Interview with Bill Thom

Apr 2, 2010 | |
We interview Bill Thom, who is a former engineer from the hydraulics industry. Since then Bill has obtained his PMP certification and a Masters Degree in Information Systems Management. He is also a Contributor and Reviewer of the PMBOK Fourth Edition.

Though Project Management and Information Systems Management is the focus of his vocation, he can be found traveling with camera in hand to capture an image to share with others.What an amazing project manager, who brings in the following interview what project management is all about.

Why did you decide to be a project manager?

I decided to become a project manager when I noticed that many of the projects I was working on as a developer seemed to be in a constant state of flux. Having had a history in the military, there was a discipline developed in me that told me there has got to be a better way to do things. Even though technology was advancing and applications were in development, I saw this need to wrap a logical process around what is being done. That’s where project management steps in and guided me in a direction that made sense.

Do you think the "blame game" is a big part when a project fails? Have you ever encountered it?

I do not necessarily feel that the “blame game” is part of project failure. I feel that the “blame game” becomes part of finding out why a project is failing. I have encountered the “blame game” in my history of being a project manager and I have also witnessed the ‘blame game” by others. An important thing to remember is that failure is an event not a person, as my friend Zig Ziglar has pointed out to me.

How do you think people should handle themselves when they are being blamed for failure of projects?

Pointing blame may not get you the desired results which is project success. As a project manager instead of blame let’s re-frame this into a lessons learned scenario. The blame may be found to be a lack of knowledge or a lack of a PM procedure. Take the opportunity to try to make the next project run smoother. Make each team member feel that the focus is on getting the job done and making improvements going forward.

What should newbies when thinking of joining project management know about it?

We are all familiar with check lists, to do lists, or whatever you want to call them. Though these are good for task at hand management, they do not take into account the PM process groups or knowledge areas. If Project Managers did nothing more than manage checklists, our value to organizations and our credentials would be worthless. Project Managers need to add value and be aware of the organizations big picture. I have written a couple of articles that may shed some more light in this. Another here.

BTW: The PMI accepted all of my articles for PDU’s … Every PM should take this into consideration.

Tell us something abut your blog- why did you start blogging?

There are a couple of reasons I started a blog. In 2009 I felt that I had knowledge and expertise to share with the project management community and I felt a blog was good for that. I had also published some PM articles and I wanted to provide my site visitors with links to them.

You are also very active in Twitter, do you think social media is bringing in a new communication style for project managers to network among themselves and perhaps with their team?

I feel that Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook intertwine and assist PM’s with a variety of methods to learn, grow,share information and network. I have had LinkedIn requests from others who have read my blog or articles and want to keep in touch. I consider @JohnEstrella (on Twitter) a mentor. His thoughts, vision and use of Twitter has been quite impressive. I feel that not only have I shared my ideas on the topic of Project Management with others, I have learned from others in the field and incorporated their knowledge into my PM style. For project teams Twitter may not be the best way to communicate. This may be due to the confidentiality of projects and information to be retained within the walls of the organization.

One thing you shouldn't do, if you want to end up as a project manager?

In September of 2009 @corneliusficht posted … "Everyone asks for a strong project manager - when they get him/her they don't want him/her." As we become older, wiser and more experienced project managers we can read that post again and see a whole new meaning. Some businesses want PM’s to come in like a bull in a china shop and whip it into shape. Others want projects managed successfully without knocking people around in the process. Some businesses want project management processes and then feel it’s too much effort. Then there are businesses that want a PM and do not have a clue what project management is about. I could go on but I think you get the picture.

To answer the question … Never stop learning, never become complacent. Businesses today are looking to improve processes and react quickly to the economic climate. Ask yourself what you can do in your organization to improve project management processes that will be advantageous and streamline deliveries.

If you would like to connect with Bill and continue with the conversation, you can find him in linkedin, twitter and facebook.