Posts Tagged ‘procedures’

Fantasy vs. reality during project execution can be a major concern for the project manager and the team. “No good deed goes unpunished” might be the project motto. This seems rather dark but it is a common project reality. Assuming everyone has the best of intentions how could this happen? It can be summed in a word, “disconnect.” What is maddening is how this disconnect can be subtle and imperceptible, being spread out across the entire organization rather than focused at one location.

The Truth(s)

One would assume with intelligent, disciplined, competent people from top to bottom that harmony would be the order of the day. So, what happens? It has to do with the “truth.”

Truth is anything but an isolated, stand-alone reality. Truth is always embedded in a belief system. Belief systems are shaped by experience. As one travels through the various levels of hierarchy and across disciplines, experiences shift and the truth is in tow.

Imagine people at different altitudes looking at the project through a tube with a lens at the end, a lens that changes with their stakeholder position. Everyone gets the same light radiating from the same project but the truth varies from person-to-person. The relief effort in Haiti is a good example.

Suffering continues in Haiti. The project goal is frustrated. A year after the hurricane billions of dollars contributed to help the Haitians languish. While project managers are frustrated and impotent, those higher up feel they are being quite responsible by insisting criteria be met before funds are released.

The Solutions(s)

Is someone wrong? A better question is, “Why the disconnect?” Staying with international aid, project managers who have resources available may be in a situation where achieving their immediate goal of providing relief may require negotiating locally in a manner that goes against the grain of stated strategic political policies and procedures.

Aircraft maintenance is another example. A mechanic in the field can be faced with a problem not defined in the policies and procedures yet they need to get the airplane functioning and back in service. All this needing to be done with the tools and resources available.

What can develop are two sets of books, one set is informal and spread throughout the maintenance community and the other is the official set used to show compliance with stated methodologies. There is the danger of punishment if caught. Why? It goes against the “truth” as seen by those with power working at a distance (in all its meanings). There’s nothing unusual about this. Readers working in other professions probably have similar stories.

The Challenge

One of the project manager’s jobs is working the interfaces between all those truth systems and doing so in a way their integrity remains intact. It is a classic case of situational leadership. In the next blog we will look at other examples of what can happen when there is insistence from senior management that stated methods and policies and procedures be followed.

When you begin to write your book, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you’ve already made significant progress….especially, if you’ve been active in your field for a long time.

Because you may have already written a lot of your book, the first writing step you should take is to take a fresh look at your hard drive, looking for content just begging to be included in your book!

Existing content takes many forms

To help you locate contents you already wrote, I’ve added a copy of my Existing Content Inventory Worksheet to my Active Garage Resource Page which you can download without registration.

My Existing Content Inventory Worksheet will help you keep track of content like case studies, examples, ideas, opinions, perspectives, procedures, resources, shortcuts, tips, and warnings.

Where to look for ready-to-use content

Look for existing content you can reuse for your book in files originally created for projects like:

  • Articles & newsletters
  • Blog posts & comments
  • Books, e-books, & previous book proposals
  • E-mail
  • Memos & reports
  • New business proposals
  • Presentations & speeches
  • Press releases
  • Teleseminars, webinars
  • White papers

As you review your previous client, prospect, and writing files, you may be surprised at the content richness waiting for you.

During your exploration, you might want to search your hard drive for key phrases and words that might take you directly to the content you’re looking for.

What to do after locating existing content

Once you consolidate the titles, relevance, and locations of existing content onto copies of the Existing Content Inventory Worksheet, you can address questions like:

  • What type of content is it? Is the content an idea, a process or a technique, a case study, an interesting anecdote, or a tip?
  • Where does the content belong in my book? Which chapter?
  • How much of the content is useful? Where will it appear within the chapter? Will the content be used as part of the text of your book, or is it more appropriate as a sidebar interview or tip?
  • How literally can I reuse the content? Can I simply copy and paste the content, (assuming you have copyright ownership of the content)? Or, do I need to paraphrase the content? Do I need to expand the content? Do I need to verify the accuracy of the content?
  • Do I need permissions for quotations? You may not need to obtain permission, for example, if the quote appeared in a published magazine or newspaper article. You might have to get permission, however, if you quoting an individual’s comments in a recorded teleseminar interview you hosted.

In many cases, of course, you may have originally written the content in long-forgotten articles, blog posts, or newsletters.

Of course, if you already knew, or suspected, that you were going to be write your current book, you’d- -hopefully- -have tracked the content using a mind map like the one I prepared for this blog post series (among other free resources).

Conclusion

Writing a book doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming endeavor requiring you to write every word from scratch! If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you may have already written a lot of your book! Even better, if you used tools like mind mapping to organize your content and track your writing, you may be pleasantly surprised to find how much of your book has already been written.

Roger C. Parker helps business professionals write brand-building, thought-leadership books. He’s written over 30 books, offers writing tools at Published&Profitable, and posts writing tips each weekday. His next book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles.