQ – Emotional Quotient) is a huge advantage – here is a useful article from businessballs.com on the subject.

Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a relatively recent behavioural model, rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 Book called ‘Emotional Intelligence’. The early Emotional Intelligence theory was originally developed during the 1970s and 80s by the work and writings of psychologists Howard Gardner (Harvard), Peter Salovey (Yale) and John ‘Jack’ Mayer (New Hampshire). Emotional Intelligence is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the EQ principles provide a new way to understand and assess people’s behaviours, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential. Emotional Intelligence is an important consideration in human resources planning, job profiling, recruitment interviewing and selection, management development, customer relations and customer service, and more.

Emotional Intelligence links strongly with concepts of love and spirituality: bringing compassion and humanity to work, and also to ‘Multiple Intelligence’ theory which illustrates and measures the range of capabilities people possess, and the fact that everybody has a value.

The EQ concept argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and enable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring eseential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

Different approaches and theoretical models have been developed for Emotional Intelligence. This summary article focuses chiefly on the Goleman interpretation. The work of Mayer, Salovey and David Caruso (Yale) is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence, and will in due course be summarised here too.

emotional intelligence – two aspects

This is the essential premise of EQ: to be successful requires the effective awareness, control and management of one’s own emotions, and those of other people. EQ embraces two aspects of intelligence:

  • Understanding yourself, your goals, intentions, responses, behaviour and all.
  • Understanding others, and their feelings.

emotional intelligence – the five domains

Goleman identified the five ‘domains’ of EQ as:

  1. Knowing your emotions.
  2. Managing your own emotions.
  3. Motivating yourself.
  4. Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
  5. Managing relationships, ie., managing the emotions of others.

Emotional Intelligence embraces and draws from numerous other branches of behavioural, emotional and communications theories, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), Transactional Analysis, and empathy. By developing our Emotional Intelligence in these areas and the five EQ domains we can become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. The process and outcomes of Emotional Intelligence development also contain many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organizations, by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony.

emotional intelligence competence framework, case studies, examples, tools, tests, information and related theory references

The following excellent free Emotional Intelligence materials in pdf file format (Acrobat Reader required to view) are provided with permission of Daniel Goleman on behalf of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, which is gratefully acknowledged:


The Emotional Competence Framework – a generic EQ competence framework produced by Daniel Goleman and CREI covering in summary:

  • personal competence – self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation
  • social competence – social awareness, social skills

‘Emotional Intelligence: what is it and why it matters’. An excellent information paper by Dr Cary Cherniss originally presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, in New Orleans, April 2000. This is a detailed history and explanation of Emotional Intelligence.


The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence – a paper by Dr Cary Cherniss featuring 19 referenced business and organizational case studies demonstrating how Emotional Intelligence contributes to corporate profit performance. The paper is an excellent tool which trainers, HR professionals and visionaries can use to help justify focus, development, assessment, etc., of EQ in organizations.


Guidelines for Promoting Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace – a paper chiefly constructed by Cary Cherniss and Daniel Goleman featuring 22 guidelines which represent the best current knowledge relating to the promotion of EQ in the workplace, summarised as:

paving the way

  • assess the organization’s needs
  • assessing the individual
  • delivering assessments with care
  • maximising learning choice
  • encouraging participation
  • linking goals and personal values
  • adjusting individual expectations
  • assessing readiness and motivation for EQ development

doing the work of change

  • foster relationships between EQ trainers and learners
  • self-directed chnage and learning
  • setting goals
  • breaking goals down into achievable steps
  • providing opportunities for practice
  • give feedback
  • using experiential methods
  • build in support
  • use models and examples
  • encourage insight and self-awareness

encourage transfer and maintenance of change (sustainable change)

  • encourage application of new learning in jobs
  • develop organizational culture that supports learning

evaluating the change – did it work?

  • evaluate individual and organizational effect

More information about Emotional Intelligence, plus details of EQ tests, EQ training and EQ development in general are available at the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations.


tips on how to explain emotional intelligence – perspectives and examples

As mentioned above, Daniel Goleman’s approach to Emotional Intelligence is not the only one. The work of Mayer, Salovey and Caruso is also very significant in the field of Emotional Intelligence and can be explored further on John Meyer’s Emotional Intelligence website.

When teaching or explaining Emotional Intelligence it can be helpful to the teacher and learners to look at other concepts and methodologies, many of which contain EQ elements and examples.

Emotional Intelligence tests/activities/exercises books – for young people ostensibly, but just as relevant to grown-ups – provide interesting and useful exercises, examples, theory, etc., for presentations and participative experience if you are explaining EQ or teaching a group. For example ’50 Activities For Teaching Emotional Intelligence’ by Dianne Schilling – my copy was published by Innerchoice Publishing – ISBN 1-56499-37-0, if you can find it. Otherwise look at Amazon and search for ‘activities for teaching emotional intelligence’).

There’s a very strong link between EQ and TA (Transactional Analysis). To understand and explain EQ you can refer to the ‘adult’ aspect of the TA model (for example, we are less emotional intelligent/mature when slipping into negative child or parent modes). In this way we can see that one’s strength in EQ is certainly linked to personal experience, especially formative years.

NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) is very relevant to EQ, as is Multiple Intelligences Theory.

Ethical business and socially responsible leadership are strongly connected to EQ.

So is the concept of love and spirituality in organisations. Compassion and humanity are fundamental life-forces; our Emotional Intelligence enables us to appreciate and develop these vital connections between self, others, purpose, meaning, existence, life and the world as a whole, and to help others do the same.

People with strong EQ have less emotional ‘baggage’, and conversely people with low EQ tend to have personal unresolved issues which either act as triggers (see Freud/Penfield TA roots explanation) or are constants in personality make-up.

Cherie Carter-Scott’s ‘If Life Is Game’ and Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements’ also provide excellent additional EQ reference perspectives.

Empathy and active interpretive modes of listening are also very relevant to EQ.

Ingham and Luft’s Johari Window and associated exercises on the free team building games section also help explain another perspective. That is, as a rule, the higher a person’s EQ, the less insecurity is likely to be present, and the more openness will be tolerated.

High EQ = low insecurity = more openness.

A person’s preparedness to expose their feelings, vulnerabilities, thoughts, etc., is a feature of EQ. Again the converse applies. Johari illustrates this very well (see the Johari Window diagram pdf also).

Maslow’ theory is also relevant to Emotional Intelligence. Self-actualizers naturally have stronger EQ. People struggling to meet lower order needs – and arguably even middle order needs such as esteem needs – tend to have lower EQ than self-actualisers. The original 5 stage Hierarchy of Needs explains that all needs other than self-actualisation are deficiency drivers, which suggest, in other words, some EQ development potential or weakness.

There is a strong thread of EQ running through Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits.

In fact, most theories involving communications and behaviour become more powerful and meaningful when related to Emotional Intelligence, for example:

Leadership

Buying Facilitation®

Benziger Thinking Styles and Assessment Model

McGregor XY Theory


The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organisational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

© alan chapman 2000-2009, based on Daniel Goleman’s EQ concept.

LYING ON LINKEDIN

We can all quote examples of people lying on CVs and we generally take a degree of exageration for granted.  But for some reason we seem to take social media on trust!  We are wrong!  I for one have come across a profile on LinkedIn for someone I had worked with briefly  – he claimed a much longer experience at a much more senior level.  The silly thing was,  he had asked me to be a connection – at least he didn’t ask for a reference! Anyway here is an interesting blog post on the subject

http://jameane.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/lying-on-linkedin-comedy-or-career-suicide/

Balanced Scorecard: an Explanation

Balanced scorecard; Kaplan and Norton’s organisational performance management tool

Balanced scorecard -understanding it matters. In times of change, understanding performance is key to business survival!

In the beginning was darkness. We went to work, did our job (well or otherwise) and went home – day in and day out. We did not have to worry about targets, annual assessments, metric-driven incentives, etc. Aahh… life was simple back then.

Then there came light. Bosses everywhere cast envious eyes towards our transatlantic cousins whose ambition was to increase production and efficiency year-by-year. Like eager younger siblings we trailed behind them on the (sometimes) thorny path to enlightenment.

Early Metric-Driven Incentives – MDIs – were (generally) focused on the financial aspects of an organisation by either claiming to increase profit margins or reduce costs. They were not always successful, for instance driving down costs could sometimes be at the expense of quality, staff (lost expertise) or even losing some of your customer base.

Two eminent doctors (Robert S Kaplan and David P Norton) evolved their Balanced Scorecard system from early MDIs and jointly produced their (apparently) ground-breaking book in 1996. Many other ‘gurus’ have jumped on the Balanced Scorecard wagon and produced a plethora of books all purporting to be the ‘Definitive’ book on Balanced Scorecards. Amazon.com shows over 4,000 books listed under Balanced Scorecards, so take your pick – and your chances!

balanced scorecard – definition

What exactly is a Balanced Scorecard? A definition often quoted is: ‘A strategic planning and management system used to align business activities to the vision statement of an organisation’. More cynically, and in some cases realistically, a Balanced Scorecard attempts to translate the sometimes vague, pious hopes of a company’s vision/mission statement into the practicalities of managing the business better at every level.

A Balanced Scorecard approach is to take a holistic view of an organisation and co-ordinate MDIs so that inefficiencies are experienced by all departments and in a joined-up fashion.

To embark on the Balanced Scorecard path an organisation first must know (and understand) the following:

  • The company’s mission statement
  • The company’s strategic plan/vision

Then

  • The financial status of the organisation
  • How the organisation is currently structured and operating
  • The level of expertise of their employees
  • Customer satisfaction level

The following table indicates what areas may be looked at for improvement (the areas are not exhaustive and are often company-specific):

balanced scorecard – factors examples

Department Areas
Finance Return On Investment
Cash Flow
Return on Capital Employed
Financial Results (Quarterly/Yearly)
Internal Business Processes Number of activities per function
Duplicate activities across functions
Process alignment (is the right process in the right department?)
Process bottlenecks
Process automation
Learning & Growth Is there the correct level of expertise for the job?
Employee turnover
Job satisfaction
Training/Learning opportunities
Customer Delivery performance to customer
Quality performance for customer
Customer satisfaction rate
Customer percentage of market
Customer retention rate

Once an organization has analysed the specific and quantifiable results of the above, they should be ready to utilise the Balanced Scorecard approach to improve the areas where they are deficient.

The metrics set up also must be SMART (commonly, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) – you cannot improve on what you can’t measure! Metrics must also be aligned with the company’s strategic plan.

A Balanced Scorecard approach generally has four perspectives:

  1. Financial
  2. Internal business processes
  3. Learning & Growth (human focus, or learning and development)
  4. Customer

Each of the four perspectives is inter-dependent – improvement in just one area is not necessarily a recipe for success in the other areas.

balanced scorecard

balance scorecard implementation

Implementing the Balanced Scorecard system company-wide should be the key to the successful realisation of the strategic plan/vision.

A Balanced Scorecard should result in:

  • Improved processes
  • Motivated/educated employees
  • Enhanced information systems
  • Monitored progress
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Increased financial usage

There are many software packages on the market that claim to support the usage of Balanced Scorecard system.

For any software to work effectively it should be:

  • Compliant with your current technology platform
  • Always accessible to everyone – everywhere
  • Easy to understand/update/communicate

It is of no use to anyone if only the top management keep the objectives in their drawers/cupboards and guard them like the Holy Grail.

Feedback is essential and should be ongoing and contributed to by everyone within the organization.

And it should be borne in mind that Balanced Scorecards do not necessarily enable better decision-making!

The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organizational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

© Sandra McCarthy and Alan Chapman 2008.

Balanced Scorecards explanation, examples, aims, implementation and teaching aid diagram for the concept..

UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY'S PERFORMANCE – A SIMPLE GUIDE TO BALANCED SCORECARD COURTESY OF BUSINESSBALLS

balanced scorecard

kaplan and norton’s organizational performance management tool

In times of change understanding performance is key to business survival!

In the beginning was darkness. We went to work, did our job (well or otherwise) and went home – day in and day out. We did not have to worry about targets, annual assessments, metric-driven incentives, etc. Aahh… life was simple back then.

Then there came light. Bosses everywhere cast envious eyes towards our transatlantic cousins whose ambition was to increase production and efficiency year-by-year. Like eager younger siblings we trailed behind them on the (sometimes) thorny path to enlightenment.

Early Metric-Driven Incentives – MDIs – were (generally) focused on the financial aspects of an organization by either claiming to increase profit margins or reduce costs. They were not always successful, for instance driving down costs could sometimes be at the expense of quality, staff (lost expertise) or even losing some of your customer base.

Two eminent doctors (Robert S Kaplan and David P Norton) evolved their Balanced Scorecard system from early MDIs and jointly produced their (apparently) ground-breaking book in 1996. Many other ‘gurus’ have jumped on the Balanced Scorecard wagon and produced a plethora of books all purporting to be the ‘Definitive’ book on Balanced Scorecards. Amazon.com shows over 4,000 books listed under Balanced Scorecards, so take your pick – and your chances!

balanced scorecard – definition

What exactly is a Balanced Scorecard? A definition often quoted is: ‘A strategic planning and management system used to align business activities to the vision statement of an organization’. More cynically, and in some cases realistically, a Balanced Scorecard attempts to translate the sometimes vague, pious hopes of a company’s vision/mission statement into the practicalities of managing the business better at every level.

A Balanced Scorecard approach is to take a holistic view of an organization and co-ordinate MDIs so that efficiencies are experienced by all departments and in a joined-up fashion.

To embark on the Balanced Scorecard path an organization first must know (and understand) the following:

  • The company’s mission statement
  • The company’s strategic plan/vision

Then

  • The financial status of the organization
  • How the organization is currently structured and operating
  • The level of expertise of their employees
  • Customer satisfaction level

The following table indicates what areas may be looked at for improvement (the areas are not exhaustive and are often company-specific):

balanced scorecard – factors examples

Department Areas
Finance Return On Investment
Cash Flow
Return on Capital Employed
Financial Results (Quarterly/Yearly)
Internal Business Processes Number of activities per function
Duplicate activities across functions
Process alignment (is the right process in the right department?)
Process bottlenecks
Process automation
Learning & Growth Is there the correct level of expertise for the job?
Employee turnover
Job satisfaction
Training/Learning opportunities
Customer Delivery performance to customer
Quality performance for customer
Customer satisfaction rate
Customer percentage of market
Customer retention rate

Once an organization has analysed the specific and quantifiable results of the above, they should be ready to utilise the Balanced Scorecard approach to improve the areas where they are deficient.

The metrics set up also must be SMART (commonly, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) – you cannot improve on what you can’t measure! Metrics must also be aligned with the company’s strategic plan.

A Balanced Scorecard approach generally has four perspectives:

  1. Financial
  2. Internal business processes
  3. Learning & Growth (human focus, or learning and development)
  4. Customer

Each of the four perspectives is inter-dependent – improvement in just one area is not necessarily a recipe for success in the other areas.

balanced scorecard

balance scorecard implementation

Implementing the Balanced Scorecard system company-wide should be the key to the successful realisation of the strategic plan/vision.

A Balanced Scorecard should result in:

  • Improved processes
  • Motivated/educated employees
  • Enhanced information systems
  • Monitored progress
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Increased financial usage

There are many software packages on the market that claim to support the usage of Balanced Scorecard system.

For any software to work effectively it should be:

  • Compliant with your current technology platform
  • Always accessible to everyone – everywhere
  • Easy to understand/update/communicate

It is of no use to anyone if only the top management keep the objectives in their drawers/cupboards and guard them like the Holy Grail.

Feedback is essential and should be ongoing and contributed to by everyone within the organization.

And it should be borne in mind that Balanced Scorecards do not necessarily enable better decision-making!

The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organizational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.

© Sandra McCarthy and Alan Chapman 2008.

Balanced Scorecards explanation, examples, aims, implementation and teaching aid diagram for the concept..

PROBLOGGER AND THE WISEWOLF TALKING ELEVATOR PITCH

Thanks to ProBlogger and his 31 Days to build a better blog challenge – link below – we have a new overview/about section for Wisewolf Talking – here it is.

Information and comment from Wisewolf Consulting for those managing change or going through change themselves – from strategy and programme management to personal mentoring and things to help you make the most of the opportunity!

Thought pieces to stimulate discussion and to help you develop yourself and your business.

Sometimes original, sometimes interesting pieces from elsewhere, but all aimed at helping you to meet the challenge.”

You can find out more about Wisewolf Consulting at the blog roll links on this site or by emailing info@wisewolfconsulting.com

31 Days to Build a Better Blog – Join 9100 other Bloggers Today!.

MOVING UP IN A RECESSION

Right now most people are focused just on keeping their jobs.  They are not thinking about going for promotion.  But this is the time when more leadership and creativity is needed than ever before, just to keep businesses afloat.  If you are lucky this could be your moment!

Now is the time to be the one that volunteers.

Make clear that you are prepared to take on more responsibility.  Where you see a problem looming, be the one who comes up with a solution – are there new and ingenious ways to cut costs for example?  Are new skills required and do you have them?  This is the time to prove what you can do!

Make sure the boss knows you are thinking about the organisation not just yourself!  But when you do something new or extra make sure your boss does know about it.  If it’s not possible to give you a raise now, then can you negotiate something for when things improve and get it on the record!  Can you tie how much you receive to that improvement with your present pay as a fall-back?

Go for it!  You’ve got nothing to lose and at the very worst you will be someone they want to keep around – right now that is a bonus.  Good Luck!

TWITTERING AT WORK IS GOOD FOR YOU?

An Australian study has shown that short periods using the Internet at work actually increases productivity – Study Author Brent Coker, Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne.  Apparently Workplace Internet Leisure Browsing – or as Brent calls it WILB – gives you a break from concentrating on work, you return refreshed and so concentration is sharpened overall.  He studied 300 people who browsed for products, played games, kept up with the News and even watched YouTube videos.  I’m not sure what effect YouTube videos had on others in the office.  But this applied to those whose Internet breaks made up less than 20% of their time .  Those who were obsessed with the Internet were less productive.  So where does that leave those of us who love to Twitter?

How To Keep Your Job (and Flexibility!) in a Recession – BusinessWeek

How To Keep Your Job (and Flexibility!) in a Recession

Posted by: Lauren Young on April 04

Today’s news that U.S. payrolls declined by 80,000 jobs in March left a sinking feeling in my stomach. BusinessWeek’s chief economist is predicting job cuts in sectors such as financial services, real estate, as well as some consumer areas like hotels and restaurants.

How can you keep your head off the chopping block? Career experts say this is the time to shine at work, but plenty of the working parents I know already have a tough time juggling the demands of their professional life with their personal life.

So that’s why I turned to Cali Williams Yost, president and founder of Work+Life Fit and author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You (Riverhead/Penguin Group, 2005). Her tips for keeping your job afloat during a recession are geared to working parents, but this advice applies to anyone who wants to stay gainfully employed:

Set goals: Ask your manager what is expected of you

More at  How To Keep Your Job (and Flexibility!) in a Recession – BusinessWeek.

A simple and straight forward approach to project management courtesy of businessballs.com

project management, tools, process, plans and project planning tips

Here are the rules of project management. Project management skills are essential for project managers, and any other managers who manage complex activities and tasks, because complex tasks are projects. Project management skills are essential for any complex task, where different outcomes are possible, requiring planning and assessing options, and organizing activities and resources to deliver a result. Projects come in all shapes and sizes, from the small and straight-forward to extremely large and highly complex. Project management can be concerned with anything: people, products, services, materials, production, IT and communications, plant and equipment, storage, distribution, logistics, buildings and premises, staffing and management, finance, administration, acquisition, divestment, purchasing, sales, selling, marketing, human resources, training, culture, customer service and relations, quality, health and safety, legal, technical and scientific, new product development, new business development; and in any combination.

Project management, for projects large or small, should follow this simple process:

project management process

  1. Agree precise specification for the project.
  2. Plan the project – time, team, activities, resources, financials.
  3. Communicate the project plan to your project team.
  4. Agree and delegate project actions.
  5. Manage, motivate, inform, encourage, enable the project team.
  6. Check, measure, review project progress; adjust project plans, and inform the project team and others.
  7. Complete project; review and report on project performance; give praise and thanks to the project team.

1 Agree precise specification for the project

Often called the project ‘terms of reference’, the project specification should be an accurate description of what the project aims to achieve, and the criteria and flexibilities involved, its parameters, scope, range, outputs, sources, participants, budgets and timescales (beware – see note below about planning timescales).

Usually the project manager must consult with others and then agree the project specification with superiors, or with relevant authorities. The specification may involve several drafts before it is agreed. A project specification is essential in that it creates a measurable accountability for anyone wishing at any time to assess how the project is going, or its success on completion. Project terms of reference also provide an essential discipline and framework to keep the project on track, and concerned with the original agreed aims and parameters. A properly formulated and agreed project specification also protects the project manager from being held to account for issues that are outside the original scope of the project or beyond the project manager’s control.

This is the stage to agree special conditions or exceptions with those in authority. Once you’ve published the terms of reference you have created a very firm set of expectations by which you will be judged. So if you have any concerns, or want to renegotiate, now’s the time to do it.

The largest projects can require several weeks to produce and agree project terms of reference. Most normal business projects however require a few days thinking and consulting to produce a suitable project specification. Establishing and agreeing a project specification is an important process even if your task is simple one.

A template for a project specification:

  1. Describe purpose, aims and deliverables.
  2. State parameters (timescales, budgets, range, scope, territory, authority).
  3. State people involved and the way the team will work (frequency of meetings, decision-making process).
  4. Establish ‘break-points’ at which to review and check progress, and how progress and results will be measured.

2 Plan the project

Plan the various stages and activities of the project. A useful tip is to work backwards from the end aim, identifying all the things that need to be put in place and done, in reverse order. First, brainstorming (simply noting ideas and points at random), will help to gather most of the points and issues. For complex projects, or when you lack experience of the issues, involve others in the brainstorming process. Thereafter it’s a question of putting the issues in the right order, and establishing relationships and links between each issue. Complex projects will have a number of activities running in parallel. Some parts of the project will need other parts of the project to be completed before they can begin or progress. Some projects will require a feasibility stage before the completion of a detailed plan.

project timescales

Most projects come in late – that’s just the way it is – so don’t plan a timescale that is over-ambitious. Ideally plan for some slippage. If you have been given an fixed deadline, plan to meet it earlier, and work back from that earlier date. Build some slippage or leeway into each phase of the project. Err on the side of caution where you can. Otherwise you’ll be making a rod for your own back.

the project team

Another important part of the planning stage is picking your team. Take great care, especially if you have team-members imposed on you by the project brief. Selecting and gaining commitment from the best team members – whether directly employed, freelance, contractors, suppliers, consultants or other partners – is crucial to the quality of the project, and the ease with which you are able to manage it. Generally try to establish your team as soon as possible. Identifying or appointing one or two people even during the terms of reference stage is possible sometimes. Appointing the team early maximises their ownership and buy-in to the project, and maximises what they can contribute. But be very wary of appointing people before you are sure how good they are, and not until they have committed themselves to the project upon terms that are clearly understood and acceptable. Don’t imagine that teams need to be full of paid and official project team members. Some of the most valuable team members are informal advisors, mentors, helpers, who want nothing other than to be involved and a few words of thanks. Project management on a tight budget can be a lonely business – get some help from good people you can trust, whatever the budget.

To plan and manage large complex projects with various parallel and dependent activities you will need to put together a ‘Critical Path Analysis’ and a spreadsheet on MS Excel or equivalent. Critical Path Analysis will show you the order in which tasks must be performed, and the relative importance of tasks. Some tasks can appear small and insignificant when they might actually be hugely influential in enabling much bigger activities to proceed or give best results. A Gantt chart is a useful way of showing blocks of activities over time and at a given cost and for managing the project and its costs along the way.

Various project management software is available, much of which is useful, but before trying it you should understand and concentrate on developing the pure project management skills, which are described in this process. The best software in the world will not help you if you can’t do the key things.

the project ‘critical path analysis’

‘Critical Path Analysis’ sounds very complicated, but it’s a very logical and effective method for planning and managing complex projects. This is how to create a critical path analysis. As an example, the project is a simple one – making a fried breakfast.

First note down all the issues (resources and activities in a rough order):

Assemble crockery and utensils, assemble ingredients, prepare equipment, make toast, fry sausages and eggs, grill bacon and tomatoes, lay table, warm plates, serve.

Note that some of these activities must happen in parallel. That is to say, if you tried to make a fried breakfast by doing one task at a time, and one after the other, things would go wrong. Certain tasks must be started before others, and certain tasks must be completed in order for others to begin. The plates need to be warming while other activities are going on. The toast needs to be toasting while the sausages are frying, and at the same time the bacon and sausages are under the grill. The eggs need to be fried last. A critical path analysis is a diagrammatical representation of what needs done and when. Timescales and costs can be applied to each activity and resource. Here’s the critical path analysis for making a fried breakfast:

This critical path analysis example on the website at the link below shows just a few activities over a few minutes. Normal business projects would see the analysis extending several times wider than this example, and the time line would be based on weeks or months. It is possible to use MS Excel or a similar spreadsheet to create a critical path analysis, which allows financial totals and time totals to be planned and tracked. Various specialised project management software enable the same thing. Beware however of spending weeks on the intricacies of computer modelling, when in the early stages especially, a carefully hand drawn diagram – which requires no computer training at all – can put 90% of the thinking and structure in place. (See the details about the most incredible planning and communications tool ever invented, and available for just a tiny fraction of the price of all the alternatives.)

Gantt charts

Gantt Charts are extremely useful project management tools. You can construct a Gantt Chart using MSExcel or a similar spreadsheet. Every activity has a separate line. Create a time-line for the duration of the project (the breakfast example shows minutes, but normally you’d use weeks, or for very big long-term projects, months). You can colour code the time blocks to denote type of activity (eg intense, watching brief, directly managed, delegated and left to run, etc.) You can schedule review and break points. At the end of each line you can show as many cost columns for the activities as you need. The breakfast example shows just the capital cost of the consumable items and a revenue cost for labour and fuel. A Gantt chart like this can be used to keep track of progress for each activity and how the costs are running. You can move the time blocks around to report on actuals versus planned, and to re-schedule, and to create new plan updates. Costs columns can show plan and actuals and variances, and calculate whatever totals, averages, ratios, etc you need. Gantt Charts are the most flexible and useful of all project management tools, but remember they do not show the importance and inter-dependence of related parallel activities, and they won’t show the necessity to complete one task before another can begin, as a critical path analysis will do, so you need both tools, especially at the planning stage.

project financial planning and reporting

For projects involving more than petty cash you’ll need a spreadsheet to plan and report planned and actual expenditure. Use MSExcel or similar. If you don’t know how to put together a basic financial plan, get some help from someone who does, and make sure you bring a good friendly, flexible financial person into your team – it’s a key function of project management, and if you can’t manage the financial processes your self you need to be able to rely completely on whoever does it for you. The spreadsheet must enable you to plan, administer and report the detailed finances of your project. Create a cost line for main expenditure activity, and break this down into individual elements. Create a system for allocating incoming invoices to the correct activities (your bought-ledger people won’t know unless you tell them), and showing when the costs hit the project account. Establish clear payment terms with all suppliers and stick to them. Projects develop problems when team members get dissatisfied; rest assured, non- or late-payment is a primary cause of dissatisfaction.

Remember to set some budget aside for ‘contingencies’ – you will need it.

project contingency planning

Planning for and anticipating the unforeseen, or the possibility that things may not go as expected, is called ‘contingency planning’. Contingency planning is vital in any task when results and outcomes cannot be absolutely guaranteed. Often a contingency budget needs to be planned as there are usually costs associated. Contingency planning is about preparing fall-back actions, and making sure that leeway for time, activity and resource exists to rectify or replace first-choice plans. A simple contingency plan for the fried breakfast would be to plan for the possibility of breaking the yolk of an egg, in which case spare resource (eggs) should be budgeted for and available if needed. Another might be to prepare some hash-browns and mushrooms in the event that any of the diners are vegetarian. It may be difficult to anticipate precisely what contingency to plan for in complex long-term projects, in which case simply a contingency budget is provided, to be allocated later when and if required.

3 Communicate the project plan to your team

This serves two purposes: it informs people what’s happening, and it obtains essential support, agreement and commitment. If your project is complex and involves a team, then you should involve the team in the planning process to maximise buy-in, ownership, and thereby accountability. Your project will also benefit from input and consultation from relevant people at an early stage.

4 Agree and delegate project actions

Your plan will have identified those responsible for each activity. Activities need to be very clearly described, including all relevant parameters, timescales, costs, and deliverables. Use the SMART acronym to help you delegate tasks properly. See the delegation tips and processes. When delegated tasks fail this is typically because they have not been explained clearly, agreed with the other person, or supported and checked while in progress. So publish the full plan to all in the team, but don’t issue all the tasks unless the recipients are capable of their own forward-planning. Long-term complex projects need to be planned in more detail, and great care must be taken in delegating and supporting them. Don’t delegate anything unless it passes the SMART test.

5 Manage, motivate, inform, encourage, enable the project team

Manage the team and activities by meeting, communicating, supporting, and helping with decisions (but not making them for people who can make them for themselves). ‘Praise loudly; blame softly.’ (Catherine the Great). One of the big challenges for a project manager is deciding how much freedom to give for each delegated activity. Tight parameters and lots of checking are necessary for inexperienced people who like clear instructions, but this approach is the kiss of death to experienced, entrepreneurial and creative people. They need a wider brief, more freedom, and less checking. Manage these people by the results they get – not how they get them. Look out for differences in personality and working styles in your team. They can get in the way of understanding and cooperation. Your role here is to enable and translate. Face to face meetings, when you can bring team members together, are generally the best way to avoid issues and relationships becoming personalised and emotional. Communicate progress and successes regularly to everyone. Give the people in your team the plaudits, particularly when someone high up expresses satisfaction – never, never accept plaudits yourself. Conversely – you must take the blame for anything that goes wrong – never dump on anyone in your team (as project manager any problem is always ultimately down to you anyway).

6 Check, measure, and review project performance; adjust project plans; inform project team and others

Check the progress of activities against the plan. Review performance regularly and at the stipulated review points, and confirm the validity and relevance of the remainder of the plan. Adjust the plan if necessary in light of performance, changing circumstances, and new information, but remain on track and within the original terms of reference. Be sure to use transparent, pre-agreed measurements when judging performance. (Which shows how essential it is to have these measures in place and clearly agreed before the task begins.) Identify, agree and delegate new actions as appropriate. Inform team members and those in authority about developments, clearly, concisely and in writing. Plan team review meetings. Stick to the monitoring systems you established. Probe the apparent situations to get at the real facts and figures. Analyse causes and learn from mistakes. Identify reliable advisors and experts in the team and use them. Keep talking to people, and make yourself available to all.

7 Complete project; review and report on project; give praise and thanks to the project team

At the end of your successful project hold a review with the team. Ensure you understand what happened and why. Reflect on any failures and mistakes positively, objectively, and without allocating personal blame. Reflect on successes gratefully and realistically. Write a review report, and make observations and recommendations about follow up issues and priorities – there will be plenty.


Someone said ‘Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?’ It’s true. As project manager, to be at the end of a project and to report that the project plan has been fully met, on time and on budget, is a significant achievement, whatever the project size and complexity. The mix of skills required are such that good project managers can manage anything.

amusing project management analogies:

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the project manager, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

A clergyman, a doctor and a project manager were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The project manager exclaimed, “What’s with these people? We’ve been waiting over half and hour! It’s a complete disgrace.” The doctor agreed, “They’re hopeless, I’ve never seen such a rabble on a golf course.” The clergyman spotted the approaching greenkeeper and asked him what was going on, “What’s happening with that group ahead of us? They’re surely too slow and useless to be playing, aren’t they?” The greenkeeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.” The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, “Oh dear, that’s so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight.” The doctor added, rather meekly, “That’s a good thought. I’ll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there’s anything that can be done for them.” After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the project manager turned to the greenkeeper and asked, “Why can’t they play at night?”

A project manager was out walking in the countryside one day when a frog called out to him. He bent down, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog called out again, saying, “If you kiss me I shall turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I’ll stay with you for a week as your mistress.” The project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket. The frog called out once more, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you for as long as you wish and do absolutely anything that you want. Again the Project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and put it back. Finally, the frog demanded, “What’s the matter? You can turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I’ll stay with you for ever and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?” to which the project manager replied, “Understand, I’m a project manager. I simply don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog ……. that’s cool.”

(Ack G Bee)

http://www.businessballs.com/project.htm