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Newsletter - August 2016

 
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PM Essence
Editor’s Note
SoumenDe Dear Friends,

Greetings from PMI Bangalore India Chapter!

  PMI Bangalore India Chapter recently concluded the 11th edition of Project Management Practitioners’ Conference (PMPC 2016). The focus of the Conference was "Enterprise Agility..." which resonated with the current mood of the industry. Once again the Conference was a smashing success with delegates and speakers saying nice words about how they enjoyed participating in the Conference.

 

This Conference was managed as a project with detailed planning, risk analysis, cost management, contract management and stakeholders management among other things. One of the important stakeholders of the Conference were the team of volunteers who managed the entire project.  I myself, being a volunteer, it often makes me wonder what makes the volunteers come together to organize this Conference year after year with the same kind of passion and enthusiasm. In a volunteering framework there is no formal power or hierarchical structure, no command and control mechanism, hence they only do volunteering work based on INTRINSIC motivation with no expectation for pleasing their management or for getting some reward and recognition.

This Conference was managed as a project with detailed planning, risk analysis, cost management, contract management and stakeholders management among other things. One of the important stakeholders of the Conference were the team of volunteers who managed the entire project.  I myself, being a volunteer, it often makes me wonder what makes the volunteers come together to organize this Conference year after year with the same kind of passion and enthusiasm. In a volunteering framework there is no formal power or hierarchical structure, no command and control mechanism, hence they only do volunteering work based on INTRINSIC motivation with no expectation for pleasing their management or for getting some reward and recognition.

Editorial pic

With busy lives, it is often hard to find time to volunteer. It is noted that these volunteers look for the higher purpose rather than focus on narrow things. They don't lay bricks; they build a cathedral. They leverage the volunteering opportunity to make friends, reach out to the community, learn new skills, and take the learnings to advance their career. Volunteering also helps protect their mental and physical health and reduces stress. In our office, we work with the team members who are not volunteers; they are paid staff. So should we get more results from them when compared to getting the same work done from a team of volunteers?  As managers, we usually use a combination of INTRINSIC and EXTRINSIC motivational skills to get the work done. We try to make the team align with the purpose and values of the organization. Usually walking up to them to give a “pat-on-the-back“ or highlighting their accomplishment in leadership forum makes a stronger impact on their motivation compared  to  crediting their salary account with  a small 'award' component.  When we look at any high performing team, like the team on a mission critical project or a team winning the final against its opponent in an Olympic game, we can see that they will be driven more by INTRINSIC motivational factors rather than EXTRINSIC factors. Donning the national flag at the victory podium is what propels them to give their best. INTRINSIC motivators are often the most powerful motivators and we as leaders need to recognize the impact from these motivational factors in getting the best from our team.

 

Happy Reading.

Thanks and Best Wishes,
Soumen De, PMP
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Technology Support : : Ramesh Chandra Pathak, PMP
Editorial Board
Murali Santhanam, PMP
Namita Gupta, PMP, PMI-ACP
Rama K, PMP, PMI-ACP
Shikha Vaidh, PMP, PMI-ACP
Soumen De, PMP
Sujata Sahu, PMP
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PM Essence

The Way We Solve Problems - Creative vs Methodological

                                                                                          - Navneet Bhushan

How do we solve problems?

First, we acknowledge something to be a problem only when it becomes a pain in the, well, neck. Unless, it becomes a monster hitting us where it really hurts - we don't look at it at all. May be because we have been told to "Stop Worrying Be Happy", we forget about any active problem hunting. Here in lies the first danger - Stop Worrying doesn't imply Stop Thinking.

 

How can we be proactive in hunting problems?

 

• Be there to observe how and what our customers need - don't ask – all Feedback systems fail to get to the essence of what is needed.

 

• Spend time in observing, getting inputs, looking at how our customers do their work and then think some more - well our Top Managers must be saying - you can't keep on thinking. Do - Act - Execute. Well, execution without thinking or what the Japanese call Hansei, is a recipe for disaster.

 

We invariably or 99% of time design the solutions for wrong problems. This is for the simple reason that we have not spent time in developing the understanding of the problem, describing it from multiple perspectives, looking at it from inside and outside.

 

After we have developed a solution for the wrong problem which also by the way will be a sub-optimal solution, we find the actual problem to be different because in our cause-effect mind the solution that we proposed haven't triggered the desired results. Then we say – oh, the real problem is not what we solved but THIS. Now comes the fantastic ingenuity of human mind and lethargy in letting go of partial success. We say – “any ways we have a solution that we designed for what we thought is the problem. Now how can we use the solution to solve the newly identified problem?” We work on tweaking the solution, refining it by adding more components to achieve new functionality needed.

This leads to the solution becoming more complex than the original problem. In fact, the monsters that we created need to be managed now - we will create infrastructure to manage it. We will not let it go at all! After all that has given us past success. Anybody knows how many Enterprise IT systems have become these monsters?

 

This is a problem fission reaction that keeps on building bigger and bigger complexity rather than Value needed by the end customers. Had we spent more time in thinking about existing and future needs of the users, we would have solved problems that are really need to be solved.

 

Think! Think deeply! However, “Observe” and “Learn” are two very strong, unfortunately highly neglected, ACTION verbs in solving problems.

 

This is not about too much analysis leading to paralysis (that's where may be the Post-Fact Data Analysts get into - Six Sigma Experts (The pseudo ones) are you listening!) - it's about active processing of experiences.

 

It has to be beyond Politics, beyond specific persons, beyond specific relationships, beyond petty personal gains. It has to be at a higher selfish goal. As my selfish goal is that I win if my customers create more- everyday!

 

Creative Vs Methodological problem solving

 

There is a considerable debate and explanation of whether there can be a process for creative problem solving in contrast to methodological problem solvin. Many believe creative problem solving is too creative to be reduced to a process. TRIZ enthusiasts differ here of course!

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 A reported study in 2007 provides an interesting verification of the difference between creative thinking and methodological problem solving. The right brain is active more for creative thinking and also the diffused visual attention rather than the focused attention on visual triggers.

 

Very interesting indeed - if you are a good traffic navigator and knows how to find a place in a crowded city you may be more methodical, while if you work on diffused visual inputs to imbibe a geography and use these for constructing or imagining your world - you may be more of a creative thinker.

 

The study however discovers another point - before the ideation process - what was the state of your mind. Whether it was more right brained excited or left brain excited will impact how you solve the problem.

 

 

Well this confirms to a large extent the psychological inertia of core competence - we have been solving problems in a particular way throughout our life. We use the same particular thinking whatever be the problem. The engineering mind will always reduce the problem into smaller more manageable problems while an artist will always try to construct patterns from observation.

 

Before the actual problem solving, I have found in my workshops as well, we need to prime the minds of the participants into different methods by playing games or solving problems by different methods. Then the output of the workshop increases - better quantity and quality.

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PM Essence

The Joy of Volunteering!

 

                             -  Venkatraman Lakshminarayanan

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” - Mahatma Gandhi

 

Doing something good for self and for others is the hallmark of volunteering. The recent floods at Chennai reaffirmed my faith in the power of volunteering when thousands of volunteers from all parts of the state came out to the flooded streets to take care of their fellowmen. What they got in return is the goodwill and change of mindset about the youth of today, the adults of tomorrow.

 

Volunteering is not only needed in the time of crisis but also in all walks of life, at all times in life.

 

“Give a little.. Get a lot..”

 

The reason to title the topic as “The Joy of..” is due to the fact that there is immense joy that one receives when he or she volunteers for a cause. The cause does not need to be necessarily philanthropic or only to the underprivileged but also to the people who have the thirst for knowledge and lack the self-confidence to be able to learn something new to improve in their lives. Skill-based volunteering and corporate volunteering as part of CSR activities are also great ways to volunteer.

 

I wish to focus on how the skill-based volunteering became a part of me and how I believe each one of us should start focusing on it, if not already.

volunteering

I started my foray during my school & college days when I volunteered for coordinating the playing & outing schedules within friends, managing multiple tech events at college as part of various tech associations, to start with. This drive continued post joining the industry where I started to volunteer for project management trainings (post working hours, in house) wherein I helped many co-workers complete their PMP exam preparation. The thank you emails from them was more satisfying than actually facilitating the course itself. I also had the privilege to volunteer in the apartment complex as a board member for almost 4+ years contributing to various events and initiatives for the benefit of the co-apartment owners. The smile in the faces of residents, especially the kids gave such a satisfaction that money couldn't buy. One more volunteering experience is with the PMI Bangalore India Chapter, in conducting various agile related courses helping 100s of participants clear their PMI-ACP certification.

When PMI recently changed their CCR process, I was one of those who felt that it was in the right move than just being a passive PDU seeker. As part of growing up in a responsible society, I think it definitely is a mandate to all the PMI certified professionals to give back to the community in many ways than one.

 

The beauty of the entire change is that it makes the individuals now focus on giving back to the community at large, and make their lives and others more meaningful.

 

What remains the same?

 

• Total PDUs (60 for PMP, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-PBA and 30 for PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP respectively)

 

What has changed?

 

• No more earning of 15 PDUs by just doing the work at the desks (reduced to 8) – Which in my opinion is a great move.

The 60 PDUs have been broken down into Earn by Education track (35 PDUs) and Giving Back (25 PDUs). And within Education track, each of the Technical, Leadership, and Strategic & Business Management should at least be having 8 PDUs each which gives a good spread. These 3 above are called the PMI Talent Triangle.

 

60% of PDUs are from the Education Track which is good, to grow as an individual. And PMI itself has quoted that the number of PDUs in the “giving back” track has been reduced. I do not believe this needs to constrain somebody from actually “giving back more” to the community. Volunteering needs an attitude to learn and experience new things and a willingness to share one's experiences and knowledge without expecting too much in return, though it still gives you much in return (if only people can look beyond the monetary part of returns).

 

If you keenly observe one of the PMI Talent Triangle elements of Technical, there is a lot to teach and a lot to learn in the aspect of Agile Practices, Governance, EVM, Performance Management, Schedule, Time, Budget management. Each PMI certified member can share his or her knowledge in the technical area of expertise and continue to contribute to both teach and learn in the process.

 

In doing so, the entire PDUs that were gained in the “Technical” part of PMI Talent Triangle can be easily put into action for claiming the 17 PDU (out of the 25 PDU) as part of “Giving Back”. Also, there is no limit to the volunteering PDUs. So the more, the merrier.

 

Volunteering is so addictive that you will constantly be pushed towards more and more.

 

There is no good day to start it – Start small, Start Now! Make a difference to self and to others!

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PM Essence

PM Accomplishments

India Analytics Summt

 

Soumen De, member of PMI Bangalore India Chapter, was invited to deliver a key note lecture at the at India Analytics Summit 2016 in Bangalore on July 26th, 2016. This event was organised by UNICOM.

 

He spoke on the topic on “Redefining your Business Strategy using Insights from Big Data Analytics” to the delegates who came from across the country to attend the event. During his presentation he discussed how data analytics can help to meet the ever evolving customer expectation which is often very different across regions making it more challenging to deliver the 'best' quality for each specific market. This session examined how the automotive big data analytics can enable companies to develop a business strategy that provides competitive advantage by improving launch quality and customer satisfaction.

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PM Essence

 Volunteer Development Program - Discovery Village, Kanakapura Road

On June 4th close to 30 volunteers, from the PMI Bangalore India Chapter, took part in an outbound volunteer development program.

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From the very beginning of confirming the participants to coordinating the travel, everything was planned and communicated meticulously. This was one of the first out bound development programs being conducted by the Bangalore Chapter. The program was kick started by the Chapter President Vijay Paul and he introduced the trainer in charge of the program from “Boundless Initiatve” headed by Col. HT. Jagadish and Col. Ravi Raj Patil.

 

They explained the program guidelines and the schedule for the day. It's started with introductions and each of the volunteer getting “number badges”. The objective of the program was to learn with experience.

 

There were total four activities:

 

1. The first activity was focused on ensuring that the team can get through hurdles with proper planning, observation and communication which involves the team coming together to achieve the objective of passing through the hurdle.

 

2. The next activity involved, the team working together and overcoming obstacles using the tools given to each other and complete the task in time assigned. It also stressed on negotiating and working together as a team.

 

3. Post lunch there was an activity which involved teamwork to answer 2 questions based on cards provided to each team member. This emphasized on ensuring the team member with most important cards does speak up and also the team comes out with logic to ensure the questions could be answered on time.

 

4. Finally there was another physical activity which involved walking using poles and ropes tied to each other. The ropes emphasized the importance of family and friends facilitating balance in life along with work. It was fun filled learning experience for all volunteers.

 

The day wrapped up with a vote of thanks by the Chapter President and a few volunteers sharing their experience. It was a fun filled learning experience for all participants.

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