Alternative to Arguing

Sometimes you’re right, and you know it. Unfortunately, we live in a world where those around us may not know what we know. Worse than that (by an order of magnitude), others around us may intellectually know they are wrong - or you are right - and fight you regardless; out of spite, or fear, or anger, or whatever.

At the end of the day, all of the logic and data in the world won’t always win others over to your way of thinking, especially if they didn’t come to their current set of conclusions using facts and logic to begin with.

When something like this happens in your world, you have two choices. First, you can dig in deeper, fighting with more logic, facts, figures, and eloquent arguments. Or, instead, you can work to understand the alternate perspective and change your communication approach to suit your audience. The latter may take more time, energy, and patience than you would like to expend, but is ultimately more effective in the long run.

One of the keys to cultivating solid relationships is the ability to identify these situations and intentionally adjust your approach when you think it will lead to a better result. This practice takes a lifetime (and then some) to master, but is worth the journey to improve on over time.

Next time you feel the other side digging in, don’t respond in kind. Instead, adjust and look to address a potential deeper issue.

How To Drastically Reduce Your PowerPoint File Size

I just tried to email a PowerPoint I was working on to a colleague for some feedback and realized, to my horror, that the file size was over 80MB. Obviously, that won’t do.

After digging around, I came to the conclusion that the massive amount of images I was using in the file had to be the issue. Going through and manually resizing each image seemed like too much of a chore though, certainly there had to be a better way. Luckily, there is!

In PowerPoint 2016 for Mac do the following:

  • Click on an image - any image will do
  • Select “Picture Format”
  • Select “Compress Pictures”
  • Select the picture quality from the dropdown
  • Ensure “Delete cropped areas of pictures” is selected
  • Choose to perform this action on the selected image(s) or all of them
  • Click OK

Resize files PowerPoint Mac

And there you have it. After doing this one simple step, my file size went from over 80MB to around 7MB. Not too shabby.

Wooden Blocks

I was listening to a Manager Tools podcast over the weekend and they shared a great Civil War era poem by Stephen Vincent Benet that applies very broadly to project management and leadership. In fact, they list it as their favorite quote on management.

If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.
- John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet

All too often, we as leaders or project managers or directors tend to treat our projects and direct reports like wooden blocks on a flat map. At the end of the day, the tweaks made to “get everything back in alignment” look good on paper, but ultimately spell out failure when the practicality of reality collides with what was originally planned. The allure of shrinking the critical path by 10% or shifting several tasks “to the left” is extremely difficult to resist.

I’m just as guilty of this behavior as anyone else I’ve met. Hopefully, in the future, I can think back on this poem to remind myself that executing projects is exponentially more challenging than we would like to think it is.

The people you’re leading are not wooden blocks.