The starfish and the spider

This book by Ori Brafman and Rod A Beckstorm is a very interesting read. After a long time I am reading a book, which I want to finish off in one go. While reading this, my thoughts revolve around ‘the room for these in project management’.  The book focuses on self organizing teams.

From the cover page;

If you cut off a spider’s head it dies; but of you cut off a star fish’s leg, it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish. Traditional top-down organizations are like spiders, but now starfish organizations are changing the face of business and the world.

Find out;

  • How the Apaches fended off the powerful spanish army for two hundred years
  • The power of a simple circle
  • The importance of catalysts who have an uncanny ability to bring people together
  • How the internet has become a breeding ground for leaderless organizations
  • How alcoholics anaonymous has reached untold millions with only a shared ideology and without a leader

India pricing Rs.395

PMBOK ready reckoner Ver 1.0

PMBoK ready reckoner

I keep telling all PMP aspirants that it is not as difficult as even one paper of graduation. Here is my attempt to make it easier. In this document, I have given the complete workflow of a project as per PMBOK. Trust you will find it useful.

SCRUM magic – User role modeling

 What is user role modeling?

Understanding all potential users (roles) of the system under consideration, will help the team to develop more complete and unbiased user stories, which is the starting point of successful software development. The steps involved in user modeling are;

  1. Brainstorm an initial set of user roles
  2. Organize the initial set
  3. Consolidate roles
  4. Refine the roles

Here is an output of a brainstorming session conducted to identify as many user roles as possible for

Before the user role modeling session for classtube (an online learning center, please see the classtube link on top to see more), I had only three users in my mind for the system and they were the instructor, student and the administrator. During one of my recent project management workshops at Mumbai, I took this as a case and did a user role modeling for the classtube. The results were amazing!.  The following is the brainstormed list of potential users of the system !

  1. Corporate training departments
  2. Schools and colleges
  3. Training institutes
  4. Certification bodies
  5. Fresh graduates
  6. Experienced users
  7. Laid off emloyees
  8. SEPG, SQA, 6 sigma teams
  9. Executives
  10. Instructors &  Trainers
  11. Admins
  12. Sales
  13. Network admins
  14. IS team
  15. Programmers
  16. Freelancers
  17. Guest users
  18. Members
  19. Partners
  20. Sponsors
  21. Brand ambassadors
  22. Media relations
  23. Certification experts
  24. Content writers
  25. Auditors
  26. Designers
  27. Web developer
  28. Testers
  29.  School children
  30. House wives
  31. Retired personnel
  32. Handicapped
  33. City dwellers
  34. Self improvement
  35. research scholars
  36. Lab administrators
  37. Product manufacturers
  38. Farmers
  39. Alumni
  40. Event managers
  41. Hobbysts

The next steps would be;

  • Organize this list
  • Consolidate roles
  • Refine the roles

Art of the possible and the impossible

Project managers can be classified into two groups, based on their mental approach to project situations. One group are the optimists, who believe in the ‘art of the possible’. They always think about what can be done and are always on the part of the solution. These are those capable and highly motivated individuals. Let us call them the optimists. The optimists always focus on ‘what they can do’. They are continuously focusing on the circle of concern. They can trust people. It is great to work with them.

There is another category, who believes in the ‘art of the impossible’. They focus their energies on ‘why things will not work?’ and at the same time do not have any solution of their own. Always they put the blame on the surroundings, and never take responsibility for anything. It is very difficult to work in their teams, as they are the born manipulators. Let us call them the pessimists.

The pessimists always focus on the circle of concern and never on the circle of influence (7 habits of highly effective people – Stephen Covey). Learn from them, what all things you should not do as a manager. Get out of their teams as fast as possible, becuase it is impossible to correct them. Only failures and experience can teach them.

Then we have the fence sitters, who is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. When they are in the company of pessimists, they take a pessimistic stand and when in the company of optimits they take an optimistic stand. When in the company of both pessimits and optimists, they look for the stronger side and switch there. Let us call them fence sitters.  Just ignore them.

As a first step, towards the art of the possible, just ban the word ‘BUT’ in your team. Always try to use the word ‘AND’ instead ‘BUT’.

An  example of ineffective communication (the pessimist)

We can try it BUT it can be difficult as we are quite used to using the word ‘BUT’. Now we will use the natural rhythm of communication.

The optimist’s view

We will try it ‘AND’ initially it may be difficult as we are used to the word ‘BUT’. We will give it a sincere try. It looks very interesting !

INVEST – An acronymn for getting the requirements right

While reading the ‘User stories applied’ by Mike Cohn, I came across this acronymn INVEST, which stands for;

I- Independent, this is all about avoiding dependencies between user stories

N- Negotiable, indicates that stories are negotiable. They are not written contracts or requirements that the software must implement

V- Valuable to purchasers or users

E- Estimatable, developers should be able to estimate user stories  

S – Small, enough to estimate

T – Testable, stories must be written so as to be testable

This acronym is suggested by Bill Wake, author of extreme programming explored and Refactoring work book.