LeanKit Kanban

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LeanKit KanbanWhen the Agile Manifesto for Agile Software Development was written 10 years ago, it stated “We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”

The very first of four values listed within the Manifesto was “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”

The Manifesto goes on to state “…while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.”

Well, I am compelled to write about one of the items on the right.  I still believe the tool should be good enough that it helps you reach your goals.  But after that, it should not become a big process onto itself.  What I want to do is finish tasks and get some actual closure on them.

I recently read in the book Personal Kanban by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry, a phenomenon known as the “Zeigarnik Effect”.  It states that 90% of people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.  Soviet psychologist Bluma Zeigarnic found that the human brain becomes preoccupied with things that are not closed.

Though I have leveraged Kanban with teams, it took me a while to realize that Visual Control Systems could be used to visualize and manage both personal and professional work.  I then found myself using a physical board at the office and an electronic version (web-based tool) at home.

What is visual control, exactly?

A visual control is a technique employed in many places where information is communicated by using visual signals instead of texts or other written instructions. The design is deliberate in allowing quick recognition of the information being communicated, in order to increase efficiency and clarity.

The real question is, can a process tool take the place of individuals and interactions?  Perhaps we need to stop and think about the reality of our world.  Is everyone in your company physically located in the same office space or are you geographically dispersed?  If you’re not all sitting there together in an open workspace, you need to find a tool that will bridge that physical gap and then stay out of the way. Bandit Software’s  LeanKit Kanban does that.  Let me tell you what puts LeanKit in the lead of the Kanban tool race.  It’s called mobile computing.

I seem to carry my iPad with me everywhere. (I’ll be getting an iPhone as soon as my contract is up).  Though the LeanKit iPhone/iPod interface could use a little work, the iPad interface is completely awesome.  The image above is actually a screen print from my iPad.  The design is simple; it’s lightweight; it’s functional.  It helps me visualize my work and it helps control my work in process.  Merge LeanKit Kanban and an iPad and you will have an amazing user experience, as it allows individuals to interact wherever they see fit.  I’m happy because I can access half a dozen different boards with tap of my finger and my wife is happy because I didn’t cover the walls of my home office with whiteboards and sticky notes.

If you’re thinking about using a web-based Kanban tool for yourself, your team, or your organization, all of the vendors out there have relatively similar features.  See which one fits your budget.  If you or your teams are using mobile devices like iPhones, iPods, or iPads (in addition to desktops or laptops), you need to go to iTunes and download this app.  Though you need to have an existing LeanKit account to make the Apple App versions work, you can get a personal account for free!

After you see how well it works for your personal life, I don’t doubt you’ll be using it in the office in the not-too-distant future.

 

HT: Wikipedia
HT: LeanKit
HT: Personal Kanban

 

 

A Quote That Spoke To Me

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

– Steve Jobs

Image from Treehugger.com

Categories: Agile, Project Management Tags: Tags: , ,

Follow-up review of the iStudy v2.0 PMP application

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The iStudy PMP v2.0 is an iPhone and iPod Touch application specifically designed to help those aspiring to pass the PMP® Exam.

When I did my Original Review of the iStudy PMP® application, I was pretty happy with it.  I said for $10, go for it.  One feature I really liked was the questions were completely random.  So, each test was unique.

So, how does v2.0 compare to v1.0?

Here is what changed between the two versions:

– Key summary for each question as well as page references to the PMBOK
– The initial number of questions has been increased from 20 to 35.  All 35 questions are new and were not available in the previous version.
– Improvements to the UI (better responses; works in both landscape and portrait)
– Users can now purchase an additional 550 questions from within the application.  This version leverages a freemium model.  The free version is ad supported.  If users wish to upgrade, they get an additional 550 questions for $2.99.  (Purchase from within the app).  If you’re interested in this app, you can get it from the iTunes store or go to www.istudyapps.com.

Do I think you should get it?  Again, I say go for it!
It’s only $2.99 for 550 questions and this version is even better than the last.

Disclaimer: Though I recommend this product, I am not financially benefiting from this review.
Categories: Misc, Project Management Tags: Tags: , , , , ,

Review of the iStudy PMP App for iPhone and iPod Touch

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Disclaimer: Though I recommend this product, I am not financially benefiting from this review.

main page

Main Screen

Questions and Answers

Question and Answer

Result

Correct/Incorrect

The iStudy PMP is an iPhone and iPod Touch application specifically designed to help those aspiring to pass the PMP® Exam.

If you have seen sample questions from the PMP exam, you know the pain points; double-negatives, lengthy questions, what is the “best” answer…  When I prepared for the PMP Exam a few years ago, I spent several hundred dollars for a program that simulated the PMP exam.  I’ll admit, it worked great!  But, what if I could have passed the exam and also saved several hundred dollars?  If this application was around when I was preparing to sit for the exam, I would have purchased it first.

Interface

iStudy PMP contains 200 questions that intend to replicate the PMP exam. The interface is clean and it allows the user to concentrate on answering the questions.  If you come to a question you’re not sure about, you can Mark (skip) it.  I thought I ran into some problems with the Mark feature.  Swiping my finger across the screen didn’t always advance me to the next card.  After some practice, I realized it was just me. The application was working just fine.

Not to get ahead of myself, but there is a results page to see correct/incorrect results.  One thing missing is a similar navigation page showing the skipped questions.  You’re given the opportunity to go though the skipped questions at the end of the exam but you can’t see how many skipped you have.  You just have to go through them one by one.  I contacted the creator of the application and he confirmed this is something to be resolved in a future update.

Tests

iStudy PMP has 4 different modes designed to cater to different learning styles.

Normal – This mode displays all 200 (randomized) questions and allows you to sequentially browse. You can go back and forth as many times as you wish, but you have to go in sequential order.

Exam – This mode is similar to the Normal mode minus the fact you have a time limit of 4 hours to answer all of the questions. You can go back and forth between questions as many times as you need to change answers.  If after 4 hours you have not answered all of the questions, the exam will automatically end and your results calculated.  This is good because if there was one thing I took away from doing full length practice exams, they help you build up your stamina.

Stress Test – This is a pretty interesting mode. I like that you choose the number of questions you want to answer (out of 200) and an amount of time you wish to allow yourself.  If you fail to answer a question before the timer hits zero then that question is marked as incorrect and the application advances you to the next question.  Let’s say you set the stress test to 15 questions and 2 minutes per question.  Your stress test will be done in 30 minutes.  Pretty cool.

Knowledge Area – The PMP Exam assesses your competency from 9 Knowledge Areas. This mode is like the normal mode but it allows you choose a specific knowledge area.  This is a nice feature when you know you have specific knowledge weaknesses.

Results Screen

Once you have completed a test, or if you intentionally end it, you will be presented with the Results screen. Here you will see whether or not you passed the practice exam. Results will be broken down by knowledge area so you can see where you need to improve.  All questions will be listed as either correct and incorrect with an option to display the entire question and answers.

Summary

For $10, I say go for it!  One feature I really like is the questions appear completely random.  So, each test should be unique.  If you’re interested in this app, you can get it from the iTunes store, go to www.istudyapps.com or click here.

The Lights are on at HueCubed

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In anticipation of my upcoming iPhone application release, I figured it was time to stand up a new website with the purpose of distributing my own brand of tools, templates, and talk.  The Critical Path will remain as my blog.  But, selling products requires branding.  By following me on Twitter or reading this blog, I think people will enjoy the HueCubed brand.

Innovate and Monetize

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I thankfully found a developer to create three of my Apple iPhone/iPod Touch applications.  Is one going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread?  I don’t know.  When an idea comes to me, I quickly write it down.  I think my wife gets tired of hearing of my daily revelations and seeing post-it notes litter my desk.  Still, there is always potential to monetize an idea.  That can’t hurt.

It’s time I practice what I preach.  I’m the SME, sponsor, AND the project manager for this.  Do we have schedule, scope, and budget? Yes.  Do we have requirements, assumptions, and constraints? Yes.  No gold plating these applications.  Let’s get them to market and fulfill a need.  How much would you pay for a Derek Huether idea?