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Tag: Career

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

10 reasons I can think of that a company might try to avoid giving a raise/promotion:

  1. Budget constraints: The company may not have the financial resources to offer a raise.
  2. Performance issues: The employee’s performance may not meet the company’s standards.
  3. Market rates: The company may believe that the employee’s compensation is already in line with market rates.
  4. Company policy: The company may have strict policies about when raises can be given or how much they can be.
  5. Lack of value perceived: The company may not see the value in offering a raise to the employee.
  6. Poor communication: The company may not communicate clearly with employees about what it takes to earn a raise or how the process works.
  7. Fear of setting a precedent: The company may worry that giving a raise to one employee will set a precedent for others to ask for raises as well.
  8. Limited growth opportunities: The company may not have a clear path for career growth or upward mobility, making it harder to offer raises as an incentive.
  9. Profitability concerns: The company may be focused on maintaining profits and may be hesitant to allocate resources towards raises, even if employees deserve them.
  10. Internal politics: A jealous manager or supervisor may feel threatened by an employee’s potential and may try to block a promotion to avoid losing their own position.


Did you know that 75% of employees who leave their jobs cite lack of recognition as the reason? Or that a striking 82% of employees feel that they don’t get recognized for their work?! To be honest it doesn’t really surprise me… Effective leaders play a vital role in the success of any organization. They understand the importance of creating a positive work environment, fostering employee engagement, and promoting professional growth. By investing in their employees’ development, they show that they value their contributions and are committed to their continued success. Promotions and raises based on performance and capabilities are tangible ways for leaders to recognize and show their employees that they are valued.

The problem is many leaders think they are recognizing their employees through providing professional development opportunities and sending “thank you” emails. Professional development and recognition are not interchangeable. While training programs and skill development opportunities are important, promotions and raises are essential for employees to feel that their hard work and loyalty are recognized and appreciated. Of course, it is not the only thing that matters, but it seems to be underappreciated in many cases! If employees can see a clear path to advancement and recognize that their hard work and dedication will be rewarded, it can create a sense of purpose and commitment to the organization.


I once had a manager who told me that in my current position I was performing at the highest levels and that based on the projects I had taken on recently, it was justified to get a promotion. However, she went on to explain, she didn’t feel it was appropriate or reasonable to ask for a promotion within the first 1.5-2 years. While I respected her perspective, I also felt frustrated that my hard work and dedication weren’t recognized beyond verbal praise. When I asked for the promotion, she shouldn’t have stood on principle but instead she could’ve used it as an opportunity to build a loyal employee. If she had beat me to the punch, no doubt that would be even better.

Promotions and raises based on performance and capabilities are vital for employees to feel that their hard work and loyalty are recognized and appreciated. A promotion or raise is not just a financial reward; it is a visible sign that the company is investing in its employees and sees potential in their continued growth. This recognition motivates employees to work even harder and foster a culture of excellence and not to be understated, loyalty.


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The traditional mindset of basing promotions and raises on tenure is no longer valid in today’s fast-paced work environment. Employees today have access to a vast amount of information about comparable jobs and salaries. They can easily research and compare their current pay and benefits to what they could receive elsewhere. This comparison can either be a disadvantage or an advantage for an organization. If an employee sees that they could be making more money and receiving better benefits elsewhere, it may lead to disengagement, and eventually, the employee leaving the company. On the other hand, if an employee sees that they are being compensated fairly and could have worse benefits elsewhere, it can increase their engagement and loyalty to the organization.

Professional development and promotions go hand in hand. It’s crucial to provide employees with skill development opportunities, but it’s equally important to promote and encourage growth and hard work. Employees who excel in their current roles should be given the opportunity to advance their careers. Doing so fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization and ensures that employees remain engaged and invested in their work.

Despite the best intentions of many leaders, there can be barriers to implementing recognition and reward programs. Some leaders may lack the authority to make these decisions, while others may lack the resources to provide meaningful recognition and rewards. While some leaders may feel powerless in their positions to effect change, it’s important to fight for recognition and professional development opportunities for employees. Every effort counts and can contribute to a more positive and productive workplace culture.


How many of those 10 reasons a company might try to avoid giving a raise still seem reasonable?

In the end, we are all leaders in some way or another. We all have the power to influence those around us and create positive change. Whether we work alongside someone who deserves recognition, or we have the ability to make changes in our management philosophy, we should all strive to invest in the people around us. If you’ve felt a sense of agreement or even frustration while reading this, then you already have the permission to take action. Start small by advocating for a colleague or an employee’s promotion or raise, let’s see where it takes you…

Goals are NOT Expectations: Change Mindsets to Avoid the Suffering of Disappointed Stakeholders

Goals are something to work toward or aspire to. Expectations are beliefs that something will occur in a certain way. Goals are not expectations. And knowing the difference can help to avoid unnecessary disappointment and conflict.


Last month I wrote about embracing imperfection to achieve ongoing performance improvement. The implication is that we must expect imperfection, though it is certainly not a goal. Over time imperfection (for example schedule overruns, defects, and unnecessary conflicts) is very highly probable. So, expecting it to occur is realistic. It is what risk management is all about.

We also expect to achieve our goals. That expectation may be more or less realistic, depending on the goal and the capacity of the people involved to achieve it.


The Problem and Symptoms

While it may be wise to have no expectations, they are a natural part of life. The expectation is not the problem. The problem is failing to remember that the expectation is a belief or desire subject to uncertainty and change.

Failing to remember is a problem because it leads to unnecessary stress in the form of anxiety, anger, blaming, and more. Symptoms are conflict, unmet objectives, and the disappointment and unease of unfulfilled expectations.


Case Example

Imagine this scenario. Senior stakeholders have set a goal. To accomplish it means initiating work in late March, to meet the need to use an expensive, elite contractor team, only available for three months. At the end of June, the resources are firmly committed elsewhere.

According the contractor’s detailed schedule and a guarantee, the work these resources will perform can be done in three months, with some time set aside as a buffer to account for delays related to the work itself, for example sick time, slippage, testing, etc. The contractor agreement stipulates that if work does not begin in March there will be no guarantee of completion by June. If the team has to leave without completing the work the entire project will be significantly delayed.

Project management and the steering group expect that in the two months beginning January 30th the negotiation of a contract and the receipt of permission to perform the work from a corporate controller will be completed so our elite team can begin their work on the planned March start date.


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Contract negotiations with the involvement of a legal department has commonly taken an unknowable amount of time owing to the availability of attorneys, their priorities, and the issues that come up in the negotiation. The time the controller department takes to review and sign off begins only after the contract is signed and is subject to committee schedules and the number and type of issues found.

Senior sponsors expect the PM to take care of everything and get the job done. The PM believes that the predecessor tasks will be done quickly, trusting in the attorneys and accountants to do their jobs on time.

What is the likelihood of slippage? When it happens will there be anger and blaming or acceptance and understanding? Who will pay the costs associated with the delays.


The Cause

Over confidently expecting goals to be met with certainty is the problem. But what is the cause?

The cause is ignoring the fact that expectations are beliefs and that there is uncertainty about them being met. People tend to ignore this reality because they are so attached to the expected outcome that they can’t bear the thought that it won’t be accomplished. we tend to like certainty, especially when it comes to accomplishing or acquiring what we want.

The root cause of suffering is ignorance which appears as attachment and aversion, according to Buddhist psychology. It seems true. We tend to cling to an impossible idea or belief until we are convinced it is impossible. For example, being certain that we will meet our schedule (“I’m sure the legal department will get back to us with time to spare”).

Ignorance is an interesting word. Many people are insulted by being informed that they are ignorant, they don’t like to admit they are ignorant of something. Others do not realize or care that they are ignorant of something, for example the demanding boss/client/sponsor/project manager who is not aware of the complexity of the work that has to be done and the risks involved, and who isn’t motivated to find out.

The good news is that since ignorance is not having knowledge or information, it is curable.


The Solution: Risk Management

There is a solution to the problem of over confident expectations. It is to cure ignorance by making it clear to every stakeholder that uncertainty must be accepted because uncertainty in project work is an undeniable reality. That is why risk management is part of the project management process.

The core of the solution is to change mindsets. The desired mindset is one that expects uncertainty and change.

Mindset change can occur as part of a formal training program. Or it can be in the form of content in conversations, proposals and plans that highlight where there is uncertainty, what the probability of negative and positive outcomes, and what impact they may have. Mindset change can be as simple as presenting ranges of cost and schedule expectations.

With a change in mindset, practice estimating and scheduling skills to integrate risks and buffers to assess multiple scenarios and get a practical sense of how likely it is under various conditions to achieve the goal. Then throughout project life report, reassess and adjust as needed to manage expectations.


Going Forward

Eliminating the pain triggered by mistaking goals for expectations is simple. Get rid of ignorance and the light goes on making everything better. Simple but not easy. changing mindsets takes intention, time, and skillful effort. It is a change management or transformation program.

The effort is easiest if there is an existing process improvement process and mindset is addressed as part of it. If that is not the case, then the effort is more difficult. If the most senior leadership is open-minded and aware of the situation, change is more likely to be successful.

If the cause is not recognized on the highest levels, then rely on subtle bottom up change in which there is firm push back and skillful communication to set rational expectations.


Managing Expectations: A Mindful Approach to Achieving Success by George Pitagorsky
The Zen Approach to Project Management by George Pitagorsky

Best of: 5 Unique Experiences a Project Manager Should Include on a CV

Recruitment for project management jobs can be ruthless and fast-paced. Experts say you have 6 seconds to make a great first impression before your CV lands squarely in the rejection pile. In this case, well-established experience, a diverse skill set and unique character will set you apart. But how can all this be communicated quickly on a piece of paper?


The best way to stand out from the masses is to look beyond standard experiences that decorate the resumes of every other management candidate. Hundreds of professionals have earned a degree in business, but employable attributes can come from many experiences. A skill-based hobby, extra study or work abroad are a great addition. The best CV examples will incorporate experiences that are unique to the applicant in order to land that dream job.

Extra Study

Adult education is an important part of professional growth for every employee. Additional study, whether undertaken in the form of an online course or workshop, compliments your skill set and can give your resume great curb appeal.

Related Article: Attributes of an Exceptional Project Manager

As a project manager, it is necessary for you to actively demonstrate an ability to learn new ideas quickly and process information efficiently. These attributes can be cultivated in the classroom. A Diploma of Project Management that sits alongside additional training in an Agile Management will greatly increase your appeal to employers.

A great CV will need to go beyond simply listing the course title and date, and provide a clear outline of the tangible abilities learnt and how these are applicable to the role of project manager.


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Travel Abroad

Working abroad can be an incredible experience to include on your application. It is a unique opportunity that will not only add interest to your CV but indicates your good character to recruiters. Travelling requires maturity, adaptation, and responsibility – all attributes of a leading project manager.

Your travel adventures are a great way to display your personality during an interview. Sharing some of the exciting moments and achievements with a potential employer will set you up as a professional who is relatable and most importantly, open-minded.

It is no secret that most international work opportunities involve rigorous selection, making it an inspiring milestone to be included on the CV of every professional.


Volunteer Work

Your leisure time is valuable and using this to support a not-for-profit activity signposts excellent moral fibre. It suggests to a recruiter right off the bat that you can recognise and respond to your values and are loyal to more than just the highest dollar. An employee that has genuine care for their work is an invaluable asset to a business.

Exemplary managers will lead their team with complete dedication and careful attention to detail. This kind of attentiveness is cultivated by more than the promise of a fortnightly salary and makes an important component for a successful career in project management.

Whether you are a regular volunteer at charitable fundraisers or spend the weekend participating in community workshops, these are all different experiences that can help you to succeed in your next application.



Taking on the position of head coach for the senior basketball team should not be undervalued. Project management involves functioning as part of a wider team and ensuring that everyone works productively – coaching a sport is no different. In fact, this experience can instill many of the great leadership qualities valued by employers.

Coaching is a prominent example of your ability to transform a leisure activity into a highly sought after skill. As a coach, you would be expected to understand each player, develop tactics, coordinate roles and monitor individual achievement. Each of these tasks forms an intrinsic part of project management.

Of course, it’s important not to write an essay on your in-depth understanding of the position of point guard, or how you won the premiership 5 years ago. Keep it concise and focus on your role and the skills you gained.


Side projects

A venture that you have invested time and passion into is worth a mention to any potential employer. Whether it’s a personal blog or public speaking stunt on the weekend, acknowledging your interests will enhance your experience, show individual character and in doing so, catch the attention of recruiters.

Side pursuits are great to incorporate into a small summary or in the opening letter of your application. Balancing the professional and the personal will help your CV to stand out in the job search as exactly the leading project manager they’re looking for.

Survey Says – Three Keys To Project Success

As successful project management is integral to thriving in today’s environment, what could be considered a lingering recession or somewhat of a recovery,  the company that can deliver project results with absolute assurance will lead the race.  Since I’ve seen too many businesses with fabulous ideas and limited ability to deliver project results, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a quick survey to find out the top three keys to ensuring success.


And the survey says:

  1. Clarity of Goals. There are countless examples of project teams with a confused set of goals.  The executives typically think everything is crystal clear; however, when the rubber meets the road, it has somehow become unclear.   Those who delivered the expected project results had absolute clarity. I’ve found in leading and participating in countless project teams that this is not nearly as easy as it seems, which is most likely the reason most executives cannot understand why the goals have become unclear.   Typically the goals are clear at the start; however, as conflicts arise, the waters cloud up. For example, on one client project, the objective was clear – reduce inventory.  However, during the implementation, conflicts started to arise with supplier reliability, customer requests (outside of agreed-upon service parameters), and space constraints.  Depending upon how each of these conflicts was handled, the project team had a different/altered perception of the project goals. For example, if the executives weren’t willing to discuss supplier reliability with the supplier, the project team altered its perception – reducing the importance of inventory reduction in favor of maintaining the current supplier performance.  On the other hand, if the executives addressed supplier reliability immediately, the project team confirmed its understanding of the importance of the inventory reduction goal.  Further, in this case, depending on whether the supplier conversations were handled in a collaborative or a competitive manner, the project team also altered its understanding of the goal.
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      I’ve seen examples where, even if the supplier didn’t immediately improve upon reliability, if the project team knew it was being addressed (and typically in a collaborative manner) and was considered important by the executives, the same confirmation of the inventory reduction goal occurred.  I’ve been involved with enough inventory projects that I’ve seen each of these situations occur more than once.  Of course, my job as a consultant is to demonstrate the impacts of these types of decisions on the client’s performance, and so this is just the start.
  2.  Ability to Execute.  A unanimous key to success is the ability to execute.  It is amazing how many well-qualified project teams there are that cannot execute.  It is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Execution relates directly back to the organization of the project (how much planning and thought went into who does what, when, how, in what order and why) and hard work.  There are no short cuts.  The devil is in the details. If task A must be completed before task B can begin, and task A is on the critical path, it is vital that the task owner understands the importance of beginning the task on time, communicating roadblocks, and communicating with task B’s owner.  It’s as simple as that.  If you find someone excellent at execution, appreciate him/her!
  3.  Follow Up. Last but not least, follow up.  This is closely tied with execution; however, it was noteworthy enough to warrant a separate item.  Follow up can be the blocking and tackling of following up on project tasks, communicating with project team members, coordinating with other interested or required parties, etc.  And it can also be follow up to clarify project goal confusion and follow up on overcoming roadblocks outside of the core project team’s scope of responsibility. Thus, leadership is essential. Those projects with leaders who are intimately involved in enough of the details of the project to understand the complexities and roadblocks well enough to address them with the appropriate people, succeed.  This often leads to confusion. The project leader doesn’t have to personally perform each of the tasks in order to make this happen; however, the project leader must be involved enough and familiar enough with the details, the critical path and the project team members.  It’s a tricky balance, yet the key to success.

In my survey, these top three keys to success were present in every significant success, and they were present in 80% of those cases with some level of success.  Are you focused on these keys?

Developing a PMBOK Inspired Career Plan

Running Projects is Like Raising Kids – They Need Your Full Attention

So, we project managers move heaven and earth, ensuring project success happens.

By nature, we are happiest when projects are on track and green.

And as a fellow project manager, I know this work can be challenging with:

  • Constant organizational changes
  • Budget cuts fear or reality
  • Project team turnover
  • PMO demands for data or compliance
  • Seemingly aloof decision-makers (not purposely, just busy with their day jobs)
  • Technology issues

And, “We’re going Agile – eventually.”

So, you apply Agile tools and techniques for a lift on your waterfall project to manage current and future states of work.

Often, we work so hard on our jobs that we neglect our personal and professional selves.



The Best Time to Be a Project/Product Manager is NOW!

Let’s focus on ourselves and our careers for a moment.

Because our work is transformative and impactful, the demand for project managers is through the roof with no signs of stopping (Ex. Salaries, Challenges, Growth Opportunities, etc. – all rising).

FACT: PMI estimated project-oriented work may top $20 trillion by 2027 and put 88 million people to work ( Article Written by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez)

However, it would help if you STILL asked yourself these critical questions about your work:

  • Do I feel like the work gives me Purpose?
  • Is this work fulfilling?
  • Do you love problem-solving?
  • Is organizing things in your DNA?
  • Do you look forward to aligning people’s strengths to do great things?
  • Are you excited to learn new technologies and concepts to get more out of your day?

Can you answer each question with an emphatic “Yes?”

If so, you are operating in or near your life’s big “Why” or Purpose.

Check out this video for more on finding your life’s big “Why.”

As project managers, the work we do should be an extension of our reason for existence, in service to others, at this moment in time.

If not, revisit your career path because there may be a far more lucrative and fulfilling path than project management.


Beyond Market Demand, Does Project Management Help You Fulfill Your Purpose?

Not sure?

STOP – Read John Coleman’s Article: To Find Meaning in Your Work, Change How You Think About It.

John’s article appeared on, and it’s legit!

Here’s a key point John makes that will help you frame up your WHY:

Remember why you work. Please identify the person or group of people in your personal [and professional] life that your work is in service for, and keep them in mind when you work through even the most tedious of tasks. A purpose isn’t magic — it’s something we must consciously pursue and create. With the right approach, almost any job can be meaningful.

Yes – You CAN find Purpose in any work, but it does not guarantee fulfillment.

CAVEAT: However, the most fulfilling work emerges from a clear sense of service that transcends self and targets impacts for you and those you serve with what you do best.

Bonus: the most fulfilled, financially free, and divine aligned beings on the planet figure out their “Why” and then strike out to touch the sky!

Is Project Management an extension of your why?

Well, it should be!

Is Project Management Your Jam?

If you are still reading, you must love what you do, so here’s a question for you:

How would your career change if you applied Project Management rigor to transform your career?

Listen, Jim Rohn – motivational speaker and businessman, once said:

Credit: Google Images

Do You Have a Job Or A Career?

Working on yourself means your life purpose gets integrated with your career.

A purposed career takes reflection, decision-making, and work creation that ensures work is more fun and lucrative than you could imagine.


Now ask yourself: Do you work harder on your job than you do on your career?

Wait – What’s the difference between a job and a career?

Simple: Careers are fulfilling because they work on you. Jobs are not fulfilling because you work on them.

You’ve heard of the great resignation.

The great resignation is partly fueled by retirement.

And, many post-pandemic workers slowed down long enough and realized their life and life’s Purpose was more doable with a flexible, remote environment where their best and most fulfilling work could be done.

And an unfulfilling job is like getting a root canal without anesthesia – it hurts too much and should never be done.

You need work that fills your heart, wallet, and purpose-driven needs for being alive at this point in time.

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Take a Page Out of PMBOK (Career Style)

Remember, we use PMBOK to transform our work.

Why not use the same rigor to transform our careers, too?

Let’s discuss the triple constraints as they apply to your career’s development.

You will focus on developing your first career phase, which takes approximately 6 – 12 months.

After that, you will revisit your plans, reassess them, and schedule another 6-12 month sprint until you reach career nirvana or something close to it.



Triple Constraints Blended with Project Phases


As with any project, the goal is to add value.

Your career project is no different. Your career project is about adding fulfillment and value-adding capability to your career.

Let’s start with your scope, which breathes life into your life’s big “Why” with “What and How.”


Scope: Start with a career project charter and plan to initiate/solidify your career project:

First, suspend all logic and hold nothing back, so you won’t get in the way of getting what you deserve!

    1. What project work, people, places, and things give you the greatest fulfillment?
    2. What would doing this work look like each day?
    3. What short- and long-term benefits could you realize if bullets 1 and 2 came true?
      • Please be detailed with your descriptions.
    4. Finally, write a DESIRED STATE narrative summing up bullets 1-3 or create bullet points using the same rigor and diligence you give at work.
  • CONSTRAINTS: How does your CURRENT STATE differ from your DESIRED STATE?
    • Make a few notes about the key differences, then burn them! Acknowledging the old will help you move forward toward the new. Its history and focusing on it will keep you stuck.
  • RISKS: What things must change about YOU AND THE WORK YOU DO to achieve YOUR DESIRED STATE career?
    • What must you change personally and professionally to reach your DESIRED STATE career?
    • Create bullet points using the same rigor and diligence you give at work.
  • STAKEHOLDER ANALYSIS: What stakeholders must you assemble to gain clarity on your best way forward?
    • List your stakeholders, the input you seek, and the input you receive. These stakeholders can be just about anyone you trust, like a:
      • Career coach
      • Mentor (video)
      • Someone further along in the career journey than you
      • A trusted advisor and Truth Teller
      • Spiritual wisdom from your Source



Time: Develop your career project plan and time box your steps:

  • What three steps or tasks must you first execute, monitor, and control, to deliver on your 6 to 12-month career development project:
    • Think Start, Stop, and Continuing certain behaviors related to:
      • Professional Development (Ex. Continuous Learning)
      • Personal Development (Ex. Mindset Management)
      • Networking (Ex. Real relationships with other doers – not just LinkedIn connections, meaningful conversations with people behind, beside, or ahead of you in their career journey).
    • Distill your “Start, Stop, and Continue” into tangible steps:
      • Take a certification or online/live training course
      • Do volunteer work for experience
      • Watch personal development videos, so you are not the barrier to your success
    • Add some details and time boxes.

Remember, the three steps or big things you must do will encompass no less than six months but no greater than 12 months.

As the phrase goes, “You must count the cost.”

Cost: Pencils down. It is time to revisit your scope activities and consider what it will cost you to deliver on this 6 to 12-month career project.

For example:

  • Have you determined how you fund your personal or professional development where needed?
  • Are you fully committed to making this project move forward regardless of the obstacles?
  • Have you accurately estimated how much time and effort you will expend each month reaching project completion?
  • How will you socialize your plan, gain support, and keep your career project on track?
  • Have you considered most likely project disruptions and accounted for contingencies to them?

You are compelled and equipped to navigate this massive career lift and shift ahead if you do your homework.


Fast forward.

You’ve successfully counted the cost and dove into your career project.

And you remain on track to complete your three initial steps.

You must properly close out those steps that transitioned from DOING to DONE.




After completing all three steps, you ensure they delivered on your expectations or receive sufficient evidence to do something different next time.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Did steps add work/life fulfillment? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  2. Did steps add value? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  3. What were your personal and professional lessons learned?
  4. In what ways did the project grow you personally and professionally? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?
  5. Did you connect and benefit/serve someone behind, beside, or ahead of you on the same/similar career journey? If not, what should have happened or been done differently?

If everything went according to plan, you close out your final step before moving on to the next step(s) in your 6 – 12 month career project.


Remember, project management isn’t for everyone, no matter how well you do the work. The work must be fulfilling, tie into your big “Why,” and help you thrive, not just survive!

After noodling your big “Why” and choosing a project management career desired state or path to begin leveraging the Career “Triple Constraints” concepts, develop your unique journey, and decidedly fulfilling career path.

Call to Action

The world needs us – get equipped for a world of projects producing exponential value! Finally, Global demand for Agile/Scrum/Product Management expertise is heating up for PMs with this experience and may be the key to you prospering in the new remote economy.

It’s only a matter of time before it intersects with your work or influences your opportunities.

About PMI Central Illinois Chapter

Visit PMI Central Illinois Chapter to Learn More. And check out a few more articles by other PMI CIC contributors.