My Blogs…


Intelligent Disobedience

The (true) story goes, a young nurse, fresh out of nursing school, was assigned to a hospital emergency room.  A cardiac patient was rushed in.  After a quick assessment, the experienced emergency room doctor ordered the new nurse to administer the medication he judged the patient needed.  The nurse was stunned because she had been taught that this particular medication carried grave risks for a cardiac patient.  What would you do if you were this freshly graduated nurse and the doctor was older with years of experience? Well, the nurse told the doctor that she has been taught that particular…

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Civility Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, Strategic Intelligence, Leadership Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence. These are some of the skills and behaviours of effective leaders, as promoted by many scholars and thought leaders. I would like to add a new one: Civility Intelligence.

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Stop. Revive. Survive.

When you drive around countryside New South Wales, Australia, you will undoubtedly notice the many billboard signs with a ‘Stop. Revive. Survive.’ message. These signs urge drivers to take a break during long drives to refresh and rejuvenate. You might think it is ‘common sense’ to stop and revive during long drives. However, as Shawn Achor says in his book The Happiness Advantage “Common sense is not common action… The fact of the matter is, positive habits are hard to keep, no matter how commonsensical they might be.” Achor states as an evidence for his claim that 44% of doctors…

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Cost-Benefit Paralysis

This is an article I wrote about portfolio prioritisation.  Published in PM Network Magazine in November 2014 Cost-Benefit Paralysis Prioritising projects is straightforward when it comes down to ROI. Here’s how to do it objectively when the budget’s unclear. Click here to read the article.

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Are you happy?

One fine morning, and instead of the usual greetings of ‘hi, good morning, how are you’, my friend Deena surprised me by asking straight away: ‘Are you happy today?’  I smiled and started thinking whether I was really happy.  I answered her with an apparent grin: ‘Yes, why shouldn’t I be happy?’  Deena responded cheerfully: ‘Great, that proves it’.  Deena went on explaining that when starting a conversation with ‘are you happy today’ instead of the usual greeting you get people ‘happily’ surprised, get them to smile, and serves as an excellent icebreaker.  This will also trigger your happy thoughts…

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To Trust or Not To Trust – That’s Leadership

In my early days of ‘professional’ project management of IT solutions, I was running a data migration project when I was also assigned to a new Business Group to lead a team supporting an existing in-house-built solution.  After few days of the assignment, I was going out for a coffee with my new boss, the Business Group Manager.  As we were stepping into the coffee shop he suddenly asked me: “How much time you’re going to spend on your data migration project before you can move completely to my group?”  I said: “I still need around 3 months, spending up…

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Oblivious Self Awareness

A participant in one of my project management training courses said something that was an eye-opener for me.  The training course was a preparation course for the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.  In this course, I use a lot of sample questions to ‘train’ participants on the structure and content of PMP exam questions.  I usually display a question with four possible answers, give the participants a couple of minutes to think about it and to select an answer, and then I highlight the best answer with an explanation and justification of why it is the best answer and the…

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Communicate as a child

Photo courtesy of the talented Diana Ayoub (dianaayoub.wordpress.com) – thank you Diana “We don’t tell you what you like to hear, we tell you what you need to know.”  This was the tagline in a radio promotion for an Accounting & Taxation Services company, sometime ago.  Its simplicity and honesty made it click and stay in my mind.  Since then, I’ve been using it to explain ‘how’ to communicate project progress every time I teach project management. With similar simplicity and honesty, was the child’s question to his pregnant mother: “if the new baby is growing in your tummy, then…

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The Silent Treatment

In a chat few years back, my manager, Peter, told me about a commercial negotiation he won just by being silent.  Peter and his negotiating team were on a conference call with the other party negotiating a contract amount and payment terms.  Midway through the heated discussion, everyone suddenly went silent.  The negotiating team looked at Peter and hand-signalled him to say something to break the silence.  Peter scribbled something on a piece of paper and showed it to his team: “who speaks first, loses”.  Obeying Peter, everyone went silent.  Not long afterwards, a voice came from the other end…

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The Triple Bottom Line: People, People, People

In the recent Strathclyde Dialogues* in Abu Dhabi, I presented the view that the triple bottom line of organisational success is People, People, People, in contrast to the generally used triple bottom line of Profit, Planet, People. My view is that the profit and planet are indeed necessary criteria for measuring the success of organisations, but they are not sufficient.  The development of ‘human capital‘ and in particular inspirational leaders is crucial to ‘pick up the baton’ and charge ahead driving profit, planet, and of course more people with them towards continuous success.  Therefore, an important criterion of organisational success should…

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Creative Conflict

Jack and Daniel are two brilliant IT programmers admired by everyone for their wit and professionalism at work.  Although they were working in two separate sections, they used to have lengthy, intelligent discussions near the water cooler or whenever they got in a meeting or a gathering.  However, as soon as they were assigned to work together on an important project, things turned really ugly.  Almost every day they bitterly argued about serious and trivial matters.  They were not helping each other, and worse than that, they were belittling each other’s efforts and contributions to the project. Did you experience…

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Attract your luck

Attract your luck On a flight from Melbourne to Sydney a young man sat next to me.  As soon as he settled in, he pulled up a few raffle coupons that he got from the airport.  Some marketers were promoting a new product and were distributing raffle coupons for cash and other prizes.  I remembered seeing them in the airport but didn’t bother to stop and pick up any coupon.  Maybe because down deep I wasn’t feeling lucky and thought that I wouldn’t win a prize anyway.  I looked at the man next to me as he was diligently completing…

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Strategic Intuition

Sun Tzu, the author of ‘Art of War’ wrote in his book “Strategy without tactics is the longest way to victory.  Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.  What a beautiful description of strategy and a powerful demonstration of its indispensability.  Strategy is the manifestation of your goal, objectives, and purpose in whatever task you are doing.  If you don’t have a goal, go out and get one.  Without a goal or  purpose there is no taste of success when you complete your task, or as Sun Tzu puts it, there is no victory. One way of ensuring that you…

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Leadership Intelligence

Going over the plethora of books and articles on leadership, one can’t but notice the repetition of certain leadership traits that most authors concur, such as being authentic, trustworthy, visionary, inspirational, and so on.  However, the term that recently caught my attention is “Leadership Intelligence”.  The more that I read and think about leadership intelligence, the more it makes sense. The scholar literature discusses quite few intelligence spectrums, such as cognitive intelligence, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, cultural intelligence and ecological intelligence.  I believe that Leadership Intelligence is a term that encapsulates all these “intelligences”.  To be leadership intelligent you need…

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What to read

What to read? A friend of mine told me, a long time ago, about an advice he got from his father: “If you see a paper on the road, pick it up and read it”.  I was quite impressed with this advice and since then, I try to fill any spare moment I have with reading. Just to let you know before we go on, I am not a “focused reader”.  In other words, I don’t read books from cover to cover.  I tend to read few pages or chapters from one book and jump to a journal article, then…

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