Project Managers and the Philosophy of Authority and Control

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  • What does a simple org chart say about the project management philosophies of a construction company?
  • What positions on the org chart operate within the greatest levels of authority – PM or Super? – why?
  • Why do some companies implement a ‘strong’ or “full charge” model while others utilize a more ‘reliant’ model for their PMs?
  • Does it even matter?
  • How and by whom are these models formed?
  • Can both models co-exist within the same company?  Should they?
  • Are there distinct advantages or disadvantages associated with either or both models?
  • How is the bottom line affected?

“Okay”, you say.  “What’s the answer?”  I wish it was that simple.  There are so many considerations, and yes it comes down to the company’s philosophy of project authority and control.  Over the next few posts, I’ll work though the questions posed here and explore the ways in which great construction companies employ the different PM models.

Meanwhile, I’m facilitating a PM Boot Camp in San Diego on Thursday 9/25/14 so it’s just around the corner.  But there’s still time to register.

Hope to see you or your personnel there.

Posted in Great Team, Project Management, Project Manager's Boot Camp, Project Team, Seminar, Teamwork | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 ways to improve your business writing skills

Writing EmailRoutine  business emails, forms, and letters are a part of our business experiences.  No one likes the embarrassment of struggling through the writing process only to end up with a sub-standard offering.

Even regular people, not excelling in English, Literature, and Composition can improve their everyday business writing skills by applying three simple techniques:

  1. Write Shorter Sentences – By making a concerted effort to shorten sentences, we find ourselves getting to the point faster.
  2. Use Bullet Points – When we use bullets points in our regular emails and letters, we find ourselves guiding the reader through the important elements of our communication.
  3. Eliminate Ambiguity – When we read and re-read our writing, editing out all ambiguity, we find ourselves making sure everyone understands our written words in the same way.

These are just three of the ten things the ‘writing gurus’ suggest to help improve our business writing.  I will be sharing all ten of them at the “Business Writing for Contractors” hands-on workshop, June 26th in San Diego.  I would love to see you there – Register here

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5 Reasons Everyone Should Learn to be a Better Negotiator

Tables ready
Five reasons why everyone should learn to be a better negotiator:

#5 – You never know when you’ll have to face off with a 5 year old (or teenager for that matter)

#4 –  Even the best negotiators fall into tricks and traps that keep them from realizing the best possible negotiated outcome. For example: not really ‘listening’ to the other side and thus making too many concessions.

#3 -It’s never a bad thing to Learn and practice new tactics – This can only sharpen your ‘active listening’ skills.

#2 –  No one enjoys that unsettling, just after the negotiation, feeling of “WHAT HAVE I JUST DONE?  Learning to be a better negotiator helps your “confidence quotient”

#1 – The whole organization is served by having great negotiators at all levels and in every position. They are adept at having the bottom line in mind at all times . . . it’s always the bottom line.  Great negotiators know how to establish, protect and maintain the bottom line of the organization while also discovering ways to satisfy the needs, and even some of the wants, of their opponents.

Many thanks to WBE Novato California for engaging so well in the Negotiating training conducted at your facility in May.  You all rocked it!  And . . .  validated the reasons for learning to be better negotiators



Posted in Construction, Great Team, Greatness, life, negotiating, Problem Solving, Project Management, Project Team, Seminar, Team, Teamwork | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter? . . . Really? . . . well it’s about time!

TwitererIt’s true!  I am now an official “Twitterer.”  Not to worry though – I promise not to bore you with worthless dribble.

I will, however, be better equipped to keep you posted about what’s up including training and educational opportunities without the need for so much formality.  Oh . . . Alright! . . . I’ll also share a few priceless tidbits while I’m out there on the road – I really do come across some very interesting or beautiful, or sometimes ridiculous stuff out there – I’ll share as appropriate.  Remember . . . it’s OK to laugh at me or with me, as long as we keep it light.  Yes?

So let the Tweets begin – I’ve gotta remember to use the ol’ hash tag occasionally- So #Powersummitrocks and #can’twaittoattendanotherevent – Well I’m sure I’ll catch on soon enough 🙂

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Read The Contract!

ContractHow many times have you either said to someone, or been told by someone  “Read the Contract?” My guess is more than a few!

Our construction projects revolve around contracts.  It is almost implied that all the parties know and understand the contract.  But experience indicates a different reality.  The fact is, many approach projects with very little knowledge and understanding of the contract under which they perform . . . thus becoming a monumental headache for Contract Administrators.

Ah yes . . . the Contract Administrator.  Who is that you ask?  Clue – Just check for the one pulling out the most hair (If they have any left to pull). He or she is tasked with ensuring all the parties that the requirements and responsibilities  of the contract are being fulfilled.  What does that even mean?  And how hard a job is that anyway?  

When asked, awhile back, by the AGC San Diego Chapter to develop, produce, and present an educational program to teach how to administer construction contracts, I was reminded of just how many titles /positions within our organizations play the role of Contract Administrator.  I was also made acutely aware of what a monumental task it is to care for both  the requirements of one’s own contract with a client/customer and administering the requirements of contracts with subs and suppliers.

Bottom line?  The better equipped one is to perform the critical task of identifying essential contract requirements, the better equipped they will be to set up and implement effective systems for administering the contract. . .  And just maybe, that important contract requirement that you were told to read, would have already been brought to your attention by an incredibly efficient Contract Administrator.

Well . . . next week (9/26/13) brings me back to San Diego to co-present along with Craig Perry, an all-day “Construction Contracts Administration” Workshop.

If you or someone you  know could benefit from a workshop like this, Welcome aboard!  Also, please feel free to pass this along to others.  You can see the full program description at our website and you can register directly with the AGC San Diego Chapter.  Hope to see you there.


Posted in Construction, Construction Contract Administration, Contract Administrator, Problem Solving, Project Management, Seminar, Teamwork | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Foremen on the Horizon


I’m off to Sacramento to present a full-day “Foreman and Superintendent Boot Camp.”  I’m hoping for a large percentage of the group to be either first-time Foremen or workers still being groomed for a move into the position.  These are the guys (and even a few girls) who should benefit most from a systematic look at “a day-in- the-life of” a Foreman.

I’ve already told you how I think they have one of the most difficult jobs in the industry. One reason I know this to be true is that far too many new supervisors are placed into the position without fully understanding the expectations of  their Bosses, their organizations and the project itself.

Enter Paul . . .  I get to share from 35 years of personal experience, some of which includes being a field level Foreman.  Having been there – done that, and then moving into management allows me to carefully explain not just the duties and expectations of the position, but the ‘why’ behind them.

And so if, perhaps for the first time, they will get a broader view of the systems in which they operate and the critical nature of some of their daily tasks as they relate to the reputation, profit potential, and the very future of their companies (not to mention their own career paths) then I get on a plane tomorrow evening feeling that I contributed in a positive way to our great industry.

And oh yeah . . . . ditto all this for the Project Engineer’s Boot Camp in Costa Mesa this next Monday 🙂

Posted in Construction, Foreman's Boot Camp, Foremen, Greatness, Problem Solving, Project Engineer, Project Management, Project Team, Seminar, Superintendent, Teamwork | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just a Little More Focus

imageI love golf – I don’t play all that often, so I’m really not very good either. I did recently play three rounds of golf over three consecutive days, a luxury I have never afforded myself. I did so hoping to see if I would actually improve my game by playing three days in a row. The result? Each score a bit better than the day before – but no earthshaking, significant improvement.

I realized early on the second day that my major, persistent problem is not so much my skill set, which is by no means stellar, but not horrible either. It’s not my level of desire – plenty of that! The resounding theme always comes back to focus.

My putting always takes a back seat – probably just so happy to be on the green. but I was reminded on the second hole that putting without focus can add large numbers to the score card. My short game that was actually seeing some improvement, took a serious dive on number five after my drive found a tree and I became rattled hitting my approach shot before I regained focus. My drives off the tee actually improved going into round two.

My focus, However, was interrupted on the thirteenth tee by a “National Geographic” moment in which a coyote caught a squirrel for breakfast. I teed off with that image instead of any kind of “swing thought” in my head and the results were, while not horrible, less than admirable to be sure.

Well you get the idea . . . Right?
A million things steal your focus – and if golf teaches us anything about business or project management or estimating or supervision or operations, it is that the most important thing is the very next shot and it might be an ugly slice if you lose your focus.  So . . . I hope you join me today to do what’s necessary to either gain or regain focus.

Someone once said it like this – “Always keep the main thing the main thing” wisdom by any standard!


Posted in golf, Greatness, Instructional Game, Problem Solving, quote | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment