Secret Mindset of a Winning Project Manager

I’m prepared to share with you the workings of a secret mindset. I say secret because very few people employ it, let alone project managers. As you read, you will see that you already do some of this naturally. Yet, you will soon understand that not fully using this secret mindset can thwart the very good things you are already doing naturally. Rather than show you how you thwart your good intentions, I will contrast the typical mindset with the secret mindset and it will become clear to you.

Managing Information

Success in managing a project usually means meeting the project requirements on time and on budget. And your path to achieving that success in managing a Magento development project depends primarily on the effective gathering and presenting of information. The kind of information you get and receive from your client, your internal team, your external resources, and any third-party vendors.

Problems

There can be many delays and other problems resulting from the information that is gathered and shared. How you respond to these problems can dramatically extend your project’s time and budget or keep it closer on schedule and back on financial track.

Solution-Focused Problem Solving

I want you to consider a general attitude, or belief, in a solution-focused approach to your planning and any obstacle you encounter. A solution-focused approach is not a development methodology. It’s more a way of approaching solutions from a mindset that puts a primary importance on strengths, what is working right, and past successes.

So you’re probably thinking, yeah that makes sense, I probably already do that. Yet for most employees, managers, and key decision makers, that is the opposite of what really takes place. Typically, planning and problem solving involves a lot of focus on weaknesses and limitations, what’s not working, and past failures. This is especially true when teams try to solve a problem.

Positive psychologists have found that reframing things in your mind (viewing things in a different way) alone can promote a small enough change in how you approach problems that can have far reaching effects. And they’ve found that viewing problems with a solution focus can help keep you on a shorter path to problem resolution.

So what does all of this have to do with managing Magento projects? I’ll explain, but first check out a quick table that shows the differences between the traditional problem-solving mindset that most people have and the way solution-focused minded people look at problems.

People who adopt the solution-focused mindset, tend to be more satisfied with work and life, and can solve problems faster. While there are a lot of articles to find about the solution-focused mindset, it is still relatively unknown.

I used to work in the psychological therapy world. We saw and measured the success of clients seeking personal help, professional help, and business consulting aimed at achieving positive outcomes. In individual therapy, we found a solution-focused approached got clients healthier faster than traditional therapies.

Similar outcomes showed in the corporate world as businesses started getting approached with this new model. Managers started solving problems more efficiently and with more job satisfaction, school teachers were now more effectively helping “difficult” students, and sports professionals were benefitting from this change of mindset with better and more consistent performances. It only seems natural that a profession beset with problems could benefit as well from this relatively secret mindset.

Agile Assists the Mindset and the Mindset Assists Agile

The start of the solution-focused process is imagining a future that you want. For a Magento project using an Agile, or some Agile-hybrid methodology, that picture would be an Epic with a happy ending. Stories describe goals that piece together to fulfill the Epic goal. These goals are simply visualizations of success, whether it’s a key user experience, or valuable data collection, or something else achievable.

Stop Asking “Why”… Ask “How” Instead

In traditional problem solving, people spend too much time trying to find “why” the problem exists and find a way to make the “why” go away. Oftentimes they fail because they got the “why” wrong. In a solution-focused mindset, people look to when the problem did not happen and discover how to repeat that success, or they focus on what they want to happen instead and how to make that happen.

A solution-focused mindset is also creative in looking for successes in other departments, other companies, other industries, and other areas of life that might be utilized in your work or personal life. “How were they able to do that?” is a great investigative way to expand your solution-finding resources.

Success Journal

Because project managers with a solution-focused mindset look to past successes for help, they will often keep a success journal where they record how obstacles were overcome, how visions of the future were realized. Not only do these provide insights to success, they motivate the players that hear them. These can also be used appropriately in case studies, and marketing materials. They are especially useful in conversations with clients and potential clients that have similar problems that were overcome. They motivate the client that success is achievable and that you can be that contact for success.

Putting all Together

For many reading this, it is your first introduction to solution-focused thinking. There is much more to learn. Most of what you will learn will be from putting your new secret mindset into action.

When something goes wrong, stop asking why and go to work looking for strengths and past successes to give you strategies to solve the problem more quickly. Keep positive and keep looking for times in the recent past when the problem wasn’t there. Ask how the problem wasn’t there, how were we able to do that, who can we congratulate for helping things go right? Encourage your teams to incorporate solution-focused problem solving as they encounter difficulties during the current project.

When things are resolved, make journal entries noting how the problem was overcome, who was helpful and how, what new or newly recognized strengths were revealed.

With practice, and constantly checking your mindset, you can become a more solution-focused manager,. You’ll be ready to help solve problems more quickly and help guide a more positive culture in your work environment.

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