Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 steps to make a standout resume

Here's the resume writing advice I promised you:
1.  Know the purpose of a resume.
     It's designed to get you an interview, not a job.
     So exaggerate. This is no time to be humble. Present yourself in the best possible light.
     If three of you worked together to accomplish something, take credit for it in the resume. Explain your role fully in the interview. The resume did its job of getting you in for the interview.

2.  Use lots of key words.
     Most resumes are called up electronically these days.
     If your resume does not contain the words used to search for viable candidates, you will never be considered.
     The best place for these key words is in the middle of an impact statement showing what you did with that particular skill.
     If you can't do that, add a section to your last page titled "Skills" and add the key words there.
3.  White space is your friend.
     Nobody wants to read a big, black block of text. Break it up so it's readable.
     Don't dual justify your text, left justifying will open up white space on the right.
     Use bullets to break apart paragraphs.
     Have sections that lead the reader to easily find what they want to read.
     Place one inch margins all around your text.

4.  Use as many pages as you need.
     Long ago the one-page resume was in vogue and no-one went over two pages. Those days are over!
     By limiting yourself to one or two pages you are probably cutting out key words that could pull your resume out of the pile
     Or you are using text that is too small or eating up your white space.
     Resumes are read, distributed and searched electronically; most people don't pay attention to how long they are.
     Here are the new rules of thumb:
          One page if you are a recent graduate just entering the market. But, if you've had some relevant internships that give you experience, go ahead and move halfway onto the second page.
          Two pages until you've worked for five years.
          Three pages until you've worked ten years, then you can move on to four pages.
     But you are putting your less important information on the last pages: Education, Training, Patents, Publications etc.

5.  Write your purpose in a way that solves people's problems.
     A lot of people have a purpose statement along these lines: 'Looking for a job that allows me to use my skills in blah blah blah' or 'To use my skills to obtain a challenging position...'
     Remember, the person reading your resume has a problem. They need to solve this problem by hiring someone to do the work.
     Word your purpose statement to reflect that you are there to solve problems.
     Taking all the above into account, word it along these lines: 'I specialize in ...' or 'Blah blah expert with experience solving such and such
     Remember you can have multiple resumes out there so don't be afraid of limiting yourself by 'specializing' in an area.

6.  Don't use the job description style to describe your accomplishments.
     90% of resumes I see use the job description style and I hate it! Look below to see why.
          Review and approval of process validation protocols.
     So what does this exactly tell us about this person? Only that this was part of their job.
     Whenever you see one of your impact statements, ask the question: 'So what?' If it's not obvious from the statement that you were good at that part of your job, revise it. Watch what happens when I make fun of the above statement:
          Review and approval of process validation protocols...took so long reviewing and never approved anything so they fired me.
     Probably not what you want to say about yourself. So let's show you how to pep it up.

7.  Power up your impact statements by showing your results.
     A good impact statement has three elements to it.
          Problem: This is the reason you were hired in the first place. It is often implied. Documents require review, product needs to be built, sales need to be made, etc.
          Impact: This is what you did about the problem. This is your power verb, more on this later.
          Result: This is the part most people miss on their resumes.
               This is why your last company loved you!
               Try to make it a number of some kind, dollar figures are the best.
     Remember, companies don't hire you out of the goodness of their hearts, they pay you $100,000 a year with the hope that you will earn them significantly more than that. So if you can show in your impact statements where you have saved them $200,000, made sales of $500,000, introduced product that sells for $1,000,000 a year, you are worth the salary. 

     Here's an example from my resume: 

·      Invented, optimized and patented an algorithm that removed inaccuracies caused by fiber-optic kinking, eliminating 90% of clinical failures.
     Sometimes you can't use dollar figures or numbers; still try to indicate your worth somehow. Let's see what we can do with the above statement.
          Reviewed and approved process validation protocols, maintaining a consistent 2-day turnaround, while adding FDA perspective.
     See how much better that looks.
     What if you don't know the numbers? Just guess. As long as you are in the right ballpark and you can show how you arrived at your figures during the interview, you'll be fine. Remember, no-one else can prove your figures wrong.

8.  Start each impact statement with a power word.
     When people read a resume quickly, they start at the top and scan down the left column.
     So make it stand out by throwing in power verbs at the start of each sentence.
          Designed, Created, Trained, Managed, Invented.
     Mix the power words up by using a thesaurus. Nobody want to scan a resume that says, 'Designed, Designed, Designed, Designed...'
     Indent the second line of a two line sentence to ensure that words like and, but or with don't line up with these power verbs.

9.  Limit your impact statements to the things you're most proud of in your job.
     Don't try to show off everything you did at your job. Let's face it, most of what you do at work is boring.
     My resume represents about the top 5% of my efforts.
     If you highlight the things you did that you were most proud of, three things happen:
          a. It's easy to come up with powerful impact statements.
          b. When you talk about them in the interview, you become animated.
          c. You don't bore your reader with the mundane details of your last job.

10. Limit your impact statements. 
     to three per job if you have more than three jobs, five for your most recent job.
     to five per job if you have less than three jobs.

     A good impact statement may take an hour to wordsmith until you have it down. Do two or three a day until the whole resume is ready.

Stay tuned for posts about posting resumes, phone interviews, real interviews, networking and negotiating.
And if you want to see my resume for an example of how it all comes together, click below:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unemployed need not apply

Here's a trend that frightens me. Companies are hiring, but not those who are currently unemployed. I have a lot of good friends who are out of work due to the lousy economy, not through any fault of their own but they are being discriminated against by hiring organizations who are assuming that these people are no good.

Ads like those shown above are appearing in papers and job boards around the country showing the blatant discrimination. According to yesterday's Times article:
"Legal experts say that the practice probably does not violate discrimination laws because unemployment is not a protected status, like age or race. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently held a hearing, though, on whether discriminating against the jobless might be illegal because it disproportionately hurts older people and blacks."

Even if it is declared illegal, this won't stop companies for simply sorting resumes for people with current work history or length of time lingering on the job boards. The latter, by the way, is currently a default search criteria within the job boards. Anyone searching for candidates will have them presented with the most recent uploaded resumes sorted first.

So here is my first piece of advice to anyone unemployed and reading this article. Update your resume weekly on the job boards and reload it. This update could be as simple as adding or removing an extra space that no-one sees. The job boards will think it is new and sort you out ahead of someone who uploaded their resume two weeks ago.

But this type of thinking is very short-sighted. Here are four very good reasons to pick up people who are unemployed rather than currently employed, if both have the same skills.
  1. Unemployed people are eager to get out of this state so they will be more likely to accept a lower starting salary than someone with a current job
  2. They can start right away, not having to give up to two months notice
  3. Their previous supervisors are available to give references, rather than having to maintain confidentiality with their current supervisors
  4. They are so eager to get started again, they make ideal employees
You can weigh these four advantages against the only disadvantages such as their having not-perfectly-current skills and the risk that they were laid off for incompetence and the advantages will come out on top.

And here's my second piece of advice: To address any skills lag, spend some of your unemployment time and the training dollars offered by the state to take a relevant class in your field.

But the graph that really shocked me is the one shown below. Look at how long the unemployed are staying unemployed these days:

Wow! That curve doesn't show any signs of letting up either. I remember the two times I was laid off, in 1993 and 2001, both previous peaks and I was out of work for five months each time, around the average. I really wouldn't want to be in the shoes of anyone unemployed today.

So what can I do to help? I've been giving my presentation on resume writing and interviewing a lot and spending a good deal of one-on-one time with friends getting their resumes in shape. But there are those readers who are not close enough to hear my words of wisdom so I'll place them up on this blog for everyone to see. Even though it doesn't strictly fall in the categories of Project Management or Leadership, I'll make my next post all about how to update your resume, post your resume, conduct effective Network Interviews, Interview and Negotiate for a good job. Hopefully my readers and friends will jump to the head of the pack in the next hiring rounds.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to avoid obstacles

This new Humvee has a chimney that directs some of the explosive impact of a bomb
Project management is all about dealing with obstacles. If management knew there were no obstacles to the chunk of work they're giving you, it would be called 'ongoing operations.' But that's not the case. They have some kind of challenge, can't figure out how to do it within operations, so they wrap it up and call it a project. Then they give it to you. They won't tell you this when they give you the project but I can guarantee you that there are plenty of obstacles ahead of you.

What separates great project managers from mediocre ones is what they do when they are faced with an obstacle. If they stop, turn around and look for management to tell them how to deal with the obstacle, they won't succeed. The great project managers will go around the obstacle, over the obstacle, under the obstacle or through the obstacle. And they'll keep doing this with all the obstacles they find until the project is successful.

Yesterday I found a new way to deal with obstacles: let the obstacle go right through you.

Look at what Humvee did when they found that their trucks were vulnerable to the roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Other manufacturers have tried beefing up the armor plating or used V-shaped undercarriages to deflect the explosive blast. Humvee has installed a 'chimney' that directs the force of the explosion right through the vehicle and out the top.

A defence department blast test.
Look at the explosion exiting the chimney and the way the V-shaped undercarriage directs other parts of the blast away from the inhabitants.

For more details, read the Times article. I love how they were inspired by things like the fibers that link surf-boarders to kite sails and rock-climbing devices to solve a problem that is the biggest killer of American troops.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New protest method against dictators

Protesters in Minsk
When flash mobs started up a few years back, there was concern by repressive governments that they could be a vehicle for government protesters to organize. That has proven very true during this year's Arab spring and summer. So what's the next thing? How about clapping protests or cell-phone protests?

Read this Times article about how protesters in Russia and Belarus are gathering and then showing their disdain for their government by clapping. The police are aware of the tactic and are arresting people for even these ludicrous reasons, causing the protesters to resort to protesting by having their phones ring simultaneously.

What does this leave us with? Repressive governments arresting people for having their phones go off! It is an interesting form of free speech and non-violent protest that results in people being charged with...what exactly? I like the trend. Keep it up people!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fourteenth excerpt of 'Twelve Towers'

He pointed to various sections in all three Gospels and showed how they were the same.
Father Drew and Gwilym had many conversations about their religious beliefs. Father Drew was determined to convert Gwilym into a pure believer while Gwilym was equally determined to open Father Drew’s eyes to the inconsistencies in their Bible.
“How can you argue against four men saying the same thing about one event?” asked Father Drew one evening. “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all write about the birth, preaching, death and resurrection of Jesus.”
“You speak of the four Gospel writers as though they were four independent men coming to the same conclusions after witnessing the life of Jesus. Yet that is not what happened. If you look carefully you will see that sections in Matthew and Luke copy sections in Mark exactly. That means that they both copied from that Gospel. Like the story of the rich young man who wanted to get into heaven and was told that he had to give up all his riches. Read Mark 10:17 and then Matthew 19:16 and Luke 18:18. They are almost word for word.”
Gwilym pulled out an old copy of the Bible, much annotated. He pointed to various sections in all three Gospels and showed how they were the same. Then he pulled out a second book and showed this to the priest. “What my father did was create his own text, based on the Gospels, but in order of when it was written and without all the duplications. See how he crossed out the sections in Matthew and Luke that were already written in Mark?”
Father Drew blanched at this desecration but asked Gwilym to continue.
“Notice what is left? There are some sections that are unique to Matthew or unique to Luke, but there are also other sections that are the same as each other. These sections, most of which are sayings of Jesus, agree so completely, that they must have come from an earlier source. “Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ ‘Ask and it shall be given to you, search and you shall find’” Gwilym showed some of these passages, circled in red ink. Father Drew was bent over his Bible, rapidly moving from book to book to make the comparisons.
“My father spent his life studying this and he was looking for this common source all over the world. That was why we spent time in the Holy Land. While he was there, he came to believe that this common source was Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ uncle.”
Father Drew perked up at this name. “Joseph came to Avalon after Jesus’ death, planted his staff where it grew into a thorn tree and founded the first Christian church there. Yes, I have heard of him. Is that why you are in Britain, searching for this lost Gospel?”
“That is something I am keeping my eyes open for, yes. But I came here for my wife. Kaitlyn was from Britain and she was homesick.”
“What do you have left, Gwilym? After you have cut out the duplications?”
Gwilym looked long and hard at the priest. Father Drew met his gaze. “It leaves me with what many priests would call a heresy, an abomination, blasphemy. I call it the true words of the early Christian disciples. My father rewrote the Gospels to show them in chronological order as written. May I have your assurance that word of what I’m about to show you does not leave this room?” Gwilym asked. Father Drew assented.
Gwilym went into the back room of his house and returned a few minutes later with a wrapped book. He opened this, revealing his father’s spidery script. The first page was titled: ‘The Gospel of Joseph.’ This comprised a collection of sayings of Jesus, starting with John the Baptist crying out in the desert and ending with many of the famous parables.
The next book was the book of Mark which detailed the growth of Jesus into a preacher, then the leader of the apostles, culminating with his death and resurrection.
Following this were small versions of Matthew and Luke with all the duplications removed that already existed in Joseph or Mark. Then there was the Gospel of John. Then the Gospel of Peter. Finally there was a new Gospel attributed to Thomas.
“That last Gospel was

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zuckerberg is the devil

Hah! I told you he was evil! Read this small NY Times article about Mark Zuckerberg's temptations to possible employees, especially the insightful comment at the end, for proof of his aspirations:

A Walk in the Woods With Mark Zuckerberg

NY Times, July 11, 2011
          You might think a long quiet walk through the woods with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is a treat only his closest friends and dearest family get to enjoy. Yet a chummy stroll with one of the richest men in the world is actually reserved for a few select potential Facebook employees.
          Although the hiking path is often the same, through a wooded area of Palo Alto that skirts Stanford University, those invited change each time.
          Several people who have been courted by Mr. Zuckerberg told the same story. The 27-year-old chief executive surprises them with the idea of a walk through the woods. A little startled by the invite, people often agree, and are then led across the Facebook parking lot where they eventually end up hiking along a trail that reaches a Silicon Valley lookout. This is where Mr. Zuckerberg delivers his pitch.
          The individuals who shared these stories asked not to be named as they were asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement with Facebook during the interview process. Facebook did not respond when asked if this was a regular practice by Mr. Zuckerberg when trying to hire high-level employees.
An intimate walk with Facebook’s founder is of course a rarity in the competitive battle to work for the company. Getting a job at Facebook is considered one of the top career moves in Silicon Valley. Potential employees go through a long and arduous interview process that includes an online application, phone interviews and then in-person sessions with more Facebook employees and managers.
          But a handful of rock-star engineers and designers get to leapfrog that entire process.
          A potential employee who took a walk with Mr. Zuckerberg earlier this year said the encounter began with a very unexpected e-mail.
          “I opened my e-mail one morning and there was a message from Mark Zuckerberg. I almost choked on my coffee,” said the person. “He asked me to come down to the Facebook campus in Palo Alto to discuss possibly working for the company.”
          When the visitor arrived, he met Mr. Zuckerberg in his office, and was then immediately whisked away to the wooded trail. More than one potential employee who experienced the same encounter said the entire experience was “pretty disorienting.”
          “Zuckerberg said money wasn’t an object and that if I wanted the job — and why wouldn’t I, he questioned — the paperwork was already ready to go back at the office,” said the person, who ran a small start-up Mr. Zuckerberg was trying to acquire. “The entire experience was totally surreal. I really felt like I was on a date.”
          Another person who was taken on the same walk last year said that when they arrived at the end of the trail, they were confronted with an amazing view of Palo Alto. There, Mr. Zuckerberg stood and explained the technological history of the area.
          “He pointed out Apple’s headquarters, then Hewlett-Packard and a number of other big tech companies,” the individual explained. “Then he pointed to Facebook and said that it would eventually be bigger than all of the companies he had just mentioned, and that if I joined the company, I could be a part of it all.”

Here is the most recommended comment of this story by Kevin Koshy:
Hmm... Reminds me of a story in the bible when the devil took Jesus to a high place and showed all the kingdoms of the world, telling Jesus he would give them all to him only if he could bow down before him.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Democrats' new project to win 2012 election

The Democrats have a new weapon to aid them in winning the 2012 election. According to an article in yesterday's paper, they are arming young people with video cameras to film every move made by the likely GOP challengers so that they can catch them in embarrasing situations.

"If a Democratic group is ever looking for the image of Mr. Romney paying for a 25-cent lemonade with a $5 bill, it will know just where to go. If it wants a clip of Mr. Romney saying the president has made the economy worse, the archive will have one."

Now, not only will a candidate have to account for their actions in the public arena, while doing their jobs, they can't even pick their noses without some jerk with a camera ready to post that on Youtube. This is a slide further down the ethical heap.

Not that the Republicans are too much worse. But this is a lower blow than the O'Keefe videos videotaping left-wing institutions while they were supposedly doing their jobs.

But the question I have is, how far down are we willing to slide? The British tabloids are the worst of the lot, seemingly free to smear any politician who dares criticize them. Read this article about how they have sunk many a political career.

The only nice thing to see is that there is an actual line and that they are forced to close down when they cross it. Too bad the ethical line is so far down the dung heap. Here's the line they have decided they cannot cross: Do not hack into a kidnapped girl's cell-phone and delete her parents' messages to make room for more. Here's an excerpt from the article if you want to puke at the actions of these people:
...the hacking of the murder victim’s phone after she was abducted but before her body was found, adding to the distress of her family and confusing the police investigation by deleting some messages to make room for more.

Could we move this ethical line up a little every year, instead of down?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leader gets away with rape

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Released

Well, it looks like you can get away with even a high-profile rape if your victim has enough of a criminal background to make a less-than-credible witness. So here's the lesson to all would-be rapists: check out the background of your victims first and you too can go scot-free afterwards.

Take a look below at the smug face of this jerk as he receives his walking papers.

It would all make me terribly sick if it weren't for the one silver lining to the case. Because of the publicity of this case, one of his previous victims has come forward to pursue him with her own rape allegations. Let's hope she is more successful.

Tristane Baron
Here are some of her allegations in the article:  "He grabbed her in a nearly empty apartment as she was interviewing him and dragged her to the floor, pulling off some of her clothes and forcing his hand into her underwear. She said she escaped by kicking him desperately."

How will these people learn that they are not above the law if they keep getting away with crimes like this?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thirteenth excerpt of 'Twelve Towers'

What he remembered most was her constant smile.

Chapter Two – Airmyn

Post 13
“The first stone is in place,” said Viviane, “Where do we place the second one?”
“The top-stone must be placed by the fenlands of Hatfield,” replied Merlin.
“And yet our man has refused the task.”
“He refused command of all the towers. That suits our purposes better. We want him to be close to this one particular tower.”
“Still, he sits at home while the tower is being built by someone else”
“He cannot refuse too long, fate will force his hand. How did your priestess do on her part?”
“She fulfilled the role of a loyal priestess.”
“No ties to the man?”
“Hard to tell yet.”

The next five months were blissful for Gwilym and his family. He had enough money left over from the tower job and the bonus to live in comfort, so he spent his days watching his boys grow. In exchange for church maintenance and some small renovations, Father Drew gave Gwilym and Bleddyn full access to his small library and, in return, Gwilym let Father Drew borrow his few scrolls of Greek epic tales.
Only in the evenings, when he was putting the boys to bed and then staying up alone, did Gwilym allow his mind to dwell on his lost Kaitlyn. What he remembered most was her constant smile. She had such a happy disposition that she looked on everything with a contented smile on her lips. He recalled the first time he saw her, in the Holy Land, making a pilgrimage. He had been fascinated by this smiling woman with the sad eyes and followed her through the medina. When he had moved in for an introduction, her smile faded away and was replaced by fear. She became hysterical and one of her companions had asked him to leave, telling him that her family had been killed by Saxons and that he looked like one.
He worked hard after that to slowly introduce himself to her in a non-threatening way and for brief periods until, one day, she had turned that smile onto him and melted his heart. They talked then, about their lost families, his father’s quest. And she told him about Wales, the green fields, the sea and the singing. And she had sung to him in her deep, soulful voice and he loved her. He told her that his mother was Welsh but that he had no memory of her, having lived with his father from his earliest memory. He took her to all the holy sites. She was impressed with his knowledge of their shared religion. At Cana they had married, and when she was pregnant with Bleddyn, they had traveled home, not wanting to give birth in Bethlehem.
Life was difficult for them in Wales. Her home village was destroyed and no-one knew her in other towns. Gwilym’s Saxon looks made it difficult to find work so they traveled often. But Kaitlyn never lost her smile and she made friends easily. She was frugal with the money Gwilym made, spun wool and made clothes, adding to the family funds whenever she could. She loved him and loved Bleddyn. Her smile had faded during the one miscarriage and the two lost babies that followed Bleddyn’s birth but it had always returned and she was determined to bring this next pregnancy to term and raise the next baby to be big and strong. Gwilym now took on that responsibility and watched all his children like a hawk.
Under Father Drew and Gwilym’s tutelage, Bleddyn’s Latin improved rapidly and he started making progress in Greek. As the long, summer days passed, most were spent scratching words in the smoothed dirt outside their home. Gwilym would scratch math problems for Bleddyn to solve. If Bleddyn asked about his father’s travels, Gwilym would turn it into a geography lesson. Walks around the village or the surrounding countryside would prompt questions that led quickly into science lessons. Bleddyn was awed at the knowledge his father had stored.
Jac and Llawen were crawling energetically everywhere. Gwilym made some wooden blocks for them to play with and carved letters and animals on their sides. Llawen would studiously stack these on top of each other while Jac would throw and try to catch them, then stare intently at the carvings. The twins were getting older and could join their brother and father most of the time, only leaving them to feed at their wet-nurses. The village women would laugh at and tease Gwilym when he would change and wash his babies, but his studied care in their raising soon garnered their respect. He was considered quite a catch in the village and many men approached him with offers of their daughters. Some of the daughters came themselves with their own offers but Gwilym turned down all comers. He was respectful in these denials and never made the ladies feel inadequate, but he was firm and returned home every night to sleep with his sons. The family accepted dinner invitations and gave some in return, surprising the guests with Gwilym’s uses of spices that turned the bland fare of Huish into fine feasts.
“Where did you learn how to cook lamb like this, Gwilym?” Father Drew asked one day.
“Salt isn’t the only spice in the world, Father,” he replied.
On being pressed further, he admitted to tasting many dishes in his travels and learning the judicious use of good spices. He showed Father Drew his treasures: A rack filled with many small jars of pungent powders. He then led the priest outside to his herb garden and taught him to pluck leaves and smell or eat them and guess which were in the lamb.

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

Friday, July 1, 2011

How to plan a project

Here's an article I wrote a few years back showing how to plan a computer systems validation project. The methodology works for any project and it's the way I've been successfully planning projects for twenty years.

Project management techniques are universal. The proven, time-honored disciplines that make up project management can be effectively utilized and applied by virtually any manager, leader, or team member—regardless of industry, profession, or job title. The same skills I have used to develop and bring medical devices to market I have used to remodel my home and, most recently, validate pharmaceutical systems.

As Vice President of Project Management at QPharma, I train my project managers in a system I have developed over the years called ProgressixSM. The word is derived from three concepts central to my teaching:
  1. Progressive elaboration. The concept that a project needs to be elaborated progressively as we move from Idea*, to Purpose*, to Objective*, to Work Breakdown Structure*, to Responsibility Matrix*, to Schedule*, to Budget*, to Risk Analysis* to full Project Plan*. The project continues to be elaborated through execution and into closeout. (I first learned this order of project elaboration 9 years ago through a class I took from Cadence Management Corporation and have used it successfully since.)
  2. Six honest serving men. I use a poem from Rudyard Kipling to illustrate the key things that need to be known about a project to ensure a good, manageable plan.
I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are WHAT and WHY and WHEN
And HOW and WHERE and WHO

  1. Progress. Using the Tuckman Model, progress is made when the team moves from an awareness phase (which Tuckman refers to as FORMING*) through a conflict / control phase (STORMING*), a cooperation phase (NORMING*), and, finally, a productivity phase (PERFORMING*). This concept is evident with any group and is particularly useful in project teams.
So how do I go about this progressive elaboration? Let me use the example of a computer system validation we recently planned for a client. I became involved in a project that was already underway, because it was in trouble and the client had seen the success I had at projects in other departments.

The project was a corrective action tracking system. I was present at a very contentious meeting where two sides, the Clinical and the Information Services departments, were pointing fingers about how the project should progress. The meeting was very acrimonious, with little likelihood of any work being accomplished in the future.

Someone suggested I intervene, so I asked a simple question: “Who is the project manager?” Two hands rose, and I nodded, expecting them to glare at one another. But they had a different problem. One said she was the project manager from the programming group, and the other claimed to be the project manager from the users’ group. They added that they loved working together. I announced, however, that there can be only one project manager, and they needed to decide who it would be. The programmer was decided upon.

I requested that all the project participants, including the users and heads of the clinical and IS* departments, be present the following week at an all-day project kick-off session, which I would facilitate. They all agreed and, when the meeting time was decided, I sent out an agenda as shown below:

Led by..
9:00 – 9:05
Check in at room, Introductions
9:05 – 9:15
Icebreaker exercise
9:15 – 9:30
Project Background
IS & clinical heads
9:30 – 10:00
Project Objective
10:00 – 10:30
List of Deliverables
10:30 – 10:45

10:45 – 12:00
Work Breakdown Structure
12:00 – 1:00
Working Lunch

12:00 – 2:00
Responsibility Matrix
2:00 – 2:15

2:15– 4:30

I arrived early, and posted my responsibility matrix and schedule charts on all the walls. People were slow to arrive (is this an IT thing or is it just me?), but they were all present just before 9:30. I scanned the room and, sure enough, Clinical was on one side, IT on the other.

I started with introductions and then we went into a quick icebreaker exercise, which melted rather than broke the ice in that room. The one I chose was participant bingo, where I had a 5 x 5 matrix filled out with things like: “Drives a red car; Has more than three children; Loves the show Survivor,” etc. People tried to achieve Bingo by taking it around and getting people to sign their names in the appropriate box.

Next, I entered the six serving men scenario by answering the first question: WHY? Both department heads were able to speak their piece. Why are we doing this project? Why is it important to the company? Why is it important to the various departments and participants?

During this project background session, the location of the project, WHERE, was easily answered as only the US offices, nowhere else in the worldwide offices of this company

Then I took over. The room was clearly in a FORMING mode,