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Newsletter - Dec 2015

 
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PM Essence
Five Workplace Attitudes that can make Work FUN and help You Succeed too

                                                                                                                                - Suchitra Mishra

How many times have you thought in the mornings – I wish I didn't have to go to work today? And not just on Mondays either… This question could be a symptom of quite a common malignancy – boredom at work or tiredness of a toxic workplace that drains you of all your energy. And you are not alone – Only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup's 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace. In other words, only about one in eight workers — roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied — are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

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CEOs and Management of companies are struggling to figure out how to more effectively understand and use their people's talents, skills, and energy (Per PWC, 93% of CEOs say that they recognize the need to make a change, or are already changing, their strategy for attracting and retaining talent. But there's still an enormous gulf between intention and action; a staggering 61% of CEOs haven't yet taken the first step. This is no time for tinkering at the edges. The magnitude of the changes underway mean that a fundamental rethink of talent strategy is needed, and right now. New sources of labor to build tomorrow's workforce must be found, and the way in which people work, and where they'll work, needs to be re-conceived.)

 

Now unless you are the CEO of the company or it's your own business, you might say – oh well, I can't do anything about this. I just need to drag myself to work every day till my leadership team waves a magic wand at the workplace or till I can jump to the next job or launch my startup (Yay! for you). Actually not – as the CEO of YOU, Inc. there is a lot that YOU can do to make your work fun and your workplace enjoyable. If you want to enjoy yourself at work and make work enjoyable for others around you, here are my five favorite workplace attitudes that I have seen work:

Work-Place Attitude #1 Help Others Succeed - This beautiful Zulu proverb says it all: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”- A human is only a human because of other humans. We're all interconnected! Your Success is assured and becomes more meaningful when you help others succeed. Make work personal – be of help and ASK for help. Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows. The more you give of yourself in anything, the more you get in return – especially when you give with no expectation of return. Too often, we build islands of ourselves cutting ourselves off from people who we can learn from, grow with and share life's experiences. Do what you can for other people, give respect, work hard at building relationships and open yourself up to great experiences at work. And don't hesitate to ask for help – Not only do you get help but in this way let the other person know that you recognizes their skills and value. Saying, “Can you help me?” is the same as saying, “I know you are great at that.” And then – don't forget to say the two most powerful words – Thank You.

Work-Place Attitude #2: Ask and Listen, like you mean it – This is the best strategy to make meetings (one of the biggest fun-killers at work) much more interesting and much less Yawn-inducing. And if you have got a big case of “Loveyour- own-voice-it is”, save it for the karaoke nights after work please. Shut up and listen sometimes so that you can have fun and let others have fun too. As Kevin Cashman points out from his book, The Pause Principle here : “How often do we pause to be genuinely present with someone? How often do we really hear what the other person is saying and feeling versus filtering it heavily through our own immediate concerns and time pressures? Authentic listening is not easy. We hear the words, but rarely do we really slow down to listen and squint with our ears to hear the emotions, fears, and underlying concerns…. Try practicing authentic listening. Be with people and have the goal to fully understand the thoughts and feelings they are trying to express. Use your questions and comments to draw them out, to open them up, and to clarify what is said rather than expressing your view, closing them down, and saying only what you want. Not only will this help you to understand the value and contribution the other person brings, it will create a new openness in the relationship that will allow you to express yourself and be heard more authentically as well.”

Work-Place Attitude #3: Be Calm and Spread Calm – This one works well to counter one of the biggest energy drainers – office politics. You have to know this game but not be an active player in this game. It sucks you in till one day you wake up and realize you have become one of “them” (you know who I mean). So when tensions escalate, dramas and conspiracy theories abound, take a deep breath and stay calm. Be the Zen-master if you will. As Tony Schwartz says – When in doubt, ask yourself, “How would I behave here at my best?” We know instinctively what it means to do the right thing, even when we're inclined to do the opposite. If you find it impossible, in a challenging moment, to envision how you'd behave at your best, try imagining how someone you admire would respond. I have a good collection of experiences and articles on dealing with office politics if you need some help.

Work-Place Attitude #4 Be a Customer Advocate not a Company Advocate – Never ever say “that's how we do things here” when someone asks you why something (process, task, tool) is done the way it is done now and never accept that answer. This is a real innovation and idea killer. It makes you a zombie at work doing things just because… and not to mention the possible impact that this could be having on the customers. Every task, every action that you take at work has to be related back to how it ultimately helps the customer. Companies exist for customers and not the other way around. Use the Five Whys technique if you get stuck figuring out the how. By being a customer advocate, you stretch your mind, you force yourself the look at processes the way your customer does. It is THIS that triggers changes that improve the company's bottom line. And is an avenue for creativity for you in your current job making it more fun.

Work-Place Attitude #5: Do something that you have never done before – Lifelong learning is not just a catch word, it is a savior for boredom and weariness and leads you to a successful career. I know. I have tried it out on myself and it really works. It is the best way to move forward and regain your career momentum when you feel you are stuck. You never know what skill could help you & where and it is so much fun stretching ourselves to learning something new. Keep a journal and list what you have learnt for the first time in the day, week, and month. What did you enjoy learning the most – you can get a lot of valuable answers about yourself and your work from there. And at the workplace, teach to learn. Teaching is maybe the most amazing learning tool. Teach and learn as a mentor or as a peer. Two brains are better than one and its lots of fun too. And how does this all relate to success? There is quite a lot of science behind this (and the study of happiness at work is a rapidly growing trend as it should be) – if you are having fun at work, you are happier. If you are happier, you'll solve problems faster, be more creative, adapt fastest to change, get appreciated, receive better feedback, get promoted quicker and earn more over the long-term.

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PM Essence
Passion: Blinded or Balanced 

                                                                                                                       - Priscilla Archangel, Ph.D

Ann Marie Sastry has a big idea. With over 70 patents and 80 scientific publications to her credit, she describes herself as a “happy warrior who's driven by doing the next new thing.” That drive leads her to put in 100 hour work weeks and spend over two decades in pursuit of developing new battery technology application for use in electric vehicles. She's scrapped the traditional chemical lithium technology to rethink the basics of energy, power, mass, volume, cost and safety, all in search of a new approach. She's also raised $30 million from a variety of backers in support of her grand idea.

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Sastry has an entrepreneurial zeal for her product that compels her to pursue any and every approach and perspective to accomplish her goal. She has a passion and optimism for success that propels her forward, and expects that within a year or two her product will be in full production. But for every successful entrepreneur, there are many more whose dreams never turn into reality. That's because the same passion that propels her forward with a clear focus on success, can be blinding to others and cause them to miss the obvious cues that unfortunately their grand idea won't get off the ground.

 

An article in the Wall Street Journal on “How an Entrepreneur's Zeal Can Destroy a Startup” by Noam Wasserman provides perspective on the negative effects of such passion. It's displayed in the many mistakes founders make in starting their business including lack of technical or scientific experience, management experience, and connections with investors and potential customers. They significantly underestimate the time and resources needed to get the business running, and the toll it will take on their family relationships.

  

Interestingly, one study showed that when 800 founders' startup ideas were assessed and given feedback on the feasibility and next steps of their business, of those who received a recommendation that their ideas wasn't commercially viable, 29% continued to invest money, and 51% continued to invest time in developing their ideas. The obvious question at this point is why someone would continue to pursue a venture when they're highly unlikely to succeed. The authors suggest that these individuals had overwhelming optimism in their potential for success, coupled with a reluctance to give up after already investing so much time and money. In short, they were blinded by their passion.

 

Founders are often driven by a desire to make a mark in their world. They believe that their idea will play an important role in their environment or society, and feel compelled to pursue it. Their passion becomes the focal point of their thought process as they guide their lives to accomplish their dream. Passion managed appropriately can have a positive impact; while unchecked and unbalanced passion may lead to negative behaviors and consequences. Passion for an initiative can open one's eyes to new possibilities, but it can also blind one to the potential difficulties of pursuing it. Passion can drive entrepreneurs to sacrifice the presumed comfort of a steady paycheck to pursue their business startups, but it can also put their finances, families and future at risk.

 

Thus, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. So how do you know if your passion is out of balance?

 

• Do you have the support of your family? Or are you sacrificing too much time with your family to pursue your passion? Is your significant other supportive, or asking you to redirect your time and energy? Or talk about?

 

Many entrepreneurs fail to be honest with themselves and their loved ones about the commitment required to pursue their dream.

 

Do you have the resources to support it? Do you have sufficient finances for your personal living expenses? Are you draining your retirement savings? How are you funding this venture, and how much are you willing to invest and borrow to determine if it has a chance of success?

 

• Does it help build positive relationships? Or, do your friends and colleagues avoid you because this is the only thing you talk about? Engaging in conversations on a variety of topics with individuals from various backgrounds can serve as a creative catalyst, versus being singularly focused on your project.

 

• Do you have the skillset to accomplish it? Or are you able to gather others around you with the right skillset to support your efforts? Too many entrepreneurs try to do it all when in reality they need to surround themselves with a people who possess a variety of skillsets and needs that will evolve over time.

 

• Does it meet a need, fill a void, or satisfy a desire in the marketplace? What may seem like a wonderful idea to you, may lack sufficient value to others. Are people really willing to invest in it or pay for it?

 

If you responded “no” to any of these primary questions, this is the time to think carefully about what you're doing and find a way to balance your passion. This is the time to make sure your zeal is not overshadowing reality, and focus on initiatives where you CAN be successful, where you CAN fulfill your responsibilities to family and friends, where your talents CAN be most valued.

 

Never give up on your passion. Simply maximize it and apply it where it will be most beneficial. Whether your passion is focused on an entrepreneurial venture, a great new idea for a process or product within your organization, a pastime or hobby, or a business initiative, balance is the key.

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PM Essence
De-jargoning Agile - PM Article a small attempt 
                                                                                            - Premalatha Balan 

Agile software development is a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between selforganizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. (Ref: Wikipedia).

 

How much of that can a newbie to Agile understand? Most, I presume, with just a few words that need further explaining. Agile gets quite interesting as one dips a toe or tries to deep dive. There are many stock phrases, but one has to get used to the idea of jargon as you go into technology development. 

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The technological world is filled with jargon and if you want to delve deeper, you will definitely have to get used to some phrases too. In terms of jargon related to Agile, swim lanes, pipelines, roadmaps — are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Agile transition is struggling in many places. The first reaction I see in companies and people who are going through such transition is their dislike of jargon or their feeling of intimidation in reaction to the flurry of jargon. This only turns into a flood submerging them as they try more. No wonder they want to swim away from it!

 

Hence, a humble attempt:

 

As an Agile practitioner, I want to translate some Agile jargon into simple and clear words so that anyone who wants to know what this is all about can get some idea.

 

User Story - The sentence above is my 'User Story' for the title of this article. It is an epic*. It is the user story of the Product Backlog* I am going to build. The Customer* in this case is someone, who has or has not been exposed to Agile before, but would like to learn what these words mean. This would enable him/her to understand the benefits of it so that he/she can use it in their area of work (ooh there is a 'user story' evolving right there!).

 

Could we say, that the 'user story' is a story that defines the purpose of why this is required by the customer? - To de-jargon, what is the Acceptance Criteria* for this user story?

 

1. One, or few, words explaining the meaning of the jargon

 

2. Simple words used.

 

3. No additional jargon thrown in.

 

So, could we say that - A 'User Story' is a story that defines the purpose of why this is needed?.... de-jargons the jargon "user story"?

 

The user story is usually written in a certain format:

 

As a xxx

 

I want, yyy

 

So that, zzz

 

Writing it in the above format helps to get the purpose clearly defined.

 

As a xxx - is the one who is doing it.

 

I want yyy - is what he/she wants, - or is the problem he/she is trying to solve,

 

So that zzz - identifies the purpose of why this is needed

 

Does the above de-jargon 'User Story'? There is one problem in the user story that I have written to explain the title. It is written in the Solution Domain* not in the Problem Domain*. Did you notice that? There is a reason why I have written so. Try to find out by your own

 

Jargon

 

List of jargon used above and possible simple meanings:

 

Epic* - a huge thing to do, with many unknowns and uncertainties that are not clear yet.

 

Product Backlog* - a to-do list to achieve the objective of the product (title is the product in my above user story).

 

Acceptance Criteria* - a list that unambiguously defines what are the things that need to be achieved in order to consider the job is done*.

Done* - the goal is achieved and no more work is needed. No further revisiting required

 

Solution Domain* -an issue is explained in the way it is being to be solved

 

Problem Domain* - an issue is explained in terms of the problem that needs to be solved

 

Customer* - the beneficiary of the solution that is being developed

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PM Essence
DidYouKnow
Q. This is a term coined by comedians and an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention.

A. Humblebrag is a term coined by comedian and Parks and Recreation writer/producer Harris Wittels. The kind of post on Facebook or Twitter that tells the world how great your life is, then downplays it under the guise of humility or selfdeprecating humour. Ironically, that attempt at minimizing big news can actually sometimes work against us, irritating others and turning their perception of us negative. Humblebrag is when someone, possibly unconsciously, manages to show off about something while simultaneously couching it in terms of self-deprecation – at least enough to give the impression that the author doesn't believe the hype. This is nothing but an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud.
 
[Source - Internet]
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Spirituality in Simulation
                                                                                                                               - Janardhan Pranesh

The word spirituality brings varied emotions with people across age group and profession. The concept of spirituality itself has leapfrogged in the last decade, while the advent of social networking and self-distracting tools made 'Spirituality” as must have for peaceful life - to incline spiritually is becoming Internet of Things (IoT) of life.

 

The average human life has moved into an era of distractions and these distractions have evolved in spirituality as pit-stop in the life. Spirituality is now a specialized and personalized service, thanks to smartphone's and apps. This leads to emergence of new concepts in spirituality; few startups have become mega spiritual corporations.

 

 

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Pre web 2.0, spirituality was used as a step back option to reconnect with inner self and it was also used as affordable lever to mitigate the psychological insecurities. Emergence of web 2.0 resulted in making spirituality a hide out to connect with inner self through professional networking or social networking sites.

 

The similar effect is evident in the product and services segment; wherein simulation solutions spiritualizes the business goals. Customer aspirations have kept the product and services companies on their toes to remain innovative to achieve the brand loyalty; thereby simulation solutions are becoming the limbic brain of the design.

 

The drivers for spirituality and simulation solutions are very much similar:-

 

Spiritual Guru's (simulation solver):

Spirituality movement driven by person or institution to provide arrested landing to human mind over distractions and spirituality is religion agnostic. The fan following to any spirituality way doesn't just depend on the Guru, it all depends on the experiences of the disciples and how well the Guru's concept have connected with their day-to-day life.

 

Simulation solution addresses the spiritual quotient to all product and service companies by being CAD agnostic and bringing Nirvana to their engineering problems (helping their engineering problems attain Nirvana). Simulation products helps the companies to protect their IP and uniqueness of the product

 

Spiritual Movement (simulation ecosystem):

A unique spiritual ideology brings fanatic followers, these followers become brand ambassadors bringing business value to the movement. This is possible, when follower's quality of life is enriched in everyday life.

 

Simulation ecosystem does the same to product and services companies; the availability of qualified manpower and solution capability to solve the engineering problems involving multiple physical entities. The adoption of specific simulation depends on whom the customer is following in day-to-day life than whom he/she wants to follow.

 

Spirituality Religion Agnostic (Simulation solution R&D focus and on Cloud):

Any spiritual movement is successful when the spiritual gurus/institutions make right research and provide scientific, medical rationales to follow the path. This reassures the followers as 'Why' chosen method will improve their quality of daily life.

 

Simulation solutions get respect and acceptability with customer segments due to its focus on R&D spend, the R&D spend by the simulation solutions will help customers to achieve their business targets, attain high ROI on technology spend and protect the IP.

 

Simulated products/services will be the enablers to connect with 'Why' quotient of end customers of the product or services and simulation solutions on cloud helps its customers to practice Innovation Spirituality at low cost of ownership. Soon customers will aim to decipher new 'Why' i.e. IoT with simulation.

 

We are entering an era, wherein International Yoga Day is being celebrated and Steffi Graf is named as the brand ambassador for Ayurveda, similarly Multiphysics will be the yoga of simulation very soon.


Image Courtesy: Kishan Harwalkar

 

Ref http:// mfgtechupdate.com/2015/07/spiritualityin- simulation-2/

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