This week’s nugget of inspiration comes from self proclaimed lazy project manager - Peter Taylor.
Described as “perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today”, Peter Taylor is the author of two best selling books on “productive laziness” – The Lazy Winner and The Lazy Project Manager, and he also acts as an independent consultant for companies all over the world, advising and coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers.
1. Obviously you're not advocating people to be lazy workers, what do you mean by "productive laziness"?
"By advocating being a 'lazy' project manager I do not intend that we should all do absolutely nothing.
"I am not saying we should all sit around drinking coffee, reading a good book and engaging in idle gossip whilst watching the project hours go by and the nondelivered project milestones disappear over the horizon.
"That would obviously be plain stupid and would result in an extremely short career in project management, in fact probably a very short career full stop.
"Lazy does not mean stupid.
"No I really mean that we should all adopt a more focused approach to project management and to exercise our efforts where it really matters, rather than rushing around like busy, busy bees involving ourselves in unimportant, non critical activities that others can better address, or indeed that do not need addressing at all in some cases.
"Learning this skill of identifying and auctioning the most important things is the key to becoming a good project manager.
"You can be successful by working long hard hours but this is not really sustainable over many years – far better to learn to work smarter and not hard."
2. What different kinds of projects have you worked on?
"Good ones and bad ones is the honest answer … and I learnt the most from the bad ones.
"My projects have for the most been within the software world but, as a consultant and then project manager working on customer sites, I have had the pleasure of working in most industries and in private and public companies.
"It has been a real experience and, mostly, a lot of fun."
3. What project management methodology do you work to and why?
"I have used many methodologies and have helped develop three internal company project methodologies over the years but I am not specifically aligned to or in favour of any one method.
"What is more important these days is that any method is actually seen as a supportive framework for project managers to reference and to aid them in their delivery of successful projects.
"An experienced project manager does not want to be hampered by having to adhere to a 100 step methodology but rather needs a reference point for guidance to use their skills and experience to do the job that they were trained for."
4. What key things must every project manager remember?
"This is simple – the key thing to remember is people.
"Projects are about people and you have to focus your efforts here, and this means great communication in my view.
"Understanding people’s needs and expectations and helping them contribute to the project delivery is what project management is really all about.
"It is key to get the balance right between people and process - too much of process and you will stifle creativity and alienate people.
"Of course it can’t all be about what the people want, there have to be standards and some process of course but get that balance right and then communicate well and you are on a good path."
5. When does a project go well and what makes one go badly?
"A project goes well when the team have come together and really understood the value of the project.
"When this happens all of the issues and difficulties that any project will undoubtedly encounter at some point will be overcome.
"However, when the team is just a bunch of individuals with no bond, no common denominator or purpose then they behave exactly as they are; without direction and acting in their own personal interest - a real recipe for disaster."
6. What three pieces of advice do you offer companies and individuals you consult and coach?
"I recommend three things – find a mentor to guide you through the continuing learning curve of good project management, secondly network and connect to as wide a community of project managers around the world as you can and finally, practise your skills both within project management but also outside in your personal life."
7. Who inspires you?
"Many people inspire me these days; so many great people are out there in the world wide web of wonderfulness – bloggers, podcasters, authors, speakers, tweeters, and a whole bunch of folks on LinkedIn with many, many, many groups for your project management specialism.
"Project managers should get connected to share their own experience and inspire others, as well as receiving inspiration."