High Performing Business – Project Teams – Human Nature

I look to the sun and the ocean to deepen my understanding of human nature on project teams.

I look to the sun and the ocean to deepen my understanding of human nature on project teams.

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Creating great results with a project team involves using our inherent human nature for our best advantage rather than to become diminished. To better understand human nature I look to the sun and the ocean.

With the sun, the same sun shines on all of us. But for some of us, we get burned while others of us can see things better from the light and get gently warmed, even softened. Those who know how to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun, can better enjoy the warmth and light it provides. The same is true when interacting with project team members. Sizzling criticism intended to burn another hampers performance whereas the lightness and warmth of appreciation, acknowledgement and attention to each other’s innate strengths enhances performance. Placing people in the best situations and conditions for them can help them grow and increase their value to the team. While leaving them in the dark where the “sun don’t shine” stunts their development. So yes the sun does shine the same on all of us, but how we use it makes all the difference in the world.

Looking to the oceans and the tides – a rising tide raises all ships. At Cheetah Learning we term this “your success is my success.” We set up every system at Cheetah Learning so we all succeed. For example – the most endearing and enthusiastic students can tend to garner the most attention from a teacher. Yet it is the struggling student who needs the teacher to find creative and innovative ways for them to shine bright. This is why all the courses at Cheetah Learning are designed to help students access multiple intelligences. Everyone is capable of learning – it’s how we are designed actually. Learning the best way you learn so you can best succeed is what drives intrinsic motivation and it’s why Cheetah Learning students develop such a zest for life.

A project team is only as strong as its weakest link. So it makes no sense to put someone in an area where they are weak. It makes more sense to leverage the innate strengths of each member. And then amplify it. Let everyone rise with the rising tide by making sure no one is being held down in any way.

At Cheetah, we combine the sun’s warmth with the rising tide to raise everyone to create the high performing “Team Cheetah.” We use the lightness and warmth of appreciation, acknowledgement, and attention on building each other up in the areas where we each shine. And we make sure we all benefit commensurately from our gains. At Cheetah we do this with our attitude of gratitude program called “atta cheetah.” Every member of the team gets 10,000 gratitude points to distribute to their teammates a month. We have certain parameters on how many points we can each issue to an individual per day. At the end of the month, when we hit our performance revenue goals, a performance bonus gets distributed to the team based on their percentage of atta cheetah points earned for the month.

We all benefit when our inherent human nature is used to elevate each other. Make it the natural choice with how you structure your systems that support your project teams. Cheetah’s consistent high performance is in how we designed the systems to support our team. Check out Cheetah’s Courses to learn more how to do this – from Cheetah PMO, to Cheetah Project Management, to Cheetah Negotiations, to Virtual Project Teams to Personality-Based Project Management to Cheetah Exam Prep – plug in where it makes the most sense for you.

High Performing Business – Project Teams – Communication

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Skipper Anne developing leadership abilities on the first British Virgin Islands Project Team adventure in 2012.

Skipper Anne developing leadership abilities on the first British Virgin Islands Project Team adventure in 2012.

I’m on a sailing adventure this week with several project team members.   I’ve written this blog post in advance as I wanted to focus entirely on the task at hand with my project teammates rather than on staying connected to the office.  This adventure came up quickly like a fast burning brush fire.  I had wanted to get back to the British Virgin Islands, but it kept taking back seat to other more urgent requirements.  When I found a short window of opportunity, I made it happen.  It was a great time to go, plus my team and I are working on an Adventures in Project Management book.  So we, in fact, need to create adventures for the book.   (At Cheetah Learning our mission is to help people joyfully and skillfully pursue their dreams.  We do this with an emphasis on teaching accelerated project management to the masses –  for which the Project Management Institute named me  one of the most influential woman in Project Management.)

Since I was the resident expert on sailing in the British Virgin Islands, having been there once before, I became the project manager for this trip.  I was able to line up all the details of the adventure – securing the boat and skipper, getting the plane tickets, and then developing a project schedule of the rest of the pre-trip prep in two hours, a week before we left.  Since it was such a quickly planned trip, my project teammates appreciated the frequent updates I presented twice a day on the travel preparations – from a suggested packing list, to providing their preferences on the provisions, to the itinerary to share with their families, to the health requirements of where we were going.

It is our skills at project management (especially our common desire for communication)  that make every part of this sailing adventure a delight. It is so true that ninety percent of a Project Manager’s job is communication.  This Sailing trip reminds me – the better your communication, the better experience everyone has with the project.

The key to the success of this project (and most other projects as well) is to have succinctly communicated expert guidance. It becomes even more imperative when doing something very much out of the norm of day to day life.  At Cheetah Learning, we get to play the role of the seasoned expert every day for another once in a lifetime adventure – that of becoming a Project Management Professional.  While it may not be as sexy spending four days preparing to pass the tough Project Management Professional Certification exam on the fifth day, the experience is every bit as exhilarating as sailing in the British Virgin Islands.   Go on your own exhilarating adventure – download the Cheetah Smart Start for the PMP.

 

High Performing Business – Project Teams – Shadows

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

What would happen if the ground hog instead of being scared of his shadow on a sunny day, basked in the warmth of the sun?

What would happen if the groundhog instead of being scared of his shadow on a sunny day, basked in its warmth?

On February 2 every year, Groundhog Pauxitawny Phil comes out of his hole. If he sees’s his shadow, he gets scared and goes back into his hole. Folklore has it there is then six more weeks of hard winter. It got me thinking about the fears of our shadow side. When we focus on our shadows, things do in fact get emotionally colder. All of us have a shadow side – those things of which we are not proud and, in fact, can scare not only us but others as well. When project team members get stuck in the shadows, project progress can go into the deep freeze. But let’s consider this, what if the groundhog when he sees his shadow on a sunny February 2nd focuses on the warmth of the sun rather than his shadow? The sun, in fact, does shine the same on everyone – it is our choice whether we fixate on the light or the shadow this brightness casts.

It’s also our choice if we focus on people’s kindness, their strengths, and where they shine. When project team members make it their practice to leverage each other’s strengths – project progress is more likely to move along at a good clip. And this is what Cheetah students learn how to do when they take Cheetah’s online 60 hours Personality Based Project Management. They identify how their innate strengths help them learn better, do projects better and relate better to others rather than being unprepared to best use their talents. They also learn how to bring out the best of their project team members.

You can create a brighter future for yourself simply by focusing more where things are sunny and warm with your life rather than on your shadows. Granted an awareness of the pitfalls is helpful. What is not helpful is a perpetual rumination about what scares you. Many people are scared about doing what it takes to become Project Management Professional certified. When you go to a market leader in accelerated exam prep – Cheetah Learning, you become smart, not scared. Download Cheetah’s Smart Start Guide for the PMP.

 

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Customer Delight

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Knowing who your customers are and the problems they have that your project is solving has to happen BEFORE you begin any project.

Knowing who your customers are and the problems they have that your project is solving has to happen BEFORE you begin any project.

Creating delighted customers (of your project) happens BEFORE you start your project.  In Cheetah’s Communicating Through Conflict class, students learn the largest source of conflict is differing expectations.  Let’s say the goal of your project is to become Project Management Professional (PMP) certified.  And you take a course to help you do just that.  But instead of being able to take and pass the PMP exam, you only learn what to study.  Then it’s up to you to go do the studying.   While this may get you one step closer to passing the PMP exam, it does not take you all of the way there, like Cheetah’s Exam Prep for the PMP does.  Yet this is what most people get when they register for a PMP exam prep course through a local Project Management Institute chapter, a college, or an exam prep company that offers exam preps for a number of certification exams.   We know many of these disappointed folks as they then come to Cheetah for that customer delight experience (and to pass the PMP exam after four days of accelerated learning).  Giving your customers what they need and want creates happy customers.

The first step to ensuring your customers are delighted with your project, you need to know who they are.   What problems do they have that are solved by your project?  For Cheetah’s students, the main challenge they have is time.   Cheetah’s students tend to be the top performers in their field, in high demand everywhere in their lives.  They do not have time to pursue studying for the PMP like it is a part time job as many people who self study find themselves doing.  By making it possible for them to just spend four days in an intense immersion experience, they are able to start on Monday and be PMP certified by Friday.  This type of offering creates delighted customers.  It started with knowing the type of  people qualified to be Cheetah students.  We most certainly are not interested in catering to the person who actually enjoys making preparing for the PMP a part time job as these folks are not “cheetahs.”

When you are ready to delight the customers in your life by upgrading your career, download Cheetah’s Smart Start Guide for the PMP.

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Sponsors

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

To garner sponsor approval for your projects, get measurable data that shows how doing the project will ensure success.

To garner sponsor approval for your projects, get measurable data that shows how doing the project will ensure their success.

In the last post I talked about Project Stakeholders, today I’m going to talk about Project Sponsors.  The Project Sponsor is the person who sets the project in motion, often securing the funding and resources required and handling many issues outside the control of the project manager.  In many small operations the person who initiates the project, secures the funding, and manages the project is the same person.  In other cases, someone other than a project sponsor identifies the need for a project, and then is in a position of finding someone to sponsor the project (someone who can help secure the resources and support to carry out the project).   When this happens, the Project Sponsor needs a clear business case for doing the project and may need trade off scenarios for how to go about doing the project in the most efficient manner possible.

Let’s keep going with the same project we’ve been looking at in the previous blog posts – that of becoming Project Management Professional certified.  There are two large hurdles to becoming PMP certified.  The first hurdle is with satisfying the Project Management Institute’s eligibility criteria (you can read what that is in the Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the PMP). The second hurdle is to ensure you are adequately prepared to pass the four hour PMP certification exam.  Many people have “sponsor” support with becoming PMP certified – this means they have someone who helps pay for their preparation and examination fees.   Having this level of support reduces impact of funding your preparation.  The better prepared you are with the measurable benefits of being PMP certified (for the sponsor) and a comparative analysis of your options for becoming PMP certified, the more likely it is you will gain sponsor support in achieving this project objective.  This is also true for any other project you wish to pursue where you need sponsor support.

For the measurable benefits, Cheetah Learning studied the annual reports of the publicly traded clients who put at least twenty people through the Cheetah Exam Prep for the PMP.  Cheetah looked at ten years of clients to do this analysis. Ninety percent of these companies experienced an increase in revenue, profitability and return on equities in the years following developing a cadre of Project Management Professionals.  Eighty Five percent of the companies experienced an increased growth rate.   We can only speak to the improvement companies gained by retaining Cheetah Learning as Cheetah students learn far more than just how to pass the PMP exam with Cheetah’s accelerated four day approach – they learn how to learn fast.  By learning how to learn fast, the Cheetah students are able then to help their companies pursue new opportunities faster. They are also able to reduce the cost of doing subsequent projects as they have learned how to speed up the common learning curve required when starting up projects.  Furthermore, a PhD candidate studied how becoming a PMP improved people’s self-efficacy (that is their belief in their ability to achieve their goals).  Cheetah Learning was the only company with a sufficient sample size (number of students) for her research.  She discovered that by going through Cheetah’s Exam Prep for the PMP in only four days, people significantly increased their self efficacy.  This may also be the reason why the companies that retain Cheetah to help their staff become PMP certified experience significant operating improvements as their top talent has increased belief in their capabilities to perform.

Once the sponsor is swayed by the improvements to the operation by having you and others become PMP certified, then it’s time to show them why you’ve chosen one route over another.  Doing this shows you are a good project manager who thinks things through before you begin. Doing your homework, BEFORE approaching a potential project sponsor can significantly increase your chances of having your project funded and supported.  Download the Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the PMP to see the analysis for various approaches to preparing for the PMP exam.

 

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Stakeholders

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Taking care of your important stakeholders insures they are supportive of your important projects.

Take care of your important stakeholders so your projects better meet their needs.

According to the Project Management Institute  “A Stakeholder is an individual, group, or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.”

Most projects have a variety of stakeholders, many with competing interests. Sometimes these interests can derail your project so it’s a good idea to discover your stakeholder’s needs before beginning projects. Lets say you need to become Project Management Professional (PMP) certified by September to keep your job.  Your work is very busy right now, but slows down for a couple weeks in July.  However this July, your spouse has a family reunion across the country. Your two key stakeholders (your employer and your spouse) have competing interests on your time.  Many Cheetah students face this exact same dilemma which is why they opt for Cheetah’s Accelerated Exam Prep approach that only takes one week to prep to pass the PMP exam (otherwise most people spend six months and 40% of those using that approach fail).  Because of Cheetah’s high pass rate combined with less time away from work, many employers even cover the cost of Cheetah’s accelerated PMP exam prep.

When you include your stakeholders in the appropriate level of decision making related to your project, you increase the chances of their support in your pursuits. For example,  it goes without saying, if you share in the care of small children, you will need to coordinate your time away for exam prep with the other parent (a stakeholder). The better you can communicate your mutual needs with each other, the easier time you’ll have with your PMP preparation efforts.  The same is true for other projects with other stake holders.

In the Cheetah Negotiations program, students learn how to find out what other people need and want so they can help them get it.  The more people help others get what they want, the more they get what they want.  Working in an environment of mutual support better engages stakeholders. In the Cheetah Exam Prep program for the PMP,  you learn how to work collaboratively with the stakeholders who can help  you effectively become PMP certified and improve your career. Contact a Cheetah Career Coach to generate stakeholder support (time off from work,  covering the cost of the Cheetah PMP prep program or supporting your efforts).

It is possible for you to enhance your career by becoming a Project Management Professional with the support of the important stakeholders in your life.  Click here to download your free copy of the Cheetah Smartstart Guide for the PMP.

My First Live TV Interview – KTVU Tomorrow to Talk about Project Management

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Share a first with me - my first live TV interview on Channel 2 in the Bay Area - or watch it on the net - www.ktvu/live. 9:30 AM Tuesday January 19, 2016

Share a first with me – my first live TV interview on Channel 2 in the Bay Area – or watch it on the net – www.ktvu/live. 9:30 AM Tuesday January 19, 2016

I’ve done hundreds of live radio interviews, and a number of taped TV interviews.   But I realized today, I have never done a live TV interview.  I’m so excited as how often in life do you get to have a first?   I was invited to do this interview on KTVU’s morning news show to talk about how Project Management has helped expand my PR team’s business (we’ve been working with the same Public Relations company Urban Dynamics for 14 years).   What’s even more exciting – it’s in our own back yard.  Cheetah Learning has been based just outside the Northern California Bay Area for as long as we’ve been working with Walter Urban and have Cheetah Alumni in over a hundred companies in the Bay Area (some very big companies too).  We even have a Cheetah Exam Prep for the PMP class in San Francisco this week.

Watch me live to share this first with me – www.ktvu.com/live at 9:30 AM.  (January 19, 2016).  If you’re in the Bay Area – it’s on Fox Channel 2.

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Competitive Strategy

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Improving how you get your projects done significant improves your competitive advantage.

Improving how fast you complete your projects significantly improves your competitive advantage.

I was contemplating how Michael Porter’s work on Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, relates to Project Management.  The first area is with the impact people experience in their careers when they earn the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential – as it tracks closely with what Porter describes on how to be more competitive. The second is how Porter’s approach can influence our abilities to pick the right projects to pursue in life. In Porter’s book, he identifies five forces that increase a company’s abilities to be competitive in a market. Analyzing project choices through Porter’s Five Force lens’ makes sense in any market for any project. What this analysis does is help you hone in on those projects where you already have a competitive advantage and can play out an effective competitive strategy.  

So lets look at Porter’s Five Forces and their relation to the project of becoming Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) certified (if you’d like to learn how to extrapolate this to evaluating other project opportunities, check out Cheetah’s Project Turnaround course.)

Barriers to Entry – To increase the barriers to entry you need to choose projects where it is harder for others to enter the market then it is for you. Let’s say you already do projects (mostly this is everyone as we all do projects in varying degrees). You could call yourself a “Project Manager” without any credentials or education and many people do this. It’s estimated worldwide there are over twenty million people who label themselves this way. Yet, there are only 600,000 people who hold the PMP credential. This is why credentialed Projects Managers who hold the PMP earn twice what their non-credentialed counterparts make as they reduce risks, follow strict budgets and ensure accountability. If anyone can say they are a Project Manager, how is someone who needs to hire a Project Manager confident they are getting someone who really knows what they are doing? The credentialing process to become a PMP can be quite complicated if you are not really sure what you are doing. So this makes becoming a PMP a barrier to entry (harder for some than others). If you’re savvy enough to enroll in Cheetah’s PMP Exam Prep course – the path before you is well defined, quick and easy to follow. Cheetah’s approach is a 15-year proven, comprehensive solution that significantly reduces your barriers to becoming a PMP.   

Bargaining Power of Customers – To become more competitive, it helps if you are creating a unique niche that is underserved by others. It is often difficult  to enter into a market that is already well served by many others. When anyone can call themselves a Project Manager, the title becomes somewhat meaningless without some type of governing body telling us what exactly are the roles and responsibilities of a Project Manager. This is the charter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the purpose of their growing global certification for Project Managers (the PMP). This is an instance where it does really pay for the customers (those hiring project managers) to have more power. When they have more power, they can demand the Project Managers they hire have the industry standard credential for being a Project Manager (the PMP).  Many large companies and government agencies are claiming this power too as it’s becoming the standard to hire people for Project Manager openings with PMP as a requirement.

Let’s get even more granular here. If you were hiring a Project Manager, who do you think is a better candidate; someone who has some experience with Project Management or someone who has the same experience, AND passed a very difficult PMP Exam and now has a PMP certification issued by the Project Management Institute?   Even more, would you prefer to have your projects drag on and on with a greater risk of failing or having someone who got into it right off the bat, getting it done the fastest way possible and succeeding – like those who become PMP certified with Cheetah’s four day accelerated prep approach? When you make decisions that show you know the value of time in making choices that help you become more successful, others have confidence you will lead their projects with the same capability. This is why Cheetah students rise up in the ranks faster than their counterparts who take months and months to prepare for the PMP exam. 

Threat of Substitutes – This relates to the uniqueness of a the solution to solve a particular problem. If the problem can be solved many other ways, the solution is not as good. When you are selecting projects to pursue, make sure the project you are working on won’t be derailed by some new solution that removes the need for your project’s solution. The threat of substitutes from the PMP perspective are other PM credentials. The main reason the PMP credential has grown rapidly is because of the worldwide, cohesive appeal. The Project Management Institute has done a fantastic job of creating a global community around a common Project Management standard.  When we all speak a common language on how to do projects, our projects can move along quickly and efficiently. This is what every PMP across the globe shares – a common language for doing projects. And speed is an important consideration in the world as the longer projects drag on, the less likely it is they will come to a successful conclusion. The same is true for preparing to become PMP certified.  Preparing for the PMP exam is like any other project – after six months of prep, 40% of people fail the PMP exam, but with Cheetah’s approach with four days of prep, 98% of people pass. When you make the effort to become PMP certified at Cheetah speed, it reduces the threat of substitues as it makes you the leader of the pack in a competitive sea of Project Managers – even those holding the PMP.   

Rivalry – How strong is the base of competitors in the market? The threat of rivals is based on the number of competitors, the opportunities for growth, the stability of the industry, how easy is it for you to differentiate yourself, the ability to scale to meet demand, and the investment people have to keep making to stick around in the industry. When picking a project to pursue, understanding what your rivals are doing can help shape what solution you create with your project to reduce the threat of rivals. In a labor pool where only 3% of all Project Managers worldwide hold the prestigious PMP credential, you can become a small minority of top leaders who significantly reduce the threat of other Project Managers vying for the top career opportunities.

Furthermore, 10% of all PMP’s certified do so through Cheetah Learning. While this is an impressive brand leader position for Cheetah – what this means for you is you can further differentiate yourself as someone who not only can become a PMP, but did do so at Cheetah Speed. Cheetah also makes it very easy for PMPs to maintain their PMP credential. One of the key techniques people learn in Cheetah’s four day exam prep program for the PMP is how to learn fast. It is this ability to learn fast that helps Cheetah PMP’s pursue new opportunities fast as when you can learn fast, you can change fast. Additionally to keep your PMP credential, you have to earn 60 hours of continuing professional development every three years. Cheetah Learning continually creates online programs for their PMP’s to take to help them maintain their leader of the pack positions in their respective industries. It’s no surprise that the highest paid Project Managers across all industries are the people who have held the PMP the longest – as this shows they have the most capability to stick around in the industry. This reduces the threat from the less organized or ambitious Project Managers. 

Strength of Suppliers – How much power do suppliers wield over companies who are creating services and/or products in the market? It’s based on how many suppliers are in the market and how big of a role you can play in getting price breaks based on the volume of business you can give a supplier (which changes as the economy changes). This is fascinating to look at from the perspective of becoming PMP certified.  

  1. There are a number of ways people can prepare to pass the PMP certification exam. Cheetah Learning is the brand leader for accelerated PMP exam prep and has held this position consistently for over 15 years. During this time dozens of companies have come and gone offering what they say is a “cheetah” like accelerated approach. Many claim they offer the same program, yet when you look under the hood they are missing many of the proven accelerated learning approaches that help Cheetah students succeed in their careers (and in life) way beyond passing the PMP exam. It is why most Cheetah competitors leave the PMP exam prep business in less than three years. So what does this mean for you if you are considering becoming PMP certified? Cheetah is a very strong supplier, but you need to be strategic if you want to go with the brand leader and not a knock off  (who states they are just like Cheetah).  
  2. Cheetah Learning purposefully keeps their class sizes small so our students have the best chances of passing the PMP exam. Cheetah offers classroom courses around the US weekly and onsite for companies that have at least ten people. Good Project Managers register for Cheetah’s PMP exam prep program early to make sure they can get the class at the location and time that is best for them.  
  3. Cheetah receives many students who have failed after participating in other PMP prep programs. This is not surprising because most other companies, colleges or PMI chapters offering PMP exam prep only teach several times a year. It’s hard to stay current in all that is required to pass the PMP exam when you only teach the program a couple times a year vs. Cheetah Learning who often teach their four day PMP course a couple times a week.  
  4. The companies that experience the most profound improvements in their bottom line are those who train a whole cadre of people to become Project Management Professionals. These companies also get the best deal from Cheetah Learning by bringing us onsite or arranging for a large group to register for public courses at their corporate rate. We studied the annual reports of all the publicly traded companies who sent the most people through Cheetah’s programs over the last decade and 90% of those companies increased their revenues, while decreasing their costs (the sign of consistently well run projects). Working for a successful company can significantly help your career prospects as well.  One of the reasons winners keep winning is because they make consistently good choices for important life decisions (like how to prepare to become PMP certified).  
  5. Cheetah Learning students and the companies they work for say going with Cheetah Learning is the best decision they ever made. It’s why the largest and most successful companies worldwide have Cheetah Learning on speed dial as a preferred vendor. The strength of your suppliers matter for creating your strength as well. 

When you are evaluating projects to pursue, you need to do a little bit of homework to learn how competitive you and/or your business can be in that market.  At this stage of the game, learning how to ask the right questions is more important than having the right answers.  

  1. What are the barriers to entering this market? What are the barriers that make it harder for others than for us to enter this market? What are the barriers that might make it harder for us than for others to enter this market?

  2. How many options do customers have to solve this particular problem?  

  3. How many different ways can customers meet their needs in this area?

  4. How strong is the rivalry in this market? Are their one or two big companies, or a lot of small businesses supplying this market? 

  5. What type of suppliers are needed to deliver goods and services in this market? How capable are these suppliers to meet demand? What could change with the suppliers that could significantly impact your project?

In Cheetah’s course Project Turnaround – students learn how to analyze their various project opportunities for those that will create the most significant competitive advantage for them going forward.

Considering there are over 20 million people who call themselves project managers and only 600,000 of those are Project Management Professional (PMP) certified, holding the PMP creates a competitive advantage in many industries (it’s why people who hold the PMP earn up to two times more than non PMP certified Project Managers. Learn how you can become more competitive by following Cheetah’s proven strategy – download Cheetah’s free Smart Start Guide for the PMP Exam.

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Scope

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Project Initiation - BEFORE starting any project, a PMP learns how to clearly define the scope of the project so they know when the project is done.

Project Initiation – BEFORE starting any project, a PMP learns how to clearly define the scope of the project so they know when the project is done.

For me, projects that go on forever suck out my life force.   I’ve found the way to keep vital, vibrant, and enthusiastic about life is to succinctly define the scope of my projects and stick to it. That means I know what “finished” means, before I even start.   Early in my career as a research scientist I used to think I was being a control freak for demanding this with the projects I was assigned but my boss reframed it and said I was a “completion nut.”  The reality, though, by being a “completion nut” – I finish my projects and get the luxury of moving on to something new and exciting (i.e. more projects).

It is me who defines what “finished” is for the projects I initiate – not someone who is working on the project.  This is a very important distinction.   I had a relative who worked on construction projects with and for me.  He would routinely tell me the project was “finished” – yet the construction was no where near complete.  The painting would be half done, there would still be this pony wall to build, we had to wait on the installation of a critical vent, etc.  Defining what finished looks like is crucial to the successful completion of a project (and mandatory where contracts with others are involved).

I recently got this example put squarely in my face.  I hired a new cleaning service for one of our corporate retreat centers.   The old cleaning service was taking more and more short cuts and the place was just not looking as clean.  The first time this new service was in, they did a bang up job, well except for not emptying the garbage (how is that cleaning?).   The second time they were in, they started cleaning the guest quarters, but did not remake any of the beds.  Again, even after asking them to remove the garbage, still every garbage can but the one in the kitchen was still full.   So I decided to look at this trial of a new cleaning service as a project and to clearly outline the scope.  I created a cleaning checklist.  This was a huge “duh” to me  – of course this would ensure they would at least know the scope of the job.  I may give the second cleaning service another chance with this checklist (or not – I’m still thinking about it as I’m still fairly disgruntled about what they missed).  Regardless of who is in next,  at least I’ll be ready with the expectation of cleaning the corporate retreat center clearly defined.

For me,  defining the scope of my projects is the first step on the path to sanity and freedom.  I have left crumbs on this path so others can follow my lead on this   Visit www.cheetahsmartstart.com to get templates for kicking off your projects right from the get go (and maybe find your way to increased sanity and freedom too).

When you become a Project Management Professional (PMP), you earn a license to finish.  Can you imagine a world where you get to define what done means?  Yes so can we.  Download a free guide that shows you what it will take for you to become a Project Management Professional.

High Performing Business – Project Initiation – Alignment

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Cheetah Learning courses help you peed up alignment by learning how to learn fast.

Cheetah Learning courses help you speed up alignment by learning how to learn fast.

I wrote about alignment several months ago after stumbling upon this concept called Ikigai – that is when you align your passion, mission, vocation and profession.  Lets look at Ikigai through the lens of aligning your passion, mission, vocation, and profession with the rate of change of technology. Technological change creates sociological change (that is our collective behavior and how we relate to each other). In our modern times, technology changes as much every 18 months as our grandparents experienced every 50 years. So how we are able to interact (behave) with each other changes too.  This presents more opportunities  to achieve “ikigai,” since we have so many ever expanding choices of how we can interrelate each other and the technology becoming available. But this is only possible when you know how to learn fast.

Lets take for example programming mobile apps for smart phones. This profession did not even exist ten years ago. Yet it is possible to take intensive three month courses now to develop the skills to be a mobile app programmer with no previous experiences.   One of our Cheetah alumni – Anne Lindsley,  did just that. She was working in business administration and had taken two Cheetah Exam Prep programs- one for the Certifed Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and one to become an Agile Certified Practioner (PMI-ACP).   One of the projects she managed was creating a mobile app for her company’s wellness program – yet she had no computer programming experience. She wanted to move into programming so she enrolled in an intensive three month course to become a mobile app programmer. Anne says “ I learned how to learn fast taking the two Cheetah Exam Prep programs. This gave me the confidence to learn how to become a programmer in only three months.”

This ability to learn fast has tremendous impact on the projects you can initiate.   When you can learn fast, you can pursue new opportunities that require you to have new skills fast.  And this is what you learn with every Cheetah Learning course you take – you don’t just learn the skill set from the course – you learn how to learn fast. This happens whether you’re quickly learning the skills you need to pass the PMP exam, or you’re learning the best way for you to negotiate, or in any of our fifty other online programs. If you want to learn how to learn fast so you too can be in alignment with the next big thing for you, take Cheetah Learning courses. Call us at 888-659-2013 and our career coaches can help you find the right courses that will help you soar.

Download the free Cheetah Smart Start Guide for the Project Management Professional Certification Exam to see how you can quickly learn the skills you need to competitive in today’s market.