Friday, August 30, 2013


Only 10 days remaining before the PW&WCBA 2013 conference. Bring your best Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF) and head to Orlando, Florida.  At this forum you can earn a total of 36 Professional Development Units (PDUs).  This is over 50% of the PMP Certification three year requirements, in only three days.  These three days are more convenient and a lot more fun than some other alternatives.  Think of the SPF as SPiF or a Super Project Information Forum.  This conference will be full of learning and network opportunities.  Above all OMG or “Oh My Gosh,” you are in Florida, and Minnie and Mickey are your neighbors.  This is paradise!

There are four different tracks to help you earn 36 PDUs.  These tracks include, “From PM to Project Leader,” “From Business Analyst to Business Strategist,”  “Best Practice in PM/BA Collaboration,” and “Tools, Techniques and Trends.”  The great thing about these tracks is the flexibility; you are able to move between the tracks.  The workshops the first day will help get you started on a good foundation. 
Today, let us focus on the leadership track.  On Monday, September 9th, you begin your day at 7:30a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast.  The leadership workshop begins at 8:00a.m. and ends at 6:00p.m.  This workshop is called Retooling Leadership (Through the Lens of Neuroscience) and is being taught by William Greenwald, a Director from Humana, Inc.  William has over 20 years of experience in both the healthcare and financial industry and will have plenty of insight.

In this workshop you will be able to learn how to use and improve your brain power to maintain and improve your performance, as well as your team. This workshop touches on every area of the brain, where many of us could use some help including habits, stress, resilience, memory and sleep.  Who could not use some more sleep?  William will help you discover some “A-ha” moments and teach you how to implement these discoveries.  We could all use a few “A-ha” moments in our lives. 

The beginning of day two begins with some wonderful key note speakers.  After lunch, you can continue the leadership track, “From PM to Project Leader.”  The first session is called, Beyond Risk Management: From Risk Mitigation to Value Creation, presented by Ronan J. Murphy, Head of Risk Management and from Railway Procurement.  Discussed in this session will be the risks on a multi-billion dollar portfolio of projects.  Needless to say, this portfolio had varied complexity and several layers of risk.  What was learned from this portfolio of projects was how to create a successful Enterprise Risk Management process, specific to the needs of the organization. 

The next session begins at 2:30p.m., Best Practices to Get a Huge Global Enterprise Program Back on Track – Real Life Case Study.  This session is taught by Gopal Renganathan, Sr. Manager of PMO from Cisco Systems.  If you are a program manager or plan to be, this session may be for you.  Gopal discusses how to turn around an Enterprise program, which is a year behind schedule.  The company is also spending five million every quarter for business transformation. Gopal will take you through all the ups and downs and how this project succeeded.  Any project or program manager would benefit from these lessons learned and new best practices.

Later in the afternoon, and after a networking break, there will be a presentation from J. LeRoy Ward, VP of ESI International, 14 Project Leadership Skills to Boost Your Career.  LeRoy has written numerous books and anyone with a PMP has read or studied at least one of his books.  He will be discussing 14 leadership skills he has identified from his research with executives.  But he does not stop there, LeRoy also has broken these skills down and walks you through the hierarchy and the order in which you should develop these skills.  These leadership skills will improve your career in any industry.

On day three, you have the final set of great keynote speakers.  After lunch, you can continue through the leadership track.  This session is being presented by Ken Bono, Jr. Manager of PMO at Scottrade. This presentation should be interesting as it is titled, Is a PMP Needed, or is it Simply and Option? Do not think this presentation is putting you out of a job, but just the opposite.  This presentation is to learn how a PM can become more efficient and use your time better, where you are needed. 

The next session begins at 2:30 p.m. will be the Global Project Portfolio Management (PPM) – Borderless Delivery.  This is presented by Samantha Dunbar, Global PMO Director of Deloitte Touche.  In this presentation you will learn how to create a repeatable and sustainable global project portfolio.  Also how important financial management is throughout the project life cycle.  One of the most important aspects discussed is the importance of project health throughout the levels.  If you are managing global projects, this session should definitely be on your list.

The final presentation is Building a Data Warehouse at Travelers – A Lesson in Risk Management, presented by James J. indelicate, Sr. Project Director of Travelers Insurance.  James will walk you through a very costly multi-year project, which had the executive’s attention when the project stumbled several times in the beginning.  To save the project the team became creative and innovative, developing a solution of “iterative throw away” projects.  This approach demonstrated an almost immediate value to the organization.  This could be interesting to find out more about iterative throw away projects.

Attend the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts packed full of knowledge at this Super Project information Forum (SPiF) and earn 36 PDUs. OMG, what more do you need!  Register today at  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PW&WCBA Speaker Spotlight: Amit Mitra

We are just a few weeks away from PW&WCBA 2013! In our Speaker Spotlight series, Amit Mitra, Senior Manager at TCS America sat down with us to discuss what it takes to be a great project manager and business analyst in an environment that is becoming more competitive every day. Here is what Mitra had to say:

IIR: How do you, as a project manager of business analyst, stand out in a crowd in this competitive business world?

Mitra: Consider the architecture of change. Technology and process challenges might be complex, but the biggest risk to an organization is in successfully transitioning from the current state, as inefficient and problematic as it might be, to the future state. People are risk averse, and do not like to leave their comfort zone.

Just as we have proven patterns that work for technology and business architecture, and anti-patterns that identify what will not work, there are patterns for making change that work, and anti-patterns that raise the risk of failure. Be sure to identify and address these. Program management should enable project, human resource technology and change management to work together in lock-step to ensure success. 

IIR: What are characteristics of a GREAT project manager?

  1. Customer focus and consultative problem solving -- the customer being the sponsors of the project. Focus on customers' goals and creating customer value.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communication will help manage risk, foster teamwork, pro-active problem solving, collaboration and innovation.
  3. Lead by example, leverage the strengths of individuals, and manage their weaknesses to help them contribute to the fullest extent, and grow as individuals and professionals.
  4. Foster mutual respect among team members.

IIR: What are some tips you would suggest to someone who is just learning Agile?

Mitra: Successful execution requires a preparatory phase, when people, procedures and development strategy need to be aligned. And, engage users and business sponsors in preparation, and in iterations. Consider testing strategies such as crowd-sourced testing. Also, Agile should be a mindset, rather than a scripted methodology. Scrum and other techniques may not work in your environment. Rather than looking for a set methodology, develop a mindset of quick deliveries using collaboration for requirements gathering and sign offs, reducing WIP, identifying MVP (minimally viable product) and retrospectives.

Moreover, understand that accurate estimation will be a problem at the beginning. You will need experience before you discover estimation techniques that will work for your team. Focus on customer value, and agreement on shifting scope, over time boxing development.

Finally, choose a project that adds significant business value with Agile, and will be successful. Agile is a good theory, but projects have many moving parts that need to engage each other, and the faster they move, the riskier coordination can become. Consider the expertise and mindset of users and project managers.

IIR: How do you as a project manager or business analyst build leadership skills?

  • Be a great listener. Understand that leadership does not flow from giving orders. It flows from ideas that help individuals achieve their goals, and learning how to sell those ideas. To do this successfully, you have to understand people, their goals, and how they think. Learn to step into other peoples shoes. The path to your success, and the team’s success goes through people.
  • Individuals think differently. Embrace diversity
  • Be caring and considerate
  • Always demonstrate that you are working in the interest of the team. Credit goes to the team and individuals in it. Blame comes to you
  • Trust your team members unless they demonstrate otherwise. Let people do their jobs. Ask before you jump to conclusions. Do not be a loose cannon
  • Make commitments after all individuals it will impact have agreed to them

IIR: How does a successful project manager communicate?

  • Communications must be proactive to stakeholders and should mostly be formal
  • Celebrate successes/wins
  • Be prepared to arbitrate in the best interests of the project if conflicts arise
  • Develop a "brand" for yourself and your team

Stay tuned for upcoming expert interviews right here on the PW&WCBA Blog.  

Mitra is a speaker at the annual PW&WCBA 2013 in Orlando, FL in September. Join us in Orlando in just a few weeks!

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lucky Number 13

There are 13 days remaining until the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts in Orlando, FL.  Day one begins with a choice of one full day workshop focusing on Leadership or three half day workshops in the morning, focusing on Agile, IT Portfolio Management and Risk Management.  The second half of day one continues with the full day Leadership workshop or two half day summits; Creating Engagement in Project Teams with four sessions and Agile Summit with four sessions.  In the middle of the half day summits there is also one networking break.  If we add all these together we begin day one with one full day workshop, three half day morning workshops, eight afternoon sessions included in the two half day summits, plus one networking break.  This equals (1 + 3 + 8 + 1) lucky number 13 different and amazing opportunities to learn and improve your skills in just the first day!

Day two begins with Opening Remarks from the conference chair, Chuck Millholan, Director of Program Management, Churchill Downs Inc.  This day also includes two keynote speakers, the first is, The Delivery of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and Legacy, presented by Ralph Luck, former Property Director, UK Olympic Delivery Authority (London 2012 Olympics).  The next keynote speaker is Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, Head of Transversal Portfolio Management from BNP Parabis Fortis and Author of, “The Focused Organization.”  There is also a bonus in the morning with a session on Speed Mentoring; this session will be with both Project Managers and Business Analyst professionals working together.  After Lunch there are four different tracks with three sessions in each track for a total of twelve sessions to choose.  Adding all of these will equal more than 13 opportunities to expand your knowledge and network.

On the third and final day of the conference there are three more amazing keynote speakers. These begin with Carey Lohrenz, US Navy, presenting Lessons in Leadership and Creating High Performing Teams.  After a short networking break the next keynote is William Greenwald, Director, Humana, Inc. presenting 20 NeuroLeadership Insights in 60 Minutes, and then completing the morning with Naomi Karten, Author of several books, discussing Embracing Change: Transforming Ideas and Challenges into Opportunities.  The afternoon continues with the four education tracks and twelve more exciting sessions. Remember you can move between tracks to increase your knowledge in other areas. 

Over the three day conference there will be a total of three continental breakfasts, five excellent keynote speakers, three lunches, one full day leadership workshop or three half day workshops, two amazing summits, five networking breaks and four amazing educational tracks, all of which you have a choice of attending in multiple combinations. This is a total of 26 networking and education opportunities divided by two (2), which equals double the lucky number 13.

Yes, I did use a little creative license in the calculations and I hope it made you smile.  Creativity and innovation is a requirement as a Project Manager and the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts is the place to learn or improve those skills.  There are only 13 days remaining before the PW&WCBA 2013 begins. Register today at I hope to see you there!

13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13    13

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's Your Leadership Style?

What sort of leader are you? A question that poses the risk of sending less modest types into Steve Jobs/Mahatma Gandhi-based reveries. It also risks provoking blank expressions. Keen to avoid association with the type of leader who would answer as above, there are also bosses who have never had the time nor inclination to consider this.

Earlier this year, research by management consulting firm Hay Group drew a strong link between demotivated working climates and a lack of conscious thought from bosses about the sort of leader they wanted to be. In fact, the approach of the more self-aware boss modeling themselves on one particular business icon, could be just as limited.That’s because the key to successful leadership is to choose between several styles.
"It’s like golf clubs: the more you have the better game you’re going to play," says Yvonne Sell, director at Hay Group. "Typically, we find that the best leaders have four or more styles."

'Situational Leadership’ has been around since the 1970s, but it seems to have been forgotten. "Our research shows a preponderance of people now using just a coercive or directive style. That’s a ‘just get it done, get it done now’ style," says Sell. Hays’ survey, based on interviews with 14,000 leaders in 400 UK companies, found that 38 percent of leaders have mastered only one or no positive leadership styles.

"What we’ve seen is that the coercive style has increased with economic uncertainty," she says. "That’s because people feel like their whole organization is under pressure. People feel they don’t have the time to explain the background or strategy to people."

While this directive style is useful in many scenarios, it can have detrimental effects on morale and creativity, says BPIF chief executive Kathy Woodward. "It’s easy for print bosses to be directive, because if you’re in an environment with short deadlines and you are under pressure, it’s easy to just focus on the task and tell people what to do."

Take this quiz by Print Week to discover if you have enough strings to your leadership styles bow.

What kind of leader are you?

Tot up how many of each letter you have (you can circle more than one for each question). If you have an even spread between two or three styles you’re already on your way. A spread between four or more and you’re sickeningly brilliant. Close magazine and move to celebratory drink-purchasing environment.

1    There’s a job you’re keen to pitch for. You…

a    Explain to all working on the pitch how much winning the job will boost the company’s bottom line by.

b    Get an ambitious, but relatively inexperienced, employee to lead the pitch so as to really stretch them.

c    Ask which members of the team might like to work on it.

d    Take the lead completely, slapping employees’ hands if they so much as go to look at the tender documents.

e    Delegate strict instructions as to which parts of the pitch should be formulated and delivered by whom.

f    Call a meeting in which all members of staff can thrash out ideas about approaching the opportunity.

2    Disaster strikes: a blocked inkhead means a job is looking none too pleased with itself and needs reprinting. Meanwhile, the customer’s tapping their foot impatiently in reception… You…

a    Outline to staff the most efficient way of reordering jobs, taking time to paint just a quick mental picture of the customer’s bloodthirsty demeanour.

b    Give your budding production manager the chance to shine.

c    Schedule in a quick heart to heart with staff to check they’re not feeling ‘too stressed by it all’.

d    Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in (possibly elbowing people out of the way in the process).

e    Switch into military mode, telling each member of staff exactly what they need to do to help get the job out.

f    Get the flip-chart out and the doughnuts in – brainstorming is the best way to overcome any challenge.

3    After plaintive cries of ‘you never call any more’ from clients, you’ve noticed one of your most sparky account directors has slipped into bad habits. You…

a    Explain how only liaising over email can lose clients and how the company can’t afford this to happen.

b    Send them on a training course faster than you can say ‘people buy from people’.

c    Check there are no underlying personal problems affecting their performance. Then explain the importance of having friendly, face-to-face relationships with clients, where you get to know them as people as well as suits.

d    Organise a meeting between yourself, the account director and the neglected client where you can lead by example.

e    Set exact targets for how much time the account director should be spending on the phone and in meetings with each client.

f    Get all account execs together to discuss ways of better engaging with clients.

4    You’ve announced that the company is to be bought by Not A Big Soulless Corporation, Honest Ltd. You…

a    Take time to explain just why this acquisition might actually be a good thing.

b    Take each employee aside to discuss their career options.

c    Call regular informal group therapy-esque meetings so everyone can air their worries.

d    Rest safe in the knowledge your employees trust you as a highly competent, trustworthy sort.

e    Make sure the company stays on track by running an even tighter ship than usual.

f    In fact, you haven’t made the announcement or indeed the decision to sell. You’re still gathering employee feedback on the idea.

5    It’s time. The 21st century can be ignored no longer and you’ve decided to take the cross-media plunge. You…

a    Make sure any salespeople disgruntled at having to be knowledgeable about a whole new area understand why this new offering could keep them in pinstripes and hair wax.

b    Roll out a rigorous training programme that will soon have all employees ‘mailshot-ing’ like pros.

c    Trial a series of therapeutic approaches in your attempts to get to the bottom of your deputy’s inexplicable aversion to all things digital.

d    Seize this as the ideal moment to reveal your MA in Multimedia Communications, inspiring all with your extensive electronic media skills.

e    Work out exactly how each staff member will be valuable to the venture. People don’t need to know why they’re pressing buttons and inputting information.

f    Make sure all staff, no matter how junior, have the chance to shape the new offering. Finally, a use for young Craig’s social media obsession…


Mostly As: You’re a visionary leader

Good for Congrats. Your natural style is actually one with relatively few drawbacks and usefully deployed in a range of scenarios. You have a flair for helping people see the wider picture. "If you were only going to pick one style, this would probably be the best one. It works in nearly all situations, because even the ‘we need to get this to the courier by 5pm’ directive approach is aided by the explanation ‘that’s because if we don’t, X, Y and Z will happen and this will impact our ability to do business," says Hay Groups’ Sell.

Not so good for Despite its all-round ‘amazingness’, a visionary approach is sometimes impractical. "Where something’s very deadline driven or health and safety-critical, you haven’t the time to do the visionary stuff," says leadership trainer Lewis. "If you’re a colonel in the army, you can’t say ‘let’s have a chat about this, let me tell you about the bigger picture of when we win the war’."

Mostly Bs: You’re a coaching leader

Good for Another style that has relatively few downsides. This kind of leader is sure to find out what an employee wants regarding professional development, and to help them achieve this. "For me, the most effective style is when you have a combination of visionary and coaching. Someone has the over-arching vision and you have a set of coachers underneath trying to move the organisation towards realising that," says the BPIF’s Woodward.

Not so good for A coaching approach won’t be applicable for some older team members. "With the changing demographic of workplaces, it may come to the point where there’s someone who is semi-retired who may feel ‘I don’t want long-term career options, I’m all about slowing down right now’," says Sell.

Mostly Cs: You’re an affiliative leader

Good for Similar but still distinct from the coaching style, the affiliative approach is one that takes care of staff’s emotions rather than just their career ambitions. If you’re an affiliative leader, it will really come into its own in times of crisis. "This will come in when you’re downsizing and will be crucial in relation to the higher retirement age," says Woodward. "What happens when someone is too old to work effectively but doesn’t want to leave? How you treat that individual will really permeate throughout your organization."

Not so good for "Affiliative tends not to work where there are performance issues," says Sell. "Obviously, if the performance issue is related to a personal problem, that’s a different story. But just being nice to someone where there’s an issue is not necessarily effective. It also doesn’t work with some people. Some will just think ‘stop asking me about my weekend, it’s none of your business’."

Mostly Ds: You’re a pace-setting leader

Good for Pretty much what it says on the tin this one. You’re probably a coffee-glugging, non-sleeping, high-energy type who has founded their own business. Leading by example, you expect everyone else to be swept along with your energy and learn from your high-achieving ways. "This sort of leader is often an entrepreneur and very hands-on. They’re very good at getting a business up and running, they’re in there checking it all themselves," says leadership methodologist of 20 years Paul Bridle. Sell adds: "This style is really effective when you have people who already have a lot of the skills so they can watch you and figure out what you’re doing."

Not so good for "As the business grows, this type can find themselves not doing so well because they don’t know how to stop actually doing things and allow and teach others to do them," says Bridle. Lewis adds: "Being a good leader isn’t about ‘well, I know how to do this so I’ll keep it to myself’ or ‘others will just pick it up’. A good leader will think about how they bring on others."

Mostly Es: You’re a directive/autocratic leader

Good for Loosely summed up as ‘my way or the highway’, this style comes into its own for many of the situations print bosses face - where there are health and safety considerations or tight deadlines, for example. "This can be really effective where there are performance issues; if you know someone can do the job and they’re just not pulling their socks up," adds Sell.

Not so good for "A directive approach can really hamper creativity," warns Woodward. "A lot of people think in a hierarchical structure: creativity lives at the top, when actually it should filter right through to the bottom. If you’re very directive, then you don’t create opportunities for those other layers to come forwards with ideas."

Mostly Fs: You’re a democratic/consultative leader

Good for A veritable Mandela, you’re good at listening to all viewpoints and encouraging debate about how something should be done. "An element of democracy should be operating where you’re trying something new; for instance, if you’re bringing a new client on board," says Woodward.

Bridle adds that the habit of seeing what other ideas are out there should extend to business-to-business relations. "Leaders need to realize that if they’re going to make quantum steps forwards they will probably get there quicker by partnering with other organizations rather than doing everything in-house. A lot of innovative stuff is coming from a joint venture approach," he says.

Not so good for Again, sometimes there just isn’t time for a democratic approach. And there’s only so long something should be debated before someone steps up and makes a decision. "You can’t discuss things forever," says Lewis. "There are some organizations where you go in and they’ve been talking about something for six months. At some point someone’s got to say ‘let’s do something about this’."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why Am I Attending the PW&WCBA

This would be the first time I am able to attend the Project World and World Congress for Business Analyst (PW&WCBA) and the first time staying inside the Walt Disney World Resort.  This venue is perfect to reduce stress, encourage relaxation and absorb all the great information.  I am excited by the content and looking forward to the event.  I have been privileged to work in several diverse industries throughout my career as a Project Manager.  Currently, I am working as a PM in healthcare, which provides a different set of unique challenges. My organization is in the process of moving from an IT-PMO to and Enterprise PMO.  I see this change as a huge and exciting challenge.  I am glad to be part of the team to develop an Enterprise PMO and utilize program and portfolio management.  During my research on PMO’s and Portfolio Management, I found the PW & WCBA conference offered the perfect combination of educational sessions all in one place in three days.

The PW&WCBA has several very exciting presentation and educational tracks to help increase my knowledge and improve the PMO’s current foundation development.  In reviewing the “Agenda at a glance,” the PW&WCBA is offering several workshops on day one.  There is one full day and a few half day workshops.  The workshop which peeks my interest is the Full-Day Workshop, “Leadership:  Retooling Leadership (through the lens of Neuroscience),” presented by William Greenwald of Humana, Inc.  This workshop will get inside the minds of great leaders.

Please find a link to the Agenda at a Glance below:

On day two there are some exciting Keynote speakers, both domestic and global.  Since we live in a global world I believe global representation is vital.  After some Opening Remarks from Chuck Millhollan of Churchill Downs, Inc., we will hear from Ralph Luck, UK Olympic Delivery Authority.  Managing any part of the Olympics would be a huge responsibility for any Project Manager.  I am sure Ralph has a few stories to tell and lessons learned.  The final keynote speaker for the day is Naomi Karten, Author of several great books, the topics include presentation skills, managing, communicating change and managing expectations.  The final presentation for the morning has an interesting title, “Speed Mentoring.”  I had to smile and think is this like speed dating, where you have three minutes with each mentee? 

After lunch there are four education tracks you could follow or you may move between the tracks.  These tracks include; From PM to Project Leader, From Business Analyst to Business Strategist, Best Practice PM/BA Collaboration and Tools, Techniques and Trends.  One of the speakers should be familiar if you are a PM or have taken any PM classes, J. LeRoy Ward.  He was pivotal in studying for the PMP certification. He will be presenting, “14 Project Leadership Skills to Boost Your Career.”  This session is a definite must to attend!   

There is no shortage of excellent keynote speakers on the third and final day.  William Greenwald, Humana, from the workshop on day one, Gurpreet Singh Kanwar, NAV Canada, a not-for-profit responsible for Canada’s Civil Air Navigation System and Carey Lohrenz, US Navy’s first female F-14 Fighter Pilot and team-building, leadership and strategy expert.  As a woman, I admire strong successful women.  You will find me in the front for her presentation!

After lunch, I would advise you, not to leave early.  In the afternoon the educational track will continue with many more exciting topics.  At first glance, a few which peek my interests include, “Is a PMP Needed, or is it Simply an Option?” “Building a successful Requirements Re-Use Program,” Mind Mapping Techniques to Improve Project Brainstorming,” “Collaboration and Planning” and “The Art of Process Mapping Fast,” just to name a few.  These presentations are definitely worth, staying until the end to hear the closing remarks.
These three days will be packed full of great information and networking opportunities. We will be in sunny Florida and be able to enjoy the sights and sounds.  I look forward to meeting and speaking with many of you during this conference and I hope you look forward to learning a lot and reading more from these informative blogs.

All of this great information and the opportunity to increase my knowledge is why I am attending the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts . Register today at  I hope to see you in Orlando!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Top PM Trends of 2013: Agile will be Viewed as a Failure for the Wrong Reasons

“Trying is the first step to failure” is probably not a motto you want to live your life by, but all too often it’s true in the Agile world. But why?

According to Mark Bashrum, VP of Strategic Intelligence & Corporate Marketing at ESI International, in 2013 Agile implementation will be viewed in some organizations as a failure, but for the wrong reasons.

When it comes to project management, studies prove time and again that Agile can help reduce cost, speed time to market and improve quality. Still, in 2013 many organizations will continue to fall short in realizing the Agile promise. Among the reasons, the professionals assigned to Agile projects simply aren’t trained in its use. And, organizations are not culturally ready to embrace its principles.

“You can’t just train a few scrum masters and call it a day,” said Bashrum.

The team including developers, testers and product owners need to know how the method works and how to break down the cultural barriers to adoption.

Check out the full video below:

Want to hear all about project management from the experts in person? Join me at ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts in September! For details on the event, click here:

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Guys (or Gals) in Grey Suits

Illustration enhanced by D. Lamb, PMP
I am a big fan of Shark Week on Discovery Channel and this is their 27th year. There are over 350 different types of sharks in the world, including a cookie cutter shark. Several of the better known sharks are Makos, Reef, Lemon, Hammerheads, Tiger, Bulls and the apex predator Great Whites. I agree with the marine biologist and conservationist, sharks are generally misunderstood.  Many are docile, intelligent and curious, but each one has a job to do and their job is important to the ecological balance. 

We need to continue to learn more about the shark and share that knowledge with others.    Some prefer deep water, but many stay around 50 or 60 feet.  Any shark will go into shallow water if they sense something of interest.  Sharks can smell blood from many miles away and are attracted to distressed or struggling animals.  Surfers in Northern California refer to these sharks as the “guys in grey suits” and understand the water is their domain and always show them respect.  I could not help but think of the parallels with project management.
Sharks are trying to prosper in their world with other marine animals, similar to project manager’s trying to thrive in the business world. I am sure you can think of different types of predators in your life. Other Sharks seem to always know who is on top and respect the bigger sharks.  Sharks will scatter when a bigger predator enters the area.  It is difficult to compare these sharks perfectly with a business hierarchy.  However, the Great White is powerful and intimidating.  This shark could be considered the CEO of their domain; I am sure you may have encountered a Great White on their way to the top.  At the next levels of the hierarchy are the Sr. VPs, VPs then Directors and Managers (i.e. Program, Project or Direct).  These positions could be related to Tigers, Hammerhead, Lemons and Bulls.  You may also encounter other intelligent marine mammals in this hierarchy, like whales and dolphins. 

A couple interesting facts, the biggest shark may not be the worst attacker.  The shark you really need to be cautious of is the Bull shark.  The Bull shark can survive in both a salt and fresh water world.  A Project Manager is wise to be cautious of the Bull shark, which is smaller than the great white, but a strong and indiscriminate attacker.  Another interesting fact, dolphins are highly intelligent and have been known to kill or at least highly deter sharks. I believe Project Managers are all different types of animals, but when swimming with a predator a dolphin may be a great choice.
As Project Managers we all know who the guys and gals are in the grey suits.  We have seen them from a distance or may have even come face-to-face.  What a Project Manager does in the situation can mean their survival.   Project Managers are not the normal prey. However, if a client or executive senses the Project Manager or the project is in distress, they can become agitated.  As with sharks, the client, executive or manager will generally give you a warning by bumping you first. If you are not prepared, the next pass will be a full bite.  Everyone who has survived a shark attack did not describe the attack as a bite, but more as intense pressure.  I believe every Project Manager has felt some kind of pressure in their careers.

As a Project Manager, it is essential to be prepared and have the right knowledge and tools at all times to handle any situation.  The right tools and knowledge can help create a barrier between you and the potential attack.  At the PW&WCBA you will be able to improve your knowledge and skills and learn, first to respect the “guys or gals in grey suits”, but also how to feed them the right information on a regular basis.  This will keep their hunger and any agitation under control.  You can use these skills to prepare and leave a leader.   
Come and join me at the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts and learn the knowledge and skills necessary to swim with predators and prevent an attack or how to survive once attacked.  Register today at  I look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Don’t Let Your Project Fail: Management and Communication Practices for Project Success

Next month, Naomi Karten, Author of Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change, will share critical management and communication practices for project success at ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts. There are countless reasons why a project fails. One of the most common is the increasing difficulty of projects. In addition to budget and resource constraints and technology challenges, projects face shifting project demands, demanding stakeholders, and the list goes on and on.

In addition industry leaders from Bank of America, Boeing, Cisco, FedEx, Humana, Shire HGT, Travelers and more will reveal PM and BA best practices and skills needed to accelerate your professional development.

Download the brochure for the full agenda:

Check out who's already signed on to attend: 

AAA National
Aaron's Inc
Acorn Consulting Enterprises
ALSAC St Jude Childrens Research Hospital
Arbitration Forums Inc
Atlas Copco Compressors LLC
AXA Equitable
Bank of America
Capital Group Companies
Caribbean Development Bank
Churchill Downs Inc
Citizens Bank
Coventry Health Care
EBG Consulting
Farm Bureau Insurance
Federal Depositors Insurance Corp
Federal Reserve Bank
Florida Virtual Campus
Follett Software
Great American Insurance Group
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services
Green Shield Canada
Hoffmann La Roche Inc
Humana Inc
International Monetary Fund
Karten Associates
Kentucky Lottery Corporation
Kindred Healthcare Inc
Kings College London
Mabson Investment
Managed Market Resources
Marathon Oil Company
McKee Foods Corporation
National Insurance Producer Registry
Navy Federal Credit Union
NCCI Holdings Inc
New York Life Insurance Company
North Highland
Northrop Grumman IS
NTT Data Inc.
Paula A. Bell Consulting, LLC
Prudential Financial
Public School Retirement System of Missouri
Railway Procurement Agency
Robert Bosch Corp
Russell Martin Associates
Scottrade Inc
Scotts Miracle Gro Company
Stage Stores
State of Wisconsin
TCS America
The Boeing Company
The Travelers Company Inc
Thomson Reuters
Travelers Companies Inc
UNC Charlotte
Vertex Inc
Why What How Consulting Inc
Wisconsin Department of Justice

September 9-11, 2013
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Orlando, FL

Mention code PW13BLOG & Save 15% off the standard rate.
Register today:

Join us and know that you are investing in yourself and your career. We hope to see you in Orlando!

The PW&WCBA Team

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Top PM Trends of 2013: Leadership

A project manager’s role on any project goes far beyond task-related deliverables. Although the project manager must be able to manage goals related to time, scope and cost, their work does not stop here since the project manager must also be able to manage numerous issues, and be able to lead the people performing them.

Leadership involves the ability to influence people to take actions toward completing a project. Projects contain components including scope, cost, and time. For the project team to meet scope, cost, and time goals, one must appreciate the impact of positive leadership. It is up to the project manager to manage issues related to scope, cost, and time, as well as to lead the team to successful completion of these goals. As the project manager develops leadership skills and uses them to encourage and motivate the team, a more positive environment will emerge.

According to Mark Bashrum, VP of Strategic Intelligence & Corporate Marketing, ESI International, there are key project management (PM) trends that will be prominent in 2013. So let’s dive in to number one, shall we?

According to Bashrum, organizations should focus on building project leadership skills such as communication, negotiation, organizational change management, and customer relationship management.  But, we don’t think that is going to happen.

It’s unfortunate but true that most companies are more comfortable focusing on hard project and program management skills than they are at examining the underlying people skills required to deliver successful projects and programs. If they don’t want the same year-over-year results, organizations will need to seek out alternatives to develop leadership skills for their project community.

“Hopefully we are wrong, and in 2013 we will see the shift. We will keep our fingers crossed,” said Bashrum.

Check out the full video below:

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA in New York City, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Requirements Whisperer: Getting Requirements to a Calm, Submissive State

You may not be a huge fan of reality TV, but if you are a dog lover who watches TV at all, you've probably heard of the Dog Whisperer.  You know...the guy who takes on what seems to be the most extreme "dogs behaving badly" situations and usually resolves them in a way that's good for the dog, the owner, family members, visitors, other family pets, the mail carrier, and anyone else who comes in contact with the said dog. 

When you first started watching the show, you probably thought it was a show all about taming the dog, right? But after a few episodes, you realized the show is as much about training the owners as it is about taming the dog.  While the Dog Whisper uses many techniques to modify the dog's behavior, one of the key components of his approach is to teach the owner how to respect the nature of the dog - in order to gain the dog's respect.  This key principle is what supports the owner in helping the dog achieve what the Dog Whisperer calls a “calm, submissive” state.

As business analysis and project management practitioners, we can learn a lot from the Dog Whisperer's approach.  When we find ourselves in this type of situation - where we are trying to tame a pack of wild requirements - we need to first make sure we have the right mindset.  That is, we must respect the nature of requirements in order to get those requirements to a calm, submissive state.   

When thinking about the nature of requirements, one characteristic discussed often amongst practitioners is that requirements naturally change.  Some requirements sets change more than others, but as business processes, stakeholders, the actual problem, or simply the collective understanding of these components change, so may the requirements. Although we should be careful to avoid unnecessary change, we must operate in a fashion that properly facilitates meaningful change - instead of trying to prevent it (or ignoring it altogether).  If you recall from the show, the Dog Whisper encourages the playfulness of an energetic dog by planning ahead for that playfulness (with walks down the street, time at the dog park, and so forth).  Similarly, when we can foresee that requirements change will be more prevalent for a specific environment or initiative, there are certain actions we can take. 

One way to properly facilitate requirements change is to apply a more agile, change-driven approach versus a more predictive, plan-driven approach.  Agile approaches encourage practitioners to build a back log in which requirements are iteratively groomed to a calm, submissive state, as they become more pertinent to the increment at hand.  Practitioners taking a more agile, change-driven approach are better positioned to embrace change.  

Are you ready to learn more about agile approaches that can help you get requirements to a calm, submissive state?  Do you want to learn about adapting to change (in general)?  If you are interested in either, you don’t want to miss the 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts.  Join me there to gain (or enhance) related skills that will benefit you, your organization, and your stakeholders.  Register today at  I hope to see you in Orlando!

Belinda Henderson, CBAP, PSM
Senior Consultant and Business Analysis Blogger, Cardinal Solutions Group
Guest Blogger, 2013 Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts