Choose your next Project Kukupa‘u

“Now what?” It’s a question that will get some managers to lick their chops in sweet anticipation, while others groan, more content to set the dial on cruise control.

We all experience both moods, but for the most part, Alaka‘i Managers are those who are licking their chops, wanting to move on. We choose Kukupa‘u, enthusiasm, because the alternative isn’t acceptable to us: We won’t choose boredom or complacency.

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” ~ Albert Einstein

We have a ‘cruise control’ too… we define it differently

Our cruise control is of the HO‘OMAU variety. It sounds like this:

“This is (or has been) good work, and we’ll commit to sustaining it. It’s important, and it’s worthwhile, so we have to perpetuate it with smart energies, keeping all its goodness long-lasting.”

HO‘OMAU will add a measure of security to things, but it will dial it up slightly too, because we never want mediocrity to set in.

That “licking my chops in sweet anticipation” variety of “Now what?” is the stuff of KŪLIA I KA NU‘U, and striving for work that is somehow different: It’s another peak in your mountain climbing. ‘Work’ may be too big a word for the moment, for I’m not talking about switching jobs or careers (we spoke of that here: What should you do with your life? Find out!)  Let’s talk story about how you change it up in the work you’re already devoted to, getting that work to be more exciting again. It’s the next-stepping of work to progress (verb!), as compared to work in progress.

Learn to love Projects

In Managing with Aloha cultures, we’ve discovered that the next-stepping of work to progress is about learning to love projects, opening the door wide to the goodness in ‘IKE LOA, the value of learning.

Projects don’t elicit groans for us: They entice, make us curious, give us fresh energy, and get us to wonder: What’s ahead for us? How can we grow? Projects are the stuff of Palena ‘ole (Key Concept 9) where we can test our full capacity. On an elemental level, they refresh work, making it seem new again.

Project Pleasure is in the Picking

When I visit workplaces where people consider projects an inconvenience or extra burden, I ask questions about how the project originated: Whose idea was it? Was it assigned, or did hands shoot up in the air, with people eager to jump in?

It’s pretty simple, really. Unless the Boss comes up with some earth-shaking idea that affects everyone in a personal way, people prefer to work on their own ideas — that’s where their self-motivation lives, and needs no prompting; it’s waiting for its moment and chance to shine. This authorship can thrive in the LŌKAHI team dynamic as well, for the collaborative relationship is more intimate, closer to home in day-to-day work.

So, my dear Alaka‘i Manager, if that’s not how it works in your culture, I’d suggest it be considered as your very next project… How will you do your Project Picking from now on?

Remember the 10 Beliefs of Great Managers? This is number 7:

“Great managers believe the people they manage are more than capable of creating a better future, and will when given that chance. They hold great faith and trust in the four-fold human capacities of physical ability, intellect, emotion, and spirit.”

Relinquish control (you don’t need it)

Take a cue from your role as an Alaka‘i Manager: You are Alaka‘i ka ‘ike, a guide of learning. Be a good guide, by supporting your values, and your Big Picture mission and vision.

Allow those who’ll do the project work to do the picking, but suggest a KĀKOU framework and participate in the process as coach and mentor. Your partners will appreciate your assistance in keeping that “Now what?” question from being too big and overwhelming. You can also help in shaping those project expectations that will keep the project in the realm of worthwhile and important work, as opposed to the extra fluff of theoretical exercises nobody wants to bother with.

You don’t need to pick or control a project when there are so many ways you can MĀLAMA that project instead!

Use Who You Are to do What You Do

For instance, in picking our next project, we of MWA Inc. will return to our 9 Key Concepts, and re-sort them like puzzle pieces: Of the 9, which can we dig into with our next-stepping and value-verbing, and through that digging, do two things: 1— Recommit to the good convictions of the concept itself, while we simultaneously 2— Ramp it up, challenging ourselves to get better.

We’ll throw all 9 up on a flip chart or white board, and start a brain storming process which counts on our insider’s intuition and Language of We as the ‘Ohana in Business we are (Key Concept 6). The listing alone will often be quite telling as a current measure of where we are:

  1. ALOHA as our Rootstock and Fertile Ground
  2. Worthwhile Work, guided by our value of HO‘OHANA
  3. Value Alignment, in both value-mapping and value immersion
  4. The ever-supportive Role of the Manager on our LŌKAHI team
  5. All our communication. Spoken with ALOHA, and in our Language of We, KĀKOU
  6. Our ‘OHANA in Business, Mission model magnificent, meaty and meaningful
  7. Our Strengths and our Skills Mastery, All in, and well employed
  8. Our Sense of Our Place, all Senses afire
  9. Our 4-Fold Capacity, Unlimited and unrestrained

Then, we question each other, highly interested in what others think and are feeling, with questions like this:

“Okay, when you look at the list of our 9 Key Concepts, which one struck a discomforting nerve with you, and why?”

“Which one had a void — it was like a blank sheet of paper for you, without enough writing on the page to be pleased with, and proud about?”

“Which one is steeped in good history, but it’s old history, needing a new Managing with Aloha story connected to it that’s about us today, in the here and now?”

“Which one is riddled with inequity or disharmony in our workplace, where some feel its benefits and convictions, but others are left out?”

“Which one has shorter-term potential, where the ideas are doing high-energy gymnastics in your brain, and with your emotions right now? Why, and what would be the small but quick win?”

‘IKE LOA and Palena ‘ole are in the background of each of these questions: Our intention in asking them, lies with curiosity about what we can learn (‘IKE LOA as our value) and how we can grow (with Palena ‘ole/ Key Concept 9 as our conviction.)

Good Projects will lead to Great Pilot Programs

I’ve come to love April and May for these efforts. April is usually about our Project Picking, and May gets devoted to kick-offs and great starts as our Project Working to progress begins in earnest, and with enthusiasm. Spring has a lot to do with it, but we also grab our gains from that release people feel after Tax Day: Whether you’ll pay or play, by now you’ll know which it is, and to what degree. People are ready to move on with some kind of next-stepping, and the financial education they’ve personally added to, gains its professional ripples.

Whatever the project picked, look forward to the Pilot Program you include on the calendar. A pilot is an experimental time of low-to-no risk, where project learning can be tested in real work applications, and final decisions have not yet been made because you value those test results. Everyone knows you are still in testing and learning mode, and it’s always a great time for practicing that kindness and understanding of MĀLAMA when mistakes are made, for everyone expects that to happen as part of the growing process.

Every single one of our 19 Values and 9 Key Concepts will apply to piloting projects in some way. Test your own MWA knowledge to date: What are the other connections which immediately come to mind for you?

Feel that energizing Springtime Kukupa‘u in the air, and feel good about bringing it to your workplace. Lick your chops in sweet anticipation, with great enthusiasm for the project work you can dig into, knowing that you have ‘IKE LOA and Palena ‘ole to guide you, and guide you well.

For more on Key Concept 9: Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it.


Palena ‘ole is the Hawaiian concept of unlimited capacity. This is your exponential growth stage, and about seeing your bigger and better leadership dreams come to fruition. Think “Legacy” and “Abundance” and welcome the coaching of PONO into your life as the value it is. We create our abundance by honoring human capacity; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. When we seek inclusive, full engagement and optimal productivity, any scarcity will be banished. Growth is welcomed and change is never feared; enthusiasm flourishes. PALENA ‘OLE is an everyday attitude in an ‘Ohana in Business, assuming that growth and abundance is always present as an opportunity. Given voice, Palena ‘ole sounds like this: “Don’t limit yourself! Why settle for ‘either/or’ when we can go for the ‘and’ and be better?”
Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha

About Rosa Say

Rosa is the author of Managing with Aloha. She’s a writer and photo-taker, a workplace culture coach, and a zealous advocate of managers everywhere. She’s a wife and mom, sister and daughter, manager, leader and worker bee, living the best life she can, just like you. Learn more about Rosa at


  1. Rosa Say says:

    Loved this quote for inclusion with our good-questioning tag here on the site:

    “One does not begin with answers,” the legendary business consultant Peter Drucker once said. “One begins by asking, ‘What are our questions?’”

    It came from a good article on Fast Company Design: The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself: Snippets ~


    Keith Yamashita: To arrive at a powerful sense of purpose, Yamashita says, companies today need “a fundamental orientation that is outward looking”—so they can understand what people out there in the world truly desire and need, and what’s standing in the way. At the same time, business leaders also must look inward, to try to clarify their own core values and larger ambitions.


    Jack Bergstrand: But the harder question has to do with what you’re willing to eliminate. If you can’t answer that question, Bergstrand maintains, “it lessens your chances of being successful at what you want to do next—because you’ll be sucking up resources doing what’s no longer needed and taking those resources away from what should be a top priority.”


    Clayton Christensen: “…Answering this question can point to future opportunities and help your share price to outperform the market by showing “that there’s more growth here than analysts may have thought.”


    Tim Ogilvie: Ogilvie’s question is really asking, “Where in the company is it safe to ask radical questions? Where, within the company, can you explore heretical questions that could threaten the business as it is—without contaminating what you’re doing now?”


    Eric Ries: “This means that instead of asking “What will we do?” or “What will we build?” the emphasis should be on “What will we learn?”

    The author of the article, Warren Berger, has set up a blog about questioning, called A More Beautiful Question, setting it up as “An Inquiry into the value of Inquiry.” He says a beautiful question is simply a better one:

    In our lives, in general, there’s a tendency to move along on auto-pilot when we really ought to be in the habit of regularly stepping back and questioning everything—about our career choices, about our attitudes and beliefs, about the ways we choose to live. Questioning is good for us. It can help to open up new possibilities in our lives. It’s a first step in solving problems. It makes us more successful as leaders. People who ask a lot of questions tend to be more engaged in their lives, more fulfilled, and happier.


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