Category Archives: Organizational Culture

Time is More Important Than Money


I have a love/hate relationship with time management.  You know, you love what good time management delivers. You hate the feeling that you’re focusing on time management so much that  you wonder how much time you’re spending on it!

When I (accidentally) started in project management, one of my first mentors  gave me a tip that is still useful.

Bob is a big man with a slight southern drawl, loads of experience and a low-key manner. He also had a strong commitment to helping his protégés avoid scar tissue. Unfortunately, scar tissue was most of your education when nobody called you a project manager, but that’s what you were. One day he pulled me aside.

“You’re working way too hard and way too long each day,” he observed.

What!?  Wasn’t that what I was supposed to do? Work hard, put in the hours, and wasn’t that why my teams were delivering great results?!

Apparently not.

“You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.  If your teams help you manage your time better, you’re going to hit the end of the week being less tired mentally, less cranky, and less like you’re looking forward to sleeping your whole weekend away. It means you’re really ready for the upcoming week and all the work that needs to get done in that week.

Ask your folks to put three numbers at the start of their emails.

411 means they need information – timely response, please, but not urgent

611 means they have a problem – please respond at your first opportunity

911 means they REALLY have a problem – please respond, MAKE the opportunity to.”

Having said his piece, Bob strolled back to his office.

This simple tool gave me a better handle on how to use best my time in responding.

Although people know about those codes, it’s nice to see how they can use them. A micro-creative perspective that’s been very productive.

What is your go-to time management tool or suggestion, Judy Balaban, Andy Kaufman, Mark Watson, Jane von Kirchbach, George Wang, Lisa Blake, Greg Hall, Cate Brady, Andrew Neuman?  Who would like to share?


Convictions – those things you believe in, that are not negotiable.

This from a woman who points out, in her classes and coaching on negotiations, that you should carefully think about what you think might be open to negotiations and why. For some people this is an odd way of looking at life.  Each person behaves differently in conflict resolutions and negotiations.

At the heart of how you behave are your beliefs.  The repetition of those behaviors over and over again then become habits.

Heck, you knew that!  Here is where a tiny bit of new light might be coming in:

You can shift your behavior, be more agile with your behavior, if you are moving in a direction that doesn’t violate your convictions.

Your own experience told you that. It is that little alarm that goes off when a new environment, a new leadership team, asks for a change that doesn’t quite tally with your own core beliefs.  It’s not just hard.  It’s really stressful.  It’s also slower. Today’s speed of life, speed of business, doesn’t really like having to accommodate slow.

A long time ago – ok, right now five years seems like an awfully long time! – I moved from northern California to the middle of the Midwest. I’ve been on the road for ages and ages so I’ve given lots of thought to regional, cultural, and generational differences. I’ve learned that I don’t know nearly enough and, thankfully for my firm attachment to curiosity, that gives me all sorts of opportunities to learn. It was, and is, my firm conviction, a core belief, is that people have, at heart, many more commonalities than differences.  That belief and my generally sociable manner would, I thought,  help me build a small community in my new home in short order.

Coming from a place where a huge percentage of the people were transitory, I was unprepared for a place where people stayed put and relationships could be generations old.

Ok. Agility called for. Behaviors needed to be modified, different paces accommodated, expectations (on my part at least!) leveled. Despite occasional stumbles in transitioning, I can say that I see the high value and gratifying depth of the small community I am a part of here.

You can gently shift or modify behavior with greater ease and grace when the rationale for those pivots does not violate your core beliefs. And this is likely true for the other folks in your environment.

For your team ask: what are the core convictions you all share? Start with the strengths you share so the team’s collaborative spirit is strengthened.

Talk to us about facilitating the conversations, the assessments, that can reveal those commonly held convictions and move the needle on your levels of productivity –

Courage of Your Convictions

My answer was, and is,  “Courage of your convictions”.

The question? Nicki Anderson, a local leader, asked her community what their answer would be to the question: “”How do you rise as a woman while hanging on to your integrity?”

The question applies to all leaders. The answers are how cultures are built – family cultures, team cultures, and organizational cultures.

Culture is created from beliefs and norms. In the face of that, the value of the courage of your convictions becomes more evident.

Culture doesn’t happen to us – it happens because of us. Our choices, based on our values and convictions, create the cultures we live, work, and learn in. In speeches, sessions and workshops we explore a cultural change model that works – because it is based in the understanding of how culture can be shifted.

What choices would you like to consider with more deliberate thought?

Want to talk about the choices and actions that build cultures for higher performing teams?


8000 Risks – Really?

In his great book “The Body” Bill Bryson explores all of the amazing things that, together, comprise our bodies – but not necessarily us. If you touch on life, death will also be a topic and he quotes a very impressive document* in telling us that there are ‘slightly more than eight thousand’ things that can kill us.

Eight thousand.  Now THAT is a risk manager’s nightmare.

Yet, in every project, we know – we know – that there will always be threats we cannot mitigate.  We also know – we know – that there are opportunities we will not be able to take advantage of.

This can make it easy to slip oh-so-gently into an attitude of reactive risk management.

You can address this concern in a leadership driven project management© approach more easily than some others –

  • Model behavior and decisions that reinforce the importance of risk management – both threats and opportunities. How? Make it a part of the conversation, make it safe to bring up concerns or suggestions.
  • Encourage the team members who have a reasoned approach. We can’t always do anything about 8000 risks but a reasoned approach includes prioritization – a thoughtful assessment of probability and impact and timing.  Is this a risk that will have its greatest probability now or later?  If now, support your teams in acting upon it.  If later, record and retain the information so you can address it later.

Any other suggestions folks?

If you want to learn more about how a leadership driven project management© approach can move the needle on your teams’ culture and productivity!

*The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems compiled by the World Health Organization.

Culture by Choice

They say that everybody needs a hobby.  A colleague claims that one of my hobbies is kind of a guilty pleasure.

Because project failures fascinate me. Not, may I point out, in the way we tend to slow down by a car accident to see the crushed bumpers and crumpled car doors. Mostly I like to stop so I can hunt through the rubble to see how things might have turned out differently. Of course, there’s another prize in this treasure hunt – were there moments when this mess could have been averted? How can we recognize these moments so that there’s no ‘next time’?

Sometimes you just have to face an uncomfortable reality.  Project rescue becomes necessary not because you have a bad project or bad team, but because your team has a cultural environment that stymies rather than supports. And when the team’s environment gets in their way the project is way more likely to jump the track than follow the route to success.

You might be thinking ‘WHAT cultural environment?’

Well, that’s kind of the point.

There is always a team culture – an environment and unspoken ground rules that are specific to how that project team works on that project.  And even if you don’t carefully craft and nurture one, you’ll still get one. What are the odds you will get what you need from that accidental culture?

When we are called in to help a team rescue a project, we start with a diagnostic survey and series of interviews to discover the root cause. Sometimes you need new eyes, and while we’re looking around, we move right past the symptoms. Don’t get me wrong -  they’re interesting – sometimes a bit scary, but somewhere in there is a root cause (or two!) that’s responsible for the problem.

Find, then confirm, the root cause(s). THEN the team, with a bit of support, works to regain ground, whether it means some training, individual coaching, or even facilitating a re-launch of the project.

Now, you might think that we’d immediately start training people on our Key Success Parameters but no.

The secret power of a leadership driven project management approach lies in the interconnections between each of the seven parameters – each parameter is an element of higher performing teams and their cultures.  It’s the way they work in concert with each other that drives the evolution of teams into ensembles.

The debriefings we conduct with leaders are focused on what they need to do differently to get the result they want. And then we show them how to take this into other projects going forward.

This means when we work with every level of stakeholder - from sponsors to technologists, this is how the team develops a more productive cohesion.  We don’t necessarily rescue their project.  We help them rescue their project. They learn – and sometimes relearn – how to strengthen their ability to avoid the same kind of situation.  Instead, they learn ways to work together to create fewer cycles, stronger deliverables, and shorter schedules.

By doing this, the project is rescued, the team is stronger – and (shhhhhh – don’t spread it around) the new and reshaped team culture will begin advancing the entire culture of the organization - one team at a time.

If you are interested in starting the conversation let us know and we’ll arrange for your team to take a complimentary survey – have a great week!

Upcoming Events

  • Strategic Planning to Execution March 2, 2020 Online - private
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  • Bolingbrook Business - How did You Write YOUR book? March 11, 2020 at 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Bolingbrook, IL, USA Round table topic: How, as an author, did you get organized to write your book?
  • Critical Thinking For Better Problem Solving March 17, 2020 Guam