The Project Management Podcast

Project Management for Beginners and Experts. Are you looking to improve your Project Management Skills? Then listen to The Project Management Podcast™, a weekly program that delivers best practices and new developments in the field of project management. The more companies understand the importance of sound Project Management, the more will your skills be in demand. Project Management is the means used by companies today to turn their vision and mission into reality. It is also the driver behind transforming a business need into a business process. The Project Management Podcast™ looks at how project management shapes the business world of today and tomorrow. Find us on the web at http://www.pm-podcast.com or send your emails to info@pm-podcast.com. The Project Management Podcast™ is a trademark of OSP International LLC. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2005 - 2017 OSP International LLC. All rights reserved.

07/13/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 400 Prep: Risk Management for the Big 4-oh-oh

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Cornelius
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM

Hello PM Podcast Subscribers.

The "big" episode 400 of The PM Podcast is coming up soon. And we are currently in the process of making some technical changes and preparations for this.

So we are publishing this short episode here as a quick sanity check to ensure that things are working properly. Please feel free to simply delete this one from your podcast app. Thank you for being a loyal listener.

Episode Transcript

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Podcast Introduction

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07/12/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 394: Project Management is Hard. Complexity Makes it Even Harder. (Premium) #PMOT

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Jordan Kyriakidis
Jordan Kyriakidis, CEO of QRA Corp

One thing that every project manager notices over the course of her or his career is this: We begin with managing relatively simple projects. Here we learn about the theory of project management, its good practices and how to apply them. And as we get better we are assigned to bigger and more important projects.

But in recent years you may have begun to notice that even though your projects may not have become any bigger their complexity has never the less steadily been increasing. In other words, if you took a project you managed 5 years ago and repeated it today in exactly the same way then the one thing that would definitely change is the complexity caused by an increase in interdependencies.

And that’s where Jordan Kyriakidis (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordankyriakidis/) and I are starting this interview. We are exploring why complexity is increasing, whether it is actually real or just a perceived problem, and what you can do about it.

PDU Tip

This interview is 29 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it, because in order to claim 0.50 PDUs the interview must be 30 minutes long. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read Jordan's related white paper, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

Episode Transcript

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07/01/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 393: How to Pass the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam

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Stanislav Podoxin
Stas Podoxin, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM

Are you currently studying or thinking about studying for your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam? Wonderful. That’s what we are going to be talking about.

In this interview you are going to meet Stas Podoxin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/staspodoxin). Stas is not only one of my students but also one of my coworkers. And one of the interesting differences in how he prepared for the PMI-ACP exam is the fact that he took an Agile course at a university that helped him get a better understanding of the Agile mindset. And so by the time he got around to using our own online training course he was already quite far ahead on the curve.

As you know, the rules of all Project Management Institute (PMI)® exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam. But we can discuss Stas's overall experience, how he did his PMI-ACP Exam Prep, his general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you. So you can look forward to an experience and tip filled interview on how to prepare for and pass your PMI-ACP Exam.

Full disclosure: Stas Podoxin and Cornelius Fichtner both work for OSP International LLC, makers of The Agile PrepCast and The PMI-ACP Exam Simulator.

Episode Transcript

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Podcast Introduction

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06/01/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 392: Face it. Your Project Requirements are Poorly Written! (Free)

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Jordan Kyriakidis
Jordan Kyriakidis, CEO of QRA Corp

My goal of having these show notes on the website is to give a quick and concise introduction of the podcast topic and to tell you what you can expect to learn from it. Sometimes I am right on point and sometimes I’m a little more vague.

And tomorrow, when you are back at the office working on your project requirements your goal will be to correctly and succinctly describe the requirements for that project your company is going to launch. The big difference here is that your descriptions have to be 100% on point. You cannot afford to be vague, because requirements that can be misinterpreted is a sure-fire way to doom your project. So what can you do to improve your requirements?

The problem of poorly written, ambiguous, and inconsistent requirements is something that Jordan Kyriakidis (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jordankyriakidis/) has thought about a lot. And his answer to this problem is not only a list of “21 Top Tips for Writing an Exceptionally Clear Requirements Document” (https://qracorp.com/write-clear-requirements-document/) but also to use computing power. Yes, there is actually a software that will scan your requirements document and tell you what's wrong with it.

But we’re not going to talk about the software much, because that would be pretty boring here on an audio podcast. Instead, Jordan and I look at the root causes of poorly written requirements and then we introduce you to the most important 6 out his 21 tips. In that way you can start using your brain power to write better requirements.

Episode Transcript

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:   Hello and welcome to Episode #392. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. My goal here during the first ninety seconds of every podcast episode is to give you a quick and concise introduction of the podcast topic and to tell you what you can expect to learn from it. Sometimes I am right on point and sometimes I’m a little bit more vague. And tomorrow when you are back at the office working on your project requirements, your goal will be to correctly and succinctly describe the requirements for that project your company is going to launch. The big difference here is that your descriptions have to be 100% on point. You cannot afford to be vague because requirements that can be misinterpreted, well they are a sure fire way to doom your project. So what can you do to improve your project requirements? Are you PMP certified and want to earn 37 PDUs quickly and for less than $6 per hour? That’s no problem with the Agile PrepCast. It not only prepares you for your PMI-ACP Exam but also qualifies for a ton of PMP PDUs. Log on at www.AgilePrepCast.com/pdu for the details.

The problem of poorly written, ambiguous and inconsistent requirements is something that Jordan Kyriakidis has thought about a lot and his answer to this problem is not only a list of the 21 top tips for writing an exceptionally clear requirements document but also to use computing power. Yes there is actually a software that would scan your requirements document and tell you what’s wrong with it but we’re not going to talk about the software all that much because that would be pretty boring here on an audio-only podcast. Instead, Jordan and I looked at the root causes of poorly written requirements and then we introduced you to the most important six out of his 21 tips. That way, you can then start using your brain power to write better requirements. And now, following this very badly written introduction, please enjoy the interview.

Female Voice:   Project Management Podcast Feature Interview. Today with Jordan Kyriakidis, CEO and co-founder of QRA Corporation.

Cornelius:   Hello, Jordan and welcome to the Project Management Podcast

Jordan:   Hello, Cornelius. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

Cornelius:   So we want to talk about natural language processing today but before we get into this, what is it? What is natural language processing—NLP?

Jordan:   Well, it’s a very good description. You can take a very literal description. It’s any kind of processing you do with natural language and processing is the same—maybe we can work by analogy and look at financial processing. You go to a bank machine, you type in some information, you give us some data and you give us some instructions and that data is processed whether you’re paying a bill or taking money out or buying stocks. There’s lots of financial processing and of course there’s many different kinds of processing as well. Natural Language Processing is doing the thing with natural language. So is having a machine, a computer, usually but a machine in general that is fed natural language and to some extent, understands what the language is and it processes it according to instructions, either innate instructions, like what the computer is programmed to do or instructions that you also give it yourself. That would be the 10,000th foot level we can go as deep as you want.

Cornelius:   [laughs] Let me just first ask one follow-up question here.

Jordan:   Sure.

Cornelius:   There are thousands of listeners listening to this interview right now. Is the fact that they are listening to us talking Natural Language Processing?

Jordan:   Sure, in a sense your brain is listening to natural language and it is processing it, right? Now they’re saying that “Boy, that Jordan really does know what he’s talking about” or “He’s a really sharp fellow”, right?

Cornelius:   OK. OK. Let’s stick with our listeners here because it sounds like an off-topic for the Project Management Podcast. What can they expect to learn from our conversation about NLP that is going to be valuable and important for the projects that they manage?

Jordan:   Well, for one thing that I am sure your listeners already realize is that many projects are described by natural language. We have all these processes and data and algorithms but really a lot is done just by the written word. As projects start becoming more complex, it’s important to realize as early as possible when your projects have some ambiguities or you start inserting the seeds of future problems and you ought to deal with it as quickly as possible and as early in the development cycle as possible. That usually means that you do it with natural text—that’s usually one of the early stages of a project and so it’s important to really understand any risks associated with the written documentation you have for the project.

Cornelius:   One area that you have specifically identified as being able to benefit from Natural Language Processing is the requirements analysis and the requirements documentation. Why specifically this area?

Jordan:   We chose this area because we started looking at big complicated projects and we started asking the question of why are these projects always so out of budget and so past their schedule of completion dates. It’s very common for that to happen. And we guess some kind of general statements of all complex projects in general that people have looked at it and it turns out that about 80%--slightly over this study by Carnegie Mellon University that over 80% of all areas in a project come in the early phases and that’s either the requirements phase or the design phase. If you look at the requirements, it’s about 60-70% come actually in the requirements phase. And so if that’s where you inject the errors into the system, it seemed reasonable for us to look at the tool that can actually uncover these at the point of introduction into your system—and that is the requirements phase.

Cornelius:   You have written an article, it’s titled “Twenty One Top Tips for Writing an Exceptionally Clear Requirements Document” and we now want to go through some of these—not all 21—we’d be here tomorrow still and learn how a Natural Language Process thing works here and we’re starting out with No. 6 in your article. Making sure that each requirement is testable. How do we approach this from Natural Language Processing perspectives?

Jordan:   So, typically, if you’re going to write a requirement, first let me back up a little bit and talk a bit about why each requirement should be testable. It should be fairly self-evident if you’re building a –it would have to be building a machine or building a system, whatever projects you’re doing, you have to know if you are done and so the requirement has to be testable because if it’s not testable, how will successful implementation of the requirement be verified? How can you say that, “Yes, we’ve tested this requirement, or we verified that it actually works”. In Natural Language Processing, the way we look at that would be to look at how specific the requirement is and there are typically a set of words that when they’re present in the requirement, is a signal that someone has taken the easy way out and has not really thought of what they mean.

Cornelius:   Example of such a word?

Jordan:   Sure. A typical word is “efficiently”. This thing should happen efficiently. So what does that actually mean, efficiently? Usually you want to be able to quantify it whenever possible because after all, something could be efficient to one person but horribly inefficient to another person. That’s an example of the kinds of Natural Language requirements can catch.

Cornelius:   OK. Tip #7 that you have, Writing functional requirements to be implementation-neutral. How do you approach this one?

Jordan:   It’s important for a requirement in particular, a functional requirement to be implementation-neutral because a requirements document is not a design document. A requirements document should be outcome-specific so what I mean by implementation-neutral, what I mean is that, a functional requirement, it really should not restrict the design engineer to any particular implementation. It should be free of the design details. You want this system to work—not work in a particular way—but it should accomplish a particular task. In other words, you should state what the system must do and not how it must do it.

Cornelius:   And so from a Natural Language Processing perspective, we would look at this and make sure that we’re only talking about the what and not the how then. Is that correct? 

Podcast Introduction

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05/11/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 391: My Agile Exam Application Got Audited (Free)

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Jonathan Hebert
Jonathan Hebert, PMP, PMI-ACP

Are you by any chance thinking of getting your certification as a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®? Great. Because that certification is our topic.

Today you are going to meet Jonathan Hebert (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-hebert-pmp-csm-pmi-acp-0712471) who not only passed his PMI-ACP® Exam, but he also got audited in the process. So he has a story to tell!

As you know, the rules of all Project Management Institute (PMI)® exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam. But we can discuss Jonathan's overall experience, how he got his PMI-ACP Exam Prep, his general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you. So you can look forward to an experience and tip filled interview on how to prepare for and pass your PMI-ACP Exam.

Full disclosure: Jonathan Hebert and Cornelius Fichtner both work for OSP International LLC, makers of The Agile PrepCast and The PMI-ACP Exam Simulator.

Episode Transcript

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05/02/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 390: Conflict Resolution on Multicultural Projects (Premium)

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Karin Bruennemann
Karin Brünnemann, PMP

Are you currently managing a multicultural project?

Well, no matter if you answered “yes” or “no” to this, today’s interview with Karin Brünnemann (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinbrunnemann) is for you. We will look at what culture is, how cultural differences can lead to conflict, and how culture affects the various dimension of conflict on projects that we learned about when we last spoke to Karin. Most importantly, we will of course also discuss approaches for conflict resolution.

So… if you answered “Yes” to my questions “Are you currently managing a multicultural project?”, then you are going to learn a lot about culture, conflict and what to do about it.

And if you answered “No”, then you will learn that your answer was in fact wrong and that you should have answered “Yes” in the first place. You are in fact managing a multi-cultural project even if you don't think you are.

Episode Transcript

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04/21/2017 02:00 AM
PM Podcast Publication Schedule Update

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Just a quick update about our current publication schedule.


04/10/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 389: Conflict Resolution in Project Management (Free)

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Karin Bruennemann
Karin Brünnemann, PMP

Conflict in project management is inevitable. In fact they say that the only way to not have a project management conflict is to have a one-person project. And even then, some people have a tendency to argue with themselves.

Karin Brünnemann (https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinbrunnemann) recently gave a presentation on the topic of Managing Conflict in Projects to the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Slovakia Chapter. And because it was such a success she suggested that we bring it to you as well!

Karin’s presentation and our interview is full of solid advice and best practices you can apply to the conflicts you will inevitably encounter. We will discuss: Definition & Characteristics of Conflict

A big part of the interview is actually focused on that last part -- the actual project management conflict resolution. We are, however, not going to talk about conflict resolution on multicultural projects. That’s reserved for next week.

Presentation Slide Deck

Karin has made her presentation slides available for listeners of The PM Podcast. Download the file here:

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Episode Transcript

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03/26/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 388: Implementing Project Portfolio Management (Premium)

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Jamal Moustafaev
Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP

In this second interview with Jamal Moustafaev (https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jmoustafaev we take what we learned about the project portfolio management process and discuss how to implement it in our organizations.

We look at PPM reviews, internal resource cost, the importance of our mission and strategy, how involved c-level executives need to be, a charter for portfolio management, how the halo effect can skew your project selection methods, and how to improve the quality of project proposals.

All of these ideas are of course taken from his book Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World (Best Practices and Advances in Program Management) with the intent of giving you practical tips on how to implement project portfolio management in your own organization.

Episode Transcript

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03/10/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 387: Project Portfolio Management (Free)

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Jamal Moustafaev
Jamal Moustafaev, MBA, PMP

Project Portfolio Management and the realization that strategic alignment of all projects within an organization is crucial are both gaining ground. And this realization also emphasizes the need for having solid project selection methods.

But how exactly do you do all of this? The number of books that focus on practical advice for implementing a strategic project portfolio management process is quite small. Lucky for us that a new one with exactly that focus has just been published

The new book is titled Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: Thirty Case Studies from around the World (Best Practices and Advances in Program Management) written by Jamal Moustafaev (https://ca.linkedin.com/in/jmoustafaev. In our discussion, we answer these questions:

Episode Transcript

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Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:  Hello and welcome to Episode #387. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Project Portfolio Management and the realization that strategic alignment of all projects within an organization is crucial are both gaining ground and this realization also emphasizes the need for having solid project selection methods. But how exactly do you do all of this? The number of books that focus on practical advice for implementing a project portfolio management process is quite small. Lucky for us that a new book with exactly that focus has just been published. If you are a project manager who wants to become PMP or PMI ACP certified, then the easiest way to do so is with our sister Podcast, the Project Management PrepCast or the Agile PrepCast and study for the exam by watching the in-depth exam prep video training from www.pm-prepcast.com . The new book is titled, “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: 30 Case Studies from Around the World” written by Jamal Moustafaev. In our discussion, we answered questions like: What is Project Portfolio Management? What are the three pillars of portfolio management? What are some project selection models and how do we achieve strategic alignment? And of course we have two copies of Jamal’s book to give away. One copy is reserved for our Premium subscribers and the other one is up for grabs. If you want to participate in this give-away, then please go to www.facebook.com/pmpodcast and look for the book give away announcement. And now, add this to the portfolio of your skills and enjoy the interview.  

Female Voice: Project Management Podcast feature interview. Today with Jamal Moustafaev, President and CEO of Think Tank Consulting, a consulting company specializing in product and portfolio management services.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:   Hello, Jamal. Welcome back to the podcast.

Jamal Moustafaev:   Hi, Cornelius. Always great to be on your program.    

Cornelius:   Hey, in 2010, you wrote the book, “Delivering Exceptional Project Results: A Practical Guide to Project Selection Scoping Estimation and Management”. Then in 2014 came “Project Scope Management: A Practical Guide to Requirements Engineering Product Construction, IT and Enterprise Project, Best Practices and Advances in Program Management” and then last year, you published your third book titled, “Project Portfolio Management in Theory and Practice: 30 Case Studies from Around the World, Best Practices and Advances in Program Management”. What prompted you to write this new book?

Jamal:   Well, if you remember our interview back from 2011 when we were discussing my first book, “Delivering Exceptional Project Results”, what I did in Exceptional Project Results is that I argued, I believed for the first time in the Project Management field that you need to have a good grasp on both Project Management and Project Portfolio Management if you want to deliver exceptional results because Project Portfolio Management is responsible for selecting the best ideas for your company for implementation and then project management is responsible for the discipline to deliver these great ideas through planning, monitoring and control. So, I kind of got attached upon—because the book is limited in size, I got attached upon a little bit about project management, a little bit about Project Portfolio Management but since then I have been invited to a lot of places around the world where companies would call me and say, “Ok, we would like to do Project Portfolio Management implementation. We now understand what it is and we want to do it.” I’ve had the chance of doing a lot of courses, workshops and Project Portfolio Management implementations. Several things, actually two things happened: I gathered a lot of materials, case studies, actual Project Portfolio Management implementations and I’ve encountered in this engagements a lot of questions that I felt were left unanswered in the first book just because of the size limitations. Third reason is that again, I went through a lot of computing books that are available in the market and I’ve discovered that while they were excellent, good, great, they were more academic in nature rather than practical and if you’re approaching an average CEO of a given company, you better have a practical book in your hand rather than an academic. Again, just to reiterate, three things: a lot of materials gathered, actual case studies that I wanted to share with people, a lot of questions that weren’t answered in the first book were answered in this—these processes and again, trying to bring something practical into the market

Cornelius:   Who is the book actually for? Is it more for project managers, for program managers, portfolio managers?

Jamal:   I would say, if you go like from the bottom up, definitely program managers, definitely anyone whose job title is PMO manager, project management director, etc. etc., portfolio manager, all the way up to C-Level people. I mean it’s a great book to read for project managers as well if you want—they want to upgrade their skills but the target market, like the people who I expect to read this book and do something about it, probably C-Level down to people who manage other project managers.

Cornelius:   Ok. Final question about your books: Why are your book titles so incredibly long? I mean halfway through I have to take a breath.

Jamal:   No, no, no. OK. Here is the deal. Trust me a lot of thought went through that. As far as I’m concerned, the first book in my mind is called Delivering Exceptional Project Results, second book is called Project Scope Management and third book is called Project Portfolio Management Practice. What I try to do with the subtitle, I’ll try to explain it a little, if you go to the market and say, “Hey, Delivering Exceptional Project Results”, people are still not very clear about what the book is about. When you say it’s about project selection scoping estimation and management, they’re going to go, “Ok”. Project Scope Management very frequently gets confused with managing project scope. People kind of think Jamal wrote a book about scope (management) and change requests rather than project scope management as the entire domain and 30 case studies around the world as subtitle for the first book was kind of wild, guys. They’re actually real case studies that you can look at; it’s not just all talking. So that’s for me, maybe I don’t know it’s a professional disease [laughs]. I’m a business analyst as well as a project manager so I tend to become very, very detailed about it.

Cornelius:   The longer, the better.

Jamal:   Yeah.

Cornelius:     Ok. So we want to jump into the third book and learn a little bit more about project portfolio management. Let’s start with the absolute basic question. What is project portfolio management?

Jamal:   Actually it’s a very good question because I am still encountering a lot of project managers—certified project managers like PMPs, etc. who are confused about this topic. Project Portfolio Management, my favorite definition is it is the science and the art of selecting the best projects for the organization and maintenance of the project pipelines subject to internal and external constraints. So the stress is being made on selection.

Cornelius:   How does this differ from Program Management?

Jamal:   Program Management starts, if you are a project manager or a program manager, someone from the C-Level. Someone’s in to your office and says, “Cornelius, you’re my program manager, here’s a program for you to do. A program consisting of several probably interrelated projects. And you assume at that point of time that the decision about the initiation of this program has already been made and you just take on and manage that program. As I’ve just mentioned a couple of minutes earlier, project portfolio management is about deciding which projects to run, which projects are going to go on the to-do list and which projects are going to be killed off that list. Focus is on selection.     

Cornelius:   Who is usually responsible for Project Portfolio Management, PPM in a company?

Jamal: Don’t even get me started on that!

Cornelius:   [laughs] Who should be?

Jamal: Who should be? Senior executives. Basically whoever—who can walk into the conference room and say, “Wouldn’t it be really cool if we could do this project?” should be on the Project Portfolio Management committee. The reason I kind of reacted in this manner to your question is because very frequently, especially for some reason when I go to London, UK and I go there twice a year and I get to teach my Project Portfolio Management workshop, I really think that in the beginning of the course I say, “Ok guys, why are you here?” What do you want to learn? What is your goal? What is your target? Nine out of ten people—fairly high-ranking people in the company—Portfolio Management, directors of PMO school, “Well, my executives send me here to learn about Project Portfolio Management, come back home, develop a Project Portfolio Management model and implement it at the company”. And I go, “Are they going to be participating in deciding what should go into that model?” They go, “No, they’re too busy”. And I go, “Well, imagine the following situation: you develop a model, it’s great, it’s the best model in the world and it fits your company perfectly. Your CEO walks into your office and go, “OK, Bob, here’s a project that I want you to do”. You run that project through your model and you suddenly discovered that that project gets only five points out of a possible hundred. You go back to your CEO and say, “Sorry, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to go ahead with that project”. “”Why is that?” “Well, it got only five out of a hundred.” What’s the reaction of the CEO? Well, he’s probably going to say, “Based on what?” “Based on the model I’ve developed.” “How come I didn’t participate?” “Well, you were too busy”.  You see how this becomes ridiculous very quickly.    

Cornelius:  Absolutely. Yeah.

Jamal:   So that’s why –but it’s definitely—it should be senior people in the room. Whenever I get a call or email from a company saying, “We’re interested in Project Portfolio Management. Actually I got a very similar call recently from one of the universities in Canada. I tell them right away, “Guys, you got to have your C-Level people on board. And here is why: if they’re not ready, don’t do that.

Cornelius:   When we talk about Project Portfolio Management, we also have to talk about strategy. What is the connection between the two? What is the connection between strategy and Project Portfolio Management and I think we probably also have to talk about the three pillars of Portfolio Management as part of this. I’ll give this whole bunch of things here to you to elaborate on.

Jamal:   To put it in a (short) sentence, one very short sentence, if you have no clear strategy there’s no way you’re going to have Project Portfolio Management in place because Project Portfolio Management rests on three pillars: 1. Project must deliver value to the company and it’s a very fashionable word to use especially recently –what is valuable be determined when you go into more detail scoring model, etc. but let’s just agree that we understand what value is. It sits on the third and the second pillar is balancing your portfolio in a most simplistic way. How many high-risk, high-reward projects you have versus low-risk, low-reward projects. And it has something called strategic alignment. For example, what percentage of your project will go into new product families, which percentage of your project will be allocated to improvements to existing products and what percentage of your projects will go into maintenance? Guess what—of value, I would say at the top of my head, 90 to 95% of the companies I have worked with, they had selected strategic fit as one of their selection scoring criteria. So there is a direct connection to the value. This is usually (a “kill”) category. So for example if I’m offering a project—proposing a project that has no impact on the strategic fit, that project should get killed right away irrelevant of other benefits it brings. Balance, again. What is your company’s strategy? Are you embracing risks? Are you more risk-averse? We’re talking about software developers versus a bank. Which one of them, do you think will be more a risk-taker and which one of them would be more risk-averse? So it is all three pillars directly or indirectly they tie to strategy. Another thing that I want to kind of give a heads up to you or your listeners is that, remember I said at the very beginning, it has to be a clear and simple strategy. So for example, saying something like company X will become an innovative leader in the world –that doesn’t work. Because as soon as you get into the Portfolio Management…  

Cornelius:    You have no idea which projects meet that.

Jamal:   If you just say Company X will increase its market share to 45% in markets A, B and C, then time that to—strategy becomes very easy. So that’s my take on strategy and Project Portfolio Management.

Cornelius:   OK. Just to reiterate the three pillars for our listeners here. The first one is: project selectively must maximize the value of the company. The second pillar was: they must constitute a balanced portfolio and lastly, they must be strategically aligned with the company’s overall business strategy and that’s how everything sort of fits into everything else.

Jamal:   And you usually have strategy present in all three of them.

Cornelius:    You mentioned scoring models. What role does strategy play in scoring models?

Jamal:   Scoring models is basically—and by the way I shared some –probably four or five examples of full portfolio models of the companies I worked with and I think you will share them on your website.

Cornelius:  Yeah, you have the info graphics, right?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.


03/04/2017 02:00 AM
Special: Scope of Success

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SOS Podcast
Scope of Success Podcast with Brian K. Wagner, MBA, PMP and James Kittle, PMP

Welcome to another "special" episode from The PM Podcast, in which we introduce you to new podcasts that are created and produced for/by project managers. Today we feature 'Scope of Success'.

Launched in 2016, Scope of Success brings you Business Life Lessons to help you advance your career one interview at a time. Hosted by Brian K. Wagner, MBA, PMP and James Kittle, PMP, advocates for business issues at hand. Sponsored by Project Management Institute (PMI)® Long Island Chapter.

So please enjoy Ep1- Mastering the Job Interview - Guest/Steve Potter. Here is what Brian and James write about it in their show notes:

In this episode we speak with one of PMI® Long Island chapter's founders and current member of the board of directors. Steve Potter talks to us about interviewing questions and styles that lead to success.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Brian:   Welcome to the Special Edition of the Project Management Podcast. I’m Brian.

James:   I’m James

Brian:   We’re the hosts of Scope of Success, the podcast where we bring you business life lessons, one interview at a time. In this episode, we speak to the founder of PMI Long Island, it’s an amazing episode…

James:   Totally tubular.DONE

Brian:   Excellent.

James:   Awesome.

Brian:   We learned a lot from it. Thank you Cornelius for this tremendous opportunity. We hope you enjoy the episode and remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to us on iTunes.

Music

Male Voice: This is Scope of Success, where we bring you business life lessons and throw a lifeline to your career. And now, Brian and James.

Podcast Interview

Brian:  Yeah, Welcome to Scope of Success where we’re helping you advance your career one interview at a time but of course we need you to help us so please email us with your show ideas, questions, comments, feedback. You can email us at scopeofsuccess@PMILIC.org and follow us on Twitter @scopeofsuccess, we’ll try to read as many responses on air as we can. I’m your host Brian, along with my co-host James. We’ll be your advocates for issues at hand. Hey James!

James:   Hello, Brian. We have a fantastic show today. We’ll be speaking with Steve Potter, he is one of the founders and on the Board of Directors of PMI Long Island, which is Project Management Institute, Long Island Chapter and they’re also our sponsor.

James:   Yeah. I think he’s probably the first genuine celebrity that we’ve had on the podcast.

Brian:   He is a celebrity. Absolutely.

James:   Not quite at the Clooney level but probably somewhere just below that.

Brian:   Yeah. I would say. Absolutely. A well-respected guy. Fantastic to have him on the show. We’re going to be talking about interviews, we’re going to get interview tips from him, ideas, have to answer certain questions. I have a joke—an interview joke.

James:   A joke that you tell when you’re interviewing people that you’re hiring or…a joke that you tell when you’re on an interview?

Brian:   No, a joke when I tell when I just stand up.

James: Oh ok.

Brian:  [laughs]   A couple of weeks ago, I had a job interview.

James:   Is this the joke?

Brian:   This is the joke. It’s starting now.

James:  Ok [laughs] Just so we’re all ready.

Brian:   So, a couple of weeks ago I had a job interview. I spoke with the HR Manager.

James:   Right.

Brian:   And she asked me if I had any weaknesses.

James:   Ok.

Brian:   So I said—I’m too honest.

James:   Uhmmmm.

Brian:   And she goes, really, that doesn’t sound like a weakness. Yeah, like I give a damn what you think.

James: [laughs]   

Brian:   So I haven’t heard back yet, but I got my fingers crossed on that one.

James:   That’s a great joke.

Brian:   Thank you.

James:   I really do like that one.

Brian:   What’s the worst interview you’ve ever had?

James:   The worst interview I ever had…I can think of…a couple of things, there’s an interview story that I tell that’s funny where I was interviewing for a major bank and they brought me into this gigantic Romanesque city. It was enormous. Thousands and thousands—fifty thousand square feet of cubicles.

Brian:   Oh wow.

James:   Yeah. And they walk me in to this maze…

Brian:   Like a whole depot of cubicles.

James:   Yeah. Right. So they walked me in through this maze of cubicles and a woman sits me down and you know, it was a long walk to get in there and I’m thinking, Oh OK, this is it. This is the bank and she sits me down and she says, “So, can you tell me why do you want to work here at Mega Bank?” And I said, “You know, I have to be honest with you. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in working here.” And she didn’t miss a beat. She said, “Well, thank you so much for coming by. Let me show you out”.

Brian:   [laughs] Nice.

James:   I don’t know if that’s the worst thing.

Brian:   That’s a good one.

James:   I’ve been on a number of interviews but that was…

Brian:   I like it.

James: Yeah, right.

Brian:   Mine was I went to a company that was so structured it was ridiculous. One of the phrases this woman—the woman I interviewed with—that kept saying she was, “You need to be flexible in being inflexible”

James:   Whoa!

Brian:   Which I was like, WOW! And she said it a few times.

James:   Yeah

Brian:   So it was such a structured environment and she goes, “You know, if you even want to  get anything done, it’s all done by committee and …it’s kind of like, “All right”, I mean I never heard anybody unsell me on a job before.

James:   Yeah

Brian:   It came to the point where she even came out and said, “Do you want to continue with this process?” It wasn’t any vibe I was thrown off because I go all in when I’m in an interview

James:   Right.

Brian:   She goes, “I’ve asked this question before and a couple of people had said they want to take themselves out of running.

James:   OK.

Brian:   I was like, “I don’t think it was a strange type…

James:   Did you hang in there?

Brian:   I did. Of course.

James:   Did you get the job? Is that where you’re working now?

Brian:   No.

James:   OK [laughs]

Brian:   I need to be flexible in being creative in my flexibility.

James:   Right.

Brian:   So, it was so interesting—I don’t think it was a tactic that she was using and it turns out I think I do believe I saw her job being listed a couple of months afterwards, so I don’t think…

James:   OK, so no surprise.

Brian:   I even think that maybe she was unhappy

James:   I think, you know the interview process in some ways is very flawed. I find as a candidate that I’m so desperate to get the job. It doesn’t even matter if you want the job. Once you engaged in the process of “Oh wow, they want to interview me. I want this job” and it’s like –so I feel it’s very one way as a candidate I’m saying everything that I can to sell you on the concept of hiring me for this job. And really it should be a good interview really should be a lot more back and forth. Do you want to work here? Do we want you to work here?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.


02/18/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 386: Interpersonal Skills for Project Success (Free)

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Presenters Collage
Congress presenters reveal their most important interpersonal skill

Last year at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California I recorded an all time high of 14 interviews. They have all been published over the past few months and you’ve probably heard some or all of them. But what you don’t know is what happened once each interview was complete.

I pressed the recording button one more time and asked each of my guests the following question: Which is the interpersonal skill that you attribute the most of our success in your career to? In other words, what skill has helped you most on your projects when you interact with others?

And today you are going to get all the answers. In one nice mashup. Here are all the presenters in the order you will hear their answers

Oh, and spoiler alert... the answer that I received most often was "Relationships".

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:  Hello and welcome to Episode #386. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I’m Cornelius Fichtner. Last year at the PMI Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California, I recorded an all-time high of 14 interviews. They have all been published over the past few months here on the program and you’ve probably heard some or all of them but what you don’t know is what happened once each interview was complete because I pressed the recording button one more time and I asked each of my interview guests the following question: What interpersonal skill do you attribute the most to your success in Project Management to? In other words, what skill has helped you most on your projects when you interact with others? And today, you are going to get all the answers in one nice, big mash-up. We begin with Jay Payette who attributes his success to what I have to do a lot here on the Project Management Podcast and that’s talking.    

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:   Jay, please tell me which is the interpersonal skill that you attribute the most of your success in Project Management to?

Jay Payette:   It’s an excellent question and it’s a difficult question because there are so many interpersonal skills I know that being able to be empathetic is important and understand different people’s perspectives but for me actually, if I have to attribute success in Project Management, it would be in simply, communication—being able to stand up in a room and present and speak with confidence and win people over with my ideas. Being able to speak confidently, being able to speak what I would hope to be charismatically to me has been the one skill that has allowed me to win confidence in my clients but also drive success in delivering projects.  

Cornelius:   Now that we know that talking is important, how about listening? Here are Kristy Tan Neckowicz and NK Shrivastava

Kristy:   I would say that one key skill that I attribute my success to is active listening. I feel like the fact that people that I communicate with recognize that I’m listening, that I actually do care about what they are going to say and I’m actually going to take action as a result of what they say. That has given me a lot of leeway in building relationships with them and also getting the results that we both want. So I say active listening is key.

NK:   If I were to put the interpersonal skills I will say listening is the most critical skill because that tells me to understand the customer and it goes with one of the seven habits of highly effective people: seek to understand first than to be understood. I don’t know which habit number is that, probably #2, I think, or whatever. But I think that’s the most important thing—listening. Listening doesn’t mean hearing. Listening means really, really understanding what somebody sitting in front of you is talking or wanting to communicate. That’s the most important thing and sometime I have sit in user sessions where I have not talked for one hour, two hours. Just listening. And I remember in one of the sessions where I was one of the project managers and I went with the sales team and it was a big insurance company in the world, very senior leaders. It was a one day session where the sales guys were trying to know what they are looking for and they took me as a key sales support project manager and I was sitting there and for first half day, I did not speak anything. I was just listening, listening, listening, listening. Then during lunchtime, I asked them, the sales guys 2 or 3 questions. And they said, “Oh, we did not think about that”. I said, “Yeah, because you were talking, you were not listening”. So then in the afternoon when we went and talked about those 2 or 3 questions that I raised, even the customers sitting there were, “Oh we did not think about that!”. So then they started talking and we came to know about the requirements for that project that were not on the table for any time in the past. That project became 3 or 4 times the scope of the project and the customer was very happy with that of course they did not have that much money so we went and prioritized what is most important for you. Then we had a project that we did for that customer and it was a very good project. So I still was not talking for half day and just listening. Just listening—I feel that’s the most important interpersonal skill and it also helps in personal relationships. So for example if you know your son or daughter is talking and you are not listening, they may not talk to you anymore after some time. It’s important in any relationship is to listen. That’s why I listen.

Cornelius:   So I asked a total of 13 interview guests: Which interpersonal skill helped them the most? Four of them shows the same skill and here is the big winner of this informal survey. It is “relationships” but each of my guests has a different take on it. First here are David Hillson and Denise McRoberts.

David Hillson:   I’ve learned a lot in terms of interpersonal skills from the idea of transactional analysis. We call it TA, for short and the idea that you can take the approach of people being OK or not OK. So I’m OK, you’re OK or I’m not OK and you’re OK, or I’m OK and you’re not OK. Those kinds of things I think are quite important to think about in terms of our relationships with each other and in TA, transactional analysis they talk about the parent-child relationship where the child-parents talk about the adult-adult relationship and then the others are sort of combination between parent, adult and child. I think clearly what we should be looking for most of the time is adult to adult relationships but very often we treat people as if I’m the parent and you’re the child. In other words, I’m OK and you’re not OK and I need to teach you how to do the right thing and to get your life sorted out and to perform effectively and you just do what I tell you. Sometimes we’re in the reverse where I’m the child and you’re the parent and I’m needy and I’m dependent on you and then I’m a kind of my drawing my authenticity, drawing my direction from you and that’s not healthy either. And so that idea of transactional analysis where you consciously become aware of those different levels of relationship and actively choose to treat the other person like an adult is important. I found that’s been a real challenge to me as a technical expert, I mean I’m a risk management expert, but also a person in Project Management, I’m a fellow of PMI, I’ve been managing projects for 30 years. Actually I feel like the parent and very often my starting position is you’re not OK, you need to listen to me and that’s very arrogant. I don’t know everything and so I do need to just correct myself quite often and say, “You know what, your position has value, I can learn from you. Let me just adjust my positioning and treat each other as equals and not be dependent on you but not trying to put myself above you”. We’re all trying to do the same thing together here and that is really helpful to me. That adult to adult relationship has a choice to do it intentionally has been I think the thing that has helped me the most.

Denise:   I would have to say most of my success is attributed to connecting with people. As a project manager I get to work with all different levels from C Level executives to all various resources on a one-on-one level and it’s fun and challenging to work at those different levels, figure out how to best communicate, how to most effectively communicate and how to connect so that people feel inspired to work on projects and to collaborate and as a team environment and really impart change.  I think connecting to those people is the most fun and I think it’s one of my strongest skills that I think has really helped me out in my project and portfolio management career.

Cornelius:   So that was David Hillson and Denise McRoberts. By the way, if you want to hear me stumbling over my own tongue when I asked David the question, you’re going to have to listen all the way to the end. We’re going to be adding that blooper right off to the ending music here in this episode. Moving on to Joy Beatty and Kristine Hayes Munson who agree with the previous two guests. The interpersonal skill that is most important for them as project managers is relationships but not all of us are in fact project managers. 

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.


02/10/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 385: Aligning Projects with Organizational Strategy (Free)

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Jay Payette
Jay Payette, PMP

Projects are the tool businesses use to take a strategy and turn it into reality. So your project better be aligned with your long term business plan. All of them!

This interview about strategic alignment with Jay Payette was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss his presentation and white paper Making it Happen - How Project Managers Can Drive Strategic Alignment and Strategy Execution. Here is the abstract:

Good strategy can be critical to organizational success, however in order for strategy to transform from ideas into results it must be successfully executed. In order for organizations to successfully formulate and execute strategy they must achieve sufficient strategic alignment.

Project managers and project team members can make a critical contribution to their organization’s strategic alignment. This paper examines strategic alignment through the frame of three strategic functions: formulate, align, and execute and how they interact with each other.

Additionally, three strategic alignment frameworks are presented and recommendations are made as to how they may be used by project managers to contribute to organizational strategic alignment at the project-level.

PDU Tip

This interview is 29 minutes and 30 seconds long. This means that it is 30 seconds too short and you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:  Welcome everyone. You are listening to the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com . We are coming to you once again live from the 2016 PMI Global Congress in now not-so-sunny San Diego in Southern California and with me standing here in the hallway is Jay Payette.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:   Hello, Jay.

Jay Payette:   Hello, good day!

Cornelius:  So, the Congress has just ended. We have heard the final keynote with Wesmore. How was the Congress for you?

Jay:  Oh, it was a phenomenal Congress. I felt –unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend last year in Orlando but I was able to attend in New Orleans the year before and I find every year, participants become even more engaged with the speakers. They tend to ask even more and more questions and the participation level, it just continues to go up. So, I’m really excited to see that kind of enthusiasm amongst practitioners to pick your brains and learn new things.

Cornelius:   Excellent. The title of your presentation is: Making It Happen: How Project Managers Can Drive Strategic Alignment and Strategy Execution. How was the presentation for you here?

Jay:   The presentation was wonderful.

Cornelius:   Well-attended?

Jay:   Very well-attended. It was a full room, Standing Room Only in the back. I did have the benefit of presenting on the first day so sometimes when you’re the last group in the last day you’ll get people flying home but I did have that kind of first mover’s advantage so the attendance was fantastic.

Cornelius:   Alright. The subtitle of your presentation is How Project Managers Can Drive Strategic Alignment and Strategy Execution. Allow me to begin with a somewhat critical question because many of us project managers feel that we are not necessarily in a position where we are asked or even considered when strategic alignment and strategy execution is being discussed. We’re kind of left out of this discussion. People don’t come to us, the C Level, they don’t think that we are the right people to talk to. How do we overcome that?

Jay:   This is a massive challenge, I think for PMs and what you just described, the mindset that most project managers have that we’re more or less, order-takers. Once strategic decisions are made at the portfolio level, once they are made at the program level, we just have to implement something and therefore we don’t necessarily have a strategic organization. I really think that that is completely false, quite the contrary, I think that project managers have a critical role to play in strategy execution and even in strategy formulation. That was the impetus to having this paper written and to do this talk. Now to directly answer your question, there’s really no magic bullet about how to raise the profiles of PMs. I had this exact question in the session and when I came back with it and said the first thing you need to do is really educate yourself about the strategic environment that you’re operating in. Understand how strategies are formulated, understand who the players are, understand the strategy inside and out. That will allow you to identify strategically critical pieces of information, there might be issues, there might be risks, there might be opportunities, and there might be a solution component that your project team develops. So, once you’ve educated yourself, you’ll be able to ask those key critical questions because even though as project managers were not behind closed doors developing strategy or we may not be directly participating in the formulation of strategy, we are operating at the level of the organization where the strategy becomes reality and the rubber hits the road. We are the ones who tend to discover strategic misalignment in the organization and identifying something as misalignment of strategy implementation is a critical problem not just for the project but for the whole organization. By discovering that problem we need to make sure that we have effectively communicated upwards. I feel that project managers do that more and more than our profile across the organization will change and people will start to think of us more into that strategic frame.

Cornelius:   And I think the sentence “Our profile throughout the organization will change” is important. Today we are not looked at as being part of this and we have to change first ourselves and then our profession to be looked at as “let’s go to the project managers and let’s ask them because they know our organization and they can tell us what goes on, what goes right and what goes wrong.”

Jay:   Exactly. As you said, the first step is convincing ourselves of that as a profession and with that will come further down the road our external profile amongst our colleagues, our employers, our clients, etc.

Cornelius:   Right. Let’s open up your presentation. Let’s go into your paper. Let me begin with the basic—how do you define strategic alignment?  

Jay:   This is something that I’ve struggled with. Once you get into a topic and dive deep, you start to reveal the different opinions that people have and there really is no universal definition of strategic alignment. Some people will say that it is a byproduct of execution. Some people will say that strategic executions are byproduct of strategic alignment. The way that I see it, very simply is that you have you strategy formulation or strategic planning although I’m not a fan of that term, on one side and then you have the actual execution on the other side. You can have successful strategy formulation and failed strategy execution. You can also have successful execution of that strategy but in order for both of those to really be successful, they have to consider each other, they have to maintain a constant dialogue with each other so that your strategy formulation is based on the truths, the facts of your business operations which you can only pull up from the operation level and likewise, your organization has to be able to deliver it on that strategy. So the organization needs to be aligned, the culture needs to be aligned, the resources needs to be aligned and individual actions need to be aligned. To me the simplest definition is having your formulation and your execution constantly in dialogue with each other and considering each other.

Cornelius:   And that dialogue, of course, is helped by having a strategic alignment framework.

Jay:   Yes.

Cornelius:   Can you develop that a little bit for us?

Jay:   Yes. There’s a number of approaches organizations can take to ensure that their organization is strategically aligned. There are a number of noteworthy or well-known frameworks. One of the oldest is the Seven S Framework which was created by two partners out of the San Francisco office of Mackenzie in a paper published in 1980. They initially approached the problem of saying, “Why are organizations not able to execute strategy?” And they had thought, as was popular at the time and management to say there must be some kind of organizational design, organizational structural solution to this problem. What they realized was that, “No, that isn’t the case”. The problem is that organizations were making decisions in one area and not considering the other area of the organization. They essentially split the organization up into seven areas. As good consultants, they alliterated their framework, so that it can be well-marketed and remembered. They named all of these area with an S so they have Strategy, Structure, Systems, which could be business processes or information systems, Staff, Style, which really means culture, Skills and then one of my favorite terms, is Superordinate goals. I’ve never heard the term superordinate before…

Cornelius: They have to make it work with the S, of course.

Jay:   Yes, of course, it has to be alliterates. Until I read this paper by Waterman, I’ve never heard of that and really that just means high-level goals, raison d'être  of the firm. If you change one part of the organization, you’re going to have to consider making changes and aligning those other six parts of the organization. I think it’s really not necessarily robust framework per se but as I mentioned in my talk, it’s an excellent visual to put up and start the conversation about “Do we really understand what the implications of one strategic decision might be?”

Cornelius:   Taking this from the high strategic level all the way down to a project implementation and what you have just said starts the conversation. What I always tell junior project managers and when you take an empty template for say a project charter, and you go to your sponsor, you’re not supposed to fill in the template, you’re supposed to take the template with you as a means of starting a conversation with your sponsors. I think this conversation at the very bottom with let’s fill in the project charter taking it all the way up to the strategy and working from there with this framework, I think that fits on to any level –top, bottom and in-between.   

Jay:   Yes, I think it helps to have that conversation. To a degree it helps its scope to make sure that—are you actually considering everything? It really drives the conversation on business value. “Ok, we’re doing this project to improve this part of the organization, why are we doing that?” and “How can we align other work to support that business objective. So really and I totally agree with what you’re talking about with the templates is it’s not just ticking boxes, you have to understand what the business value is and how that business value is created if you’re going to be contributing to it. If the project is worthwhile, you have to understand what the strategic implications of the project are if you’re going to be able to deliver it successfully. And by successful I don’t mean on time or on schedule, which is a traditional project management metric. By successful I mean, why are we doing in the first place?

Cornelius:   Delivering the benefits you’re originally set out to do.

Jay:   Exactly.

Cornelius:  Ok. Now let me be very stupid and ask a rather simple question that may be difficult to answer: How exactly does the Seven S Framework help me to ensure strategic alignment? You mentioned you have to have strategy on one side, execution on the other side, how does it help to ensure that?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.


02/03/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 384: Situational Awareness for Project Managers (Free)

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Wanda Curlee
Wanda Curlee and Cornelius Fichtner

Every project manager needs to master situational awareness. That is because no two projects are perfectly alike. What worked last time may have to be tweaked next time. Even worse, what may have worked just yesterday may have to be tweaked today!

This interview about situational awareness with Wanda Curlee was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. It was co-written and co-presented with Marie Sterling. Wanda and I discuss their presentation and white paper Situational Awareness. Do you have the Emotional Intelligence for it?. Here is the abstract:

This paper explores the relationship of situational awareness and emotional intelligence of portfolio, program, and project leadership. Included in the paper is an introduction to situational awareness, emotional intelligence, SAGAT, recommendations and details about the workshop exercise. Situational awareness plays a critical role in effective decision making, and more so in complex and challenging portfolio, program and project management environments. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the study of how in tune a person is with his or her own emotions and the ability to understand emotions of those around himself or herself. Through the use of a live training simulation, an individual’s level of situational awareness and their emotional intelligence will be determined.

Click to download the white paper

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:  Hello everyone and welcome back to the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com . I am sitting here in the halls of the beautiful and sunny San Diego Convention Center here at the 2016 PMI Global Congress and in front of me is Wanda Curlee.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:   Hello, Wanda.

Wanda Curlee:   Nice to see you again, Cornelius.     

Cornelius:   Welcome back on the program.  

Wanda:  Thank you very much. An honor to be here.

Cornelius:  Yeah. You are speaking on Situational Awareness: Do you have the Emotional Intelligence for it? Have you already presented it?

Wanda:   No, I have not. I’ll present tomorrow morning.

Cornelius: Have you any idea how many people have registered?

Wanda:   The last time we checked there were about 60 people, so we’re hoping for a little bit more but if only 60 show up, that’s fine. If one shows up, we’ll do it.

Cornelius:   OK. Wonderful. Well, good luck. You said “we” and that is the moment where we also have to acknowledge your co-author and co-presenter.

Wanda:   Yes. That is Marie Sterling. She is actually the expert on situational awareness. She does a lot with the Canadian Military Services. I know they’ve combined everybody but she does the air side. She also does something similar to the American Civil Air Patrol where she goes out and tries to find lost hikers or planes that have gone down.

Cornelius:   So, let’s take a look at your paper since there are two authors you mentioned. You are more on the emotional intelligence side and she is more on the situational awareness but we’re going to cover both topics. The abstract begins as follows: The paper explores the relationship of situational awareness and emotional intelligence of portfolio, program and project leadership. How does this understanding help me as a project manager?

Wanda:   OK. We all know that we need to understand what the political situation is in a company. However, situational awareness takes that one step further. It’s—am I reading the data correctly? So that’s Level 1. Level 2 is: can I assess where I’m going and Level 3 of situational awareness is projecting. Do I know what’s going to happen in the future? As a project manager, no, we can’t forecast what’s going to happen in the future but based on everything that we’re seeing—the political, the environmental, what’s happening on the project can I state that I expect this to happen but it also gives you the flexibility that if I don’t state it correctly or understand what’s going to happen in the future, then I have the flexibility to get back to where I needed to go and tweak for it. Now the emotional intelligence side brings in: we did some research, Marie and I did, we put a survey monkey where we had somebody go through some—we had people come in and did the surveys and they did a situational awareness and then right after that, they did an Emotional Intelligence Quotient as it’s called. So what they do is we took, we did analysis of the Emotional Intelligence Quotient based on how they answered the various levels of situational awareness and we found rudimentary right now because we really don’t have that many people that responded. We only have about 25, we’re hoping for more that the higher your Emotional Intelligence Quotient, the better you are at situational awareness. It’s better for you to understand how you see people and how you understand yourself from an emotional intelligence perspective so that you can be better at situational awareness.

Cornelius:   Allow me to take a step back because we’re talking about a marriage here between emotional intelligence and situational awareness. How did you and Marie find each other to do this? Because these things are often serendipitous.

Wanda:   Right. Marie and I have known each other for years. I was actually the project manager on an initiative done by PMI after the tsunami happened in the Indian Ocean where we developed a Project Management methodology that could be used by anybody. They could just tear up some sheets and go and build a new home or a new infrastructure. It was very rudimentary. They helped those that maybe couldn’t read, or did not know how to write so it was a lot of pictures. She actually did the training component. She then contacted me and said, “Hey Wanda, are you interested in this?” and she was doing the situational awareness. I said, “Wow, we need to marry it with something—how about emotional intelligence. So that’s how we came together on it.

Cornelius:   OK, back to the paper. In the introduction, I found a section that very interesting to me. Allow me to read it: Project, program, portfolio managers can assist company leadership by understanding the situational awareness and the proper emotional intelligence to provide the necessary leadership. Here’s my somewhat critical question in regards to this statement. Often, we project managers, we are not viewed as being qualified to do something like that. We are the task masters; we’re supposed to get this project done. We’re supposed to just get these assigned projects completed on time on schedule on. How do we get to that point where we are being seen as somebody who can actually speak on this?

Wanda:   The Project Management area and us as project managers, it’s evolving. For example, we used to just say we did nothing in this strategy area. It was only done by the program and the portfolio managers. However, that’s shifting. We’re finding that if you’re on a project that does not meet the strategic needs of the company, then you’re really doing something that doesn’t have any value to the organization and potentially, you’re going to be cancelled or you’re going to be stopped or you’re just on a project that never gets the funding. So, it goes on forever and we all don’t want to be on those type of projects. So there needs to be a marriage between the portfolio, the program and the projects from a strategic point of view because now when we have less resources to do the things that we need, then the leadership needs to understand that we are doing something that provides to the bottom line or enhances our technology to make us better in the marketplace. So, project managers need to understand where they fit strategically. When they understand where they fit strategically, then they have to have some situational awareness about their project. Where do I fit into this? Do I meet two or three strategy objectives of the organization? Am I fulfilling one, or am I not doing any? If you’re not doing any, well there might be a reason. There might be a regulatory requirement for it too. That might be a reason to do it but if you’re not meeting a strategic need, then you need to start questioning the leadership, “Hey why am I doing this?” and if they can’ answer, you might say, “Hey, do we really want to do this?’ We might want to take our resources and put it on to something that makes sense for the organization. If you have the emotional intelligence and you know which leadership to go to to get people on your side, and therefore understand the situational awareness in the company, then you’re going to be seen as a hero because now you’re taking resources that were on a dead-end project and putting them on something that is valuable and that is dated or maybe start a project that was underneath the line of what projects we’re going to do this year because now we have all these resources that can do that.

Cornelius:   How do you fold the paper? Define emotional intelligence and situational awareness.

Wanda:   Well, emotional intelligence is really the ability for leaders and when I say leaders, I’m talking about project managers and portfolio managers and program managers to understand their emotional cues of my own, how am I reflecting on to other people within the organization and then I and my ability to read others and what’s happening. How do I handle stress? How are the other people handling stress? What is my project team doing right now? Are the technical folks really having an issue with maybe the business side? If I can understand those emotional cues, then I can do better. Situational awareness is the perception of reality so if you think of a fighter pilot, a fighter pilot has to understand their rules of engagement and they have to understand where they are in that plan at any one time. Are there enemy people coming? Are there people on the ground that are trying to shoot at me? Or are there up in the air that are trying to shoot at me? So you constantly have to know where you are. You have to know where your allies are too. Do I have a wingman with me or am I flying by myself? In a project environment, we have to understand and project managers haven’t done this in the past. Where do I fit in the project? Do I have another project that’s fitting in to me? Beforehand, we have just kept project managers in the blind so they may not know that their projects is fitting in to something else. They have to know what leadership thinks about this project. Am I part of a program? And what does the portfolio think? Am I going to be delayed, etc.?  So those are things that they need to understand.

Cornelius:   In the paper you then moved on to describing how situational awareness is measured. Can you walk us through that, please?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.


01/25/2017 02:00 AM
Episode 383: Project Failure Is Not An Option (Free)

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Kristy Tan Neckowicz and Connie Inman
Kristy Tan Neckowicz, Connie Inman and Cornelius Fichtner

At some point in their career, every project manager has to deal with troubled projects.

This interview about project recovery with Kristy Tan Neckowicz and Connie Inman was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss their presentation and white paper Recognize Warning Signs and Rescue Your Troubled Projects. Here are the abstract and summary:

Abstract: Come to this session to hear real stories of troubled projects and recovery journeys from two seasoned project management professionals. You will learn to recognize common warning signs of troubled projects, approaches to right-sizing your project management processes, and applications of stakeholder management lessons for project success.

Summary: The common theme across the case studies is a focused spirit of continuous improvement to rescue troubled projects. Although projects are temporary in nature, project management processes are always evolving.

It is tempting to move on to the next project when a troubled project has been placed safely back on track. However, you will have more assurance of the project manager’s future success by conducting a lessons learned evaluation focused on the practice of project management before claiming victory.

By sharing the warning signs, right-sizing approach, and lessons learned from these case studies, we hope you will leverage our experience to keep your next project “on track” to successful delivery.

PDU Tip

This interview is 29 minutes and 57 seconds long. This means that it is 3 seconds too short and you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner:  Welcome everyone. You are listening to the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com . We are coming to you live from the 2016 PMI Global Congress in beautiful and sunny San Diego, California. And with me this morning here in the hallways of the Conference Center are two people. We have Kristy Tan Neckowicz and Connie Inman.   

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner:   Hello, Kristy.

Kristy Tan Neckowicz:   Hello.    

Cornelius:   Good morning. Unfortunately I can’t say hello, Connie because I only have two microphones and Kristy’s wearing it but we will bring Connie into the mix in just a bit. So, your presentation is titled “Recognize Warning Signs and Rescue Your Troubled Projects”. Have you already given the presentation?

Kristy:   Not yet. We’ll be giving the presentation this afternoon.

Cornelius:   Wonderful. You have an opportunity for a dry run right now. [laughs]

Kristy:   Yes.

Cornelius:   Excellent. Do you know how many people are going to be attending?

Kristy:   I do not.

Cornelius:   Yeah OK.

Kristy:   I hope that it will be well-attended.

Cornelius:   Have they moved you into a different room? That’s always a good sign.

Kristy:   Oh no, they haven’t. [laughs]

Cornelius:   If they move you into a different it means, oh, there are a lot more people than we expect to be interested in this. Alright, what is your interest in Troubled Projects? Why talk about them?

Kristy:   It’s a good question. I saw Connie give the presentation on her case study back in the Spring this year and I thought to myself when I was sitting in the audience, I thought, “We could do this together” because we have a lot of similar experiences. We’ve been through a lot of troubled projects that you could substitute the players’ name, the company name, the product name, the technology name and you might have the same problems. So I had this idea that we could give a presentation together and sharing our knowledge on problems that we’ve had with technology projects implementation or development projects, even business process improvement projects because I’ve walked away from that case study presentation from Connie thinking, “Geez, a lot of the problems are very similar. They’re related to not doing the right risk management, not doing the right level of stakeholder analysis or management and so forth. So I said, “Wow! These are really universal lessons to be learned. That’s why we created this paper together to talk about our experience with troubled projects; how we rescued them and we hope the people will walk away with good idea for how to fix their troubled projects.

Cornelius:   Talking about troubled projects takes you out of your comfort zone because you have to admit that “I failed”. How do you feel about that? Why do we not do this more because lessons learned of something that failed are so important?

Kristy:   That’s really a good question because I’ve thought of that also that I’m used to teaching people how to do things. How to calculate earned value, how to do scheduling, how to do portfolio management, how to do the right things so you’re communicating with different behavior styles, etc. But, I never really talked about my own lessons about things that we did wrong that we had to rescue. Some of these were uncomfortable. On the other hand, I think if people could just suspend that fear or that judgment of “Oh, what happened to you won’t happen to me” type of thing; if they could just be open-minded, they’re going to learn so much. So I think this is a good presentation for people to discuss with us after they hear it, to talk about things that they’re walking away with because I really do think it’s universal.   

Cornelius:   OK. Can you give us a definition of what a troubled project is?

Kristy:   A troubled project—it’s interesting. Connie and I talked about this earlier. It may not just be that you’ve completed the project or the project is going on schedule and on budget but you also have to make sure that you have the end in mind. A troubled project, the way we see it, is any project that is not going to deliver the intended value or not performed to scope on budget and on time. Any of those.

Cornelius:   Right. You actually have a sentence in your paper. “We propose that a troubled project is one that although has not been terminated has significantly missed its defined scope, budget and/or schedule to a point of perceived no return”. The interesting thing I find about this is that the third last word, “perceived no return”. What is the difference between “no return” and “perceived no return” here?

Kristy:  That’s also an interesting point that you brought up. The perception phase is that even if the project team felt good about the state of the project or that they could turn things around, the stakeholder is either –users or sponsors are so disappointed that they’ve already written you off. They’ve already said, “That’s fine, go and finish it but we’re not going to use it.” Or, they’re resigned to the idea that the project is not going to succeed in their mind. That’s the key word there—perceived.

Cornelius:   Ok. When does trouble usually begin to occur in the project?

Kristy:   I think we’re getting into the case study so I would like to hand this over to Connie so she can talk about it.

Cornelius:   Absolutely.

Connie:   Thank you, Kristy.

Cornelius:   Now that we’ve made the switch over to Connie, hi Connie! Welcome to the program.

Connie: [laughs] thank you. We’re excited to be talking to you today. Thank you.

Cornelius:   So, when in the life cycle of a project, does trouble usually begin to occur?

Connie:   Trouble can begin at any phase of your project. What you have to start doing is figuring out how to recognize that it has occurred. That’s the point of our case studies here is it can occur from the very first day. If you’ve got a lot of requirements that you think you know about your scope and you’ve asked the right requirements, you think but you walk away, you don’t confirm that you identified everything there was to do and either made the logical decision to say, “That’s out of scope, this is in scope”, everybody agrees to it. When you walk away you could have a troubled spot right there, right then at the beginning. You just don’t recognize it until at the end when you’re delivering and those perceptions come out of “You didn’t do this, you didn’t do that”, but I delivered exactly what you asked me to do but I didn’t deliver what you intended it to do, so it can occur at any point in the project.

Cornelius:   Alright. Next, we’re going to jump into three case studies. Tell us a little bit about these case studies. How did you find them and why did you choose these three in particular—sort of on a high-level?

Connie: Excellent. Excellent. Kristy and I kind of went back and forth with the many things that we could talk about and we chose these three in particular because one is about implementing software; one is about developing it; and then one is about the user experience of that implemented software.

Cornelius:   So it’s not the same case study, right? It’s three different angles.

Connie:   It’s three different cases. Exactly. No matter where you are in the audience or in your project and what type of project it is, we’re hoping that one of these types will resonate.

Cornelius:   OK and all three are about software development. Is this interview still relevant for people who build roads and houses and engineering and things like that?

Connie:   It absolutely is because we don’t go into the actual software development, the actual aspects of that—this is more about—

Cornelius:   The art of project management.

Connie:  The art of Project Management. Exactly

Cornelius:   OK, wonderful. Let’s jump into Case Study #1. You’ve titled it as “Technology Implementation Project”. Tell us a little bit about that.

Connie:   We were charged with the sponsor to purchase a software solution that would help with our project manager’s scheduling. So we have a lot of project managers but we needed a software solution outside Excel or Microsoft project on one off bases to come up with something that was more an enterprise solution. That’s what the scope of the project was to do.

Cornelius:  What were the warning signs?

Connie:   Going through the project, when we finally got to the point where we could recognize them, the stakeholder engagement. They were not getting any different reports than they did the first time that they were getting out of Excel or other things. So the software was not providing any value to them. So then when you look past that, then you can say that the users are not using the software and there’s a lot of negative talks that when the name of the software comes up you get this grimace on their face.

Cornelius:   Or rolling their eyes.

Connie:   Rolling their eyes, a lot of bad chatter—those kinds of things. And then it’s just not effective as far as the objectives that were supposed to be as evidence that the maturity of the project managers would increase because of the software and that was not the case either. So those were the kind of things that popped up.

Cornelius:   The obvious question is what did you do? 

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.