A left uppercut to the jaw (ouch!), a right jab to the kisser (D’oh!), a left hook to the kidney (Blech!). I’ve just been Berkunated and I’m down for the count – yet again!
I just finished reading Scott Berkun’s fourth book, “Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds“. It was as delightfully painful to read as the other three of his books that I’ve read. Here’s what I mean by “delightfully painful“:
Was it as delightfully painful for you as it was for me? Got a cigarette?
In Scott Berkun‘s blog post, “Why Project Managers (PM) get no respect“, he gets to the heart of his assertion of why “output producers” don’t harbor much professional respect for “output managers“:
The core problem is perspective. Our culture does not think of movie directors, executive chefs, astronauts, brain surgeons, or rock stars as project managers, despite the fact that much of what these cool, high profile occupations do is manage projects. Everything is a project. The difference is these individuals would never describe themselves primarily as project managers. They’d describe themselves as directors, architects or rock stars first, and as a projects manager or team leaders second. They are committed first to the output, not the process. And the perspective many PMs have is the opposite: they are committed first to the process, and their status in the process, not the output.
If one doesn’t understand the “project output” to some degree, especially what makes for a high quality output, there is no choice but to focus on process over output. And as one goes higher up in the corpo status chain, the preference for concentrating on process and its artifacts (spreadsheets, specifications, presentations, status reports) over output tends to increase because meta-managers have much in common with lesser “output managers” and not much in common with “output producers“. It is what it is, and unless so-called process champions are continuously educated on the specific types of “outputs” their institutions produce, it will remain what it is.
In this interview of Scott Berkun by Michael “Rands In Repose” Lopp, “Rands In Repose: Interview: Scott Berkun“, Scott was asked about his former stint at Microsoft as a program manager. Specifically, Rands asked Scott what his definition of “program manager” is. Here is Scott’s answer:
It’s a glorified term for a project leader or team lead, the person on every squad of developers who makes the tough decisions, pushes hard for progress, and does anything they can to help the team move forward. At its peak in the 80s and 90s, this was a respected role of smart, hard driving and dedicated leaders who knew how to make things happen. As the company grew, there became too many of them and they’re often (but not always) seen now as annoying and bureaucratic.
Americans have a love affair with small businesses. But due to the SCOLs, CGHs, BUTTs, and BMs that ran companies like Enron, Tyco, and Lehman Bros, big businesses are untrusted and often reviled by the public. That’s because, when a company grows, its leaders often “magically” morph into self-serving, obstacle-erecting, and progress-inhibiting bureaucrats; often without even knowing that the transformation is taking place. D’oh! I hate when that happens.
Scott Berkun’s brilliance never ceases to amaze me. In the video below, which runs at 30X real-time, we see a 1000 word essay that took 3 hours to write being created in 5 freakin’ minutes. While the footage whizzes by, Scott explains what he was doing and thinking during the creative act.
Like Gerry Weinberg does in his “Fieldstone Method“, Scott carries a notebook around wherever he goes and jots down notes/ideas as they appear in his head out of the ether. This crucial practice prevents the dreaded “blank page” syndrome from manifesting when it’s time to sit down and write.
BD00 collects “fieldstones” in much the same way. He also sketches out dorky pictures for future enhancement and refinement in Microsoft Visio.
Western societies, especially the good ole USA, revere the myth of the “self-made” man. Even though many people might consider some of my greatest influencers; Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Hugh MacLeod, and Scott Berkun self-made men, all of them depend on what Godin defines as “tribes” for their livelihood. And they’ll all humbly admit it – which is why I’m a fan.
I recently listened to Leo interview Seth on the subject of tribe-building for writers. Here are some tidbits of sage advice served up by Mr. Godin:
- Don’t get upset by the fact that you don’t have a vision and can’t tell what’s coming next.
- The core of any worthwhile, enduring business is not about maximizing profit.
- You’ve got to embrace a willingness to fail.
- Get that voice out of your head so you can do your best work. (D’oh!)
- Don’t write for strangers – you don’t need a huge “tribe“, and thus, you don’t have to dilute your message.
- Forget about writing “how to” books anymore. People just look it up online.
- People hate reading, so keep it short.
The first four bullets are not just applicable to aspiring writers, no?
Last month, I blogged about helping to kickstart Scott Berkun‘s new book, “Mindfire”. Yesterday, I received a kool e-mail from kickstarter.com stating that all systems are go:
I also received a thank you e-mail from Scott inviting me to a party he’s throwing in Seattle:
Damn, I wish Scott lived in Syracuse, NY.
One of my favorite authors on the topics of creativity and innovation, Scott Berkun, is about to hatch his fourth book: “Mindfire: Big Ideas For Curious Minds“.
Checkout the innovative way Scott is employing to launch the book: Kickstarter. Of course, I’ve signed up as a backer. Maybe you should too?