In our series, The Aha Moment, we chat with influencers in the PM & PPM space and get to know them better. We ask a bunch of questions, some biz related and some not so biz related, in order to understand what makes them tick and find their aha moment.
This month’s feature is PM expert mentor, Annie MacLeod. Read on to find out how she rose up the PM career ladder, what she deems as major challenges, and which items she would save on a desert island…..
Q. What is your job title and in what industry are you working in?
A. I am Chief Coach at the Project Management GameBoard. I work in multiple industries but primarily with Project Managers, Business Analysts and C-Suite leaders who are trying to build their PM skills, and collaboration skills or develop their PM practices in Product Development or Technology.
Q. What led you to this career?
A. I started out being educated in accounting (7 years) before I discovered I don’t like it and I’m not good at it! I had my first technology project in 1984 and found my passion – an opportunity with constant learning, and dynamic teams, and haven’t stopped.
Q. In your experience, why do projects fail or fail to meet their deadlines?
A. They primarily fail to meet expectations because they don’t understand those expectations adequately upfront or they fail to adapt as the expectations or the situation changes and the project progresses. For example, many projects don’t spend the time upfront to understand the question – they jump to solutions before they understand the problem – as often happens particularly with software or technology deployment. People (often C-Suite) see the shiny new piece of tech and decide the organization needs it without understanding why or the implications to people, process and existing technology.
Q. What is your biggest challenge in your profession? How do you overcome them? Do you use certain software (tech stack), have a certain daily routine, etc.?
A. I think that task management has become synonymous with project management – there are so many task management systems out there and more coming online every day – but they are micromanaging people, destroying morale, and adding complexity that is not adding value. I’m on a mission to work with organizations and PMs to replace these with practices that build trust and responsibility in project teams.
Now for the Fun Stuff…
Q. Have you read any books, articles or other resources that changed your perspective on project management? Or what was the last book you read related to your field?
A. My most influential book on project management was written by Dr. Francis Hartman, Don’t Park Your Brain Outside. His work and methods around stakeholder management were pivotal to my work as a PM. Also, after writing this work I had the opportunity to be mentored by him and his work on trust heavily influenced my project teams – teams that have high trust from sponsors and customers and throughout the project team can accomplish amazing things at an amazing pace!
Q. If you had an extra hour in your work day, what would you do with it?
Write more, I’ve recently begun to write – working on a book and starting to publish articles – and have found my happy place and a great opportunity to share decades of experience.
A. You get to be the host of a late-night talk show. Who would be your first guest?
I’d really like to speak to the founder at Miro Andrey Khusid, and understand how the vision for the product came about and where he sees visual collaboration and software development in the future.
Q. What three items would you like to have if stranded on a deserted island?
A. Probably, a solar-powered flashlight as I’m semi-scared of the dark, a great bed to sleep on, and an unlimited supply of bread!
Q. What is your go-to Karaoke song?
A. Not a clue – I’ve not been to karaoke in years and can’t carry a tune!