Happy Holidays

Almost ready to take off for the Holidays.

If you are celebrating Christmas- Merry Christmas!

Have a wonderful New Year everyone. I will be back on Jan 5.

Till then- enjoy the e-books or simply be inspired.

Gift Yourself


This holiday season, gift yourself first.

Here are some good stuff that will help you see yourself:

Imposter Syndrome - Its worth every single minute of your time and it’s such an important factor to understand that this e-book is a must read. While you relate to the real life stories and see yourself in them, you know how to encounter it next time.
•Go through the book reviews and pick your favorite, even if you don’t want to buy the book, borrow it from the library.  This holiday season, I have ordered books and 2 out of the 3 are after reading reviews and their effects on someone else.
Make Sh*t Happen – Is by Jenny and doors open January 10 it will be $297 and open to 36 people who are ready to find their courage and change their lives.
•Gift yourself by building your own brand this holiday season- stand apart from the rest of the crowd, work on your credibility and see yourself grow.
•Find a mentor, there’s no replacement for a mentor.




Honest Confessions


Being honest isn’t easy.

When I started this blog, I wanted everyone to know the hurdles and the real life story of what happens every day.

I have been honest but there are times when you tend not to write about the truth- the horrible days, the irritating moments and the failures. When you are aware that the blog is being read, you don’t want to feel vulnerable and to protect your work identity and private details, you skip it.

But here am I, someone who promised to tell the truth, don’t want to be miles away from the truth as well.

I have had bad days like most of us, really bad days at work- when someone doesn’t get the point, takes advantage of me being polite, back stabs you for not getting what they want, sabotages your projects just because they want to and hate you for you-can’t-figure it out. It’s all part of the game.

It’s all alright as long as you can take it or if it happens for a few days and you have managed it well. Mentors can be great assets during this time period, especially if you have in-house mentors. However, there will be always days, when nothing gets solved, you feel horrible, feel belittled and feel you are in the wrong place.

Team building and management is an art and when they don’t follow certain aspects of life, work life can becomes as stressful as it sounds.

Stress, deadlines, projects can all be handled if you have a great team and good support system at work. When it doesn’t, stop blaming yourself- you can do so much with your life.

Pick up your life and get going, get another certification, look for your next job, write the perfect resume and don’t blame yourself for not being the right fit. Sometimes, it’s just not about you!

Want to read up on what great project managers do, download the collection of interviews that happened in the blog by clicking here  (its free).

Pic Courtesy: Google Images

Team Building Pt2


Hope you all had a restful long weekend with your family and loved ones. If you celebrate Thanksgiving- I am sure this weekend was special.

The best part of your job, should be to love it . Let’s face it most of us don’t realise what the job is in hold for us, till we have entered it and figure out the reality.
You can opt to make your work meaningful but that certainly mean that it will happen unless of course your team supports you.

So, here are some more theories on team building:

Belbin Team Dynamics
The nine Belbin team roles:
 Plant
Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems. However tends to ignore incidentals and be too immersed to communicate effectively.
Resource Investigator
Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities and networks with others. However can be over optimistic and loses interest after initial enthusiasm has waned.
Co-ordinator
Belbin's Co-ordinator is a mature, confident and a natural chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making and delegates effectively. However can be seen as manipulative and controlling. Can over delegate by off loading personal work.
Shaper
Challenging, dynamic, thrives under pressure. Jumps hurdles using determination and courage. However can be easily provoked and ignorant of the feelings of others.
Monitor Evaluator
Even tempered, strategic and discerning. Sees all the options and judges accurately. However can lack drive and lack inspired leadership qualities.
 Team Worker
Co-operative, relationship focused, sensitive and diplomatic. Belbin described the Team Worker as a good listener who builds relationships and who dislikes confrontation. However can be indecisive in a crisis.
 Implementer
Disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. Acts on ideas. However can be inflexible and slow to see new opportunities.
Completer-Finisher
Conscientious and anxious to get the job done. An eye for detail, good at searching out the errors. Finishes and delivers on time however can be a worrier and reluctant to delegate.
Specialist
Single minded self starter. Dedicated and provides specialist knowledge. The rarer the supplier of this knowledge, said Belbin, the more dedicated the specialist. However can be stuck in their niche with little interest in the world outside it and dwell on technicalities.

Strength Inventory Deployment
People are our/your working Environment
Discover how vital relationship skills are to business success
The cost of neglecting your people
Create a high performance environment

Understand People
Why people behave as they do
The seven motivational styles
Discover your own personal drivers

Recognise Different Styles
What can you learn from body language, hobbies, pets and work place?
Predict how others will behave
Understand insecurity, self-doubt and de-motivation
Listening
Create Rapport
Match the other's style
Behaviours that bring dramatic results
Practical tips to get along with difficult people

Handle Conflict
Understand why people can be difficult
Discover your behaviour pattern in conflict
Recognize individual needs in conflict
How to deal with the angry customer/team member
The secrets of lasting agreement

Manage your impression
How does your style of working come across to others?
Some practical ways to close the perception gap
Actively manage your impression for better results

Feedback not biteback
Practical things to do when there are conflict and perception gaps
Feedback v criticism
Develop competency in giving and receiving feedback

Influence with integrity
Discover your current persuasion strategy
Learn five key processes of influence
Beware of fishing with vindaloo chicken

Organizational implications
Communicate organisational change and get commitment
Easy steps to improve motivation and job satisfaction
Become a facilitative leader and empower your team

Application
Implications in your professional life
Implications in your personal life
Decide action agenda

Forming - Storming - Norming – Performing
Developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965. It is one of the more known team development theories and has formed the basis of many further ideas since its conception.
Tuckman's theory focuses on the way in which a team tackles a task from the initial formation of the team through to the completion of the project. Tuckman later added a fifth phase; Adjourning and Transforming to cover the finishing of a task.

Forming
The team is assembled and the task is allocated. Team members tend to behave independently and although goodwill may exist they do not know each other well enough to unconditionally trust one another.
Time is spent planning, collecting information and bonding.

Storming
The team starts to address the task suggesting ideas. Different ideas may compete for ascendancy and if badly managed this phase can be very destructive for the team.
Relationships between team members will be made or broken in this phase and some may never recover. In extreme cases the team can become stuck in the Storming phase.
If a team is too focused on consensus they may decide on a plan which is less effective in completing the task for the sake of the team. This carries its own set of problems. It is essential that a team has strong facilitative leadership in this phase.

Norming
As the team moves out of the Storming phase they will enter the Norming phase. This tends to be a move towards harmonious working practices with teams agreeing on the rules and values by which they operate.

In the ideal situation teams begin to trust themselves during this phase as they accept the vital contribution of each member to the team. Team leaders can take a step back from the team at this stage as individual members take greater responsibility.

The risk during the Norming stage is that the team becomes complacent and loses either their creative edge or the drive that brought them to this phase.

The rest of this article covers the final stage of Performing and Adjourning and Transforming.

You can read Part 1 here.

(Content courtesy
(Image Courtesy: Google images)

Team Building- Pt1


Have a team?  Have trouble communicating them. Feel you are always on the wrong side?

And you want to win them over?

Here are some theories:

Maslow’s Team Building Theory- his pyramid had 5 levels and you have to complete one to move on to the next. From the bottom:

  • Survival/basic needs
  • security/safety Needs
  • Social
  • Ego status/Esteem Needs
  • Self-actualization


So, identify your team members level, make them comfortable and let them move forward to the next.

Theory X and Theory Y-Developed by Douglas McGregor, he described 2 opposing views of style that will influence management style.

Theory X- is the tradional view of direction and style
Theory Y- a self directed workforce that takes an interest in the goals of their organisation and integrates some of their own goals into these.

Theory X assumes:
•The average person dislikes work and will avoid it unless directly supervised.
•Employees must be coerced, controlled and directed to ensure that organisational objectives are met.
•The threat of punishment must exist within an organisation.
•In fact people prefer to be managed in this way so that they avoid responsibility.
•Theory X assumes that people are relatively un-ambitious and their prime driving force is the desire for security.

Theory Y effectively takes the opposite view.

It assumes:
•Employees are ambitious, keen to accept greater responsibility and exercise both self-control and direction.
•Employees will, in the right conditions, work toward organisational objectives and that commitment will in itself be a reward for so doing.
•Employees will exercise their imagination and creativity in their jobs if given the chance and this will give an opportunity for greater productivity.
•Theory Y assumes that the average human being will, under the right conditions, not only accept responsibility but also seek more.
•Lack of ambition and the qualities of Theory X are not inherent human characteristics but learned in working environments that suffocate or do not promote Theory Y behaviours.

The color Works- Team Building Theory- The Colour Works uses a psychological model of behaviours that helps teams to understand similarities and differences in order to become more effective.

A 25-frame online evaluator measures our preferences for the use of all 4 colour energies.We will all have a dominant, a secondary, a tertiary and a least preferred energy.This detailed questionnaire is designed to measure these levels as it uses a sliding scale of responses rather than a simple YES or NO.The resulting profile is comprehensive - a minimum of 24 pages covering amongst other things strengths, weaknesses, stress points, blind spots, management style, preferred environment, communication needs, value to the team - often scarily insightful and unique to the profilee.

The order and intensity of your colour preferences places you on a 72-type wheel, made up of 8 archetypes, as follows:

THE DIRECTOR
Has the ability to focus on results. They decide what it is they want from life and set a strategy to achieve it. Their natural assertiveness means they will push both themselves and others to achieve goals.  They are not put off by setbacks.

THE MOTIVATOR
Has enormous enthusiasm that he spreads to those around them.  Their drive to succeed gives them a high level of motivation to achieve their dreams.  They are not easily put off and find it easy to think positively about every situation.

THE INSPIRER
Has well-developed people skills and has a constant need to enjoy interactions with others. They are persuasiveand their quick minds produce creative solutions to others' problems.

THE HELPER
Has a genuine desire to help others and put their needs first. This makes them flexible and adaptable with a natural ability to share ideas and knowledge.

THE SUPPORTER
 Has a true team approach.  Their expert listening skills can uncover others' true needs and they are loyal to both their colleagues and their organisation.

THE CO-ORDINATOR
Can pull all the loose ends together to organise themselves and others in a structured approach.  Their planningand time management skills make them thorough and reliable.

THE OBSERVER
 Can write the book on product knowledge required for their job.  When others need the facts to make a decision, they know them.  They set the standards for others and analyse and collect the data.

THE REFORMER  
Has a natural desire to monitor and judge performance.  Their own approach is disciplined and logical and they back this up with a determination to succeed.

What are you using to effectively work with your team?


(Content courtesy
(Image Courtesy: Google images)

Be happy- don't over plan


When you know what you want from life, you can plan it well.

To make the changes take the baby steps one day at a time. It isn’t easy to suddenly start preparing for PMP and put 4 hours a day.

Pen down what you want next month and the coming year. Set your priorities, look at it realistically and then decide your goal.

Change is good and forming new habits are better. For me, I have planned my goals that I need to get done for the next 6 months- both personal and professional. I have listed them down and on a weekend chalked it out- what I can do instead of what I want to do.

Turns out, I need more time to do self studies and am always running out of time. All the travelling and hectic schedule was taking a toll on me and I missed being super- happy about life.  Also, I tried reading while commuting to work which I used to successfully in Chicago when I took public transport.  Now, reading in jam packed streets of India seems impossible. I tried, hated myself for not being able to do it and wasting 45 minutes everyday twice doing nothing.

So, I changed. I wanted the happy positive feeling that I could keep to myself for the rest of the day and also use the time. So, I started listening to podcasts- motivational stuff, things that will inspire me. I download them on Sundays, to keep me busy for the next 5 days. And I have enjoyed it very much.

I have also kept my list very lean- no additional distractions. Focus on things you can do and that will make you happy.

This is something I read and am sure you will like how people chisel their own career paths

I also read that when you have decided on something, don’t share it because chances are you won’t do it then. I read these 2 different articles  in complete different context but in a way they made sense.

So, don’t make random new year promises this year. Don’t right down pages and then feel silly for not doing them. Keep it lean and keep it right and don’t judge yourself too often- I think you will be fine.

(Pic courtesy)

iWoz


Getting your dream project isn’t always easy. This involves learning, training perhaps even travelling and lots of will power and focus to make sure you don’t deter.

Yesterday while reading Iwoz, I was blown away. The book of course is all about Steve Wozniak and his brilliance but amidst it all I learned: 

·Stay true to myself and my goals
·If others don’t get it, don’t look back, continue with your plans.
·Think differently
·If you have an opportunity, go for it.
·Have ethics at work, its good.
·Don’t lie or malign others, never under estimate your peers and respect the passion others have.

If you get a chance, make sure to read this definitely. It's an inspiration, an awakening and an insight into how great minds think.

Your day is waiting for you!

Newsletters- Do they change you?


If you follow me on twitter, I tweeted about 2 fav persons whose newsletter I love.

I am not a fan of newsletters, I treat them more as a spam flooding my inbox because most of the times I really don’t care what you have to sell.

However, Jenny Blake and Elizabeth Harrin are exceptionals. If you are a newbie or out of college (I’m none of these) and love entrepreneurial journey- Jenny’s newsletters (and blog) are fantastic. Need a project management update and what’s new happening in the PM Town, Elizabeth as always is a great resource.

Another great resource that I have been ignoring for a while is Ramit Sethi. I read the partial free download of his book and his blog and loved it, so I signed up for the newsletter years ago. Honestly, I have almost never read his newsletters till last week. I didn’t want to buy stuff and thought his newsletters were informative, but I didn’t know if it was for me.

Till last week, I clicked on his newsletter and saw his tips on having a great resume- that got my attention.
I read the whole thing including the links and downloaded all the videos and information. The material was great. It was stuff he was giving away to registered newsletter subscribers that he usually sells as a course.

From all that I have read and heard (still have 3 more videos to go), here are some amazing things he said:

•Resume’s should be very specific (in everything). Pack in details, research your company (where you would like to work) and your job profile well. Don’t just randomly apply to jobs (and through job boards) and then blame the system for not having a scope for you. True- my last 2 jobs have been through referrals.
•Use LinkedIn as a Tool.
•Every month, keep a percentage of your salary for meeting other interesting people.  While it may not be flying to the other side of the world, meet people in your locality who can be your mentors, career advisors, or just a great contact. Invest in yourself and your growth.

So, instead of signing up for all kinds of newsletters, look for those that helps you. De-clutter your inbox and focus on the thing you should be doing.

That is my goal for December. I have moved continents, lived in 2 cities commuting every month and postponed a lot of personal goals for tomorrow (the one that never comes).

This December, I am re-planning my life and my goals. I want to be happier, do things I have always wanted to do and find time for myself and my hobbies. Learn something new twice a year that isn’t part of my professional life (like Tennis and rock climbing).

Time to de-clutter and find yourself.

(Image Courtesy: Google Images)

Newbie?


Just because you are an intern and newbie:

•Observe your boss to imitate them as much as you can and want to- you will get a feel of what they like.
•Be you, it matters even among the more experienced crowd.
•Ask questions, see document libraries, gather as much information you can from meeting, conversations etc.
•Don’t back out during all conversations and fault findings. Hold your own.
•Don’t let others tell you how much you are worth, you know better than that.
•No one has the right to make you feel inferior without your permission. Dont let that happen.
•When nothing seems to be working out, don’t loose hope. It happens, instead focus on things you can do. Get a certification, see the requirement, ensure your work is around fulfilling those requirements.
•Be careful about what you say in the office. And your social networking sites.
•Even if you feel nothing is working out, stay. Stay for 4-6 months to let everything fall in its place.
•Quitting is good, but not without a plan.
•Amidst all the chaos, try finding a mentor. She/he will guide you to navigate the mess.
•Try to keep a happy face, makes you look friendlier.

Here are some awesome links that might be interesting:
Best agile Books
More on Kanban 
No such Thing As Bad Decision


CPR Technique

This post has been taken from http://www.dhavalpanchal.com

The software world has misused so many terms from the medical profession that one more would not hurt.

CPR – Categorize, Prioritize, Resolve.
This is simple mnemonic that aids me to be methodical in my approach towards uncovering and resolving impediments.

Categorize:
How do you view your world?
To me lack of impediments is like moving in a frictionless environment. This state exists when
a. No work is being done
b. It is an ideal theoretical context

To challenge myself and my teams to look beyond business as usual, I look to creating a categorization mechanism that people can relate to. Lean concepts of load, flow and waste are very simple to understand and use.

There are other categorizing perspectives such as
1. process, tools, technology, culture
2. Not enough time, Takes a lot of time
3. Personal, Team, Organizational
4. Stop, Stall, Go!
5. One off, Always, Sometimes
There are no limits to how you may slice your world of work, expose perspectives and uncover impediments that were hidden.

Prioritize:
The purpose of prioritizing is two fold:
1. Identify impediments that have most negative impact on having ‘fun’ at work
2. Select a handful of impediments that should be worked through resolution.
For impact assessment, ‘dot-voting’ could be a technique to bubble up impediments that sap most energy from your team. (As has been done on the picture above)
Many impediments get treated as ‘Business as usual’  - often times because people are not sure how to influence or act towards resolution. Impediments that get ignored or not addressed fall through the cracks and ignored and accepted as norms for team/organization culture.
Recognizing where the team can take action, where they can influence and what is ‘the soup’ is very important to focus on what can be done over what should be done.

As a self directed exercise, the team members move impediment stickies to into an appropriate zone. Items that they feel they can act upon and attempt to resolve within the team fall into the ‘me’ circle. Items that can be influenced and require assistance from managers, organizationals, other teams etc fall into the influence zone. Items that can’t be acted upon or resolved via influence are in the soup. Many organizational scale impediments tend to fall into the soup.

Resolve:
Take action on resolving impediments that are in the ‘me’ zone. Act towards influencing others in your organization to assit with impediments in the ‘influence’ zone. Expose impediments that are in the soup to senior management, as they are best positioned to address these.

Identifying problems have a negative impact while resolving problems have a positive impact.

Videos that teach, not preach.


This video speaks for itself.

Steve Job’s biographer’s interview in 60 minutes.

Part 1 and Part 2.  

Lots more happening in the PM world these days, to watch Elizabeth’s diary click here and here 

Challenge Accepted!



This is a guest post from Josh Nankivel from PM Student. If you are trying to begin your path in project management or are into it, Josh's blog is a treat. He also reached his half a million visitors this year! Congratulations.


This road sign is pretty much what the path forward looked like to me when I started my venture into formal project management.

Sheesh!

Perhaps you can relate. Since then, I’ve combined what I’ve learned in my own journey with the things I wish I would have known to start with and try to help other people who are starting out.

These are the steps you can start taking today to de-mystify your project management career.

Step 1 - You Are Here

If you don’t know where you are starting from, it’s pretty tough to move forward.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ advice for starting or advancing your project management career. Imagine a GPS system in your car that has no knowledge of your current location. It doesn’t work, does it?

You can leverage your background, skills, and interests in different ways to get started. If you have a technical background, there are tons of strategies to use that to your advantage. The same is true if you come from a general or operational management background. Even if you are just starting out and don’t feel you have much experience or background to leverage, it’s very important to acknowledge that and use your interests and natural talents effectively.

Write it down. In the course I teach worksheets are provided to help you clearly define your ‘current location’ as a foundation from which to move forward. You can even start with a blank page and just do a SWOT analysis of your current position. Going through this process will help generate ideas about what you might be interested in pursuing and how you can parlay what makes you unique into opportunities going forward.

Step 2 - Define Your Destination And Plot The Course

Imagine that same GPS unit knows where you are currently at, but has no idea or only a vague notion of where you want to go.  Again, pretty hard to get there...

I recommend researching organizations to eventually target 3-5 companies that you would really love to work for, who have clear indicators they value project management as a discipline, are in an industry you love, and with whom you can leverage your starting point to quickly achieve your initial goals.

Aside from targeting the right organizations, this is the step where you start to examine how you should augment your tool kit with certifications, education, and above all gaining experience with projects in ways that will make you more competent and appealing to those target organizations.

Step 3 - Build Professional Relationships

Almost anything worth doing requires more than just one person.

When you get lost you want to have a circle of friends who know, like, and trust you that will help put you back on course. Networking is a scary word for most people, but I’m talking about building relationships here. And now that you have a clear set of routes planned for, you know exactly what kind of people you should focus on building strong professional relationships with.

The most important factor here is giving, giving, giving. If you want to get people to know, like, and trust you it’s all about being indispensable to them. Most people go about networking all wrong. They come across as a nuisance, expecting someone who barely knows them to spend time, effort, and social capital to fulfil a request.

You shouldn’t be requesting anything until you’ve delivered so much value to someone they feel obligated to repay all the favors you’ve done for them. Every person is going to be receptive and value different things, so you really have to know the people in your network if you want to provide them with real value. This isn’t something you can do halfway; do your homework and be specific. Set up whatever you are willing to do for them to make it so easy for them to say yes.

In fact, all they should have to do is say yes.

Here’s an example.  In September a local recruiter who is part of my network of friends reached out to me because I’ve always been willing to point him to qualified candidates, and he knows he is going to get a quality referral from me.  I have built up that trust over time by demonstrating my willingness and ability to deliver value to this recruiter.

It was a position for a Junior Project Manager position, and as it happens I knew someone else in my network who I thought would be a good fit. I made the connection between the two.  Here’s what happened:

•The recruiter gained a high-quality candidate referral.
•The candidate got a nice recommendation and referral for a position he’d love to have a chance at.
•I reinforced my status with both of them as someone who loves helping other people get what they want, without any expectations or hassle.


Voila! The virtuous circle is complete. All 3 parties here gained value. This is my style of networking and it’s a continuous process, not an event. Will I ever ‘get back’ the value I gave to these two individuals? Perhaps not. It doesn’t matter. If you do this often enough over time, you get to be known, liked, and trusted. Pay it forward, and you’ll be amazed what opportunities open up for you at some unexpected time in the future.

Step 4 - Drive With Confidence

In the last part of my course I get to the logistics of the job hunt; resumes/CVs, coverletters, portfolios, interviews, and dealing with offers and rejections. If you’ve done steps 1 and 2, and are constantly doing step 3, this is the icing on the cake.

Unfortunately, most people think this is the cake. It’s not!

(When did Josh switch from car to cake analogies? Just go with it people, I’m eccentric like that :-)

The goal of the previous steps is to never go into this phase of the process cold. You will be better prepared than the majority of candidates for whatever position you are applying. The vast majority of people do not know what I teach or actually take action to implement this stuff. They do what everyone else does instead; apply and pray.

If you’ve done your homework and put sincere effort into the process described earlier, the hiring managers will already know who you are and will be excited to interview you.  Imagine that!  

In the best cases the clear ‘vibe’ I’ve gotten when I did this well is that the whole application and interview process was just a formality; they already knew they wanted to hire me. In fact, you’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about searching the job boards online. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but if you are doing the rest of what I’ve outline well you should never have to. The goal is to hear about new positions from someone in your network who knows, likes, and trusts you... and wants you to come work with them.

My Weekend


Saturday was well spent.

Awesome lunch with friend over white lily tea, dumplings and peking duck. We did a bit of window shopping and some shopping and bought few movies to watch at home.

Among those was Eat, Pray, Love- I have the book and have watched the movie. Since the movie inspired my friend to travel around the world, we bought it to watch at home again together.

She actually met the real medicine man in Bali; during one of her trips.

We watched it later at night. It’s fun watching all about India while in India. It struck a chord to think that people travel to India because it awakens them spiritually, or calms them down and its said- life’s never the same ever after visiting India.

It was nice seeing India through my friends eye (she is from New York).

It’s been around 10 months since I have been back and I had plans and things to do when I return. Isn’t that why I returned? All I have been doing is getting sucked in work and life is the same. I had additional plans for my blog, spend time on a business goal I have been nurturing for a while and travel more. None happened.

And then I read and it reminded me of mine.

I have 2 out of the 5 checked! It’s a shame, though I have a little more time on my hand.

So, today I am re-working on my goals and things to do to keep me happy. It helps that I have a new haircut too.

Tools


I have had it for a year now. I seldom used it.

Until now.

Evernote has changed the way I read. I have it pretty much everywhere- web, desktop application, Iphone and even the web clipper (chrome extension).

I have to say, I use the web clipper the most because I like to remember the sites or article I enjoyed reading. I used to save links before in notepads or Google tasks, now I simply clip it and tag it.

The sync takes care of the rest. So, I can read them later at leisure say from my phone.
I also have been keeping the business cards virtually with Evernote, take a pic, attach it and write a note to remind yourself where you met, why should you connect and save it.

I haven’t used SpringPad, but it seems like a good one too.

Another new find has been Linoit. I have been looking for a Kanban board that I can use and Linoit just does that! You can use it the way you want. Like a reminder board with stickies, or simply stickies that come with a reminder and alarm feature, a mood board or a kanban board. And it’s free.

If you want to see the list of similar board applications click here . 

5 steps to project scheduling


This is a guest post from Sam Palani. Find out more about him at his site or connect with him on twitter.


5 Steps to get your Project Schedule Correct

When I was asked to come up with a guest post for Stepping Into Project Management (SIPM),
I wanted to come up with something that was close with the central theme of the blog, which
is helping Project managers on starting their journey on the project management space. As a
newbie project manager (or for that matter even as someone who has been managing projects
for sometime) getting your project schedule correct early on is critical as this will be one of the
important baselines against which you would track your project execution.

I also want to call out one common myth / misconception here - A Project Plan is different from
a Project Schedule - no matter what they tell you. I will not go into details on this post, but to
summarize - A plan will include your strategy on how you will get there i.e. the end goal (scope)
whereas a project schedule is as the name suggests a schedule of tasks along with their
respective

So it is critical that you get this correct as you take your first steps into project management.

Here are five simple but important steps that will help get your schedule correct:

Start with the WBS - First things first. Start with decomposing your scope into a work break
break down structure. While there are multiple rules around this, the general thumb rule is break
down your scope to work packages where each package can contain around 5-10 individual
tasks. Again this is a just a rule of thumb, the level of the WBS would largely depend on your
individual program or project. The idea here is to be able to tie back the individuals tasks that
will make up your schedule to the capabilities listed in the project scope.

Hint - Do not over do this to a level where you end up adding more complexity and management
overhead.

Get your estimates on track - The next logical step is to estimate the individual tasks that
make up your work packages. How many resources you will need and how much time it will
take take for these resources to get the task completed. Avoid doing any fast tracking or
crashing at this stage. This is based on the assumption that you will be doing a bottom up
estimation, that is starting from the individual tasks and rolling up at the work-package level.

Hint - Make sure your estimation process & model is communicated and transparent to the
project stakeholders.

Analyze your dependencies - Most certainly your individual task will not be executed in silos.
They will have dependencies. These dependencies and constraints can be in different forms.
Example a task may have a dependency on a particular task getting started or completed as
well as there may be tasks that are constrained to start or end on a particular date.

Hint - Don't attempt to do this alone, get your SMEs involved in this exercise.

Calculate your critical path - Once your have your tasks,estimates and the dependencies in
place. You are now ready to to get the critical path. You either do this manually or through an
EPM software that you are using. It does not really matter. It is also likely that you may end up
with more than one critical path. You will need to pay attention to all the critical paths identified.
It is also important to note that during the course of the project your critical path might change
so your schedule is more of a living document and not static.

Hint - Often there may be tasks outside your critical path that will influence your project
outcome.

Communicate - Now that you have done all the good work and have the project schedule
in place, publish it. Your project stakeholders including your team need to be aware of the
project schedule. The schedule would help little just sitting out there on your hard drive. again
a reminder that your schedule is a live document and gets revisited during the course of your
execution for instance every time you do risk assessment or change management

Hint - Include a link to your schedule in your project status communications.

So that’s it, you now have a schedule baseline against which you can monitor and control your
project.

PMChat

PMChat has been gaining popularity and is a great way to stay updated, interact and learn more. Today's post is all about PMChat- details, where to join and what to expect.


This is a guest post by Robert Kelly;  Founder and Managing Partner of Kelly Project Solutions.  He has over a dozen years of experience leading complex, enterprise projects at companies including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Lenovo and currently at Red Hat.  Robert’s blog, Kelly’s Contemplation, was shortlisted for Computer Weekly’s Top 10 Project Management Blogs for 2010, named a Top 10 Up and Coming Project Manager on Twitter, and contributor to ‘A Peek Into The Life of Project Managers’.



Regardless of their experience level, Project Managers are always on the hunt for new ways to grow, learn, and stay on top of their profession.  It may be learning a new technology to join a new project.  Some are looking to break into the field of project management and want to learn the basics, while others are PMPs and need PDU’s to remain that way.  Wherever you may be in your professional career as a Project Manager, I would like to introduce a new medium to your development portfolio...#PMChat


Project Management Chat (#PMChat) is a weekly discussion hosted by Robert Kelly and Rob Prinzo each Friday from 12-1pm (EST).  The topics focus on Project Management & Leaderships techniques, best practices, and so on.  In addition to both Rob’s being named to the Top 10 Up & Coming Project Managers on Twitter, their partnership offers nearly 30 years of diverse experience to the #PMChat participants.  To further add value to this platform, they will invite thought leaders from a range of project management and leadership arenas to co-host the forum.  Additionally, KPS hosts a #PMChat Pre-Game show, via KPS Chatter on BlogTalk Radio, every week from 11:30-11:45 am (EST).  During this quick, 15-minute radio show, you will hear both Roberts and their guest for the week discuss the topic that will be discussed during the Twitter chat.


Here is what folks are saying...
·“Thanks for inviting me to the #pmchat. Great stuff, SMART people! Have a good weekend!”
·“It was fun! This was my first-ever Tweet Chat. Went very well and learned. Excellent use of time! Thanks for hosting it.”
·“Thanks @rkelly976 & @robprinzo for an interesting #pmchat today. Great topic! Wish I’d had more time to participate. Next time!”


The #PMChat is truly a great opportunity to talk with some tremendous Project/Program Management professionals about leading challenges in this space.  While other hashtags have become 1-way communication and retweets, #PMChat is truly a collaborative environment where people are sharign ideas, networking, and developing relationships. 


Join us and see what all the talk is about! 

Time Off

I am taking a week off from blogging, while I do a fall clean up and travel for one of the Indian festivals thats very close to my heart.

My friend from New York is coming over for a 3 week visit to India and we have lots of catching up to do.

I'll be back in October.

Scrum


Details on Scrum and everything you need to know.


Requirements include:
·         Familiarize with scrum basics
·         Attend CSM course
·         Asses your progress through online evaluation.

                Requirements include:
·         Download the application  and illustrate hands on experience
·         Send the complete application for review and approval to the Review committee.
·         On approval you pay $250  for certification fee

Requirements include:
  • Have a solid understanding of the Scrum framework, a deep understanding of the principles and values that are the foundations of Scrum, and a clarity on what belongs to Scrum and what is an extension or complement;
  • Have extensive experience of implementing and/or coaching Scrum inside organizations;
  • Be active in the wider Scrum community, through actual and virtual interaction with other Scrum and Agile thinkers and practitioners;
  • Have training experience beyond just Scrum, be willing to explore new ways of working and be committed to continuous improvement.

 experts in Scrum, both in theory and in practice. They have an in-depth understanding of the practices and principles of Scrum and have real experience on actual Scrum projects.
  • Does your ScrumMaster need a mentor?
  • Does your Product Owner need help learning how to work with a product backlog?
  • Are you having trouble breaking sprint backlog items into task lists?
  • Are your sprints consistently ending with unfinished work? 
  • Is estimating so hard that your sprint planning lasts beyond its timebox?
  • Does your management underestimate the scope of organizational change necessary for Scrum to be successful?
  • Are you facing challenges with multi-team Scrum projects?
  • Is your organization having difficulty implementing the Scrum framework in conjunction with other methodologies?
  • Is the team encountering obstacles with organizational impediments?
  • Does your organization need coaching and guidance on scaling Scrum?
And there are more, you can also be a Certified Product Owner or developer.

More on Kanban

Trainings in Town


PMI Agile Practitioner Certification Prep Class

Derek Heuther is offering training classes now globally. Registration is open for Balitmore/Washington DC (Oct 17-19) and Phoenix from November 2-4. To register, click here 

Cost $1495 per attendee and it covers the 1500 trainings hours required to appear for the certification. 

Ruby On Rails- Training

A two day workshop on "BDD with Ruby on Rails" organized by Ostrya Labs on Sept 24/25th at Hyderabad (India).

The details of the workshop are available here. Contact  Arun at at arun@ostryalabs.com for more information. 

Scrum Certification- Lessons Learnt


“Having coached many software development teams, I tend to value my contribution by what a team does when I’m not with them over what the team does when I’m with them.”
                                                         - Dhaval Panchal, Agile Coach and Trainer (source)

Trainings are supposed to be boring.

Unless something wakes you up. Or you are in a class that is surprisingly interesting.

Last week, I happened to be in one.

It was training and interesting-a scrum certification class (CSM) conducted by Solutions IQ.

If you are already certified in scrum or have taken courses you know the drill. If you haven’t, you can look over here .

You don’t have to choose either/or between a PMP and a CSM/CSP- you can be both. Scrum training actually offers you PDU’s as well for attending these classes. Cool!

I have heard so much about Agile and Scrum that I genuinely got interested and decided to go for it. You can check for nearby classes based on your location by looking into the website.

That’s how I found mine and it’s been a treat and I’m sold to Scrum. So much so, that I started my own board at work to monitor my work and see if it helps. Oh, I also have one at home for my personal goals stuck behind my study door.

Seattle based Dhaval Panchal  has been an awesome trainer for the 2 days of training in Hyderabad, India – informative, knowledgeable, patient, helpful and always approachable. Given a chance I’d train with him again.

My favourite part of the class was the Paper Ball game- it teaches you more about the team dynamics than you would think. A group of random people who met 15 mints ago  and has to abide by the rules of the game, severe time constraints and expectation of an end result can take the so called managers in for a spin. Who takes the control, who listens to whom, whose idea should be implemented, why am I being Ignored......the behavorial drama continues.

A class worth attending for sure. Thank you Dhaval.

(Disclosure: I paid for my certification; it wasn't sponsored by any organization). 


Pic Courtesy: Google Images.

Tricks of the Trade

Here's some cool stuff:


•If you like to organize your personal goals, professional certifications, hobbies and measure them over time Jenny Blake’s templates are awesome. And you can get them by signing up in her monthly newsletter
•Do women make better project managers- want to know read this guest post 
•Like to learn but not the boring way- say Hello to PMChat 
•Industrial Psychology Perspective on Project management is here. Finally.

•Joined your first PM job and need to revamp your image. Your makeup tricks here.
Need some white noise while you work, try this. No downloads required.


(Pic Courtesy: Google Images)


Who's your boss? Part 2

This is part 2 of Who’s your boss? Read part 1 here.

The Buddy-Baseball caps, high-fives

What they do:
The Buddy wants to be your friend, not your boss. Too bad for him you’ve already got friends and wouldn’t want to hang with him anyway. From “happy” hours that seem more like a punishment to unfunny jokes that you’ve just got to laugh at (or else!) The Buddy really has a way of making fun into a chore. And don’t get us started on his habit of trying to start questionable relationships with subordinates. It’s just painful to watch.

How to make him love you:
Laugh at his funnier jokes, but don’t stoop to laughing at every joke – being a suck-up isn’t a great way to maintain your dignity. Say no thanks to all the invitations you can, and keep your own interactions with The Buddy on an extremely professional level – you’ll be helping him in the long run, and he’ll respect you for it. Protect yourself with a thick layer of decorum and common sense, because he sure isn’t going to do it for you.

The Miracle- An office that looks like yours, encouraging emails

What they do:
Fun, supportive, capable, and inspiring, The Miracle is truly an employee’s dream come true. She does what she says, always follows up, and usually can push you to do your best in a way that makes the hardest work seem like play. If you’re working for The Miracle you’ll know it, from the smile on your face at the end of the day to your rewarding paycheck at the end of the week. Just try not to brag too much!

How to make her love you:
Work your butt off and thank your lucky stars, since The Miracle doesn’t come along very often. Use this great opportunity to really see how far you can go, and at the end of The Miracle’s tenure, make sure you get a letter of reference.

The Monster-Thrown coffee cups, restraining orders!

What they do:
The question is more “What don’t they do?” The Monster lives to make your own life hell, and he’s good at it. From screaming at you in front of the customers to lying about your results to engaging in borderline criminal harassment, The Monster repeatedly demonstrates that has no pity, human decency, or shame. He’s the worst boss around, hands down, and we’re sorry for anyone who has to deal with him.

How to make him love you:
Unfortunately, with this one you just have to run. Get out. There’s no hope for improvement when you work for someone who has no scruples at al

The Number Cruncher- Incredible Excel skills, a calculator watch.

What they do:
The Number Cruncher’s best quality is her ability to break things down into measurable statistics — and sometimes, that means the actual employees, too. The Number Cruncher can only read math, and if your performance appears to be declining on paper rest assured you will get a lecture, even if you’ve been working as hard as you can. Ever feel like you are “just a number?” We’re here to confirm that you definitely are.

How to make her love you:
Give her something she can understand: Numbers. Track your successes (and your failures) with painstaking detail and fanatical devotion. Even if it’s a chore in the immediate future, your data mining will pay off and you will have something on paper that proves you’ve been working hard, even if your efforts haven’t been working. Who knows, her approach might teach you something!

The Innovator- Brainstorming sessions, expensive toys, subscription to Entrepreneur magazine

What they do:
The Innovator’s head is full of big ideas, and he wastes no time dreaming them up and then making sure they actually come true. Great for business, but it usually means you get no life outside the office because you’re the one actually making his dream come to life. The pros? This boss can be incredibly charismatic and inspiring, and truly cares about the work. The cons? Sometimes it seems like the only thing this boss cares about is work. Hope that’s all you care about, too!

How to make him love you:
Work hard and show commitment, but keep your sense of self outside of work. Remind the boss that the outside world does exist: Ask The Innovator about his weekend, his children (if he has any, which is a total mystery) about any hobby he has outside work. After you’re done chitchatting, give your all and The Innovator will respect your work and hopefully, your own need for work-life balance.

The Tuft Hunter- The CEO’s wardrobe, car, and haircut.

What they do:
In the old days, a tuft hunter was a nobleman’s parasite, one who tried to curry favor with the rich and powerful in order to gain favor or influence. The Tuft Hunter as a boss, however, is always looking for her own next promotion. Does that mean she’ll create an opening for you once she makes it up that ladder — or are you merely a rung on her own to be stepped on? That’s something only The Tuft Hunter knows. You’ll probably find out too late.

How to make her love you:
Do everything in your power to make The Tuft Hunter look good, and you’ll be one step closer to a promotion of your very own. Watch her back and tell her every bit of news that you come across from upper management and you’ll earn her respect and maybe even her loyalty — if she has any.

The Patronizer- Terrible computer skills, degree in law or medicine

What they do:
If you’ve worked for someone who explained how to turn your computer on or how to change the toner on the printer, you’ve experienced The Patronizer. The Patronizer makes sure you know exactly how much time and effort it takes for him just to grace you with his presence every morning. He leaves you to your own devices mostly, but is sure to micromanage the simplest and most mundane tasks whenever he gets the opportunity.

How to make him love you:
Keep your eye on the ball, whether it’s getting better at your job or getting a foot out the door. If you feel you are being made to look stupid, you can interrupt The Patronizer mid-sentence during one of his boring lectures by saying, “I already know how to do that, but I am interested what you think about …” If the condescending behavior just doesn’t stop, or if he’s being outright rude, it’s important to tell The Patronizer to knock it off. The Patronizer believes you’re beneath him, and when you show him you’re not, you’ll gain his respect.

The Nitpicker- Fierce attention to detail, red pens, lots of spare time.

What they do:
The Nitpicker is a micro-manager who likes to control all of your work, all the time. Did you save the company money on office supplies? It’s not nearly enough. Work hard on a killer presentation? There’s a punctuation error on the 10th slide. Nothing you do is ever good enough for The Nitpicker, and that can cause your own faith in your abilities to slip. You’ll spend all your time second-guessing yourself instead of innovating.

How to make her love you:
Instead of letting the Nitpicker drain you of all motivation, learn to work by your own standards. Try finding someone else in the company to be your mentor, because you surely won’t get coaching out of her, unless it’s to point out all your faults. You might also try working one step ahead of The Nitpicker, detailing every single thing you do, so you’ll be ready for the inevitable barrage of questions.

(Pic Courtesy: google images. Article source)

Who’s your boss?


Love him, hate her...its a never ending saga.
Find out who they are.

The Robot- Empty desk with no family picture.

What they do:
All business, all the time: That’s The Robot. We’re not saying she’s not human, but we’ve definitely got our doubts on the matter sometimes. The sworn enemy of fun, levity, and emotion, The Robot would rather you just get to work. At all times. While it can be nice to have someone driving you to do your best, it would be nice to feel a little bit of emotional connection from time to time, right?

How to make her love you:
It may not sound like a lot of fun, but you’ll probably have to conceal your own feelings and buckle down to The Robot’s schedule. On the up side, she can teach you discipline and efficiency. Try making allies of your coworkers. They’re probably as frustrated as you are! Inside jokes and friendly chit-chat can make the day seem brighter.

The Softy- they give second chances.

What they do:
They think they’re making things easier on their employees, but in the long run The Softy’s kid-glove approach to management just makes it harder for great workers to succeed and easier for slackers to stick around. Being a boss involves making difficult decisions sometimes, especially when it comes to employees, but The Softy doesn’t seem to realize this.

How to make him love you:
The worst thing to do is hurt The Softy’s feelings, so try changing things up by commending them on his toughest calls, however rare. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way when The Softy learns that being the bad cop doesn’t have to be the worst job in the world.

The Weasel- Empty promises
What they do:
Promising one thing but delivering another, The Weasel will say anything — and we do mean anything — to get what she wants out of you. A raise? A promotion? Some time off? Sure, you’ll get what you’ve been dreaming about eventually if you take on extra work or a hellish new project. Or so she says, but we wouldn’t recommend holding your breath for The Weasel to actually deliver. Why should she? You’re already doing the extra work for free.

How to make her love you:
Completing all the grunt work will get you great distances with The Weasel, but just remember to trust nothing The Weasel says, ever. Or, at very least, get it in writing and double-check with whomever The Weasel answers to in upper management. A paper trail will be your best defense against lies and false promises. Maybe you’ll actually get that promotion!

The Mystery- Closed doors, Out Of Office messages.

What they do: 
Who knows? The Mystery is an expert at the arts of subterfuge, denial, and … whatever it is he does. Either he’s on a business trip or in a locked-door meeting or plotting world domination all day or … something. Whatever it is, you’re left to your own devices to figure things out, minus any guidance at all. Too bad you’ll still be on the hook if things go wrong. The Mystery will be gone when it comes down to it.

How to make him love you: 
Wait it out and give him space. If you stay patient (and we mean really patient) you may be able, like a persevering biologist in the jungle observing shy animals, to learn a little bit more about The Mystery’s habits.

The Viper- Backhanded compliments, fake smiles.

What they do:
Does The Viper wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single morning? It sure seems like it. From snippy comments about personal matters (“Are you pregnant? Oh, it just seemed like you were gaining weight.”) to undermining your efforts at work (“So you’re just learning Excel, right?”), The Viper has a real talent for making you feel bad about yourself. No matter how thick your skin is, it’s hard not to let her get to you.

How to make her love you:
We’re not actually certain that the Viper is capable of loving an employee, so it’s probably best to just stay a good distance away from her. Keep feelings to yourself, and share as little information about your life as possible, all the while being extremely pleasant. The Viper can’t hurt you if she doesn’t know where you’re sensitive.

Part 2 of Who's your boss coming next!

(Pic Courtesy: google images. Article source)

Virtual Style- are you doing it?

Virtual workers have increased. You can find them in the coffee shops, airports, and pretty much everywhere. 


Life is easy- a laptop and good internet connection is all you need. Needless to say, it isn’t bad sitting in your home office and still have the feeling of a job well done and your salary deposited.


If you are planning to turn virtual, remember:
•Plan it well. Have a good laptop, good speed internet (keep a back up or use USB internet connections for travelling).
•A portable hard drive with you, to back up your work. Or use virtual backups.
•Coordinate well with your team.
•Make sure your team has Skype id’s to communicate frequently.
•Share your work style; it’s important for people to have a close working relationship to get work done virtually and without hiccups.
•Spread out your breaks. Plan your day well. Keep a home office or a space where you work every day away from clutter and noise.
•It’s a state of mind. Don’t let people tell you it can’t be done. 


(pic courtesy: Google images)

Interview with Microproject

I'm lucky to have Andreas Sundgren (@AndreasSundgren) take the questions about Microproject-  project management software.

If you want to go straight to the point and check out their product, see the videos here.

•Why the need to build this software?
After working for a long time in project based environments developing products we felt that there was no web based management service that catered to small teams specifically and that combined visuality with ease of use so we decided we would build one ourselves.

•How long did it take to release the beta version?
About three months of hard development.

•Tell us about the software.
Microproject combines the elements that we think necessary to run a project within a small team. It's built to be without learning curve and to fit all functions in a single window. At the same time it sports features that lets it be run with many small groups parallell which means it coukd also suit larger operations. The focus is to help the small team work more efficiently. We've limited functionalities when leaving messages etc to force focus on participants and we've combined the classic gantt view lay-out with an extremely simple to-do list functionality.

•Three things project managers should expect from this software
- zero learning curve
- visual overview
- intentional limitations implemented to create focus on result. Our motto is: Reduce, Focus, Deliver.

•What's next? Any new features coming up?
We're looking at improving the resource alert functionality further (among many other things) but also trying to find the best mobile applications to fit our philosophy.

All the best and thanks for stopping by!