News for the ‘Inspiration and Motivation’ Category

Stuck Pursuing PMP Certification? Take Firebrand Training for Free! [A Video Tour]

As regular readers of this blog know, I don’t exactly push PM newbies toward PMP (or any other commercially available) certification. In fact, in several extended essays and PDFs, I’ve tried mightily to make the case for local, do-it-yourself PM certification while providing specific, step-by-step instructions in how to do so:

Still, if your employer or clients have drunk the PMI Kool-Aid and are absolutely, positively convinced that you need their PMP stamp of approval to do your job, then you should know about Firebrand’s amazing collection of powerful, “accelerated” PMP study tools, exercises and answers. The Firebrand collection can do two important things for you:

  1. If you are undecided about pursuing PMP certification, it can help you take a very fast, efficient “deep dive” into the conceptual database that makes up the PMP certification body of content. This way you can quickly decide for yourself whether this stuff is going to be helpful to your unique PM career.
  2. If you are committed to the PMP certification path, it can serve as a well-designed set of “crib notes,” reference tools and practice exercises to speed you on your way to the certification exam.

Video Tour: Firebrand’s Free PMP Training

Below is my quick video tour of the free online training materials available at the Firebrand website to help you qualify for your PMP certification. Enjoy!

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Edited: March 21st, 2014

Reflections on Sochi, the “Second Screen” & Half-Baked Decisions


A couple of weeks ago I tried to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. I say tried because I eventually became so frustrated by Matt Lauer’s and Meredith Vieira’s endless stream of intrusive babble that I switched the whole thing off. From what I saw, the ceremony had been painstakingly designed by its Olympic hosts to tell a story. The producers of the event had obviously worked hard to weave together a collection of objects, images, performers and music to create a spectacular narrative that highlighted Russia’s history.

Was it mere propaganda? Was it an idealized rewriting of history? Frankly, I can’t say because every time I started to become absorbed by the narrative and allow its images and music to carry me along with it, Lauer or Vieira would yank me out of the story line with their own narrative. And since theirs consisted mostly of arcane trivia, details of the mechanics of the production, or political editorializing, I found it impossible to sustain the sense of wonder that the grand production had been designed to stimulate. Unfortunately, turning off the sound to shut off their prattling also muted the beautiful music and sound effects. So I finally just gave up in disgust and switched the whole thing off.

A Colossal Waste!

As the room became silent, I found myself wondering about — and feeling sympathy for — the producers of the event. They clearly had undertaken months of preparation. They constructed a logical “through line” that told their story, then they rehearsed and coordinated hundreds of moving parts. In short, they had attempted to deliver a powerfully moving and cohesive viewer experience. Yet here sat these American TV talking heads intruding themselves at random throughout the event, dragging viewers on endless, mood-destroying side trips and distracting us from absorbing any coherent message or from being swept away in the spectacle. What a colossal waste!

Like Your Last Business Presentation?

The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that this NBC-broadcast of the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony was an apt metaphor for many business meetings I’ve attended. The same elements are present:

  • Someone works hard to prepare a logical narrative, often supported with multi-media components.
  • This person rehearses, then delivers the presentation.
  • Members of the audience ostensibly attend to the presentation.
  • Members of the audience are ceaselessly, often pointlessly, interrupted by their own, personal talking heads in the form of the ever-present “second screen” of a smartphone or tablet.
  • These interrupted members of the audience, in turn, become someone else’s “second screen” interruptions as their fingers tap out terse little messages that intrude into another presenter’s carefully-crafted presentation.

The result of all this fracturing of a presenter’s logical, cohesive message is that attendees acquire an understanding of it that is incomplete or badly distorted.

Half-Baked Comprehension = Half-Baked Decisions!

Now here’s the big deal: What distinguishes these business presentations from the Olympics Opening Ceremony is that those attending are frequently called upon to take an action or make a decision at the conclusion. But if your recall of the presenter’s message is sketchy or skewed, your comprehension is… well… half-baked! And half-baked comprehension can only lead to half-baked decisions! 

So here’s your challenge: The next time you attend a meeting, try to fully “attend” to the presentation. Put yourself in the shoes of the presenter. Try to imagine the effort she expended to accumulate information, sift it down to its essences and build a presentation that would be engaging and informative. Then ask yourself if it makes good business sense to allow your own jabbering little device (your pocket-sized network talking head) to ceaselessly interrupt and water down your engagement.

(NOTE: For more on the phenomenon of scrambled consciousness & the illusion of competence held by “multi-taskers,” see Managing People with Self-Induced ADHD (er… Chronic Multitaskers)

Edited: February 27th, 2014

Free e-Book “What Project Management Means to Me” from #PMFlashBlog Authors


On September 25th at 0100 hours GMT project management (PM) bloggers from all over the planet published blog posts to answer this question: “What does project management mean to me? (a project manager’s sermon).”

Conceived by Australian PM expert Shim Marom, publisher of the quantmleap blog, this #PMFlashBlog was the first-ever world-wide synchronized PM publishing effort.

Henny Portman, a #PMFlashBlogger from the Netherlands, created this infographic illustrating the true global distribution of the authors:

Image: Henny Portman's #PMFlashBlog author location infographic

Allen Ruddock, Director of UK-based ARRA Management Ltd., took on the challenge of collecting, compiling and creating an e-book from all the #PMFlashBlog blog posts published. (Check out Allen’s upcoming webinar “3 Biggest PM mistakes…”)

The result of all this hard work was a powerful collection of heart-felt (and sometimes humorous!) blog posts that will help you discover the true meaning of PM as seen through the eyes of PM experts and practitioners from all over the world.

=== Other Free e-Books & PM Freebies ===

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Edited: December 4th, 2013

What Project Management Means to Me: “A Technology of Manifestation…”

pmflashblog[This post is part of the #PMFlashBlog event "What does project management mean to me?" Learn more here:  Free e-Book “What Project Management Means to Me” from #PMFlashBlog Authors]

Sometimes it takes someone on the outside looking in to provide you with that “whack on the side of the head” that changes the meaning of what you are doing.  Such was the case with this simple email from a student.

Edited: September 24th, 2013

How to Survive Family Projects: 5 PM Best Practices

Image: PM Plan for Wedding

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware of the power of project management (PM) to bring order to potentially chaotic human endeavors. Organizations everywhere apply tried-and-true PM practices to get higher quality finished products, more quickly, and with less pain and frustration than if no PM were applied. In short, PM works almost anywhere where there are formal relationships among team members: businesses, governments, not-for-profits, etc.

Still, there’s one organization in which we spend much of our time that is not generally regarded as a candidate for PM techniques: the family. Seen through the lens of PM, a family can appear to be a random collection of informal, emotionally-charged relationships whose team members struggle mightily for control, power, recognition, autonomy, or simply to avoid work and avoid spending money. It is within this context that family reunions, weddings, home repair & improvement, landscaping, graduation parties and countless other domestic projects are undertaken by families. Some families are more successful than others in emerging from these efforts with their affections intact. Many complete such projects with permanent scars to relationships that must still, somehow, last a lifetime.

So how might your family avoid such self-inflicted wounds? Below are 5 PM “best practices” that could help your family handle its next project more effectively. (Note: You might also apply these to other unofficial project teams made up of close friends, volunteers, or anyone with whom you’d like to maintain a healthy personal relationship after the project is completed.)


Edited: August 28th, 2013

Is Your Project Root Bound? (A 2-minute video on scope creep.)

Got clients or stakeholders who are driving you nuts and always causing scope creep? Share this simple video with them and maybe raise their consciousness. Enjoy!

Edited: July 26th, 2013

December 2012 – June 2013 PM Minimalist Update Now Available

Click to open PM Minimalist Update: Dec. 2012 - June 2013

I just emailed my latest PM Minimalist Update to subscribers.  Highlights from this issue include links to 31 new articles, tools and media, including:

  • 9 New Articles at my PM Resources website
  • 15 New Project Management FREEBIES!
  • 7 New Inspired Project Teams Articles (including Forgive them. It’s Just Their Inner Chihuahua.)  
  • … and lots more PM goodies!Go to article: " Forgive Them. It's Just Their Inner Chihuahua."

Subscribe today & get a Bonus zip file containing 15 PM articles or tools in PDF format (88-pages total!) plus a 37-minute PM podcast!


Edited: June 13th, 2013

Ready, Fire, Aim? Or Seek First to Understand?


One of the things I most enjoy about teaching project management (PM) is the deeper knowledge of the field I get when students share their insights. Last week I asked my Franklin University PM students to write a brief essay answering this question: “Assume you are one of the guest authors for the e-book “One Simple Thing to Improve Projects or Project Management“…..what would be your ‘One Simple Thing?’”

Now this is one of my favorite questions to ask of everyone who’s been involved in project work or PM. It triggers their “wisdom filters” as they sift through all the projects they’ve worked on (good and bad) to find that one simple thing. And best of all, it helps them clarify their own deeply held PM values.  So it’s always enlightening to hear what people come up with. (more…)

Edited: May 30th, 2013

Step Away from the Computer & Get Out Your Post-It Notes!

A while back I was teaching an introductory PM class for some high-achieving tech folks.  My overall goal was to begin to convert these perfectionists into project managers.  Mid-way through the first morning, I divided the class into several small groups of 4 or 5 people and assigned a series of planning exercises.  They had brought their own real world project ideas to class and the object of the game was to take a few of these from rough concept to full-blown, high-resolution project plans.  Each team had been given large Post-It notes, blank flip charts, and markers. There were also a couple of white boards available.

As the teams were working through the guided planning exercises, I could hear the familiar jumble of voices as ideas were bounced around, discussed, discarded, and revised.  One team, however, was strangely silent. Unlike the others who were up and moving about, they were seated around a table and looking at the back of one guy’s computer screen. I walked over to see what was going on. (more…)

Edited: April 25th, 2013

June/July Issue of PM Minimalist Update Is Now Available

I just emailed my latest PM Minimalist Update to subscribers.  It’s loaded with articles, links, and more. Check it out here:

Highlights from this issue include:


Edited: July 31st, 2012