Leadership lessons from International Project Management Day 2016

In previous blogs I shared lessons from the International Project Management Day 2016, the annual virtual conference hosted by IIL. The rest of the on-demand video presentations was not to be forgotten after that ‘day’. Here are some leadership takeaways.

What Leaders Need to Know About Unconcious Bias

Christa Kirby (Vice President, Global Learning Innovation, Global Practice Director Leadership and Interpersonal Skills at IIL), emphasizes that bias is not negative at all. In dangerous, unexpected situation you’d better not to process everything, and select only the signals that really matter. Based on 2002 Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman‘s Thinking, Fast and Slow it’s  good to actively make your implicit judgments explicit. Google calls this Unbiasing bias. The goal: do you job better and deliver better quality.

We all wear a kind of lenses to perceive the world around. Priming ideas lead to unconscious influence future decisions simply because our brain takes these ideas for granted. All blond girls are dumb, project managers are micro managers, and consultants tell you what you told them. In fact, almost decision making is unconscious, quick, automatic and using shortcuts. Efficient, but fallible.

Take the free implicit bias test from Harvard’s Project Implicit.

You Should Have Asked: The Art of Powerful Conversation

Stuart Knight (Stuart Knight Productions) throws his message in your face. The way you make people feel leads them to interact with you in a positive or negative manner. Side note: if you just read the part on implicit assumptions, tacit knowledge based on our biased world view, your conversation partner has a crucial part in the communication process as well.

In order to be successful, you need to interact on a human level.

  1. Learn something new from the person you’re talking to.
  2. Make the conversation meaningful for your audience.
  3. Make your conversation the most memorable of today.
  4. Always try to discover common interests.
  5. Make it more fun.

A next step then would be to dig into Kerry Patterson’s Crucial ConversationsKeith Ferrazzi‘s Never Eat Alone or Shari Harley’s How to Say Anything to Anyone.

Manage Expectations Before They Manage You!

Expectation management has its place on the management bullshit bingo card. The euphemism for saying no or the announcement that requirements will not be met must be told upfront. Steve Blais (Solution Architect at IIL) shares the advice from Dr. David Rock:

“The best way to manage expectations (without any side effects) is to start paying attention to them.”

Quality is often an unvoiced expectation. Expectations drive all of your client’s actions and decisions states David Hamil. Instead of only managing the classic devil’s triangle (time, resources, scope) you’d better use a quadrant (time, resources, scope, quality). Not that PRINCE2 Agile has a hexagon of aspects to be managed (time, costs, benefits, risks, quality, scope). Project success is dependent on meeting all (explicit and implicit) expectations.

Read between the lines. Understand the other before you want to be understood (Covey). Get all the expectations on the table as soon as possible. Watch, pay attention, listen carefully, observe body language. Dig deeper, ask additional questions. And: I’ll show you mine and you show me yours.

Blais has a small tool called Checkpoint Alpha to get started:

  1. Is this the problem you want solved?
  2. What is your vision of the solution?
  3. How are you going to know that we have solved your problem?