Forty-Nine Insights for Leading Projects

Experience is a great teacher. But personal experience can be very expensive. To lower the costs of experience, we can study the experiences of others. And that's what this program does. We present a collection of very valuable insights, often gained at great expense, by project managers, project sponsors, program managers, and project team members. Each of the forty-nine insights is expressed in a short, memorable way to help participants recall them easily when needed.

Although experience is a great teacher, the experiencer is not always a brilliant student. Even though we feel we've learned something from an experience, our learnings are of use only if we can recall them when we need them. That's why it's important to review and organize what we've learned, to package our learnings in ways that make them easy to recall. This program has done precisely that for a set of insights that are particularly useful to project managers, project sponsors, program managers, and project team members.

Forty-Nine Insights for Leading Projects

A female Barn Owl. Owls have long been symbols of wisdom, intuition, and the ability to see what others do not, including the capacity to see through deceit and masks.

Each of the 49 insights expresses a bit of wisdom as a memorable image, or metaphor, in a phrase, or a sentence or two. Many are presented with wry humor or memorable stories. Some examples:

  • Whenever I make a mistake, I remind myself that I probably didn't invent that particular way to goof up.
  • If a difficult decision gets easier when you pretend you're deciding it for somebody else, the difficulty is probably about you, not the decision.
  • If you don't like your choices, choose to look for more choices.
  • If your workload is totally unreasonable, better time management won't help much.
  • The easiest way to offend somebody is to disparage something personal they can't change.
  • If you phone someone only when something is wrong, they'll eventually learn about Caller ID.
  • People who take credit for the work of others soon run out of others.

We elaborate on each insight with a brief explanation, or, if participants express an interest, a short story or example of its application. Depending on participant interaction, this fast-paced, inspiring, and often humorous program presents up to 49 insights in 60 minutes. In case we don't get to all of them, each participant receives an electronic copy of the Forty-Nine Insights, each accompanied by a brief note expanding on its genesis or applicability.

This program is available as a keynote, breakout, or clinic.

Learning objectives

This program helps people who play roles, especially leadership roles, in collaborative efforts such as projects. As it turns out, that's just about everyone in the knowledge-oriented workplace. Participants learn, for example:

  • Feelings they have about common situations are common in others, too
  • How to reframe the experience of making mistakes, to make learning from them easier, and to make that learning longer-lasting
  • How important it is to forgive others for their transgressions, to make future collaborations more effective
  • How our own behavior can be the cause of problems we have in relationships with others
  • How the workplace environment plays a role in creating problems between people at work

Participants learn to appreciate the variety of perspectives that are possible when a situation involves multiple people. And they learn the value of expressing insights in memorable forms.

Program structure and content

Although this program is designed primarily for keynote formats, participants are encouraged to discuss the insights in small groups to help them appreciate their universality, and their breadth of applicability.

Learning model

When we learn most new skills or knowledge, we intend to apply them in situations with low emotional content. But knowledge about how people work together is most needed in highly charged situations. That's why we use a learning model that goes beyond presentation and discussion, to include authorship. Participants are encouraged to recast some of these insights into forms that will be more personally memorable for them. This practice prepares them for capturing and encapsulating their own insights as they encounter them in work life. And it's a lot more fun for everybody.

Target audience

Project managers, project sponsors, program managers, and project team members.

Program duration

Available formats range from 50 minutes to one full day. The longer formats allow for more coverage or more material, more experiential content and deeper understanding of issues specific to audience experience.

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