The Welch Company
Roger Bush conducts "Town Hall" Meeting...
Winning People Over
By: Rod Welch
Roger Bush, with the wit and charm of Phil Donahue and the expertise of Peter Drucker, rolled up his sleeves at our September dinner meeting, and engaged the audience in an enlightening give-and-take about the nitty-gritty of winning people over to get things done.
Communication is the key factor in project success according to PMI articles and professional events. So it was fitting to begin this year's dinner programs with a practical "how to" presentation on this critical function. Roger's remarks aptly supplement last year's opening presentation on a system of communication "metrics," delivered by Dr. Ray Levitt of Stanford University. It appears that appropriate metrics in combination with common sense use of PMBOK practices can make communication effective.
Roger showed by dint of his immeasurable talents that winning people over requires meaningful communication about the other person's point of view. "Communication is a two-way street that builds a relationship oftrust." said Roger Bush.
Trust requires aligning the other person's goals and understandings with a wide spectrum of sources. The surest way to impair trust is to present information that conflicts with goals, requirements, policies, prior commitments, regulations and a huge array of dynamic constraints in the business environment. This takes time, which is in short supply. So, it is not an easy job to build trust, which is why Project Managers are critical.
Tonight, Roger showed how it is done, by obtaining "feedback" to make communication a two-way street.
Roger asked questions, pleaded, cajoled and handed people the microphone to engage the audience in the hard work of discovering understanding and building shared meaning that wins people over. He called this obtaining "feedback."
Demonstrating how "feedback" makes communication effective brought to life the practices and wisdom of the PMBOK (e.g., section 2.4.2), and of ISO 10006 on Project Management (e.g., section 5.2 principal 1). Thanks to Roger's evangelical zeal, we learned tonight how to apply our "bible."
Roger emphasized "communication" is common sense. Learn what the other person cares about -- their "hot buttons" - - that lead to approval, inquiry, caution, disdain, rejection. Body language and expressions, as well as direct comments are telling. Silence can be the loudest response. Be observant and sensitive. Listen better than you talk.
Executive Has No Time to Think
Roger described a key challenge of information overload in today's businesss environment of constant meetings, calls and email. Everyone is encompassed by a "bubble" of concerns. Communication must penetrate this bubble in order to be successful.
Roger related a recent meeting with an executive of a major financial institution who is hiring Saxon-Hamilton to bring closure on projects. "Careful analysis and planning of complex issues are needed," the executive said, "but everybody has so many meetings they don't have time to think!"
This reflects the article by the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, published by PMI, that entropy in the information base causes failure in communication that leads to cost growth. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, cites an "Alice in Wonderland" environment where there is not enough time for analysis that converts information into useful knowledge for planning and decisions. Dr. Kissinger in his recent book, Diplomacy (p. 833- 834), complains that fast paced information technology causes decisions based on emotion and the mood of the moment, rather than priorities and capabilities.
Andy Grove, Chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation makes the same point in his book published last year, "Only the Paranoid Survive." Mr. Grove explains the critical need for analysis of daily communications in order to avoid mistakes due to confusion and ambiguity of a complex business environment. Grove echos the worry of executives who "... do not have time to think." He says it is not easy and it is not fun, but analysis is essential for good management. He urges managers not to be "wimps" but rather to ask questions for clarification of daily communications, and to offer "considered opinions," which necessarily require the analysis that people are finding is not practical due to limited time.
Roger Bush helped bring closure to this issue. Since technology will continue to grow in the 21st Century, its impact poses a challenge to the practice of management. Roger was asked if this new environment suggests the need for a new role and work practices to ensure that time is devoted to "thinking" (i.e., planning and analysis), which people are finding there is not enough time to perform? Roger said that adherence to the PMBOK is the path to the future. Like Hansel and Grettle, tonight, Roger showed how to find and preserve this path to win people over.
Members can hear more of Roger's ideas, exchange views and discuss real problems with Roger when the Chapter launches its new Discussion Group on our web site in the near future. Our Web address: http://www.pmincc.org.
Roger can be contacted at his firm: