Applied PMP

One thing that comes out loud and clear from all the PMP study is, you have to take into account all the assumptions and all the constraints if you want to manage projects effectively. If you apply same thing to life, did you not find too many bindings and too many factors affecting your goals and overall journey in life? The fun is in balancing all those constraints and validating or invalidating your assumptions to check and see, if the facts hold the same as we started off with, or there have been any drastic differences. Those who don’t do this get into scope creep in their lives and might even get totally lost.

Another fact from PMP that apply very closely to our lives is, we start out with our life goals that seem really impossible with lot of unknowns and risks, but those who can manage these unknowns well and do good amount of scope, time and cost planning and account for all the risks, do good and at times accomplish everything that they dreamed of and that seemed, so very difficult in the beginning. After all its all about managing things.

The “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” tells you that you can’t just jump the ladder. What this means is the human goals or needs change over a period of time and this happens in steps. You start with physiological needs, safety needs and as you attain those, you move on to satisfy the social needs, need of recognition and authority and so on. But then finally you do reach a level where self satisfaction or self actualization is something that makes you happy and the fame, glory, authority become things of the past.
But then unless you have taken care of your safety needs, you can’t try to get into another step where you take care of recognition needs. This has to be in steps and depends on from where do you start.

We meet those type X and Type Y people everywhere, not just at work places. These Type X people, always have a very cynical outlook and can’t really trust people, while there are these Type Y people who believe that people are always motivated to attain their goals and can always be trusted.

In usual life, we do take into account all the three constraints that we talk about in project management. But we generally do ignore risks. If we can take care of risk as meticulously as PMI promotes, I think there can be much less surprises. Now I see an average human relying mostly on a single risk response strategy and that is an insurance or transfer. But Guyz there are many more good strategies like avoid, mitigate and accept. We can be more realistic in handling these risks and would be in more control of life, if we plan for the risks. Wouldn’t avoiding to eat too much of oily food a better strategy than getting a medical insurance …:-)

PMI gives lot of stress on work ethics and it’s really amazing to see, how much involvement an institution shows in promoting some of the values that seem, so very forgotten. I am not saying that we have lost all of those, but it’s really true that some of those things, that we do as a everyday practice, can be so much wrong, if you apply the some of the human values like respect, fairness, honesty to it. It’s great to study this as a subject and to see where you stand, in the area of ethics and gives lot of motivation to improve, as you get so much of self respect out of it.

While stressing on these ethics, PMI does recognize that a custom, seen as very much acceptable in one part of the world might be quite offending in some other part of world. So while you bind to all the ethics, do make sure, you do give enough time to understand cultural differences and respect other cultures.

PMI stresses on one fact that one person can’t do it all. There aren’t “jack of all trades”. It’s always a team effort and hence there are so many roles and a very clear demarcation of responsibilities. Once every person has a clear job to do and clear hierarchies to follow, I think, things get much more streamlined and this applies to all aspects of life. Identifying all tasks in a society, distributing them among people according to roles and then each one carrying out his or her own role as religiously as possible, isn’t that a plain and simple execution.

I think not only as a Project Manager, but as a human, communication is the paramount important skill, which can bridge the gaps and smoothen the conflicts and motivate the loose hearted. It’s the single most important quality that can help keep that binding between the group if people in the most difficult situation. A friendly and motivating talk of five minutes can solve issues, which might take ages to resolve.

Now it’s not strange that, the real world would be much much different than what we are taught as, in books. Same applies to project management as well. Usually things get dictated by so many other factors and individuals and organizational traditions and PMI processes look like a kind of hoax and just another standard that nobody follows, but required to be mastered to get through the title.

But then that’s not true, don’t just judge things by what’s happening around you. There can be ample people who might even be 80 to 90% closer to such a dream world. So just peep into self, see what you can improve on, what is that you have been doing wrong. If you can manage a 10 to 20% of improvement in your working style, I think you have achieved a lot. I guess the continuous improvement applies everywhere and it’s just a starting point. At some point you will reach there where you always dreamed to be.

Trying to list down some of my learning while studying for PMP

1) Focused plan with tracking of progress
2) Accepting few constraints and rescheduling
3) Alternate methods when one method fails and optimization and improvisations
4) Planning realistically taking into account all risks and constraints and planning for them
5) Alternatives analysis and focused approach
6) Breaking down the activities and planning for scope, time and cost
7) Being methodical and applying classical theories developing management as an art, as well as science
8) Respecting your profession and maintaining integrity under all circumstances

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