Damned by Faint Praise

LinkedIn endorsements, the SM equivalent of picking parasites out of each others fur.

Recommendations are fine. I’ve received a few and dished out about the same. Each was gratefully received and truly given.

Endorsements are for driving licenses.

No thanks.



Cokato Roadtrip

I went to a small American town today. You read about small town America, and see it in the movies, but I’d never been to one, having spent all my time in the USA in big cities like New York, San Francisco and recently Minneapolis.

I have just taken responsibility for a team based in Plymouth, Minneapolis, they say, “or no” when expressing uncertainty, just like a good friend of mine from Plymouth in Devon. They almost all live in a small town called Cokato in rural Minnesota, 45 mins drive away from the new office. Just to confuse everybody, the rural architecture is perfectly Scandinavian.

I have been to their office in Plymouth several times before but always as the visiting Limey. This time was different, we are part of the same team now.

Their jobs all moved to Plymouth a couple of years ago for the usual corporate reasons. But the move from Cokato is part of their story. I hear it every time I go to Plymouth. Moving from working close to home to the edge of the city was a big deal.

Today I had a two hour 1:1 with the customer support manager. It struck me we should hold this on a road trip. I didn’t know why really, I just wanted to go to where it started. So I made 1:1 type notes on my iPad while we drove to Cokato, population 2000 ish.

It has a railroad, a bikers club, a Dairy Queen and houses dotted about in a way I learned today to be typical of small American towns. We had lunch on the way back in another small town (population 4000 ish). That was the best meal I have had all week.

I hadn’t spent as much time with the team as I wanted this week. When I got back today I wanted to just go and talk with them, so I did and left with a bloody big smile on my face and I think theirs too.

I hope they took my visit to their home town in the way it was meant, a mark of respect for and interest in their story, where they live and come in from every day to make our customers happy.

And I said I wouldn’t be weird this week…




Think Big, Start Small, Act Fast

You can’t really control a conversation.  I have tried, my plan is usually off the rails shortly after I have said, “Hello”.

But you can:

  • Determine what success looks like.
  • Think how you might get there and who can help.
  • Create an environment that will enable and accelerate the process.
  • Decide how to behave.
  • Take a deep breath and say, “Hello”.

The PM Unconferences have connected a few people with the energy and desire to collaborate. Interestingly this is a mix of the TR and non TR people. That makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

For a flavour of the New York event see Doug’s blog at http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/engagement/aspirations-and-anxieties/ . Diane and Louise are collating photos and outputs and will issue these very soon also.  Thank you to all those who contributed. This includes all those who attended.

I was elated about it all on Friday (despite the frustration of being in London!), but then came back down to earth with a great big, “Now what?”.  The sense of engagement is fantastic, but not an end in itself, it is a precious precursor of the next phase, it has a terrifyingly short half life. We ran the Unconferences the way we did on purpose. We did it so we could go to the next stage, and do that on purpose too. The clock is ticking.

In January we outlined what we thought success looked like for the TR PM Community and how we might get there. It needs a refresh. We’ve made progress, but I am not sure we have got much better at project management as a result. We have an opportunity to do this now.  The objectives of the first phase were to extend community, identify advocates and determine purpose. I didn’t put it quite like that. It was longer, obviously, you know me.

The next phase is to distill purpose from the unconferences and then fulfill it through the community, using corporate resources to accelerate our progress.

We will think big, start small, act fast. 

I have outlined what I think the next steps are. I have deleted vast swathes and limited myself to a couple of simple thoughts.  Here goes…

Its time to get a bit more specific about, “What getting better at project management” means.  I am going to get off the fence.

One of the things I saw captured in London was “Just Enough Process“, something similar to this came up in New York. Another topic raised in New York related to “The way we work” which is about how we communicate, collaborate and the tools we use, but also to how we behave.

You will decide, but those sound like two great places to start.

We will organise a couple of fairly informal, part work, part social kick offs. At least one in London and one in NY to chew this over and then take action. We will encourage the same in other locations.

What will actually happen when the conversation starts? I have no idea. That too makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

More on this very soon.  Doug will likely issue a few more updates as well so watch his blog that I connected to above..

While the next steps settle, I will keep posting here so our external guests can remain up to speed.