If you are a small business owner or an entrepreneur ready to start a new venture, you’ve heard all the opinions about whether to share your secrets and your uniqueness with the business community you are part of. On the one hand, the opinion seems to be that you should not give away what your customers and stakeholders should be buying from you. On the other hand, sharing with your customers and stakeholders creates connection from which they can really understand your expertise and what you have to offer them. Based on my experience, I reside in the camp that advocates sharing with your business community.
Years ago, I worked for a manager in a large corporation who was very competent at managing his groups but he seemed to lag behind in some of the latest trends and topics of business that set innovative companies apart from the also-rans. At the time, I happened to be updating myself with books covering new business trends and frameworks. I often shared these topics with my manager who took great interest in why I believed the topics such as continuous process improvement, Six Sigma and the learning organization. would be best practices in the near future. He took such great interest that he asked to borrow several of my most valued books to catch up.
You have probably already guessed rest of the story. Our company was involved in a merger several months later and my manager went one way and I went the other. The loaned books were never mentioned. But keeping up with these trends returned a great deal to me because it reinforced a life-long learning objective.
Sharing in a blog...
About ten years ago, I started a blog, popularly called “Mel Bost PMO Expert.” The blog dealt with my experiences in developing several Program Management Offices (PMOs) for major corporations and the project manager behavior and performance that was the result. It also covered my experiences at developing project lesson learned processes for those corporations. I shared my background and insights in capturing, documenting and using lessons learned in project process improvement.
About a year after I initiated the blog, I was contacted by the Panama Canal Authority Human Resources which was interested in my lessons learned process as it might apply to the $5 billion Panama Canal Expansion Program which was in progress. As a result, I traveled to Panama to conduct two training sessions covering a modified-lessons-learned process for their Program.
Sharing what I had learned from my corporate experiences, resulted in returned benefits to my interests. I have often said that the Panama Canal experience was so rich that I believed I actually learned more from the participants in the course than they learned from me. On the first day of each three-day course, I asked the participants individually what they hoped to gain from the course. In one case, one very experienced project manager stated that he did not understand why we needed three days to learn and apply this material. He said we could cover it in three hours. The last day of class, I again asked the participants what they had gained from the course. The same project manager who had been so vocal the first day responded that he didn’t know why we did not make this a five-day course.
“There was so much to be shared with each other about actual lessons learned.”
That class set a standard for me in defining expectations for future courses.
Today I am still contributing to the blog although my topics of interest are project manager behavior and performance as it relates to successful outcomes for projects. This means I cover the pitfalls and opportunities that are never taught in the methodologies and PMBOK Framework for how to complete a project successfully. Things like how to introduce innovation, how to find scarce resources when your project needs them, how to resolve dilemmas and unintended consequences of project team actions. Sharing this information has elicited many great stories from my readers about their experiences about how they resolved complex project issues in the course of daily project life.
You as a small business owner or an entrepreneur starting a new venture should recognize that the entire business community prospers when people share. Hoarding or closely holding your own “truths”” serves to isolate yourself and your ventures from the real world of competition, benchmarking and best practices. SCORE can assist you with this sharing process.