Wrapping up 2014

It’s been a wonderful year for me personally. Like all others it had its ups and downs, life became more complex, sometimes fun, sometimes tiring and most of all just another day I had to go through.
There have been some major changes though in addition of having my son.

In the last 365 days I have realized that in just going through the days and checklists and meetings and the stress, I was sometimes missing out on the fun.
  
Now I am just running after tomorrow instead of enjoying the today I have.
  
I made a couple of small changes in my life experimenting with my own self to see if I could change. Sometimes these smaller tiny changes made a huge impact, there weren't small change anymore.

If there’s one book you would like to read next year or may be today- pick up the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s not just helpful in your professional life, it’s also a major help in your personal as well. Have time for a second read try, the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Want a book that helps you professionally, read Jurgen Appelo’s Management 3.0   

Want to start your new year with difference, you can try out simple ways to organize your life, declutter  and may be thinking about Mindfulness .

I thought this video (60 minutes with Anderson Cooper)  will allow us to rethink our lives and start living!

Before the final wrap up, here's my article on Scrum Alliance  and you can read by clicking here 

A very Happy New Year to you and thank you for all your support, encouragement and inspiration. 


New Resources Pt 1- Interview with Jeff Furman

This is a special short and crisp series of posts that promise to help you get prepped up for 2015. And we start with some new available resources that help you get to your goal faster.

We start with Jeff Furman and his second edition of the book "The Project Management Answer Book" (second edition) which is a great resource for anyone getting into project management as well as considering about getting the certification. 

You can read his interview with me when the first edition was out by clicking here.

Please tell us about your book which is a great resource for the upcoming project managers.     
PMP Certification –Getting certified is very important for anyone who wants a career
in project management.  And my book is packed with PMP tips in every chapter, based on my having taught more than 100 PMP Prep classes over the past eight years, as well as teaching many other Basic and Advanced PM classes. So many of these tips are NOT in other books. And I share these throughout my book in very easy-to-find “sidebars.”

Easy-to-Read Q&A Format - My book is the only current PMP book in Q&A format, making it easy-to-read and navigate through. But it’s also highly-detailed – I provide very thorough explanations on difficult topics such as Earned Value and Critical Path, but broken up into short, “bite-size” Q&As. For this reason, many PMs from around the world have “Liked” my book’s Facebook Fan Page – (“Likes” currently from 25 different countries!)

NOT Just PMP! – Most PMP books are mainly “for the test.” My book has a very strong PMP test focus, but also contains a great many templates, figures, diagrams, examples, and case-studies to help PMs with practical, hands-on advice for managing projects efficiently and effectively.

NOT Just Waterfall (Hello, Scrum Agile!)  For the 2nd Edition, I’ve added a robust new chapter on Scrum Agile. Waterfall PM has been the industry standard for many years. But Agile is catching on rapidly, with Scrum by far the most popular type. My book provides 54 new Q&As on Scrum (also making comparisons to Waterfall where helpful). My chapter also provides info on Agile certifications, networking groups and resources for Agilists, and more.

 And where can we find it?
 My 2nd Edition just came out in November, 2014.  It's available in paperbacks and in several
e-formats:  

  • Paperback: Amazon.com
  • Paperback from the publisher: Management Concepts Press
  • eBook: from the publisher: Management Concepts Press
  • Paperback: at the NYU Bookstore in Manhattan     

Also coming soon in:

  • Kindle: Amazon.com
  • Google Books

Why do you think this is a must have for new project managers? 
New PMs, as well as job candidates, have a need to quickly be able to show potential customers, stakeholders, and employers that they understand the latest techniques and terminology. My book takes  hundreds of technical terms from the PMI PMBOK Guide and other sources and provides very easy-to-follow explanations, examples, and templates to help PMs very quickly get up-to-speed.

My book also provides a great deal of help toward the certification process. In addition to many PMP test tips, I provide unique content such as a template on how to complete the PMP exam application, a list of “language aids” supported by PMI (Turkish just added!), tips on creating the PMP exam brain dump, and a study sheet / practice grid I created for my PMP students on how to learn the ITTOs (Inputs, Tools, Techniques, and Outputs) PMs need to know for their exams.

 What are the 3 main takeaways from the book?
Top 10 Pitfall Lists – My book offers “Top 10 Pitfalls” on the PMI Knowledge Areas, based on my many years experience managing I.T. projects, as well as many shared by my students in my PM classes.  Looking at pitfalls to watch out (a.k.a. “other people’s mistakes”) is a fun way to learn the PMBOK.

The Triple Constraint –  Many PMs have heard about the classic “Triple Constraint.”
But many don’t know that there are actually several useful variations out in the world of PM. My book provides:

My book provides diagrams of three popular models plus three advanced models:
  • The Talent Management Triple Constraint 
  • The Value Triple Constraint 
  • The Triple Constraint For Ethics. 

Mini Waterfall –  Scrum Agile is an important new area of PM to learn, in addition to Waterfall PM (which is the discipline tested for on the PMP). Good news is that if you have already studied Waterfall, there are some key concepts common to both, so much so that some actually call Scrum “mini-waterfall.”

So my Chapter 14, “Scrum Agile: The New Wave In PM” is designed to help you quickly learn many of the key concepts of Scrum. And to make it fun, my chapter answers questions for you such as: “What are misconceptions Waterfall people have about Agile?” and the other way around:“What are misconceptions agilists have about Waterfall?”


One piece of advice that you think is an absolute must for new project managers?
One word: Ethics!
Don’t let the customer (or your management) push you into an unethical decision. There is always the pressure: “The customer is always right,” and to do whatever they ask. But if you say yes to something you shouldn’t, such as cutting corners, or skipping an important test, your project’s quality will suffer. And if your reputation becomes compromised, it will be very difficult to get it back.

My Chapter 10: Ethical Considerations PMs Face On The Job takes you through the PMI Code of Ethics®, as well as PMI’s EDMF® (Ethical Decision-Making Framework), and provides Q&As on many real-world issues around ethics that can help you set a leadership example on your projects.


To know more about the book, you can see the reviews and read another great interview by Elizabeth Harrin  

The series continues in 2015.

(Pic courtesy: MWild Photography)

Merry Christmas!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with friends and family and doing good for others.

While its never going to be a white Christmas for me in India, am just glad being around family and friends I truly care for.


Creating the Space

We have so many things to think, plan and execute and as busy bees we barely get the time to get to all of these.

To take up more we should also create more space in our life. Here are simple tips that I have been doing for the last 1 month-
Pic Courtesy: Google Images 
  • Delegate- I delegated my grocery and regular market trips to the online way of shopping. Saves me a lot of time and gives me the added benefit of quickly comparing prices if I want to and make better choices. This is also a great way to reduce impulsive shopping and pile up more junk than you need (I have been trying to create a minimalist lifestyle, more on this coming up next year) .
  • Keep a list and Prioritize work – I use trello to keep a track and a backlog. Moving a card to the done stage is a great sense of accomplishment to take up the next.
  • Organize- keep things organized to find things easily, last week I kept couple of hours free and just worked on cleaning up the piled up paperwork and put them in labelled files.
  • Keeping time for yourself- this is crucial to keep yourself creative. I plan out things however will sometimes just change up things and do what I like. This helps me not feel strapped to my plans.
  • Have good friends- have positive people around you and have good friends to talk to. Make time for them and you will back to your planned work in a better frame of mind.


·What do you do to create space in your life?  

Adopting Agile Pt2- Who should be the scrum master?

A lot of organizations and teams tend to appoint a scrum master for the team, sometimes against the wishes of the individual taking up the role.

I think it beats the purpose of transformation.


Appointing someone for the role can never lead to success. A scrum master as we know plays a crucial role during the transformation, you want someone who is interested, who will put their best foot forward and who’s up for the challenge.

Here are some ways you can look for a scrum master-
  • Provide enough information on what a role of a scrum master is and is expected
  • Talk about benefits of being a scrum master from a career perspective
  • Ensure enough support and training's for the scrum master who will take up the role.
  • Ask for volunteers

 Once you have a pool of volunteers or one per team, you can provide them with training's required to take up the role.

However, this role has its own classic confusion. Should a scrum master be a full time role or should it be part time along with your functional role. Some will have full time scrum master roles and take up multiple teams and some prefer part time scrum masters who are an integral part of the team and also works in their functional role.

I persnally prefer scrum masters who are an integral part of the team and understand the work and ins and out of what’s going in the team.  I also think team members accept scrum masters easily when they are part of the team than someone who is part of multiple teams and is more of a manager with a title of the scrum master.

So, who should really take up the role of a scrum master?
·         Someone interested (there is a learning curve)
·         Has social skills (taking care of impediments requires some)
·         Strong in communications (keeping the team together)
·         Has enough negotiation and convincing skills  (need that to interact with your product owner)
·         Is generally calm and not aggressive (when handling internal team conflicts)
·         Has a sense of humor (helps when dealing with the pressure of juggling roles and rebellious team members)
·         Can think objectively and not take sides
·         Determined to fix issues and keep the team together
·         Ability to think out of the box ( absolutely required when working with a smart competent team)

Well that might seem a lot, the good news is most of us have it in us. We have been trained and retrained to give up a lot over time and that might have clouded our out of the box thinking.  A nudge and encouragement can bring in the creativity back. And it improves with time.

The managers/management need to understand that the role though of a facilitator isn’t easy and needs time to settle in. Team members always don’t make it easy on the scrum master. So, give the time and encourage as much as possible.

Here’s what Mike Cohn says about being a scrum master  and an interesting article that talks about why the projectmanager is not a scrum master


You can read Part 1 of the series here

(Pic courtesy- Google Images)