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Tag: Communication

Managing the Present Moment Even If You Don’t Like It

A project manager asked what she could do about not liking the present moment.  She was learning to do mindfulness meditation and was finding that when she was being mindful of the present moment, she found it stressful.

She was bombarded by problem after problem experiencing anxiety centered on the fear that her project was going to fail and that she would be fired.

The stress was getting to her. She was experiencing stomach pains and a torrent of thoughts about the impossibility of meeting her schedule commitments and what would happen if she failed. She ruminated about what she could have or should have done differently.

 

Being Present – Here Now

“I find it much more helpful to drop all our ideas, concepts, and beliefs and return again and again to the openness of not knowing and the immediacy and simplicity of this moment, this living presence Here-Now.”[1] Joan Tollifson

From Here-Now you can do whatever needs to be done, say whatever needs saying. The process is simple – note, accept, analyze, act, repeat.

 

Mindfully Present

I practice, write about[2], and teach techniques for being present, to live attuned to the experience of the present moment – mindfully self-aware. That is the objective of mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques, mindful movement, grounding, awareness of physical sensations, and all the other mental and emotional wellness techniques.

Being mindful is being present – fully engaged and aware of your body’s sensations, emotions, thoughts, the environment, and the others you share it with.

Being present fuels healthy relationships and helps to manage stress and anxiety. It is a foundation for emotional intelligence and is linked to the ability to be focused and able to choose the most effective course of action.

Being present is the opposite of being spaced out, distracted, reactive, and in denial. Focus and objective choice enhance productivity and creativity.

 

Accept and Let Go

So, what can you do when the experience of the present moment is unpleasant?

The answer is simple, though not easy – accept and let go into Flow.

To accept is to take note of the unpleasantness and your feelings about it, acknowledging the present moment for what it is. To let go into Flow means to see if you can do something to manage a change skillfully.

 

Common Sense Wisdom

If you know you don’t like the present moment and can ask what you can do about it, you are being mindful of your experience and conscious of the possibility of taking action.

Common sense wisdom lets you know that you cannot change the past or the present moment and that you can influence (but not control) the future. You can accept the feelings and the situation that has triggered them.

Alternatives to that are denial and suppression.

Denial is making yourself believe that the present feelings aren’t happening. It is sticking your head in the ground like the myth of an ostrich hiding from a predator.

Suppression is medicating or meditating yourself to relieve stress symptoms. This is a better tactic than denial. Relieving the symptoms can be healthy if it is a conscious choice used to be more effective at managing your emotions and making change.

 

Manage Your Emotions

Denying your feelings and the situation is the least skillful approach. It offers no way out of the situation. Your project is still going to be late and at some point, you will be confronted with reality.

Suppression is a way to moderate the effects of your stress. Medicating or meditating away the symptoms can be helpful if you do it as a conscious choice to put yourself in a better position to address the situation and avoid the damaging effects of stress, depression, and anger. Suppressing your feelings as a knee-jerk reaction is a form of denial that leads to habitual or addictive behavior.

Acceptance gives you a choice. You can choose to suppress the stress responses, or not. But most importantly you can choose practical options for handling the situation.

With mindful self-awareness, you can manage your emotions. That means you can fully experience your emotions without reacting or being driven by them.

 

Analyze

Then, analyze to see what about the present moment you dislike, why you dislike it, and what you can do about it.

Without analysis, you are reacting. With it, you are responding.

Analysis is using your intellect to break the issue down and objectively consider alternatives. It includes the assessment of your gut feeling, criteria, priorities, and facts.

 

Act – Do Something, Or Not

If it is feasible, do something to make a change. Remember that doing nothing is a choice, though it is usually not the best in the context of projects.

In any case, accept that you can influence the future, but you cannot control it. The outcome is uncertain, and you may not like it.

 

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Application – Manage the Project

Applying this process of noting, accepting, analyzing, and acting in the real world of projects is what skillful project managers do when faced with unpleasant situations. They apply the technical skills of planning and controlling.

For Julie, our project manager, schedule overrun began as small incremental slips on critical tasks. Then, about halfway into the project, a key team member left for a better opportunity. Replacing him took two weeks followed by a learning curve and the work of integrating a new team member.

After an initial bout of panic, Julie took a few breaths and observed her feelings. Stepping back, she took an objective stance and considered her options – let stakeholders know what was going on, work faster, rescope, accept that the project would be late, and take action to minimize the damage.

She realized that hiding from the reality of the situation is a no-win approach. She also assessed her fear of being fired and realized that if she was fired because of events beyond her control, it would be an indication that her superiors were not particularly skillful.

 

Bottomline

The message is that if you don’t like the present moment, accept what you can’t change, analyze the situation and your options, and take action to influence the future. And while you are doing that become comfortable with adversity and uncertainty.

 

[1] Tollifson, Joan, “Death, The End of Self-Improvement”
[2] Check out “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib . It addresses the mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained wellness by accepting and letting go into Flow.

 

Focus – A Critical Success Factor

The ability to focus is a critical success factor for project managers, business analysts, and anyone else who is in a task-oriented position.

On the project level, it is costly when resources divide their attention between multiple projects. Stop, start, and stop again performance has an overhead. The same is true for individuals. Without focus as a power of mind, you are like a straw in the wind, randomly blown here and there.

The more you can focus without being distracted, the more likely you are to succeed at whatever you intend to do – whether it is to pass a test, get a job, complete a project task, write a proposal, get the most out of a meeting, or paint a picture.

 

Distractions

To be focused means that you can stay with or come back to the “object” you have chosen to focus upon in the face of distractions. Life is full of enticing distractions. They may be thoughts, feelings, sounds, images, or other people’s behavior.

Pleasant or unpleasant distractions grab your attention. When you are taken away by a distraction you go on a trip, a mental journey. If your ability to focus is strong, you can skillfully choose to go on that trip or stay focused on what you are doing. Alternatively, you may be unable to choose.

 

Train of Thought

Imagine being on a train heading home. The train pulls into a station and there is another comfortable-looking train across the platform. You get off your train and jump onto the new one, and off you go. Then you realize that this train isn’t as comfortable as it looked. You get off at the next stop just in time to get on another enticing train. Off you go. Until you become attracted to another even cooler train and off you go again.

You may never get home. But, maybe, you don’t care because you like riding trains or are having fun and seeing new sites. Or you get on a train that takes you on an unhappy trip into a dark and dreary place and you can’t get off until it reaches its last stop.

That is how the mind works. A thought comes up, you keep it going by thinking about it, adding details, and thinking about what should have or could have happened. You make up stories about the future or dwell on the past.

 

What Happens at Work

Take a more project management-specific example. You are assigned to write an explanation for why your project is late. You start writing and your phone pings notifying you of a text message.

It’s from a friend and you read it. Then you respond and are off into a conversation. You realize ten minutes later that you have not been writing your explanation. You go back to it but must remind yourself of where you were when you popped out and then get back into a “groove”.

Any interruption during the performance of a task is costly. There is the effort of winding down and ramping up. The less winding down the higher the cost of ramping up. That is why multitasking is frowned upon.

 

Sustain Focus

If the ability to decide what you want to think about and do is important to you and you are willing to do what it takes to give yourself a choice, then you need a method.

You can reduce distractions by finding a quiet space free from interruptions. Shut the door if you have one. Ask others not to disturb you. Turn off the phone, or if you can’t because you are on call, do what you can to filter calls and alerts.

But, even in an ideal workplace, your body and mind are still there to disturb you with thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Even the work you are doing can face you with opportunities to go down a rabbit hole. For example, you might dive into levels of detail when writing a summary or think about an interesting, but irrelevant concept suggested by some aspect of your task.

 

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Concentration and Effort

That is why cultivating concentration is so important. Concentration is the mental capacity to focus, to choose and stay with an object, overcoming the urge to follow distractions.

Concentrating to sustain focus requires resolve and effort. You must intend to maintain your attention on an object and make the effort to do it. Don’t expect it to be easy. You may be addicted to being distracted. It may be a deeply ingrained habit.

I am told that staying focused is even more difficult for those born into the age of the internet and social media than those who grew up without them. People have become addicted to short “hits” of attention-grabbing content and the immediate gratification of texts. Engineers and marketers have worked together to sustain this addiction to distractions and profit from it. They want you to get “hooked” on distractions.

Even though I was born way before the Internet Age, I can attest to how easy it is to get lost down a rabbit hole on Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. One thing catches the eye and mind, and, after a few minutes, one thing leads to another and another. Before you know it, an hour has passed before something pulls you out of the rabbit hole.

It is hard to get unhooked – breaking habits is not easy.

 

How to Strengthen the Mind

To break the habits that keep you from focusing the way you want to focus, apply intention, effort, patience, mindfulness, and concentration.

Make the intention to apply the effort and patience required to cultivate the mindfulness that lets you know that you have been distracted and the concentration power to bring your attention to the chosen object.

Taking on meditation practice is a prescription for cultivating focus and choice. Go to https://self-awareliving.com/videos for videos on how to meditate. However, meditation is not a cure-all. People become discouraged when they start to meditate and are confronted with a “monkey mind”, the mind jumping from thought to thought. The meditation practice makes that quality more apparent. That is where persistent patience comes in. Keep observing the mind and coming back to a point of concentration and the monkey will be tamed.

Check out my book “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib for mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained focus and optimal performance.

 

Mastering Time Zones: Strategies for Leading Global Teams to Success

In today’s interconnected world, project managers often find themselves leading project teams spread across different time zones. While this presents unique challenges, it also offers exciting opportunities for collaboration and diversity.

In this article, we will explore strategies to effectively manage global teams, foster communication, and promote team bonding to optimize performance, which will in turn ensure project success.

 

Time Zones. Help!

Ok. Here it is. You are managing a project team (or new team members), and with the new ways of working (remote, hybrid, or in-office), these team members all just happen to live in different time zones. Some are located across the country; some can even be across the ocean. YIKES!!! Your challenge is to keep the team connected and working towards the same project goals and outcomes. How do you do this?

Let’s start by saying that modern technology is pretty fantastic at keeping us connected no matter the distance; however, working on a project with members in multiple time zones can be challenging. Here is where great online tools such as world clocks or online converters can help you plan meetings and visualize overlapping work hours.

*Hot tip: Be mindful when booking meeting times and recognize that what’s morning for you might be late evening for someone else.

 

Communication Is Key – It is all about the channels.

Email vs. Instant Communications

While email is still essential, consider other platforms, as different team members may prefer varied communication tools.

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • WhatsApp

Lights, Camera, Action!

Regular video meetings (teams, Zoom) build rapport and allow face-to-face interactions. Appointing certain meetings as “camera on” will help to cross the miles and make the meetings more human.

Project Management Tools

Platforms like Jira, Trello, Assana, and MS Teams facilitate collaboration across miles and time zones.

 

Setting Expectations

  • Clarify Message Response Times.
    • Note all team member’s off-hours (unless they are on an “On Call” rotation) and make it clear that immediate answers aren’t necessary.
  • Encourage Asynchronous Communication.

Use tools that allow team members to contribute when it suits their schedules.

  • Set up group channels as well as project-specific channels, so there are several ways for teams and sub-teams to connect and collaborate.
  • Organizations usually have a channel they promote or prefer, such as teams, Slack, or Discord.
  • Set up one tool and don’t use too many, as communications may get missed or some team members may feel left out.

 

Embrace Flexibility | Be mindful and agile.

  • Overlap Hours

Find common working hours for critical discussions or decision-making.

  • Flex Work

Allow team members to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal needs or local holidays.

Understand that life happens. Being open and flexible to meeting and scheduling changes goes a long way in building trust and strength with the team.

Cultural Awareness

  • Holidays and observances
    • Be aware of local holidays and cultural events.
    • Adjust project timelines accordingly.
    • Be curious about national and local holidays and traditions.
  • Language and Tone
    • Understand language nuances and adapt communication styles to avoid misunderstandings.

 

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Project Management Tools

Some helpful Project Management tools

  • Trello: Organize tasks, assign responsibilities, and track progress.
  • Jira: Organize tasks and responsibilities, assign responsibilities, reporting and track progress.
  • Google Docs: Collaborate on documents in real time.
  • Time Zone Converters: Use tools like World Time Buddy or Every Time Zone to coordinate meetings.

 

Lead by Example

Respect Boundaries

Demonstrate that you value work-life balance by not expecting instant replies outside of working hours.

*Hot email tip: Delay sending emails to align with other’s working hours.

Model Communication:

Use various channels and encourage open dialogue.

Support Team Bonding

Schedule informal team and 1:1 chats to build camaraderie.

During or after meetings, have some informal team-building exercises.

  • Show an interesting TedED Talk
  • Have a topical and fun online quiz hour.
  • Pecha Kucha share-outs: Team members take turns creating and sharing a Pecha Kucha on a topic of their choice weekly.

 

Celebrate Diversity:

  • Embrace different perspectives and learn from each other. Encourage the team members to take turns and share a bit about themselves and their interests.
  • Embrace the variety of cultures and experiences team members bring to the project team.

 

The role of a Project Manager for a global team across multiple time zones requires adaptability, empathy, effective communication, and the ability to be agile. By leveraging today’s available technology, being aware of time zones and cultural nuances, and respecting work-life balance, you can successfully lead a team that transcends geographical boundaries.

Remember, the sun never sets on well-coordinated projects.

Transforming Project Management – The Collaboration of AI and Agile

Executive Summary

The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) poses new challenges and opportunities for the world. As we know, AI is the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning and decision making. AI encompasses a range of technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, robotics, and more. These technologies can be combined to create systems capable of learning and decision-making. AI has had a significant impact on various aspects of our society already, including healthcare, finance, transportation, entertainment, and more. It has transformed industries and changed the way we live and work. One of the distinguishing features of AI is its ability to learn and improve over time. Machine learning algorithms, for example, can analyse data and adapt their behaviour to make better decisions as they receive more information.

Agile on the other hand is a project management approach that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, customer-centricity, and iterative progress. The Agile approach is known for its ability to promote responsiveness to change, reduce the risk of project failure, and deliver value to customers more quickly. Agile methodologies promote a project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals. Agile is commonly used in software development, but its principles have been applied successfully in various industries, including marketing, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Although Agile has been in existence for almost two decades now and has been extremely powerful and popular, the project management community is still struggling to make the software projects successful. Numerous Industry reports indicate that while the success rate of IT projects have indeed risen over time, they still hover below 30%. A statistic that raises significant concerns and underlines the urgent need for innovation in this domain.

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Agile could be a solution and the collaboration between the two can transform the way software development and project management is being done currently. This transformative synergy between AI and Agile methodologies would address the challenges faced by organizations in an increasingly complex and fast-paced business environment.

This article focuses about “How AI can enhance Agile Project Management in the new world of technology.” Through a compelling case study, we will chronicle our journey of integrating AI and Agile, highlighting the successes achieved and the insights gleaned.

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Agile methodologies can indeed be a powerful combination, transforming the landscape of project management in various ways.

 

Power of AI

The power of AI is immense and continues to grow as the field advances. AI includes a wide range of technologies and applications that leverage machine learning, neural networks, and other techniques to simulate human intelligence and perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. Here are some of the key aspects of the power of AI:

  1. Automation: AI can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up human workers to focus on more creative, complex, and strategic activities.
  2. Data Analysis and Insights: AI can process and analyse vast amounts of data quickly and accurately. It can discover patterns, trends, and insights that may be difficult or impossible for humans to discern from large datasets.
  3. Decision Support: AI can provide data-driven insights that assist decision-makers in various domains.
  4. Predictive Analysis: AI can analyse new information, learn from data and results in near real time, providing actionable recommendations and significantly reduce errors.
  5. Accessibility: AI can make technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities by providing assistive tools like speech recognition, text-to-speech, and voice-controlled devices.
  6. Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP allows AI systems to understand, interpret and generate human language. This technology is used in chatbots, virtual assistance.

The Agile Advantage

Agile is a highly flexible and collaborative approach to project management that emphasizes iterative and incremental development. Unlike traditional project management methodologies like the ones based on Waterfall model, which have a linear and sequential approach, Agile divides the project into small increments. These increments involve minimal planning and are not directly dependent on each other. This allows for greater flexibility in making changes as the project progresses.

 

Here’s a simpler infographic that represents the Agile Project Management process. It breaks down the Agile cycle into different key stages: Plan, Design, Develop, Test, Deploy, Review and Launch, illustrated in a circular flowchart showing the iterative nature of Agile methodologies:

 

Here are some key elements which make Agile so powerful –

 

  1. Flexibility and Adaptability: Agile allows teams to adapt to changes quickly and efficiently. The iterative process accommodates changes in requirements, even late in the development process, ensuring the product is as close as possible to the user’s needs.
  2. Increased Collaboration and Ownership: Agile promotes close collaboration between developers, stakeholders, and customers. This inclusive approach encourages team ownership and empowers all members to contribute to decision-making, leading to more innovative solutions and a shared sense of accountability.
  3. Faster Time to Market: With Agile, the software is developed in incremental, manageable units, allowing the team to deliver working software more frequently. This means features can be released to market more quickly, providing a competitive advantage and faster return on investment.
  4. Continuous Improvement: Agile methodologies involve regular reflection on the processes and practices, allowing teams to identify and implement improvements continuously. This commitment to excellence can lead to higher quality products and more efficient workflows.
  5. Enhanced Quality: Agile’ s emphasis on frequent testing and reviews throughout the development cycle leads to early detection and correction of defects, which can improve the overall quality of the software.
  6. Customer Satisfaction: By involving the customer in the development process through regular demonstrations and iterations, Agile ensures that the product aligns with customer needs and expectations, leading to higher satisfaction and better user experiences.

In the IT industry, numerous agile frameworks are utilized, with Scrum being the most prevalent. Consequently, Agile is often perceived synonymously with Agile Scrum.

 

Applying AI in Agile

Utilizing the potential of AI within agile project management can be implemented at different levels.

Level 1: Foundational Agile: This is where the organization wants to focus on enhancing the effectiveness of the core.

Level 2: Scaled Agile: This is where the organization wants to focus on enhancing the effectiveness of the Scaled Agile Frameworks implementations. In this category we will focus on some areas that hold significance within scaled contexts.

Level 3: Project Management: This is where the organization wants to enhance their effectiveness at the broader level of implementations considering end to end project management. In this category we will focus on Process Groups or different stages of the Project management lifecycle.

 

In the following sections we would delve further into the above topics.

 

Level 1: Foundational Agile

Implementing AI within Agile Scrum involves integrating AI technologies and principles into the various stages of the agile scrum implementation of the organization, including planning, execution, review, and retrospective. Applying AI in Agile Scrum can significantly improve the efficiency of teams by automating repetitive tasks, providing actionable insights, facilitating decision-making, and enhancing collaboration.

Although there can be many ways in which AI tools can be applied, in our view, scrum events are the core areas where the AI can influence and enhance the effectiveness the most.

Here’s a breakdown of how AI can be implemented in Agile Scrum events:

Sprint Planning

  • Product Backlog Creation: LLM-based AI tools compiles high-level requirements, reducing workload.
  • Backlog Items Prioritization: AI streamlines prioritization of Product backlog, minimizing cognitive load.
  • User Story elaboration and refinement: AI enhances stories and acceptance criteria, aligning with project goals.
  • User Story Estimation: AI provides initial story point estimates for effective sprint planning.
  • Sprint Goal Identification: AI aids in defining sprint goals by using insights and past performance data.
  • Identify Potential Impediments: AI anticipates sprint impediments and addresses potential obstacles.
  • AI-Bot based facilitation: AI-powered bots assist in planning, reminders, discussions, and note compilation.

 

Daily Stand-up and Execution

  • Alignment with Sprint Goal: AI monitors team progress, aligning activities and providing predictive insights.
  • Action and Impediment Tracking: AI systems track and communicate action and impediment status, for timely resolution.
  • Generating Standup Summary: AI transcribes and summarizes key discussions from stand-up meeting.
  • Coding Support: AI enhances code comprehension and documentation for faster development.
  • Enhanced Code Review and testing: AI improves code review processes and test case generation.
  • AI-Bot Facilitation: AI Facilitates daily scrums, tracking updates and aiding communication.

 

Sprint Review

  • Sprint Performance Analysis: AI analysis sprint performance, highlighting goal achievements and improvement areas.
  • Review Deck Preparation: AI aids in crafting presentation materials with essential metrics and visual.
  • Feedback Analysis: AI summarizes stakeholder feedback, identifying trends and opportunities.
  • AI-Bot Facilitation: AI bots manage Sprint Review flow, organize presentations, and capture feedback.

 

Sprint Retrospective

  • Sprint Performance Analytics: AI analyses sprint outcomes, highlighting trends, and achievements for retrospective discussions.
  • Effectiveness Analysis: AI evaluates post-retrospective actions, measuring continuous improvement.
  • Retrospective Reports: AI generates detailed reports focusing on key development areas and process refinement.
  • AI-Bot Facilitation: AI streamlines retrospectives, promoting communication and team engagement.

 

Level 2:  Scaled Agile

When the complexity of the context increases and there is a need to have supporting models for the same, Scaled Agile Models can be helpful. Although there are a wide range of frameworks and models available to be used by teams, we would limit our scope to just key concepts that would be relevant for most models.

Applying AI in Scaled Agile contexts can improve team efficiency by optimizing resource allocation, enhancing decision-making, automating repetitive tasks, and facilitating cross-team collaboration. Here are some key area illustrating how AI can enhance team efficiency in Scaled Agile.

 

 

Resource Allocation Optimization

AI-powered models use historical data and project requirements to forecast resource needs, optimizing allocation across Agile teams. These systems dynamically adjust resources based on real-time progress and project demands, continuously optimizing distribution.

Cross-Team Coordination

AI tools identify task dependencies across teams, aiding proactive management. Integrated with collaboration platforms, AI enhances communication, providing real-time translations and discussion summaries, facilitating cross-team coordination for efficient planning and execution, including multi-team ceremonies like Scrum of Scrums.

Predictive Analytics for Planning

AI algorithms utilize historical sprint data to predict future velocities and team capacities, helping in accurate planning. They forecast feature completion timelines based on past performance and market dynamics, enabling realistic timelines and effective feature prioritization.

Automated Testing and Quality Assurance

AI-driven tools automate test case generation and execution, focusing on high-risk areas to enhance testing processes. In CI/CD environments, AI prioritizes tests based on historical impact and recent code changes, improving testing efficiency and quality.

Continuous Improvement through Insights

AI-generated insights identify trends and improvement areas, providing actionable feedback for Agile process enhancement. This helps teams address bottlenecks and recurrent issues, facilitating targeted process improvements and efficient delivery.

Automated Release Management

AI-enhanced release management tools automate planning, scheduling, and deployment, reducing manual effort and expediting delivery. They analyse dependencies and risks, generating release plans and coordinating deployments while monitoring quality metrics for continuous improvement and decision-making.

 

Level 3: Project Management

Reaching a much broader context where we look at end to end project management, there are many more possibilities to leverage AI. While the project management landscape is extensive, we will confine our focus to potential optimizations within the Project Management Process groups.

Project Initiation

  • Enhanced Project Evaluation and Feasibility: AI utilizes data analysis to assess project viability, simulate scenarios, identify risks, and optimize resources, ensuring alignment with legal and market requirements.
  • Effectively Identify Stakeholders and their influence: AI utilizes natural language processing (NLP) to parse organizational documents, detecting relevant individuals and analyzing roles and influence, enhancing stakeholder management.
  • Auto Prepare Project Charter: AI automates project charter creation by analyzing historical data, suggesting objectives and deliverables, identifying stakeholders, forecasting risks, and recommending resource allocation, streamlining project initiation.

 

Project Planning

  • Prepare Project Plan with assistance: AI analyzes historical data to improve project plans, including cost estimates, timelines, resource planning, and technology selections, improving accuracy and relevance.
  • Auto Plan Calendar: AI optimizes calendar scheduling by analyzing meeting patterns, suggesting optimal times, adjusting plans dynamically and sending reminders for timely task completion, enhancing productivity and time management.
  • Effective Risk Management: AI algorithms analyze large datasets to identify and prioritize risks, assisting in strategic mitigation planning, enhancing overall risk management capabilities.

 

Project Execution

  • Improve Resource Efficiency: AI matches team skills with project needs, adjusts allocations dynamically, forecasts requirements, identifies skill gaps and facilitates timely training for optimal resource utilization throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Task Automation: AI automates routine and repetitive tasks, freeing up team members for complex work, increasing productivity and accelerating project timelines.
  • Enhanced Knowledge Management: AI automates collection and organization of project data and documents, simplifying search and retrieval. Machine learning analyzes historical data, generates insights for better decision-making and predict project outcomes.

 

Project Monitoring & Control

  • Enhanced Progress Tracking against objectives: AI automates data collection and analysis for real-time monitoring of project KPIs, providing predictive insights and data-driven recommendations for proactive management, ensuring alignment with strategic goals and timely achievement of project milestones.
  • Auto Risk Monitoring and Control: AI improves risk management by automating detection, analysis, and prioritization of risks, facilitating quicker and more effective response strategies to mitigate threats.
  • Effective Change Control: AI evaluates and prioritizes change requests using historical data and predictive analytics, ensuring timely and appropriate handling of changes, streamlining change management processes.

 

Project Closure

  • Enhanced Project closure: AI automates documentation and analysis of project outcomes, comparing them with the initial objectives to assess success and identify lessons learned. It streamlines record archiving and ensures regulatory compliance.
  • Generate Best Practices and Lessons Learnt: AI analyses project data to generate Best Practices and Lessons Learnt document, contributing to the organization’s knowledge repository. This enhances future projects decision making by utilizing gained knowledge.

 

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Implementation Strategy and AI Integration

General Implementation Strategy

While organizations may opt to implement the concepts independently in different ways and still benefit, our recommendation would be to apply as per the following steps –

Step 1: Generate Awareness: This is the crucial first step to conduct sessions and trainings to generate awareness in the organization, including the leadership team.

Step 2: Focus on the foundation: Identify the tools for Agile Scrum that can enhance different aspects of the Agile Scrum implementation. The focus should be to cover all critical areas for Level 1

Step 3: Broaden the impact: Identify the tools for Scaled Agile context. Focus should be to identify and cover all critical high impact areas for Level 2. Integrate it back to Level 1.

Step 4: Complete the coverage: Identify the tools for project management critical areas for Level 3 and complete the implementation by integrating back to Level 1 and Level 2.

Step 5: Feedback Loop: There would be a continuous need for the review and revise the implementation with a feedback loop based on what is working what is not. This should be driven by organizational KPIs and the impact of the above implementations on the same.

Create your own GPT Model

Creating a GPT model aligns your organizational goals with Agile innovation, a process marked by its iterative nature and the collective expertise of Agile and AI teams. Customization is expansive, propelled by your vision and ambition.

Modern LLM platforms facilitate the creation of tailor-made GPT models, eliminating the complexity of coding, thereby democratizing the customization process. This personalized GPT model harnesses the power of public GPT models, seamlessly integrating it into the organization’s unique ecosystem.

 

Outlined below, and depicted in the accompanying diagram, are the steps that sync with the previously discussed implementation strategy:

Create and Configure the Model: Set up a custom GPT instance for your organization, complete with a unique name and a defined purpose. Configuration includes specifying the target user demographics and establishing access controls, among other preparatory details.

Train the Model: Feed the model organizational-specific data to contextualize it. The breadth of training is contingent on your preferences, balanced against considerations such as data security.

Deploy the Model: Move the model into production for end-user interaction. A phased approach often works best, initially releasing it to a focus group before extending it to the broader target audience.

 

Once active, this model serves as a multifaceted asset across various levels, it supports foundational Agile practices, enhances Scaled Agile processes, and contributes to advanced Project Management. Its applications range from providing real-time insights and conducting sophisticated analytics to delivering NLP-based recommendations, thus empowering decision-making at every level.

 

Case Study

Introduction

Amidst the constantly evolving landscape of technology and organizational management, our organisation recognized the imperative need for a sophisticated tool to thoroughly analyse our delivery performance. With this vision in mind, we embarked on an ambitious project to develop a custom Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) model tailored specifically to our organizational context. This AI-powered model leverages natural language processing (NLP) to provide a comprehensive view of project progress and delivery health, aligning closely with our strategic objectives and operational needs.

 

Objectives

The initiative aimed to achieve key objectives:

  • For the Leadership Team: Provide an NLP-based overview of organizational delivery health, identifying projects needing immediate attention.
  • For Project and Program Managers: Facilitate insights into project and program progress, highlight potential risks, and suggest actionable plans based on core KPIs.
  • For the PMO: Enable the generation of consolidated reports and conduct complex analytics, enhancing decision-making and strategic planning processes.
  • For Other Stakeholders: Provide a versatile tool that aids in various analytical and reporting needs, supporting the broader organizational goals.

 

Methodology

The development of our GPT model was meticulous, rooted in a deep understanding of our organizational DNA. We provided the model with an extensive dataset, including:

  • Details of our delivery excellence model, including core delivery KPIs, their importance and definitions.
  • Details of our Organizational Agile Scrum Model and LeSS-based Scaling Model, reflecting our approach to scalable agility.
  • Organizational information and data for ongoing projects and programs, with sensitive data masked for security reasons.
  • Weekly updates on organizational KPIs, to keep the model informed of the latest project developments and outcomes.
  • Additional information provided to the model with NLP based interactions.

 

This comprehensive training enabled the GPT model to generate accurate insights reflective of our unique organizational context and dynamics.

Implementation and Results

Upon implementation, the GPT model rapidly became an indispensable tool across our organization:

  • Leadership Team utilized the model for NLP-based delivery health analysis, allowing enabling strategic interventions.
  • Project Managers gained access to nuanced project insights, with detailed guidance on risk management and performance optimization against core KPIs.
  • PMO benefited from automated report creation and complex analytics, streamlining operations significantly.

 

The model’s integration into our operational processes has led to enhanced efficiency, reflected in core delivery KPIs improvements –

  • Substantial improvement observed on Budget Performance (CPI)
  • Marginal improvement in Schedule Performance (SPI)
  • Immediate improvement in Scope Performance (RPI)
  • Significant improvement in Quality Performance (DDD)

 

 

Conclusions and Future Directions

The development and implementation of our custom GPT model have marked a milestone in our journey towards leveraging AI for organizational excellence. By providing targeted, AI-driven insights, the model has played a pivotal role in empowering our stakeholders at all levels with the information they need to make informed decisions.

 

Looking ahead, we are committed to further enhancing the model’s capabilities, exploring avenues such as predictive analytics to foresee project trajectories and organizational trends. Our journey with AI is just beginning, and we are excited about the possibilities this technology holds for the future of organizational management and delivery health monitoring.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Based on the project experience and implementation, the collaboration between AI and Agile methodologies poses both challenges and promising future outlooks. By addressing these challenges and leveraging the potential of AI technologies, organizations can enhance efficiency, decision-making, collaboration, and overall project success within Agile environments.

 

Conclusion

In this article, we have explored the transformative potential of integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Agile methodologies in project management. Through a comprehensive analysis of the implementation Strategies and Use Cases, challenges, opportunities, and future outlook, it is evident that the collaboration of AI and Agile holds immense promise for driving innovation, efficiency, and success in project delivery.

The collaboration of AI and Agile empowers project managers and teams to navigate complexity, uncertainty, and change with confidence. By embracing a culture of experimentation, continuous learning, and adaptation, organizations can stay ahead of the curve, seize new opportunities, and remain resilient in the face of evolving market dynamics.

 

As we look to the future, the collaboration of AI and Agile methodologies will continue to shape the landscape of project management, unlocking new possibilities and redefining best practices. To fully realize the potential of this transformative partnership, organizations must invest in talent development, technology infrastructure, and organizational culture that fosters innovation, collaboration, and agility.

In conclusion, the fusion of AI and Agile methodologies represents a paradigm shift in project management, paving the way for unprecedented levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence. As we embark on this journey of transformation, let us embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and seize the potential to revolutionize the way we work, create, and deliver value in the digital age.


 

References

The Agile Manifesto
http://agilemanifesto.org/
 
Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland-The Scrum GuideTM
https://scrumguides.org/scrum-guide.html
Project Management Institute
https://www.pmi.org/pmbok-guide-standards/practice-guides/process-groups-a-practice-guide
 
 
 
 
LLM Based AI Tools
·       ChatGPT
https://chat.openai.com/
·       Gemini
https://gemini.google.com/app
·       claude
https://claude.ai/chats
·       llama2
https://www.llama2.ai/
·       GitHub Copilot
https://github.com/features/copilot
·       Jasper
https://www.jaspar.com/
AI Schedulers
·       https://zapier.com/
AI Bots
·       Geekbot
https://geekbot.com/
Scrum Assistant
·       Troopr – Online Planning Poker
https://www.troopr.ai/
·       Stepsize
https://stepsize.com/
·       Spinach
https://www.spinach.io/
·       Otter
https://www.otter.ai/
·       Fireflies
https://www.fireflies.ai/
·       Power Retro
https://www.powerretro.io/
Slide Deck Generator
·       Gamma
https://gamma.app/
Image Generator
·       Playground
https://playground.com/
·       Dall e 3
https://openart.ai/
Productivity
·       Taskade
https://www.taskade.com/
·       Notion
https://www.notion.so/
·       Asana
https://www.asana.com/

 


About the Authors:

Dinesh Sharma
https://www.linkedin.com/in/hidineshsharma

Over 27 years of experience in IT Industry with more than 16 years in Project management. Extensive Project, Program and Delivery Management and more than 11 years into Agile Based Models.

Worked with a number of organizations both product based and service based across the globe. Experience working with wide range of domains and technologies. Exceptional track record of delivering a high number of projects and programs with 100% success rate.

Authored and published a large number of articles and whitepapers on many topics in Agile and Project Management.


Bhavika Nayyar
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bhavika-nayyar-project-manager

Over 13 years of IT industry experience, specializing in Project Management & Scrum Master roles. Have successfully managed different types of project methodologies including Agile & Waterfall, demonstrating proficiency in all phases.

Have been able to deliver end to end projects with consistently exceptional results. Extensive project management experience handing end to end execution of large-scale projects.

With a strong background in stakeholder management, resource management, project requirements gathering, project budget planning.


 

Team Building: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

These days many, if not all, of our projects are performed by cross-cultural teams. Not only do members come from different national and ethnic cultures, but they come from cultures based on mindset (for example progressive and conservative, woke and anti-woke), generational attributes, socio-political influences, corporate environments, and more.

Teams are vehicles for getting things done. When people come together to accomplish objectives – whether to win a game or perform a project – having an understanding among the team members regarding their objectives and the way they will work together is critical to success.

 

What Culture Is

“Culture is often described through Professor Geert Hofstede’s definition: The programming of the human mind by which one group of people distinguishes itself from another group – the set of shared beliefs, values, and norms that distinguish one group of people from another. As global organisations become increasingly diverse, understanding and managing cultural differences has become a critical competency for business leaders.”[1]

In human societies, culture is a concept that groups people based on shared knowledge, beliefs, values, and practices. A culture includes social norms, habits, customs, institutions, behaviors, beliefs, arts, laws, and more. We have many overlapping cultures – for example, corporate, regional, national, ethnic, generational, and religious. In teams, there are diverse cultural norms including those around cleanliness and neatness, how close people stand when talking, punctuality, and styles of dress.

Cultures are dynamic. They change as people’s needs change and as one culture is influenced by another. New cultures evolve out of this dynamic change process. Each team has a culture. Some are consciously created and understood, others, not so much.

 

Why Team Cultures are Important

Our culture influences our mindset with its beliefs, biases, and values as well as the way we work, play, dress, relate to one another, and communicate. The more that team members understand one another and agree upon values, goals, objectives, and communication and collaboration norms, the more team effectiveness increases.

What are the differences in behavior that get in the way of your team’s optimal performance? Are they caused by cultural differences?

 

“Anthropologists consider that world cultures vary along five consistent dimensions, which include collectivism versus individualism, and cultural preference for uncertainty avoidance. The extent to which cultures vary for these different dimensions can lead to very different expectations when it comes to interpersonal relationships and business communication.”[2]

 

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If some people have a cultural norm of rigidly adhering to punctuality and others are more accepting of a looser adherence, conflict is likely. For example, a U. S. employee visiting his Scandinavian company’s home office was shocked and insulted when he was not permitted to enter a meeting to which he was five minutes late. The cultural norm in that company’s home office was that if you were not on time, then don’t come at all. In the U. S. division coming in a few minutes late was acceptable. The American’s lateness influenced the local colleagues’ opinion of him and made integrating him into the team more difficult.

In another example, there may be a clash between team members from a culture that values assertiveness and tolerates some abrasiveness and those from cultures that view conflict and abrasive language as undesirable. When an assertive team member puts forth an idea, she might expect others to bring up conflicting ideas or criticisms. When they don’t assert their opinions, thinking of doing so as being rude or disrespectful, the assertive person, not understanding the cultural norm in play, may take silence as agreement. The result would be adopting a less-than-effective idea, creating a design or plan deficiency.

 

A project manager from a culture that avoids uncertainty will tend to strictly adhere to detailed structured plans and take fewer risks out of fear of failure. This can frustrate team members who have a higher tolerance for ambiguity and seek to innovate, take a more agile approach, and change the plan to obtain more creative outcomes.

 

What We Can Do

Cultural consciousness and emotional/social intelligence can avoid the negative impact of cultural differences. Cultural consciousness means being mindfully aware of culture as a force in team performance, of the cultural attributes of team members, of the ability to transcend cultural conditioning, and of the tendency to think one’s culture is better than others. Emotional/social intelligence means having the capacity to be aware of one’s feelings, able to manage one’s behavior and be sensitive to the feelings and behaviors of others. As individuals, we can choose to be adaptive to our current situation rather than being limited by cultural norms that are no longer relevant or useful.

 

As project managers, we can build a team culture that respects the cultural backgrounds of team members while cultivating an understanding of how to behave in a way that leads to the team’s success. For example, when it comes to decision-making, adopting an approach like the Six Hats model makes it a norm to look at an idea critically and from multiple perspectives opens the door to a critical analysis of the idea. Combine that with the awareness that avoiding conflict robs the team of useful information, and that exhibiting abrasive speech patterns and behavior may be taken as a sign of weakness, a personal attack causing another to back off or fire back to escalate a conflict and redirect the process away from the idea content.

 

Creating and sustaining effective teams requires cross-cultural awareness training to promote mutual understanding and respect, effective communication processes, and team-building activities to speed up the movement from forming to norming without much storming, to promote optimal performing.

Make sure that team members can fully express their opinions and needs. Consciously agree upon common values and goals to achieve a team culture that integrates the multiple cultures of its members.

 

We build a team, and once it’s built, we sustain it throughout its life. Like any structure, if we build it well, sustaining it is easy. However, it takes ongoing mindful awareness and patient effort to overcome the obstacles presented by cultural differences and turn them into strengths.

[1] https://www.hofstede-insights.com/intercultural-management
[2] https://toppandigital.com/us/blog-us/saying-no-how-conflict-avoidance-varies-between-cultures/#:~:text=Cultures%20such%20as%20the%20USA,as%20Thailand%2C%20Japan%20and%20China.