Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Tis the Season

This particular article is a little different than the one I intended. I was going to write something about New Years Resolutions (NYR), and how they almost give you permission to fail by calling them a NYR. Instead, I received an interesting LinkedIn message this week, and felt it was something worth sharing. After all, I write this blog to share my leadership experiences and the lessons learned. I would hate for people to think I'm avoiding topics.

The sender (on Christmas Day no less) sent a message intending to get under my skin and spit some venom. I was accused of being a joke and that people talked behind my back during a previous project several years ago. The message came from a person who I let go. It hurt to do it at the time (and hurts to see him still holding on to his anger several years later), as the person is a very likable person who was in over his head for the system design we were implementing and was slowing the rest of the team down because they had to correct or compensate for his work. He would make an excellent inspector or client representative, but detailed system specifications and designs were not his forte.

I never enjoy firing people, although I've been called upon to do it occasionally. I prefer to work with people to grow them and address issues. After all, if a person can improve then they become an asset, and you don't have to spend valuable time and resources trying to fill a void in the team. Sadly, not everyone makes the effort to grow (or can in the manner you need) and your job as leader is to solve problems and remove obstacles.

Back to the message. I honestly was surprised to see the message, not just because it came on Christmas Day, but also that it came from someone who hasn't interacted with me in years. Rather than ignore the message or respond with more venom, I decided it would be best to embrace the Christmas spirit, and hopefully help him resolve his anger.

My response to his venom was:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - New Year's Resolutions

Today was the first time seeing this video, even though I've watched other Rhett and Link videos in the past. It was appropriate enough to share, considering New Years, and the resolutions people make:

Monday, December 26, 2016

Leadership Quote - Charles Dudley Warner

Charles Dudley Warner was an American essayist, novelist, and co-author with Mark Twain. With Christmas this past Sunday, the quote was appropriate. In a day and age of commercialized everything, people think that the dollar value of a gift is the important feature. "Look at how much I spent on you!" However, most of use would rather receive a gift that indicates the person knows us. Something that shows thought and knowledge of the recipient. These are the truly treasured gifts.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Your Body Speaks

A long time ago I joined Toastmasters as a networking opportunity. I made some fantastic friends and learned some powerful lessons (sprinkled within this blog). Recently I was reminded of a lesson from the very early stages of Toastmasters (Speech 5 in the Competent Communicator):

Your Body Speaks

Body language tells the story that your words don't. In fact (based on research performed by Dr. Mehrabian) communication is 93% HOW YOU SAY IT! From the research this breaks down to 55% for body language and 38% for tone of voice. These numbers have been called into question, but most aren't arguing 50%+ of communication comes from the body and tone of voice. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - If It's Stupid...

Not too long ago I posted a Morey's Law about "If it's Stupid..."Well this video is a perfect example of something that works and probably took about 10 minutes to set-up, once:

I honestly laughed out loud at this one. What other examples can you find of Morey's Law #13?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Leadership Quote - Abraham Lincoln

My apologies for the lateness. We had an ice storm over the weekend, and Internet was unavailable. 

This week's quote:

Preparedness could be the hallmark of leadership. Abraham Lincoln knew this, hence his quote

I Will Prepare and Some Day My Chance Will Come

Work to improve yourself, think through the "what ifs", and get ready for what life will bring you. That's why the military runs drills; paramedics / fire-fighters go through training, and leaders perform Risk Assessments. It's why planning is important. You need to prepare not just for when everything goes right, but for what can go wrong as well. One of the earliest lessons of leadership I received was from the Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared. And I work with my children to help them prepare for their future. 

Now, from a leadership standpoint, is it just you that needs to be prepared? What are you doing to ensure that your team is prepared? Are you identifying problems, clearing obstacles, providing training / opportunities for growth? The end goal as a leader is to build the best team you can, with more leaders. When you do that, you are preparing them for what comes down the path; because you can either prepare and take action on life, or life will take action on you. 

On a personal note, this picture is from a Halloween several years ago when my oldest son wanted to dress like daddy in the "tank army" as he called it. He wanted to be like me, so he dressed in a "uniform" and went out trick or treating. Dad was right beside him in a pair of old Nomex Coveralls, combat boots, and beret; all rank / insignia removed but still very much looking the soldier. It was a fun Halloween. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Day - Lord Baden Powell

Lord Baden Powell is the founder of the Boy Scouting movement and working with his sister (Agnes Baden-Powell) the Girl Scouts. I am a big believer in the Boy Scouting program, as an Eagle Scout I learned a lot of skills including camping, orienteering, citizenship, and leadership / communication. A fantastic program which helps young boys learn to become better men, with the guidance and example of men.

With that in mind, here is this week's quote:

By Erin Morey
This was the day that I brought our son to the Boy Scout store to purchase his first uniform. He was so enamored he immediately donned his Tiger Cub hat and refused to take it off, even o have it scanned for check-out. Upon leaving he saw this statue of Scouters saluting and decided to get in line and offer his version of the salute. He was enthralled with the idea of Scouting, and now as a Webelos, he is preparing for the move to Boy Scouts. 

Regarding this quote, it goes beyond the Boy Scouts. As a leader, you need to demonstrate what you want others to emulate. "Do as I say, not as I do" doesn't work, you have to walk the walk. It is powerful when a leader can clearly demonstrate his / her beliefs and people are more willing to follow that leader because of it. 

Sadly, today's news is filled with leaders who can't or won't. Leaders who bow to the temptation of their position, or feel that leadership is their right, rather than their duty. These leaders make great headlines and punchlines for their followers.

When you work with your teams this week, think of how you can set the example. Perhaps you can write thank you notes. Or provide agendas of meetings in advance. Or (and this one I struggle with) leave the cell phone dark and in your pocket for meetings (or not in the meeting at all). 

What will you do this week to provide the example? I would love to read your thoughts below.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Morey's Law #13 - If It's Stupid...

The world is full of incredibly brilliant people, whether we chose to see it or not. Some of the most incredible problem solvers I've ever seen are soldiers with limited resources. Stationed in Iraq, you would be amazed not only at what an 18-22 year old can scrounge, but also what they do with it. I watched:
  •  a 55 gallon drum become a slow cooker and another a BBQ
  • a plywood box, fan, cooler and ice become a room chiller, 
  • and an M1 Abrams tank used as a movie theater with sound-system and screen 
Necessity really is the mother invention.

The problem is that over-time people seem to become less inventive, especially in locations of excess. There is no necessity so there is limited invention. In fact, in many of these environments, the invention is frowned upon, and sometimes even told "That's impossible." or "that's stupid." However, from dire moments of necessity I've learned Morey's Law#13:

If It's Stupid But Works It Isn't Stupid

Too often we put down ideas before fully exploring them, and when we do that we lose the ability to see some really inventive solutions. Have you ever watched one of those LifeHack videos? The whole thing is made of ingeniously simple things we all wish we had thought of on our own.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Darren LaCroix

Several years ago I had an eye opening experience. I'd been speaking for a couple of years, and was recognized as a very strong speaker for the Toastmasters District I was competing in. I thought I was about as good as you can get.

Then one night, Darren LaCroix and Craig Valentine came to Houston and presented a workshop together. Both Darren and Craig are Toastmaster International World Champions of Public Speaking. In other words, they were world recognized "as good as you get."

During the workshop they invited volunteers to come on the stage and give a portion of their presentation. They would then stop you and provide feedback that was designed for immediate impact. After a little while, they would stop the presentation and then provide an evaluation. What you did well, where you could improve, etc., etc.

Towards the end of the workshop, my name was called. Up to this point I wasn't surprised by the feedback the previous participants had received and I was still feeling confident that someday I would be able to call myself "World Champion" as well.

I walked on stage, I was applauded, I started my speech: "Shh..."

Darren: "Stop, stop."

I didn't even get the first complete syllable out of my mouth before they stopped me. To steal a bit from Darren: Ouch!

Apparently I had stepped on the applause, and started my speech before the audience was done. A minor no no, but one nobody else had done.

They let me restart, and stopped me very little, until about 3 minutes in. Then they said "That's it."

Craig then said something interesting: "We're going to do something a little different with Matt. He obviously knows what he is doing well, and you've all seen us compliment other people. For Matt, we are going to focus on what he can do to immediately improve and provide impact."

Craig and Darren then proceeded to work through my speech, asking me to repeat bits and phrases, show the body language, and the vocal variety as they picked the speech apart to build it back up. Apparently, not everyone was comfortable with this approach, because as the program continued, there were surprised noises coming from the audience.

At one point, people actually "oohed" as an audience of a sitcom often does when someone is treated unfairly or something bad happens:

Darren immediately spun toward the audience and said:

HEY, no one ever niced you into being better!

At the end of the session, my speech was immeasurably better, and my ego (albeit briefly) was significantly deflated. I learned what a true World Champion was like, and that I still had a lot of growth ahead of me; but his one line stuck with me, hence this week's quote of the week:

What are you sugar-coating for your team? What are you avoiding telling people because it is a difficult conversation? 

Now, just because you aren't being nice doesn't mean you should be mean. If you are going to help your people, then you need to actually help them. Share not just where they can improve, but how they can improve. Provide real suggestions of actual actions they can perform to improve. Otherwise, your team will think you are petty. Tread lightly, but don't hide it. Leaders are not paid to avoid difficult conversations, but to have the difficult conversations. So remember:

No one ever niced you into being better. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Morey's Law #17 - Round 2

Two weeks ago I shared Morey's Law #17:

Professionals Are Predictable, But The World Is Full Of Amateurs
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at

I shared a story about a co-worker whose lack of planning became an emergency for me and my project. What I didn't share was how to mitigate this Law. My intent with these lessons learned are not only to provide examples of when things can go wrong, but also to show ways that you can mitigate the impact, or hopefully prevent the Law from impacting you. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Holidays Begin

The Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier. The amusing thing is the memes and drawings created for this thought. Here are a couple of my favorites"

Both of these were found on pinterest on multiple accounts. If you know the originator, please let me know so I can credit him / her

So which one are you? Are you excited for the season, or looking at the season as an upcoming battle?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving (Belated)

As we got ready for a Holiday in the United States about Family, Friends, and giving thanks, I'd came across a thought from the Maxwell Daily Reader (by John Maxwell):

Write a Note of Encouragement to Someone Today. 

It is the lesson for November 22nd, but I would encourage (sorry, couldn't resist) you to write a note of "Thanks" to members of your team. Give them your gratitude for the work they do, and that you are happy they are on your team. You can still do it this week relating it to Thanksgiving, but you should probably do this consistently, as people love moral boosters that show their leaders care about them. 

Several years ago I got into the habit of writing "Thank you" cards for people I appreciated. What surprised me was how often those cards would sit openly on the desk of the recipient, and they would actually share them with other workers. It was a real morale booster, and helped go a long way in showing that their leader cared. 

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, give thanks to your team. It will be unexpected and very appreciated.

Join us later this week, when I correct an over site to Morey's Law #17: Professionals Are Predictable, But The World Is Full Of Amateurs.

Have a great week.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Leadership Quote - Margaret Thatcher

Last week was Thanksgiving in the United States and I didn't post last Thursday. My apologies to my loyal readers. Look out for a post tomorrow that should have ran on Thursday. 

On to this week's quote of the week:

For those that don't know, Margaret Thatcher was the British Prime Minister from 1979 until 1990, who was known for her uncompromising politics and leadership style. A Soviet journalist (which likely means that the Soviet Union at least agreed with this) dubbed her the "Iron Lady."

More than 20 years ago Margaret Thatcher said the words above. This was before colleges created "safe spaces" for people who felt offended, and the world of government fell to attacks and labels rather than arguments and reasoning. Today, people live in bubbles of like-minded people (just look at the discussion of the US election results) and people are more concerned about not feeling offended (or not offending anyone) than about intelligent, reasoned discussion.

As a leader, your role is to help people get through the tough times, the tough discussions. If there were no tough discussions, there would be no need for leaders. Open the doors for conversation, invite people to share their opinions, and then (to provide another quote) look to Habit 5 of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:  "Seek first to understand, then be understood."

In case anyone was wondering, this is my youngest son. He and his brother were playing in the mud of our backyard one spring day and my wife Erin wanted to take pictures. The oldest was hamming it up for the camera, but our youngest didn't want to get his picture taken. My wife took the picture anyway and this is now one of her favorite pictures. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Coincidence?

Pixar expressed something that I find pretty amusing from Incredibles:

Gibbs from NCIS has rules, Rule 39 (dang, he has more than me; I'll have to work on that): There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence

And Dreamworks  shared, in Kung Fu Panda:

With that in mind, let me share a couple of "Coincidences":

From Pinterest

From Universal Explorers

Wrap your mind around that and let me know by commenting below. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Leadership Quote - William Julius Wilson

A lot of faith today is placed on test scores. The SAT, ACT, STAR exam, etc., etc., etc... We focus on test scores as a measure of performance for our students and tie teachers to the scores of their students. The problem is that many would argue that test scores show only one thing: who is good at taking tests.

In fact, Robert Kiyosaki wrote a book called Why A Students Work For C Students. Could it be that school doesn't necessarily prepare people for real life?

William Julius Wilson is an American Sociologist. He is one of 24 University Professors at Harvard (the highest distinction one can achieve), and considered one of the leading expert on race relations in the United States.

Special thanks to my wife for this picture of our son at an art gallery enjoying Andre Derain's The Turning Road

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Morey's Law #17 - Professionals Are Predictable...

One of my favorite shows is Burn Notice, from USA. It was almost educational, including the voice-overs. One particular voice-over that stuck-out was this one:

Dealing with a trained operative is like playing chess with a master. Dealing with criminals, on the other hand, is like playing checkers with a three year old: the like to change the rules.

With my experience in Iraq, I would agree that this is true, even though you may not use the word criminal. In many cases, an amateur can be just as bad. I can think of several instances while in Baqubah where we were training Iraqi police and defense force. It was usually readily apparent if someone had training before. The way they held their weapon, a tilt of the head, a raised eyebrow, a shaking head would all give people away. This was drastically different from the amateurs who were giddy holding a rifle and would raise their butt too high in the air when crawling under barbed wire. The problem in that environment is that a professional is dependable, but the amateur can get you killed.

The civilian world has an equivalent issue, as there are professionals and there are amateurs. Unfortunately, you can rarely tell the difference from a raised eyebrow or tilt of the head. Instead, professionals are typically the people who strive toward improvement in their profession. They educate themselves, earn certifications, attend training, and yes even read blogs like this one. Then they take the information they learn and apply it to their own work. Professionals have processes and procedures they use to make things better, and avoid knee jerk reactions which change the rules and cause more issues than they fix.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Newton's First Law

Sir Issac Newton developed 3 Laws of Motion, which became the bedrock of most of the study of physics. The first of these laws is:

Now that you've had your laugh... what are you waiting to get started on? Until you make a conscious effort to start, at rest you will remain. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leadership Quote - Winston Churchill

Special Thanks to Erin Morey for the Image

I find this quote rather fitting considering the response from the election. People were shocked last Tuesday by the results, and judging from my Facebook feed, the shock has turned into anger for some of my friends. Rioting in protest of the results continues, and people are openly talking about how obstructionist the Republicans were for the last 8 years, and "don't expect us to be different because now your guy won."

At this point, I think everybody needs to do what Oprah Winfrey said: "Take a Deep Breath" from Entertainment Tonight

This is the world we live in today, and I hope people realize that 4 years of obstruction will only continue to anger the people who voted for a perceived "real change" in the first place. During the midterms, 34 seats in the US Senate will be contested, 26 held by Democrats and one Democrat claiming to be Independent (the famous / infamous Bernie Sanders).  Some of those seats are in Red or Red leaning states. I think the Democrats have a more difficult climb to retake the Senate than the Republicans do to keep it.

So instead of finding the difficulty, find the opportunity. I would encourage both sides to be better, open dialogues, and start working toward solutions to the problems of the country. If we don't I think a bigger divide will grow, increasing strife and generating real hate.

We were founded by men and women who left what they knew to avoid oppression and start fresh. It was an amazing opportunity, which everyone arriving knew would be difficult. And even though this quote comes centuries later, the American people can display this resolve again. Look for the opportunity in the difficulty. Solve problems, rather than obstruct. Start conversations with people who don't agree with you, not to prove them wrong but to first understand. When you understand, then perhaps you can help them understand you. Be the optimist.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Morey's Laws #5 and 6 - Simple Things

"I live for the simple things in life... like how much this is going to hurt" - Rocket Racoon, Guardians of the Galaxy. The line is delivered with a sarcastic snarl, and the hint of a smile (even for a furry little rodent) as a massive gun unfolds and releases a bolt of electricity. As I thought about this article, for some reason this line kept going through my head.

Why? Because with a different slant you could argue that the simple things in life will cause hurt (if they aren't properly respected). The simple things in life, of which too many people, companies, organizations, countries use as a mouthpiece for how great they are, yet only pay lip-service to actually living up to them. In fact, if you aren't careful and hold true to them, you can often feel like you're standing in front of a target!

What are the simple things in life? Morals and Values. Easy to identify, easy to claim, difficult to live up to. Hence the combination of Morey's Laws 5 and 6:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Homer

Thanks to Erin Morey for the meme and picture!
Kings, Chiefs, Generals, Captains, whatever. Too many leaders, not enough followers. In the military we often talked about "Commander's Intent." The idea behind the Commander's Intent is that everyone involved in an operations should know what the mission is. If a person is taken out of the fight, then the rest of the team can finish the mission. If there are too many people trying to drive direction, then you end up going nowhere fast.

There should be only one overall King, and it isn't always the person with the title. Who's the leader of your team?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - The Topper

So far I like to think I've led an interesting life. Just a couple of highlights:

  • I've been to war twice (and awarded a Bronze Star)
  • I've seen 130+ degree temperatures (with an announced temperature of 154 Fahrenheit, although I'm not sure I believe it)
  • Slept in a self-made snow cave in below freezing temperatures
  • Visited 45 states and 14 countries (excluding the US)
  • Led a wide variety of teams and projects in a variety of disciplines, environments, and industries
  • I've even been pulled off a plane at gunpoint!
This means I typically have a story for nearly any situation. There is, of course an issue with this. I realized last week that I may have become a Dilbert comic character, by Scott Adams. I may be: The Topper. 

Very often I share my stories because I think they will be entertaining and hopefully helpful, but in many cases my stories are shared in a response to someone else's. I am working on reducing the frequency with which I do this, but in honor of Wacky Wednesday I share a few of The Topper's best:

Image result for dilbert the topper

Image result for dilbert the topper

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Image result for dilbert the topper

Thank you Scott Adams!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - John Lennon

I think this sums up a problem really well. Too often we are focused on our jobs, titles, positions. These things become who we are and what we are. Instead, perhaps we should take time to step back and figure out what makes us happy. As a leader, you may even want to look at what makes your team happy. Find ways to connect, and add to their happiness. They will work harder for you, and the environment will be much improved.

BTW, the picture is of my son at his 5th birthday party. He is stuffing his face with cake and telling everyone "I'm five!" Thanks Erin for the picture and quote!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Fork in the Road

Apparently, someone came to a fork and the road and took it. But not before doing his job!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Henry Ford

Special Thanks to Erin Morey for the meme!

For any of my followers finding themselves fighting a headwind, this is a strong reminder. You cannot fly without the headwind. It is the adversity that eventually lifts you up and makes you soar! The real question is: Are you fighting the wind, or finding a way to use it?

For many of my friends, this has been a tough couple of years. Since 2014, a lot of my contacts are out of work because they design and build oil rigs. With oil prices fluctuating between $27 and the occasional $50+, these past two years can feel like lost years, and the horizon doesn't look much clearer. At this point, most of my friends are finding other opportunities, and I hope they soar when they figure out how to use their own headwind!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Morey's Law #12 - Unless the Rules Aren't Working

Earlier in the history of the blog I shared a post titled: Don't (Suddenly) Change The Rules On The Player which became Morey's Law #11 (Don't Change the Rules of the Game). The gist of Law 11 is that you shouldn't change the rules on your team. They build expectations based on their experiences and the standards you set. If you change the rules (suddenly) then your team will start having trust issues. In fact most of the time, as a leader you find yourself playing referee:

The counter-point of this is that sometimes the rules are wrong, holding you back, or potentially causing significant harm. Hence Morey's Law 12:

Unless the Rules Aren't Working

There are many examples of the when the rules change. Perhaps a new system needs to be implemented, liked an ERP; or a new process is required due to client expectations or a changing industrial environment (like the development of a new HSE notification system). What if there is a new standard for welding, steel forming, rolling, or for that matter, a better coding system, or more efficient program. These are all changes that will impact the rules. Times move so quickly today that the rules from yesterday can become outdated before the ink dries, and systems that were supposed to last decades instead last only a couple of years.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Boxed In

My apologies for the late posting. I've been traveling a lot and the internet has not always been the most stable. Today's Wacky Wednesday comes courtesy of Gerry Sharpe, who posted this on LinkedIn:

These workmen are installing cast-iron bollards to stop nurses from parking on the pavement outside the Royal Hospital in Belfast. They are cleaning up at the end of the day, can you spot why they won't be getting off home anytime soon? Ohh Bollards!"

I think they'll have a longer evening than they expected. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Colin Powell

I know I've shared this before, but it bears repeating. Leadership is about solving problems, not just for yourself, but your people as well. That's why Colin Powell's Leadership Lesson #2 is so strong. Thankfully, my wife found another way to share it:

Thanks to Erin Morey for the meme.

That picture is from shortly after we deployed to Iraq in 2003. I replaced a Lieutenant who was relieved for cause, and found myself immediately in a leadership lesson factory. Hopefully your first experience with leadership wasn't in quite so difficult and unforgiving an environment!

Take care of your people. Listen to them, show that you care. Your team will do more for you than you can possibly know. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Parachute Project Management

For the last 12 years, I would often be called on to take over projects which were in significant trouble. I've been involved in manufacturing, engineering, procurement, installation, construction, software implementations, and even a few live events. The funny thing is that I rarely finished any of the projects I was on, because almost as soon as I brought the project back into alignment, I would be asked to take over another project. If you've spend time with me, you've probably heard me say:

I never start a project, I rarely finish a project. Too often I parachute into a project that is already on fire, put out the flames, control the chaos, pack the 'chute and leave for the next project.

Shortly after I developed a reputation as a recovery / turn-around expert I was asked to put together a program on how to recover failed projects. After discussing my process with a friend who spent time as a smoke-jumper in the Rocky Mountains, I noticed a similarity between what I was doing and what a smoke-jumper does. The reconnaissance, planning, and even the initial steps feel very similar. Hence the creation of Parachute Project Management

Since the creation of the program, it is one of my more requested programs. With many surveys saying more than 50% of projects failing regardless of industry and discipline (with some like last year's Chaos Report from the Standish Group inferring the number could be as high as 84%), there is a dramatic need for project turn-around and recovery expertise. A methodology that others can duplicate and repeat is extremely attractive. 

In fact, just last week I presented this program to the Piedmont Triad North Carolina Project Management Institute's Professional Development Day, and will be presenting the program again the day after this post lands at the Eastern Iowa Project Management Institute Professional Development Day. If you happen to be in Cedar Rapids on the 14th, stop by the Cedar Rapids Marriott to learn more about the program. Here's a teaser trailer for you:

Not to give away the whole farm, but a couple of items for your consideration:

1. When taking over a troubled project, your first instinct may be to jump in and start putting out fires. I would highly recommend that you take time to ascertain what is going on in the project first. Too often leaders will jump into fire-fighting mode without a plan, causing the leader to focus on the wrong fires, spread embers (make things worse), or become consumed by the fire themselves. 

2. Don't get too wrapped up in the original project plan. Along with number 1, take the time to look at it, but realize that if the original project plan was correct and usable, then the project probably wouldn't be in trouble.

3. Take a look at your project reports. There are two reasons for this:
     a. It is likely that the reporting to date is inaccurate at best and falsified at worst. You need to know what was reported, and you can't afford to take it at face value.
     b. As the project became hotter and hotter, as it got into more trouble, upper management may have put more and more reporting requirements on the project team in order to ensure "proper visibility." In many cases, this means your project team may be spending more time dealing with reporting requirements and accountability meetings than actually doing work on the project. It would be a good idea to determine what is really required for reporting and push to keep to that standard.

If you want to learn more about the Parachute Project Management program, and how C4 Explosive Leadership Training can improve your project success rate, drop me an email at Hope to see you at the Easter Iowa PMI PDD!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Passive Aggressive

I stumbled across this site while looking for Wacky Wednesday Ideas. I thought it was amusing, and actually couldn't stop myself for a good 20-30 minutes. Here is one of my favorites:
I often find it amusing how much work people will put into something when it addresses something that annoys them.

More can be found at:

Not all are work appropriate, and not all avoid foul language, but for the most part it is Safe For Work (SFW). Enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - David Star Jordan

Meme provided by Erin Morey, on behalf of C4 Explosive Leadership Training, LLC

David Star Jordan was the founding President of Stanford University, and today's quote shows what I think so many people are missing. Often it is not the wisdom or skill, but the virtue to actually do it. Often we know what is right, but we are afraid to take action because it may make us unpopular, or we are afraid that we will fail by taking that next step. In fact, I often find myself stepping back and thinking about what I should be doing next, only to have to build up the courage to step outside my comfort zone and do it!

So, are you capable of showcasing this trio? Do you have the Wisdom, Skill, and Virtue?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Morey's Law #23 - Experience Is Something You Don't Get Until...

This particular law is actually a quote from American Comedian Steven Wright (known for his sad, deadpan delivery style), and he is absolutely right (I promise, that should be the first and last pun for this blog entry):

Experience Is Something You Don't Get Until Just After You Need It.  

Often we are told "Fake it until you make it!" or "Accept the job, then figure it out!" While I've been through those approaches in most of my career, I have realized one thing: the greatest teacher is experience. My wife and several of my friends claim that I am one of the most well read people they know in the field of leadership. I consume mountainous volumes of material annually. I should be well prepared from other people's lessons for nearly any leadership challenge one can face. Yet, I consistently find myself experiencing new scenarios which I have to reason out, and sometimes fail at. These experiences are the father of this blog, and in fact are the father of most of the Morey's Laws. As much as I would like to learn from others rather than experience the pain myself, or for that matter truncate your learning curve with my own pain, sometimes Experience is the only teacher.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Wacky Wednesday

While looking for something to share for my Wacky Wednesday, I came across a Youtube channel named (wait for it!): Wacky Wednesday (FYI, not completely safe for work).

The video I'm sharing today is about non-photoshopped pictures. Some of these you have to see and not believe:

Monday, October 3, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is one of those people who is constantly quoted and venerated. I could have shared a picture of a Mac, or a iPod, or some other invention of Apple's, but instead I felt it was important to show that love for word can come in all shapes and sizes. 

This is a picture from the Hemi Hideout, a unique type of convention center. It's Timber-frame 21.7 thousand square feet structure houses 24 of the most iconic American Muscle Cars. This structure and its contents are a tribute to the love of cars by John Hovas, and is truly a sight to see. 

Are you doing what you love, or are you performing a job? What great deeds do you hope to accomplish? I wish you the best of luck in finding what it is for you!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morey's Law #22: Stakeholders Don't Know What They Want...

In 2009 I moved from a Project Management role related to engineering and manufacturing to a Business Analyst (BA) role for a company's ERP implementation. As my boss at the time told me:

Boss: "Matt I need you to move to the ERP team. They need a Project Expert as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), and we picked you."

Me: "Why me? I have 3 projects going on right now, and the clients are happy. Isn't there someone whose projects are wrapping up who can take the role?"

Boss: "Matt, look around the room. How many people in this group have a background in IT and understand how this company does Projects? You're the only one who speaks 'Geekinese,' so you're it."

Me, channeling my old military days (and living up to "Old Reliable" from this post): "Yes sir."

Bear in mind, my understanding was with Network Development and Management, not software transitions and integrations. To continue with the parlance of my former manager, to an outsider it's all "Geekinese" but the difference would be like comparing Mandarin to Korean.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Star Trek DS9

This week's Wacky post isn't too wacky, I'm afraid, but I didn't want to post it as my regular Thursday post and still thought it was worth sharing. If you've followed my blog since the beginning, you know that I am a little bit of a sci-fi nut (although I think I've kept the impact here to a minimum). With this year being the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, I found myself re-watching old episodes, and came across probably the strongest 3 minutes of Leadership Lessons in all of the Star Trek franchise.

In this episode (Rules of Engagement), Worf was in command of the Defiant, and fired on a de-cloaking vessel that he thought was a Klingon Bird of Prey. Instead it turned out to be a civilian transport. Worf is then put on trial for the destruction of a civilian vessel. He is eventually exonerated, and it was shown to be a Klingon plot.

Okay, now that the description is over (or you skipped it), here is the video:

In case you don't want to watch it, here are the lessons:

  1. Don't take command if you have an ulterior motive  - it can cloud your judgement and create risks.
  2. Verify before "pulling the trigger" - More pertinent in a war / battlefield, but also appropriate in the civilian world. Before you pull a trigger on something that has consequences, you should be absolutely sure on the target and on what the potential collateral is, whether it's bullets, bombs, or inappropriate banter. You will be the one held responsible.
  3. Sometimes you have to avoid the easy path to do the right thing - Along with the "pulling the trigger" lesson, a leader can't always pick the things that are right for himself / herself / team if it means sacrificing your morals and values. Some things are more important than safety.
  4. Sometimes, regardless of your feelings, you have to show a brave front - in this case it's a party to celebrate Worf's exoneration, but he would rather take time to process what's happened. The truth of the matter is that the party was for the crew, and Worf needed to put on a brave front for them. He can process on his own time, but not on team time! "Part of being a Captain is knowing when to smile, make the troops happy, even when it's the last thing in the world you want to do. Because they're your troops and you have to take care of them"
Worf sums it up nicely "Life is a good deal more complicated in this red uniform." That is Command

Monday, September 26, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Margaret Fuller

Special thanks to Erin Morey and my boys!
I once saw 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine say: "Today the average American doesn't read a single book a year. That means if you read 3 books on a subject, you are an expert in comparison to everyone else in the country. Remember, (then he tweaked Jim Rohn's line) 'You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,' and the books you read."

I am constantly amazed at how much we (myself included) rely on the little screen in our pockets to entertain us, and fill the hours. Even more disappointing is that parents are handing their phones over to entertain their kids rather than have a conversation or give them a book. That's what makes this picture so dear to me. Our oldest son (Maben) is reading to his younger brother (Colton) a Backyardigans book, and they both loved it. That was at least 3 years ago. Now, I sometimes go by their room at night, hear their voices, see flashlights on and know that they are still sharing stories.

Reading is critical. I try to read at least a book every 2 weeks, for entertainment or education, it doesn't matter. Take the time to read, to learn, to grow, and you can be an expert in anything. But don't forget the next step. After you read it, apply it!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Morey's Law #4 - Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail

In most cases, this would appear to be the most basic Morey's Law:

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

After all, if you are going to lead, you need to know where you are going. In order to know where you are going, you need to plan. Difficult concept I know. 

Yet, I am constantly amazed at how many people do not plan. They run through their day to day lives, going to work, coming home, kissing the spouse and kids; rinse repeat tomorrow. On a larger scale, I see business leaders do this too. They are so wrapped up in operations, in the day to day, that they are unable to take the time to plan for the future. Then they wonder why they don't hit their numbers. 

In fact, I know many small business owners and entrepreneurs struggle with this. They work hard all day, into the nights and weekends, and yet they never seem to make headway. 

Why is this? Because "Planning is hard" or "I'll find time to do it later." The person ends up spending all their time in quadrants 1 and 3 of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, rather than in Quadrant 2, where the real power is. People are intimidated by planning, and in some cases the intimidation is because they have to put something to paper, and then they have to live up to it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Fortune Cookie

Not my typical post, but I had to share. Last week, I had Chinese food for dinner and cracked open the every enjoyable fortune cookie. Most of the time the fortunes are amusing, and typically useless, but last week the fortune struck home:

if you can't read it, the fortune says:

Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.

I have to say that is probably the deepest fortune cookie I've ever received. I may even frame it. 

What's the best fortune you've received from a cookie? What's your favorite? Do you have any recommendations for how to treat a great fortune? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Eleanor Roosevelt (Again)

Special Thanks to Erin Morey, and the Beer Can House of Houston
Eleanor Roosevelt must have been one heck of a woman. This is the third quote I've shared with a picture from her, and I think there are more in the wings.

Today, with social media, 24 hour news cycles, and instant response of other means, it is that much more important for leaders to do what they feel is right, because no matter what you do you will be critisized today. Colin Powell said in his leadership lessons that "Being Responsible Sometimes Means Pissing People Off." I wish it were different, but that isn't the world we live in. As such, your goal should be that you are willing to do what you think is right, even if it isn't the most popular decision.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Annoyance List

We all have things that annoy us about our job. Perhaps it's the smell of a co-workers lunch, or the sound of the copy machine, or perhaps a software program that takes too long to load or has too many clicks to get to the screen you really need. If someone could fix one of those annoyances what would that be worth to you?

I recently had a phone call with a friend of a friend (let's call him Steve), who was experiencing some difficulties with an ERP implementation. During the conversation we both admitted that a successful ERP implementation isn't when the technology meets all the requirements, it's when the END USERS adopt the software and are (mostly) happy with it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Crazy Old Inventions

There are some interesting pictures in this video. The very first may have been the concept for a mode of transportation in Men In Black III. The cattle catcher for pedestrians was an idea I actually smiled at. There's a vest heated with electricity that I know Dewalt and Milwakee are making for their portable tool batteries, and the TV glasses remind me of the Oculus Rift. So, what ideas here might have been nice to have?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Joshua J. Marine

Special Thanks to Erin Morey
Human beings love their comfort zone. We like things to be consistent, constant, and unchanging, even if we KNOW that what we really want is just outside that comfort zone. So this, particular quote is something most of us need to remember; not only because we love our comfort zones, but when we leave them, those that give up do so way too early.

If you've read Think and Grow Rick by Napoleon Hill, then you know the story of the miners who gave up 3 feet from gold. Don't miss your mark because of 3 feet. The Challenges are what makes life worth living!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Morey's Law #16: If You Complete More Than Your Fair Share Of Work...

From 1-22 INF page

In the summer of 2004, I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and transitioned from the Armor Branch (Tanks) to the Signal Corps (Computers / Communication). Shortly after I transitioned, I was pulled aside from a training exercise by my new commander, Lieutenant Colonel B (LTC B from here on out).

LTC B: "Matt, I know you just arrived here, but I need to have a conversation with you."

Me: "Sir?"

LTC B: "We have a lot on our plate right now... with another deployment coming up. I need your best, and in six months time, I'll make sure you get a Company XO (executive officer) or Battalion S6 (Battalion Communications Officer) position to help your career. Can you do that for me?"

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Turtle Wax?

From the London Zoo

Is this where turtle wax came from?

My wife told me last week that excessive puns can be a sign of brain damage. Do you think I'm in trouble? I'm not even sure that the question would count as a pun. Thoughts?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Howard Gardner

Special Thanks to Erin Morey for the Meme. 
Howard Gardner shares a statement that most people understand instinctively, but may not realize it intellectually. Throughout human history, stories are used to share morals and examples of lessons, in order to teach and grow people. In fact, many of the ways we teach children is through stories and fables.

Today, leaders should know that one of the strongest ways they can influence people is to provide stories that share the vision, morals, or decisions you want your team to buy into. Most people don't realize that they make decisions based on emotions, and then rationalize those decisions.  Stories provide an emotional context, and often we remember stories more effectively than straight facts.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Morey's Law #14 - Risk Management Is A Risk Itself

Over the last 3 weeks, we've discussed the process and tools of the Risk Management Process. The Steps, the Risk Matrix, and the Risk Register, all valuable tools for the Risk Management Process. While I haven't covered everything, there is enough for a good start; but now comes the note of caution. There is a reason why a Morey's Law exists for the Risk Management Process.

In the first post I indicated that you needed to avoid Double Jeopardy, where risks are identified as happening in sequence (i.e. "if a generator fails, the sensor fails, and the bypass circuit fails... then the whole facility can be lost."). In the event of this happening, each of the risks should be identified and dealt with individually, rather than treating it as a cascade failure. However, that is only one part of the risk inherit in Risk Management.

Unfortunately there are other risks beyond "cascade failure." While performing Risk Management, you could find yourself dealing with a variety of situations, which you should be aware of before starting the process: