The Discipline of Project Leadership

Last week I began studying The Art of War by Sun Tzu. While reading some of the tenets of strategy I picked a few of my favorite and re-wrote them to apply toward project management. In my list, I believe a project leader is a disciplined manager who has transcended the basic application of best practices and become a master of the art. The following represent my top four laws for project leadership:

  1. The project leader is evident when the number of applicants exceeds the conscripts.
  2. Project leaders evidence their abilities by accomplishing difficult goals.
  3. A project leader delivers results from the resources at hand.
  4. A project leader is evidenced by the time devoted to the applied enhancement of skills.
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My Makeup

A hobby I have been developing over the years is to trace my family history. Certain lines are very well documented, while others are less so complete. Except for two sets of parents I have completed up to the sixth generation of my ancestors.

This got me thinking today how mixed my background is. I knew that I was at least western European, but I did not know the variety of the countries. Through my research I found of my thirty-two nearest ancestors (grandparents) 45% are English, 19% are Spanish, 12% are German and 6% are Scottish, Dutch, Irish, and Czech each.

Recognizing the Need for Corrective Action

The day comes to everyone when they look in the mirror and say, ” Today I am good, but how can I be great?” This is our crossroads, when our option is to continue doing what we do and earn our default future. Our other option will be to decide where we want to be and make a plan to reach there.

The following pattern should help us make, execute and keep our goals.

Establish Baseline Expectations
Decide where you should be. If you have decided you need to have a certain educational goal – write it down. Once you know where you are, the first step is to define where you want to be.
Define Metrics
Your goal must be something which can be measured. A certain body weight is a target number. Things we can measure are empirical evidence of our progress toward our goals. Figure out how you will measure your goal as well as the progress to help you reach it.
Check performance against metric
Monitor your progress daily if necessary. If your goal is to complete a book by a certain date, mark your progress toward your goal. Monitor it.
Execute Pre-planned action
To reach a goal you need to know the steps, but you also need  to have defined the trajectory (speed and direction). Act on your plan.
Identify Source ‘Truths’
Find out what works – if it is correct it will work. Examine your trajectory to decide if it is helping you reach your goal. Correct as needed.
Improve Goals
You are hopefully reaching your goals. Once you have arrived at your destination, keep looking forward. From your new vista look ahead to find your next goal.

Recognizing the Need for Corrective Action

PROCESS: Standard Deviation

It was over ten years ago when I sat in an undergraduate statistics class learning about standard deviation. Then, I didn’t understand the purpose. Today, I use it to evaluate the distribution of serial data. As far as I am concerned standard deviation will explain how widely spread and what characteristics that spread has with your data.

I have been using the Microsoft Excel formula for calculating standard deviation. This is simply =STDEV(seriesY:seriesX). BAM! – there is your standard deviation. I wanted to see the process and what it takes to manually find standard deviation without using a formula. I have included the step by step process for finding standard deviation and a spreadsheet to illustrate the point.

Manually finding standard deviation:

  • Calculate the mean of your series
  • Find the deviation by subtracting the reading from the mean, square result
  • Sum the deviations from the series
  • Take the sample series minus 1 and divide into sum of deviations
  • Find the square root of the divided number to get the standard deviation

It sounds complicated, but it is really not. When you properly use standard deviation in your analysis you get a better sense of what your data is really trying to show you. Plus, there are some girls who think a guy who can do statistics is hot.

Attachment: PROCESS-Standard Deviation

Contest Give Away: Leadership Observation

I am creating the first contest giveaway on this blog. The contest will evaluate how well you know me in 1 of 5 areas:

  • Intellectual Ability
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Communication Skills
  • Managerial Ability
  • Leadership Examples

The contest will work like this:
Contestants will consider an instance where they are aware of my experience in one of the areas listed above. They will write a small overview of their observation describing how I exhibit one of the characteristics above. Include dates, time, location and other particular elements. Send this email including your name, phone number and email address to leadership@pauldone.com. All submissions must be true and have the potential for independent verification. Winning submissions will be judged on completeness and the manner in which they exhibit my ability in one area listed above. My immediate relatives may submit experiences but will not be eligible for the cash prize. The exception is a referral fee (see below).

The top three submissions overall will receive $20 USD. If you refer a person with a winning submission you will receive $5 USD finder fee if they include your name on the original email submission. All entries must be received by 11:59 PM 05 November 2010. Not responsible for late or misdirected submissions.

Submissions may be modified or reused in publications and my professional profile.

The reason I am doing this is simple. I am participating in a voluntary management leadership training process. The submission I have written needs to include a participant who knew of some of the details of my action(s). This is not related to my present employment.

Feel free to send this to anyone who may be interested in providing a winning submission.

LDS Ward List on Google Earth

I have always enjoyed looking at maps. Recently, I have learned how to make maps and take electronic information to build electronic maps. I have created a set of instructions to show anyone how to take a list with location data and overlay this on a Google Map.

The following instructions are specifically for showing a member in an LDS unit (ward or branch) with access to the church website, to take a download of the ward list and create a Google Earth map. No technical skills necessary.

Please be very careful when using an LDS list of members. The list may not be shared or used for any commercial uses. It should not be shared or made publicly available with personally identifiable information. Consult your unit’s leadership with specific allowances and caution.

PROCEDURE:

 

  1. Logon to the LDS Church website at http://new.lds.org (Note: Accounts are only available to LDS members. If you need an account see your unit’s membership clerk for instructions)
  2. Once you have logged on select the tools menu from the top right hand corner of the page.
  3. Select Directory from the drop down menu.
  4. From the menu on the left hand side select Export Households
  5. Open the file in Microsoft Excel or similar device allowing you to edit columns of data.
  6. Delete all columns except those containing the following fields:
    1. Family Name
    2. Family Address
    3. Save the file as MLS-Export.csv
    4. Copy the contents of the file into your systems memory by selecting all (Ctrl-A) the data and press Ctrl-C
    5. Navigate your internet browser to http://www.batchgeo.com
    6. Under Step 1: Paste your data below, use your mouse to click in the field. The complete frame should highlight blue.
    7. Using your keyboard press the delete key. All the sample data should be cleared now.
    8. In the same window use your keyboard to press Ctrl-V. The Family Name and Family Address should be the only fields that remain. The records from your ward list should now appear.
    9. Press the button Validate & Set Options
    10. Verify the Address or intersection drop down includes Family Address.
    11. Step 3: Geocoding, press the button marked Make Google Map.
    12. Allow the program to geocode your addresses. This may take several minutes.
    13. Once complete, scroll below the map and select the button Google Earth KML
    14. Save the file BatchGeo.kml to the desktop.
    15. Open Google Earth (installed on your computer).
    16. Select File -> Open -> Navigate to the file BatchGeo.kml on your desktop. Press OK.

 

REFERENCE: Map an LDS Ward.pdf

Note: These instructions are my own process. They are neither acknowledged or supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If there are errors or modifications they are mine and should not reflect otherwise on the Church or the programs they develop.

We Improve What We Measure

During the summer of 2010 I decided I wanted to run. It started in June 2010 when before going to a physical I wanted to tell the doctor, “Sure Doc, I exercise”. For two weeks I started walking around my neighborhood with my wife. Walking was boring, company was great, the speed was absolutely … b-o-r-i-n-g. So I picked up the pace and ran.

At first my running was very poor. I made steps (pun intended) to start small with goals to run without stopping to ever- increasing distances. Next, I ran against the clock. Finally, I ran for total miles in a week.

Along the way I found a measuring tool called Daily Mile (website). Daily mile is a web based log tracking tool to record your workouts and connect and compete with friends and others in your area. After creating an account it is very easy to create workouts or routes and record them showing progress and keep a basic exercise journal.

Over the summer I found my performance improved. My ability and desire to run longer distances faster also improved. Each day when I would run and record my results I could note improvements.

The principle here is when we measure performance our performance improves. When we indicate the metrics by which we measure improvement we focus to improve that metric. In life if you will define your goals, measure them and make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based you too can enjoy improvement. If you use a tool like Daily Mile you can improve your physical fitness and compare your activity with friends while you do it.