Looking at the end of 2019

As we get to the end of 2019, some of you may see our Blog posts slowing down. This is intentional as we've put a big push into 3 other great resources.

1. The Leadership Fail series: Sometimes being able to see the impact of poor leadership helps reinforce the lessons on how to lead well. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to catch these Leadership Fails and other great video tools at http://bit.ly/2E7e2dF

2. Weekly Leadership Tools (AKA The Old School series): Mostly whiteboard/chalkboard based tools and ideas to get you thinking about the root of a problem or the principles by stripping away all of the technology and flashing lights. You can find these on the Threshold Learning Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thresholdlearning

3. Leadership Unlocked: Our online leadership training course and community designed to bring the the knowledge and tools to anyone who wants to become a great leader. You can get on the mailing list at ...

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Influencer? What is an influencer?

Influencer is a funny word.

Yes, it’s commonly used, and for the most part people seem to think they know what it means. So why am poking at it? In words and ideas clarity is important; the word Influencer isn’t. Half of my spell checkers don't believe it's an english word.

Influencer is a funny word because at the heart of it, successful influencers are leaders. And like leaders, calling yourself an influencer does not make you one.

To carry the thought further: you're only an influencer in as much as you have followers or people who will and are influenced by you. Leadership is not about the number of people who click a button on a screen and are interested in what you do for their personal amusement, or out of a morbid sense of curiosity as to what you will come up with next. That doesn't make you an Influencer, that makes you an Entertainer.

Actual Influencers (Leaders) inspire people to buy into and act on the vision presented by the leader.

Whether you call...

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It's not just about checking boxes

Whether you're a project manager, project administrator or a departmental manager, success is not about checking boxes.


If you do it that way, both your stakeholders and your team can feel that the project management process is something that is done to them rather than something that’s done for them. It gives them no additional value but all of the additional pain.


While checking boxes appears to be the most efficient way of getting through all of the work that you have as a manager, it's not effective... and if it's not effective then it doesn't matter how efficient you are, it's all wasted effort.


Remember what you're there to accomplish as the project manager or, any manager for that matter. One of the first roles of a manager is as a leader. That means leading change effectively.  In order to do that, you need to understand is what success for the project and for the organization actually looks like.


On time and on budget are very...

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Plan fully and then execute fully

This is Part Two to Plan Fully Then Execute Fully

You can find Part One at here

Once you’ve completed your planning fully, you’re ready for execution. The execution overview is simple, but that doesn't mean the steps are easy.

The steps are straightforward but, in many cases, getting the answers you need takes time. Getting the time you need is even harder. With that in mind, the planning and execution process are designed to help you prioritize actions with the understanding that you have limited personal time and resources. That's why you prioritize stakeholders by the ones that have the highest impact first. That's also why you need to plan for what your expected outcomes should look like (and when you expect to see them). This is how you strike a fine balance between giving an initiative enough time to show progress versus waiting passively until someone else calls an end to your project.

Execution Steps:

Develop your communication strategies:

  • What stakeholder?
  • What...
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Plan fully and then execute fully

This blog comes courtesy of one of our students. At the end of an intensive course, he sat back and reflected that half of what we taught was based on getting aspiring and improving leaders to actually do the preparation work and the other half was following through on execution.

It was a great summary, but out of context, it doesn’t tell anyone outside the class much.

To make it more useful, we’ll dig a little deeper into each of the areas. The purpose is to give you an overview so you can build your own map.

Doing the preparation work is hard for some people. Some people are good at starting but not finishing. Others are good at finishing, but don’t know where to start.

The preparatory work happens on 2 levels: the big picture (the long game) and the immediate.

Big picture preparatory work includes:

  1. Understand your organization, your customers and how value is created
  2. Understand your role in the organization and how that connects to customer value
  3. Understand the...
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Can we make meetings worse?

leadership meetings Apr 12, 2019

Of course we can! After a little brainstorming, we came up with the next great idea: assign your team members to attend meetings on your behalf, but make sure you don’t give them any authority to speak on your behalf or any preparation for them to be able to represent you!

It’s a win-win! Not only will your team members hate the meeting (or series of meetings) but over time they’ll resent you as the manager. They’re already thinking less of you as a leader.

Picture it: Your team member sits quietly in a meeting that they have no control over, no effective input into and no desire to be in. The meeting drags on and on, for them, because they have 30 other things they could be doing instead and this meeting isn’t adding value because of how you’ve assigned people to it.

But there’s more! The meeting organizer invited you because they either expected input from you or decisions by you. By providing neither, you’ve managed to waste...

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Personal Power for Technical Leaders

A few weeks back we covered some of the reasons that your stakeholders (or your audience in general) may not be listening to what you say. This is despite whatever technical credentials you might have or whatever position you might hold in your organization.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, we suggest you get through it first since the rest of this post refers back at several points. You can find it here.

While positional authority is where technical experts may be naturally drawn to as a first choice for getting things done (literally anything and everything) it’s not always effective and furthermore it’s rarely your best choice. Where is it a good choice? Often when personal safety is a factor or there is some other great urgency. For example, evacuation during fire.

Outside of those very rare times, Personal Power is the better way to achieve your goal and get results.

What is personal power?

There’s some confusion in the term Personal Power. In...

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There are always trade-offs

If you're following from last week, you probably expected this to be a post about Personal Power. So did we... But sometimes client projects and client problems give us an opportunity to share insights and experiences in almost real-time.

This week is one of those weeks. In that, the title is fitting: There are always trade-offs.

There will always be trade-offs and compromises required. There is often no ‘perfect’ way to move a project forward, and this includes IT projects. The key is to be able to understand the trade-offs and risks and to consciously manage those risks in whatever path you choose to move forward with.

A case in point is a recent customer project. This was a very large, very high-visibility project that had job implications for directors and vice-presidents in the organization. We were brought in to conduct an external 3rd party design review prior to launching.

When large projects are being led by IT, especially in the private sector, there are a few...

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Why aren’t they listening?

It’s one of the things we hear a lot from Technical Experts. It’s usually not asked in an introspective way, by the way. It’s usually asked from the perspective that the other person is wrong for not listening to the Technical Expert.

“Why aren’t they listening?” Is usually followed up by “They should be listening to me because I’m ….”

  • I’m the expert
  • I’m certified on the product
  • I’m the manager
  • I’m the director
  • I’m the architect

If you’ve found yourself in that position, then there’s a good chance you’re not going to like what you read next, but there are 2 things you need to know.

  1. If people aren’t listening to you, then it’s because you haven’t figured out how to say things that they find value in
  2. You need to know there is a mindset shift you need to make if you want to be heard

The mindset shift supports everything else you need to work on.


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Leading Change (Part 2)

Welcome back everyone!

One of the great parts of blogging while you're in the middle of other major projects is that every day's meetings and interactions give you more topics to write about. This week had it's fair share of interesting interactions, but you'll have to tune in later for those since we're in the middle of a two-part series.

In Part 1, we saw that leading change could be broken down in to two distinct phases based on the different activities and different emphasis on communication between the Initiation Phase and the Implementation Phase. We focused our efforts in Part 1 on the initiation phase. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can find it [here].Even if you have read it, sometimes it's good to recap.

There are two parts to Leading change: the first part is about developing the change initiative, and the second part is about implementing the change.

The kinds of things you do, as a leader, and the kinds of conversations you have are different in each of these...

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