Mind Your Own Business PM’s

Typical Scenario

Production incident.

Business impatiently waiting to get fixed.

What’s going on, my dear developers?

  • This is existing BAU issue and not a project one and, therefore, should be worked upon as by BAU team (Passing the Buck)
  • Solution analysis will take time. How much?, we don’t know until we analyze. (Buying Time)
  • We have the solution and can make the change if Business Analyst confirms there is no impact to anything else with this solution. (Gun on someone else’s shoulder)

Business Analysts:

Acting like Business’s first cousins and putting pressure to have it delivered ASAP.

Project Manager:

We’re no where close to being able to share even a simple status update with the desperately waiting Business teams! Phew!

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Clock is ticking faster than usual. Anxiety is slow death, and an inescapable reality in the Project Management profession!

Taking the plunge:

PM is getting impatient, agitated and furious about the things not working out. Finally, he decides to take the plunge and solutionize himself.

Half knowledge is a dangerous thing. But it seems like his moves are working. Emails going back and forth. Exchanges happening. Try this and try that. Sense of movement.

The Outcome:

The excitement lasted just for a few days.

Then, the thunder stops. The dust settles. The ground is visible again.

We realize that we’re just where we started from. Same old broken functionality. Nothing changed. It was an attempt that failed. Not really. It was a case of jumping in without much planning, and more than that it was wrong person doing the job.

Time lost. Credibility lost. Increased fiction among the PM, his boss, the customers and team.

Intention was not wrong. Just that it was too much unnecessary poking in an unknown territory.

Lesson Learnt:

Mind your own business, PMs.

If you like this post, then show the love by sharing it with friends and family. The best part of writing a blog is the discussion that follows, so do register your thoughts and views below.

Suggested reading: Is it possible to manage an IT team without a Technical Background 

Little Something That Will Make You Actually Overcome Your Interview Phobia

What do you like reading?“, asked  the interviewer.

John Maxwell“, I replied (..well, I possibly have read more John Maxwell’s books than he’s written!).

The follow-up question came, “What do you like about John Maxwell?

I froze.

I started babbling.

It was like losing in the home ground. Being beaten at something you always thought you were so good at. 

Not that I didn’t know the answer, just that I didn’t know where to start. 

I had a zillion thoughts run past my head instantaneously such as “Does he think that I am lying?

Truth be told, I have suffered big time from job interview anxiety. 

It was serious. So much that I would think that I am a gone case. The only one or the chosen one!

It’s a bit like when you’re sick and don’t know the diagnosis. You often think that it’s just you.. until you know more. Reality is that whatever you’re going through has likely been experienced already by someone somewhere. 

However, I used to be so scared of the subject, that I would avoid talking about it. I would brush it aside if it ever came up. I was almost certain that there’s something wrong with me only. I kept it a secret because I feared being made fun of.

When I did, after all, opened up to talking about it, I realized that there is a world out there full of people who fear the interview: the interview phobics.

I know the feeling. You get blacked out, freeze or get defensive and eventually get caught in the trap of your own words. You feel cornered. You feel ashamed. You think that you have lost the golden chance. Guess what, the moment you have such feelings, is when it’s over.

If you can relate to this, read further..

Let’s take a step back: What is an interview anyway?

It’s the phenomenon of finding the right person for the job, and the right job for the person – It’s a two way street. a bit like finding a match in an arranged marriage. 

When you are out looking for a match, would you look for someone perfect – most beautiful, with top education and a fantastic family background?

(If you are, then, at present the only person who’d fit the bill is Manushi Chillar. She’s Miss World 2017, studying MBBS and seems to have a decent family. But then, she’s too good to be true, for  you, isn’t she?)

Or instead would you look for someone who is right for you? Someone who may not be (in fact should not be) perfect, but would adjust well to your life and circumstances. Remember, you aren’t perfect either.

Interviews are no different. They are seeking the right fit not the perfect one. So, you don’t have to be perfect. No one is! Just be yourself. Relax. Let go that feeling of being overwhelmed.

Besides, you are also evaluating them. It’s not a one way street. Not all the employers are right for you. Speak your mind, make mistakes but always give them the sense that you’re an equal. No marriage can ever happen with consent from one side. So, don’t act subservient*

Tell your story, hear theirs, and yes, it’s okay to be nervous. I have been on the other side and trust me, both sides are!

So, next time:

  • If you notice them scrutinizing your appearance, mannerisms, do the same to them! Remember you’re here to decide too.
  • If you think you are not well prepared, check their readiness. Chances are they aren’t prepared either. Ask questions such as “Could you tell me more about your company culture?” or “Please explain the job requirement to me in detail“, or “Please explain to me the growth path for my role” or “What are the organization’s plans for 2018” or “How does the organization deal with personality eccentricities?” Yes, you have all the right to ask. Actually, you need to know some or all of this before you consent to marry.
  • Be authentic while being positive. Expect the same in return. If they are rude or cold, you are not be in right hands.
  • Pay attention and don’t be desperate. Remember it’s the marriage of equals. Desperation will only reduce the chances of developing a bond. Hopefully, you’ve been through college – Hard-to-get girls/ guys always had multiple proposals and could pick and choose. While the desperate ones (lots of names popping up my head), got only one thing – rejection.

Wait a second… is that the Shehnai that I hear playing from a distance. 



*Subservient is a word that has stayed with me over the years. I first heard it around 10 years back in the context of onsite-offshore teams. The speaker strongly advised offshore teams to not to act subservient. It’s meaning as per Webster is: useful in an inferior capacity, subordinate,  serving to promote some end, overly submissive

Motivation Theories 101 for Parents

You are a Middle Manager. You lead big teams, manage difficult people, and resolve conflicts every single day. You have this amazing Emotional Intelligence (EI). So proud you are!

You think you have the knack:

  • I can feel their pulse. They bare open their hearts in front of me!
  • We are a team of high achievers. Work is made enjoyable for all through collaborative problem solving!

While you’re at it, your wife’s anger and 9 year old son’s retaliation catches your attention. She’s manages the kids. You don’t interfere with how she approaches their studies or behavior management.

Except that there’s one rule in the house- Anger is unacceptable, come what may! And in all shapes and forms – no personal attacks, back biting, shaming, shouting, and if you’re thinking spanking, well the rule on that is- Don’t even think about it!

But this Friday, when you’re thinking you’d chill on the weekend. You’ve got work to do. Wife’s out of bounds. She is fed up and tired. You know that there’s is a lot of talking coming your way when she says “Don’t talk to me!” or “Leave me alone!

And that’s exactly how it unfolds..

  • He doesn’t sit down to study. He just doesn’t listen to me
  • I need to check his chat messages on Clash of Clans. He could be in bad company!

You were at the receiving end of all this in more ways than one – Apparently, just a little while back, this out of control situation had led your son to hitting his football so hard in the study room that it hit your dearest, beloved bookshelf’s glass window! And yes, it broke.. along with a piece of your heart. You got to know about this after all the other so called important details. (All that really mattered to you in all these details was that your bookshelf glass broke!)

Well, but perhaps it was the broken glass of your bookshelf that brought the message home for you that you need to take the ownership for next few days. Otherwise, you would have laughed the matter off.

You use the opportunity to take this on your shoulders when your wife says “Okay fine, you do it. Try it just for two days and then we’ll see! It’s easier said than done.”

Being a great believer of Douglas McGregor’s Theory Y of Motivation, you decide taking that approach in the situation.

Douglas McGregor’s—Theory X and Theory Y:

Theory X: assumes that people need supervision and need to be pushed into doing something.

Theory Y: on the other hand is where you assume people are self-motivated and you just need to motivate them so that they pull themselves towards the goal.

Wifey dear, remember the boss with whom interactions were no less than interrogations, the daily grilling, cursing people for not completing an assigned task, and the threat to throw them out! So theory X’ish!

It’s not saying that it didn’t work – It did, at least for the time being, but didn’t it make us feel miserable, worthless and like slaves and that too every single day! Going to work was a pain in the wrong place.

We don’t want anyone to go through that. Definitely not our children.

You sense that it is your son’s over confidence bordering on complacency that’s causing this.

“Complacency is the enemy of success” – Jeff Sutherland, Co-creator of Scrum

You offer to play a game of football with him in the backyard. An offer you know he will never refuse. You usually lose to him but today you play harder and eventually beat him (well.. in order to bring his over confidence under control)

You hand him a leaf out of the daily planner you got from the US. He knows it means a lot to you. After a bit of coaching, he is able to jot down his priorities for next two days and his plan for the day (no questions asked). Surprisingly, he has included time to study for his Hindi and GK tests on Monday.

He followed the plan. Not perfect but definitely to his satisfaction and yours (and your wife’s)

You tell him about checking off the planned tasks that are done. He does that and is kicked about it. You are carried away and tell him about deriving your happiness score based on how much you got done!

The journey has been good so far on Day 1 and Day 2. However, the outcome is yet to be seen after the Monday’s test results. You are pretty confident though about the outcome too.

By the way, even offering rewards for doing something will fall under Theory X. The rationale being that it’s like bribe and makes people do things only as long as they get something in return. Theory Y is about internal motivation. People naturally like contributing and creating things even if its without a direct reward.

So, if the journey matters to you, then you better make it enjoyable. Results will ensue. Amen!

Congratulations! If you have read so far, you have understood the following concepts of Project Management:

  • McGregor’s theory of motivation– Difference between Theory X and Theory Y
  • Pop the Happy Bubble – Don’t be so happy (complacent) that you start believing your own bullshit!
  • Quantify Happiness : Happiness Score – It’s the Journey, not the Destination!
  • Happiness is a future looking metric – Get Better Every Day and Measure it! (.. the Monday test results will prove!)

The “Happiness” concepts have been referenced from SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland, Co-creator of Scrum.

Some questions you should be able to answer:

  1. Name one future looking work metric which can be a great indicator for successful outcomes. (Bonus question: Can you think of another one?)
  2. Theory Y works by addressing which type of human need from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (Tip: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a five-stage model – i. Physiological needs ii. Safety needs iii. Love and belonging needs iv. Esteem needs v. Self-actualization needs)

Please do share your thoughts and any questions you may have regarding the Motivational theories. Until next time, Adios!

On The Day Of Your PMI ACP Exam!

I am an ACP today. No, not Assistant Commissioner of Police, .. that’s for another time! For now, I am an Agile Certified Practitioner.

If you have ever taken an exam (which I am sure is the case) and if you’re like me (which I am not as sure), you know how it feels like on the D Day – Butterflies in stomach, a wish that you had managed more preparation time, what would others think if you BOMBED, sadistic thoughts to postpone the date – Kim Jong Un drops the nuclear bomb at the PMI Headquarters, a Tsunami strikes the Gurgaon Exam center, or ISIS takes the PMI’s CEO and it’s employees hostage – None of which will come true or even should. I haven’t grown much in this aspect from the lad I was in school. Back then, I would wish the worst things to happen to the teacher just to skip the test.

Finally, it dawns on you that nothing else will work and you have to face the exam. When that did for me, here’s what worked for me, and may be it’ll work for you too:

  1. Sleep in timeGiven how smart I am, I chose 8 AM on Monday as the exam time – so I could get the weekend to revise and could join office in case I was refused a leave. Neither of these things happened though. I mean I didn’t revise as much as I should have and my leave didn’t get refused. I was tempted to study all night like back in college days but I am glad that better sense prevailed and I slept at 10 PM. You should too.
  2. Start in timeGoogleMaps suggested it’d take an hour to reach the Exam Center. I started an extra half an hour earlier. I listened to the Audio CD of Slumdog Millionaire on the way to the exam center – something different to relax and energize me. I am glad I didn’t listen to any more of the Cornilius Fischner’s Agile PrepCast audios along the way. I had had enough of that in the last several preparation months.
  3. Mugging up won’t help: They didn’t have any question that expected me to remember the terms. Each question was a thought-provoking and interesting one. If you have worked on Agile projects and more importantly, if you have an Agile mindset, you don’t have much to worry.
  4. What to carry to Exam centerJust a Govt ID Proof with your photo on it. The lazy bum I am, I had not printed the Appointment confirmation email. I couldn’t expect any Xerox shops to be open around 8 AM (the time of my test). Thankfully, my wife reminded me that this was Digital age, and that I shouldn’t worry about the print out. I didn’t and neither should you.
  5. What they’ll let you in withThey’ll not let you take anything inside, well, except the bare essentials – You know what I mean – no jackets, not even handkerchiefs, pencils.. nothing! There’s heavy frisking including a metal detector scan, so be mentally prepared. They asked me to pull up the jeans and lower the socks in front of the camera. I was wondering if I’d be arrested should they find something during the search operation. They examined my glasses thoroughly to check if it was a Google glass or some E-equivalent. All they let you in with is a) Your Locker Key and b)Your ID proof (they didn’t let me carry the ID Proof holder also, so you know how serious this is!). Besides, expect them to give you a) 2 sharpened pencils b) Enough sheets of paper for rough work and you can ask for more (although I didn’t use even half of it. You are not allowed to write on the rough sheets until Test Start button is pressed. No room for vomiting what you mugged before the test starts!) c) A calculator d) Voice cancellation headset.
  6. During the Test, toolsFinally, I was in. I went through the instructions carefully. Three key things I loved and you should note to make use of: a) MARK questions for REVIEW b) STRIKE THROUGH answer choices to eliminate seemingly wrong answers and to focus on the seemingly correct ones c) HIGHLIGHTER to emphasize the important sections especially in longish questions (even answer choices. any text on the screen.) Best part is that all these three features are sticky which means they’ll remain selected as you move forward to other questions.
  7. Managing time during the testI completed all 120 questions in 2 hours and 10 minutes. That’s about a minute per question. That left me 50 minutes to revisit the questions MARKED FOR REVIEW. I think I had close to 40 questions marked which took me 47 minutes. I changed quite a few responses when I revisited the MARKED questions. I used the remaining few minutes to recheck few more questions. You must answer all the questions in the first pass though. There isn’t any negative marking and so leaving any answer blank is foolish.

When I submitted the test, it had few questions asking for a feedback of the examination and test content. After that, I pressed the ‘submit for evaluation‘ button, … It took a few seconds to process the results (which seemed much longer). I used this time to write HARI OM on the rough sheet that was given to me. It always does the trick! Soon after, I saw the following appear on the computer screen:


I couldn’t stop smiling and raised my hand to grab the attention of the Center staff (who constantly monitor the exam takers on CCTV cameras) to help me get out.

Please do share your thoughts and any questions you may have regarding the ACP Examination. I’ll respond as soon as I am back from celebrating this little win. Until next time, Adios!

Agile 101

Howdy, Middle Manager? College lad turned Middle IT Manager. A lot has changed since then… and a lot hasn’t!

Then: You wore a cross locket, less for The Almighty, more for Style. A baseball cap, less for the Sun, more for Style! An earring, which was for nothing but…. Style!

Then and Now
Then and Now

Now: Look at your LinkedIn profile. Well combed hair. Style of dressing. Close shave. Clearly, one thing that still hasn’t changed is.. Style!

Actually, there is one more thing that hasn’t changed: Problems. They were there then, and are here now. 

Then: Your biggest problem: What if my girlfriend dumps me?

Now: What if my company sacks me?

Then: I should leave her before she leaves me. Otherwise, my confidence and chances of finding another girl would go down the drain.  

Still, you couldn’t muster the courage and kept waiting. She broke off with you first!

Now: I have to get on to working on a project that’s my kind. Otherwise, my confidence and chances of finding another project would go down the drain.

Then: Everyone in the college said, “All the good looking girls are already taken.

Now: “All the good projects are already taken.

Then: Others girlfriends- Hot and happening! Yours- Whatever is available!

Now: Others projects- Smoking! Scrum, BDD, Big Data, IoT! Yours: Whatever is available: Data Migration. Legacy system. Waterfall Development Model! (Shhh.. Calling it waterfall is below the belt attack. Let’s settle for Hybrid. That sounds respectable!)

Then: She had to be stylish. And it wasn’t about the physical beauty. It was more than that. In fact, you had a complete Style Manifesto. (see table below)

Now: Projects have to be Agilish, my kinda’ agilish! Today’s Agile Manifesto. (again, see the table below)

Then: This Godforsaken college is not the end of the world!

Now: Your office is not the end of the world!

Then: You joined the Salsa classes, not because you wanted to become a dancer. You joined Alliance Française de Delhi, not for your love for French!

Now: What are you going to do now? Well, don’t expect me to have all the answers in one short article. 

But Congratulations! If you have read so far, you have well understood and hopefully even memorized Agile Values. This is especially helpful if you’re planning on taking the PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) exam. Take a small quiz and know for yourself:

  1. In Agile Manifesto, what is valued more than ‘Processes and tools’ (Hint: Direct interactions with her rather than through common friends i.e. tools)
  2. Agile projects require no documentation: True of False? (Hint: While we value the items on the right – emails and phones, but we value the items on the left – Chemistry more)
  3. Which of the following Agile Manifesto philosophy endorses team empowerment? (Hint: Sense of blossoming together i.e. Customer Collaboration over Contract negotiation)
  4. What is valued more than comprehensive documentation in Agile Manifesto? (Hint: Chemistry or Working Software)
  5. In the Agile Manifesto what is on the higher side of the value chain than following a plan driven approach? (Hint – Flexibility or Responding to change.)
  6. What are the four values from the Agile Manifesto (Hint: Recall your Style Manifesto)

Agile Values and their descriptions (The Agile Manifesto) is taken from official Agile Alliance site. I will look forward to your thoughts and questions on these topics.

Portfolio, Program and Project Management 101 For Husbands

You’ve made a new friend at work after years. Ravi. He’s intelligent, smart and ambitious. You rarely find that combo in your friends. Even if you do, you don’t want to admit it. Ego, I hate ya!

Ravi is looking for a match. That’s one of his goals for 2017. The day finally comes when he joins back work after a break and tells you that it’s a done deal! Ravi tells you that You have to come to his wedding. There is enough time to plan. It’s January and the wedding is in April. And with family. No excuses!

Of course. I will come, you say.  

The e-wedding invitation follows.

With God’s grace, and our parent’s blessings, the day has come

when Ursala & I are taking a step forward

to begin a wonderful life together!

You want to attend his wedding. However, you can’t really decide right away. You have to go home and talk to your wife about it. Like all decisions where the family is involved, this has to pass through a selection process where you guys will decide whether this will be added as another item to the existing set of things you are already doing i.e. your Portfolio. 

This idea is hence taken to your HMO (Home Management Office) where this selection / filtering of ideas happens. Just like your PMO (Project Management Office) at work.

Potential Portfolio –> Pipeline Portfolio –>Active Portfolio

(new idea) (approved ideas) (in-flight)

The good news though is that your wife also knows Ravi. Ravi has developed a good rapport with all your family members in a short time since you have known him. So, she’ll not say no (although she always practices the Art of Saying No with you).

Portfolio Management is the Centralized management of one or more portfolios to achieve strategic objectives. It aligns with the organizational strategies by selecting the right programs or projects, prioritizing the work, and providing the needed resources.

Wife reviews your request and after a brief discussion, she seems to be okay with the decision of attending the marriage with our two lovely kids. She doesn’t share why she decided so, but the PM in you thinks that one of the reasons has to do with the fact that friendship ranks high on your Family Values Chart (well, if something like that ever existed.)

You’re not wrong but your wife has done much more analysis and modeling than that.

Sample Project Selection Scoring Model

SCORING PARAMETER Low (1 point) Medium (5 points) High (10 points) Total Score
Strategic alignment – fits with your family values     10 10
Value (ROI) kids miss school but they learn by visiting a new place   5   5
Complexity – remote place, managing leaves   5   5
Synergy – Lavesh’s (another colleague’s) family also coming along     10 10
Total Score 30/40

You are enthused with this little win. However, you don’t realize until later that this would be a lot of work.

This is what you thought was your Project scope to Plan for: Family to attend Ravi’s wedding.

Project Scope is the work required to be done to deliver a product, service or result with the specified features and functions.

You had thought it was just attending the wedding but as time passes, and details become available you realize it’s actually a series of interrelated activities (i.e. it’s a Program though you initially you thought it was a Project!).

Program Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to a program to meet the program requirements and to obtain benefits and control not available by managing projects individually.

Over time, you realize that this is what you will need to get done. And this list too is growing:

  1. Manage leaves not only for yourself, but your wife and children too.
  2. The wedding is at Oracha in M.P. (This place didn’t exist for you until now!). Travel arrangements and hotel reservations to be planned.
  3. Explaining to your folks why on earth do you have to attend a friend’s wedding at Oracha!
  4. Create your official backup who will offer the first line of defence to keep your phone from ringing all the time while you’re in Oracha, and, thus, protecting you from your wife’s cuss words.
  5. Plan for catching up on your return – for yourself, and wife and kids.
  6. It’s hot at Oracha (I’m trying to get used to the name) and your kids are delicate darlings. You’re not Mukesh Ambani!
  7. ..
  8. ..

Progressive Elaboration is the iterative process of increasing the level of detail in project management plan as greater amounts of information and more accurate estimates become available.

All the above are small (you now think otherwise) projects in themselves. It’s just that you realized it later but these are all to be done in order for you to make your plan to attend Ravi’s wedding successful.

Project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

You start the planning. You apply for 4 days leave 4 months in advance. It will not be approved until one week before your travel. It keeps you anxious and brings you to a point where you say you’ll quit your job if the leave is now not approved.

Meanwhile, Lavesh, the other colleague who is also attending Ravi’s wedding tells you that now that you’re going there, there are other places we all can go and visit too. Khajuraho, Gwalior, Agra, Jhansi aren’t too far.

You get tempted. You don’t think it’s a bad idea at all.

You haven’t appointed a formal project manager to manage the plan but thankfully you have your wife. The de facto manager is such situations. You have to review this with your wife.

She shows you what you were missing. I thought we were going to attend Ravi’s wedding. Your four day leave is still not approved and now we’ll add another day to show the erotic temples of Khajuraho to our kids!?! You can’t be serious!

You apologize and she stands proudly after having won this argument easily. You feel small and plan to kill Lavesh. His idea had came disguised as the project work itself, and hence you couldn’t tell it apart. Wife easily did. They have 6th sense.

Scope Creep: The uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost and resources.

Congratulations! Today, we have understood the following concepts of Project Management:

  • Difference and relationship among Portfolios, Programs and Projects
  • PMO and it’s corelation with Portfolio Management
  • Scope definition
  • Progressive elaboration and how is it different from Scope creep
  • Project Selection Scoring Model

All highlighted definitions are taken from PMI PMBOK Fifth Edition. Sample Project Selection Scoring model derived from http://www.thinktankconsulting.ca

By now, you know you are all Portfolio Managers. You do much more than you think you do. Better plan for it instead of just letting it all happen. I will look forward to hearing from your thoughts and questions on the topics. 

Until next time, Adios!

Risk Management 101 for Husbands

You are a middle manager. You have been married for ten years and have a beautiful wife and two wonderful kids.

All is going well. Well, except one thing- You are bored. Life is monotonous. That routine is killing you. You want to do something of your own but like most employed people, your dreams are bought over by the monthly salary. They are paying you more than you can ever think you can make on your own, after all!

It’s like any other day today. You are driving back from work, feeling drowsy and tired. No excitement whatsoever. Suddenly, the phone rings. It is a UK number. You have little energy left but you manage to answer the call.

“Hi ya!” says the voice on the phone. It’s a sweet voice that of a girl.

You feel better and reply. “Hi! Who is that?”

“You have to guess, Mister!”, comes the reply.

It sounds familiar now. “Is that Tina?”

Of course it is. Tina, an old flame back from the loo..ng gone college days.

You feel even better. You are speaking with her after over a decade.

There is so much to catch up. She’s married. She moved to U.K. She has three girls. Her husband is eccentric from what she tells you. 

She too is perhaps bored you think.

You start to get interested – in her life and your own too. Life is not as boring as it was before she called. You’re both the shoulder you needed to cry on that your spouses didn’t become. Conversation doesn’t end until you reach home. You drove slower to get more time. The traffic today seemed less than usual. The watch tells a different story though. It’s been an hour and a half that you’ve been talking. Your wife has called thrice during that time and her calls have gone unanswered.

You feel a bit guilty but decide not to tell your wife. Not everything has to be told to her, after all!

Tina inquires about your schedule. She calls you the next day. Same long conversations and you’re loving it. You’re loving life too. Wife’s calls are going unanswered and she is of course taking a note of the ‘engaged’ tone.

Your worry now is “What if she finds out?”

You recall how Tina had proposed to you in college. You had turned down the proposal politely because she would be a fantastic girlfriend but not a good wife, you had decided.  She’ll be too hot to handle at home.

You think that you’re not romancing with Tina, so may be you shouldn’t be so worried. But then, who knows what you’re talking about? Your wife certainly doesn’t. She can easily find out that you’ve been in touch with who she knows is your ex-girlfriend. You had told her that in good times. 

Risk Identification is the process of determining which risks may affect the project and documenting their characteristics

You think this could be a risk to your so called happily married life (project).

A Project risk is an uncertain event or condition that if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more Project objectives such as scope, cost, and quality. A risk may have one or more causes and if it occurs, it may have one or more impacts.

The PM in you makes a note of this risk in the risk register:

“Risk Register is where the results of risk analysis and risk response planning are recorded”

Risk Description: My wife could come to know of my daily long conversations with Tina.

You don’t want to let your wife to come to know of this secret. At the same time, you don’t want to stop talking to Tina. She’s fun to talk with after all and breaks the monotony of your life. You have fallen in love with life again. You are looking happier than usual. You should have anticipated that looking happier could very well be a hint for your wife. How could you be happier?

“Risk Mitigation is a risk response strategy whereby the project team acts to reduce the probability of occurrence or impact of a risk.”

You chose the following risk mitigation steps:

  • Never take  Tina’s calls in front of your wife
  • Delete the call history in case your wife checks
  • Delete the Whatsapp messages exchanged with Tina
  • Have an excuse handy in case your wife asks why didn’t you answer her calls. (Office conference call)

You feel relieved after having planned for all this.

You follow your risk management plan to a tee.

Days pass. You get used to talking with Tina. Life has a new meaning. Unlike your wife, Tina is full of life and conversations are keeping you glued. She’s nudging you to do your own thing too!

Meanwhile, your guilt is growing bigger. Is what I’m doing wrong?

But that’s not a strong enough reason for you to stop. You soothe yourself by saying – of course it’s alright. It’s alright to talk to a friend. It’s alright to feel good. It’s alright!

But following the risk mitigation steps is becoming mundane. Everyday you have to remember to delete call history and messages. You can’t remember if it was yesterday that you deleted it or today. You know you are forgetting to do it regularly. One day you forget. You reach home, leave your phone on the dining table and head to the washroom.

Inside the loo, you realize that you haven’t deleted the messages and call details. You come out after a while and do that as first thing.

Later that night, your wife confronts you.

Have you been in touch with Tina? Says she with her eyes telling more than you expected.

“Yeah”, you say “She called this week. I thought I told you.”

How long did you speak with her?

What do you mean?

I mean how long. 10 minutes. 1 hour. How long?

I can’t remember but she called after ages and there was a lot to catch up.

And messages. Did you exchange any messages with her?

If it smells like a rat feels like rat and looks like a rat. It is a rat.

You have to admit it. Yes.

When was the last time you exchange messages with her and spoke with her?

Has been a couple of days.

Sure? Will you mind if I check your phone now?

Yes. Feel free to check. But only if you don’t trust me!

She doesn’t  check the phone. But clearly, she knows. Not sure what she had read. You had been exchanging messages that you think are nothing more than harmless flirtations. “You look even more hotter now!”. But your wife is not cool enough to get it!

That night your wife doesn’t speak with you. Next day too. Your marriage is under threat.

You are now worried. You take the courage to ask her, “What is wrong?”

She doesn’t budge. She’s giving you a cold shoulder. You insist. She finally tells you she knows. She knows that you’ve been talking to Tina.  You didn’t plan for what you would do if she finds out.

“A contingency plan is a course of action designed to help respond effectively to a significant future event or situation that may or may not happen. A contingency plan is sometimes referred to as “Plan B”.

You fumble for words. You try to explain. I was just talking.

But the harm is done.

The risk has become an issue.

“The key difference is that an “issue” already has occurred and a “risk” is a potential issue that may or may not happen. 

You realize that you should have created a contingency plan in advance, which you didn’t.

Contingent Response Strategy: Response provided which may be used in the event that a specific trigger occurs.

Actually the problem is more than that. You have a major conflict with your wife. What’s a conflict? Well, that’s the topic for another time, when I share a personal story (not mine, but some person’s) to explain the concept of Conflict Management.

Good news! After reading this story, you have learnt something new about Project Management. You should now be able to confidently answer the following questions:

  • What is Risk register?
  • What is a Risk Management Plan?
  • What is Risk Mitigation and how is it different from Risk Contingency?
  • What is meant by impact of a risk?
  • How are risks different from issues?

All highlighted definitions are taken from PMI PMBOK Fifth Edition.

What are some of your personal examples of Risk Planning in your life? I am sure husbands will not want to spill the beans and increase the risk (probability) of getting caught. But then you can always share your friend’s stories ;).