Facts to Essence series – Episode 1

Facts and the essence extracted from them…

  • In feudal Japan, merchants were the lowest class because unlike farmers and artisans, they don’t actually produce anything.
    • There were used to, and there still are some spaces in world where creativity and expression is valued more than mere management, merchandising, and administration of it.
    • People do realize that there are certain jobs where man becomes easily replaceable.
    • At the end of the day, when it would come to a calculation and operations management machines would surpass any human being, but when it comes to creativity, innovation, critical thinking and expressing with emotions – machines have a long time to catch up with.
  • Pixar credits its success to its anti-Disney approach — Meaning no songs, no happy village, no love story.
    • As mentioned in previous Project Management related post, standards are only better than ad-hoc, but not better than innovation and optimization.
    • Breaking out from the existing mold, re-shaping the structures, destroying the boundaries, expanding the horizons is the name of the game when it comes to achieve a success in saturated markets. Risks got to be taken.
    • Those who love and swear by standards, should always know that even at best they’re following something which is a mediocre, as by the time something becomes a standard, a new best has already replaced the last one.
  • Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world.
    • Quite ironic isn’t it? One place where you expect it not to happen, one place where you think that due to presence of the Pope, world’s most famous and exquisite churches, and religious clerks in abundance something like this shouldn’t happen. And that’s where it does.
    • Lesson to be learned here is assumptions can be wrong. And what appears to be straight can be curvy when seen from the right angle or correct distance (in depth or as a big picture).
    • o Another lesson: Whatever is considered too big to fail or too aligned to go haywire, does fail – often from with-in. Sometimes we don’t notice the change from outside, but the system sets itself on a path of deterioration, and one day either it crumbles into pieces, or becomes so weak, that in case of what appears to be a minor fault or injury – the catastrophic chain reaction begins and whole system becomes non-functioning.
  • Lack of exercise kills just as many people as smoking.
    • Being stuck is as fatal as going backwards… Not doing something that body requires to survive and stay healthy – is as harmful as doing something negative and harmful to it.
    • If you want your organization/ project to remain fresh and not go stale, you got to focus on continuous process improvement.
    • Nothing is perfect. Everything is on a journey of perfection, and stage of perfection is a goal that always leaps a bound right before one’s about to reach it… It’s not a disappointment, but instead an opportunity to explore more, to optimize more, to evolve your designs and plans a notch ahead.
  • If you’re more than 16-years-old, you have lived to be older than the average caveman.
    • Human evolution as specie and evolution of man-made social systems like civilizations have allowed us to live more than our cave living ancestors could ever have. It is as good as it’s bad.
    • Good in a sense that there are lesser pressures on survival now then there were before as far as life and gene forwarding is concerned.
    • Bad in a sense that now many people don’t realize gravity of survival has shifted from just a life to survival of human beings as intellectual and competent species – survival of values, education, intellect, critical thinking and logical reasoning. So unless society puts a serious pressure on people for that, majority is completely fine with being their older selves – no change is observed.
    • In spite of being specie gifted with intellectual abilities like vision, reflection and retrospection, most people tend to wait till a time when cost of their not changing becomes greater than their assumed cost of changing in order to upgrade themselves.

– Prepared for workshop/ lecture classes I conducted on “Project Management and Organizational Leadership” at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) and Khadim Ali Shah Bukhari Institute of Technology (KASBIT), both situated in Karachi.

Disclosure: Facts (in italics) come directly from @UberFacts twitter stream.

Note: “Warning: Never Trust A Proclamation Without Citation” – (Always be ready to do your research!)

Project Management Keynote

Management quid bits… These are what are learned from an experience.

  • Project Management’s number one principle is: “Crisis is here.”
    • From stage of planning to execution, from stage of execution to monitoring and control; one thing that has to be kept in mind is that crisis is already here. Every risk that can materialize will materialize; so, in all aspects due-diligence is necessary.
  • You can’t manage what you don’t know.
    • So as much as we value management’s core skill set (planning, organizing, monitoring, and controlling), know-how (technical, business domain) and people management (soft-skills, leadership) are equally important for project managers.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
    • You measure so that you know how far you are from the target.
    • Sometimes you can’t measure things directly. So, you have to use the proxies (indicators that hint you of the underlying phenomena that you actually want to measure).
    • Hardest resource to manage and keep the measurement tracks of is human. (Though one should realize that people are people, not just another “resource” referred as human).
  • You follow standards because you don’t want countless and unorganized ad hoc solutions.
    • Standard beats ad-hoc, optimization beats the standard.
    • Standards are there as a result of best practices agreed per popular opinion (often of experts). What’s popular is not necessarily always the best. Usually at best it’s something which was optimized and is now generalized, but since everyone that means business starts following it, it’s soon becomes mediocre.
    • Standards are industry’s best practice but there’re always a way for optimization, to modify or create a best practice that’s suitable for the context of your organization, your business and work culture.
    • Since there’s always a room for improvement, it’s very necessary to induct this practice in Project Management’s all knowledge areas.
  • For managers and engineers, and for any profession on earth, the competitive advantage always lies in competence.
    • Technical skill-set alone is never sufficient. Your experience matters. Your vision matters.
    • Experience comes from execution and mistakes. Much you do better you are. Avoid mistakes by self-improvement and feedback.
    • Factors that differ one’s competence from other is: novelty, depth, creativity and expression. Taking up challenging tasks and executing it while keeping an eye on opportunities for improvements.

Source: Written for and used in management class/ workshop that I’m conducting at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Karachi.