A Deeper Understanding Of PMI’s New Agile Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

In what may be a nod to the reality that there may be no pure “waterfall” or “agile” in the world, PMI recently released a new “micro-credential” for Agile Hybrid Project Pro. It looked intriguing, so I dedicated an afternoon to going through the course and exam to see what it was about and if it is worth the investment.

PMI’s Changing Training Strategy

For those not familiar, PMI has totally changed up its certification game, doing away with its previous Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) program last year and replacing it with its Authorized Training Provider (A.T.P.) program. There are a number of differences, but the key one is that the new program pulls back ownership of PMP prep material to PMI, rather than leaving it to the providers to develop.

When I spoke with PMI about the program change, they shared that they received feedback from the community that some of the PMP prep content wasn’t doing a good job of preparing PMP applicants. I can see their point – I’ve reviewed content developed by multiple providers, and I’ve been through countless banks of test questions and totally agree that they are not consistent. So, PMI decided that all PMP prep courses should be delivered using content they (PMI) developed. This plan is good for consistency – and also good for PMI’s top-line revenue which makes for a healthy PMI. As a training provider, I have to say it is also nice to not have to try to build that training content myself and keep up with PMBOK updates, or buy it from a third party.

Micro-Credentials

In line with developing and marketing more of its own training content, PMI is launching a new line of micro-credentials with an aim to “certify achievements in specific skills, knowledge, and competencies by focusing on unique subjects and relatively new topics.” These credentials are not as monumental an undertaking as PMP or PMI-ACP, but still come with the legitimacy of a PMI provided credential. In addition to the Agile Hybrid Project Pro, it there is also an Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential and a Citizen Developer micro-credential. For at least the Org Transformation and Citizen Developer credentials, these are the first in a series on each topic. If these succeed as offerings, I suspect we can see many more coming. These are a great idea in the respect that they fit the more modern learner’s need for self-paced training for specific subject matter on demand. They are also a smart way to test the market for new training content, and find more creative ways to add content.

Pricing is interesting – the Agile Hybrid micro-credential goes for $175, the new Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential goes for $350 and the Citizen Developer course for $29 – so there is a wide spread in price. With these and more on the way, I could see PMI’s traction from micro credentials eventually rivaling what they take in from their marquee credentials.

Agile Hybrid Project Pro

Per PMI, this credential is “ideal for traditional project managers who are beginning to venture into the Agile or Hybrid space… [this credential] verifies your skillset and increases your value to employers.” So, of course I couldn’t resist.

And of course… 13 PDU’s!

Figure 1 – PDU breakout for Hybrid Agile Project Pro

 

The credential is still in Beta. PMI says this means the certification is discounted from the $175 list price, and that they require you complete a couple surveys throughout the process so they can collect feedback. I completed the surveys, but didn’t seem to get the discount – perhaps I missed a step. Even at $175, I was happy to jump in.

The content outline is provided here. Like the PMI-ACP and the new PMP, reference material for the credential is not limited to PMI content, but extends to other content in the market. Even without reviewing all this content, if you have some hybrid delivery experience and go through the online course, you should fare well on the exam.

Signup

Perhaps because it’s still in beta, the signup process isn’t seamless at the moment, but it is pretty straightforward from the credential page. Once you sign up, you get an email that you have to hang on to, because it’s the one with the working links to the course. For me, I received another email after all the setup was complete for my e-learning page that didn’t show the course – but I could get there using the link in the initial email  I received. So, hang on to the email just in case.

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential

Figure 2 – Don’t lose this email if you are taking this in BETA!

The Course

Having spent years delivering PMP prep training, this course was a refreshing change. The online self-paced course has 20 modules, each of which is presented through a relatable, real-world use case. These modules follow the same format as the content outline. Each lesson links back to Tools & Techniques from the PMBOK or PMI’s Agile Practice guide, and also provides links back to PMI’s extremely deep Resource library. I’ve never explored PMI’s Resource Library before, but was surprised at the depth and breadth of the content there. When I should have been focusing on my Hybrid Agile course, I found I kept following resource links and going down the rabbit hole in the library. My advice there is to save-off the interesting links for exploration after you finish the course, so you don’t get distracted like me 🙂

Each module has a short quiz to reinforce the topic. The quizzes worked well except there was a type of question – sort of a “category matcher” for some topics where you drag and drop statements (up to 9) to the correct category. You either get it all right or all wrong, and the hints at where you might have gotten them wrong were a bit cryptic, which was frustrating. There were a couple of these questions that I finally just gave up and moved on.

The Content

This being an Agile Hybrid course, I went in expecting there to be more content around the nuts and bolts of making hybrid projects work answering the questions:

  • How do you manage dependencies when you have multiple Agile teams delivering various parts of a solution?
  • How do you coordinate schedules across different Agile teams that may have different methodologies and different sprint cycles or durations?
  • How does a PM work with a Product Owner to integrate project-specific deliverables into an overall product backlog?

But, the course did not go to that level of technical detail.

The course focuses more on the people side of working with Agile (managing conflict, leading a team, engaging virtual teams). The parts which did touch on technical processes (plan and manage schedule, plan and manage scope) were pretty high level – perhaps in an effort to keep the course methodology agnostic. But still quite useful for getting you aligned with agile ways of working.

Overall, I’d say this course would be most useful to an established PM who needs to adopt an “agile” mindset to help deliver hybrid projects and needs to understand how that world works.

The Exam

Once you complete the course, you take the exam through Pearson Vue. It’s a non-proctored, timed, remote exam with 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam felt a bit like a PMP, in that the multiple-choice questions were often situational, and you had to have a good feel for how PMI wanted you to think to pick the right answer. They were challenging enough that when taking the exam, I wasn’t sure if the course had prepared me to pass the exam. But,  I passed on the first go, so there you have it!

Hybrid Project Pro Micro-Credential Diploma

Was it worth it?

It’s the only “Hybrid Agile” credential that I’m aware of, right now. I think it’s cool and I look forward to putting the badge on my LinkedIn profile. The new micro-credential format may be a response to other training competitors like LinkedIn Learning and Google’s new certs. It’s great to see PMI jump in the fray and start putting out accessible content. And it’s high quality content as you might expect. Plus, it’s a PMI credential that an experienced PM can knock out in an afternoon, so it’s nowhere near the commitment of a PMI marquee credential.

I felt that the scenario-based lessons in the online course were the best part of the process – they made the content relatable and helped reinforce some agile principles and approaches for me. I hope this credential is an indicator of how the PMI will deliver training going forward.

Is this credential going to teach you how to execute Hybrid Agile projects? Not really. It’s a good start for getting in the right mindset, but don’t look for it to give you the technical ins and outs of how to get your projects done in a hybrid world. Is it worth $175? It may be, if you need to demonstrate that you understand Agile Hybrid on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re already there and have the ‘street-cred’ of having worked on Hybrid projects, it may not be super useful. That said, if you do work in a Hybrid world and need to take a course to keep up your PMP, it was a nice way to get 13 PDUs. And coming from a background as an ‘old school’ PM, coursework that helps me develop more of an Agile mindset is good medicine.

And, even if this credential isn’t for you, definitely keep an eye on PMI’s evolving micro-credential space. We might see some really interesting things coming from this space.

Check out our other insights and articles here.

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

Tailoring Your Stakeholder Justification Messages When Investing In A Project Portfolio Management System

Tailor Stakeholder Justification Messages

We’ve had a great review of the strategic benefits, and hard and soft cost saving that you need to consider for your justification and/or business case in our recent post, Justifying A PPM Investment.  But, how do we ensure that you are talking about the right benefits to the right stakeholders? Keep reading to learn how tailoring your stakeholder justification messages when investing in a project portfolio management system. 

Let’s get started and begin by defining our stakeholders – Who are they? We’re going to categorize common stakeholders into 3 groups:  Finance, HR/Resource Management and Executives. 

We can’t stress enough how important it is for you to tailor your message!  Messages that don’t resonate with a particular stakeholder group will be just noise and potentially defocus the message. 

We like to call this the ‘Rabbit Hole of Details,’ and it can really throw you off track, especially with busy executives who might not be up to speed on the process. Wrong, questionable, or too much data distracts from the high-level conversation you planned to have. So start broad, and then zero-in on specifics. And we always recommend that you keep a few “just in case” slides in your back pocket.

Finance

One of our favorite conversations is talking to the Finance team. If you can provide direct benefit to the finance team, if you can make their lives easier and give them more accurate financials, or if you’re able to put their financials in your projects more accurately, faster, and with less administrative overhead, the finance team has a lot of sway in funding your projects 

We suggest tailoring your messages by adding:

  • Improved project budget management, especially for forecasting

    Anything where you can demonstrate the ability to have improved project budget management. Especially for forecasting. Now, if you’re in Professional Services, this is number one. This, in itself, will sell your PPM investment, if you can demonstrate that your forecasting is going to be more timely, and more responsive, and most importantly, more accurate. 

  • Data Accuracy and Transparency

    Of course, data accuracy and transparency are very important, being able to provide direct access into the PPM so they can see what the forecasts are, and also to keep the PMs in the loop in real-time. And, or course, more accurate data is vital, which brings us back around to… 

  • Automation and Simplification Stance

    Automation and simplification stance. Flipping that back around to the project managers, they’re going to be able to forecast and manage their projects better if they can get direct access into financials. So if we can automate bringing in financial data, your actual resource costs, your actual invoices for each item you’re spending money on, even timesheets or travel expenses, if you can get those into your PPM, it gives your project managers the power to make accurate forecasts, and helps you avoid a lot of firefighting. And this brings us back to our Single Source of Truth – the more you can automate, the more work you can do in a single system, the more accurate your data will be, and the easier it is on everyone. These are the kinds of benefits from a tool that really can help sell it! 

Bottom line: If you can give Finance assurance that they’re going to get better financial data, more accurate forecasts, and more timely information, this puts you in a good position to justify the expenditure. Heck, they may just buy it for you. 

HR & Resource Management

Next up is tailoring your messaging to your HR/Resource Management stakeholders.

From an HR/RM perspective, we want to think about Resource alignment. It’s really important to know what your resources are working on, what they’re doing: are they working on something important to your business i.e. your strategic initiatives? Are they improving quality, or reducing cost? We want our resources working on the projects that will provide the maximum value to the company, both short term and long term. 

The reason we need to prioritize these projects is because resources only have so many hours. In our 2018 whitepaper, we saw that reliable and accurate project data correlates with 62% improvement in resource utilization and project success. How many hours should resources be spending on new work vs. businessasusual? What percentage do we want going towards various initiatives? Resource Managers need to know when they are overor under-utilized, and they need to know before it hits crisis mode, and before company or customer expectations are set. 

Of course, when we say ‘resources’, we actually mean ‘people’. And when working with people, team satisfaction is key.

Using multiple tools, double- or even triple-reporting data, and spending hours each week manually creating slide reports –  it is  mindnumbing. It’s not fun to do on a Friday night before you can go home. Having all your data in a single source makes everyone’s job easier. Clarizen, for example, has Slide Publisher and Document Publisher, which allows you to create status reports with the click of a button. That leaves more time to do more valuable work, to do professional development, … and lets you can clock out on time on Fridays. 

That leads, again, into Automation and Simplification. A good PPM tool will have workflows, and scheduled workflows. Maybe the system will automatically send my status report out every week. Maybe I can log in and see at a glance which of my direct reports haven’t done their timesheets this week, and, with the click of a button, send them an email so they can update their time right from their inbox. Which ties back into team satisfaction, data accuracy and transparency, etc. 

Bottom line: Human Resources/Resource Management wants to know what people are working on and that they have the proper balance of capacity to support initiatives that are important to the business. 

 

What about headcount justification?

If you’re looking at your portfolio and you’ve got strategic initiatives coming down, and you’re at capacity, but these things are really important. Does that give me justification to add headcount? Or should I be reallocating people from, say, business-as-usual work, to more innovative projects. Your PPM will help you collect and evaluate that data, and then use it to justify those kinds of changes.

We’ve seen this used as a powerful tool to help build coalition with other managers. If you can get the light to go on, that, “This is a tool that can help you justify headcount.” Instead of saying, “We’re really busy, we need more people,” you can say, “For the new initiatives you’re asking for, I’ll need a 10% increase in staff to meet those requirements.

The justification’s really easy to see in nice-looking graphs on a portfolio planning screen with hard data backing it up, vs just saying ‘Believe me.’

Executive Stakeholders

A group that especially needs a precise, tailored business case are your Executive stakeholders. We talked about a lot of these benefits early on, because pretty much everything we’ve talked about touches the C-Suite in some way. And that’s a lot of information for very busy people. When you talk to them, you have the opportunity to assurthem that what you’re doing is aligned to their executive strategyHave that conversation. How are they measuring that alignment, and how can we ensure we’re meeting that, as a department and as a company. And that’s what this tool can do, and that will be the story that you can teach them. Help them understand that you have a common goal. 

And that’s the other thing. Your organization now isn’t the same organization it’s going to be a month from now, a quarter from now, a year from now. You’re always going to changing. Just look at that’s happened this year, you can’t foresee that. And we’re seeing a lot of businesses panicking, and just reacting because, well, ‘we have to do something.’ You have to be able to change, and to change smartYour tool might need to change, to start incorporating new data or new business processes. 

Justify your tool as giving you the data you need to justify a sound business decision, very quickly, and on the fly. 

  • Project alignment with Strategy 
  • Organizational Agility 
  • Automation and Simplification: 
  • Elimination of other systems ($$$$’s) 
  • Time to Market 
  • Delivery Quality / Project Success 
  • Lessons Learned 
  • Team / Customer / Stakeholder Satisfaction 
  • Data quality and timeliness 

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup, Kolme Co-founder, for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

Getting Prepared for Your New PPM Tool – 6 Expert Tips To Accelerate Your Implementation Time

Getting Prepared for Your New PPM Tool

We need a tool! 

We need a system that will make sense of this for us 

We need help figuring this out 

How do we track this? 

How many times have you said or thought the thoughts above? I’ve heard these comments countless times from many customers over the years but when asked what the expected outcome is from said tool or system, the response is usually unclear at best

The right PPM tool can help address all these statements and more but, the question then becomes, how do you go about setting it up correctly for your organization?  Well, read on for 5 excellent tips to help you achieve that!

Here’s a list of expert tips to consider while you prepare for your PPM implementation:  

  • Outline Your Main Goals for Implementation

    • What are gaps or pain points that you have now that you’d like to address?   
    • Decide on the expected outputs.  What do you want from a PPM tool?  Even more importantly, what do you need from a tool?   
    • What will a successful implementation look like? Set these goals and consult them to ensure that you stay on track and aligned to the original vision. 
  • Create a list of criteria to consider & prioritize for your implementation.

    • This prioritized list of Must Haves and Nice to Haves will help drive the phases of the implementation. 
    • Will project initiation & prioritization/selection be part of the implementation?  How will priority be determined?  How will budget, scope and capacity/resource utilization be evaluated?  What metrics are required to guide those decisions?  Are there approval steps and permissions that I need to consider?  What are the KPIs to be tracked?  Most PPM systems include reporting capabilities so it’s important to ensure that the right data points are part of the inputs so that they can be measured and reported on. 
    • Do I want my PPM software to be cloud-based or locally hosted?  There are management considerations to make here. 
    • How many users will be using the platform?  Will they be internal employees only or external clients or both? 
    • Do I care about how the user interface looks?   
    • Cost of the PPM tool as well as any licensing, customization or integration costs 
    • Consider on-going management, updates and changes to the platform post implementation.  Will this require professional services hours or can this be managed internally 
    • Envision the training needs of your teams.  Factor this into the phases 
    • Start small and work in phases.  A Big Bang approach is seldom suggested and will take much longer to roll-out.  The change impact to the organization will be greater as will the training effort and adoption curve.  Implementing and releasing smaller pieces of the overall solution as part of a phased approach is usually more effective and more positively received.  This approach will also allow the implementation team to gather feedback and learnings and apply to future phases going forward as well as make adjustments to the criteria or priority, if necessary 
  • Gather Processes

    • Know your current processes.  Are the processes documented or formalized?   
    • Pull together the current processes, understanding who is using them as well as the inputs and outputs of each of them.   
    • Are they being followed today?  Understanding existing processes or establishing new ones will help guide the implementation.  Current, lean processes are an important input of a successful workflow within the PPM.  It’s a good use of time to see if they are as efficient as they can be. 
  • Gather User Input and Feedback

    • Involvement of user champions should be leveraged to represent their voice when implementing a PPM.  Simplestraightforward steps, views and even labels make a big difference to the end user and adoption of a new system 
  • Create A List Of Your Integration Needs

    • Is there information in other systems that you’d like to include?  Is the new platform replacing legacy tools?  If so, review and decide on what data, if any, will be migrated to over.  It’s important to ensure that any data that will be migrated is accurate and robust – you’ve heard the term garbage in, garbage out – either take the time to cleanse the old data or leave it out altogether.  Integration of data will also help to minimize the need for users to consult multiple systems to complete steps in a process.   
    • Single source of truth.  Many organizations have different versions of the same information in multiple places which can lead to duplicative efforts and confusion.  Integration of this data will help to leverage the required information while maintaining a single source of truth. 
  • Create Your Change Management Plan

    • This is also referred to the people side of change.  The importance of change management and planning it into your implementation plan cannot be underestimated.   
    • Pull together a team of user champions to provide input and feedback.  The champions will facilitate user views, needs and feedback throughout the implementation.    
    • These champions will be part of the communication plans, internal marketing campaign and even training of the new system.  This will positive affect user adoption and support of the platform 
    • Learn more about Change Management from Prosci
    • Learn how Kolme Group can help support your business with change here

At Kolme Group we care and want to help you get the best out of your PPM Tool. Join Kim Essendrup for a Free, 15-minute consultancy to discuss your
PPM Tool implementation needs and best steps forward

 

How to Lead People Through Change – ADKAR® Series Part 5: Reinforcement

ADKAR®: Reinforcement

Finally, we’ve reached our final milestone – Reinforcement. In our last blog we covered the third and fourth element of ADKAR – Knowledge and Ability and mentioned that people need to have both the information on how to change and the ability to make the change.

Here is a quick recap of what ADKAR stands for:

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

Reinforcement

Reinforcement is the person continuing and sustaining the change. During this phase you continue to manage resistance, implement corrective actions, and celebrate success.

It is also important to collect and analyze feedback because creating a good feedback loop, where people have a voice on what is working well and can provide areas of improvement, will help them feel empowered to continue to support the change.

I’ve seen some great success with this when companies have communication channels where employees can recognize other team members that are doing well with the change. Managers have different options to honor them with some type of formal reward including becoming certified or even gaining a promotion. At one company I was at, they called this acknowledgement “Find the Good and Praise It” (FTFAPI) and at another it was known as giving someone a “High-Five.” Both were easy actions for a person to submit a praise and that praise to be shared company-wide.

Unfortunately, try as we might to get people through their ADKAR journeys, some changes may result in employee turnover. Monitoring this effectively can help shape how the organization approaches change and strengthen the culture (or weaken if it is not properly dealt with). This goes back to the Desire blog where we mentioned the organizational or environmental context factors can affect the desire ADKAR milestone based on the success (or non-successes) of past changes, other changes that may be also occurring in the organization, and the organization’s culture of change.

Yes, change is a cyclical journey, and everyone will go through each milestone with each change they encounter. It’s up to us as change practitioners (or project managers with our change management hat on) to help educate our Sponsors, Mid-Line managers, and Team Members on how to effectively manage through each milestone by educating them that this is a process, but we have the resources available to help them through it.

Want to learn more about how Kolme Group can help with your Change Initiatives? Schedule a free 30-min consult with Drew or Kim here.

How to Lead People Through Change – ADKAR® Series Part 4: Knowledge and Ability

ADKAR: Knowledge and Ability

Today, our focus is on the third and fourth ADKAR® milestone – Knowledge and Ability. They are related to each other, so I like to cover them together. In our last blog we covered the second element of Desire and mentioned that people need to have the desire to participate and support the change.

Here is a quick recap of what ADKAR stands for:

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

Knowledge

Knowledge is about each person understanding how to change. This would be the education and training on the new tool, their processes, and them understanding any new expectations – whether it be a new role or new responsibility. Depending on your change initiative this could be as simple as providing a new URL link or as complex as an entirely new office location, reporting structure, and office procedures. But, even with the range of complexity, this ADKAR milestone is where I think, as Project Managers, we are the most familiar and comfortable with as we typically cover aspects of this during our UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and Training sessions.

I have seen some really cool examples when it comes to how to deliver knowledge. Gamification techniques can be used to tap into the reward center of our brains and provide positive reinforcement as a fun and interactive way to help people gain the new knowledge.

I’ve written a blog about using game theory for time-tracking that goes into detail about each game mechanic if you want to learn more about gamification.

There are a lot of additional resources available to help deliver knowledge including creating interactive quizzes, live train-the-trainer sessions, on-demand training videos, and even using a pilot group to help create early adopters or help discover power-users and champions.

Keep in mind, we do not want to take any previous knowledge for granted or make assumptions on their current knowledge level. Sometimes offering a “foundation” class to make sure everyone is on the same baseline of understanding can help before delivering new information.

Ability

Ability is the fourth ADKAR milestone. This is the person’s skills as they relate to the future state. They may have the awareness, they are on board about the change, they have been trained – but do they have the ability? Meaning, do they have the intellectual capability, the physical ability, an SME (Subject Matter Experts) or mentor support, and the time to learn what is needed for the successful change?

One example that helps describe this ADKAR milestone is if there was a change for a company to shift from an hour lunch to a half hour lunch. This may seem like a simple change, but what if the person takes public transport or drops their kids off at school — getting off a half hour earlier or coming in a half hour later is not an option for them.

I think we have all had some personal experience with this when it comes to COVID and having to work remotely. I may be on board to work remote because I understand why (we have a pandemic) I have the desire (I don’t want to get COVID or infect others), I have the knowledge (I have been trained on how to login remote) but do I have good internet and a place to set up my workstation at home?

Also, sometimes it may take people different amounts of time to learn something new. We all know the type of person (I’m one of them) that needs a little bit of time to process and try it on their own to help settle their new understanding of the process. They have gone through training, so they have the knowledge of how to do it, but they may need a few weeks of using the new tool in order to develop their competency and ability to actually use it.

Projects that have a quick go-live and do not account for this may can put a person’s Ability milestone at risk so it’s something to keep an eye on while building out your project plans and working with managers.

Join me next time, in our last session Part 5 – Reinforcement.

How to Lead People Through Change – ADKAR® Series Part 3: Desire

ADKAR: Desire

In our last blog we started with the first element of ADKAR®, Awareness, and mentioned that people need to know why the change is happening. Today, our focus is on the second milestone – Desire in the ADKAR acronymAs you just read in our last blog ADKAR stands for

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

Desire

A person needs to have the desire to participate and support the change. This is a biggie. Without this you may have delays, productivity may decline, and people may even leave the organization. It is also a very personal thing, (as much as we wish we could!) we do not control other people’s choices.

Hiatt mentions there are Four Factors that contribute to an individual’s desire to change:

  • The Nature of the Change

    Is this change an opportunity or threat and what is their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

  • The organizational or environmental context

    The Success (or non-successes) of past changes, other changes that may be also occurring in the organization, and the organization’s culture of change.

  • An Individual’s Personal Situation

    Our career aspirations, financial security, age/healthy, personal relationships in and out of work

  • Intrinsic Motivation

    What we value, our internal voice or internal compass.

We talked about Awareness in our last post and desire tends to immediately follow that. We’ve all been there – your sponsor announces, “A Change is Coming!!” and as soon as we log-off the meeting invite, most of us are sending a ping to our manager, “Hey, just heard the news does this mean I have to (insert how I perceived the change will affect me here).”

Because of this common reflex Prosci recommends that the desire messaging is best communicated by the Direct Manager. They are closer to their staff and their everyday duties, so they can help them understand the specific WIIFM.

“As you have heard, we are getting a new PPM tool, this is really going to help you save time when you submit your project status reports because it has a one-click button that aggregates all the data. No more late Friday emails asking where your status reports are! We’ll all be able to log-off in time to attend the company Happy Hour.”

Of course, it is worth noting that the manager needs to have gone through their own ADKAR journey before they can properly help their staff consume the information. If they are just finding out about the change at the same time as their staff, then this is a recipe for disaster.

As change practitioners, we need to help the manager by first getting them through their own ADKAR journey and then preparing them, and giving room for them, to lead their staff through the change. They will need our support to identify and manage resistance and how to provide clear communications on the benefits of the change initiative.

Join me next time, where we talk about Part 4 – Knowledge and Ability

How to Lead People Through Change – Part 1: Intro to the ADKAR® Series

Ah yes, another elusive acronym for us to add to our business vernacular. If you stay with me on the following ADKAR blog series, I promise this acronym will become one of your favorites. Why? Because it is simple to understand and can make a big impact to helping achieve project success.

Before we get into the details of ADKAR, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of Organizational Change Management (OCM) and introduce you to the global leader in change management solutions, Prosci ®.

What is Change Management

Prosci® defines change management as the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. Change management incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.

That statement of a personal transition is a key part to understanding the methodology of change management. If you think about a project, there may be a significant percentage of the project’s success relying on a person changing how they work. For example, when implementing a new PPM tool, a project manager may need to be change how they track and report their project plan, financials, risk & issues log, etc. If they have been doing the same process in Excel or Microsoft Project, they probably have some sort of an autopilot and learning how to use a new system will be a disturbance to this autopilot. Some people may have a little blip when they come across change, others will have a colossal reaction to this adjustment.

Not to throw another acronym at you, but OCEAN or The Big Five Theory is one that I’ve been interested in lately as it relates to how people emotionally react to and process change, based on their personality. The range where someone falls on each of the Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism spectrum could be an important tell of how they react to change.

Change management is getting out in front of this disturbance – anticipating it – and planning to help people successfully journey through their current state to their future state.

Importance of Change Management

Prosci has 20 years of research into Change Management and their surveys have consistently shown that you are 6x  more likely to meet or exceed your objectives when you implement change management. You are also more likely to stay on budget and achieve the results ahead of schedule.

You can learn more about the details and benefits of OCM in Kelly’s blog: Managing Change: Absent Processes Hurting Your Projects Future or check out the recap of our OCM webinar: Change Management Fundamentals.

ADKAR – An Introduction

As mentioned, Prosci is the global leader of management solutions and there are a lot of tools that Prosci has, but the one that I think complements project management the most is ADKAR since it focusses on an individual’s journey.

ADKAR stands for

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

It represents the five elements of change that must be achieved for that change to be a success. There are a lot of ADKAR resources available outside of attending a Prosci training. Jeffrey M. Hiatt wrote ADKAR: A model for change in business, government, and our community. It’s a short, easy read that can be purchased online.

Lien, wrote a great article that describes how to coach individuals through each section of ADKAR in her blog – Coaching Through Change

Over the next few blogs, we’ll take a deeper look into each one of the ADKAR milestones, starting with Part 1 – Awareness

How to Lead People Through Change – ADKAR® Series Part 2: Awareness

Today, our focus is on the first milestone – Awareness in the ADKAR acronym. As you just read in our last blog we introduced ADKAR, which stands for

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

Awareness

In order to get people’s buy-in on the change they must first understand the why. Awareness is all about helping people understanding the “Why” of the change.

Simon Sinek has a book and TED Talk called “Start with the Why” – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. He bolds the fact that when you communicate the why (the purpose, the  ADKAR: Awarenessreason) rather than starting with the what (benefits/features) then we are focusing on the part of the brain that controls decision making. Nearing in on the “gut-feeling” part that we tend to draw on when we are making a decision, and our emotional reaction to it.

According to Prosci, this message is best communicated by a trusted, visible, and active Sponsor within the organization and this makes perfect sense. As Project Managers, we are often leading the team on some pretty cool initiatives, but it’s when the CEO takes center stage at a town-hall and speaks to the heart about Why they are going in that direction, that people take notice and listen.

I’ve seen some great examples of how to generate buzz around a new application that was being rolled out. It started with a very friendly message “have you heard the word” that started to gain everyone’s interest and excitement for what may be coming. One company I worked with, had a great idea for a Sponsor Roadshow where the team got a little cart and went around the office handing out ice-cream as the Project Sponsor walked around and started planting the seed about a new department the organization was developing and the benefits it could offer to the organization.

When we do not communicate the why, people will fill in the knowledge gaps themselves. The rumor-mill can be strong, so we want to own the message from the beginning by communicating the Why early on.

Join me next time, where we talk about Part 3 – Desire.

To learn more about how Kolme Group can help you with your Organizational Change Management needs, click here!

 

Taking the Best Parts of Agile: Part 4 – Continual Learning

In the first three parts of this series, we started with sharing the secret sauce of Agile is understanding that Agile is a framework built on strong principles you adjust to fit your organization. The goal is to make the right adjustments while not losing the underlying strengths that Agile brings.

The four key Agile principles we have identified are:

  • Breaking projects into smaller bites

  • Connecting with customers

  • Leveraging the power of teams

  • Building in continual learning

If you haven’t had a chance to review our previous blogs on the first three principles, check it them out here: Breaking projects into smaller bites, Connecting with Customers, and the Power of Teams

Continual Learning

It’s cliché that the world is moving quickly. A key element of this change is companies, many whom are your competitors, continually looking for better ways to serve customers. Just ask Sears, Kmart, or Toys R Us and they’ll tell you – If you’re not finding a better way, someone will.

The problem is our current structures are not built for learning – they are built for control. Hierarchies are built to increase efficiency and stability in the organization, not leverage great ideas. We need to change this. We need to build companies of entrepreneurs, where experimentation and innovation are an integral part of what we do. We want good ideas to get the same attention, no matter where they originate.

How to do we foster continual learning into our organizations

Before you even start, one of the first things to consider is understanding what is the clear goal of what you want when you are finished. Do you want more efficiency, do you want more customer value, do you want more sales, do you want more revenue, more profits? As we discussed in Part 3 – Teams are amazing idea engines – set them loose on a problem and they will come up with incredible results, but you have to start with pointing them towards the right problem. As a leadership team – it’s your responsibility to understand where you want innovation in your organization and what is going to make a difference, so your teams can focus on how to get you there.

The next thing you need is the right environment. Looking back again at Part 3 the Power of Teams, we mentioned psychological safety is important. But, that isn’t just safety within the team. Ironically, for the team to succeed they also need to be able to fail. With innovation, people need to feel safe in the organization as a whole, knowing that ideas may not work every time, but when they do, it will be worth it.

You also need an idea meritocracy. Often when you start a new team, members come in wanting to know what their tasks are and when they are due. They know they are usually asked to leave their brain at the door and just do the tasks as asked. What a waste of good people! Teams need to know that great ideas can come from anywhere or anyone. It shouldn’t matter if you are in accounting, you might have a great idea for operations. Operations might have a great idea for sales. You may see great ideas come from facilities, customer service, or accounting. We need to be able to judge ideas on merit, not rank or role.

This next part is a little more controversial since it has to do with money. To entice entrepreneurs, you need to be able to share rewards for great ideas. To find the best way to serve customers, you need to measure the value the team is delivering to them. Taking that one step further – as teams deliver great value, there should be some direct rewards, sharing the value of those ideas that made it possible.

It’s rewarding to see the value customers are getting but if organizations don’t share a portion of the benefits, team members may end up feeling cynical that they’re doing a great job, but the owners are the only ones seeing rewards. Nucor Steal pays employees 75% of market wages, but with bonuses they can make 125%.  At Google, employees can make as much as 300% more than someone in the same role, based on the value of their contributions.  Haier, a Chinese appliance company, has broken departments into small mini companies where employees are encouraged to think of new revenue streams and there can be significant rewards when those ideas payoff.

Continual Learning

Beyond the right environment, the last element is room to process and digest thoughts. Agile is the only methodology I’ve seen that does continual improvement effectively. The reason is that there is time built into every iteration to take a step back, discuss where to improve, and build those tasks into the next iteration.  We all know that improvement is important, but we’re not scheduling time to do it.

In one of the departments I managed, I thought I was doing a great job delegating and communicating with my team till we had our first retro. I was surprised to learn that wasn’t the case. Over the course of a year, we were able to eliminate, automate, and delegate my administrative overhead from 20 hours a week to 4. It left me a lot more time to focus on strategic value and the team was much happier with the growth they were seeing. You have opportunities, but you won’t know where those opportunities to grow are, or what is possible, until you take time to ask.

Benefits of Continual Learning

People talk about an Agile transformation like it is a destination that you get to.  However, Agile is a journey. It’s about building an organization that is continually changing and adapting to better fit the world around it. Continual learning is really one of the key principles to Agile because it builds a truly flexible organization.  That means:

As an organization – you don’t have to worry about driving results. A key job today for leadership is to drive the organization to be more effective. Agile puts in a structure where everyone is focused on being more effective. That means leadership has more time to focus on strategic direction.

As a customer – the company is always growing and adjusting to better fit your needs. Every iteration, they are asking how they can serve you better.

As a team – you get growth. Too many times we think people aren’t satisfied because of money or benefits. But a key reason employees leave a job is because they don’t have an opportunity to grow. Continual learning gives you the opportunity to not just do more, but to be more, increasing the value you add. If you’re with a good company, it also means you get to take the results of some of those ideas home as a well-deserved thank you.

The idea of continual improvement isn’t new. Toyota started quality circles after WWII leading to its popularity in the 1950’s. But, 70 years later, it seems we’re still not doing it well. Most teams meet regularly to discuss status. It’s not hard to add some reflection time to those meetings. You can google fun retrospectives to get some ideas of how to get people thinking more creatively. Whether you borrow the approach from Lean or Agile, building continual improvement will help your company grow.

As we have gone through the four key Agile principles, you’re probably thinking they aren’t new. You’re right, they’re not. Agile is really just a collection of good business practices, and rather than a detailed practice, it’s a combination of good principles that companies should leverage to improve what they do.

As you look at Agile, rather than thinking that’s not for me, or that would never work here, do what Agile did —  Take a bunch of great ideas and make them your own.

Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with more agile transformation learning!

Taking the Best Parts of Agile: Part 3 – The Power of Teams

In the first two parts of this series, we described the secret sauce of Agile is understanding that Agile is a framework built on strong principles you adjust to fit your organization. The goal is to make the right adjustments while not losing the underlying strengths that Agile brings.

The four key Agile principles we have identified are:

  • Breaking projects into smaller bites

  • Connecting with customers

  • Leveraging the power of teams

  • Building in continual learning

If you haven’t had a chance to review our previous blogs on the first two principles, check it them out here: Breaking projects into smaller bites and Connecting with Customers

The Power of Teams

As kids, I think everyone of us wanted to be superheroes. Teams give us that ability – they turn ordinary people into top performers. In his book Scrum Twice the Work in Half the Time – Sutherland explains the difference between your best and worst individual performers is 10 times. That means the best performers get 10 times more done than the worst. That sounds impressive, until you hear the difference between the worst and best teams is 2,000 times (2,000 times better starts to sound and feel a lot like a superhero).

Part of the difference might be in existing team structure. Most of the time, we think about teams as individuals working on similar items with a manager directing traffic. That’s not a team. And, it won’t provide the advantage of leveraging the intelligence of the group. In his book Turn the Ship Around, Marquette talks about how, traditionally in a submarine, you have one captain thinking for the 140 crew. Marquette discusses how he got each individual to think for themselves. By doing that, he outperformed every other submarine in the US fleet. It was easy for him to see that no other captain, however smart they may be, is going to be as smart as 140 people.

How to harness the Power of Teams

 Best Parts of Agile

For those who have worked in a solid team, it’s a great experience.  However, teams need the right elements to be successful. An example I like to share is a research project called Aristotle looking at successful teams that Google conducted. They started with an assumption that great teams would be made of great individuals, but couldn’t find any correlation. What they did find were five key elements that did correlate with team performance:

  • Psychological Safety

    Can we take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed?

  • Dependability

    Can we count on each other to do high quality work and meet commitments?

  • Structure and Clarity

    Are the goals, roles, and plans on the team clear?

  • Work Meaning

    Does our work provide us with an individual sense of purpose?

  • Work Impact

    Do we believe the work we’re doing matters?

If you’re looking for structure, Scrum, the most popular Agile framework, provides teams a simple approach on how to plan, touch base regularly, review work against plans, and implement regular retrospectives to identify and make needed adjustments.

Benefits of Teams

There are so many benefits to high functioning teams, but one of the most valuable is innovation. New ideas often come from leveraging existing ideas in a new way. When you present a problem to a group, each person comes with a different perspective, a lifetime of different experiences, and the more diverse your team is, the more diverse those experiences will be. Great ideas come from one person seeing the problem in a different way, and then others in the group building on those ideas till at the end you have a completely new solution.  This means:

As an organization – innovation is the lifeblood of any good company. It is the ultimate source of competitive advantage. It is why companies like Google and Amazon are so hard to compete with.

As a customer – it gives you the best product at the best price. Customers are so tired of hearing the word “or.” Would you like quality or would you like a price you can afford?  Innovation gives you the ability to give customers “and.” Toyota did this in the 50’s, providing the quality of a Mercedes for the cost of a Ford, gaining a decade of competitive advantage.

As a team – we talked about a key part of successful teams is meaning and impact. There is a joy of going home (or logging off our computer in our home office) at the end of the day knowing that, as a team, you did the impossible and the world is better because of it. Innovation makes the impossible possible, and it’s fun getting to do it.

You don’t have to be Agile to improve what your teams are doing today.  Look at the Google Aristotle aspects of a team and think about how you make groups more like teams.  Wherever you are today, leveraging the genius of the entire organization will help you be far more effective, with a side effect of much happier employees.

In the last part of our Agile Series, we’ll take a look at Continual Learning.