Webinar Wrap-up

The second round of webinars were much more engaging than the first. They are listed below in order of preference.

RiskReadyCreating “Risk-Ready” Project Schedules

  • Wesley Gillette
  • Rated: 5.77/7
  • Duration: 56:03

Gillette focused on how constraints, lags, and schedule logic can be hidden in the project plan and cause false results in your risk analysis. He explained that we need to challenge the way our schedules. We need clear assumptions and risks should be called out properly. This was the best webinar that I’ve seen on the Project Management site. There was an excellent balance between explaining new concepts and examples.

5 Essential Insights for Maximizing your Limited Resources

  • Jerry Manas & Maureen Carlson
  • Rated: 5.43/7
  • Duration: 61:10

I am a fan of big data and this presentation was centered on the 2014 State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning Report conducted by Appleseed Partners. They honed in on the idea that top performing companies had a holistic view of their demand pipeline and resource capacity by utilizing Project Portfolio Management software. Manas and Carlson did a great job co-presenting and it was obvious they had practiced.

RookiePMMistakes4 Common Rookie PM Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

  • Dana Brownlee
  • Rated: 6.34/7
  • Duration: 59:22

She spent a lot of time on anecdotes, but it was an interesting and engaging presentation. Her tips to address the “slacker” on the team were practical. Those interaction are never easy so I appreciated her insights on creating a culture of accountability. Brownlee’s 3 magic questions for clarifying task assignments are:

  1. What is your understanding of the task?
  2. What will the deliverable look like?
  3. What are the 1st 3 steps you’ll take to begin working on this?

I would highly recommend this presentation to any PM or manager.

Avoid the Three Major Mistakes of Organization Wide Change

  • Barbara Trautlein
  • Rated: 6.18/7
  • Duration: 45:46

This was a great topic for change management. My primary project is going to have a significant amount of process changes. Knowing that we have a blend of heart and hand change leadership styles will help me to leverage our strengths and avoid common pitfalls. I found Trautlein engaging, but this presentation was repetitive and oddly paced.

This was four hours well spent. I’ve come away with a wealth of resources and some great tips for keeping my projects on track.

Do you have a favorite webinar or instructional video? Please share the link in the comments.

Crash Course on the PMP Application

The PMI-MN dinner this month offered a PMP Application Writing workshop. Excellent timing since I just signed up for an exam prep course. This my take on the evening.

PMP Application Writing

I’ve been told that the PMP application process is difficult. This workshop was helpful because the presentation was short and practical which left plenty of time for questions and specific scenarios. These were my key takeaways:

  • “There is no cum laude on the PMP exam”
  • Professional Development Units (PDUs) and PM Education are not always the same thing
  • Only enter the number of hours they request under experience, there is no extra credit for more experience
  • List projects in order of size, not by date
  • The more detail you provide on your application the better and you’ll be less likely to get audited
  • Study to get 80% on the exam

Three Critical Success Factors for Project Managers

The main presentation wasn’t bad, but I was not a huge fan of Bill Johnson’s style. He told us early on that he ascribes to the “Socratean style of teaching”, and I should have left then. I spent most of my time taking notes on his style and the other people in the room than I did on his content. It was fun to practice Gutkind’s immersion technique.

His presentation revolved around the idea that if we took the time to align our projects to the company/leadership’s strategic vision; understood our own leadership style better; and increased our knowledge in the project management methodology we would have more successful projects. A good message, but one that could have been much more direct. I heard one person in the audience speak almost as much as Bill.

Overall, I would say this was an evening well spent. I got exactly what I was hoping for out of the workshop, more confidence in pursuing my PMP!

Food Friday – The End

I’ve accomplished another habit! Now to take a step back and reflect on the last 2 months.

Action Plan Progress:8WWCover

  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from SparksRecipes attempted
  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from the 8WW workbook attempted
  • BONUS – 3 recipes from Mayo Clinic attempted
  • DONE – Photo journal on Instagram
  • DONE – Down 10.2 pounds!
  • DONE – 10/10 weekly progress updates about developing better eating habits posted

Grade: A+

Incentive: We did it! Not only did we eat an 8 Weeks to Wellness approved meal every day for 66 days, but both Clayton and I lost over 10 pounds! This is a cause for celebration. Good thing Clayton already bought our tickets to the Cubs home opener in April!

Lessons Learned: This change wasn’t nearly as hard as taking on a whole new diet. Transitioning from day 66 of tracking to day 1 of not tracking was a non-event. I still had a side salad and chicken noodle soup for lunch. I didn’t feel the need to rebel against the diet or overly celebrate. Clayton had a great call out. “I don’t have to eat everything I want all the time to feel satisfied.” Words to live by, indeed.

Another benefit to planning at least one meal a day is that I am better able to cope with my hectic work schedule. Over the last few months I have been able to eat a good lunch more often than not.

Having a secondary goal of weight loss definitely helped keep me motivated. Watching the weight steadily come off gave me renewed vigor at the start of each week. And I am excited to keep it up.

6 Month Goals:

  • Try 2 new Mayo Clinic recipes
  • Continue to use 8WW as a guide for portion control and food selection

Please be on the look out for my next healthy habit!

Project Management Monday – The Middle

I’ve finally reached the half way point of this habit, and I’m 59% thru the book! Here are the rest of the stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • 352/589 pages read in the PMBOK
  • Start a study group at work with others interested in getting their PMP
  • 2/6 PMI webinars watched
  • DONE – Attended a PMI-Minnesota Chapter meeting
  • 5/10 weekly progress updates posted about improving my PM skills

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: 8 pages a day is very doable. It makes it easy to stay on track, and I think I am absorbing more of the material as well. There are some days that I want to push myself to read more, but if I were to read ahead it would make it easier to take advantage of it on the other side and let the pages slide when I don’t feel like reading. Consistency is key!

Finishing the PMBOK is just the start of my career development plan this year, and I am excited to finish this milestone.

What career milestones do you want to hit this year? Please share your goals in the comments!

Inspiration & Implementation: Food Friday

My Food Friday inspiration board is starting to take shape. Take a look at my top resources.

InspirationBoard_8WWMealDay

1. Recipes Galore

We all know that Pinterest excels at food inspiration. There is no better place to round up all the great recipes I’ve tried over the last two months and the ones I still want to try.

2. Mason Jar Salad

My friend Kami made me my first jar salad a few weeks ago. I have been excitedly pinning great ideas for other more salad recipes. I’ll have to purchase some mason jars, but I think it will be a great investment.

3.  Nutrition Advice from Experts

I often try to seek out expert advice when trying to form a new habit. There are a lot of conflicting voices on the internet as it relates to nutrition, and it’s good to have resources available to feel confident in. I was glad to find healthy eating resources on the CDC and Mayo Clinic websites.

As I am nearing the end of my first 66 days of this 8WW meal a day habit I hope compiling these resources will help me sustain this habit going forward.

Please share your favorite healthy living resources in the comments!

PM Movies in SPACE!

NASA was an early adopter of modern project management methodologies, so it stands to reason that movies based on their organization would illustrate key principles of the discipline. Watching The Martian I had a lot of empathy for Teddy. He’s the director of NASA and pseudo project manager of the effort to bring Mark home. This thought prompted me to analyze other NASA movies that also demonstrate the fundamental aspects of project management.

SPOILER ALERT: I will not tell you who lives or dies, but I will be reviewing critical plot points of recent blockbuster films.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“…get a viable amount of human life off the planet.”
Interstellar

• Scope: Fixed
• Schedule: Variable
• Cost: Variable

Interstellar is the convoluted tale of saving the human race from an inhospitable earth. The schedule is variable because there isn’t a specific time table, and we’re just told at some point in the future the blight will destroy all the crops. The cost is never discussed in the movie. NASA has become a sort of shadow agency and appears to have unlimited resources. This leaves the scope of perpetuating the human race as the fixed constraint. They have multiple plans to achieve this goal, but never stray from that objective.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“I’ll start starving on SOL 584.”
The Martian

• Scope: Variable
• Schedule: Fixed
• Cost: Variable

In the Martian, NASA’s objective is to help Mark stay alive until he can be rescued. The schedule is fixed because Mark’s rations will last for a limited amount of time and there is an optimum launch window to send him more supplies. The schedule is so critical that they cut every ancillary step in the plan and add more people to the team to ensure they launch the resupply on time. There is an excellent scene on their risk analysis of shortening the timeline that I am sure left every Quality Assurance Analyst in the audience cringing.

Scope is a variable constraint because it changes throughout the movie. The initial scope is to get Mark a new supply of rations and equipment to keep him alive until the next planned mission to Mars. Eventually it changes all together as they analyze contingency plans. Cost is also variable because it is of no concern in the movie. Because the entire world is captivated by Mark’s struggle they have global resources available to them.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“Houston, in the blind…”
Gravity

• Scope: Variable
• Schedule: Variable
• Cost: Fixed

Gravity starts with 5 astronauts upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope. Implementation of the project work was originally scheduled to take a week, but minutes into the movie the mission is aborted and the new objective is survival. Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone’s objectives change a number of times as she is reacting to a series unplanned issues which is why the scope as variable.

The movie covers approximately 3.5 hours of Ryan’s life, and while there are 2 very specific milestones the schedule is variable in relation to the objective of survival. That leaves cost as the fixed constraint. Once communication is lost with Houston and her crew Ryan’s resources are limited to her own capacity and the resources within her reach.

The projects I work on do not have life and death consequences, but these extreme examples show how even when everything seems critical it is essential to identify and manage the primary constraint. This will help to focus and prioritize your work efforts and ensure you meet your objective. It also makes for a compelling story!

What other professions crop up in certain movie genres? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Recipe Roundup – SparkPeople

My last recipe roundup is from SparkPeople. It’s an online community for healthy living that I was hip on a few years ago. I thought now was a good time to jump back in a peruse their offerings.

10424364_1658479897736340_23019545_n(1)Paula’s Ranch Style Pork Chops & Potatoes

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 8 small red potatoes, cut into bit sized chunks
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 packet hidden valley ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Brown pork chops and remove from skillet
  • Add soup, milk, dressing, and potatoes to skillet, mix well, cover and cook for 15 mins
  • Add pork chops and paprika, cover and cook for 15 mins

I really love this recipe. It’s simple and only calls for one pan which makes for easy clean up.

Healthy Chicken Vegetable Casserole12751566_1711591002423260_759664117_n

  • 12 oz cooked chicken breast, diced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 10 oz skim milk
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan
  • 7 oz whole wheat penne pasta, cooked
  • 2 orange bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 head broccoli, chopped, cooked
  • 1/3 cup Monterrey jack cheese
  • Make a roux with the flour and butter, add milk, parmesan, and spices to taste
  • Mix pasta, vegetables, and cheese mixture in a bowl, place in a baking dish and sprinkle cheese
  • Bake at 350 covered with foil for 20 minutes

This make a lot of casserole. I liked it at first, but the portion size seemed huge. It got me to eat some vegetables I don’t normally eat, but I probably won’t make it again.

12798087_1662055257387455_936625615_nGrilled Cheese Pizza Sandwich

  • 2 slices of bread
  • 2 tbsp marinara
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp parmesan
  • Bread, marinara, mozzarella, parmesan, marinara, and bread
  • Grill until cheese is melted

This was something that seemed appetizing in the picture, but just did not turn out that well. I won’t be making this again and would not recommend it.

I did not have much luck with the SparkPeople recipes. I think part of the problem is that fewer ingredients are better when trying to eat healthy and follow the 8WW meal plans. I’m glad I tried to branch out, but I might stick with simpler meals and less carbs.

Have you have better luck on SparkPeople? Please share your favorite recipe in the comments!