Vicki James, PMP, CBAP, PMI-PBA, CSM

formerly of Professional Project Services, LCC

PMP Exam Lessons Learned

Updated 7/27/2013 with a second student LL.

A student of mine just sat for the PMP exam and passed on his first try! Yay!! He took the extra step of writing up his lessons learned to share with his classmates. I am now sharing with the world (with permission).

Congratulations JC!!!! And thank you for sharing.

pass


Although I passed the PMP exam, it was actually a pretty stressful experience for me and there were a few lessons learned for me that I think are worth sharing without getting into the actual questions.

First of all, I made the mistake of not skipping the hard questions. I’m stubborn, so I just didn’t want to move on to the next question until I could at least make an educated guess. I felt like I was doing pretty well on the first few questions, but then I ran into this one formula question, where I could not figure out how to arrive at any of the answers using the formulas. After spending way too much time thinking about it, I finally gave up and made an educated guess without using any formulas. Because of this, and the fact that I’m a slow reader, I ended up spending almost an hour on the first 25 questions or so… So of course, I panicked and had to really rush for the rest of the exam. And being in panic mode made it hard to concentrate on questions, especially long ones. I was finally able to get through all the questions with about 20 minutes to spare for reviewing, but I wasn’t able to review all of the questions I marked. So you might want to practice the technique of skipping the hard ones the first time through.

Another mistake I made was that I drank too much water leading up to the exam and I did not go to the bathroom just before the exam. So I ended up going to the bathroom twice during the exam. And because I was in a rush for most of the time, I answered many questions while wanting to go to the bathroom…

Also, taking a bathroom break may take an extra few minutes than you think. And if you’re in a rush, you might wanna try to take your break when other test takers are not at the testing room entrance. Every time you go out of the testing room you have to check out, the test administrator has to help you sign your name and time. And before you can go back in, you have to go through the strip search again and then sign your name and time. If there is anybody else that’s checking in or out at the same time, then you have to wait your turn.

Other notes about the security:

  • The strip search involves rolling up your sleeves to show your wrists, turning all of your pockets inside out, pulling up the bottom of your pants to show the top of your socks, answering the question of where your cell phone is, and having them wave the metal detector on you front and back. So you might want to wear clothes that’s easy to show your wrist and socks and with fewer pockets.
  • However, the testing room had the air conditioning blasted, so it was freezing cold in there! I had a long sleeve shirt and slacks with a jacket on, but I often had to rub my hands and thighs to warm them up. I had only brought my jacket because it was cold in the morning and I had planned to take it off inside, but I ended up zipping up my jacket in the testing roomJ
  • Next to the locker, there was a rack to put your drink and snack outside of the exam room. You don’t want to put your drink and snack in the locker, because you CANNOT access your locker during the exam. They give you the key to your locker, but they put a plastic strip on your locker that prevents you from opening your locker until you are done with the exam. I think this is to prevent you from accessing your cell phone during your break. So I’m not sure, but I don’t think you are allowed go outside during your break either.
  • I brought my ear plugs, but I had a plastic case for my ear plugs, which they told me I had to put in the locker. Only the ear plugs were allowed and not the plastic case. I’m glad to have had the ear plugs just to eliminate the loud noise of the air conditioner. There were headsets at every desk, but I didn’t try them.
  • They also told me that I had to put my handkerchief in the locker… So I guess you have to take a break if you need to wipe your nose or hands (or use your sleevesJ)
  • I walked in the testing center around 7:50, but since there were many people ahead of me, so I ended up starting my tutorial around 8:15. So you will wanna get there early if you want to start on schedule.  If you’d like to know exactly what to expect when you walk into the testing center, here is what happens. When you walk in, they ask for your last name (no need for print out of reservation), they take your ID, stack them in a pile, give you a list of rules to read, and have you wait until it’s your turn. When you’re called, you get a numbered locker key, you put things in the numbered locker, place drink and snack on a rack, and then you get strip searched. Then they ask you for your email address that you applied with, check-in by using the same signature on your ID and they give you the time to write down. Then they hand you a stapled set of scratch paper and pencils (which you have to bring back out with you when you’re done with the exam and give it back). When they first escort you into the testing room, they ask you to wait by the door until they check your numbered seat and then give you the okay to go there.

Good luck!


Lessons Learned #2

I left 1.5 hours early after a good night’s sleep, a light breakfast, but didn’t overdue it on the coffee or water – based on JC’s recommendation.

I made the mistake of clicking on the END TUTORIAL at the end of the tutorial, which immediately started the exam. This means I forfeited the time to jot down my cheat sheet. Although I think this was mentioned in class, I still fully expected a START EXAM option.

Another odd thing was that time at the testing center is much faster than at home. I took a lot of practice exams, several with 100 questions and a full 200 question practice the day before my exam. At home I was never anywhere close to using up all the time, even including bathroom breaks etc. Similar to Jason’s report, I ended up being very rushed and paying close attention to the clock. Especially since at one point I’d fully convinced myself that since the was testing our project management skills, simply finishing within the allotted schedule might in itself affect the score.

I was very happy to have spent extra time practicing Earned Value. A few of the questions requiring formulas where however posed in such a convoluted manner that I ended up just giving it a best guess instead of figuring. I’d then note the question number on my scrap paper so that I could go back to it at the end of the test, if I had any extra time.

Understanding the differences between the various types of charts, diagrams, analyses, etc were not straightforward to me – so I refreshed my memory in this area the evening before the exam. I’m glad I did.

I didn’t spend additional time studying up on network diagramming, but only because I’ve had a lot of scheduling background, so this seemed fairly straightforward to me. I could likely have invested more time here, especially around calculating float.

I told myself I’d take a quick break at the 100th question. Of course someone walked into the ladies bathroom right as I headed there. I used the men’s room instead, and reported to the officials that they needed to restock the paper towels. I have no shame in this area.

I focused on remembering to take deep breaths at least three questions. Since it seemed that I wasn’t completely certain how to answer most of the questions, I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to pass. I reminded myself that I was doing the best I could and failing wouldn’t be the end of the world. I reminded myself that the end of the world is the only end of the world. Everything else is an inconvenience.

Poll: Most Harmful Sponsors Type

Poll: Most Harmful Sponsors Type

What type of sponsor is the most harmful to a project’s chance of success? Take the poll and join the discussion on in the LinkedIn Project Sponsors group.

Strategies for Project Sponsorship Released!

CoverI am thrilled to announce publication of my first book, Strategies for Project Sponsorship. This was a team effort with Peter Taylor (aka The Lazy Project Manager) and Ron Rosenhead. Published by Management Concepts Press, this book is already making waves in the project management community. Please read on for more information or visit our page at www.strategies4sponsors.com.  You can even get a download of our 17 item Project Sponsor Checklist for following the page.

“The project sponsor is critical to project success, yet it is a role that is often assigned to a member of the organization with little knowledge or training in project management practices. In this book, the authors address this challenge from three vantage points – that of the project’s manager, the project sponsor, and the organization.”

Management Concepts Press

Press Flyer from Management Concepts Press

What our readers are saying…

“Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations…This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase.”

Michael Greer

Full review…

“SPS is a well written, well structured, waffle free zone, brimming with practical advice for project managers and sponsors alike.  The book covers the entire project life cycle and clearly explains how the roles and responsibilities of the project sponsor should interface with those of the project manager at each stage of the cycle.”

Jon Hyde, One Eight Consulting

Full review…

PMP Study Tips with Timeline

passI created the following study guide for students of my PMP prep courses. I post this now with thoughts of those sitting for the exam in the next six-weeks, before PMBOK 4th Edition testing ends July 31, 2013. Please comment with your own study suggestions for others.

Week(s) Before

  1. Create crib sheet
    • Create your own. Doing it yourself will force you to write the solutions which will help with memory retention. It will also make more sense to you as you will document knowledge in the way that makes the most sense to you. Suggestions for crib sheet include (in priority order):
    1. Earned Value Formulas
    2. 3-point estimating formulas
    3. Communications Channels
    4. Present-Future Value Formulas
    5. Conflict Resolution Types
    6. Types of Power for the Project Manager
    7. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
    8. Contract Types
    9. Organizational Structure Characteristics
    10. Sigma Percentages
    11. Cost Estimate Range Table
    12. Slack, Forward, and Backward Pass Formulas
    13. Risk Response Strategy (Positive Risks)
    14. Risk Response Strategy (Negative Risks)
    15. Communication Model
    16. PTA Variables
  2. Review PMBOK section 3 – Inputs, Tools & Techniques, & Outputs by Knowledge Area (also available in combined slideshow)
  3. Practice PDM
  4. Practice EMV
  5. Work through a PMP Exam prep study guide on your own paying special attention to exercise.
  6. Take sample test of at least 100 questions (http://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/pmp_exam/v1/quiz.html)
  7. Review score and identify missed questions by knowledge area
  8. Review study guide, the PM Answer Book*, and PMBOK*, for each the three weakest knowledge areas
  9. As needed, go to PMI 24/7 Books (eReads) – http://www.pmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Virtual-Library-eReads-and-Reference.aspx
  10. Search through library to find additional resources that will help increase knowledge of that area (many books have practice exams by knowledge area that will help you test your knowledge)
  11. Repeat steps 2 – 8 noting any changes in comprehension by knowledge area and adjusting as necessary

A note about practice test:

  • DO – use test results to determine knowledge areas that you are weaker in
  • DO – use test to get comfortable with format of questions and strategy for answering
  • DON’T – use test results as a final indicator of the score you will get on the final test


Day(s) Before

  1. Recreate crib sheet from memory (cheat only if needed)
  2. Review PMBOK by knowledge area (inputs, tools and techniques, outputs)
  3. Review PMI-isms (Rita page 15-17)
  4. Review Chapter 14 – the PMP Exam (Rita’s book)
  5. Review study book exercises
  6. Recreate matrix of Knowledge Area and Process groups from memory
  7. Take sample test of at least 100 questions (Transcender or http://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/pmp_exam/v1/quiz.html)

Night Before / Day Of

    • Determine any urgent study needs from test results and study
    • Verify test location and time
    • Find your exam schedule notice and set aside where you will NOT forget the next day
    • Take a break – put it all aside, relax, and take care of your self
    • Don’t over do
    • Get a good night sleep
    • Eat a healthy meal
    • Review your crib sheet, matrix of Knowledge Area and Process Groups
    • Remember your exam schedule notice
    • Pack a healthy snack and water
    • Get to test site early
    • Review your crib sheet again paying special attention to difficult to remember formulas (don’t try to crash memorize more than 3 or you’ll fill up the brain)
    • Go to exam room (they will likely let you sit for the exam early if you get there early provided they have a test station available)
    • Store your personal items in locker provided
    • Use the restroom
    • Once you are at the test station
      1. Recreate your crib sheet on paper provided
      2. Use the time available to get comfortable with the computerized test (allowed 15 minutes)
      3. Start the clock when ready

Principles to Remember

  • The Project Manager has authority within the parameters of the charter
  • Stakeholders include everyone including the team and project manager
  • For any decision or problem
    • Identify the problem
    • Analyze the Impact
    • Evaluate Options
    • Prepare a Recommendation
  • Communication is candid yet empathic with problem solving in mind
  • All project information is transparent unless confidential (for a reason)
  • The Project Manager is always proactive toward the project and bettering project management practices within the organization
  • Address problem and potential issues head on
  • The Lazy PM
    • Emphasizes planning
    • Stakeholders are privy to plans for smooth transition to response eliminating “fire fighting mode”
  • Read the entire question and possible answers before settling on an answer
  • Dissect question – what is it actually asking
    • Look for extraneous information
    • Look for double-negatives – translate to positive question
  • Look at the potential answers
    • What is the sequence of events based on the PMBOK
      • Sequence the possible answer to determine BEST NEXT
      • Review the sequence with possible answers of lists to rule-out or identify the best answer
    • Does a single answer have a mix of concepts that are not in context with the question – rule it out
    • Does a single answer sound like a good practice, something you would do, BUT is not covered in your study or PMBOK – rule it out
    • When comparing two answers – is one more formal then the other? The more formal answer may be the correct one with the informal answer being the “good idea” that is not the official answer

In Reviewing Questions During the Test

  1. Run through the test once answering the easy questions and flagging the not-easy questions.
  2. Run through the test a second time to answer the flagged questions. Unmark those you are relatively comfortable with, keep marked the ones you want to come back to
  3. Take a break!!!!
  4. Run through the test again for only the marked items, verify your answers – have a darn good reason for changing if you had answered. Your first instinct may very well be the right one.
  5. In your final run through look for
  •  Questions that may have been tricks
    • Wordy questions
    • Answers include similar lists of items
    • Seemed too good to be true
    • The first 20-50 questions that you answered as your frame of mind may not have been ready for a trick
    • Take a break!!!!
    • Last run through as you determine necessary – look for potentially obvious mistakes you may have made. Again, if you are waffling between two answer, your first instinct may be correct – consider leaving the original response
    • Know that is normal to stop breathing the second you hit “done”
    • There may be a slight delay and a survey on the test experience will be presented (SERIOUSLY!?!?)
    • There may be a slight delay and then a message on the overall test results “Congratulations, you have passed.”
    • The test proctor staff will provide you with proof.
    • Email vicki.james@watermarklearning.com (I want to hear!)
    • PMI will mail you certificate and other goodies to accompany your PMP.

What if…

A failing test score is not a failure!! You only truly fail when you give up. Remember, the test was designed to only achieve a certain level of passing attempts. Also remember, it was designed expecting test takers to already be experienced expert level project managers. You should take the opportunity to take the exam again. See 4 Steps to Recover from a PMP Exam Fail (PMStudent.com) and 10 Tips for Passing the PMP Exam…the Second Time (Watermark Learning).

* Notes

The books listed here were used for classes relating to the 4th Edition of the PMBOK. Look for the most current editions if planning to sit for the exam after 7/31/2013.  See The Project Pro’s Bookstore, PMP Prep shelf for these and other titles.

  • PMP Prep Study Books
  • PMBOK
    • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th Edition)
  • PM Answer Book
    • Furman, J. (2012). The Project Management Answer Book. Management Concepts Press.
  • Find more on PMP Exam Preparation from Watermark Learning

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third and final installment of the So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are series. Part One discusses the role of a business analyst with Part Two focusing on a better understanding of when you play both roles and determining where you may lean given your capacity and skills.  In this third part will explore how to pursue your career as a business analyst.

Step 1 – Call yourself a business analyst

You are what you do and not your job title. If you do business analysis then you are a business analyst. Maybe your job title is project manager, technical writer, program manager, product consultant. It does not matter. My first six-years in the project world I held the working title of “product manager” and job classification of “state financial consultant”. You will find this work listed as “business analyst/product manager” on my résumé and LinkedIn profile. “Business analyst” is industry standard for the work done and provides a commonality across organizations.

Repeat after me. “I am a business analyst, I am a business analyst…”

Step 2 – Update your résumé

What does your résumé say about you and the jobs you have held? Give your résumé a hard look and find those tasks and deliverables that you have listed that fit under the category of list‘analysis’. Try this – type the word “analysis” in Word and then right-click to view synonyms. Let me help you out with a picture of the results I get. Use these words as a guide in reviewing your résumé.

Take this a step further. What missing from your résumé? Think about the work you have done and what you can add that lends weight to this aspect of your experience. I have provided further guidance on documenting your experience in my article, Document Your Project History.

Remember to update your LinkedIn profile as well. Use the Skills section of the profile to highlight this experience and ask connections to “endorse” these skills.

Step 3 – Get involved in the International Association of Business Analyst (IIBA®)

Nothing speaks more to your professional aspirations and commitment then involvement in a professional organization. Not only does it look good for you, but you gain the benefit of a network of peers in comparable roles to learn from and share experiences with. There are varying levels of involvement and added benefits come from each.

Level 1 – Join the IIBA® and your local chapter

At this level you will have access to an electronic copy of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), a subscription to The Connection newsletter, and a wealth of resources online including articles, discussion groups, webinars, and tools.

Level 2 – Attend meetings and workshops

Meetings and workshop will increase your exposure to best practices and make sure continued education in business analysis topics. This further demonstrates your commitment to the profession as well as your own professional development. You will also build your local network of business analysts that can help you through struggles you have on the job in your next career move.

Level 3 – Volunteer

Volunteering is hugely fulfilling and beneficial to your career. It takes you from to the next level as far as demonstrating your passion for business analysis as a profession. It provides opportunity to show your work to other business analysts and build a reputation as a professional. Those who volunteer for my Chapter will find a ready referral and reference from me as they pursue future opportunities. This may be volunteering on a committee, with a specific task, for a project, or as a board member. Volunteer positions tend to be what you make of them and a lot can be accomplished in a few short hours a month.

Don’t forget to put your volunteer activities on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

Step 4 – Get certified!

The time, effort, and money you put into the certification process exhibits your commitment to being a business analyst professional. You must prove earlier experience to sit for the exams. You must learn, keep, and prove you have a significant amount of knowledge on business analysis best practices from Enterprise Analysis to Solution Verification to pass the exam.  Apply what you know in the real world and this step will take you far.


I hope this series has provided some helpful information as you pursue your career in business analysis. Please feel free to contact me (vicki@project-pro.us) for more information or guidance. Follow this blog to get receive alerts of future posts that will be of interest to you.

References:

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are

IIBA® Links

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 2 of 3)

BA_part2Last week I posted Part 1 with discussion on what a business analyst is.  You may be more confused than before on what it is you are. I will quickly clarify a few points by addressing a couple of common questions.

Question 1: I am a project manager that is responsible for business analysis on my project. Is this wrong?

Answer:  It depends on the project and the situation. If it is a small project with a small team and you are familiar with the business then it may make sense. The test is if you are effectively and efficiently juggling managing the project (planning, tracking, risks, stakeholder management, etc.) with the business analysis tasks (eliciting requirements, creating models and documentation, working with stakeholder to prioritize, translating for the technical team, etc.). However, if you are not able to manage both roles effectively within a normal workweek it means you are working two full-times jobs, rather than two half-time jobs. Getting a BA on your project will allow you to focus on one job and lead the project, project team, and influence stakeholders much more easily.

Question 2: I have worn many hats on my projects.  How do I know if I am a business analyst?

Answer: The answer lies in where you natural aptitude and desire are. Answer the three following three questions to help you find the answer. (Disclaimer: this is not a scientific aptitude/skills test)

1)   When it comes to solving a problem, I tend to want…

  1. To lead a team discussion to find potential solutions
  2. Research what other companies have done and see if any of those solutions would work in our situation
  3. Put a likely solution into action

2)   When I waiting for service in a long, slow line I tend to…

  1. Think, “Where is the manager?” These people need to be motivated to work faster.
  2. Watch the processes to see if I can identify a change in process or a tool that would speed up the service.
  3. Look for the manager so that I can tell him to bring more people on to serve

3)   When told to do something that I do not quite understand I respond by…

  1. Clarify what is needed and begin a plan of action
  2. Question who, what, why, where until I understand the value or negotiate for a task that does make sense to me
  3. Do what I am told. I can make anything work and it’s not my job to question the reason

Here are the results to this three-question assessment. If you scored mostly

  1. You have an aptitude for project management. You prefer to lead others through proactive planning and motivation to allow a team to accomplish great things.
  2. You have an aptitude as a business analyst. You like to solve puzzles by taking the time to get a thorough understanding the core of the puzzle and analyze many solutions to know your recommendation is indeed the best.
  3. You are a doer. “Get ‘er done” is your motto.  Time spent planning and analyzing is time that you could have been actively doing something to make the situation better. You recognize there may be a different or even better way, but getting something is place is the contribution that makes you feel valuable. You would be a great technical lead.

You may truly have a mix of aptitude and preference of these roles. That is okay. However, you need to define your role for each project and stick to it. This allows you to focus on your responsibility and give the autonomy to others on the team that they have earned and deserve.

Continue to Part 3 for steps on making the shift from someone who does business analysis tasks to a business analysis professional.

Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are (Part 1 of 3)

career crossroads graphic

As the Seattle Chapter President of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), I often get questions about how someone can learn more about becoming a business analyst. Often times those asking have been doing business analysis work realizing it for some time; only they have not yet realized it. This three-part series is to help you understand what business analysis is (part 1), how to know if you are a business analyst at heart (part 2),  and offer the first steps to advancing your career as a business analysis professional (part 3).

I will start with the definition of Business Analysis. The IIBA® defines this as

Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge [BABOK®] Guide, Version 2.0 Page 3)

The following two lists offer some more context to “tasks and techniques” by listing tools used and items developed and delivered by the business analyst as documented in the BABOK®.

Activities

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Document analysis
  3. Focus groups
  4. Interface analysis
  5. Requirements analysis
  6. Organization modeling
  7. Process modeling
  8. Prototyping
  9. Survey
  10. Prioritize

Work Produced

  1. Business case/ statement of work
  2. Business analysis plan
  3. Communication to stakeholders
  4. Data dictionary or glossary
  5. Data Flow diagrams
  6. Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
  7. Scenarios/Use cases
  8. Sequence diagrams
  9. User stories
  10. Requirements package

These lists show that many roles do business analysis activities and deliver business analyst results. Some common project roles include data analyst, project manager, technical writer, and developer. Many people do “business analysis.” So what is a business analysis professional?

The project manager, developer, and data analyst may use some tools and deliver some of the same results as the BA as it relates to their specific role. A business analysis professional works with all the business analysis tools and techniques to deliver work that supports defining, managing, and evaluation the solution or resulting product (“to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals”.) The project manager, data analyst, technical writer, or developer rely on the work of the business analysis to provide clarity on the solution and allow project work to focus on steps needed to most efficiently deliver the desired result. The business analyst is responsible for defining is what will bring value to the business, ensuring the requirements are fully vetted and understood, and that the solution meets these expectations. This allows the project manager for focus on the project process, progress, team, risks, and all those other aspects that make project management a full-time job. Read more on this in The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst. Further, the business analyst frees the technical people up to design and build the solution to meet the need the first time.

You likely play a combination of roles if you are reading this article. Next week we will discuss how to know what you are when you wear multiple hats.

Find out if you are a BA at heart in Part 2.

Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You Might Be a Business Analyst

The role of business analyst falls under many job descriptions. I talk to people all time that are business analysts, only they don’t know it. Maybecharts-tools the have the job title of “technical writer” or “program manager”, but in reality, they are analyzing the business.  Here are some signs you might be a business analyst..

  • If you create a weighted score card with evaluation criteria to select your next new car…
  • If you ask “why” so many times that your peers start to talk to you like a two-year old…
  • If you spend your time in line (queue) thinking of five better ways to do business and speed things up…
  • If it takes you longer to document your BA history for the CBAP then you actually do working…
  • If your partner is upset with you on their birthday and you suggest celebration requirements were ambiguous…
  • If you visit a brewery and document the brewing process on a napkin…
  • If you make a process flow chart for your trip to the supermarket…
  • If you write down the proposal discussion with your parents about girl you love on a Visio diagram…
  • If very few people know what you do, but you could add value to any company on the planet…
  • If while standing in a single line you count the people in front of you and divide by the number of cashiers serving customers to figure estimated waiting time..

Do you want to join in the conversation? Visit the Business Analysis Times LinkedIn group!

Printable PDF version

Thought of the Day

Permitting and inspections is to fire fighting what planning and communication is to projects.

Even firemen take time for maintenance, operations, and process improvement.

Observations of Great Teamwork from Cirque Du Soleil

ImageLast weekend I attended the Cirque Du Soleil show, Amaluna. While most of the audience was mesmerized by the beauty and awesomeness of the feats, I was mesmerized by the demonstration of what great teamwork can accomplish. Here is a quick run-down of my observations on the benefits of great teamwork.

Trust in Others

The troupe is truly putting their lives in each other’s hands. With high-flying acrobatics and water stunts, the impact of something going wrong can truly be life threatening. It takes a huge amount of confidence to entrust your life into your co-workers hands, but the results are astounding.  When thinking of who needs to trust whom, it goes beyond other performers who are putting their safety at risk, but also the engineers and riggers.

What could you accomplish in your current project if you had that much faith and trust in your teammates? Would the project have better flow and less resistance? Do you give your teammates the trust they deserve? We are each experts in our own rights of our own domain. Trust in that and keep conversations on using the various areas of expertise to achieving the goals of the project. Identify underlying issues to deal with the root cause to address team members you believe not to be trustworthy.

Slips happen…recovery gracefully!

Don’t think for a second that every show goes off without a hitch. I saw a couple of “slips” (some obvious, others not) and am sure I missed many more. What keeps the show amazing is the graceful recovery. The most obvious slip I noticed, the performer just kept going and tried again. She succeeded and the audience was amazed. Other slips were covered by their team performers adjusting their movements to minimize the impact on the show, the performers, and keep the show entertaining for the crowd.

We often experience slips in projects. Maybe there is a slip in schedule, defects in code, or risks that turn into issues. It is okay. Our project plans help us decide the graceful recovery in advance. There may be an unforeseen issue that affects the project. The issue is what is it is. Focus on the graceful recovery in support of the project. Refer to point number one and trust that your teammates will contribute to the graceful recovery.

Here is a quick side note. The music in Amaluna was live. It would be very difficult to recovery gracefully if reliant on a soundtrack that prevented needed corrections.

Be Trustworthy

Bad things happen when you are not trustworthy. A performer in Amaluna would not feel safe to give a 100% on feat where their safety was in my hands and I’m not trustworthy. I may lose opportunities to perform. The show would lose a great deal of awesomeness with the troupe not trusting in each other to give 100%. Signing up to perform a feat that one is not ready for, performing when physically compromised, or not being reliable in showing up for rehearsal could destroy valuable trust and compromise the show.

Are you trustworthy when it comes to your projects? Do you make meetings on time, participate fairly, complete assignments as agreed? Do you refrain from gossip, always give honest status on the project, and help your teammate recover from their slips? The person who can do this with integrity, consistently will be a very important contributor to the project. Only when all teammates, including yourself, are trustworthy will you have the level of trust needed to pull off amazing acts. It is the rare project that is delivered on time, on budget, and with promised scope that brings value to the business…a truly amazing feat.

Here is a short promo video of Amaluna to amaze you. A fourth secret follows.

Amaluna Promo Video

A fourth observation? Yes, risk management. Telling you this is admitting to what a nerd I truly am.  The video shows the scene with the contortionist in the water splashing all around. My mind realized that water on stage could be deadly to those that follow her act. Brilliant risk management is at work here.

  1. Large cloths blanked the stage around the bowl.
  2. After they moved the bowl and blankets, they had performers performing wiping the stage down with towels
  3. The next act was the high wire, not conducted directly on stage but the high wire with cushions below
  4. Then intermission

Four strategies to mitigate the risk of water on the stage endangering the performers.

Please share your stories and thoughts on what makes for amazing teamwork.

Photo by Cirque du Soleil at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna/default.aspx
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