Iron Will and Steel Proud

captain+america+wonder+woman+logoI have been seeing all kinds of quizzes on one particular social media site that ultimately determine what superhero you are like the most or what state you resemble the most (huh?) These forms of personification are somewhat entertaining but leave you with an unrealistic sense of who you really are. If you feel that Pennsylvania describes your tenacity and strong pride, then I applaud your positive self-image. But if you feel that you can never achieve your goals because they are as high-reaching as the Appalachian mountains, well then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Stop wasting your time trying to relate to a superhero or a state. Instead just be the best you can be and work as hard as you can to achieve your personal and professional goals. Wonder Woman has to wear bracelets and a tiara to have superpowers. We don’t need tiaras to win government contracts or gold indestructible bracelets to finish projects on time and within budget.

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What does it take to be GOOD at what you do? Part 1 of 2

what-is-360-feedback-2The easiest way to measure if someone else is good at something is by first establishing a standard and then second, comparing him / her to it. This is commonly performed by a supervisor at work using an -insert name here- performance evaluation. Personally I like the 360-degree evaluation done anonymously by managers, peers, and direct reports. Common metrix include, “To what extent does he / she exhibit teamwork: actively participates as a team member, creates a culture that fosters and values collaboration, fosters teamwork rather than individual competition, seeks and listens to other’s contributions.”

This is a simple way to evaluate employees since it clearly defines the performance criteria. But what makes you good at what you do as determined by YOU? I am going to reacquisition a phrase from the military to answer this question: honor, courage, and commitment.

You must have integrity when making business decisions that involve company resources and employees’ livelihoods. Your employees depend on you to make the best choices so they can in turn a) get paid and b) believe in what they are doing. Courage comes into play when making the tough decisions that will impact the bottom line and/or your employee pool. Your commitment is integral to retaining top managers and skilled laborers. When you are part of a happy productive team, it is second nature to want to perform to the best of your ability. Be good at not only what you do but also HOW you do it.
Part 2 preview: It takes 10,000 hours to be good at something.

It Always Takes Longer than You Think

thinkerHow much time is it really going to take to complete a project? The way we do it in project management is by using a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to break down our projects into easily manageable components. The project manager takes the main deliverables and “decomposes” them into chunks that take between 8 and 80 hours (or units) to complete. We call upon our SME’s to help us determine how much time it should take us. An 8-hour day calls for a daily labor rate.

I have two people working on the task who possess different skillsets so I break it down to their individual hourly rates to surmise a fair blended labor rate. Now I have two people working on this task for 4 hours each. In my proposal, I quote the task for one day of labor using their individual hourly rates. Easy peasy. But wait, it just took my graphic designer 5 hours to complete her portion and my admin assistant 3 hours. My graphic artist is a perfectionist and her work is amazing…but it took longer than originally quoted for this FFP contract.

As a project manager, I have taken the Hippocratic Oath of project management to remain on time and budget. Lots of “float” makes me feel like I am going up a creek without a paddle. I have to be fair and accurate at the end of the day to be cost conscious with my labor rates. I also have to take into account that it usually takes longer than I think.

LPTA…is it worth it?

us-apple-pieLowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA)….as I take a break from discussing a new federal contracting opportunity, I cannot get past these four words. We’ve submitted downright competitive pricing on another one of these gems and were deemed technically acceptable but not the former. So I ponder some more why we should spend our valuable time and resources on this.

First I must digress to an episode of American Pickers. These two guys are entrepreneurs at their best. They collect people’s junk (or treasures depending on who you ask) and re-sell it for a significant profit. This is the American way! So who came up with LPTA? It doesn’t leave as great of a taste in my mouth as apple pie.

I understand the government needs to demonstrate conservatism to the taxpayers and it will allow for short-term savings. But you get what you pay for….if you are looking to purchase paper clips, the cheap metal ones will suffice. Sooner than later, they get bent out of shape and must be replaced.

As I look around the table, I notice that our paperclips at Global Metrix are colorful and much more robust. If we don’t settle as small business owners, then neither should the government.