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Manage your time

Stephen Covey’s famous 4 Quadrants.🟦. This reminded me of concentrating your efforts on 💎 MVP (Most Valuable & Profitable) activities.

The time should be spent in each quadrant as per this:
📌 Q I when there is crisis, pressing problems, deadlines, ad hoc meetings, Firefighting
📌 Q II is normally for vision, planning, discipline, Empowerment
📌 Q III is primarily because of interruptions, mails, Short-term focus
📌 Q IV refers to trivial work, social media, binge watching, “Escape activities”

As per this quadrant, excellent organisation should ensure that their human resources spend
–       20-25% of their time in Q I (Quadrant of Crisis)
–       65-80% of their time in Q II (Quadrant of Quality)
–       15% of their time in Q III (Quadrant of Deception)
–       1% of their time in Q IV (Quadrant of Waste)

However, many organisations’ swaps time of Q I & Q II and they feel that this is the Normal way. That means such organisations feel that if less time is spent in Q I, employees are not productive and they do NOT reward those who work with meticulous planning (Q II).

Q I is also one of the key reasons for high attrition… Agree or not??

So, identify you most ✨MVP ✨ activities and spend more and more time in Q II which means you will spend less time in Q I.

Where do you spend most of your time – Q I, Q II, QII or Q IV??

Preparing for PMI ACP Exam

In the last week of April 2020, I appeared for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI) exam and cleared it.

While I started serious preparations around 6 weeks before i.e. in March 2020, I think it requires 8 to 10 weeks preparation. 

It all started with classroom training in July 2019. However post that I didn’t get time to do much preparation due to my busy schedule.

Initially, I had taken up Louise Philip’s ‘PMI-ACP Exam Prep for PMBOK6’ course on Udemy. It gives a good overview of ACP. There are short tests at the end of each chapter which you can take at your convenience and can even pause it in between. There are also two full mock tests at the end of the course. This test really gives you an idea about how much you have understood and how you will fare in the exams. Ideally after 2-3 attempts, you should get 80-90% correct answers.

In parallel, I was also reading Mike Griffiths ‘PMI-ACP Exam Prep’ book – Second edition. You need to read this book twice. There are practice questions and answers at the end of each chapter, which gives you good idea about kind of question that will appear in the exam. In the first read, you will get around 60% correct answers. However in your second read, you should get 80-90% correct answers for the exercises given at the end of the chapter. There are two practice tests on this books’ publishers’ web-site – https://rmcls.com/extras. Two mini-tests of 60 questions each help you to prepare for final exams. Ideally, I suggest you should take this a week or two weeks before you have scheduled your exam.

There is also the PMI-ACP workbook by Mike Griffiths which is also quite helpful. This contains 50 chapters for domain subjects in a summarized form with few questions at the end of it. This can also be a good reference in the last two weeks. Both these books authored by Mike are written in a very lucid style and one should have no issues completing them over a weekend.

As I understand from friends, the test simulator on the same publisher’s website i.e. https://rmcls.com/pmi-acp is also good. One can subscribe for mock tests  acouple of weeks before appearing for the final exams. However, to be honest I didn’t take the same.

I had also borrowed couple of books from PMI library for preparation.

The first one was Head first Agile from the O’Reily publication. It has a very different style of teaching. There are a couple of mock tests (difficult ones) at the end of it which also helps you.

And the second book is PMI ACP exam prep book by Andy Crowe. Again, it has a totally different style of teaching. This book also contains two mock tests which helped for final exam preparation.

On the previous day, I also took some free mock tests on izendesk web-site which I found very useful. These all mock tests can be used in the last 2 weeks to gain confidence. It is my recommendation that one should have scored 80% up before taking the final exams.

I had taken the proctored based exam. Since I was taking it for the first time, I was a bit tense. However after a while I got settled. Please ensure you login at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time and you have good internet speed.

Initially, the first half of the exam was very tough for me. The second part was comparatively easy.

Hope this helps you in your preparation for PMI-ACP exam.

Good luck to all aspirants reading this article. Please post a comment if you need further information.

Project Management Learnings

Recently, one of my LinkedIn acquaintances asked me if I had some time to speak to him on project management learning, to which I agreed, since someone was asking advice and I believe in giving back to the society.

When I was speaking to him for an hour on precautions to be taken during project management, he agreed on most of the points saying that yes, I am also facing similar issues and your advice will help me.
Read More…

Project management world summit and awards 2019

Recently, I was invited to the Project World Summit and Awards 2019 to moderate panel discussions on “Waterfall vs. Agile: Which is the Right Development Methodology for Your Project?” It was great to share the stage for panel discussion with eminent thought leaders – Bharat Bhagat from PMI Mumbai Chapter, Gautam Bhatia from Yes Bank, Manwendra Singh from Pune PMI Chapter and Priya Patra at Project Management World Summit and Awards 2019.

Learning’s from Agile transformations:

–     Does Agile enhance the quality of our products?
–    Does Agile come with overheads in terms of ceremonies? And many such interesting discussions were there in our panel discussion at Transformance Forums Project Management World Summit and Awards.

There were also interactive discussions with the audience. It was proud moment to moderate the stage with the stalwarts of the project management field.

I also presented my views in a separate presentation on Project predictability as a technique to improve the bottom line. I covered the challenges being faced by project managers along with tools and techniques to address some of those challenges. It was quite an engaging and inspiring talk.

This was also followed by a round table discussion, “Changing Paradigms of Project Scope Management”. The table consisted of several expert project management professionals from different industries. I was happy to share my thoughts on how we control scope and effectively use project management to deal with stakeholders. The thoughts were well received.

There were several other topics which were discussed & I found the day spent quite enriching.

More pictures in photo gallery.


Watermelon Status Reporting

 

Watermelon Status Reporting!!!

 

Well, I was equally curious when reading this word for the first time. When I learned more, I could quickly relate several instances of my professional career to this word.

 

“Watermelon status reporting” describes the phenomenon where the RAG status of the project appears to be green from the outside, but if you dig deep into it, it’s actually RED right through and has serious issues. Normally, it is done to disguise actual status to avoid any scrutiny by stakeholders or to ensure that project continues. Some PMs consider Project performance as personal performance & hence try to hide the real status.

 

There are stakeholders who prefer this, they don’t want a PM to report Red because then they would have to dig deeper, which might lead to looking at their own flaws. Some will say that they will correlate the data between slides to find the veracity of the content so it’s okay, even if someone gives a watermelon report. Some will highlight that it can be also cultural psychology to do this kind of false reporting.

 

Some leaders will mention that one has to guide his team to not give out watermelon status. However, giving a transparent status report is really tough. All of this takes courage to challenge the status quo and a bigger mindset change. In reality, the performance of the project makes or breaks the career of the PMs. Has anyone got a “meeting expectations” rating or above when his/her project is in “Red”? Hope this justifies the need for watermelon status reporting.

 

Such false reporting happens for several reasons. Few of them being,

  1. PM does not want to admit that things are not going the way, it should be
  2. Such a project has a risk of being canceled
  3. In some cases, strings are pulled from higher-ups to not portray it as RED and even
  4. Sometimes, even status is actually not updated or PM is a novice

 

Have you observed in your projects? What are your views?

 

Biren Parekh