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Using simple phrases to convey complex ideas

“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World “Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” G.K. Chesterton It is estimated that Project Managers spend over 90% of their time communicating, so it is important that they get good at it. I have found that it is helpful to condense complex ideas into simple phrases that anyone can understand. Here are a few of my favorites!

Persuasion through unusual words

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell, 1984 “Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” C.S. Lewis The English language contains more than a million total words and at any given time 170,000 are actively used. The speaking vocabulary of the average adult American is in the range of 150,000 words, or 15

COVID-19 My Predictions Part 5 – Skepticism about “Experts”

“Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.” Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love “Philosophers are people who know less and less about more and more, until they know nothing about everything. Scientists are people who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing.” Konrad Lorenz Prediction 5 – People will no longer blindly follow expert’s advice. Are you losing faith in experts? You probably shou

COVID 19 – My Predictions – Part 1–The Rise of the Remote Worker

“Forcing everyone into the office every day is an organizational Single Point of Failure” Jason Fried, Office not Required “To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.” Sir Richard Branson Prediction 1 - Adoption of remote work will dramatically accelerate. The television in my office is tuned to a “business” network, and they are continuing the forma

The Importance of “framing” Part 5 – Getting it Wrong – The Challenger

“After the Challenger accident, NASA put in a lot of time to improve the safety of the space shuttle to fix the things that had gone wrong.” Sally Ride “In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded and crashed down to Earth less than two minutes after takeoff. The cause of that crash, it turned out, was an inexpensive rubber O-ring in the booster rocket that had frozen on the launchpad the night before and failed catastrophically moments after takeoff.” David Autor I can

The value of loyalty

Why is it that people working in so many organizations view their senior leadership as clueless at best and evil at worst?

Friction changes things

“Friction changes everything” Scott Adams periscope broadcast “It's not the work which kills people, it's the worry. It's not the revolution that destroys machinery it's the friction.” Henry Ward Beecher The other day a friend of mine called to complain about how things were going in his organization. He works in a completely different organization and normally the conversation turns to tales of bureaucratic ineptness. On this particular call he told me that “leadership” iss

Delegation Makes It Easy!

“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” John C. Maxwell “Focus on what you are good at; delegate all else. Steve Jobs doesn't direct animated movies or woo Wall Street. He concentrates on what he's good at.” Leander Kahney I have a lot of experience in educating people. I have coached new executives, taught hundreds of students to prepare for the PMP® Exam and mentored scores of f

Why is everything so complicated??

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.” Pete Seeger Why are large organizations so complicated? I am not referring to the core work which may be very complicated, rather I am referring to the ecosystems they create for their employees. It seems like the systems are designed to confuse and ensnare employees in a byzantine web of rules and regulations rathe

Management Lessons from Movies, Chapter 6: Independence Day

“I picked a hell of a day to quit drinkin’.” Russel Casse “It's a fine line between standing behind a principle and hiding behind one. You can tolerate a little compromise, if you're actually managing to get something accomplished.” President Thomas J. Whitmore Independence Day had a star studded cast and was a huge hit in 1996. Everyone knows the plot. Alien ships suddenly appear in the sky and their intentions are not immediately clear. A hidden signal is discovered, the al

Management Lessons from Movies, Chapter 4: Aliens

“These people are here to protect you. They're soldiers.” Ellen Ripley “It won't make any difference.” Newt “Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?” Ellen Ripley Aliens is a very entertaining movie and was the sequel to the groundbreaking and incredibly tense “Alien”. This movie established the alien as an iconic character and spawned a variety of sequels and prequels that attempted to expand beyond a typical “horror” movie by addressing interesting questions like the or

Management Lessons from Movies, Chapter 2: Mule

“I never lie to any man because I don’t fear anyone. The only time you lie is when you are afraid” John Gotti “Nothing personal, it’s just business” Otto Berman John Gotti and Otto Berman were famous gangsters, and I thought their quotes were appropriate because of the topic of this post. We are discussing the management lessons of the Clint Eastwood movie “Mule”. Clint plays Earl Stone, an aging Korean War Veteran who is in his 80’s, broke and facing the foreclosure of his

Project Communications Part 11 – Communication and Ethics

“What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public.” Vilhjalmur Stefansson “Stripped of ethical rationalizations and philosophical pretensions, a crime is anything that a group in power chooses to prohibit.” Freda Adler What is the purpose of “communication”? A simple answer would be to share data between individuals, but that is a very simplistic

Project Communications Part 10 – The RACI Chart, or the Responsibility Assignment Matrix

“Leaders must earn the trust of their teams, their organizations, and their stakeholders before attempting to engage their support.” Warren G. Bennis “If you work for and eventually lead a company, understand that companies have multiple stakeholders including employees, customers, business partners and the communities within which they operate.” Don Tapscott The RACI Matrix is a simple and powerful roles based tool that helps the project manager determine what type of inform