In my “Why this and why now'' post, I opened with three fundamental truths about right now.
There's no one right way to do anything. That's a really important one to me.
There's a lot of noise going on right now. So proving value is really important.
And then the third one being that true progress is made in a million little steps. We also know that usually some big things get the credit, but in hindsight it was that incremental progress that really got it done.
Those gave us the “why now” and “why do we have to get creative”?
Building on that for setting the core foundations of PM techniques, the truths in this segment are more about resetting, dropping some of our assumptions and checking ourselves. So I start with five of them that are about me as I walk into a room, things to remind myself..
Speaking without something to say is wasteful. Full stop.
Being right is irrelevant. And then just to deal with those emotions that are coming up….
Don't bring your childhood to work. That's a big one to think about, and then to balance that…
Everyone is the sum of their parts. Including you.
Share what you know, and be specific.
This is your reset as you walk into the room, a quick mental tidy, recalibration. It sets a tone, no matter what your role is.
So now as you walk into the room, what are you walking into? Let's talk about the work. And there are five truths or points of view on that as well.
There has to be a reason to proceed. We don't assume go. Not in 2022. Not in 202X. There has to be a reason to proceed, to continue to use resources this way.
Methods are tools, not rules. Make sure that your approach to things is serving you and that you're not serving it.
In the course of designing work, especially designing work for others, everyone is entitled to dignified work. Sometimes it's not our favorite thing to do, but we should never ask someone to leave their dignity at the door to get something done.
And therefore leadership is a service, not a control function. A lot of people, as soon as they step into leadership, they shift into “wait, I gotta take charge. I gotta be in control. I got to know it all”. Not gonna happen. Lead with leadership as a service. How do we do that?
The fifth point. Shut up and listen. Then ask questions. And repeat.
Now that's 10.
And those who know me know that I can't stop there. So of course I've got five more to get next level about it.
Building on “speaking without something to say is wasteful” and “share what you know, and be specific”, here’s the truth of it: Being the only one who knows something is wrong. We're not talking about confidentiality here. Obviously there are reasons for things to not be widely known, but, being a knowledge hoarder, that’s no good.
Bonding over differences is more effective than bonding over commonalities. It's easy to say, “Hey, we have this in common. Cool.” But the space between us when we have a difference, whether it's a difference in perspective, difference in experience, that's interesting. That's where opportunity lies.
Building on “don't bring your childhood to work” and some of those other dignified conversations, there is an appropriate level of personal disclosure at work. Appropriate, consider the word. Consider rules of etiquette that we used to adhere to. Consider some of the awkward situations that have occurred.
To anchor us, “why” rules. Rules everything. “What” and “how” are mechanisms to deliver “why”. Being bold, I don't really even care about our goals right now. What is the problem we're trying to solve? What is the triggering situation that brings us together? “Why are we here?” That's where we can begin.
Use emotions as shorthand, not weapons. I had a leader who was very clear on what she needed from status updates on projects. She said, “Tell me what I need to know, and tell me how to feel about it”. And you’ve seen emotions weaponized at work too, whether it’s a heavy-handed attempt to uplift or it's someone just acting out. Every responsible leader knows to “camera check” and keep your own emotions in line, so that your emotional responses are a tool and you're not creating victims.
So going through them again:
About you walking into the room
Speaking without something to say is wasteful.
Being right is irrelevant.
Don't bring your childhood to work.
Everyone is the sum of their parts.
Share what you know, and be specific.
About the work itself.
There has to be a reason to proceed (and it can't be ego).
Methods or tools, not rules.
Everyone is entitled to dignified work.
Leadership as a service, not a control function.
Shut up and listen. Ask questions. Repeat.
Being the only one who knows something is wrong.
Bonding over differences is more effective than bonding over commonalities.
There's an appropriate level of personal disclosure at work.
Why rules, what and how are mechanisms.
Use emotions as shorthand, not weapons.