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Tag: Best Practices

Collaborative Decision Making

Meditation teacher Tejaniya advised, “Never try to force an issue. Just acknowledge, accept, and keep observing until things unfold naturally.”


This might be fine when there is all the time in the world for the issue to be resolved, but from a project management perspective, it sounds far too passive an approach.

However, when you consider what happens when you force an issue by using your power as a manager or a majority in a decision-making group, there may be some wisdom in acknowledging, accepting, and observing things unfold naturally.



In a program to improve the way a complex organization operated, a narrow majority of the Program Steering Group that was responsible for making decisions regarding which of several projects was to be done and in what order decided by a slim majority to authorize a project to renovate a process in one department.

They hired a design consultant and created a Design Team to provide feedback regarding the design. The Design Team reflected on the decision and was influenced by some of the minority members of the program steering group. They came back to the steering group with their unanimous opinion that the chosen project was not the best one to take on first, provided their reasoning, and called for the steering group to provide an overall plan that identified all the projects that would be part of the program, a capital financial plan, and an overall architecture before deciding on which project would be done first.


The steering group pushed back using their authority. They said that the Design Team was asked to give feedback on the design and not question the steering group’s decision. The steering group forced the issue.

The Design Team grumbled, but since they reported to the members of the Program Steering Group were left with no choice but to quit or comply, so they chose to comply.


The result was, as the Design Team predicted, a well-designed process with supporting systems that within a few years needed to be significantly changed, at great cost to fit with the other processes and systems that emerged as part of the overall renovation program. The resulting architecture resembled a patchwork – “something composed of miscellaneous parts; hodgepodge.”[1]

Over time, system maintenance was a nightmare. Further, some useful renovations were not included in the program because avoidable costs of initial projects used up the program’s budget.


The Consequences of Forcing an Issue

Here we see that forcing a decision led to the postponement of due diligence. Not doing capital planning and architectural design led to avoidable consequences, as pointed out in my article The Karma of Postponing Due Diligence[2]. And there are other consequences of forcing an issue, for example, disgruntled staff, and loss of respect for the decision-makers.


A Path Forward

So what can we do? As leaders in positions of power, we can step back and assess our decisions in the light of feedback and conflicting ideas. We can apply emotional and social intelligence along with wise decision-making, and servant leadership concepts.

Emotional intelligence comes into play when the decision-makers apply self-awareness to see why they find it necessary to force an issue. Is it because they are emotionally attached to their decision or to their power? With social intelligence, they can assess the impact of their use of authority on their staff, superiors, and peers.

As wise decision-makers, they recognize the need to look at the issue from multiple perspectives – long and short-term impacts, financial and quality consequences, and more. Servant leadership involves respect for others and their opinions and the positive impact of helping followers become wise decision-makers.


In a recent article[3] the author points out “the value of working with those with whom we disagree.” The author relates how Dr. Daniel Kahneman, who explored judgment and decision-making and how easily people become less than rational when making decisions, “experienced real joy working with others to discover the truth, even if he learned that he was wrong (something that often delighted him).” Kahneman favored “adversarial collaboration.”

When adversaries work together, they face the issue rather than each other. This requires acknowledging that one can be all wrong or half wrong and that the other party or parties may be right or half right, whether they are peers, superiors, or subordinates.


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Don’t Force an Issue

Let’s return to Tejaniya’s advice, “Never try to force an issue. Just acknowledge, accept, and keep observing until things unfold naturally.”


I try never to say never. There are times as a manager that we will choose to use authority to force a decision. But that is a last resort, for example when faced with a tight deadline leaving no time for further dialogue. Acknowledging, accepting, and observing until things unfold naturally is a superior way of operating. But only when we have a clear sense of what that means.

Acknowledging, accepting, and observing are active, not passive. Acknowledge and accept that there are differences of opinion and different positions. Observe your own and the other parties’ positions and behavior. Listening to content and tone is part of observing as is seeing others’ body language and facial expressions and observing your own.

Open your mind to the possibility that your position is not the best or only effective alternative. This is part of accepting. You let go of your attachment to having it your way (even if your way is not the best way).


Then clarify, present your view, and consider that to be part of what is unfolding naturally. You are letting go of your position and allowing the right expression of your knowledge and experience for the situation. You seek to understand the needs and wants, facts and opinions.

In the example from the article cited above, Professor Kahneman and his adversary found through a collaborative effort that they were both partially right and partially wrong. They came to a resolution that they could not have reached working on their own.


Never say Never

What if your opponent is closed to a collaborative approach? Then you acknowledge and accept the reality that collaboration is no longer possible and naturally force the issue (if you have the power to do so.) When you do, if you have been open-minded, asked the right questions, and objectively considered the answers, your decision might not be the same one you made before you tried to collaborate.


[1] Merriam Webster
[3] The Nobel Winner Who Liked to Collaborate With His Adversaries

Walking The Reporting Tightrope in PMOs

Within project management, reporting stands out as one of the most critical services provided by Project Management Offices (PMOs). It serves as a crucial communication tool for fostering stakeholder engagement and is frequently highlighted as a major contributor to P3M (Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management) maturity. It’s also the area most stakeholders express a desire to enhance.

So, why must PMOs navigate a tightrope between reporting well but seemingly never well enough?


When executed effectively, reporting delivers timely insights, analysis, and information on key delivery matters. This empowers executives to make well-informed decisions that directly influence organisational success. However, when reporting falters, it not only raises the risk of poor decision-making but also jeopardises support for the PMO itself.

In achieving PMO reporting maturity, three factors are important: data, culture, and application. An organisation must gather ample data to conduct meaningful analysis. It must also have a culture that fosters and supports candid reporting of both favourable and unfavourable developments. Finally, it requires leaders to recognise the significance of applying and using collated information to inform their decisions and take appropriate action.


These factors however, interplay with each other considerably to affect reporting maturity within PMOs.

For example, data collection can vary across organisations. Some PMOs can collect data from all projects whilst others can only collect from a few.

Cultural differences also influence how PMOs handle reporting, with psychologically safe organisations able to conduct truthful reporting. In these organisations, red statuses are used to direct support into areas that are under stress. Less psychologically safe organisations lead PMOs and managers to avoid reporting altogether or to hide negative statuses. In these organisations red statuses are treated as pariahs and buried from view.


The application of reporting also differs amongst organisations, with effective boardrooms leveraging reports to inform their decisions. Others merely review data but don’t use it in their decision-making. From these observations, three key learnings emerge.

Data gathering remains challenging for organisations.

While visualisation software tools offer sleek dashboards, effective reporting hinges on robust PMO processes and stakeholder buy-in. The most effective PMOs treat stakeholders as customers, ensuring transparency and demonstrating the benefits of reporting.

Cultivate the right culture.


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Overcoming cultural barriers to reporting, such as a reluctance to report negative statuses, is essential. A shift towards collaborative working environments that welcome truthful reporting is necessary. PMOs play a pivotal role in facilitating this shift by nurturing collaboration and providing support for projects in need.

Reporting’s true value lies not in the data, but in its application.


Merely reporting data is insufficient. Having correct data reported is good, but without analysis, using it is hard. To derive optimal value from reporting, organisations must utilise it to drive informed decision-making. PMOs should therefore coach leaders to leverage reported data to help make impactful decisions that drive positive change.

Reporting is a tightrope walk for PMOs, it’s capable of either bolstering decision-making and organisational success or undermining it. By addressing challenges in data collection, fostering a supportive reporting culture, and applying it in decision-making, PMOs can elevate their reporting maturity and contribute significantly to organisational success.

Team Building: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

These days many, if not all, of our projects are performed by cross-cultural teams. Not only do members come from different national and ethnic cultures, but they come from cultures based on mindset (for example progressive and conservative, woke and anti-woke), generational attributes, socio-political influences, corporate environments, and more.

Teams are vehicles for getting things done. When people come together to accomplish objectives – whether to win a game or perform a project – having an understanding among the team members regarding their objectives and the way they will work together is critical to success.


What Culture Is

“Culture is often described through Professor Geert Hofstede’s definition: The programming of the human mind by which one group of people distinguishes itself from another group – the set of shared beliefs, values, and norms that distinguish one group of people from another. As global organisations become increasingly diverse, understanding and managing cultural differences has become a critical competency for business leaders.”[1]

In human societies, culture is a concept that groups people based on shared knowledge, beliefs, values, and practices. A culture includes social norms, habits, customs, institutions, behaviors, beliefs, arts, laws, and more. We have many overlapping cultures – for example, corporate, regional, national, ethnic, generational, and religious. In teams, there are diverse cultural norms including those around cleanliness and neatness, how close people stand when talking, punctuality, and styles of dress.

Cultures are dynamic. They change as people’s needs change and as one culture is influenced by another. New cultures evolve out of this dynamic change process. Each team has a culture. Some are consciously created and understood, others, not so much.


Why Team Cultures are Important

Our culture influences our mindset with its beliefs, biases, and values as well as the way we work, play, dress, relate to one another, and communicate. The more that team members understand one another and agree upon values, goals, objectives, and communication and collaboration norms, the more team effectiveness increases.

What are the differences in behavior that get in the way of your team’s optimal performance? Are they caused by cultural differences?


“Anthropologists consider that world cultures vary along five consistent dimensions, which include collectivism versus individualism, and cultural preference for uncertainty avoidance. The extent to which cultures vary for these different dimensions can lead to very different expectations when it comes to interpersonal relationships and business communication.”[2]


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If some people have a cultural norm of rigidly adhering to punctuality and others are more accepting of a looser adherence, conflict is likely. For example, a U. S. employee visiting his Scandinavian company’s home office was shocked and insulted when he was not permitted to enter a meeting to which he was five minutes late. The cultural norm in that company’s home office was that if you were not on time, then don’t come at all. In the U. S. division coming in a few minutes late was acceptable. The American’s lateness influenced the local colleagues’ opinion of him and made integrating him into the team more difficult.

In another example, there may be a clash between team members from a culture that values assertiveness and tolerates some abrasiveness and those from cultures that view conflict and abrasive language as undesirable. When an assertive team member puts forth an idea, she might expect others to bring up conflicting ideas or criticisms. When they don’t assert their opinions, thinking of doing so as being rude or disrespectful, the assertive person, not understanding the cultural norm in play, may take silence as agreement. The result would be adopting a less-than-effective idea, creating a design or plan deficiency.


A project manager from a culture that avoids uncertainty will tend to strictly adhere to detailed structured plans and take fewer risks out of fear of failure. This can frustrate team members who have a higher tolerance for ambiguity and seek to innovate, take a more agile approach, and change the plan to obtain more creative outcomes.


What We Can Do

Cultural consciousness and emotional/social intelligence can avoid the negative impact of cultural differences. Cultural consciousness means being mindfully aware of culture as a force in team performance, of the cultural attributes of team members, of the ability to transcend cultural conditioning, and of the tendency to think one’s culture is better than others. Emotional/social intelligence means having the capacity to be aware of one’s feelings, able to manage one’s behavior and be sensitive to the feelings and behaviors of others. As individuals, we can choose to be adaptive to our current situation rather than being limited by cultural norms that are no longer relevant or useful.


As project managers, we can build a team culture that respects the cultural backgrounds of team members while cultivating an understanding of how to behave in a way that leads to the team’s success. For example, when it comes to decision-making, adopting an approach like the Six Hats model makes it a norm to look at an idea critically and from multiple perspectives opens the door to a critical analysis of the idea. Combine that with the awareness that avoiding conflict robs the team of useful information, and that exhibiting abrasive speech patterns and behavior may be taken as a sign of weakness, a personal attack causing another to back off or fire back to escalate a conflict and redirect the process away from the idea content.


Creating and sustaining effective teams requires cross-cultural awareness training to promote mutual understanding and respect, effective communication processes, and team-building activities to speed up the movement from forming to norming without much storming, to promote optimal performing.

Make sure that team members can fully express their opinions and needs. Consciously agree upon common values and goals to achieve a team culture that integrates the multiple cultures of its members.


We build a team, and once it’s built, we sustain it throughout its life. Like any structure, if we build it well, sustaining it is easy. However, it takes ongoing mindful awareness and patient effort to overcome the obstacles presented by cultural differences and turn them into strengths.


Site Management – The Tough Call

A construction site is a zone that builds or ruins you, depending on your level of composure. A lot of drama occurs there, starting with moody site meetings, site accidents, and general community interference. As the consultant is present at such tough moments, smart and counter-responsive measures have to be taken. You know your employer is watching keenly with your future referee. Dare to mess once, and your resume will be composed for quite some time.

So, how do you deal with it? You are in a contractor`s meeting, and the gentleman is fuming to the extent of withdrawing his gun and placing it on the table as part of his agenda to intimidate you. What do you do? You happen to supervise ongoing demolitions, and members of the neighbouring area unleash violence on you and your workforce. What will your response be? You happen to be paid a courtesy call by relevant authorities, and unfortunately, you lack all the documents. How will you handle the situation?

To simplify the context, I chose to only settle on two tactics. Firstly,where your directives are to bring out short-lived outcomes, immediately abandon the mission. The authorities, for instance, are on your site and found to be lacking adequate protective gear. What will be your response? If you go ahead and compromise the situation with bribes just to get rid of them for the day, remember that it will be the first of many because they have termed the act of visiting the site a business opportunity.


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Another scenario that several site managers miss out on is the issue of community mobilization. Some of you act as bullies, claiming you have come in the name of the government. This is common for demolitions and other civil engineering works. Remember,the community you are speaking to is actually the government. Furthermore,being the representative indicates that you are by yourself, and therefore, failing to connect properly with the residents will have serious consequences. The tactics used for mobilisation must remain useful for the rest of the project period. When you inspire intimidation at the inception and think you have won, wait until you begin the construction works and have the full force of animosity from the residents.

Secondly, stick to your lane as per your respective line of work. This makes it easier on whom to bear responsibilities with no altercation whatsoever. Assuming you are the architect on site and the labourers need some advice on the concrete mix, will you go ahead and offer your recommendation? If yes, as who? That is the work of the structural engineer! The Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act, Cap. 525, states clearly the extent of our powers. When you take on someone else`s role, you end up creating huge unnecessary conflicts and thereby affecting progress on the project.

In general practice, it is always best to attain composure in order to be resilient and tenacious in the face of pressure, oppositions, constraints, or adversities and to focus on the implementation of the project at all times. As the guy on site, you must have no room for emotional outbursts, regardless of the scenario.

As for the client, ensure you gauge the consultant from the onset. Someone who lacks composure and a sober mind is unfit to be an advisor. The clients and developers who have been in the game for some time know this and thus prefer older and more experienced consultants.

How to Select the Right Project Management Course for Your Needs?

Many of us do not know how to grow in our chosen careers. After all, career growth seems like a complex puzzle. Making a career switch in today’s job market can be challenging.

If you too are plagued by thoughts of how to make your mark in the world of today, then obtaining a project management certification can help you get out of low paying jobs. A certification course in project management has the potential to increase your earnings significantly.


Research shows that professionals with a project management certification can get a salary increase of up to 23% more than those without one! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also predict a 7% growth or a demand for project managers from 2021 to 2031.

With this in mind, it’s crucial to understand how to pick the right management course. Read on to learn what to keep in mind when selecting one for your needs.



Selecting the Right Project Management Course

“Completing a project management course aligned with recognized certifications not only enhances your knowledge but also boosts your career prospects.” – Shaz Shafiq, Career Coach


It is not surprising that getting a project management certification can open doors to a lot of opportunities. After all, project management expertise is a highly sought skill after in the current job market.

By enrolling in a project management program, you position yourself as a serious player in the career league.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides a variety of project management certifications, such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) for beginners.  Additionally, there’s the PfMP designation for portfolio managers and various other certifications for other professionals.

Many online platforms also offer courses for project management certification. Apart from PMI, reputed institutes like Transform Learning Academy offer programs, including a certified Project Management course (PRINCE2 certificate) along with hands on work experience and job placement assistance.

So, make sure, you happen to select the program that fits your needs and offers a flexible schedule if you need one.

Evaluate Your Project Requirements

When considering project management courses, it’s essential to start by evaluating your skills and professional background.

For newcomers focusing on fundamentals and basic principles is a must. In some cases, prior field-specific experience may not be necessary. This is true when you are trying to switch careers or when actively trying to find a job in a different sector.


If you are an experienced professional, it’s better to pursue an advanced project management certification. Begin by reviewing the course curriculum, and study material.

Thereon, if possible, connect with the instructor for a discussion about your career goals.  It’s better to have a one-on-one chat or conversation with an instructor to know if obtaining a project management certification would help your career prospects.


Setting Your Goals

Before starting a project management course, it’s important to list out both personal and professional goals.

Take a moment to reflect on why you’ve chosen to enroll for a project management certification program. Some of the reasons worth considering a certification course in project management are as follows:

  • Improve communication and collaboration
  • Aiming for a salary increase or doubling your income
  • To improve your performance and productivity
  • To achieve desired outcomes and meet deadlines

Hence, having a roadmap outlining how you plan to reach your goals is essential. For instance, certain project management courses offer a three-month program. Others may offer a flexible schedule such as requiring a commitment of five hours per week.

Some courses can help you switch your career within 90 days. Whether your goal is growth or career advancement, defining your goal before enrollment is a must.


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Understanding the Course Content

Ensure that the curriculum outlines essential principles, techniques and tools necessary for managing day-to-day projects. At the end of the day, a good project management course will prepare you for handling the projects.

Select a program that covers how to handle stakeholder communication, managing project finances and provides you necessary industry exposure


Evaluate the Instructor

The ideal mentor should be a well-known figure in the field of project management. Additionally, he/she should have a proven history of completing real world projects.

To learn more, take a look at their LinkedIn profile. Find out if they have an online presence to understand their background and teaching approach.

Additional Resources

Ensure that the course provides assistance and study material. You must have access to mentors, online discussion forums or supplementary learning materials.

These resources can be incredibly helpful when you face challenges with a section or need clarity on a concept.


Testimonials, Ratings and Reviews

It’s best to read the reviews and find out as much as possible about the project management course you wish to take. Online user forums can be a great place to start.

Feedback from previous students can help you make a decision. Generally, previously enrolled students provide honest feedback about the course content and instructor.


Cost-Benefit Analysis

Before enrolling conduct a cost benefit analysis. While cost is important to consider, it’s better to conduct a litmus test. You must question yourself against one yardstick alone. It is at the end of the day what skills you will acquire after enrolling in a paid course.

The answer that must resound with you is whether it will help you advance your career or not.

Note: A paid course with a fee that focuses on sought-after skills could be more beneficial than a free one. Think of it as an investment opportunity!


Networking Opportunities

Aside from focusing on the course material it’s essential to find out if you will get a chance to network. Getting to network can greatly help you secure a position as a project manager.


Global Project Management Consultant Salaries

Now that we have established that getting a PMP certification can be useful for your career growth, let’s take a quick look at the salaries.

Not only can you double your earnings after securing a PMP certificate but also use that certification to access even better opportunities.

However, the income you receive as a project management consultant is influenced by factors like your location, level of experience, and above all, your industry.

Here’s a brief overview of salaries in different regions around the world (sourced from Glassdoor);

United States of America:102,615 USD per year

United Kingdom: 65,354 USD (or £51,098.01) per year

Australia: 83,042 per year

Canada: 60,959 per year



Today the demand for project managers is at an all-time high.  Just keep in mind, that you need to stay up to date. Remember there is no perfect project management certification course out there.

Only the one that fits your goals and schedule is the one that is the right project management course. It’s time to get certified to thrive as a project manager!