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  Home > People and Projects Podcast Home > People and Projects Podcast Directory

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Interviews and insights to help you lead people and deliver projects.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Is Failure an Option? An interview with Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure

OK, here's the situation.... You're the security guard at a data center, giving a new security guard a tour of the facility. Near the end of the tour you point to a button on the wall. The button is labeled "Do Not Push". While looking back at the new guard you remark, "See this button? Make sure you never pu...."

Oops. You accidentally push the button.

What happens? I'll tell you what happens. Lights out. Systems go dead—immediately. No nice shutdown. You turn pale—you know this isn't good.

There's more to the story. The systems people can't get the servers restarted right away. When they do, there are problems with the network. Your company is unable to process transactions.... not for 1 hour. Not for 2 hours. It's not until 15 hours later that transactions are flowing through the system.

Sound scary? This isn't a made up story. It actually happened. Thankfully, you're not in it. But let's say you were... When you get called into the bosses' office, what do you expect them to say?

What are the odds you'd hear them say, "Kelly, get in here. I want to thank you for helping us see how incomplete our disaster recovery plans were. If it wasn't for you, we would have gone on, maybe for years, falsely thinking we had everything buttoned up. You also helped us learn that our shutdown button is too accessible. We'll put together plans to fix that. Kelly, from all of us in senior management, thank you very much!"

Not likely? You're right. In fact, in the real world version of this story, the accidental button-pushing security guard got fired. Enough money was lost that management decided "Someone must die! We need flesh!"

Was this the best way to respond? Though normal, does it fix the problem by firing the guard? My guess is the new guy never pressed the button! But did it really fix things? Or did it just assign blame.

Ralph Heath is the author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big. Just the name of the book made me want to interview Ralph! How often do you hear Celebrate and Failure in the same sentence?

When things go wrong--even in a big way--what's a leader to do? Can we really celebrate failure without creating a culture of complacence? Could the way we react--such as firing someone in the name of accountability--actually create additional dysfunction?

These are issues that Ralph wrestles with in his book. I look forward to your feedback on the interview with Ralph in this episode.

So, what are you thankful for?

Many countries celebrate a holiday similar to Thanksgiving, which is observed this month in the United States.

Each year there is research that reinforces that being thankful--having a spirit of gratitude--has enormous benefits, from helping you be happier to even living longer.
How about going on record with what you're thankful for this year?

This year we're opening up the phone lines for you! Regardless of where you live, whether in the U.S. or abroad, just call us at (847) 579-9174. Leave your name (first name only is fine) and where you live, then tell us what you're thankful for this year. We'll include your contribution in our People and Projects Podcast episode that will come out the week of Thanksgiving.

It's not too difficult to find things to be upset or worried about these days. So let's hear from you what you're thankful for! Call us toll-free at (866) 884-5323 and tell the world what you're thankful for!

Everyone who participates by Friday, November 20, gets a free 30-day license to my e-learning module on risk management. It's my way of saying.... Thanks!

IMPORTANT: If you want the e-learning license, make sure to leave your e-mail address in the message as well. We will edit out the e-mail address so it doesn't show up in the podcast but will use it to give you the free access to the e-learning.

It only takes a minute! Give me a call toll-free at (866) 884-5323 to participate! Enjoy the podcast!

Is Failure an Option? An interview with Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure

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Monday, October 26, 2009

How to Know What You Don't Know, an interview with author Michael Roberto

I hear it all the time when people describe themselves in a work setting: "I'm a good problem-solver!" Are you a good problem-solver? I'm guessing you would say "Yes!"

Well, guess what? According to Michael Roberto, author of Know What You Don't Know, maybe we're all focusing on the wrong thing. According to Michael, it's not about becoming better problem-solvers. We need to be better problem finders!

I had the opportunity to catch up with Michael by phone recently and look forward to sharing that discussion with you in this cast.

To learn more about Michael, I invite you to check out his blog at Also, don't miss Michael's other highly recommended book, Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Managing for Conflict and Consensus.

Our popular workshop on risk management, available now online or on CDOne way that project managers become better problem finders is through risk management. Have you ever been trained on how to more effectively manage risks?

I have an e-learning module entitled What You Need to Know About Risk Management. You can learn how to use risk management to become a better problem finder and earn two PDUs while you're at it.

And as a thanks for listening to The People and Projects Podcast, you can save $20 off the $49.95 list price. Just use a coupon code of PODCAST1009 when you order. Go to to learn more.

Before we wrap-up, may I ask you a favor? I invite you to tell a friend or colleague about The People and Projects Podcast. I continue to be amazed at how many people still haven't started using podcasts as part of the professional development strategy. Send them a link or tell them how to find us on iTunes. Thank you very much!

Thanks for joining us for this episode. Enjoy the cast!

How to Know What You Don't Know, with author Michael Roberto

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