The most common causes or project failure are inadequate management of requirements and inadequate planning. I help businesses plan and control the various management and creative processes in an integrated, systematic way that dramatically increases their chance of success. I honed these skills during over 25 years of project engineering and management in the aerospace and energy sectors.
As an independent consultant, I can help you with different aspects of project management, systems / project engineering, or process improvement. I also provide freelance writing and editing services.
As a member of The Cameron Group, Inc., I can provide technical or organizational expertise in nuclear, aerospace, and other engineering sectors. See www.thecamerongroupinc.com.
What do you like most about your profession?
I love solving problems. As long as I'm working out puzzles, I learn; and as long as I learn, I know that life and hope still live within me. And as long as the problems I solve help others, I know that the air I breathe is justified.
What questions do clients most commonly ask you? How do you respond?
How can I take my idea to the next level? How can I organize my information so that I cover all the bases? I respond by explaining processes and building tools. As a byproduct, I provide a lot of value by brainstorming around clients' ideas. Not all of my ideas are great (that's just part of being an outsider), but as long as I can hold their attention, they will get some ideas that will be critical to their success, and often, my "dumb" ideas will trigger their own great ideas. (The latter principle was something I learned when explaining homework problems to my mom, who was poorly educated. I figured out a lot from listening to mom's uneducated responses and then trying to better explain the problems or explain why her answers didn't work. Surprisingly, the best sounding boards are either way ahead of you or way behind.)
Describe a recent client engagement or project.
The project manager (PM) was more of a networker and marketer, supported by technical SMEs. He acted more as a sponsor, not applying himself to disciplined management of the project. I used a three-pronged approach. I gave the PM some subtle nudges in the right direction, provided the Executive sponsor with advice and templates that he used in requiring the project manager to fulfill his main role, and then I started providing infrastructure and project management tools such as processes, databases, and analyses. I may suggest to the Executive that he should promote the PM to Program Manager, and then promote me to PM.
What are 3 attributes you need to be successful in your industry?
- An aggressive interest in understanding, defining, creating, and improving processes and tools of product & project management and Systems Engineering (as defined by INCOSE). - Communication skills, including using the media preferred by stakeholders, finding a balance between aggressively communicating and not doing so annoyingly, and dealing with people with humility, professional respect, and personal regard - Personal discipline to create and follow processes for personal time and work processes; that includes exercising the courage to set aside insecurities and phobias
What are the most important things to consider when hiring a service provider in your field?
Government regulations and political correctness enforce diversity based on external factors. The power of diversity comes not from superficial attributes, but from fresh perspectives brought by differing skills and experiences. Selecting new employees on the basis of the wrong diversity factors sets them up for failure, holds back progress, and weakens the organization. Ironically, hiring managers emphasize industry experience for non-design positions. This excludes bringing in lessons from other industries and hiring open-minded non-SMEs who question traditional practices. Even though a new hire might go through a steeper learning curve during on-boarding, the questions asked can force re-examination of old processes, thus resulting in improvement opportunities. I advise hiring people for the right reasons, including the right type of diversity, and don't over emphasize industry-specific experience for non-design positions.
How are you different than others in your profession?
I have been told that I have an unusual talent for looking at issues from multiple perspectives -- future and past, high-level and detail. I cultivate creativity by maintaining an open mind and by asking "dumb" questions for the sake of others or the project. Putting others or the work ahead of myself has cost me, but I share Rocky Balboa's philosophy that how many hits you can take is more important that what you can dish out, and have my own saying that what makes people great is not what they accomplish for themselves, but what they accomplish for others. However, I have learned to seek a balance between keeping an open mind and doing thorough analyses and being decisive at the right time.
What are your biggest professional influences (books, mentors, events)?
During 25 years at Lockheed Martin, my supervisors, Phil Reyes, saw that I had unusual writing ability and desire for understanding things in an end-to-end perspective. Phil gave me assignments that developed my talents for system-of-systems and cross-functional thinking. While this took me away from detail-design engineering, it grew my talents in systems engineering and project management. The pivotal point came when a later supervisor, Peter Kemberling, recognized my potential for process improvement and sent me to training for Lean/Six Sigma certification. There, I recognized how organizations and workflow are analogous to technical systems. That has led me to study management, especially project management.
How do you typically handle disagreements with clients?
I recognize that I'm not perfect, so I start by hearing out the client's perspective, trying hard to understand it, and verifying that I understand it. Often, I have to acknowledge my fault or at least admit to the way that I contributed to any misunderstanding. When I feel that I'm right, I will set an example by acknowledging my imperfection and how tricky memory can be, and then ask the client to try to understand the issue from multiple perspectives. If the client is open-minded, then I can lay out my case and ask that we consider a solution that is right or that yields the best situation for all. However, sometimes it's better to accept the responsibility than to put everybody through all the stress or wasted time. It's always a judgment call.
Describe your proudest professional accomplishment.
I currently research project management and provide tools and analyses to a start up. It provides incentive for further study and a lab for working out details about the subject matter. However, I think (hope) my proudest accomplishments are in my future. Most look at accomplishments like notches in a handle. I see accomplishments as more like sanding the handle and applying a beautiful finish. Accomplishment is not about some external thing that lies in the past, but about what you are inside and how much more you will do for others.
What brings out your highest level of engagement?
After Herzberg's Hygiene and Motivational Factors -- which, presently, are woefully unmet -- my engagement rises to its highest level when I believe that what I'm doing has value to myself and to others. When my day job has not fulfilled the hygiene factors, I have always sought other ways to find value. What I do has value to me when I get to research, analyze, and experiment with something that expands the limits of my competency. It has value for others when it teaches them, provides them with new ideas, or enables them to work more effectively or efficiently. My mentor in management, Dr. David Paul, teaches an engagement model of Respect, Regard, and Reward. Since my worst critic is myself, my most valued respect and regard also come from myself. To me, respect and regard from others are nice rewards, but the greatest reward is seeing others put to use and benefit from my product.
Business Analyst at Available soon
November 2009 - Present
Business Process Improvement
Systems (Project) Engineering
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Degree: Bachelor of Science
Field of Study: Engineering Technology / Electronics Technology
General (First Class) Radiotelephone Operator License
Authority: Federal Communications Commission
Start Date: Jun 01, 1978
22581 Confidence Rd
Twain Harte, CA