In February 2012, my wife, Linda, had a knee replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ.  We planned to be in Phoenix for at least six weeks following the surgery for physical therapy and follow-up visits at the Mayo Clinic.  As we packed our bags for the trip to Phoenix, Linda included a new pair of white New Balance shoes for her physical therapy.  Toward the end of the packing, she also packed an old, ragged, pair of brown sandals with the idea that the weather might be warm enough to wear some really comfortable shoes around our hotel.

Linda’s surgery went well with no real complications.  But because she had experienced a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in her left leg about 30 years ago, the doctors were very cautious about her care, and even installed a valve in her vein system to keep any clots which developed in the legs from traveling to the heart.  Her left leg, ankle, and foot were extremely swollen from the surgery and remained that way for about six months.

When it came time for physical therapy, Linda realized that she could not get the new, New Balance trainers on her swollen left foot.  What to do?  As we thought about alternatives, the little pair of brown sandals seemed to be peeking out from a corner of the luggage.  She wore those sandals to physical therapy that first day, and for every day after for about five months.  They seemed to be the most appropriate alternative for her swollen foot and for maintaining mobility.

When I stopped to think about it, I was amazed that we had almost excluded the little brown sandals from her Phoenix wardrobe.  But I also thought that maybe we hadn’t taken into account some “risks” from the surgery, such as a swollen leg, ankle, and foot.

So I dubbed the brown sandals “The Little Sandals That Could.”

When we returned to Tulsa, Linda purchased two other new pairs of sandals to wear.  But she continued to rely on the little sandals that could.

Now what in the world does this have to do with Project Management, you may ask?

Ask yourself these questions:

How many project assets do you have in your portfolio that you may not be using to full advantage in your project work? 

How many members of your project team or your local project community have you overlooked, who might have skills and capabilities that might lead to real success on your projects?

Remember “The Little Sandals That Could.”  Are there “risks” in your project work for which some lesser project assets might provide good mitigation tools and accessories for alleviating and dealing with project risk?

William Bridges once said “Change Creates Opportunity.”  Change creates interfaces between old values and new values, between old methods and new methods, between old processes and new processes.  Those people who can successfully bridge the gap between old and new either by communication, facilitation, interpretation, or translation can play a key role in “Change Success.” 

How many “Little Sandals” are there in your organization who can fit this bill?

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