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Workshop Review: Running to Leadership

Speaker:  Anthony Reed, PMP, CPA

by Eliot Andler, PMP, CLSSGB

(reprinted with permission)


Running to Leadership


On Wednesday, October 24, 31 project managers attended the hands-on ‘Running to Leadership’ workshop, hosted by our chapter, at the Puritan Backroom.  Over his career, the speaker, Anthony Reed (PMP, CPA), has managed many high-profile projects to successful conclusion. He is also an accomplished marathoner, completing over 100 such events. He is in exclusive company, being one of less than 300 individuals, to complete marathons in all 7 continents. Mr. Reed approaches each of his running events as a project, especially in the areas of planning, executing, and risk mitigation. Throughout the workshop, he compared his marathon experiences to that of the projects he’s managed and to Project Management in general. As indicated in his title, Mr. Reed holds a CPA. This certification was achieved after becoming a Project Manager. In his role as a PM, he encountered frustrations with the ‘bean counters’, so he decided to earn the accounting certification in order to think in those terms when managing projects.

Mr. Reed is the author of 5 books. The workshop dovetailed nicely with one such book, “Running to Leadership_ What Finishing 100+ Marathons On All 7 Continents Teaches Us About Success”.

Key Points from the Workshop:

Standish Chaos Reports: From 1996-2017, only 29% of projects succeeded. The definition of success being on budget and with expected functionality.

Project Equation:  Information Gatherers + Information Givers + Technology + Methodology = Completed Project. When a project fails, it is because the Information Givers and the Information Gatherers are in conflict.

Project Duration: The longer the project; the higher is the probability of failure. IT projects should be no more than 1 year due to the rapid changes in technology.

Project Approach: Focus on the people not on the methodology or technology

Achievement Equation: Contrary to conventional wisdom, there are ‘I’s in ‘TEAM’. When looking at the construction of the individual letters of ‘TEAM’, there’s a total of 4 I’s: the vertical parts of the letters ‘T’, ‘E’, and ‘M’. These 4 ‘I’s pertain to each project team member. The 4 ‘I’ components represent: Ideas (goal setting), Incentive (motivation), Instructions (planning), and Implementation (execution).The Achievement Equation, as a mathematical formula, is represented as     

Ia = (Ig * Im * Ip * Ie)

Each component is binary (either ‘1’ or ‘0’), so should any of these variables be ‘0’; the product will be ‘0; therefore, the project will fail.

Build Team Trust: The greater the level of trust that exists between the individual team members, the more effective the team will be and the greater the likelihood of project success. Team trust will exist when the Achievement Equation has a product of ‘1’.

Goal Setting: Employ the SMART system (Simple & Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Balanced Project: A project is made up of these elements: Time, Scope, Quality, and Resources. If the Scope changes, the project becomes unbalanced unless the other elements are adjusted accordingly. Scope Creep is an issue often facing a Project Manager as the Project Sponsors attempt to add to the Scope after the project components have already been balanced. For a great example of Scope Creep, view this YouTube clip from “The Pentagon Wars”:

Project Planning: Get the business requirements as if you’re building a house (better yet, as if you’re building your own house). Executives that are project Sponsors tend not to be SME’s (subject matter experts). As the Project Manager, get to know the project sponsors. Approach them individually in an ‘unofficial’ way and try to win them over to your side (perhaps over a cup of coffee). For a great example of a Project properly planned, view this YouTube clip from “The Four-Hour House”:


Planning Problems: Typical planning problems include: Analysis Paralysis, failure to identify and account for Risks, and failure to gain Team acceptance. Individual team members may need to reach outside of their comfort zone in order for the project to succeed. One of the roles of the Project Manager is to convince those individuals to succeed despite reaching out of that zone.  

Team Meetings: Many times it is difficult to schedule status meetings with the Project Team. This is especially true when team individuals simultaneously have other assignments. A feasible alternative is to meet individually with the team players and limit the number of group meetings.

Staff Mental Shift: This is particularly applicable to individuals who are splitting their duties between a project and their regular work. When shifting to the project work, the mental shift must be made from one of customer-focus to one of project-focus.

Unplanned Events: There are 3 types of unplanned events, each of which can rear its ugly head during a project: events that the PM can control, events that the PM can influence, and events that the PM can only observe. In a family setting here is an example of each: With a young toddler, the parents can control events; with a grown-up child, the parents can influence events; and with a grown child, parents can only observe the events. As a PM, it is important to realize which unplanned events you can actually control, which you can influence, and which you have no say over.

Other notes of interest regarding Mr. Reed:

  • 25+ years in IT project management and executive-level positions
  • BA degrees in mathematics and management
  • MBA in management & MS in accounting
  • Certified Supply Chain Manager
  • Adjunct PM, IT, accounting, and management professor
  • Featured in IT, business, and sorts of newspapers and magazines worldwide
  • 50+ published articles