The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 172: The Project Whisperer

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Episode 172: The Project WhispererI have an interesting confession to make... I love curling. Yes... I really enjoy that sport where the players slide stones over ice towards a target area at the far end of the playing field. I love to play it and I love to watch it as well. And, you might ask, what does that have to do with project management? Our guest Pam Stanton (http://www.pamstanton.com) will explain the connection between the two in our interview when we talk about her book and practice called The Project Whisperer.

But you'll not only hear how curling & project management connect, you'll also learn what a project whisperer is, how you can benefit from being a project whisperer and what the first steps are for you to become a project whisperer. And of course... we are giving away 2 copies of her book. One copy - as always - is reserved for our premium listeners and one copy is up for grabs. To win the book please go to our Facebook Fan Page, look for the post about the book giveaway and leave a comment.

By the way... did you miss me last week? Or did you not even notice that we didn't publish an episode? But for all those among you who actually noticed and where wondering "where is this week's PM Podcast?" we skipped it, because... drum roll please... I am happy to announce that I became a US Citizen. I got sworn in on Friday and you can imagine that I had my mind on other things.

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: This is The Project Management Podcast™. We bring project management to beginners and experts. Find us on the web at www.pm‑podcast.com or send your emails to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #172. I am Cornelius Fichtner. This is The Project Management Podcast™. Nice to have you with us.

I have an interesting confession to make. I love curling. Yes! I really enjoy that sport where the players slide stones over ice towards a target area at the far, far end of the playing field. I love to play it and I love to watch it as well. And, you might ask, what does that have to do with project management? Well, our guest Pam Stanton will explain the connection between the two in our interview when we talk about her book and practice called “The Project Whisperer”.

But you'll not only hear how curling and project management connect, you'll also learn what a project whisperer is, how you can benefit from being such a project whisperer and what the first few steps are for you in order to become one. And of course, we are giving away 2 copies of her book. One copy, as always, is reserved for our premium listeners and one copy is up for grabs. To win this copy, please go to www.facebook.com/pmpodcast, look for the post about the book giveaway and just leave a comment.

Are you preparing for the PMP® Exam? Yes? Do you want to measure if you are ready? Yes again? Our very own PM Exam Simulator™ will help you do exactly that. It contains 1,800 realistic sample questions in a simulated testing environment. We are launching this new PM Exam Simulator™ on March 25th 2011. Stop by at www.pmexamsimulator.com and get a 20% launch discount simply by signing up to our launch newsletter. That's PM Exam Simulator .com. And yes, it’s PM Exam Simulator.com - there is no second “p” in there.

By the way, did you miss me last week? Or did you even notice that we didn't publish an episode? Well, for all those among you who actually did notice and were wondering "where is this week's Project Management Podcast™?" Well we skipped it, because... drum roll please... I am happy to announce that I became a US Citizen. I got sworn in on Friday and you can imagine that I had my mind on other things. But now, let's get back to project management.

Pam Stanton graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor's Degree in Psycho-biology from where she started her 20-year career in project leadership including positions at Johnson & Johnson, Integrated Computer Management, Prudential Insurance, and United Way. As a consultant, she has also worked in dozens of other business environments. “The Project Whisperer” chronicles two decades of insight into the human dynamics that affect project teams. She lives in the western woods of New Jersey with her husband James and two daughters.

And now…psst...quiet...look over there...do you see those two projects? Cute, aren't they....enjoy the interview. Enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Pam Stanton, founder of Heart, Brains & Courage LLC and author of “The Project Whisperer”.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Pam! Welcome to The Project Management Podcast™!

Pam Stanton: Hello Cornelius. It’s really my pleasure to be here with your community today.

Cornelius Fichtner: The title of your book is “The Project Whisperer.” What does the title of the book mean? What is a project whisperer?

Pam Stanton: Well, there are a lot of whisperers out there right?

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! Horse whisperers, dog whisperers, ghost whisperers. Yeah, the project whisperer, that was only a matter of time, wasn’t it?

Pam Stanton: Absolutely and it started out as a little bit of a joke among my friends. I really was thinking about being a project shrink. But when then when I tested that out on a few folks, I realized pretty quickly that there weren’t very many people who would be willing to admit that they needed a project shrink.

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah and it’s already taken. Bas de Baar from Holland.

Pam Stanton: I saw that and I read Bas de Baar’s blogs so I thought let’s just avoid all that. So here’s what the project whisperer means. It’s really 3 things. It’s a project manager who has the ability to identify and interpret and understand the behaviors of a project team. That’s really the first and foremost.

And then the project whisperer uses their understanding of an individual’s personality and their thought processes and their needs and their communication style to build the trust and confidence that’s necessary for a strong partnership because I believe that strong partnership is ultimately what delivers project success.

And then the third thing is really then a project whisperer applies this very keen insight to lead a team with techniques that are rooted in trust and respect.

Cornelius Fichtner: Sounds like there is a lot of soft skill involved.

Pam Stanton: Well, there absolutely is. I’m very passionate about the importance of human emotion and behavior in the performance of teams because in my 20 years of project management success, I’ve learned really 3 basic things that form the premise of my book and my approach and I can cover those for you now if you like.

Cornelius Fichtner: Sure, go ahead!

Pam Stanton: Well it’s really, first of all that projects are primarily about people, right? And that sounds straight. And of course project teams are groups of people. But really at the end of the day, it’s mainly about the people.

The second thing is there are predictable behavioral dynamics that can either propel or derail a project team. And a project manager can proactively anticipate these to really create the optimal conditions for success.

And then the third piece of my premise is that traditional methodology and process alone is no longer going to get us there, that we really have to embrace this dual approach of hard skills and soft skills in order to evolve our craft.

Cornelius Fichtner: Why did you write about all of these?

Pam Stanton: Well again, I wrote about it because of my passion and because of the success that I’ve had in applying these principles and certainly learning them along the way, 20 years of bumps and bruises. And so I really wanted to share my experiences and join this growing community of conversation about how now we evolve from our base of hard skills into embracing soft skills and really what does that mean because it’s not a simple topic.

Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So here’s a question that’s completely out in the left field and that’s going to surprise many people: What does all of these have to do with the sport of curling?

Pam Stanton: I love that question! The sport of curling is the analogy that I’ve always used to describe my view of the role of a project manager. Thankfully, the recent Olympics have made it easier for people to embrace my analogy. I no longer have to explain in such a detail what the sport is.

But you know, there’s one person who throws the stone toward the target on the ice and then there’s two others who skate in front of the stone and they sweep the ice and they alter the conditions and they keep looking at the target and they enable the stone to reach the target. And as far as I am concerned, that’s me. That was always my role. I’m a sweeper. I’m out in front of the stone. I’m out in front of the team looking at the target, looking where the stone is going, look at what might be blocking it and altering those ice conditions so that the team ultimately can stay along to the target.

Cornelius Fichtner: So what’s the benefit of the project whisperer approach?

 

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

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