Making the Career Transition Jump

Translating Military Project Management to the Civilian World

Translating 12 years of Military Project Management to the Civilian World 

There comes the point in your military career, where at the very end, you sit and wonder, what now? Most of us fear this time in our military careers; the Military has become a lifestyle and a (very) lengthy career stretch, we tend to wonder if we are any good at anything else. 

Military professionals have difficulty translating skillsets in preparation for the civilian workforce, but honestly, it is not as hard as it seems! 

The Military and the civilian workforce share a lot of the same types of skillsets for jobs with minor differences, but these roles are identified differently.  

For example, a military program manager who oversees multiple projects may be identified in many forms, such as: 

  • NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge) 
  • Ops Superintendent (Operations Superintendent) or 
  • First Sergeant 

These military team members may do various tasks within their units but closely mirror what a Project Manager in the civilian sector does.  

These individuals may have different titles than what you would find in the civilian labor force, but these individuals have project management skills. Servicemen and women acquire project team skills in the Military can translate over to a successful project manager or program manager. 

Transitioning military personal can have a profitable, long-term career. I did not know I was a good project manager or wanted to pursue Project Management until the last three years of my military career. Project management is not a known term within active-duty positions in the Military, 

Project management positions are disguised as Program Management. This discovery in career re-alignment was exciting, to say the least; I was already doing Project Management work in the Military and did not realize I was or knew it was even called project management.  

My Career Transition Story

During my service, there was a common saying that goes, “Do as you’re told, and do more with less,” and that is what you did. You figure it out and make it work!  

Most tasks given by command followed the common sayings, “Not enough time for completion, Figure it out.” “No staffing? Make it work.” “Under budget? Get it done.” 

And guess what – I did. I plundered through impossible tasks and timelines (sometimes blindly) and, surprisingly, “made it work” for the first ten years of my career.  

The year when I was closing another enlistment contract, I sat at my desk at Robins Air Force Base debating if I should re-enlist or separate from the Military. That is where it dawned on me; I had no idea what I was genuinely good at, professionally. 

I held many job titles in the Military (not by choice, as you are moved around based on mission needs), and the thought of seeking civilian employment scared the living hell out of me. I did not know where to start!  

Career Transition from military to civilian workforce

I was unsure of my next move, so I extended my military contract. Defeated by my dilemma, I had lunch with a mentor who had recently retired from the Military. “You might like Project Management.” 

He explained how my work ethic and mindset matched the skillsets needed for successful project planning. I knew I was good at what I did and completed what was required and asked, learning on the fly and getting it done.  

That was all he had to say to get my brain gears moving. After some light reading, I realized I might have been dropped as a baby on my head not to see these skills before. How did I not know project management was a thing, let alone the name of the skillset I was performing my entire military career? I felt like an Idiot. 

Your Skills Are Valuable

In simpler terms (my military folks can attest to this), most military careers are not focused career paths. Military careers often change depending on the needs of the mission. This process is also called “Jack of ALL trades.” Resiliency at its best, huh? 

With such resiliency comes great responsibility to plan from all angles, no matter the obstacle or delay. My military career consisted of – planning, preparing, forecasting, analyzing, budgeting, risks – tracking what I am putting down here? Project Management.  

Now let us address the infamous difficulty with most military transitions, translating skillsets. The Military, like many organizations, is full of acronyms and vast terminology used to define a business process.  

Many will say, “a military project manager is different from a civilian project manager.”  

While this may be true, the foundation is quite similar. There is a learning curve to be had, which comes with starting a new position or with a new organization. The mindset and foundation of a project manager, wherever they may go, can always be adjusted to new business processes and environments.  

Remember that resiliency I mentioned earlier? This skill set is where military projects and program managers shine.  

Years of resiliency come in handy during any military transition, in this case, transitioning and translating military skillsets into “relatable” civilian skills. These job titles may not always mean the same thing, but the skill sets acquired are similar in many ways. 

Project and Program Managers Transition to Civilian Workforce

Additionally, translating Military into civilian skillsets does not mean “dumb it down” so civilian counterparts can understand your resume. Eliminating the military jargon, and identifying your role and responsibilities, what was being done, and how you went about doing it will go a long way.  

After 12 years in the Military, I knew what I wanted to do in the civilian sector, and surprisingly, it is something I enjoyed. Fast forward to this year, and I landed my first Project Management role with Kolme Group 

Let us take it back to that learning curve I mentioned. Talk about a huge transition and introduction to the civilian world. Unfamiliar terms, systems, and business processes – The list goes on.  

Do you know what remained constant? As a project manager, my mindset and foundation are to be resilient in any given environment.  

Whether you are transitioning from the Military or currently in your Skillbridge internship, I leave you with some tips that have helped during my (successful) military transition.  

  • Ask yourself: What is my definition of a “happy/successful” move into the civilian sector? What are my skillsets? What profession/industry do I want to be in to highlight my skillsets? 
  • Find mentors currently doing, or did, what you seek to do in the civilian sector. (LinkedIn is a great place to start!) Gather feedback and their success stories. 
  • Research certifications/degrees you may want to pursue to strengthen your skillsets (Also a plus for seeking employment) 
  • Prepare yourself. The civilian world is full of new shiny things! It may start rocky as with any new environment, the Military is known for building resilient individuals, and naturally, we adjust and grow.  

 

Lastly, own your transition and continue to learn about yourself as you start a new journey after the Military. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn if you have any questions! Good luck with your next move. 

PPM vs. Microsoft Project: 11 Reasons A PPM Is Better!

PPM vs. Microsoft Project? A question coming up more and more for project managers as they daydream of a better tool. Laziness breeds ingenuity – and thus PPM tools were born. It probably looked something like this: 

Project Manager slams hands against desk in frustration “Microsoft Project is such a pain! By the time all the updates are complete, our data is already out of date. We need a way for our team to collaborate and supply real-time project updates. There must be a better solution!” 

Once upon a time, MS Project was a great solution, way back inPPM vs. Microsoft Project 1984 when Microsoft first released the software, or even 1990 with Version 1 for Windows. MS Project has had a good long life, serving its purpose, and helping Project Managers plan and schedule their projects during those pesky pre-connectivity years of the digital age. 

But let’s face it, even as the software has continued to evolve with technology, it’s never quite made the jump into the 21st century as so many other platforms have. In the age of the cloud, MS Project is still a client-based application (that’s so last century!). Although modern PPM tools vary in sophistication and complexity, they only exist because Project stakeholders need something more.

In the contemporary digital age, real-time collaboration and instantaneous project updates are imperative tools in any Project Manager’s toolbelt. Customers are saying so long to client-based applications and hello to cloud-based platforms with enhanced functionality that supply increased visibility into not just projects, but also programs and portfolios too.  

It’s 2021 and like so many other providers, Microsoft offers five editions including Project for the web, Project Online, Project Online desktop client, Project Professional, and Project Standard. Project for the web is like Project Lite. The software exists, it’s available via the web, and it works with Microsoft O365 software (for an additional fee of course), and it requires minimal system resources but that’s it.

To obtain the functionality that Microsoft Project is famous for, customers still need to buy a desktop client for resource planning and management, demand management, and all those higher functions. Furthermore, the “collaboration and communication” methods touted by the Microsoft website are all via Teams. That means there is no true in-context collaboration, and that users would need to pay additional licensing fees to access that functionality. 

So, knowing that (technically) Microsoft Project is only years behind in technology instead of decades, I will discuss the (top) 11 reasons that cloud-based PPM tools are better than that insipid Microsoft Project. 

  • Microsoft Project is a client-based application

    MSPJ is going to be more responsive than any online system, if the system has sufficient resources at least!

    As mentioned above, Microsoft does offer a version of Project for the web, but the functionality is extremely limited. Cloud-based PPM tool users can typically access via a website and often even log in using Single Sign On, honestly it doesn’t get easier than that. Full functionality still requires (gasp) users to install a client-based application. These days it’s probably a relatively quick download and web installation, rather than 42 floppy discs, right? I certainly hope so at least. Running the software requires at least a 2-core 1.6 GHz or faster CPU, and 4GB each of hard drive space and RAM. So, if your resources are sufficient, installing and running Microsoft Project will result in a highly responsive application. Until your hard drive crashes and you lose your project file of course. Since most PPM tools are cloudbased, they won’t always be quite as responsive, but you also won’t lose all your data if a hard drive crashes or laptop gets stolen either. 

  • The benefit of an online system is that plans are accessible in real time.

    The plan is not just for the PM – but for the whole team, so get it off the desktop and into a live environment.

    Does your scheduler spend more than half of their time updating the project schedule with updates from your partners or from resources updates? Are your schedule updates stale before they’ve even been revised in the system? When your resources have access to the project plan, as soon as they charge their time or update the percent complete on a task, those updates are already live. No reason to update a scheduler, who then updates the project plan. Enable partners to make real time updates without giving them access to proprietary or confidential information too 

  • Real-Time Reporting

    Reporting on portfolios, programs, and projects so PMs and PMO leaders don’t have to answer 100 emails from resources, bosses, executives, or stakeholders asking what the status is.

    Honestly, this is probably the #1 reason that project managers and executives alike, absolutely love cloud-based PPM tools. Real-time reporting is an absolute must in today’s day and age. Real-time reports enable leaders to make the important decisions with current data, rather than stale and outdated information. If your team is still calculating percent complete and cost at complete off a data date, well, you’re certainly not alone but why not work with current data instead? As soon as resources perform updates in the system, those changes are reflected in reports and dashboards that can be tailored to a variety of use cases. Stakeholders can use reports as tools to ensure that resources are performing updates in a timely fashion. Executives will be confident they are making decisions with the most accurate information available.  

  • If project plans are offline, it hinders the team from working collaboratively

    Not only can resources perform updates, but they can also collaborate in real time using in-context discussion posts. Project resources and collaborators can start or continue discussions all within an individual project. Furthermore, online PPMs tools now support @tagging to ensure that the proper team members are engaged in the conversation. Collaborative in-context conversations keep the Project Manager and Team engaged and on-track.  

  • An online PPM tool will be a bit less responsive

    That’s OK because it’s doing data checks and running validation rules and distributing notifications.

    You might be saying, hey we’ve talked about responsiveness alreadyYou’re right, we did. But that was in relation to actual system responsiveness (local vs cloud resource availability). Now, we’re talking about enhanced capabilities that cloud PPM tools offer that a client application like Microsoft Project doesn’t. Transitioning from a client-based scheduling application to a cloud-based PPM tool is a natural progression – like the transition from scheduling in a spreadsheet to scheduling software in the first place. PPM software allows administrators to write validation rules, and workflows, and customize behind the scenes actions that enhance and ease the user experience. It might reduce response time, but that’s because of all the complex back-end processing those users never even know is happening! 

  • Importing and exporting into a PPM tool isn’t efficient or effective

    So, your Project Managers are used to working in MS Project, and they don’t want to make the change? That’s not a valid reason to maintain the status quo when it comes to managing your projects and portfolios and/or projects in MS Project (or any other client-based application for that matter)Yes, you can update MS Project and then import those changes into a PPM platform, but really, that’s twice the work and nobody has time for that these days. Most cloud-based PPM tools provide significantly more functionality when working in the native environment than is allowed via imports. If you’re not sure how to influence your Project Managers to make the switch, there’s probably sales material or blogs out there detailing the benefits for your particular industry or market.  

  • "I need to offline edit when I’m not online" is not a good excuse in the year 2021

    Nearly everywhere that you will actually work is online.

    Sure, there are a few exceptions, but honestly internet connectivity is readily available and dependable almost anywhere these days. Trains, planes, and automobiles all offer Wi-Fi capabilities. Some cities even provide free Wi-Fi connectivity for their residents. If someone absolutely must work offline, most tools do allow exporting to spreadsheet format that users can manipulate via Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and reimport. Of course, there’s inherent risks with this method since resources could be updating the project plan while a user is working offline, and the changes could conflict. Even if your team spends part of their time in a faraday cage, or secure facility where absolutely no external network access is allowed, an online PPM tool is still going to be your best bet.  

  • Scheduling a resource to a task instantly updates budgets and workload too

    Online PPM tools often offer integrated financial and resource management within the systemhonestly, it’s pretty much a requirement these days. Since Project Managers need a single source of truth when it comes to their projects, PPM tools offer a degree of financial management in their systems. Not all tools are created equal, so it is imperative that you decide what your organization needs before transitioning to a new platform. Some platforms offer highly sophisticated financial management while others only offer basic financials like user rates and durations. Typically, though, any mainstream PPM will have both financial and resource management modules and provide real time updates to budgets and resource loads. Sure, MS Project offers similar capabilities, but if that information exists only on the Project Manager’s system and doesn’t get communicated to Project Stakeholders and/or Executives there’s not much value. Your organization already has financial systems and controls in place? Well, the good news is, “there’s an app for that”.   

  • Standard and custom integrations ensure consistency of data between systems

    Integrations might not quite be “apps” but, they do provide a means of communicating important data between systems. Most online PPM platforms offer, at a minimum, standard integrations with external systems. Since the Project Management Organization is often a division of an organization, there are existing financial, time tracking, data lakes, and human/enterprise resource management systems in use within organizations. The developers of these online PPM tools understand the need for data integrity and provide the necessary tools to ensure secure transmission of data between these systems. Where standard integrations may not exist, at the minimum the platform will typically support integrations via Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.  Standard and custom integrations ensure that systems can transmit data between platforms and maintain the integrity of the data simultaneously.  

  • Real-time collaboration with internal and external resources is essential

    Virtual teams are the new normal – I know I didn’t want to go there either, but it is an honest fact. As so many have painfully discovered in the last year or so, virtual teams must be able to communicate effectively while still preserving the project record. Cloud-based PPM tools offer simple, yet real time methods of communication, even when projects involve external resources and stakeholders. Some platforms allow external users to consume data but not contribute without a license, others supply the capability to flag external users and limit the data they have visibility too. Furthermore, publishing widgets allow explicit view only access to a subset of project data, allowing a specific audience access to information that would otherwise remain siloed 

  • Automation, automation, automation

    We’ve touched on these subjects before, but honestly, in today’s instant gratification society, automation is where it’s at. MS Project just can’t compete with modern cloud-based software platforms with amazing configuration capabilities. Between integrations and configurations, formulas and validation rules; the automation capabilities of modern PPM tools far outweigh any possible arguments for maintaining your project plan in Microsoft Project. Oh, and honestly your Project Managers will thank you when they don’t have to log in to five different applications to produce their status reports.  

Is your organization still tracking projects in spreadsheets and considering an alternative? Are you using Project and it doesn’t fit your needs? Have you lost your project files because of a system crash? Tired of importing and exporting data that’s stale before you’ve even entered it in the system? Do you need to work and communicate in real time with both internal and external stakeholders? Do you want to request that resources perform real-time updates? Do you have programs or portfolios of projects to manage? Did I mention the free trials?

Go forth and explore the wide world of cloud-based PPM platforms and find a solution that supports your organization, rather than structuring your PMO to support archaic project plans in software that never quite met all of your organization’s needs to begin withAt Kolme Group, we have worked hard to find the best PPM tools on the market. Check out our preferred PPM tools, 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, 30-minute consultancy to discuss your
PPM Tool needs and best steps forward

Effectively Managing Global Projects

Effectively Managing Global Projects is hard work! A common theme in business today is the myopia regarding an international and multicultural environment. As humans we usually all operate in one social context belonging to the nation from which we hale (which for most of us is also the country in which we live). We generally do not give much thought to the fact that people elsewhere might behave or perceive behavior differently. That is the myopia, and it makes sense; the notion that something could be seen differently elsewhere is most of the time completely irrelevant. Global business, however, is the game changer, and overcoming this myopia is essential to survive in business. Luckily, it is not so difficult if you know how to perceive it.

The Challenge

The idea of a global economy is almost as old as humanity itself, and has gone through many different periods, evolutions, and struggles over the millennia. From the spice traders to the Vikings to the pirates, you could say that the pursuit of the global economy has given us some of the most interesting characters of human history. Recently, starting in the late 20th century there was huge push for large corporations to harness globalization, generally for the purposes of increased profits through lower costs, or increased revenues through new perspectives driving innovation. Today, “Globalization” is no longer a business buzzword but a reality that is here to stay.

Every day most of us will work (sometimes very closely) with teams that have a rich diversity of cultural backgrounds. While it still happens that we might be collocated with our teams (whereby default in this situation some people represent the “home team” and some people represent the “visiting team”), more and more often this collaboration is virtual, where every person on a team – each with his and her own nuanced cultural understanding of human and business interaction – will still be geographically located in their own home context.

Effectively Managing Global Projects

This can provide and interesting challenge for many of us since most people have never worked (or even traveled) internationally, and with little or no practice in the understanding of the global-cultural kaleidoscope we have all been very quickly placed in this relatively new multinational working environment. So how do we navigate it and understand it when we all have so much work we need to do at the same time? How do we embrace it so that we can all be successful in our teams and in our jobs?

It is almost impossible to look at the job description of a project management role and not see ‘Stakeholder Management’ listed as one of the essential duties. That is because it is such an important part of managing projects. In addition, it is not easy. Stakeholder management is a delicate balance of earning trust, leading by example, managing by influence as opposed to by force while still ensuring everyone is completing their work by the agreed upon deadlines.

There is a great deal of emotional intelligence and an elegant streak of personal finesse that makes a project manager great at their job. Already, virtual work has made this slightly more difficult to attain. Looking at each other through computer screens – sometimes with cameras off or mics muted – and communicating heavily through emails and chats, we lose the nuance of body language, smiles, laughs, and a lot of other interpersonal human touches that help us form bonds with others.

Combining this disadvantage with the one that comes from cross-cultural communication (which can often come with a language barrier of varying degrees) can cause a lot of anxiety in the workplace, and it is important to be mindful of this. There is now a lot of ground to gain in the ‘earning trust’ department.

Here are some of the important things to consider when managing a global team

  • Speak In PowerPoint

    Do you speak a second language that you learned later in life, that you do not speak at native fluency? Have you ever lived (or even traveled) abroad and felt completely out of place around groups of people speaking in a language you don’t entirely understand? If you answered “No” to one (or especially both) of those questions you should pay very close attention to this next section.

    I have been to public speaking seminars and been told that a slide should not exceed six lines, and that each line should not exceed six words. In addition, they also tell you “Don’t speak in PowerPoint!” In other words, when your slides meet the proper criteria do not just read off the bullet points. However, when managing a global team, I like to think the opposite of that theory is true: “Speak in PowerPoint”. In other words, be concise and precise in your language; do not embellish with five-dollar words and avoid the use of idiomatic expressions.

    We as native English speakers are incredibly fortunate that English won the lottery of modern global business language. The countries where English is spoken natively are also notoriously bad at educating its people in other languages. As a result, we have very little empathy for most of the people on our global teams for whom English is not their native language. As an American expat working abroad, I can tell you how frustrating it is to be in meeting and with a group of people speaking in another language, even a language I speak fluently (just not natively.) Imagine a dog watching a steak as it gets thrown around in a circle from one person to another. That is how I always felt I looked in such meetings, trying desperately to understand each person as they spoke and hoping I could gain clarity on the sound bites I did not understand by concentrating on reading lips.

    This experience made me acutely aware of what it is like for many of my colleagues for whom English is not a native language. Now back home I often find myself getting very frustrated by unnecessarily big English words, colloquial idioms, any expression/usage of the word “get”, and just a lot of word vomit. I am not frustrated for myself; I am frustrated because I know how difficult it makes things for others.

    Simplifying your language is itself a simple practice; just a little mindfulness will go a very long way in the success of your global project, and in the comfort of your multicultural team. In addition, think about things that transcend language, like visual aids.

    Another important part of “Speaking in PowerPoint” is the visceral aspect. Gantt charts, timelines, calendars, graphs, dashboards, even stick figures. When it comes to assigning responsibilities, setting deadlines (preferably using the YYYY-MM-DD format), getting progress reports, etc., the more you can do using any kind of visual representation the more transparent everything will be for everyone.

    Lastly, remember that in our increasingly virtual workplace misunderstandings can be compounded because of shaky internet connections, the inability to read lips, not having a clarification question asked in time because of a muted microphone. Clarity and visual aids are even more important in overcoming those barriers. To this regard, a best practice to consider is to send out any prepared documents (such as a PowerPoint) before the call; and all notes, screenshots of the virtual whiteboard, etc., after the call.

  • Cultural Relativism vs Ethical Imperialism

    If a practice or behavior differs starkly between cultures how can a determination of right or wrong be made? Is that a determination that need even be made, and if so, by whom? During my MBA program in Global Management we discussed this nebulous and often difficult concept rather extensively as it can cause some serious problems in global business. One of the most prominent examples is the idea of gift giving. In Japan, it is a normal practice to give gifts when conducting business. In fact, not doing so could put a relationship at risk. However, an American entity wishing to do business with a Japanese entity that thinks “When in Rome…” and engages in this practice will now have most likely violated the United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

    So how can this be reconciled?

    The answer is not an easy one. Luckily, managing global projects typically does not involve such an extreme scenario; however, we will regularly experience this fundamental dilemma. For example, I was an expat project manager working for a large American multinational in Europe. Many a time did I find myself thinking in discussions with my European colleagues “Yes, I know this is Europe, but you work for an American company and this is how Americans do things.” That would be a time when I was thinking like an Imperialist. However, on calls with my American leaders sitting Stateside who were frustrated that – to give one example – it was now July, the project deadline was fast approaching in September, yet my entire team was about to go on vacation for the whole month of August. I would need to explain to them “Well, this is Europe. We are doing business in their house and here this is just how things are done.”

    That is me acting more like a relativist.

    As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this is a difficult concept to grasp because there is no easy answer. Even when an answer seems “easy” (e.g., because the alternative would violate a federal law) it does not actually solve the misunderstanding that can occur to the audience on the other side of the conversation. Not all examples involve a legal constraint on one end though. Did you know that in some cultures it is frowned upon in a business meeting to jump straight into business? In a one-hour meeting the first fifteen minutes will often be spent in casual conversation regarding family (and probably football1).

    This might seem strange to an American project manager who has a lot to cover in that hour and cannot imagine a quarter of it being ‘wasted on chit chat’. But is it being wasted? The people in that room see that as a valuable opportunity to nurture their personal relationships with one another. The American PM might not see this, and therefore perceives it as a waste of valuable time. While the agenda items that get covered will be reduced with only 75% of the meeting left, the dividends it pays off in the backend with trust and collaboration amongst coworkers is certainly valuable.

    How damaging might it be for the American PM to not respect this practice and jump straight to business. This person has American attitudes and an American boss to report to, and completion is easier to quantify in a report than is trust amongst colleagues. What is this PM to do? This is a balance that every person operating in a global context will need to strike. Accepting that this is a conundrum of which we need to be mindful is the first step in the pursuit of that balance. I can, however, give some guidance on the matter.

    As I look back at my successes and failures as a global project manager, I can say with considerable ease that erring on the side of relativism has always been in my favor. That is not to say that it is always the route most popular amongst those I report to (who might think like imperialists), but it is usually always at least justifiable, and earning trust is still a vital part of your job of stakeholder management.

  • Assume Best Intent

    We are all eager to do our jobs well. However, the way we go about doing that can change based on our cultural attitudes towards what it means to work. In the previous section I spoke about one of my experiences as a PM in Europe where my entire team was about to go on vacation for the whole month just before the project’s deadline. That was a tough pill for my boss to swallow – and not a very enjoyable conversation to have with him – but the interesting point about it was what he thought about the members on my team. Did he assume they all just threw their hands up in unison to abandon the deadline of such an important project because they did not care?

    In most of Europe there is a greater level cultural (and even legal) protection of one’s personal life and its balance with work. The part about vacation is but one example of this nuance and how it is baked into attitudes and mindsets surrounding work. Unaware of this nuance an American PM might become frustrated. Effectively Managing Global ProjectsLet’s say the American shows up to work early and is always the last to leave; the European makes sure their work week does not exceed 40 hours.

    The American therefore might start to make some negative assumptions about the European (I have, in fact witnessed this personally). This perception comes from a lifetime of American social conditioning mixed with ignorance of the societal and cultural (and legal) norms in Europe.

    Alternatively, the European might start to perceive the American as an overly exigent taskmaster. Consequently, the trust between these two starts to break down. This is both needless and unfortunate because both individuals want to excel at their job and deliver the best results, but they can only do so in the manner which fundamentally aligns with their concept of work.

    This slight difference in mindset does not pose a threat to the success of the project nearly as much as the unconscious breakdown of trust between the two colleagues does once negative interpretations begin.

    While this is but one hypothetical example pertaining to two [somewhat] specific demographics there exist many other nuances amongst a myriad of different cultural backgrounds, an endless permutation of circumstance and perception; there is no way one person could know them all. Luckily, no one needs to. So long as the underlying assumption we all make of our colleagues and team members is that they are genuinely interested in doing their jobs well and are as vested as you are in the success of the project (and the team) it will be easier perceive a differing behavior without making false judgments that result in the deterioration of trust.

“Borders Frequented by Trade Seldom Need Soldiers.” -Dr. William Schurz

After millennia of practice the global economy of today is testament to that which we can achieve when we learn to think outside the box and operate outside our comfort zones. Now, working with multinational and multicultural teams is an unavoidable part of modern business; almost all of us – despite our background and level of global EQ – are participating in it daily. As a result, there are often some growing pains that come with operating in a realm with which we generally have very little experience.

That said, with just a little mindfulness overcoming many of these obstacles is quite easy. People have a natural tendency to distrust what they do not understand. While deep knowledge of other places and other cultures can be a big black box for most people, the key element of stakeholder management is still earning trust. Therefore, as we continue to globalize and interact with new people, let us remain conscious of the very basic tools we need to cultivate the healthy interpersonal relationships with our global teammates we need to achieve our common goals.

Also, let us not forget to seize these opportunities to learn more about others. There is often no more enriching an experience, nor a better education about one’s own culture than to learn and see it from the perspective of another.

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 needs and best steps forward

1The use of the word ‘football’ in this article refers to the sport recognized around the world as “football”. This is a disambiguation with American football, which is called “football” only in the United States

You’re Finally A Project Manager! Now What? Transitioning Into the Role of Project Leader

What kid doesn’t dream of being a project manager when they grow up? Well, guess what? You’re a go-getter who doesn’t let your dreams be dreams, and you finally got your big break. But now… how to lead a project?

Recently, Kolme Group joined forces with PM Happy Hour and PMI Phoenix to present a brand new webinar, “You’re Finally A Project Manager! Now What? Transitioning Into the Role of Project Leader”

Catch the replay below!

Starting Your PM Journey – How to Lead a Project

You read your PMBOK every night, and you know how to manage your project. Now, it’s time to learn how to lead your project, and lead your team effectively.

How do you transition from individual contributor to being a leader among you peers? How do you convince your team to listen to a shiny new project manager, and how to get sponsors and stakeholders to trust that you’ll deliver?

Whether you’re a project manager with no experience, you’re just getting your feet under you as a project management consultant, or just want a quick “how to be a project manager for dummies,” your hosts have tried and true advice and techniques. And if you’re a seasoned and successful project management professional you should be mentoring and coaching, so really, this one is for everybody!

You’ll come away from this webinar with advice and specific techniques to:

  • Manage the transition from being an individual contributor on a team to leading a team
  • Gain buy-in and support from a new project team
  • Build trust with key stakeholders and sponsors

Watch Now!

Meet The Experts:

Kim Essendrup

  • Project Management Trainer and Coach​
  • PPM Selection and Implementation Expert​
  • Over 20 years of experience managing projects, programs, and PMOs. Founding Partner at Kolme Group​
  • Co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour Podcast​
  • Author, “Old Pappy’s Rules of Success”

Kate Anderson

  • Cross Functional Facilitator, inspiring others to join the effort​
  • Technology Leadership Program member at PayPal​
  • Co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour Podcast

Kornelia Homewood

  • PPM Consultant at Kolme Group
  • PMP, PSM, PCCP, MSPM
  • Passionate about Project Management

We’re Here To Help

Contact Kolme Group to find out more about our Project and Change Management Services or email us at PPManswers@KolmeGroup.com.

Be sure to follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and YouTube  and use #KolmeGroup on shared posts!

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