5 Reasons to Consider pmxboard Full Agile Management Board Set for your professional and private life!

1.The first and the only full Agile and Lean Management Set! The most comprehensive Agile Management Set in the world

Everything you would need in order to build your complete Agile process is in one package. There is no other product on the market that you would get and build your entire Agile Board without needing to purchase additional items. The set comes with pre designed but also customizable full magnetic board, which weights just above 6 lbs, and comes with 84 pieces of magnetic cards set in order to build your Kanban, Scrum, or any other type of Lean Board. Moreover, the set comes with accessories such as tripod to locate your board, special magnetic card markers, board markers as well as cleaning sets.

2. Pre designed Full Magnetic Lean Board comes with the set

The special board comes with a beautiful design, it is fully magnetic, high quality and increadibly light! You can snap your magnetic cards anywhere on the board, you can also use it as a white board and write on it. The columns are already created for you however, you can also customize the headlines via using the extra empty headline cards that come with the set, so you do not need to use the pre-defined column headlines if you do not want to.

3. Full Magnetic Agile Management Card Set comes with the set!

The magnetic card set that comes with ore-designed magnetic board has everything in it. The magnetic set consists of below items;

  • 60 Task Cards in three colors to help with grouping (Gray, Green, Yellow). 20 cards of each colors. The Task Cards have designated spaces to write the headline of the task, a bigger space to write down details and also quick recognizable circle on the right bottom either to write task owner’s initials, or due date of the task, ow both.

  • 10 Blocker Cards. Which Lean Board would not need blocker cards? But, pmxboard blocker cards are not only visually distinguisable easily, also you can drop quick notes on it. They spap directly on the board, or even on other magnetic cards. So, it gives great flexibility to identify risky items on the overall board easily.
  • 10 Details Cards. Whenever and wherever you need to capture more details and you need more space, detail cards come in handy. They can be easily paired or stacked with task cards, or can receive blocker cards on themselves.
  • 4 Empty Headline Cards. These headline cards provide great flexibility to customize your board if you need to change the pre-designed headlines on the board. You can easily snap them on the existing headlines on the board, and change the column headline to your specific need.

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4. Gives three options to locate your board and your board can be mobile!

One of the things I like most with this set is that the board is not like any standard board on the market which most of them are bulky, difficult to handle, and you have to find a permanent place on a wall to put your board. Unlike these standard boards, because the materials they used on this board (high density EVA) provides great weight advantage, just over 6 lb, it basically gives you the freedom to move your board around easily and make it mobile if you do not want to hang it on a wall, which hanging on a wall is is also an option if you like to. The set comes with a tripod, so you can literally put your board on this tripod and move it around easily, even with one hand because of its leight weight. The magnetic power between the board and the magnetic cards on it are strong enough and they stay intact during normal maneveours.

5. You can use this set over and over for many projects!

All the pieces in this set have gone through realibility tests in order to make sure that they are reusable, and the quality does not downgrade easily over time. You can wash the magnetic cards, clear off completely, same with the board, and they will stay as if they are new. They used eco-friendly UV printing on the products, and it provides the highest quality and durability for this kind of products.

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From the Sponsor’s Desk – The Power of the People Network

“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon

These days, new stuff is introduced every minute of every day, around the world. It is impossible to keep up let alone stay on top. Too often that new stuff tweaks what already exists. Much less frequently, something new changes the game, provides a new paradigm. And often we don’t understand the impact of an innovation until much later, after the markets have spoken.

Perhaps that’s the case with Sellizer, an application developed by a small but passionate group of marketers, financiers, and technologists. It was conceived in response to challenges and frustration with a lead generation operation in one company. Is it a game-changer? Let us know what you think.

The Situation

Marcin Zaborowski was a co-founder of a marketing agency that sold e-marketing and consulting services for businesses. Leads came from several sources:

  • Recommendations
  • Inquiries from website content marketing and SEO activities
  • Upselling to existing customers.

These sources helped generate leads for their business – up to 400 quarterly. They would score the leads by contacting these potential customers and checking several factors, including needs, potential budgets, time, importance, etc. On average, only 20% of the leads scored warm and were pursued.

Offers were created for the warm leads, requiring approximately 15 hours each. However, less than 30% of those contacted would respond to the emails, offers, and proposals. Of those, about 15% were closed. The sales cycle from lead generation to proposal to contract lasted about 3 months.

It was a frustrating and time-consuming exercise. The proposal creation process was manually intensive, involving cut and paste, custom crafting, and a variety of shared content. They didn’t always know when or if the prospect opened their proposal, they didn’t know how long the prospect spent reviewing the material, they didn’t know whether the contact revisited the information, or how often. And, they had to put the statistics used to manage the process together manually on a monthly basis.

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Those results and related frustrations lead Marcin and his team to conceive of a better, more productive process. Among the features and functions they included on the wish list:

  • Automated, intelligent lead quality and proposal assessments
  • Automation of proposal generation, leveraging a suite of standard templates and an AI infused creation process with optional custom editing
  • Automated follow-up regarding the prospects handling of a contact and intelligent response generation
  • Distribution of proposals through a variety of channels including email, SMS, and LinkedIn
  • Integration of the website lead forms with the proposal generation and follow-up capability
  • Full integration with other supporting system including CRM, sales, and contract management
  • Real-time statistics on all key metrics with multiple personalized views for senior management, sales, customer service, and production staff and organizations.

Marcin and his staff kept an eye on the market, looking for a product or tools that would address their needs, but they found the few offerings available lacked on most fronts. Finally, with no other apparent options available, Marcin decided to build his own solution and left the company. The Sellizer project was launched.

The Goals

The initial goal of the Sellizer project was to address the organization’s wish list and finance the development costs through sales of the product to other interested parties. Consequently, at the very beginning, it was crucial to enter the market.

Now, there are 3 primary goals for Sellizer:

  1. To expand internationally
  2. To develop features, nurture AI-wise technologies, and add some functionalities, such as signing documents
  3. In five years, to become a global leader among other email and proposal tracking software

The project targeted the global market but focused initially on the home (Polish) market to test the solution.

The Project

In 2017, the founder and CEO of Sellizer – Marcin Zaborowski – made a decision. He left his managerial position at the marketing agency to focus on the creation and promotion of the Sellizer app. He assembled his initial team of one analyst/business developer, one designer, and one developer and created their initial, minimum viable product (MVP). The initial offering included SMS/e-mail notifications about opening an offer and offer statistics.

The market, however, turned out to be very demanding and after several months of getting feedback from users, they had over 1000 requests for improvements. Over the next three months they implemented 80% of the suggestions that were deemed to be essential. With the demand for additional capability in the app, additional funding was sought and obtained and additional staff were hired, including a project manager, two more developers, and a tester.

Marcin and his team had extensive experience in the market and used that knowledge and discussions with users to plan and shape future releases. Each potential requirement was recorded along with the number of occurrences. Then, the founders collaboratively determined the impact of a specific function after implementation as well as its cost-effectiveness. Everything was recorded in an Excel sheet. The actual content and priority of the releases was guided by continual reference to the organization’s goals. They gave weight to the possible actions and calculated the priority of a sequence of actions based on their experience and consultation with their user base. This information was also maintained in an Excel file.

The team used PHP and JS technologies to build the app and applied agile approaches in every field including design, development marketing and sales. The deliverables were tested internally by the team and then automated tests and friendly testers were used. Due to the team’s long experience in the market, they had lots of business contacts. They invited over 100 of those contacts to Sellizer tests. Nearly 30% of them became customers. In addition, one of Sellizer’s founders was the organizer of a large Internet Beta marketing conference. That forum was used to introduce the app to over 300 people and get the sales rolling in. The amazing power of a network!

The Results

The Sellizer app’s first release was launched in September, 2018. The company’s target revenue for the first year was 100,000 Polish Zloty(PLN). However, due to the demand for improvements and additional functionality, it took almost two years to reach the target.

The costs to add the incremental capability were considerable but the company managed to obtain additional funding to deliver the enhanced product. There are now more than 350 users actively using the tool. They have sent out over 200,000 proposals to date.

As far as Sellizer’s own lead generation performance goes, using their own app of course, they act on about 150 leads a month and close 12% in a lead generation cycle that last 19 days on average.

The company is currently aiming at retaining new strategic investors and expanding internationally. Android and iOS versions are also in the works. Its path to success with Sellizer is a great roadmap for anyone with a dream.

Lessons Learned

If it wasn’t for risk tolerance on the part of Marcin and his investors, Sellizer wouldn’t have been developed and launched. As Marcin, the Sellizer CEO, once stated, “I can’t overstress how crucial it is that you get out of your comfort zone”. However, I think there were a number of other insights and practices that contributed to Sellizer’s success:

  1. A committed sponsor is a game-changer – Marcin was the initiator, the visionary, the driver, the leader and the final decision-maker the project needed to achieve its goals.
  2. Metrics matter – The story of Sellizer is founded on a solid foundation of information. Knowing the number of leads, the quality of the leads, how the prospects responded and the time and effort involved in yielding the results obtained was the catalyst. Without that knowledge, very little would have changed.
  3. Always be on the lookout for opportunities – There were hundreds of different potential responses to the challenges the company was experiencing in its lead generation operations. Building that wish list helped coalesce the search for solutions around an app like Sellizer.
  4. Balancing risk and reward – Marcin and his team took a rational approach to the exploration, development, and release of the app. They defined their minimum viable product (MVP), they had a small, talented team, they had just enough financing, they took an agile approach to the development of the product and they relied heavily on their network of colleagues and clients to ensure market reality.
  5. Engaging with clients – Marcin is fond of saying, “Sellizer itself is an everlasting lesson. We appreciate the power of feedback more than ever.” One Sellizer user even applies the app on internal communications: “In our internal communication, we use Sellizer to send important documents to ensure that they have not been skipped or missed among many other messages.”
  6. The power of your network – Look at the leverage and power an extensive and connected network of friends and colleagues provided. Marcin’s initial partners were professional colleagues. 100 contacts to help with the testing. 30% became customers! Finding investors to fund expansion of the application was enabled by the network of contacts. It was a force multiplier!
  7. The quality of the team – According to Marcin, “We managed to gather great partners and associates quickly. We have our dream team!”

So, if you’re involved in an innovation venture or a challenging change, consider Sellizer’s approach and the seven insights and practices above that have helped it succeed. Also remember, use Project Pre-Check’s three building blocks covering the key stakeholder group, the decision management process, and the Decision Framework right upfront so you don’t overlook these key success factors.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has willingly shared their experiences for presentation in this blog. Everyone benefits. First-time contributors get a copy of one of my books. Readers get insights they can apply to their own unique circumstances. So, if you have a project experience, a favorite best practice, or an interesting insight that can make a PM or change manager’s life easier, send me the details and we’ll chat. I’ll write it up and, when you’re happy with the results, Project Times will post it so others can learn from your insights. Thanks

How to Streamline Your Business to Increase Your Productivity

It’s easy to get caught in the daily whirlwind, especially when you have a long list of tasks and boatloads of firefighting to do.

However, if left unchecked, all these, on top of sticking to manual processes, can bog you and your employees down — leading to inefficient workflows, low productivity, and even cost you money.

The solution? Streamline your business processes to save time and resources, manage your workload better, and ensure your business operates optimally.

While there is no one-size-fits-all formula to achieve efficient business processes and workflows, there are tried and true ways to help you pull this off — which we’ll cover in this guide.

1. Leverage cloud-based apps

Completing tasks efficiently can be challenging and almost impossible when your critical tools are only accessible from one physical location.

After all, this kind of setup means your team would need to travel to access your tools. They could also overlook tasks easily because they couldn’t do them immediately.

This can seriously impact your team’s and company’s overall productivity and add to your already full workload.

This is where cloud-based software comes in handy.

With a cloud-based solution, your team can access your tools anytime and anywhere using compatible devices with an internet connection.

For instance, Record360’s equipment inspection software can streamline processes through digital workflows and forms.

The company provides paperless equipment inspection forms users can easily access and process through its cloud-based software.

This allows teams to conduct equipment inspections seamlessly, whether at a project site, at a different branch, or anywhere else, as long as they are connected to the internet.

With the cloud-based tool, your team won’t need to travel to your nearest branch or office, obtain paper forms to perform the inspections, and send the document after completing it.

Users can accomplish all these steps from the app, and everything gets stored in the cloud for managers and other authorized users to access with ease.

Cloud-based apps can streamline business processes by allowing quick and easy access to tools anywhere and eliminating the long back and forth of manual, non-cloud tools. This makes your workflows more efficient while saving you work hours and resources.

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2. Use task management tools

An inefficient task management process can be one of the biggest killers of productivity.

Without proper task management, you and your teams would be hard-pressed to collaborate and communicate efficiently and, in turn, streamline your business processes.

Team project management tools provide a solution through functionalities that expedite your team communication, collaboration, and task management processes.

These features include showing task updates and progress in real time, interactive board views, and other collaboration tools.

Project team management tool ClickUp, for instance, has document, goals, and task modules on the mobile and browser app. This allows your team to plan and organize tasks while collaborating seamlessly.

Some of the software’s other key features include docs, goals, calendars, reminders, and an inbox that make assigning, tracking, and managing tasks more efficient.

The software offers proprietary and customizable features, allowing you to adopt multiple views and functionalities for specific teams and functions.

A reliable project and task management software helps eliminate the friction and resource-draining aspects of using separate tools. It also provides features that simplify tasks, speeding up your workflows and increasing productivity.

3. Automate where you can

Adopting automation into your systems is one of the fastest ways to improve your business’s process efficiency while making your team’s lives a lot easier.

For instance, if your customer support team spends hours each week gathering contact details from potential leads and answering basic client queries, automate critical parts of the process by using Artificial Intelligence or AI chatbot software.

Chatbot platform ActiveChat, for example, combines AI natural language understanding with decision-tree chatbots to automate your customer communications.

The software lets you create a flexible, no-code chatbot you can easily implement on various platforms such as Facebook messenger, your website, SMS, email, and other communication channels.

You can use the software’s native website chat to begin client conversations and continue them on channels your customers use. It can automatically match users across your channels, allowing you to provide a seamless multi-channel customer service experience.

A powerful AI chatbot can take the load off your customer service team by handling the majority of repetitive, less complicated tasks.

With this, your team can automate tedious, time-consuming customer service jobs and focus on more complex tasks instead. This can speed up workflows and issue resolution, improving your customer service quality and increasing productivity.

4. Minimize meetings

While meetings are critical for planning, collaboration, and other activities, they’re not always the most effective option. Some meetings are better off as quick phone calls, chats, and emails to help you optimize precious work hours.

Assess where you can replace in-person meetings with an email, team chat, or video conference. This way, you won’t need to wait around until everyone’s schedule is clear to hold the meeting, no one has to travel anywhere, and everyone can use the time saved for work.

Use free video conferencing tools such as Google Meet as an alternative to holding in-person meetings. You can also use it to meet with your remote team members regularly with little to no expense.

Google Meet offers a simple interface, and all you need to use it is a Google account. You can schedule meetings on your Google calendar, and it auto-generates a Meet room link included in your meeting invitation.

The tool offers meeting/conferencing features and tools, including a whiteboard, in-call chat, auto-captions, and a screen sharing option for seamless presentations and other uses.

Make your meetings more productive by using a reliable tool. This also streamlines communicating with your team members and prevents them from eating into your productive hours while minimizing the strain of long meetings.

The bottomline to achieving an efficient and productive business

While getting your business to work like clockwork with no kinks can require a bit of elbow grease and investing in the right tools, it doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Iron out what your business needs and use tools that work best to streamline your workflows, automate your tedious tasks, and increase your company’s overall efficiency and productivity.

Establishing the right strategies on top of adopting the best-fitting tools into your systems and tech stack also helps you streamline your processes while saving time, cutting costs, and giving you more room to focus on growing business.

Take the first steps into streamlining your business processes to boost your business efficiency and productivity, starting with the tips in this guide.

Beware The Inadvertent Project Saboteur!

Organizational change is a tricky business. There is seemingly endless ambition to progress change initiatives, but sadly practicalities like time and budget always appear to be at a premium. Having competent people on the team who are capable of getting on and getting things done is crucial.  Yet even with competent people on the team, one perennial challenge is the coordination of work. Even if there were world-class people on the team, if they are working in silos and there’s a lack of communication then there would be a problem.

I find it fascinating to watch how quickly Formula 1 pit stops take place (if you’ve never seen this, there are plenty of examples on YouTube). It’s clear that pit stops have been refined, rehearsed, and improved to the point where tires can be changed in just a couple of seconds. There are clear tasks, everyone knows when the car is coming in, and everyone knows what they are doing and how what they are doing fits in with the broader aim (the broader aim, presumably, being to win the race!). I can’t begin to imagine how complicated the technology and engineering that takes place in formula 1 is, yet still this process has been refined so that it consistently works.

Of course, our lives in projects are significantly different to Formula 1. We don’t have the complexity of tires and engines, but we do have complexity of stakeholders and existing processes. We won’t be changing tires, but we may well be making changes to a customer facing process, IT system, organizational unit, etc. Our work isn’t perhaps as repeatable as a Formula 1 pit stop, yet the coordination of work is crucial.  Imagine if a pit stop took place without the usual choreography, and if one of the engineers had to ask “umm, am I changing the front left or the front right tire…. Oh hang on, I thought you were on the back tires?” It would be far less slick, and possibly even hazardous as the car might come in before it was expected…

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The same is true in projects. A lack of communication causes blockages and problems: I suspect this revelation will come as a surprise to precisely nobody. One of the reasons that many agile teams prefer to be collocated (when possible) and have regular catch-ups is to ensure that people’s work can be synchronized.  Yet in just about every project context, one pattern to look out for is the Inadvertent Project Saboteur!

Sabotage With Good Intentions

It might sound strange to say an inadvertent project saboteur, so let me explain.  Sometimes situations occur where time is tight. There is a perception that there isn’t time to have meetings or discussions to synchronize work. Communication probably still happens, but it’s only the things that are ‘on fire’ that are discussed. Lots of email gets sent, but because everyone is so busy fighting fires, only some of those emails get read. How many of us can honestly say that we are always completely on top of our email?

A perfectly competent team member sees what they perceive as a gap. Perhaps they suspect some requirements or stories had been missed, or there’s some functionality that they are sure is required. It’s something that seems small, let’s say it is something like letting an online customer opt to receive a paper copy of their car (auto) insurance certificate. There’s no time to discuss it, no time to document it, no time to trace it back to the objectives/aim… we’re firmly in the province of “JDI” (“Just Do It”). So, with the best of intentions the person does it. They mean to email people and tell them, really they do, but they work late and they forget.

Then there’s feedback from testers. Something isn’t working as expected, there’s a sudden realization that an unexpected change was made. People spend time searching back through tickets and story cards to try and work out why, time is burned, nothing is found. By a chance conversation, the person responsible for the change says “err.. yeah, actually that was me”. Questions are raised over whether this was a good idea, but the sponsor is pressing to ‘ship it’, so it’s swept under the carpet.

All of a sudden the internal training team expresses significant concerns. The application they are training staff on seems different in a few key areas, not just this (seemingly small one), but others too. Again time is burned (and everyone is working even longer hours now) trying to find out why. It seems a bunch of things have been changed and even worse, customers start to complain, the new ‘feature’ works, but none of the supporting processes are there. They can request a printed copy of their insurance certificate, but nobody has built a process to actually send it to them. Urgent work is done to put this in place: then somebody asks “..how does this affect the business case? Wasn’t it built on a zero-paper and entirely online model? Doesn’t this change the entire business model and proposition?”

These are all crazy examples, of course, I’m sure such a plethora of miscommunications like this wouldn’t happen in the real world.  Yet, what this demonstrates is the danger that can emerge when communication subsides and when people get out of sync with why the change is being initiated in the first place.  Competent people with the best intentions will do their best, yet doing something that they genuinely think is best may have impacts elsewhere that they hadn’t envisaged. A Formula 1 engineer might well think that the car’s paint needs touching up, I can’t imagine they’d ever unilaterally decide to get out the paint can during a pit stop! To do so could affect the driver’s final position in the race. There is a parallel with badly considered insular decisions that are made on projects.

Of course, I’m absolutely not arguing for strict separation of duty and huge documents and arduous governance, nor am I arguing for centralized ‘command and control’. What is needed, however, is sufficient communication so that everyone in the team knows enough about what each team member is doing, along with the ability to easily communicate if things change. Cutting down communication at times of stress will often lead to a lack of synchronization, ironically leading to increasing problems and more stress!  We should all be on the lookout for inadvertent project saboteurs and should avoid falling into the trap of becoming one ourselves.

Have you ever seen (or been) an inadvertent project saboteur? What are your views? I’d love to keep the conversation going. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Strategic Adaptability in the Face of Change

In late 2019/early 2020, the Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice (DEHSP) developed a comprehensive strategic plan that outlined the key focus areas, objectives, and milestones the division planned to accomplish by 2024. The strategic plan was being disseminated right as the world was grappling with the uncertainty, fear, and panic of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like so many other businesses and organizations, almost overnight we faced a monumental disruption to the ways we had to think about our division’s priorities and resources. While we had an intricately crafted and thoroughly researched strategic plan, we soon learned we would need to be flexible and adapt to the unexpected changes resulting from COVID-19.

Within any project, business, or organization, the imperative of crafting detailed roadmaps is clear: you need them to achieve your goals and to prioritize resources while maximizing efficiency. Without a clear definition of how you will achieve success or get from point A to point B, projects or organizations can face delays, cost overruns, or an end result that isn’t desired.
Following the completion of the division’s strategic plan, the concept of lift points was developed by division leaders to identify the work that would successfully lift the reach and impact of the entire division. The lift point concept provided leaders with a framework for implementing the strategic plan in a way that attempted to remove silos across the division, highlighted the cross-cutting nature of division-wide priorities, and further prioritized strategic plan objectives through 2024. With CDC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, DEHSP staff availability became limited, resources were stretched to capacity, and the strategic plan implementation efforts were temporarily halted. After six months of dedicating resources almost exclusively to the pandemic response, leadership revisited the lift points with a renewed understanding of the importance of establishing and implementing clear-cut, focused priorities. We recognized the value in strategically directing division resources to strengthen programming and maximize efficiencies. Division leaders chose to re-focus their energy on clarifying and addressing the lift points, despite the challenging resource constraints.

Charting the Path Forward: Establishing Lift Points

To determine the right mix of lift points, division leadership needed to prioritize the most impactful, yet attainable, areas of the division—in project management terms, essentially the initiatives with the best return on investment. With the COVID-19 response in full swing, we saw that our staff, resources, and time were limited even more than usual. We knew we would need to work towards goals that would create the largest impact for the entire division, without burning out our staff.
To do this, we needed the right perspectives at the virtual table—strategic thinkers who could push the group to think bigger, policy and communications leaders who know how to communicate impact, scientists and subject matter experts to drive evidence-based practice, and programmatic leaders who could lead the effort to operationalize the lift points. This group was spearheaded by my colleague, Amy Cordero, M.P.A., Associate Director for Policy, who was instrumental in shaping the entire lift point concept and creating buy-in among senior leadership and division staff members. With this group together, we set some clear boundaries on how to determine the lift points:

  • Focused: We limited the final number of lift points to six—any more than this would spread our resources too thin.
  • Cross-cutting: We prioritized identifying cross-cutting initiatives that could break down silos across the division and create more collaborative, innovative solutions.
  • High leverage: We focused our attention on the areas of the division that had the means to significantly move the entire division forward.
  • Attainable: We considered division resources (e.g., time, funding, and personnel) as we prioritized lift points.
  • Policy impact: We reviewed the policy landscape and considered the political will and interest for division priorities.\

Through a series of prioritization working sessions, the group finalized the six lift points and their corresponding goals:

  • Develop a division-wide data modernization strategic action plan by December 2021
  • Finalize a DEHSP science agenda by March 2022
  • Develop a division-wide prioritized partnership plan by December 2021
  • Publish an Environmental Health Best Practices Playbook by June 2023
  • Demonstrate Controlling Childhood Asthma and Reducing Emergencies (CCARE) impact and clinical integration by August 2024
  • Implement the DEHSP brand by September 2021

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Mission Coordination Team Implementation

Now that we had the lift points identified, the next step was to map out how we would achieve them, especially given the additional constraints brought on by COVID. We developed Mission Coordination Teams (MCTs), which we clearly distinguished from the idea of a traditional workgroup. At CDC, workgroups are groups of people who are responsible for conducting all key activities related to a specific project or goal. MCTs, on the other hand, have a different scope than workgroups because members serve as the project managers/coordinators of the lift points. These teams would help determine the strategy and process of the work, establish timelines and action plans, coordinate staff members across the division to conduct key activities, and monitor progress toward the lift point goals. We decided the MCTs would be cross-cutting, collaborative groups with representatives from all four DEHSP branches (Emergency Management, Radiation, and Chemical Branch; Asthma and Community Health Branch; Lead Poisoning Prevention and Environmental Health Tracking Branch; Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch) and the Office of the Director (OD).

To facilitate the work of the MCTs, we focused on several different, soon-to-be ‘old school’ Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) process groups and knowledge areas. The PMBOK sets standard terminology and guidelines for project management. In particular, we leaned on concepts around:

  • Integration Management: Allocating resources to support the MCTs; outsourcing contractor support to provide project management, strategy, and facilitation support to all MCTs
  • Scope Management: Defining the purpose, audience, and scope of the MCTs; identifying the requirements and process for generating final MCT deliverables
  • Resource Management: Defining roles within MCTs and leveraging a diverse portfolio of skills; ensuring each team consists of members with different strengths, capabilities, and backgrounds (e.g., scientific SMEs, strategists, project managers, etc.)

Maintaining Momentum

After mapping out the approach for the lift points and MCTs, we quickly realized the lift point process would be cyclical in nature; once outcomes for an individual lift point have been achieved, the lift point can be ‘retired’ as it becomes institutionalized as standard operations. Then, additional lift points can be identified. Division leaders will identify future potential lift point areas by several different factors, including political, social, and cultural forces; changes in funding; interest from partners; and internal momentum. During the ‘lift point staging’ process, division leaders will identify the vision, strategy, and goals related to a particular program or effort. Once a program or topic area has gone through lift point staging, and depending on the outcome of the staging process, an MCT may be established to make progress toward the lift point goals.

The only way to determine if individual lift point goals have been successfully completed is to build a robust evaluation framework. For an organization like CDC, the importance of demonstrating impact to external audiences cannot be emphasized enough. In fact, the division is actively working with the Program Performance and Evaluation Office to develop a strategic performance management framework (e.g., processes, measures, tools, reporting cadence, etc.) for all MCTs. This performance management framework will help ensure all stakeholders are working toward well-defined, achievable goals and that successful practices are institutionalized to achieve the greatest impact.

A New Way of Organizational Thinking

While our implementation of these practices remains a work in progress, as all good management processes necessarily are, and as we continue to respond to a changing landscape, there are a few noteworthy observations we can already identify. As I look back on the past year and a half, I realize how much progress we’ve made, and appreciate how much important work remains. I’m reminded of a quote by John F. Kennedy: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” As we were developing our comprehensive strategic plan, the sun was shining, and we were looking towards the next four years for the division. When COVID-19 completely upended our initial deployment of the strategic plan, leadership chose to adapt our initial implementation of the lift points and reprioritize our efforts, despite our resource challenges. That experience has fundamentally shaped the way we think here at DEHSP. Given this shift in division leaders’ mindsets, and the lessons we learned from remaining agile and adapting our strategic planning framework, this will undoubtedly become the norm moving forward. The DEHSP lift point staging process and implementation of MCTs has helped the division shape its strategic priorities and better articulate how all the different offices and branches fit into the overarching goals of the division. It will be extremely interesting to see how the division continues to adapt as our experiences advance and more lessons are learned. Isn’t that the whole point of agility—to continue to practice it in an increasingly dynamic world?