Monday, March 12, 2007

March 12, 2007 – Nailing It

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I spent Sunday afternoon working with the HOGs (Handymen Of God) group at church to construct a set of stairs and a couple of risers. HOGs is a group of men that take care of odd jobs for widows and elderly couples. We do real “manly” stuff with wood, power tools and pizza. My dad used to say to me, “you hammer like lightning because you never strike twice in the same spot.” Hopefully I am better at project management than swinging a hammer.

Yesterday several great construction sayings were bantered about and, of course, I found them very appropriate for project management.

Measure Twice Cut Once. This quote from Bob Vila’s This Old House fame cuts too close for comfort. It applies to so many different areas, too. The obvious application of this would be to talk about planning and how it can save so much effort later. But I’ve decided to apply it to emails. I have learned to leave spell checker all the time and reread everything before I press send. Just last week I typed someone’s name into the CC area so I could verify the spelling. Of course I forgot to delete it out before hitting send. Fortunately the email put her in a good light.

When you only have a hammer, all your problems look like nails. I have seen people actually put screws in with a hammer because their screwdriver wasn’t handy. You can actually make the word “n-a-i-l” from the letters in “individual” but that doesn’t mean they will all respond well to the hammer. You need to determine what motivates each one and I don’t suggest using a vice.

If at first you don’t succeed, get a bigger hammer. This may seem to counter the previous saying, but sometimes it does come down to brut strength. Whether that is pulling an all-nighter to fix a problem or escalating an issue to upper management, some things can’t be resolved without that extra push.

Most project managers don’t run the risk of loosing a limb to a power tool, but if you are not careful you could get a paper cut or two.

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