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Obama project management

Reporters and people alike have come to admire these distinct qualities in Obama: his generally calm and friendly demeanor, his message of respectful disagreement and yet cooperation, ... trying to find common goals and rivals†coming together to achieve these goals. Of course, all of this is quite a radical shift from the type of message we have seen from both sides of the political spectrum. So much of what Obama stands for (and hopefully will stand for throughout his presidency) can be applied to how we run our businesses, and projects.

Just like many of you, throughout my career, I have had my differences with some people. Whenever, I or any of my rivals chose to firmly disagree, argue, stand our ground or take a dogmatic position on an issue we all ended up losing somehow. This is specially true in any type of partnership. Hard ideological positions create nothing but obstruction, or worse destruction.

As an example, take the senator that single-handedly blocked the confirmation of Hillary Clinton on January 20th, knowing full well that she would be easily confirmed the next day whether he likes it or not. What is the point of obstructing and delaying what is an inevitable outcome? Instead, he could have simply stated his objections, understand that he has to work with this new team and get on with doing his job. Possibly spending some of that time and energy on the credit crisis instead. These are the politics of the future. As a friend of mine said, chances are when he runs for reelection he will be replaced by voters with someone who gets that this mindset change must occur.

So all of this got me thinking. How would Obama manage projects? I look forward to reading your thoughts on situations such as below and how you think an Obama type character would handle them.

- Dealing with a difficult customer: A customer that refuses to pay any invoices due because the project is late. The customer has changed project scope several times but does not think the scope changes are the root cause of the delays in achieving the milestones. He does not agree that the customer's team bares any responsibility†whatsoever for the project's†issues. The customer is absolutely convinced that his internal resources are doing a fine job and all the blame lies with your team.

-†Internal Politics: Your team and your projects are doing fine. So the "boss" and other project managers constantly raid your team for emergencies and try to take your resources away to fight fires. When you confront them they explain how urgent their issues are and how they absolutely have to "borrow" these resources. You know, of course, that it is only a matter of when not if that your projects will start to be yellow and red flagged as a result of these workforce planning (or lack there of)† issues.

How would an Obama-type leader handle these project management challenges?


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