Archive for Business Skills

First of all I would like to apologize for not posting more in the last few months and explain why.  My last few months have been spent in Alaska supporting projects on the North Slope.  Needless to say, I will have several articles driven by my fabulous experience up there and I look forward to your comments on them.  I thank all of you for your support while I was out of pocket on the Arctic Circle and I am here to tell you that I am back and you can expect to hear more from me in the future.  Also, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter so that you can have all the additional free content and stay up to date with the latest in project management and business tactics.  Now, on to the article.

In traveling the world meeting people in other corporations and seeing how they are organized, it is interesting how the titles in management are used and how positions are sometimes combined and morphed.  However, the basic functions of any management position never really change.  As such, I wanted to discuss the functions of management a bit more here at Project Victories.  At Hewlett Packard, the specific form of management that I engaged in was Program Management or Project Management.  In fact my whole department was setup that way.  The organization became flatter every day and the job of my immediate supervisor was to manage the department's portfolio of projects in the very same way that the individual project managers managed their projects.  However, with all forms of management there exist some basic functions that can be witnessed on any given day.  These functions are planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Read More→

Categories : Business Skills
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Risk Management

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Ok guys, I guess I’m just going to be on a risk management kick for a bit because I am writing about it again. Let me set the stage. I live on beautiful Lake Travis in Austin, Texas and the lake is about 67 miles long and 200 feet deep in some areas when the water is up. It is a man-made lake but it is still patrolled by the lake police heavily. Additionally, there is no bridge over this lake, ferry, and very few shuttles. So most of the time you have to take your own private boat to the other side or drive an hour and a half. 

There are plenty of small business men here and many of them attempt to capitalize on the lack of water taxies. So there I was, sitting at my local bar and grill staring at the lower Colorado river that makes up Lake Travis when I saw the latest person to fall victim to the laws of Risk Management. He had 60 people to shuttle from one side of the lake to the other. Now that is a lot of people, but it wasn’t that far of a trip. It may be a half mile. The boat never even gets out of sight. So this man that wanted to start his own shuttle service on a major holiday weekend takes to the lake with his first passengers. Only, he had not prepared or given thought to risk. 

This sets the stage. Choppy water, inexperience, no planning and power tools! He loads up his first customers and heads for the open water. It’s a busy lake. It’s huge. It’s a holiday weekend and he is in an 18 foot ski boat with eight people! It doesn’t take long before he encounters his first wake and then his second. Normally this isn’t a problem, boats are made for water but these wakes came into a boat with too many people on it and the boat’s pump for pumping out the water was not working. You can see this coming can’t you? He begins to sink with passengers. Can you say Titanic?  Read More→

Categories : Business Skills
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In preparing for a future in management or just trying to remain in a management role, a person must ask themselves “What do I think the future of management will be like?”  This is a difficult question and only by looking at both the past and the present does an individual stand a chance of developing a vision of the future.

Corporate structures typically follow military models and in the past they were modeled after the vertical, rigid command and control structure of the old military (WW II).  Most managers used an autocratic management style and information flowed one way only.  This is the way it was all the time, not just in times of crisis that demanded that someone take the lead.  Employees were expected to know what to do when they were given their orders and once given their orders they were expected to shut-up and do their job.  Very little thought was given to truly inspiring employees to deliver on the corporate vision and challenging your manager on an issue was seldom heard of and not supported.  

So, that’s how it was.  There were employees and there were managers.  Employees were just laborers to get the work done.  The only real positive side for the employees of yesterday compared to today is that they generally spent a lifetime at one company.  They didn’t walk around in constant fear of being laid off or having their position off-shored to another country.  Management made the rules without input from the employees and managed the company as the management team saw fit to do so. Read More→

Categories : Business Skills
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One of the required skills for business success is critical thinking and for a person to become truly proficient at the skill of critical thinking they must have a firm understanding of logical fallacies.  In short, logical fallacies are the many little spins, tricks, and smoke screens used by some people to make their argument stronger and credible.  While there are many logical fallacies that exist, this article will only take a closer look at three fallacies that are frequently used.  They are referred to here as Appeal to Ignorance, Appeal to Authority, and Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc.  All three of these fallacies are significant to critical thinking because they represent misleading notions and subsequently any decisions based on them could have negative effects.

Appeal to Ignorance is arguing on the basis of what is known and can be proven.  In short, if you can’t prove that something is true then it must be false and vice versa.  This logical fallacy actually received a lot of press during the early stages of the war in Iraq.  President Bush justified the invasion of Iraq because Iraq was believed to have weapons of mass destruction that were illegal and could end up in the hands of terrorists not unlike the people responsible for the World Trade Center attack on 9/11/2001.  The argument here was that since we had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then there must not be any.  This very fallacy was the object of an article in the National Review on 6/30/2003.    Read More→

Categories : Business Skills
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