BMJ Stone
EZG Manufacturing
Federated Insurance
Fraco USA, Inc.
Hohmann and Barnard, Inc.
Hydro Mobile, Inc.
iQ Power Tools
Kennison Forest Products, Inc.
Mortar Net Solutions
Non-Stop Scaffolding
Pullman Ermator
Tradesmen's Software, Inc.
March 18, 2009 7:00 AM CDT

Are you Working Like a Dog?

Wonder dogs are like guide dogs: they show us the way


Full Contact Project Management
Full Contact Project Management
My last column was all about your decision to do everything it takes to weather all the hope and the changes (some might call them storms) on our horizon. But the question is, "How?" Then I realized that it's doggone simple. So simple that even a dog can recognize it. And, as if to prove the point, Olivia the Wonder Dog shows the way.

Here's why I appreciate what Coach Olivia has for us this time.

During that first lesson, we saw these parallels: Golden Retrievers are born to retrieve; project managers exist to keep the project on track. An owner throws a ball, and the retriever instantly begins to fetch; a client throws a curve, and the PM instantly reacts — at least he should.

That's how the Wonder Dog always reacts. But she is also proactive. For instance, when she wants to play, she will bring her toy to me. As a matter of fact, she will persistently bring her toy to me. She never seems to tire of it and won't relent until I agree to play with her. The only way to avoid this is to go to a different room or put her outside.

As a PM, of course, we have to react when the client throws something our way. But sometimes we see an opportunity, a fleeting chance at something that our project wants or needs. And, we have to take action. Here's where Olivia's newest lesson comes in and makes an impact on our projects for 2009.

Three Big Lessons

  • Why is it that I would tolerate having a dog that only wants to play and fetch? The easiest answer is that I love my dog, and I realize that dogs are just that way. They don't want to play with people they don't like. So, I take it as a compliment.

  • Why would our client agree to tolerate our constant, unending questions about what we are supposed to do? That's the way the relationship is. Right there in the project specs: If I have a question, I must put it into writing and the client is required to respond to it. I am not limited to how many questions I can ask. It depends on how much stuff the project runs into — stuff that is, apparently, not covered in the specs. Hey, it shows I'm taking an interest in his project.

  • The client is not permitted to ignore us. He would do so at his own peril and his own cost. But, he won't ignore you if you always ask your question (RFI) in a professional manner with a good attitude and a smile.
Just as Olivia always reminds me that I have an obligation to pay attention to her every time she comes to me, the contract documents remind the client that he has a similar obligation and must pay attention to me every time.

Last month my suggestion was that we all do more than just hope. Make a change in order to survive or prosper this year. Coach is going to take his own advice: My new site has been re-designed to give PMs even more help than before, and a lot of it still free for your asking. I'm even taking on a few new coaching clients — PMs and company owners who want to get their businesses to the next level.

So, find the "Olivia" in your life. Maybe it is your dog. Maybe it's your friend, or a supplier, possibly even a competitor with a great work ethic. Get a coach. Become inspired by the simple actions that will make or break you this year.

Visionaries will make things happen, and you have to be included in this group. Avoid the other group — the doom-and-gloomers. You know where you are going. After all, you have Wonder Dog to guide you, and Coach Gary to show you the way. Maybe it ain't easy, but it is simple.

Coach Gary's Corner

Ready to get back into the game? Get the five-part mini-series on RFIs and change orders. The best athletes use coaches. How about you? Get a coach to take you to the next level. You need a process. Masonry readers get this for free at Click on the link near the top of the page. Check out the free audio updates and other info that will help your projects, and get Coach Gary's book, "Get Paid for a Change!"

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at

Copyright 2009 Gary Micheloni.


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