An Amazing Day! We DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Today was not like ANY other.  Today I got to see, first hand, the benefit our programs bring to individuals, to companies and to society at large.

Did you know that it costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up which is more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation?

Did you know that over 40% of all inmates released, nationally, return to prison within 3 years.  If we could reduce the recidivism rates by just 10 percent nationally, we could save more than $635 million in averted prison costs in one year alone!

January of this year, we, Core Performance Concepts, embarked on a venture with a California prison to bring a comprehensive program which included a focus on the inmate "psychi" (how they think that got them here) along with project management curriculum, providing them marketable skills that can help them succeed.  The program is planned for 10 months and our first graduates will be heading out to the workforce soon.  

I met six men today and could not have been more proud.  They were all highly intelligent, articulate and very committed to what they were doing.  The topic this week was on Communication and we had such a great dialog around how to communicate in a business setting and how to strategize on your communication depending upon the stakeholder analysis that was developed.  All of them know that they made mistakes and are learning how to stop the cycle and make good strategic decisions about their actions and their lives.

One gentleman is scheduled to be released in the next month after 16 years of incarceration.  He was nervous and excited at the same time. Through this program, he has come to realize that how he was thinking before wasn't an appropriate way to think in our society today.  He has a job lined up and wanted to know if it is ok to "volunteer" for projects when he starts his job.  What these guys need is confidence that they CAN earn a good living without having to resort to crime.   We are giving them the tools to succeed.

Three others will be paroled within the next 4 months and I can't wait to hear how they are doing.  What an amazing transformation to see!

Stop Spending Dollars on Initiatives that Don't Bring Results!

A business analyst is a key resource for any project.  There could be one analyst on the team, or many.  The role of the business analyst is truly to determine alternative solutions in solving business problems, and to validate that the solution actually delivered on expectations.

When we think of successful companies, we think of those that have been able to deliver on what they promised.  When organizations don't, is when they struggle.  If you look deeper, that failure was probably due to the organization or project team taking their eye off the goal and ended up delivering something that wasn't aligned with expectations.  Unfortunately, this happens all the time!  You have to gain control of how your strategic projects are being executed and you do this through excellence in business analysis skills.

Do you have analysts in your organization that are focused on seeing your initiative actually achieved the results you expected?  The need for business analysts around the globe is expected to increase  nearly 20% over the next 10 years. 

There is a new certification available through the Project Management Institute, called the PMI-PBA certification.  

Have your team take our sample quiz to test their skills and see if they have what it takes to be a certified Business Analyst.  

The High Cost of Poor Communication

This week during our free webinars we have been discussing the value of using the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) in gaining commitment from our customers. 

We polled our audience to see what their concerns are, and much of the feedback had to do with convincing management and/or the customer, that the development of a comprehensive WBS is worth the effort.  If you believe that the primary job of a project manager is communication, then the WBS is a critical communication tool, outlining the deliverables of the project and ensuring that the customer understands the work necessary to deliver on the goals and objectives of the project.

Read this report , It highlights that for every $1 billion dollars spent on projects, nearly $75 million is wasted due to poor communication.  So this basically means that if you have a project valued at $100,000, then $7,500 will be wasted out of the gate for miss communications.  Can you afford this?

The WBS gives us an opportunity early on in the project and throughout the execution phases to ensure that the entire team understands the deliverables and any sub-components of those deliverables.  Consider it your blue-print for the project.  Would you build a house without a comprehensive blue-print? and if you did, how would that house turn out?

Comments?

Can projects kill someone?

I read the article listed below the other day.  I really agree with what Mark Rafalski is saying, because he is supporting everything I believe in.  In this article he writes that a large portion of short-term acute care hospitals today are experiencing operating losses.  He recommends three ways in which these organizations can improve and reduce the bleeding (pun intended).

I agree that organizations must have a strategy to succeed.  Especially when market conditions are changing significantly, if you stand still you will fail.  

I agree that organizations, not just hospitals, have challenges in the execution of strategy.  Statistics say that nearly 45% of all strategic initiatives fail and a large portion of those are due to execution and communication deficiencies, which is where strong project management can certainly help.

I also agree that accountability is key.  For any of you that have read Patrick Lencione's book -- The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, you know that high performing teams hold themselves accountable; however, you can't become high performing until trust is established.

So how do projects actually kill someone?  The article states that over 35% of short-term acute care hospitals are experiencing operating losses. What causes these losses and what are the unintended consequences of these losses?  

Based on my experiences working 15 years in the workers' compensation managed care arena, and an additional 10 years with organizations of all types around the country, EVERY organization has "improvement" projects they are working on.  When these projects are delayed, thru mismanagement of scope or resources, organizations cannot achieve the strategic initiatives they have defined.  When organizations don't achieve these initiatives, they will overspend to the budget that was planned based on the initiatives being achieved.  When budgets overrun, the money has to come from somewhere.  Tightening the belt usually results in organizations reducing spending on equipment and training, and reducing staff and particularly the nursing budget. 

Now let's look at an acute care hospital.  The failure of projects to deliver on strategic initiatives CAN have an impact on patient care.  Maybe the new equipment that could help better diagnose specific diseases doesn't get purchased because of lack of funds, or maybe minimizing staff per shift causes tired employees to miss some underlying symptoms, causing a delay in treatment.

So next time you are working on a project and you think it is ok to move the delivery date out, you might want to think twice about how NOT delivering your project on time could have an impact on your ultimate customer. 

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/back-to-basics-3-key-principles-hospitals-must-follow-for-success.html 

 

Are you ready to teach?

You know that teaching a project management course could be the key to advancing both your career and the careers of those you teach. Teaching can be a positive and invaluable experience for you and allow you to give back to the profession you love.

In a recent survey, Core Performance Concepts students identified two key factors that are critical to course quality—the experience of the instructor and that instructor’s ability to facilitate the course.  What this means is that to deliver a quality course, the instructor should focus more on how they deliver the program and less on creating the content for the course.

Let’s look at a few statistics.  Based on a study by the ChapmanAlliance, creating 1 hour of quality instructor-led content takes over 40 hours of effort and nearly $6000. (http://leanforward.com/cost-to-create-elearning/) If you are asked to create a course for your customer or organization, is this where you want to spend your time?  There is a better way.

Core Performance Concepts has the proven curriculum that allows you to quickly and easily provide the content necessary, so YOU can spend your valuable time preparing to facilitate an EXCELLENT program.

Still not convinced? Complete this simple calculation to see how much you might be spending to design your next course:

Save development time by selecting from expert-designed proven curricula that enables you to offer new programs easily. Whether you are a University, corporation, independent training company, or individual, partnering with CPC provides you the materials you need at a cost you can afford.

Ordering is simple and convenient and satisfaction is guaranteed.

 

 

Business Process Improvement

I just read another blog this morning and felt compelled to respond.  Take a look at Dave's Post and here is my response. I'd love to hear from you too.

**********

What a great post.  In my company, I teach our business process improvement course and have your exact philosophy.  It isn't the pretty picture that is important.  It is the thought process that each worker needs to have in order to effectively improve a process.

I am frustrated constantly when organizations want the "buzz" word class.  They want "lean", or "six sigma" or back when I started my career "TQM", thinking that there are tools that can be used to make their organization more effective.

The reality is that it is the culture that needs to change and that the organization MUST be committed to continual business process improvement.  It's not sexy like these other words, but business process improvement is at the core of all these buzz words.

Imagine a world where each worker says "hmmm, if I change my process, who else downstream would be impacted, and would it improve the overall process or hurt it?"
Great post Dave.

Closing is the End Game!

Anyone who has managed projects for a few years, can appreciate what it takes to "close" a project and obtain that elusive client sign-off.

This month's Advanced Topics webinar is about how some people can "get things done" while others seem to hold onto projects for way too long.

I equate the challenge of closing projects with that of closing a sale--unless you get that signature on the contract, you aren't succeeding.

A recent statistic by the Project Management Institute reported that over 45% of all strategic initiatives are not realized!  I would probably guess that most of that is due to delaying delivery of strategic initiatives.  Think about it this way.  If you have a new product that you want to get to market and you miss delivering it to the market by 1 month, how much lost revenue did you just experience?  Or think of it this way.  If you are delivering software to a client and the target go live date is June 30th and you don't go live for 2 months after the initial date, your company will not see the revenues for this project in the 2nd quarter as expected.  

Think about what happens in your organization today and let's discuss on August 27th about ways we can help improve the delivery of strategic projects and GET THINGS DONE!!

You'll learn the reasons why closing projects is hard and some techniques that you can use to increase your successes.

Diane

 

Are you an Entrepreneur with a great idea?

Small businesses are the financial engine of this country.  Entrepreneurs are the catalyst for change.  Creating and running your own business is the ultimate form of project management.  There are risks around every corner, and a critical path of activities that need to be performed if the business is going to survive.

If you've ever thought about starting your own business or you just have an interesting idea that you want to explore, take the time to see if there are organizations near you that can help.

As an alumni of the University of South Florida, I recently learned that USF started a Student Innovation Incubator.  What a great idea! It allows students with an idea to explore the viability of that idea with an amazing set of mentors.  This fall I will be one of those mentors.  If anyone listening is a USF student with an idea, check out www.tinyurl.com/usfsii and send in your application.  

For those of you that aren't USF students, I encourage you to reach out to your local educational institution and see what's available.  You may be able to find just what you need to make that idea a reality.

How Much are Workplace Interruptions Costing You?

Did you know that workplace interruptions cost the US economy $588 billion each year*? This same source reported that we lose 3 to 5 hours daily due to interruptions.

Are you costing your company money?  We are a connected society and I don't see that changing back to the old way EVER.  However I wonder what the impact is on our effectiveness.

To define what I mean, remember efficiency is getting things done and effectiveness is doing the right things.  Interruptions cause us to get off track on the right things we need to be doing.

Let's do a test.  For the next hour identify one thing that you would like to accomplish. Start a timer.  Keep a piece of paper next to you and draw a line each time you do any of the following..

  1. Look at an email, text, or instant message, etc, that arrives on your phone or computer that you look at
  2. If the phone rings and you pick it up
  3. If the phone rings and you can see the callerID and decide to pick up the phone
  4. If the phone rings and you look at callerID to determine if you should pick up the phone
  5. You decide to check your phone although there was no indication you needed to
  6. Someone stops at your desk to talk about a business issue
  7. Someone stops at your desk just to say hi
  8. You just remembered something you should have done and stop what you are doing to address it now.

I could keep going but let's see what you found.  How many interruptions did you have?  If you say less than 3 you are doing good.  How many of you had more than 10?  Think about it.  If you spent 20 seconds to a handful of minutes thinking about the interruption is that impacting the work that you have in front of you?

I know it does for me.  I'm actually on an airplane with limited interruptions so I can focus on writing this blog post.  :-)  It seems like the only time I can have focused time without interruption.

 

* Statistics reported by Edward Brown Cohen Brown Management Group in Workforce Management magazine

Handling stubborn people.

So what do you do when someone is being stubborn with their ideas?  How do you get them to open up their mind?

Being from the northeast, when I come across someone that is "stubborn", I sometimes just want to tell them "SNAP OUT OF IT"!  But I know that doesn't work in most cases. 

Here are a few ideas on how to modify your communication to get the "stubborn" person to see the light.

"There is probably more than one way to look at this."

"I certainly understand how you see it, but I see it a bit differently."

"Can you think of any other way to address the issue?"

"Are you open to hearing other people's ideas?"

"What are the pros and cons of the approach you are presenting?"

Please share your experiences and ideas.  Many times the person being stubborn hasn't been politely challenged on other options to solve a problem.  

 

Disinterested and Disengaged Sponsors

A few weeks back we had a webinar on "Managing Up".  In just a 1 hour webinar it is hard to answer everyone's questions.  One of our attendees afterwards asked the question:  "We all know that if it is the wrong or disengaged sponsor, then he/she should not be there (which was sort of the answer given). In larger organization that may be possible, but in small ones you may not be able to change that. There may be only one or two sponsors and what you have is what you get. So, what would be a proper way to influence these types of sponsors?"

Thanks Ana for your question.  It is a difficult question regardless of the company size, but I do understand the issue as it relates to a small company.  The first thing I would suggest is that you ask a lot of questions, of yourself or with someone in management that you trust.

1) Why is the sponsor disinterested?  Is it because they don't believe in the project, or something else?

2) Would the sponsor EVER be interested?  What would engage them?  

3) Does the sponsor even know what it means to be a sponsor?  Would that person be open to learning how to be a good sponsor?

Once you have these questions answered, we can then formulate a plan.  In order to execute the plan, you may have to enlist the support of other senior leaders that may have more influence over that particular sponsor.  

Unfortunately there are no easy answers in this situation.  Let's put this out there for others to comment.

Diane