Simple complexities

Yesterday I went to a local bookstall (penguin) for window shopping and ended up buying the book titled ‘Simplicity’ by Edward Debono. At the billing counter, I gave my credit card , sorry, I meant debit card, because I have decided to start living with my debit card than the credit card due to some valuable life lessons.. The immediate response by the lady at the billing counter was ” Sir, there is no power, so the card swiping machine is not working”. But I could hear the sound of the fans of her desktop computer. I requested her to try switching on the swiping machine, and with great reluctance she switched it on, and it worked. She was just trying to simplify her work by avoiding bending down to switch it on.  I would have walked out of the shop without buying that book, which I liked after a long time, as I did not have enough money in my purse at that point of time. These days generally I walk out of the book stalls without buying any books, because most of them are the same good old wine in a new bottle, and the number of pages in these books frightens me as it adds to my pending tasks, which is already full.  I liked the format of this book titled ‘Simplicity’ by Edward Debono. It would have been a great disappointment for me, if I had to walk out of the store without that book which I liked after a long time, becuase I did not have enough money in my purse and the faulty power supply to their swipe card system.  If you are buying it, be careful not to pick up the wrong book because I could see another book with the same title by another author at Amazon. A word of caution, I have not read this book yet. So far, I have seen only the index page. On my way back, I decided to pay my data card bills, and went to the airtel outlet at the Marine drive. That is closed for ever. Then I went to another outlet and that is also closed. Considering the difficulty in finding a place to park my car, this is not at all a simple task. I tried to pay online, and then I could not recollect my password. I tried the password recovery, and that also does not work properly. Airtel tried to simplify the payment system by closing all outlets in the city, which worked out to be very complex for the customer, that is me. Someone’s simplicity turns out to be complexity for others.

Here is the link to Amazon for this book Simplicity

Here is a simple photo for you. Have a good time.20130403-085437.jpg

Ways of the cross..

Many used the cross to explain many things. The cross always creates quadrants. In other words it cuts the medium on which it is drawn into four squares. Stephen covey in his seven habits of highly effective people uses it to explain time management. He divides our activities into quadrants like urgent and not important, urgent and important, not urgent and not important, not urgent and important, in order to drive the point that it is the not urgent and important stuff in our lives produces the maximum benefits.

The Boston consulting groups quadrants of the product life cycle; question mark, star, cash cow and dog explains the product life cycle very effectively. This can explain the stages of human life as well. When a child is born, she is the question mark. Everyone is anxious of her future. When the child starts performing well at school, a star is born. Once employed, all of us become cash cow, followed by end of life, which is the dog state. When in dog stage, we take care of the house, when all others go out. The book crossing the chasm, uses the cross to explain product launch strategies. If my memory is right, either Kotler or Drucker used the cross to explain marketing strategies like known product to known market, known product to new market, new product to known market, new product to new markets. Then I saw Robert Kayasaki using the four quadrants to explain the ESBI concept. He says that all of us are either employees, self employed, business men or investors, or we are all of these. He states that if eighty percent of our income is coming from employment and self employment, and if only twenty percent is coming from business and investment, then we will remain as poor, and when we reverse the equation, we get richer.

I use the cross or the four quadrants to explain career planning. The skill set which make you and me employable is the cash cow. Before the cash cow become a dog or end of life, we must groom newer skill sets through the question mark and the star categories to the cash cow quadrant. This calls for lot of proactive planning and commitment from our side.

The last but not the least is the cross as demonstrated by Jesus Christ, which is explaining love thy neighbor as the sole strategy to be successful. I am fascinated by the magical power of it, and  still an apprentice in my understanding of the tremendous possibilities and the hidden power of it. When I feel that I have understood it to a level where I can explain it without diluting it, I will attempt to write about it. Wish me good luck. Have a wonderful day.

Turbo charging project teams


Its all existing there already. I am just sharpening it and presenting it in a usable form for the project teams so that they can excel in their work and life. Today is the second such program.

Putting first things first…ideas for project managers

I already blogged about the relevance  of ‘being proactive’ and ‘begin with the end in mind’, the first two of the  seven habits of highly effective people in project management. The next is putting first things first. A peep into cyclomatic complexity is of value here. A bug, when detected and corrected within the phase of it’s injection is cheaper to correct. As the lag increases between the phase of injection and the phase of correction, the cost increases exponentially. Another concept which connects well here is the cost of quality. When we invest in certain prevention activities also known as price of conformance, then we save a lot of rework also known as price of non conformance. Most of the prevention activities are important but not urgent, hence gets postponed, inviting lot of extras which could have been avoided.

Proper project planning is one activity which takes a back seat very often. It is generally considered as a formality, hence done without proper attention. Every project is unique hence every project plan must be unique, hence cut and paste plans will not work out well. The project manager must have the inclination to sit down and think through the whole project and develop the plan according to the project strategy that is evolving out of the thought process. This is the beginning of pitting the first things first. Then comes execution of the plan which will ensure that you are doing the right things in the right sequence.

Good luck. Put the first things first.  If you have not read Stephen coveys the seven habits of highly effective people, please do so, which will provide you with greater insights about the whole idea of the seven habits. A must read.

Be proactive…..

Be proactive. Sounds familiar?. When Stephen convey inked it down as the first habit among  the seven habits of highly effective people, he would not have thought of it’s significance in project management. My career as a consultant and coach project management gave me the opportunity to come across five thousand plus project managers world wide, and most of them fell into the category of blackberry managers. It is the messages and the emails they received during the day which shaped  their days. In project management, when the body of knowledge says that ninety percentage of the project manager’s time goes into communication then there is further scope for thought. The nature of communication is decided by the management style of the stakeholders involved. The nature of communication emanating from a proactive manager will be proactive in nature, else it will be reactive. This is the difference between professional project management and adhoc project management. A professional project manager is always on top of things, proactive. An unprofessional project manager is always reactive. Believe me, professional project management or proactive project management  is easier than adhoc project management, and this can be accomplished very easily by the application of the right tools and techniques.

Be proactive is an attitude, wear it now.

Transitioning from PMBOK to Agile : Human resource management

Human resource management is one of the knowledge areas of PMBOK. Agile is all about commitment, motivation, risk taking, transparency, self organizing teams etc… From this list, the importance of human resource management in agile project management is very evident. In order to be successful as an agile project manager (scrum master), competency in human resource management is very important. I must say that it is more important than the traditional models. In order to be successful as a leader in agile teams, one has to embrace servant leadership with both hands. Gandhi is the epitome of servant leadership. The concept of servant leadership revolves around the concept of ”All leaders servants first, and then become leaders”. Stephen Coveys concept of emotional bank account comes in handy here. When I do something good to you, I make a deposit. When I do something which you do not like, I make a withdrawal. As long as the deposits are more than the withdrawals, I have some amount of positive influence over you. The moment the withdrawals are more than the deposits, then problems will start cropping up. This simple concept is very difficult for people to digest, especially when they are mentored by command and control freaks.

Command and control will not work in high profile teams. During my formation years as a manager I had the shock of my life, when I transitioned from a company culture based on ”command and control” to ”servant leadership”, without any clue about this style of management. It took me a while to pick up the threads of servant leadership, and once you get used to it, one starts enjoying it. During my project management workshops, many introduces themselves as managers of a specific number of team members, and they take immense pride in the fact that they have control over so many people. In reality, do they have that kind of a control?. The following two questions will thrash this myth of a manager as a superman;

  • What will happen to you as a manager, if you complain about your team to the senior management?
  • What will happen to you as a manager, if the entire team complains about you to the senior management?

In both cases, the easiest viable solution is to change the manager than the team. So, all the managers are terribly dependent on their teams, and a manager is only as good as his team. Acceptance of this reality, is the starting point of mutual respect and servant leadership.

Revisiting the Seven Habits


Habit 1: Be Proactive

 Habit 2: Begin With The End In Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

steven covey, seven habits, time management











Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

A tribute to Stephen Covey

Silently Stephen covey departed us. I will rate his book ‘the seven habits of highly effective people’ as one of the best books I have read ever. Whether I am following the concepts or not is the last thing to discuss. However, whenever I get into the cobweb of the so many not urgent and not important things of this modern life, the concepts he taught gives me hope. That could be the reason why that book is still available in all book stalls after almost three decades of existence. Even when I make this post, my subconscious mind is asking me this question ‘how important is this?’, and I am really struggling to find an answer. To be honest, in my case
, blogging happens at the cost of physical exercise. Since sitting at one place and typing is easier than going for that five kilo meter walk, I prefer the former. Because of this, my energy levels are very low, and it is reflecting in every other sphere of my life. In the corporate jargon, the process of picking up the right projects, which are in best alignment to the organisational strategy to achieve the business goals, and then maintaining this alignment throughout is known as project portfolio management. In my case, this is very much applicable at a personal level. It is high time to prioritise what I want to do with the rest of my life. As a tribute to the great writer, Stephen covey, I want to do it all over again…..thank you Stephen for all the wonderful contributions you made to this world. Your concepts are immortal as the world is providing every one with unlimited opportunities to break or make their lives, and it is up to each one to prioritise. May your soul rest in peace.

The naked life

The naked life by duncan banks is an amazing piece of work. Through this book he gives practical tips to living a fuller life filled with love, peace and joy, which any ordinary person can understand and adopt.

One day after completing my project management lectures, an energy zapped me was driven to walk the four kilometer distance from the guest house to the church store to find this small old book as if it is pleading me to adopt it. This one is definitely different. I liked Duncan’s style of communicating in a subtle and effective way. His other book is breakfast with god, which is the next in my agenda.

God bless you.