Posts Tagged ‘power’

Resilience Engineering #30: Balance and Perspective

by Gary Monti on January 18, 2012

Maintaining balance and perspective is key to leading complex, constrained projects. In the last blog regarding keeping one’s wits, the need for discipline was the first step mentioned. Below is a simple method I’ve used to help establish discipline and maintain balance and perspective.

Risk Analysis: A Traditional Approach

Normally risk is viewed negatively, i.e., problems in the present and threats out in the future. A common communication and discussion tool is the chart below.

Probabilities range from low, medium, and high, as do impacts. This is a good chart. The question is, though, “What would it take to make it better?” That gets to the issue of balance and perspective. It is out of balance because only one aspect of risk is being addressed, the downside. Risk management also has an upside with windfalls being events in the present that are adding constructively to the project and opportunities being future constructive events.

People are very visual. When they only see the downside and then talk to the positive balance can be missing. In other words, this chart will work better if it were expanded to include the good along with the bad and ugly (forgiveness, please, Mr. Eastwood).

Risk Analysis: A More Comprehensive View

In the chart below a better approach is shown.

Let’s look at how this works. (Before getting started I want to point out the vertical axis for negative events is flipped from the previous chart, i.e., really bad events are at the bottom rather than the top.) “Insufficient resources” is the negative event we will focus on. The flow of the conversation in dealing with this goes like this:

  1. “Insufficient resources” is a definite threat to the project with both a high probability and high impact;
  2. “Add resources” is an opportunity that will neutralize the threat and it, too, has a high probability and high impact;
  3. “Integrate additional resources” is a threat projected by the opportunity “add resources.”

Look at what this approach does:

  1. It provides balance by presenting potential opportunity AND the ripple effect in terms of a threat that this opportunity poses. The team gets a chance to have a more integrated conversation – one that leads to more cohesive actions and interactions;
  2. Perspective has been added. The visual is more balanced. We’ve built something that reflects that. Again, people are visual and pay attention to what structures they can feel, touch, and deal with, and;
  3. This is a more disciplined approach. (Remember the previous blog about keeping one’s wits?) The entire picture is presented.

Working in this manner helps dampen the types of conversations that would end at “adding resources.” If this were to happen, after the meeting people might start talking something like this, “Well you know, someone has to take care of these resources. Where are they going to sit? Who’s going to bring them up to speed?” Talking in this manner risks poisoning the underlying conversation and undermining the credibility of the project and project manager.

With the leader bringing as much as possible out in the open for discussion the chart gets increasingly robust by avoiding being naïve and overplaying the opportunities as well as avoiding promotion of only a “downside” frame of mind. It also challenges people to participate and stop reserving comments for the gossip mill. The leader is in a better position to promote participation and a healthy sense of responsibility. Those who are realistic, positive and forward looking get a much-needed boost.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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As the Paradigm Shifts #P: Power

by Rosie Kuhn on August 3, 2011

In my first book, Self-Empowerment 101, I devote the first chapter solely to the subject of power. The reason is that through power and the energy that generates power, every event since the Big Bang is a result of that power. Regardless of how power is used – whether in alignment with evil or good intentions, to look small and helpless or to be a superpower, all is generated from the same source.

Power is often synonymous with force; taking against the will of the other, be it from sentient or non-sentient beings, for the sole purpose of gain. Gaining is a reward that spurs us to generate unreasonably creative uses of power. Some of it seems absolutely ridiculous, like the guy in Norway who used his power to devastate the morale of a whole country, in order to gain recognition for his disdain for the rights of the people he hated. Other people use their power to stay under the radar, thinking this gains them freedom to ignore certain responsibilities taken on by those above the radar. Using power to stay small also gains invisibility from potential harm. Too many of us use our power to gain immunity from rejection, abandonment or betrayal, gaining invulnerability for the sake of avoiding the experience of losing control over the situation, other people and themselves.

At the same time that we may be using our power to gain what we interpret as control, safety and invulnerability, we are also using it in the service of good and truth. Extraordinary creations are making their way into our reality every day that makes this world a better place to live. More and more people are utilizing their personal power to empower others. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

All of us want a sense of control in our lives and we engage our personal power to do whatever it takes to make that happen. We use power to appear and feel disempowered, allowing ourselves to be victimized in ways that seem to be out of our own control, but really isn’t. Yes, the individuals killed in Norway by this crazed individual were victims and they were totally vulnerable to the circumstance they found themselves in. It important to distinguish when we use our power to create self-victimizing circumstances and when we are just plain out of control and all we are left with is a Big-Fat-Be-With. Even in such circumstances we can still use our personal power to be-with what is in the best possible way. It may not save our own life or the lives of others, but we can at least step into a more empowering interpretation.

Power and Empowerment

For some reason I find the notion of empowerment far more helpful and available than talking about changing your use of power. It’s essentially the same thing, but for me something changes with that one little em. Embodying, owning, self-governing, self-referencing, choosing to infuse oneself with the ability to self-regulate based on the outcome you are wanting – that’s empowering.

I’m working with a client in Israel. He is the owner of his own successful business. He rules based on control and domination. He uses his power to disempower others so he feels more in control. He is always looking for reasons to make others wrong so he can feel righteous. By feeling righteous he feels in control and powerful. At the same time, his use of power doesn’t allow him to have a sense of connection with his employees, and its contributing to a sense of dissatisfaction in all parts of his life. He sees that his GM has a great relationship with the employees because he leads differently, and he’s happier. What my client is wanting to gain from our coaching relationship is more fulfillment in his personal and professional life. He is beginning to understand that he experiences a greater sense of fulfillment when he allows himself to dismantle his current use of power. To empower himself to have more fulfillment more consistently has him willing to practice how he uses power in his business, and, he’s finding that it means shifting how he uses power in his personal relationships as well.

What brought my client into coaching was, though he had power and success he didn’t have a sense of fulfillment. He realizes that this is far more important than power and control. The invulnerability that he gets from the way he’s been using his power up until now isn’t satisfying. He’s considering the alternatives and is cultivating awareness by noticing what’s going on around him, how he impacts his environment and the consequence of that both professionally and personally. He’s becoming fascinated with the mechanisms that are influencing the results showing up in his life and in his business.

He gets now that he doesn’t have to give up one iota of power to have fulfillment. He gets that he can use his power to make different choices maintaining the sense of personal power he had when he yelled at everyone. Nothing is taken away. The belief that people won’t respect him if he doesn’t yell will be tested. He is willing to experiment – because he has something at stake that is greater than his fear of being vulnerable and out of control. Fulfillment has become a big enough goal that he’s willing to risk some pride – all be it, false-pride.

As the paradigm shifts, it becomes obvious that our business-as-usual mentality is causing incredible dis-ease in our work environments. Using power to maintain control in an environment where control itself is disempowering to the organization and its employees begins to be crazy-making. As a culture we are beginning to experience the requirement for less use of power as a manipulative force and more use of power to empower others to empower themselves and others. Enjoy the exploration!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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As the Paradigm Shifts #F: Fear

by Rosie Kuhn on May 18, 2011

The current paradigm within which we are deeply rooted and that is ingrained in every cell of our body is cultivated solely around fear-based thinking. Research shows that 70% of our thoughts are precipitated from fear. Imagine that! How did we come to reside in such an environment permeated with a pervasive and automatic trigger to think fear-based thoughts? Is there another way? Do we have a choice in the matter?

In the previous blog I distinguished essence-based thinking from fear-based thinking. We have a knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are something far beyond the fear-based reality within which we are immersed. At the same time, there is a field or paradigm that corrupts this knowing fragmenting it into millions of tiny particles that then reflects back to us in mere instances the brilliance and radiant beings that we are.

History of war and persecution for thinking and being different than what is prescribed by political and religious dogma reminds us that we are not immune to the horrible things that human beings can do to one another. We remember and imagine what it has been like to be subjected to such treatment. And, the same time we may be living it, unconscious of the pervasiveness of it within our everyday life.

Notice Your Thoughts

Imagine heading to work. You in your car, on the train or bus and you’re sensing some anxiety, resistance or something that isn’t peaceful. If you were to just notice for a moments the thoughts running through your mind that is the catalyst for these feelings, what would you notice? If researchers are right and 70% of what you are thinking is negative and fear-based, what environment are you creating inside your head as you prepare to engage with the work, the people and the environment? Are these thoughts and bodily sensations preparing you for a day of peaceful, fun and creative interactions, or are they preparing you to do battle with yourself and everything that confronts you? Are these thoughts memories of what occurred in the past? Are they worries about what may unfold, or are you thinking about what you might say or would like to say to someone who is really bugging you?

So much of what is occurring in our brains are random firings of impulses that have become habitual in nature. Honestly, we have no clue as to how many programs are running concurrently in our brain. Some of them are essential and some of them are just a form of masturbation, stimulating endorphin and adrenaline that make us feel good about ourselves, and at the same time allow us to distract ourselves from feeling bad about ourselves.

Say STOP!

As long as we are in this game of focusing on maintaining what we’ve gained, avoiding loss of any sort, and ignoring the choice-making process that keeps us playing the same strategies over and over again, winning will never be the outcome. It isn’t even a possibility because we’ve limited our capacity to think beyond the fear-based paradigm.

Einstein’s words come to mind.

“We can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them”.

There’s a practice I’ve been working with for years. When I catch myself thinking thoughts that are not serving my essence-self, which desires peace, clarity of purpose and fulfillment, I just say STOP! A couple of curious things showed up when I first started this practice. First, that part of me that wanted to think all of the “what if’s and shoulda’s and coulda’s; it didn’t stop. It went right on blabbering. Much like an unruly child, my mind had learned it didn’t need to respond to my demand that it stop. I had to become more insistent before it would even consider listening to me. And…

I realized too that when that unruly part of me stopped creating thoughts that contributed to, well essentially nothing, what showed up was fear. I found myself fearful of not having fear-based thoughts! I experienced a great deal of fear when I insisted my mind take a break. I didn’t know who I was when I stopped thinking.

Questions to Ask Yourself

In the workplace, we are constantly bombarded with circumstances that require an incredible amount of attention. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the degree of quality you are bringing and is it in alignment with what you are wanting for yourself and your business?
  • Is fearful, anxious, antagonistic or resistance the foundation upon which you want your actions to come from when engaged with customers, clients and all of those with whom you interact?
  • What commitment is underlying this come-from?

For me, I come from anxious, worried and disempowered when I’m committed to staying in an old story of a helpless, powerless, victim. I have to ask myself frequently; am I really committed to that story? I then have to give myself an alternative – that to which I know I’m committed – empowered, engaged and empowering of others.

Yes, I too sit in the dilemma of what to choose – my fear based commitments or my essence-based commitments. More effortlessly than ever before, I’m able to take action in alignment with my choice to grow myself and my work from my essence-based truth.

Shifting the Paradigm

Shifting our paradigm requires each of us to be willing to perceive our reality through lenses that reflect the positive attributes of our reality, making that the 70% of our thinking process. This in itself would make such an incredibly profound contribution to our work environment, not to mention to our family, friends and the world at large.

Consider being curious about your thoughts and emotions. Notice that your emotions are just energy that is generated by your thoughts. Shift your thoughts and your emotional state will shift immediately. I know it’s a lot to ask, however, I believe you are ready to step into the question. Enjoy the journey!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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The power of acknowledgement in creating wealth cannot be over-emphasized. A simple story from a mentoring client will help illuminate. Bob (not his real name) is a commercial banker. He wants to both grow business and advance his career. One on-going thread running through our discussions is differentiating the creation of wealth vs. accumulating money, more on that later. Bob has a new associate, Carl (again, not his real name) who essentially is in training and comes from a sales background. Carl is very aggressive about closing the deal and has a strong focus on winning.

Buried Treasure

Bob decided to do some prospecting and ended up calling on someone with whom Carl had already spoken. In fact, Carl had met or called this person 5 times and felt there was no chance of getting a sale from this prospect. Bob met with the prospect, a CPA with 5 employees, and simply asked if she would be willing to share how day-to-day life is going in her firm. They ended up talking for 1.5 hours! As Bob listened she went from day-to-day issues to talking about where she’d like to see her firm be in the long run. Bob now has a meeting planned where she will discuss the SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis of her situation and he will help her refine it. He has yet to mention one product the bank offers! There is little need. She’s engaged in commerce. The reality of her financial needs will surface as the conversation progresses and Bob’s bank simply becomes a tool for helping this client grow her business and add to community.

Carl has been humbled and is walking around quietly confused with his tail between his legs. Bob’s strategy is to keep Carl apprised of the conversation with the CPA but hold him at bay by insisting he just observe and write lessons-learned in terms of how acknowledgement supports growth and how its absence can be damaging.

Lessons Learned

There are many lessons to be learned from this situation. Here are a few:

  • A sales transaction is simply an exchange of a good or service for money. The relationship ends once the exchange is over.  The relationship has to be re-established for the next sale. Also, commercial banking products are a lot like project management tools and bottles of cooking oil. Everyone has them. In a sales-driven environment people will switch for a penny-a-bottle difference.  Acknowledgement creates value which differentiates you from the competition.
  • Acknowledgement creates interdependence which leads to:
    • A feed forward relationship (trust-based) that is free of skepticism and runs much faster than a feedback relationship.
    • Success feeding on itself, leading to growth.
    • Health. A great deal of stress is removed since a safety net of relationships can be built. This, in turn, lowers suspicion and skepticism. The fight-or-flight reflex is calmed. When only sales-driven the stress returns immediately.
    • A dynamic relationship where spontaneity increases leading to more options for the future.
    • An increased probability of reading the all-important weak signals so essential to adapting and making necessary changes along the way.

One CAN be sales driven and accumulate money. There is a catch, and it is a big one. To succeed it is essential to be the 800-pound gorilla, e.g., Wal-Mart, since loyalty is absent. For the rest of us to sustain it is better to focus on helping others to get what they want, embed our rewards in the transaction, and nurture the relationship. Acknowledgement is a key tool in that process.

This blog closes with the challenge from the previous blog. How much time are you willing to spend acknowledging others? Who would you pick? Why?  And I’d like to add one more question, “Why would they want to work with you?”

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Powerlessness brings its own power.  A word of caution is needed, though. Using the power that comes with powerlessness can stir up a hornet’s nest. Having said that, let’s dive in.

“One Question” Revisited: The Short Version

In the previous blog, Frame of Mind, one question was mentioned as being central, “What happens when you follow the rules?” A variation of that question applies here.

What rules apply to this project, how do you see them used, and what is your part?

Ask this of the stakeholder population from client(s) to team members. Look at what is required for the project to succeed. Perform a gap analysis and, voila, you will have a picture of just how far the project can or can’t go. Publish the picture. Do what you can.

There, that was easy. Or was it?

“One Question” Revisited: The Long Version

An important character trait was left out of the mix, one that turns things on their collective head – Expectations. People want what they want when they want it. This includes expecting underfunded, understaffed, underspecified, time-pressured sows ears (contracts) being turned into silk purses (deliverables).

What to do? If the project manager has enough authority then that is sufficient to create the necessary change orders. Without that authority the project manager needs substantial power from another source – himself. The necessary character traits include:

  • Acceptance which answers the question, “What can we do with the committed resources we have? If you listen hard you’ll hear earned value in the background;
  • Willingness to speak honestly without being judgmental is delivering that picture mentioned above. The project is as it is;
  • Humility is very important. It simply is – stating personal, team, and project limits. It also has another aspect, which shows up when combined with the next character trait;
  • Courage is the ability to stick with all of the above in the face of expectations. Humility comes into play with courage when the bombardment of expectations starts raining down. The PM can speak something like this, “You seem very confident this can be accomplished and have stated the team SHOULD be able to do it. Why do you believe that? Who has succeeded at this before? I need to seek them out and learn.”

There is a responsibility with this last approach, i.e., efforts to do the ear-purse conversion have been tested and legitimate barriers have been reached or there is credible lessons-learned available that bring into doubt the probability of success. At the very least a good resource assessment has been performed and comes up wanting.

What To Do

Stay with the humility by avoiding saying, “No.” Simply state what is needed to achieve the goals.  Approach from a humble position. It shows respect and empathy. Keep the focus on the gap. Whatever you do, keep the conversation open and stay with trying to make things work. But also stay humble and avoid turning away from the limits of the situation.

Caution: Avoid Magical Thinking

I want to close this blog with words from one of my mentors from long ago, “When there is no project let go of the situation BEFORE you get the ulcer. No amount of badgering, whining, aggression, or anxiety can magically multiply commitments. Others have to pony up. As PM you are one person who can work maybe 50 or more hours for brief periods.”

It’s simple. Stay in touch with the real limits and don’t flinch. Now, that is hard!

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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How and Where to Leverage Your Power

by Guy Ralfe on August 26, 2009

One million dollar question is –

Big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond?big fish small pond

As I was pondering on the above question, I couldn’t resist reflecting on my conversations with my Father a few years ago.

So, here is some background:

My father always said to me – “It is better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than to be a small fish in a big pond.

This comment was typically in reference to divisions that he would transact with when it comes to banking, accounting, legal etc.

I particularly remember his choice to bank at the local branch when many of the other businessmen he interacted with drove many miles to have an account at the supposed Main branch of the bank in the nearest city.

A relative of mine was one who believed in dealing at the main branch, he spoke of only getting an appointment with the manager if they booked well in advance. He often complained of the effort it took to get loans approved and how the service was consistently on the shoddy side, but they still stuck with banking at the main branch because it made them feel they were a part of something big and important and this was where all the power was.

On the other hand our bank manager was our account manager. On many occasions they visited us and discussed business as long as it took. I recall the manager staying for lunch on many occasions. When we went to the branch we were always known and treated as a valued client. The support staff often knew what we were coming into the branch for, as they recognized us from a previous visit or when we spoke on the phone.

When it came to requesting new business loans people were often surprised how quickly my father could get an approval, what good rates he was able to secure and the extent of the leverage on the account the bank was prepared to offer. We were not getting any preferential treatment or having any rules flaunted for us, but still things were moving fast.

The reason: It was the relative power we held at the small branch that gave us the advantage.

Let us analyze what happened a bit more.

Let us assume that the average transaction value as a metric of worth to the branch.

Typically, the Main branch where the average account is of large corporations, requiring extensive services and producing large revenues for the branch. Assume the main branch had an average transaction of $50,000 and the local branch had an average transaction of $5,000.

If my average transaction is $10,000, at the main branch I will be an “expensive” customer – who costs a lot to service per transaction. At the local branch, I will be one of the higher contributors to the banks operations and so will be deemed a more favorable client. The local branch will likely go out of their way to keep my business as I can better help the branch meet its goals. Note in both instances I have the same average transaction value.

So my circumstances are the same but the situation values them differently.

The results my Father experiences to this day are due to this relative valuation. Both branch managers have access to the same credit and loans departments, but you can see how the local branch manager is compelled to present a stronger case for a like request than the main branch manager would.

So, my point:

This is the way the marketplace works. Always be conscious not only of what offers you can make, but where you make them.

Be the big fish by choosing the right pond!

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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The Dance of Entrepreneurship

by Rajesh Setty on June 9, 2009

There are broadly three phases of entrepreneurship

1. The Beginning

2. The Journey

3. The New Beginning ( Yes, It’s Not the Destination )

rubber_meets_the_road

Now, the quick outline of the elements in each phase:

1. The Beginning

The five elements for the beginning phase are:

1. Purpose: Knowing why you are in this will help you keep going when the going gets tough

2. Passion
: Doing what you love will make it feel like you are not working

3. People: Building together with the right people will make it look easy

4. Problem: Solving a real problem will help as people will pay to solve a real problem.

5. Plan: Having a plan even when you know that it’s going to change along the way

2. The Journey

The five elements of the journey

1. Patience: Everything takes longer and costs more. Patience is a MUST

2. Persistence: Sticking to the course of action even in the face of difficulty

3. Perseverance: Sticking to your beliefs even in the face of no successful outcome

4. Pain: Ability to handle the “pains” of entrepreneurship along the way

5. Politics: Knowing how to navigate in the sea of politics. You may not want to play politics but surely you should know how to survive and thrive in the politics that already exists

Last phase is what I call the “New Beginning.” I purposely did not call it the destination because rarely I see entrepreneurship “ends” with something – it’s usually a stepping stone to begin something new.

3. The New Beginning

So, here are the five elements of the new beginning

1. Pride: The satisfaction that comes with taking a concept to a completion

2. Profits: If executed well, there is money to be made. There are also profits in terms of personal growth and fulfillment.

3. Power: Since nine out of ten companies go out of business, if you are part of the one that succeeds, you automatically have more power.

4. Possibilities: New possibilities open up as you have more credibility

5. Philanthropy: You can make a bigger difference to the world as you have “extra” capacity

For those of you who are starting on this wonderful journey, wish you the very best.

rubber_meets_the_roadRajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. He maintains another blog called Life Beyond Code and tweets as @UpbeatNow
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