PM Nerd

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Sharing new and unique ideas about learning and creativity for project managers. The more we learn, the more we share, the more we grow.

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Life & Learning Are Fickle

Chapter 2 - A PMI Certification Learning Guide

Closing a Chapter

Learn How Insincerity Can Help You Grow

Love the Process, Not the Outcome

Life & Learning Are Fickle

Life is a fickle mistress and always so eager for attention. I thought posting a video and a blog post weekly would be doable. What I didn't factor in was a busy travel schedule for work and spending time with family. You would think those are easy assumptions to make but not for me I guess. Family is so important but I also love me some learning :)

So I am still plugging away at reading the Agile Practice Guide. It has been two weeks and I have read 54 out of 167 pages. Which means I am averaging 27 pages a week and it will take me at least four more weeks to finish the book. This gives me a good idea of what I can achieve in two weeks. So when it comes to reading the first book in my list, Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide, I will know what is feasible.That book is 206 pages so 7-8 weeks is the current expectation. 

As a reminder, the focus of this blog has turned to the PMI Learning Guide, I am developing with Catalin Dogaru. The goal is to help folks study for and pass a PMI certification exam following a simple agile process.

If you want to read it, please check out this link:

PMI Certification Learning Guide

If you were to map it back to the Agile Practice Guide, it is following the Incremental Lifecycle process. Since we don't know what folks are looking for and what will stick, we figure sharing incremental updates while testing it out live is the best approach. Please make sure to click on the link above and provide any comments and feedback. The more the better.

Thank you again for taking time to read this quick post on our progress and I look forward to your comments.

Talk with you next week......hopefully :)

Cheers

Posted on: October 22, 2017 01:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Chapter 2 - A PMI Certification Learning Guide

Earning a PMI certification is not easy but can lead to many opportunities. Those could be a new job, a promotion, or helping your project team deliver even more success. For each certification, PMI provides exam outlines, handbooks, and reference lists. What is missing is a self-paced learning guide PMI members can use to study for and pass the exam. So, my friend Catalin Dogaru and I we are creating a learning guide and sharing it with as many folks as possible. With the help of this blog, I want to test out the guide and use it to help me earn a PMI-PBA certification. As I share my updates, I hope you will provide honest feedback.

The guide helps you study on your own or in a PMI chapter study group. Built upon simple agile principles of iterative progress, the guide is simple.

So far v0.1 includes the following steps:

Step 1 - Vision & Backlog: Your vision explains what you want to achieve and why. Your backlog prioritizes your goals and captures the activities to achieve those goals.

Step 2 - Planning: Decide what activities you can commit to for the next two weeks in your learning sprint.

Step 3 - Execution: Execute your learning sprint and the activities you committed to.

Step 4 - Practice: Practice and apply what you learned in Step 3.

Step 5 - Assessment: With the help of a mentor or study group, assess your progress.

Step 6 - Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on what you like, dislike, and want to improve in the next iteration.

After step 6, revisit your vision & backlog, plan the next learning sprint, and execute.

Here is a link to the learning guide.

PMI Certification Learning Guide

It is currently in a draft state so please provide comments and feedback. The goal is to design a guide PMI members can use on their own or in a chapter study group to study for and pass any PMI certification exam. 

Thank you for sharing this moment and I look forward to talking with you next week. Cheers.

P.S. If you are wondering why the title of this post includes the words, "Chapter 2," it is because I thought I had run out of ideas for this blog and had finished a chapter. But thanks to my PMI friends, I am trying to start a new chapter. So thank you, everyone, you know who you are :)

Posted on: October 08, 2017 05:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Closing a Chapter

Categories: Degreed

My intent with this blog was to share new learning resources and ideas with project managers. It started to focus more though on learning resources and when Degreed, published this,

http://blog.degreed.com/infographic-the-learning-content-landscape/

I realized I did not need to blog about new learning resources, all you need to do is read the Degreed blog and use their platform. There are of course other resources out there but I have found Degreed to be the best. 

I want to close a chapter on this blog and go back to the drawing board. When I am back up and running, I will be sure to let you know. 

Cheers,

Kevin

Posted on: August 01, 2016 04:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Learn How Insincerity Can Help You Grow

Do you mind if I share some of my current struggles and tribulations? Growing up, one of my dreams was to attend a liberal arts university, walk to class in my Birkenstock sandals with my canvas messenger bag, and study the great physicists and philosophers who walked the Earth before me. Instead I attended a military academy and became a project manager floating from one cubicle to the next. I am proud of my service in the military and I have enjoyed working for some amazing clients but there is a part of me that still wonders what would have happen if I had traded in my uniform for shorts and sandals.

Besides dreaming about the grass beneath the trees on the Oxford campus, my long-term professional goal has always been to become a teacher. On the surface a project manager is not usually described as a teacher but when you sit back and think about it, teachers and project managers have a lot in common. What drew me to the career was the simple idea of getting the job done. Both my parents were teachers and the joy I saw in their faces when they shared a story about one of their students connecting the dots and taking a huge step forward was the same joy I feel when I help a colleague or client experience that breakthrough moment and deliver a solution they are proud of.

Nowadays though, a project manager can be synonymous with producers, product managers, designers, and developers. More and more jobs require the skills of a project manager to be successful. So just studying the PMBoK is not going to guarantee success. We also must understand the language of every industry and market we work in which of course is why PMI is asking their members to categorize our professional development into the buckets of leadership, strategic business, and technical project management. PMI is asking project managers to stretch ourselves and go beyond conventional thinking.

At the moment my interests are philosophy, literature, design, and computer programming. I feel in order to succeed and grow, I have to become what I am describing as a “full stack project manager.” Just like a computer programmer, if I can understand the entire landscape from the backend database to the front end user experience, I will be better for it. Building upon a base of project management, I also must possess a technical trade like computer programming coupled with a more artistic thought process based in design principles. All of these are expanded throughout the philosophy and literature I am trying to read which I hope will help build my confidence and cultural awareness.

I believe it was Friday when I came across a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article, The College of Chinese Wisdom, written by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. In it they try to apply the teachings of Confucius and other Chinese thinkers who lived over 2,000 years ago to the modern struggles of college students struggling with their own self-discovery. Some of the quotes I thought applied quite well to my struggles and perhaps others of us who are on their own learning journey. Here are a few to give you an idea of what I am talking about.

“Concrete, defined plans for life are abstract because they are made for a self who is abstract: a future self that you imagine based on a snapshot of yourself now. You are confined to what is in the best interests of the person you happen to be right now—not of the person you will become.”

“Train your mind to be open”

“Zhuangzi embraced “trained spontaneity.” When you train yourself to play the piano or learn tennis, trying to reach a joyful place where you can play a Mozart sonata or gracefully arc a lob, you are following his advice. You are putting effort into reaching a moment when your mind does not get in the way. You are training yourself not to fall into the trap of seeing yourself through one fixed perspective. You are training yourself to spot the shifts that make for an expansive life.”

“Xunzi argues that we should not think of the self as something to be accepted—gifts, flaws and all. He would argue instead that we should think of the self as a project. Through experiences, we can train ourselves to construct a self utterly different from—and better than—whatever self we thought we were.”

“The only thing you really need to be good at is the ability to train yourself to get better.”

“…the goal is simply to break from what they think they know about themselves.”

“So if you want not only to be successful but also to live a good life, consider these subversive lessons of Chinese philosophy: Don’t try to discover your authentic self; don’t be confined by what you are good at or what you love. And do a lot of pretending. We could all benefit from a little more insincerity.”

I read through this article while flying back home from a long week of working with my client and a calmness started to comfort me. The concept of application and measurement of my learning constantly occupies my thinking but last week I wrote about embracing the process and not worrying about the outcome, so perhaps I should borrow some of that advice.

Please read through this WSJ article and let me know what you think. Too often, I believe we as project managers become consumed with the outcome and how to measure the results that we don’t even try out new ideas because we train ourselves to be scared of risks and new ideas. I like the quote where it is recommended to think of ourselves as a project and through experiences we train ourselves to train a new self that yields new possibilities.

So taking a step back, instead of being frustrated by the struggles and tribulations I am going through with my own learning, perhaps I should focus on the excitement and joy brought on by a new MOOC I try out or a new book I read. Perhaps the application of learning is measured in the intangibles created from a new idea or concept.

Isn’t a wonderful feeling when you complete a new book or when you crack the code on why math tells you one thing but your instincts expected a different outcome? Perhaps at this stage, my struggles are a sign I am on the right track and I need to find a place to rest, warm up a pot of tea, enjoy the sunset, and look forward to another day of discovery and wonder.

Thank you for helping me and sharing another moment.

Posted on: April 03, 2016 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Love the Process, Not the Outcome

Hello, I would like to re-introduce myself. My name is Kevin and it has been almost one month since my last post. The reason for my absence has been my struggle with the scope of this blog. Since the Open Learning Workshop I lead with the fantastic folks at the PMI Mike Hi Chapter, I have struggled with where I want to take this blog and I am asking for your help.

The original goal was to share learning resources and tools that I think would help project managers expand their professional development. After the workshop, I began to wonder if I should create a learning guide project managers could use to help them but if you spend a couple minutes online, you realize there are a bunch of different learning guides and resources. So I don’t want to re-invent the wheel again. If you ask me, my favorite learning management tool is still Degreed. Yesterday though, I was listening to the Tim Ferris Podcast and enjoyed a fantastic conversation between Mr. Ferris and Josh Waitzkin, who was the inspiration for the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. He has written a book, The Art of Learning, which has moved to the top of my reading list backlog. Josh made me realize there are a lot of smart people, much smarter than me, who are in the middle of this learning conversation, so why not use their ideas to help us expand our professional development.

Instead of worrying about how I can help you learn, what I can promise is to share with you my learning story. In the podcast conversation, Mr. Waitzkin reminds us to focus on the process, not the outcome. As project managers, that is very difficult. We constantly are questioning how we are going to apply what we learn and how we want to measure our progress. Metrics are important because they help us visualize our progress. For this blog, I have been worrying about what value I am delivering you and the project management community.

My interests and goals have always been most comfortable in the world of learning and education. As a project manager, it is my job to create a space where my team and clients are able to explore the possibilities and design their own unique outcomes and solutions. So how can I do that with this blog?

Perhaps it is really that simple. Everyone possesses unique qualities that make us who we are. Mr. Waitzkin shared a great phrase he uses quite often. I don’t remember it exactly but the essence is, we have to fall in love with our funk. We have to fall in love with who we are and embrace our uniqueness, even if it doesn’t fall in line with everyone else.

So my funk is I am a project manager who was raised in the beautiful horse country of Wyoming thanks to my beautiful parents who taught elementary and high school students for over 80 years combined. So I am a project manager who loves to learn, there you have it.

My goal from the very beginning with this blog has been to share with you what I find and hope that it helps you in your professional development journey. How you apply your learning is entirely up to you, I just hope it is accompanied with a smile :)

Thank you as always for sharing this moment.

Posted on: March 25, 2016 03:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
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