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Episode 451: Flow for Project Managers (Free) #PMOT

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A. Kallman
Andrew Kallman, Executive Coach

Last week, I must have missed the start of at least three scheduled meetings. In each case, I saw on my calendar that the meetings would start in an hour or less, which meant that I could probably start and finish another task before I had to be at those meetings. And each time, I got so involved in the task I was working on that I lost track of everything around me and the meetings started without me.

In positive psychology, this is called a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone. This is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.

Wouldn’t it be great, if we could apply this to all our projects and everyone working on it? You can.

To see how flow can be applied to our projects, we are welcoming Andrew Kallman to the program. He and his brother Ted Kallman wrote the book Flow: Get Everyone Moving in the Right Direction...And Loving It and Andrew is here today to give us an introduction.

Here is how someone describes the effect flow has had on their projects: Flow is when you know where you are headed, know what your goal is, and know the steps necessary to get there. It's like running a race. You don't plan each step along the way, but you keep your eyes on the finish line, and everything you do moves you toward it thanks to your training.

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Episode Transcript

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

Podcast Introduction

Andrew Kallman: In this episode of The PM Podcast™, I will introduce you to Flow. It will help you get everyone on your project moving in the same direction and they’ll love it!

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com. This is Episode 451 and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you for joining me today.

Last week, I must have missed the start of at least three scheduled meetings. In each case, I saw it on my calendar and I saw that the meetings would start in about an hour or less. And that meant, I could probably start and finish another task before I had to be at those meetings. And each time, I got so involved in the task I was working on that I totally lost track of everything around me and the meetings started without me.

In positive psychology, this is called a Flow State, also known colloquially as being in the zone. This is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment of the process of the activity. In essence, Flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time. Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could apply this to all our projects and everyone working on it? Just imagine how much we could get done. Well, you can!

But first: If you are preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP) Exam then the best way to calm your butterflies in your stomach is to take a practice exam. Our PMP Exam Simulator offers several such practice exams. To see how it works and take a free test drive, please go to www.freeexamsimulator.com.

And to see how Flow can be applied to our projects, we are welcoming Andrew Kallman to the program. He and his brother, Ted Kallman, wrote the book “Flow: Get everyone Moving in the Right Direction and Loving it.” And Andrew is here today to give us an introduction. Here is how someone describes the effect that Flow has had on their projects.

Flow is when you know where you are headed, know what your goal is, and know the steps necessary to get there. It’s like running a race. You don’t plan each step along the way but you keep your eyes on the finish line and everything you do moves you towards it. Thanks to your training. And now, enjoy the interview!

Podcast

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Andrew and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™!

Andrew Kallman: Hi, Cornelius! Thanks!

Cornelius Fichtner: So before we begin, what can our listeners expect to learn from our discussion today that will help them manage and lead their projects?

Andrew Kallman: They’ll be able to hopefully at the end of this interview have a couple of tools that they can take and begin to use immediately in their daily work that will help them increase their odds of having a successful project whether they have tight budgets or tight timeline or if they have a challenging scope.

Cornelius Fichtner: The book that you and your brother wrote is called “Flow – Get Everyone Moving in the Right Direction and Loving it.” And my obvious first question, what is flow?

Andrew Kallman: That’s a great question Cornelius. It’s actually one of the things that we’ve put into Flow is that it’s basically the optimization of what you are trying to achieve. So it optimizes what you are doing.

Cornelius Fichtner: And how did you get involved with Flow to begin with? What was the start?

Andrew Kallman: Wow! That goes back a long time. All of my brothers and I, we were actually basketball players. And we first heard about Flow from one of our coaches that we worked with. He told us about a psychologist in Chicago that was teaching at one of the universities there and I’ll probably massacre his name so Dr. Csikszentmihalyi, I hope you forgive me, but Mihaly was the one that came up the idea of Flow. He applied it to individual flow and team flow. And so, it was really interesting being in basketball. It was like: Wow, how can we take those ideas and apply them to business and to our projects?

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! Mihaly, Csikszentmihalyi. I think his book is called “Flow” just ‘Flow’ right? So very similar concept but I believe he focuses on the flow that you personally get into like when something really happening. For example, you are doing some work and suddenly you snap out of it and it’s 2 hours later and things that just worked. It flowed. It was just fantastic the way this went. I think that’s sort of the general concept, right?

Andrew Kallman: Yeah, exactly! It’s like achieving that state of optimal high performance and if an individual on a team can enter into Flow, often he is able to help the rest of the team come with. All of a sudden, everything that you are doing, every shot that goes up, goes in. your team gets every rebound and it’s the same thing in projects when working with teams is if one person enters into a state of optimal sustainable high performance they tend to bring everybody else with.

Cornelius Fichtner: So from the point after you were trained in Flow, what was the biggest success that you had in using Flow as part of managing one of your projects. How did it help you?

Andrew Kallman: That is included in our book. It’s one of the case studies. It’s the same case study as the one that I’m thinking about. We had a project with a forecast are dismal. They were projecting that it was going to be double the budget in two additional years above and beyond the 3 years that they have budgeted. And I came in, working with the team and realized that these team members have been working between 60 and 80 hours a week for 2 years. It was just like: “Oh my, this is going to be a disaster if this keeps up. They’re all going to burn out.

And so, I was able to using Flow in 90 days turn the team around, turn the project around and help them actually deliver the project seven months earlier than planned with savings of multiple millions of Singapore dollars and the executives there were just delighted. Because nobody thought the project was going to succeed. So we took something that was up in flames and I worked on it directly and Ted was coaching me in the background and we were able to do a lot of different things directly in a project that no one thought that that we could win. So that is one of the 13 case studies that we included in Flow, our latest book. The other case studies are equally as impressive. It’s always fun to work with Flow. And so, that’s probably the biggest success that I’ve had where I was basically implementing Flow all by myself on my own half way around the world from the US.

Cornelius Fichtner: And did you have some sort of a personal “aha” moment at some point? You know many people out there when they’re listening to this, they’re going to go: “Yeah, it’s just another kind of methodology that I could apply.” But you know, what was it for you when you thought: “You know what? This actually works! This is really great!”

Andrew Kallman: Well, it was probably along the same time is when we were able to go out and start duplicating our successes and project after project, program after program, portfolio after portfolio. That’s when we were like: Oh, we’ve got something that people can duplicate and we’ve had other people that we’ve trained in Flow that have done the exact same thing and they have been able to recreate delivering remarkable results in our projects. For me, that has been one of the key personal ‘aha’ moments for Flow.

Cornelius Fichtner: So let’s jump in to it. Maybe let’s start with a tool. Could you give me an example of one of the tools that you use from Flow and how this would be applied and help on a project so that a project manager can be more successful?

Andrew Kallman: Absolutely! One of those is the Flow Friction Analysis.

Cornelius Fichtner: Flow Friction Analysis, alright! Tell me about that.

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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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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