Provide Value To Your Customer And Thank Them

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Gary Vaynerchuk Thank YouBack in November (2009) I was watching Episode #24 of This Week in Startups featuring Jason Calacanis.  His guest that week was Gary Vaynerchuk, of Wine Library TV fame and countless appearances on TV.  Sometimes I arrive a little late to the game.  I Don’t watch a lot of television so I hadn’t seen Gary before.  While on the show, he promoted his new book Crush It! and I was absolutely intrigued by his level of passion and drive.  My motto is anything is possible through passion, commitment, and skill.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a project manager, developer, or entrepreneur.  You can and SHOULD have all three, regardless of your trade.

I’ve been itching to get this book.  Because I have a lengthy commute, I waited until it was available in audio version.  I downloaded it last night and started listening to it this morning.  After my commute today, I arrived to the office not wanting to turn it off.  The book is inspiring, motivating, and I identify with several things Gary has experienced and promotes.  I am a firm believer if something is bad, you can say something about it.  But, if something is good, you need to stand on the tallest hill and yell at the top of your lungs.

The hill, in this case, is Twitter.  I wrote just a single tweet:

Started listening to Crushit! by @garyvee on my drive in today. Get the audio version (extras), even if you have the actual book.

Within a few minutes, Gary tweeted back

thank u !

Now that, people, is commitment to customer service!  With almost 850,000 people following him on Twitter, he took the time to thank me.  Though it was something so simple, it’s a level of customer service everyone should and WILL come to expect in the coming years.

When I deal with my customer(s), I get excited, optimistic, and passionate.  I work HARD.  Why?  I love it!  Sure, I get paid for providing value but I make sure I thank them from time to time.  There must be a commitment to customer service.  The interesting thing is, it can be contagious.

So, work hard and be passionate about what you do.  Be committed to deliver value to your customers.  And don’t forget to be skilled at how your implement your solutions.

Disclaimer:  I will not financially benefit from the positive review of Gary’s book (but I hope he does).

Starting Is Easy; Finishing Is Hard

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I once saw (via video podcast) a wise man (Jason Calacanis) say “starting is easy; finishing is hard.”

When he said that, it was a moment of absolute clarity for me.  I’m not saying he verbalized the meaning of life.  He did state, however, what I’ve often conceptualized but was never able to verbalize.

What Jason stated in 6 words is what I’ve seen many colleagues struggle with.  Who doesn’t have projects and tasks to complete and deadlines to meet?   I’ve tried multitasking, thinking it would make me more efficient.  I’ve tried using a productivity pyramid.   All I did was start more tasks, not finish more.  That’s the key right there.  It doesn’t matter how many things you start if you never finish them.

The solution to my past problems has been the use of kanbans, referring to them as information radiators.  These information radiators were large billboards strategically placed around the office so anyone could passively see the status of the current project.  You could see what the highest priority was, what was currently being completed, and what was being delayed.

I believe the key to those successes was in the ability to visualize our work.  Everyone knew exactly what they needed to complete and everyone else knew if it was getting done.  People were not allowed to go on to ancillary activities until their assigned tasks were completed.  Another important facet of the kanban, we limited our work-in-progress.  This forced-focus on limited tasks and constant feedback loop is very powerful and very productive.

If you would like to read my complete guest post at the Personal Kanban website, on how I visualize my work and FINISH it (don’t forget the comments), just follow the [link].

Meeting PMP Eligibility Requirements

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Process Group Activities GraphWhen I was completing my PMP application, back in 2006, I recall reading the eligibility requirements and asking myself where I had the greatest gaps in my project management experience.  PMI did a good job of listing the process groups and activity “buckets” in which I could associate my time.  To visualize my strengths and weaknesses, I identified each activity provided by PMI as a process group subcategory and then associated project hours within a spreadsheet.  Though PMI had a requirement that I document experience in each of the process groups,  I had a personal requirement that I improve where my skills were lacking.

This post isn’t about my strengths or weaknesses, though you could assume by the graph that it would be Initiating and Closing.  It is about my identifying my experience gaps and helping you identify yours (in the eyes of PMI).  If you’re a PMP or an aspiring PMP, take a look at the attached.

Step 1: Review the Process Group Activities PDF.  It will define the subcategories.

Process Group Activities PDF

Step 2: Associate subcategory hours on a project basis.  The formulas are already in the worksheet.  All you need to do is add your hours to the Project Data sheet.

MS ExcelActivity Breakdown By Process Group

Step 3: Review the Graph on the tab titled “Graph”.  If you don’t identify your strengths and weaknesses from the data sheet, you will certainly see them in the graph.

Best Regards,

Derek

Did you learn your lesson?

I’m going to be facilitating a second lessons learned session later today.

As part of the project closing processes, all project managers should collect and document lessons learned.  But, as many will attest, you need to be able to implement approved process improvement activities or you will just continue to revisit history at the end of each cycle or project.

Do you learn from your mistakes?  You should be able to at least be aware of them if you document them at the end of each cycle or project. Revisit them at the beginning of the next project or cycle.

Corrective Action:  Document your direction for executing future project work. Bring expected performance of the project work in line with the project management plan.

Preventive Action:  Document your direction to reduce the probability of negative outcomes associated with project risks.

Defect Repair:  Document a defect in a project component with the recommendation to either repair it or completely replace the component.