Posts Tagged ‘problem’

Project Reality Check #9: Tyranny of the “Truth”

by Gary Monti on February 15, 2011

Tyrannical behavior can spring from the best of intentions. It is one person seeing the “truth” and insisting others follow. If you read the previous blog you’ll know why “truth” is in quotation marks. It can refer to our perception of reality, expectations, and insistence to conformance to that view rather than addressing reality itself. In projects this can lead to disastrous behaviors when the person or organization giving the orders believes they are in the know and doing what is best. This surfaces repeatedly throughout history.

The Devastating 88’s

In World War II one of the most effective weapons was the German 88 millimeter cannon. It was initially developed as an antiaircraft artillery piece and proved to be extremely effective. Testing it, the army noticed it could penetrate any British armor and quickly adopted it for field use, building a field carriage that made it quite transportable. Its performance was, in a word, devastating. Four 88’s could decimate a much larger unit of British armor.

So what does military history have to do with business? Look at it this way. Imagine how it would feel if you could invest $500,000 in a project, have a smaller team and take market share from a much larger competitor who had invested $5,000,000 and just isn’t as quick responding to customers. If that were true then your deliverable would be a force multiplier. A force multiplier amplifies the output of an individual. The 88 was a force multiplier!

Roll back to the previous blog regarding fantasy and reality. The German military management saw what the 88 could do, modified their view of the “truth,” and let subordinates implement accordingly. The “truth,” though, can cut the other way.

The Tyranny of the “Truth”

Ironically, the British could have matched and neutralized the 88 with an artillery piece of their own, a 3.5 inch antiaircraft cannon. This was very slow to occur and did only on an ad hoc basis. Consequently, the tyranny of “truth” caused many lives to be lost. The back story to this reveals a lot.

Similar to the 88, the 3.5 was devastating. It could penetrate any armor the Germans had. So, why aren’t there stories of 3.5’s wiping out German armored units? The British military command was notorious for being very hide-bound. Rank and privilege went hand-in-hand. In other words, an officer must be intrinsically superior to an enlisted man. Also, a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place was the order of the day and that place was determined by military command, those superior people. Consequently, the “truth” about the 3.5 was, “It was designed for antiaircraft use and it was preposterous to think something designed to attack an aircraft could have anything to do with an armored vehicle.” The “truth” was infantry would use a 2-pounder cannon, the shells of which pretty much bounced off German vehicles. The important thing was the 2-pounder was designed for anti-tank use so that was that.

The “Solution”

Eventually, British troops were allowed to use the 3.5 as an antitank weapon in North Africa and had some success. There was a problem, though. Because of the bureaucratic restrictions the gun plus carriage was twice the weight of the 88 and lacked the nimbleness. Keep that image in mind and switch back to business.

Think of General Motors before (3.5) and after (88) bankruptcy. The “solutions” offered before bankruptcy were predicated on keeping the status quo and associated reward system intact.  That was the “truth.” The path to success at GM has been built on dropping the old belief/reward systems and working to mold GM to be in line with current market demands and pricing. It has been painful, to say the least. It also has been rewarding and looks to offer a chance for GM to once again thrive.

In closing, I’d like to pose a question, “If you were to present this story to your organization and project team… would they say you are an 88 or 3.5 and what would they want to do about it?”

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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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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