Episode 29 — Best Practices with Keith Williams

Episode #29
Original Air Date: 03.07.2017

30 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Keith Williams

Keith Williams from Georgia Power joins the cast of Manage This to discuss best practices.

Keith is a project control supervisor at Georgia Power Company. He’s been serving in various areas of project management there since 2005, and as the operational performance supervisor for Southern Company. Before that he held several project management/project controls positions at Parsons Company, Georgia Transmission, Enron Energy Services, Chemical & Industrial Engineering, the City of Louisville, and Earth Science Technologies.

In this episode, Keith elaborates on what performance measurements allow you to gauge the status of projects, how to know when metrics are reliable, and how a project manager can take their performance from good to great.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"Success with a lot of organizations really comes down to dollars.  It does.  But as we’re in these cost constraints, what it’s starting to mean to us is that we have to spend more time on the front end to get a better understanding what things are going to cost us, and what it’s going to take to get that work done, and not to be reactive."

- Keith Williams

"It’s always going to be a struggle.  But I think as you go on, the ones that are really good and great, they can move the ball forward and take everybody with them.  They might not always agree, everybody might not always agree with them.  But you always see the value in project management.  Even with us, as much as sometimes we get pushback, like why do we need them, why do we need them, soon as something comes up, hey, we need to get them."

- Keith Williams

"The best leaders out there develop their teams.  And, you know, I’ve worked with people before who have tried to keep their teams kind of a little bit tamped down and definitely out of the limelight.  And I’ve worked with leaders who have shared that and have developed their teams and have tried to bring everybody along.  And it makes all the difference in the world.  Taking the organization with you, taking your team with you, and even letting your team get out in front of you is an amazing leadership trait."

- Keith Williams

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER ● KEITH WILLIAMS

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  This is our informal discourse about what matters most to you as a professional project manager, or if you’re working toward that position.  We want to keep you motivated, keep you improving, and encourage you with some real-life stories from others who are doing the stuff of project management.

I’m your host Nick Walker, and with me are the experts at all this, Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  And one of the subjects we like to keep coming back to, it seems, in this podcast, Andy, is what we call “best practices.”  And our guest today can definitely speak to that.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, I’m looking forward to that.  We have Keith Williams in the studio with us today.  And, you know, the whole idea with best practices, we get to learn from other people.  We get to figure out what they’ve learned by trial and error and through some pain so that maybe we don’t have to go through that ourselves each time.

NICK WALKER:  Well, let’s talk a little bit about Keith before we introduce him.  He’s a project control supervisor at Georgia Power Company.  He’s been serving in various areas of project management there since 2005, and as the operational performance supervisor for Southern Company.  Before that he held several project management/project controls positions at Parsons Company, Georgia Transmission, Enron Energy Services, Chemical & Industrial Engineering, the City of Louisville, and Earth Science Technologies.  Keith, it is a privilege to have you here on Manage This.  Welcome.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Thank you, and I look forward to it.  It’s a great opportunity.

NICK WALKER:  Let’s start of by – just tell us a little bit about your current role in project controls at Georgia Power.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  The project controls group at Georgia Power, first of all, I’m segmented in the transmission organization.  Those are your large power lines and substations.  The biggest thing we always like to describe, we’re the extension cord between the plant and the customer, so we’re the big orange cord.

BILL YATES:  That’s a good picture.  Got it.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  And so my group is mainly responsible for scheduling and budget controls.  It’s segmented into several different fields within project controls, which also includes cost engineering.  And also we’re responsible for the tools that manage all of that.  In that role, as far as my leadership within my group, our goal is I always like to say we’re the mortar between the bricks.  We’re the ones that are trying to make the connection between the organization and give them information so that, first of all, our project managers can make good decisions, offer real information; and then also to see how we can improve processes as far as that constant improvement that you see in Six Sigma.

NICK WALKER:  You’re a project management nerd.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes, I would agree.

NICK WALKER:  That’s what Bill and Andy are calling you.  And we love project management nerds.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Oh, most definitely.  I get told that a lot.  But then I look at the other guy and say, “Hey, you all are engineers.  It’s not like you all are cool.”

ANDY CROWE:  Keith, you mentioned Six Sigma.  Now, do you guys actually practice Six Sigma in your group, or is that something that you look at from your own standpoint?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  It’s something more I look at from my own standpoint, really got exposed to it as the operational performance supervisor.  And especially with looking at DMAIC and looking at those aspects there.

BILL YATES:  Sure.  Now, Nick, you called me out, so I need to go ahead and explain.

NICK WALKER:  Sure.

BILL YATES:  So here’s how I came to that conclusion.  There are many data points here.  But as Keith and I were talking, he is a card-carrying member of the AACE, which is the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering.  And now, for those who have studied earned value management, you know what this is.

ANDY CROWE:  Earned value management is your entry card to get into this group.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, it’s like your password to get into that speakeasy.

BILL YATES:  So when he talks about scheduling and budgeting, yeah, this is exactly – this is part of our wheel…

ANDY CROWE:  This is the deep end of the pool, isn’t it.

BILL YATES:  Yup, yup.

NICK WALKER:  But when I look back at your résumé, you started out in biology.  That seems like a long way from where we are now.  Or is it, really?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  From a project management standpoint it’s really not.  Project management is sort of a model you can apply to any industry.  Now, when I got into biology, I did not know I would fall into environmental.  But there I was a projects person.  And we did a lot of, back during the early ‘90s, underground storage tank removals due to federal regulations.  And then just doing those jobs at retail sites as far as the law was you had to change all those out.  And then if there were any long-term issues there, as far as what type of remediation work we would need to do.  But that was sort of my informal introduction to it.

NICK WALKER:  So tell us a little bit about how that has transformed into what you’re doing now, and where are you headed with all this?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  I would say the biggest thing you learn as far as when you start doing project management or get introduced to it is you want a systematic way of approaching your work.  You want a methodology that is going to help you be more proactive and not just reactive to the things that you need to do.  And so what I found is that, even though it was informal, I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but that was really the approach that I could apply this and consistently use this over and over again.

And when I say “proactive” is how do I understand the risks that we have because there’s always environmental things.  And when I say “environmental,” not just from the field, but there are some external impacts that you’re going to have to try to anticipate and then mediate.  And so to me that’s just an awesome part of it.  And when I say you can apply it to anything, look at my résumé.  I’ve been in environmental.  I’ve been in chem, petrochem.  I’ve been in energy, utility, water, wastewater, but still using that same concept to do those jobs.

BILL YATES:  One of the things that I think Keith has a unique voice in is within your industry, because I was a part of this industry for 18 years myself, in the utility industry, one thing that’s unique with utilities is they share data across the industry.  Because of the regulatory bodies, they’re encouraged to do so.  But you’ve been a part of committees and are serving on some subcommittees now where you have the opportunity to look at, not just the project’s performance within your own organization, but looking across many different utilities, as well.  Tell us a little bit about some of those committees, and then let’s get into some of the takeaways that you have from those.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Okay.  With the committees that I’ve served on, one that I’m doing right now is AEIC.

BILL YATES:  And, yeah, what does that stand for?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  I’ll butcher this real quick.

BILL YATES:  I think – I jotted it down just in case.  It’s the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And they have different working committees.  And one of them is a subcommittee on project management.  We try to get like for like.  So in our area that I’m a part of, most of these utilities are part of it.  They’re in the transmission or distribution organization.  Other committees involved with, Southern Company used to do a Southern Company transmission benchmarking effort where we would share technical data as far as cost to maintain, whether it would be substation lines in other areas.

But I’m going to back up a little bit to tell you a unique story when we first started doing that.  My role as operations supervisor was I ran that consortium.  But when we were doing feedback and trying to retool that organization, a lot of people started saying we love the data, it’s great.  But I tell you, the best part of the conference is the conversations out in the hallway when we start talking best practices.

ANDY CROWE:  Sure.

BILL YATES:  Right.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  And so we started making that a focus.  And really what we’re saying, even though it’s a formal setting, a lot of those conversations are very informal because they’re trying to figure out what do their organizations value and how can they move the needle.  A lot of times moving the needle is cost and schedule.  When I say “cost and schedule,” how can we maximize the work we’re getting done for the minimal cost?  And so the example I always give, if you have a capital budget for your organization, let’s say $500 million, at the beginning of the year you say I’m going to do 300 projects for $500 million.  At the end of the year, you might have only done 175 projects, but you spent the $500 million.

BILL YATES:  Right.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  And so I always ask that question:  Were you successful?  And that’s usually the high point where we start in saying, okay, let’s talk about a little bit more what it means.  For organizations today are under tremendous cost constraints.  We’re seeing that, not just in our industry, but across the board.  So they want to maximize and get more done with less.  And so when we start looking at stuff at our companies and in our industries, we’re now paying attention.  You saw on my résumé I used to work with Enron.  The Enron days are over with, where you just throw money at a problem.  We just don’t have that luxury.  And so they’re looking for ways to see what impacts they can make and be efficient in doing that and being proactive, not stumbling on those problems, but trying to anticipate.

Not to be long-winded, but one point is what you’re seeing in utilities in a transmission organization, as new environmental regulations take over, this is having a huge impact on transmission organization.  What I mean by that, as we move away from coal-fired plants, and we’re moving toward solar and other clean energy projects, as those coal-fired plants go down, we are having to do quite a bit of transmission work.

ANDY CROWE:  So I have a question for you.  You asked a really interesting question at the end of that whole idea of 500 projects or 300 projects and 500 million, rather.  And you said the one question at the end is were we successful?  So how do you define that?  What does success look like?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Success with a lot of organizations really comes down to dollars.  It does.  But as we’re in these cost constraints, what it’s starting to mean to us is that we have to spend more time on the front end to get a better understanding what things are going to cost us, and what it’s going to take to get that work done, and not to be reactive.

ANDY CROWE:  This is classic earned value, though.  You know, what you’re talking about, it’s not just about the money you spent, it’s about the value you actually earned.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And that’s exactly right.  But I will say this with earned value.  That’s like the main buzzwords you always hear.  But a lot of people still struggle to understand that because also it gets into data integrity.  So you even have to back up towards the planning phase of that to build those things in.

ANDY CROWE:  Right, right.

BILL YATES:  And that’s one of the key points that was a takeaway for me in my career in doing planned accounting and tax accounting in the utility industry was we’d go into many different utilities, and we’d pretty quickly determine from our own set of eyes how accurate is the data that we’re working with.  And we were working with data at the very lowest level.  And then that would get – eventually it would be summed up, and there would be big numbers on an annual report and in rate case making, et cetera.  But you have just hit on one of my pet peeves, which is the integrity of the data.  And I think about the, you know, part of your role is advising and mentoring analysts.  How do you train them and teach them to look at the right data, to pay attention to the right dials?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  It’s an ongoing process, I will say that.  So we spend a lot of time talking about what the outputs should be.  But because maybe in a lot of organizations the estimating doesn’t come from our organization, we sort of get it afterwards.  Not only do I look at it as training for my group and my employees, but also touching with those organizations that are generating that cost, talking with the planners who are generating the projects, trying to get a better understanding what that means so that – not just our interpretation of it, but to make sure what is their interpretation of it; and then sometimes going back and looking at historical information and saying, well, we said this, but it turned out to be this.  Is this a trend?  Is this just unique?

ANDY CROWE:  Keith, I’ve got a question for you along those lines.  So I’m a project manager working in your organization.  And this is just sort of a more fundamental question.  What’s going to make me successful?  What does success look like for me, working for you?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  If you’re working for me, one thing is – and that’s so hard because it’s so nebulous sometimes.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, I’m managing projects.  So it’s less nebulous now.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  So you’re managing projects with us.  And so first of all is you having an understanding of what you’re trying to execute.  And not just your interpretation, but also interacting with me because you’ve got to take me along on that journey.  So what would make you successful is not just being able to crunch numbers and just say, “Hey, we got it done on time,” but did you manage the risk?  Did you mitigate those risks?  How did you communicate with us as far as on those projects that we can anticipate?  And then when all things are said and done, sort of help educate us as far as some of the things that you learn with those projects.  And so we’re just constantly evolving.  But I think that would be the key to your success is not just you got it done, but a lot of people can get it done, but don’t leave a bunch a dead bodies while you got it done.

ANDY CROWE:  Well, so this is important because to me that’s very much a lesson I had to learn the hard way in my career, you know, because I was getting projects done, but nobody wanted to work with me at a certain point in time.  And, you know, you kind of have to step back and say, okay, it’s funny with me – and I’ll draw an analogy.  When I cook a meal, the best way to get your kitchen clean is to let me cook in it because when I finish it’s always cleaner than when I started.  But there are plenty of people, and it’s – this is not a right way to do it, but there are plenty of people who will cook, and they have this disastrous pile of dishes and different things going off at the same time, but they get it done, it all comes out, and the miracle occurs at the end, and it’s really good.  With me, the way I cook, the way I hope to manage is that I leave the organization in better shape while I’m producing results.  So the process of how that gets done matters.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  And what I would say to you, you made a really good analogy.  So here’s how I’ll string it together as far as if you were cooking for me, is first ask me what do I want to eat.  That’s very important.  If I have a lack of understanding, then educate me on why you think this would be good for me, or how this can help me.  You’ve got to take me along on the journey.  Just coming in and say, “Hey, I’m a great chef, and I do all kinds of seafood cuisines,” I could say, “I hate seafood.”  And that’s not winning for me.  So you’ve got to get that feedback from me as far as how do I see success, which you’re asking me that.  You know, from the basic is I have X amount of projects I need to get done.  I want to maintain these within a contingency of 20 percent.  That’s the big goal.  Now, I want you to draw a map to help me get there.  And I need you to help me understand that and talk in terms that I can understand.

ANDY CROWE:  Excellent.

NICK WALKER:  So what would some of the performance measurements be along the way that allow you to gauge the status of a project?

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, what do you look at?  I mean, there’s classic ones, but what are the ones that flash on your radar?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Typically, from a project standpoint, we’ll put together, not just our overall portfolio of what we have of active projects, but we are really managed to the annual budget of the amount of money we’re given.  What’s going to help me is that we’re going to do a lot towards monthly projections, us getting status of the projects, not just looking at what we spend, but what’s in the recipe.  We want to understand that.  And then looking forward and say, okay, you told me what we did up to this date, you know, we can say up to the month of February.  This project is going to go on till November.  What do you need to get this done?  Because my role as an overall manager is, if there’s anything I need to make people aware of, if there are obstacles that are beyond you as far as what you’re doing in your project management duty I need to be aware of so I can get those obstacles out of the way.

ANDY CROWE:  One of the things that’s come up a couple of times as you’ve been talking with us is this idea of realization of benefits to the organization.  It’s not just the activities you’re doing, but it’s what’s happening.  What are we getting on the other side?  And that’s becoming more important in the PMI world, as well, this idea of benefits realization, I think they’re calling it.  Bill, do you remember, is that it?  Benefits realization is becoming just much more important in general.  And it’s this idea that project managers can tend to keep their eyes down and their heads down and keep quiet and silo off.  And I think the idea is coming back to say, you know what, we need to be more aware of the context, more aware of why we’re doing this for the organization, what the organization hopes to get out of it.

And I had a funny incident back a couple of months ago.  My oldest son and I own an unrelated business together, and he called and said, “I have some great news for you.  You won’t believe what we just got.”  And I said, “Yeah?”  Then immediately my mind said, “How much did this cost?”  He said, “No, no, no, you’re not thinking about it right.  The value to our organization is just amazing.”  And I said, “Really?  And how much did this cost?  How much did you spend for this?”  So it’s a funny dynamic, a little bit of tug of war.  But this idea of benefits realization, which maybe he was trying to help me focus on, is a good thing.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes, it is.  And we tend to go to the marketing term is value proposition.  What is the value proposition of what you’re doing?  And I think we tend to get away from that and not speak to that.  But if, depending on your audience and who you’re talking to, you have these project management processes that you’re going to use that you can build in efficiency.  But you have to make people see the value proposition.  And I think sometimes when I see people in our industry – I work with a gentleman who from a project management standpoint has his PMP, AACE certification.  But when you ask a question, I don’t always get the answer, I just get how he built it.

BILL YATES:  Ah, yeah.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  You get so much focus.  If there were one – okay, this is probably a stretch to say one lesson.  But one of the lessons that I would most love to teach people is, when you’re talking about your project, don’t talk about it in terms of the effort.  Talk about the results.  Now, the effort matters and the process matters.  But sometimes project managers walk in, all they’re communicating is all the activity that’s been going on with their team.  And there’s a different way of looking at it, to turn around and try and look at it from the organization’s standpoint.  Try and ask what matters to them.

NICK WALKER:  I have a tendency to bring in questions out of left field.  So this might be one of those.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Oh, no problem.

NICK WALKER:  But how much does improvisation go into a project that you might be working on versus just sticking with a plan?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  I think it does come into play.  But, you know, there’s a saying, organized chaos.  There is a method to the madness.  And when you’re looking at project management, especially when you’re looking at risk, and then as you’re putting together your project plan, you’re trying to anticipate what things could go wrong.  And a simple way to do is what unforeseen things are going to pop up?  And you try to identify those in the planning stages and also identify how you’re going to deal with it because, if anything, those processes are a guide.  It’s not an exact roadmap, and things do happen.  External conditions come into play if you’re in construction and doing stuff out in the field.

So you are going to have to improvise.  But you have to be prepared to take that on.  Because if you’re not, what it does, it adds to your scope.  It could add to your cost.  If you work in – Georgia’s a perfect example.  If you’re doing construction work in South Georgia, the terrain comes into play, swampy areas down there.  So you know, depending on…

BILL YATES:  Mosquitoes, gnats.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Mosquitoes, yeah.

BILL YATES:  See, and snakes.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  There is a gnat line, which I found out.

BILL YATES:  Yes, there is.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  But you have to anticipate what type of things and tools you’re going to use.  If you’re in North Georgia, if you’re doing heavy construction, which a lot of subterranean work, if you’re doing that, you’re going to run into rock.  Don’t pretend like you’re not going to run into rock and not plan for it.  Have contingency.  If I am building a structure, or if I’m building a building, what am I going to run into?  And that’s going to be really important, that you’re prepared to deal with that and prepared to say this could have a cost impact of X amount of percent, and getting whoever you’re working for ready for that, that that could happen.

NICK WALKER:  So you’re going to try to minimize the surprises.  But there’s probably still going to be some along the way.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes.  And the whole goal is you can’t stop.  You know, time’s money.  And that’s ingrained in your mind.  I’m a movie buff, and I remember one movie with Denzel Washington, and I can’t remember the name of it.  But there’s a part in the scene where the lady walks up to him where they’re faced with a terrorist type attack.  And they’re trying to make a decision, so they’re sort of drawing it out.  And so he comes out, “Are you going to lose little, or are you going to lose big?  The bottom line, you still have to keep moving.”  And so that’s – I made it sound like a negative.  But there are impacts that you’re going to have to deal with that’s going to cost you money.  If you’re prepared for it, you can minimize those.

BILL YATES:  That’s good.  I want to go back to a comment you made before, Keith, about some of these side conversations that you’ve had at some of these benchmarking and other sessions that you’ve been a part of.  And it really resonated with me when you said the numbers were great, and it was great to hear across the industry some different trends and some data.  But some of the best lessons were during those breaks in those one-off conversations.  What were some of the themes, from a best practice standpoint, what were some of the themes that emerged from some of those conversations?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Some of the biggest themes that came out of that is we have – we’re trying to either form a project management group, or we have it.

BILL YATES:  Right.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  But there’s a disconnect with our organization and understanding that.  How do you deal with that?  How do you teach them?  And one of the things that came out – this originated from Progress Energy before they merged with Duke.  But they came up with a process called Project Management Excellence.  And that deals with metrics.  But it also deals with training.  This was adopted by Duke when they did the merger.  But they spent a lot of time, it’s like, we’ve got to get everybody on the same page.

And then also, in the utility industry, project management is not necessarily looked upon as a career path.  And so what they were trying to do was formalize that, saying project management is a career path and is a process that can apply to many organizations within the utility.  And so this is a standalone organization, but they work with other project management groups.  They help educate.  They sit down and get people on same terminology.  When we run into things that we’re not prepared for, they help us look at those things.  And so one of the biggest conversations is that all the utilities that are part of these consortiums, they’re really looking at those.

ANDY CROWE:  Keith, do you feel like that project management is a career path today?  Is it making progress?  Or is it still kind of in its own world in the utilities industry?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  In some ways it’s still in its own world.  Of utilities, we always say maturity models, some of them have different maturity models.  I think the ones that I’ve experienced, Duke Energy is really fundamentally taking a grasp of that, especially with the influx with Progress Energy.  If you go out on the West Coast, California Edison, they are really taking hold of it, and also PG&E.  A lot of it has to do with they’re dealing with large capital budgets.  But they’ve built the infrastructure in their project management group.  Like California Edison, their project management group is 105 people.  But they’re dealing with a capital budget of $1.5 billion.  So they are seeing the benefit.  And they understand that they need those controls.

BILL YATES:  It cracks me up that you’ve mentioned a couple things here that I’ve got to put the two together.  You mentioned Pacific Gas & Electric, PG&E.  They’re in San Francisco.  And you’ve mentioned risk.  And when you think about the projects that utilities are – construction projects in particular that utilities are undertaking, the risk varies so much.  You know, we mentioned the Georgia terrain.  But then you think about – I have a friend in your company who is responsible for keeping the lights on.  And you think about tornadoes here.  You think about hurricanes.  You think about earthquakes, if you’re part of PG&E.  So you guys really have to go deep with risk analysis and preparation.  So I guess you’ve seen that influence in this industry.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Especially on the environmental side.  And then with a lot of regulations that you see out on the West Coast that you might not see in the Southeast.  Part of what they have to do, there’s a funny side story, is with endangered species out West.  One of them is the desert tortoise.  They have certain laws and regulations that they have to prepare for that if those are on the worksite.  And they actually have to get permits to move them if they run across them, you know.  In the Southeast, it’s like, well, we might cook them up a little bit.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, a famous scene in “Breaking Bad” with a desert tortoise comes to mind, but carry on.  I’m not sure they got a permit for that poor tortoise.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  But the bottom line, it makes each area unique because, depending on what you’re going to run into, those are going to be risks, and I always say third-party risks that you might not have any control over.  Especially when you’re dealing with regulatory branches outside of your company, special like environmental, federal regulations, state regulations, and local regulations.  You have to do your best to prepare for those risks.

NICK WALKER:  Keith, I’ve got kind of a general question.  What makes the difference between a good project manager and a great project manager?  And how can a good one become great?

KEITH WILLIAMS:  It’s not a perfect little box between good and great because, when you’re on the other end, you’re trying to get these things – it’s a struggle.  It’s always going to be a struggle.  But I think as you go on, the ones that are really good and great, they can move the ball forward and take everybody with them.  They might not always agree, everybody might not always agree with them.  But you always see the value in project management.  Even with us, as much as sometimes we get pushback, like why do we need them, why do we need them, soon as something comes up, hey, we need to get them.

I think, when you’re brought back on an encore, that shows that you’re showing value and that you’ve managed those risks, you minimize those risks; that you are able to accomplish those goals as far as getting projects done.  And so I know I didn’t give a hard metric as far as what makes them great.  But I think, not just in the numbers, but also as far as the impact with the organization, and the organization sees that.

ANDY CROWE:  But I like what you just said about bringing the organization along with you.  The best leaders out there develop their teams.  And, you know, I’ve worked with people before who have tried to keep their teams kind of a little bit tamped down and definitely out of the limelight.  And I’ve worked with leaders who have shared that and have developed their teams and have tried to bring everybody along.  And it makes all the difference in the world.  Taking the organization with you, taking your team with you, and even letting your team get out in front of you is an amazing leadership trait.

BILL YATES:  It is.  And I think of the work we’ve done with TVA.  And the leaders that really distinguish themselves in the project management space are those that they relate well, communicate well with people from all different areas and departments.  Again, that’s something I think that’s a bit unique about utility work is most of the projects that you’re doing, man, you’re dealing with so many different departments and so many external resources, as well.  So it’s a struggle.  I get that, yeah.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Most definitely.

NICK WALKER:  Keith, we just can’t thank you enough for being with us here on Manage This today.  And as a token of our appreciation, we have a gift for you.  It’s this great Manage This coffee mug.  We’re going to give you a clean one there.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Oh, okay.

NICK WALKER:  [Crosstalk] one that’s sitting in front of you.  I like the size.  It’s nice and big.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Because there are long days in project management.

NICK WALKER:  I think that was the thought behind it, yeah, yeah.  So once again, Keith, thanks so much for sharing your insight with us today.

KEITH WILLIAMS:  Thank you for having me, and I totally appreciate it.  It’s always great to be around likeminded individuals.

NICK WALKER:  Andy and Bill, thanks again for your expertise.  And listeners, I know you’ve heard us say this before, but this podcast is a great, and can we say easy, way to your PDUs, Professional Development Units, toward your recertifications.  To claim your free PDUs for this podcast, just go to Velociteach.com and select Manage This Podcast from the top of the page.  Click on the button that says Claim PDUs, and just click through the steps.

That’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on March 21st for our next podcast.  In the meantime, you can visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact us.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions about our podcasts or about project management certifications.  We’d love to hear from you.

That’s all for this episode.  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

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