How Do You Herd The Proverbial Cats?

The project starts off great. Everything is going just as you have planned. There are no problems and no issues to report. Every task is on track and every Deliverable has been delivered.

But, a little more time passes and the project begins to stray a bit. There may be some dates that are missed and scope creep begins to enter into the picture. Expectations may have been missed or need to be reset as they are out of alignment with reality.  Next thing you know, what was starting off as a project that was under control now is suddenly out of control!

You can picture “the cats” heading for the hills. They are off their leashes and are heading straight for the fences. They are running away from you as fast as they can. So you may wonder, how can you get these “cats” back into the fence? How do you herd the proverbial cats?

There are three steps in order to get these cats back in the fence:

Get Everyone That Owns a Cat Together

These are stakeholders for the project. They could be functional managers or key resources that are working on deliverables where there has been some confusion. Get all of them on a call, in the same room or whatever it is going to take in order to get them together so they can hear each other’s perception of where they feel the project stands.

Ask Everyone if Someone Else’s “Cat” is in Their Yard

This cat could be something along the lines of a missed deliverable or perhaps there was incorrect communication.  Someone may be waiting on an audit or a decision to be made. Identify anything and everything that is holding up that person from moving forward, because somebody else’s problem is in their yard.

Ask Them if They Know Where Their Cats Are

Make sure that they are aware of the fact that nobody should be waiting on a deliverable from them either. At the end of this meeting everyone needs to have the same perception of reality about the project.

The fact that you have everybody together allows all parties to agree, disagree, or to ask for clarification where these issues, problems, and delays may be. You can begin to quickly reign in and herd those cats into their fences, get them back on their leashes and get them back  to work.

 NOTE: Be prepared to do this multiple times throughout the life-cycle of a project depending upon the complexity. These cats have a tendency to get away and head for the fences time and time again throughout the implementation of any project.

The Character of America

By Rob “Waldo” Waldman, Lt. Col., CSP

 “A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”  John Stuart Mill

As I flew over the NYC skyline this weekend as the 10th anniversary ceremonies for 9-11 were taking place, I reflected upon this quote and what it revealed about the character of New York and our country. Having grown up on Long Island and with parents from Brooklyn, I’m a New Yorker through and through. But I never felt pride for New York like I did in the plane this weekend.

I believe the true test of character comes in the heat of battle.  When the stress is real and the risk is high…when failure is possible.

9-11 not only demonstrated the fighting spirit of a great city, it revealed the core of what America is made of.  It revealed the values that make us the greatest country in the world.  Values displayed by average Americans with above average character. First responders, tugboat captains, and businesspeople.  Courageous, committed, and compassionate warriors. Wingmen.  Heroes coming together and heeding the cry for help.

Undivided and united. One Team with One Mission.

Imagine if every day, this spirit pervaded our homes, offices and communities?  What if we treated each other with this sense of commitment and compassion not just during tragedy, but every day? Think about how this would affect our personal and professional livesLearn More »

A Sense of Well-Being At Work

By David Ryback, Ph.D.

The emotion of happiness is such a personal concept and one that is prone to unique interpretations. Whenever I ask individuals what they want out of life, the answer is typically happiness. It is such a global term, meaning everything and nothing at the same time. I then ask what specifically would make them happy. The answers run the gamut, but one theme that stands out is the experience of connection to family, friends, and colleagues at work.

Our focus here is whether or not understanding others and facing those aspects of yourself that are most appropriate to share make for increased happiness or sense of well-being at work. Sharing your best public self means being in touch with your feelings. You can’t be your best self if you’re not in touch with your feelings. What is there to express authentically if not your inner feelings?

Certainly, actions based on personal principles mean being true to yourself, but being your real, authentic self involves feelings as much as actions.

Just as the ability to read faces gives us information about others’ feelings, we must read our own embodied sensations as we echo others’ feelings. Perhaps it’s easier to read others’ faces than to become cognizant of our own subtler, deeper feelings. But some of us are better at it than others. Learn More »

How to Make People Work Better On a Team

By Drew Stevens, Ph.D.

Many of you need to work on cross functional teams from time to time. These multi-dimensional teams integrate numerous personalities to organize and implement projects. Yet not all work well or get along. So here are some options for those that manage and facilitate cross functional teams.

  1. Share learning gaps and fears. The only way to establish cross-functional objectives is to immediately get out of the way fears and barriers.
  2. Defining Team Ground Rules in addition to individual goals. Explain how each individual adds to the collective goal. It takes hundreds of people to build a data center each with their functional expertise. Explain how each person is a piece of the organizational puzzle for job completion.
  3. Tackle issues immediately. Do not allow the cross functional group to harbor on issues this delays data and ruins the collaboration of the team.
  4. Implement Accountability. There is a domino effect when people fail milestones. Hold people accountable to achieve the overall mission.
  5. Settle disputes quickly. People will harbor issues but the job must be completed. Let issues end as quickly as they begin.
  6. Welcome diverse opinions. When members know their opinion counts they are more participative and this allows for more freedom of thought.
  7. Conducting Effective Team Meetings is the last method to ensuring your team’s mutual success. Keep all people in the know and communicate barriers and areas of success.
  8. Measure progress and celebrate it. Team members need to understand where they are and how they are performing. More importantly people need to be rewarded for meeting team goals.
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