Peace of Mind

Once Buddha was travelling with a few of his followers. While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, "I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake."
The disciple walked up to the lake. At that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy and turbid. The disciple thought, "How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?"
So he came back and told Buddha, "The water in there is very muddy. I don't think it is fit to drink."
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake.
The disciple went back, and found that the water was still muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.
After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.
This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, and the water was clean and clear. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said," See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own -- and you have clear water.
Your mind is like that too ! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don't have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless."
Having 'Peace of Mind' is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process!

Source: social media

Project CRASHing

CRASHING means reducing the project time by assigning extra resources.

Usually this method will have cost impacts.

The Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place to Work

A good reading here -

1. Give industry standard salaries
2. Give employee extras - like profit sharing, project bonus etc.
3. Workplace must have sufficient personal space
4. Place a vending machine, snack corner etc.
5. Let them take few breaks, afternoon naps etc.
6. A gym or some entertainment (Wii like games) is a good option
7. Define clear and specific expectations and let them know it
8. Let there be two-way performance reviews
9. Make leaders and managers accountable for treating employees with respect and care
10. Give them choice of type of work than forcing.
11. Provide ongoing opportunities and incentives to learn, develop and grow
12. It must not be simply about making profits

Project Life Cycle and Organization Notes

  • Project Life Cycle
    • A collection of sequential or overlapped phases
    • Can be documented with a methodology
    • General Structure: Start, Organize and Prepare, Carry out work, and close
    • Cost and staffing are lower when starting the project
    • Cost is higher when executing
    • Stakeholder influence, uncertainty and risk are higher at the starting stage
    • Product Life Cycle – Generally sequential and non-overlapping phases. Product life cycle ends with the product’s retirement. Phases are determined by manufacturing and control need of the organization
    • One product may have many projects associated. Development of product is a project, adding new features to an existing product is a project, feasibility study might be a project, running an advertisement campaign may be a project etc.
    • Project Phases are divisions within a project. Typically they are sequential but may overlap also .
    • There will be some form of transfer or handoff of the work product produced as the phase deliverable when the phases are sequential.
    • The end of phase represents a point to change or terminate the project if necessary
    • Phase-to-Phase relationship
      • Sequential – One phase starts once the previous phase completes
      • Overlapping – One phase can start before the previous one starts. This is used when fast tracking (a schedule compression technique) is required.
      • Iterative – Phases will not be planned in advance. Next phase will be planned on the basis of the output of the first phase
  • Operations - are ongoing jobs or repetitive products, services or results. Eg: Manufacturing, Accounting. Operations are never ending. i.e., It will not be terminated when the objectives are met. Operations work supports business environments.
  • Stakeholders
    • those who are actively involved in the project
    • those who can positively or negatively influence the project
    • There will be internal and external stakeholders
    • Failure in identification of right stakeholder will result in wrong schedules and raise in cost.
    • Manage stakeholder expectations is one of the major role of Project Manager
    • Includes:
      • Customers/users – those who will directly utilize the project’s product
      • Sponsors – those who will finance the project. Sponsor champions the project once it is conceived first and the time of initial scope and project charter. Serves as a spokesman to get support from higher level management. Sponsor need to handle issues which are beyond project manager’s control. Sponsor authorizes changes in scope, phase-end reviews, go/no-go decisions for high risks.
      • Portfolio Managers
      • Program Managers
      • Project Management Office – Provide 2) administrative support on policies, methodologies and templates, 2) training, mentoring, coaching of project managers 3) project support, guidance and training on management of projects and tools, 4) resource alignment 5) centralize communication between managers, sponsors, and other stakeholders
      • Project Managers – requires flexibility, good judgment, strong leadership and negotiation skills and must possess good knowledge of project management practices. His responsibilities include: 1) Develop project management plan and other related plans 2) Keeping the project in track 3) Identifying, monitoring and responding to risk, 4) Provide accurate and timely reports 5) act as a lead person for communication with stakeholders.
      • Project Team – Comprised of PM, team and others who may not be involved with management.
      • Functional Managers – Accounting, HR, finance etc. They give subject matter expertize
      • Operations management – R&D, design, manufacturing, provisioning, testing, maintenance
      • Sellers/business partners -
  • Organizational Structure
    • Matrix organizations are a blend of functional and projectized behaviors
    • Weak matrix is more of a functional organization
    • Project manager’s role = co-coordinator OR expeditor
    • Strong matrix provide more value for project managers
  • Organizational Process Assets
    • Updating OPA is the responsibility of team members
    • Process and procedures
      • Standard processes, standard produce and project life cycles, quality policies and procedures
      • Standardized guidelines, work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria and performance measurement criteria,
      • Templates
      • Guidelines and criteria for tailoring the organization’s set of standard processes to satisfy needs of the project
      • Organization communication requirements
      • Project closure guidelines
      • Financial control procedures
      • Issue and defect management procedures
      • Change control procedures
      • Risk control procedures
      • Procedures for prioritizing, approving, and issuing work authorizations
    • Corporate knowledge base
      • Process measurement databases used to collect and make available measurement data on processes and products
      • Project files
      • Historical information and lessens learned
      • Issue and defect management database
      • Configuration management knowledge base
      • Financial databases

Motivation quote

“Usually both motivation and demotivation comes from top”

Project Management Framework Notes

  • Is a temporary endeavor
  • Will have definite start and end date (or beginning and end)
  • Can be to create a unique product, service or result
    • Effecting a change in structure, staffing or style of organization
    • Developing or acquiring new new/modified information system
    • Constructing a building or infrastructure
    • Implementing a business process or Procedure
  • End is reached when:
    • Objectives achieved
    • Project terminated (goals will not or cannot be met)
    • Project is no longer needed
  • Temporary nature does not mean the duration of the project is short
  • There might be repetitive elements, but fundamental uniqueness will be there.
  • Can involve a single person, a single organizational unit or multiple organizational units
Project Management
  • Application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to the project activities to meet the project requirements
  • Achieved through the application and integration of below process groups:
    • Initiating
    • Planning
    • Executing
    • Monitoring and Controlling
    • Closing
  • Managing a project typically includes:
    • Identify requirements
    • Address stakeholder needs, concerns and expectations while planning
    • Balancing below constraints:
      • Scope
      • Quality
      • Schedule
      • Budget (cost),
      • Resource (Human Resource)
      • Risk
Project Management Plan
  • Is iterative in nature and goes through progressive elaboration throughout the project life cycle
Portfolio Management
  • Portfolio is a collection of Programs or Projects and other works grouped together to facilitate effective management of work to meet statigic business objectives
  • Programs/Projects need not be interdependent or related
  • Portfolio Management is the management of a collection of projects, programs or portfolios. This also includes identifying, prioritizing, authorizing, managing and controlling.
  • Focus on ensuring that projects/programs are aligned to the organizational strategies.
Program Management
  • Group of related projects
  • A program will have always projects
  • If the relationship of the project is only that of a shared client, seller, technology or resource – the it should be treated as portfolio, and not program
Strategic Considerations
  • Reasons for a project are:
    • Market demand
    • Strategic opportunity or business need
    • Customer request
    • Technological advance
    • Legal requirements
Project Management Office
  • An organizational body for the management of projects in an organization. They give project management support to directing the management of projects.
  • Managed projects  may not be related
  • Form, functions and structure is dependent on the needs of the organization
  • May delegate as an authority to act as:
    • Integral decision maker
    • Make recommendations
    • Terminate projects
    • Selection, management and deployment of shared/dedicated project resources
    • Identifying and developing project management methodology, best practices and standards
    • Coaching, mentoring, training and oversight
    • Monitoring compliance with project management standards, policies, procedures and templates via project audits
    • Developing and managing project policies, procedures, templates and other shared documents
    • Co-ordination of communication across projects
  • Activities in PMO are aligned to the strategic needs of the organization
Operations Management
  • Operations are organizational ongoing functions. Eg: Manufacturing, Accounting
  • Projects intersect with operations at many points. Eg: Closing phase
  • Operations are permanent endovers
Project Manager
  • Achieve project objectives
  • May report to Functional Manager or Portfolio Manager or Program Manager, depending on the organizational structure
  • Possess:
    • Knowledge about project management
    • Performance – what PM is able to do or accomplish
    • Personal – behavior when performing activity (attitude, core personality characteristics, leadership
Functional Manager
  • Concentrates on specific administrative/functional/operations area
  • Responsible for facet of core business
Enterprise Environmental Factors
  • Refers to internal and external factors that influence or surround a project’s success
  • Refers to:
    • Organizational culture, structure and processes
    • Govt. or industry standards
    • Infrastructure
    • Human resources
    • Personal administration
    • Company work authorization systems
    • Marketplace conditions
    • Stakeholder risk tolerances
    • Political Climate
    • Communication Channels
    • Commercial Databases
    • Project Management Information Systems

Expectancy theory

Expectancy theory believes some kind of rewards or incentives will motivate the employees to achieve the job.

More reading here

Change Agents

One who plan and bring a change is a Change Agent.

"Leaders fail when they have an inappropriate attitude and philosophy about the relationship between themselves and their followers. Those who do not respect and trust their followers cannot lead them."

- O’Toole, J

Spider Chart

Also called:

  • Web chart
  • Radar chart
  • Star plot
  • Cobweb chart
  • Irregular polygon
  • Polar chart
  • Kiviat diagram

It is a form of 2-dimensional depiction of multiple quantitative variables represented on axes starting from a same point.

A spider chart will look like this (pictures picked from internet):


Kaizen method

Kaizen (Japaniese) means continuous improvement. It consists of below basic elements:

  1. Team work
  2. Personal discipline
  3. Improved morale
  4. Quality circles
  5. Suggestions for improvement

Business Process Transformation (BPT) and Total Quality Management (TQM)

Both are models used to improve business performance and agility. In other words models for strategic change.

  • Business Process Transformation
    • Organizations are looking to simplify processes and establish best practices.
    • A solid foundation can be created this way which will impact the core operation of the company and enable it to focus its key business drivers.
    • Got this from – “Business process transformation is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed”
    • Is a top-down approach. It is about looking at entire processes than specific activities
  • Total Quality Management, Lean, Six Sigma etc. – Organizations are seeking continuous improvements in Quality also following these methodologies
    • TQM refers to the culture, attitude and structure of a company that seeks to provide customers with products/services that satisfy customers needs.

Situational Fluency

It is the quality of good understanding and working knowledge to help solve the problems in a situation.

Eg: most sales people fails because they are not able to convince, or answer customer’s questions.

It is important that the person must have ‘situational fluency’ or a good understanding about his field.

Pareto Analysis

Here is a good URL regarding Pareto Analysis, or 80/20 Rule.

When to use and when not to use Cause and Effect Diagrams?

  • Use - Analyze and find the cause, “root” cause of a problem, especially a “complicated” problem.
  • Use – When there are multiple causes identified for a problem
  • Use – When you think all other methods are time consuming.
  • May not use – for a simple problem and there are not much dependencies
  • May not use – when not much team members are involved
  • May not use – when the communication between team members is complex
  • May not use – when there is time constraint considering the complexity of problem

Stakeholder types

  • Key Stakeholder – All those who may be positively or negatively affected during project life cycle
  • Non-key Stakeholder – All those who does not need to be recognized in order for the successful project execution. But for the sake of identifying stakeholders, we need to find them too.

Fishbone/Ishikawa/cause-and-effect diagram

The fishbone diagram is a tool for identifying the root causes of quality problems.


Check this useful URL

Float and Critical Path

If the float is zero, then you can say the activity is on a critical path. So you can conclude the non zero float activity will be in non-critical path

You can calculate float by either:

  • Late Finish (LF) – Early Finish (EF) … or
  • Late Start (LS) – Early Start (ES)

Monte Carlo Analysis

Monte Carlo analysis is a schedule development technique. It is used to understand the impact of risk and uncertainty.

Discretionary Dependency

It refers to the experience of project manager and his team. It is usually acquired from the lessons learned from past projects.

Organizational Responses to Change – Study notes

  • Successful change depends on
    • Executive vision
    • Culture of company
    • Execution
  • Continuous Renewal – Change is continual and fluid, rather than dramatic in nature. McKinsey and Co. is one of the organization which successfully followed Continuous Renewal for the organizational change.
  • Organizations changes over time, and expands to other geographies. But it retains its core values and principles
  • Kaizen (or Continuous Improvement) is a system of continuous improvement in quality, technology, processes, company culture, productivity, safety and leadership.
  • Innovation may be an individual’s success while continuous improvement will be a group’s effort.
  • Information Technology offers huge opportunities, but executive vision, experience and wisdom must guide decisions about the use of Information Technology.

Organizational Development and Change – Study notes

  • Organizational Development (OD) is an evolving subject area.
  • Beckhard said “Organization Development is an effort planned, organisation-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioral-science knowledge“
  • In addition to Beckhard’s definition, today’s organizations have major role in knowledge management and continuous learning. Characteristics of organizational development as per his definition are:
    • Planned
    • Organization wide
    • Managed from top
    • Increase organization effectiveness and health
    • Planned interventions
    • Behavioral science knowledge
  • Change Management refers to the implementation of a process or methodology to successfully achieve the goals of organizational change.
  • Organizational Life Cycle. Identified-usually followed-phases are:
    • Entrepreneurial Phase – A new organization
    • Collectivity Phase – More resources joined. Teams started forming.
    • Formalization and Control Phase – Structure starts building. Specialized departments started to form. Rules in place.
    • Elaboration of structure Phase – Has become a bureaucracy.
  • Change Programs are largely unsuccessful because of poor change management. Few reasons for failures are:
    • Misunderstanding about change
    • No clear vision
    • Goals are too far
    • No Planning
    • Lack of support by top management
    • Communication problems
    • Cultural problems
    • Fear of failure etc.
  • For the success of change management programs, below things are necessary:
    • Commitment from top management
    • Stakeholder consultation
    • User involvement and business outcomes
    • Proper communication
    • Alignment of technology and culture
    • Continued learning
    • Alignment and Improvement throughout the business
  • The change management process involves:
    • Diagnosing your present state (where-now)
    • Determining the future state (where-future)
    • Managing the transition (how)

Drivers of Change – Study notes

  • Change is inevitable. If you do not make a change, the change will change you!
  • Change Management is a critical focus area for Managers
  • Alvin Toffler (former editor - Fortune Magazine) said this some decades ago - “There is only one constant today and that is change”.
  • Some reasons which will force you for a change are, but not limited to:
    • Weak business performance
    • Poor customer satisfaction
    • High rate of project failure
    • Lack of innovation
    • Rapid technology advancement
    • New business models
    • Outsourcing
    • Merging and Acquisitions
    • Collaborative partnership models
    • Greater agility in customer responsiveness.
  • During late 1800s, most of the European organizations were family businesses or owned by single individual.Today’s bureaucracy style of organization structures came later which gave organizations a structure which is independent from individual ties.
  • Max Weber suggested that organizations could be managed on an impersonal, rational basis. Weber’s reasons for introducing bureaucratic management are:
    • There will be formal guidelines on code of conduct of employees. Managers/employees come and go but the rules followed will be same
    • Because of common rules, there is no question of partiality and protects employees from personal wimps from managers.
    • Everybody performs only jobs which are designated to them based on their expertize so it gives employees to work jobs which are easy for them.
    • Hierarchical and Authority Structure
    • Rationality
  • Scientific Management
    • Frederik W Taylor – proposed a theory based on relationships between workers and machine based production systems. He said “the principle object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee”. But main disadvantage of this model (scientific management) was the concentration on finely subdivided tasks that a worker would repeat thousands of times.
  • Human Relations School – believed that the effective control comes from within the individual worker rather than from strict, authorization control. The focus on this thought increased following a series of studies, known as “Hawthorne studies” (Chicago electric company). The studies found that employees will perform better if managers treat them positively.
  • Fordism – Originated by Henry Ford (founder, Ford Motor Corporation). Ford controlled all the stages of production from raw materials to final distribution by a process of standardization – which recognizes the need to embrace quality at all levels of the organization.
  • Knowledge Age – Today’s age is called Knowledge Age where we do continuous learning in the pursuit of intellectual assets is at the heart of competitiveness.
    • Peter F Drucker said “Education will become the center of knowledge society, and the school is the key institution”
  • Environmental Turbulence – It refers to the amount of change and complexity in the environment of a company. The greater number amount of change in environment, the higher level of environmental turbulence. Companies will have to adapt to the rapid changes in environment to stay competitive.
  • You must plan in advance what change and how to make that change. There are three types of changes:
    • Developmental – (first order) It can be planned or an emergent change. This change enhances an existing process of an organization.
    • Transitional – (second order) This is a planned change. This change tries to achieve a known desired state which will be different from the existing state.
    • Transformational – (second order) This change emphasizes on shift in assumptions currently follow to an entirely different one. Almost like developmental mode, which adapts, learns and improves the processes.

Reasons for the requirement of change in your organization

Reasons are unlimited, but here are few common ones:

  • Poor deliveries
  • Poor customer satisfaction
  • Weak business performance
  • Project failures
  • Fast technology advancements
  • Requirement of new business models
  • Merging/Acquisition/Partnerships
  • Lack of innovation etc.

“Change” does not change

There is only one constant today and that is change

-Alvin Toffler, a former editor of Fortune Magazine.

71 Points you would like to know about Project Management

Found this link interesting.