As I have blogged (I wonder if this is really a word?) before, I have been attending the NC PMI Committee meetings quite often for the past couple of months. Recently I have attended a session by Mr. Branford Marsalis. Mr. Marsalis is a world renowned Saxophonist. When I first saw this event, I was wondering what does a musician has go to do with Project Management. As you all know, many of us live like ‘Frogs in a well’ (It’s an Indian saying). I was curious and enrolled to this session.
I decided to understand the background a little bit to appreciate the session a little more. What I discovered is that Mr. Marsalis, along with his musician friend Harry Connick Jr., has started a venture to build homes for musicians in the upper 9th ward of New Orleans, after the hurricane Katrina disaster. This noble cause has been named the ‘Musicians Village‘. Despite the name, people other than musicians also applied for the homes. Mr. Marsalis and Mr. Connick Jr. worked with Habitat for Humanity International on this cause.
I have been to New Orleans during my Christmas vacation and have heard about this venture during one of my guided tours. The name that I recognized and associated was that of Mr. Connick Jr.. However after much reading I realized that it was a joint effort by both of these gentle hearted musician, with their passion to give back to their home town.This is recognized as one of many successful initiatives in NOLA, post Katrina. The people and culture of New Orleans is very unique. So, is the red tape and bureaucracy, is what I heard many a times during my tour and later.
The session itself was quite different from the ones I have attended before. Mr. Marsalis waked in, without any gadgets and power point slides / handouts. He just sat there and narrated the story about the origin of the idea and the journey. Participants were really very interested and touched by the whole story as it was about one of the biggest disasters of recent times. Participants asked questions along the way. The situation and the prevailing conditions reminded me of my home land. Another lady from Brazil was able to relate to the story and life in NOLA. She felt that place was like home away from home. I think it is a ‘Third World’ thing. I am sure there will be some of my fellow country men who may not like me call India a ‘Third World’ country.
I will highlight some interesting facts and quotes from the session I have noted.
- Musicians in NOLA work for cash and record all their transaction in their ‘Gig Books’. They do not have Pay Slips and hence had trouble with getting loans from banks etc. to build their homes
- Musicians’ village was aimed at building homes for musicians as well as any other citizens who applies
- Beneficiaries will contribute 300 hours of sweat equity and will pay about $550 per month, one the home is complete
- HHI will also teach the owners all the maintenance techniques
- HHI typically has two standard building plans, however, they have made an exception and designed a third model to overcome a future flood situation
- “Stop blaming and get the job done”
- “Identify the Right Thing To Do and get it done”
- “Identify the Right People” – applied the same logic that he used to make music with – Right Team for the job
- I do not work with lousy people and I can tell someone is lousy after I work for a few hours
- Ignore the criticism and continue doing what you are doing, if you believe it is the right thing to do
- Make the best use of the resources available to you to get attention and support – Media and Press in this case to overcome bribery and Red Tape
Overall, it was a unique and touching experience. I think I am getting good food for thought along with good food during these sessions. I hope to continue doing this and learn along the way.
Economic slowdown and layoffs:
This is the worst economic slowdown that the world has seen in the past 50 years. The forecasts and predictions are all gloomy every where. Guess how many people got laid off so far in the Top 500 American Public companies since November 01 2008? As per Forbes magazine’s “Layoff Tracker“, it is exactly 480,674 as of February 19, 2009. I do not want to scare the @#$! out of you, but this is really depressing. The usage of the “D” word is increasing every day. I was not born to see the Great D. But, this probably and hopefully the only Great D that I would see in my life time.
NC PMI Session:
I have posted about a NC PMI session where a gentleman named Doug Johnson did a session on transitioning in today’s economy. He was an amazing speaker and had a good sense of humor. For the first time in my life, I have seen a lady choked up and teary eyed in a professional session like this, when she was explaining her layoff story and how her 4 and 6 year old kids tried to help her by selling their toys to friends at school and bring that money back to her. It was a very touching moment.
Six Phases of Grief:
Experts and studies say that people go through the following phases during grief. I think getting laid off is one such situation.
- Denial and/or Bargaining
- Acceptance and Determination
Believe in yourself and bounce back:
One thing you should realize is the fact that “It’s not you who is responsible for what just happened”. There are a thousand different things and a thousands of other people who caused this. Also, the fact that you have been employed until a few minutes is a testimonial to your ability, skill and hard work. The last thing that you want to do is blame yourself or lose your self confidence.
Here’s a list of things that experts recommend you should do to get out of the setback, get up on your feet again and get going.
- Let your emotions out
- Share your grief with your loved ones, Spouse, Kids (yes kids, they’ll understand)
- Assess your financial situation
- Plan and prepare for medium to long-term, for life without a job
- Keep faith in yourself and plan the next steps. Prepare your resume, network with people, call that old friend of your whom you always wanted to but never did for a long time
- Do all the things that you always wanted to do, while you were busy burning out in your job, but never did.
- Do not lose focus and get discouraged, keep trying
Mr. Ben Parr, has written an article on Mashable about 30+ Websites to Visit When Youre Laid Off. He has given a step by step approach with a list of 30 websites that can help. Wall Street Journal has another article in it’s February 03 2008 issue, titled “Coping With Aftermath of Layoffs at your Firm“.
I hope none of you get into this situation. But, when you do, you can always get back on track. It’s just a matter of time.
Electronic Sourcing session by Sidd Chopra- A major disappointment
I attended the monthly chapter for NC PMI recently. This was my first . The chapter folks planned a session on ‘Electronic Sourcing’ session. Since, they did not provide any details on the website, against the event, I was expecting the session would be very relevant to Project Management and would probably cover the Procurement Management aspects. The speaker, Mr. Sidd Chopra, is a famous speaker in the triangle area and was also a former board member of the chapter.
Surprisingly, the event turned out to be a ‘Sales Pitch’ for a procurement tool developed by his company. Many of my colleagues who were at the session were also surprised that the chapter allowed the speaker for a sales pitch for his product. It was really disappointing for me personally, as I was expecting a session on procurement and even global sourcing as the main focus of the topic. I have provided the same feedback to the chapter. I hope they would take cognizance of the feedback and avoid such situations in future.
Increase in No. of People in Transition and efforts to help by the chapter
I have been regularly attending the monthly chapter sessions as well as Special Interest Group (SIG) sessions recently. Once of the main objectives of the PMs attending the session is ‘Networking’. Prime reason for this is either people have lost jobs or on the verge of losing. One thing I have noticed is that the number of people raising hands when asked “How many of you are in transition?” has been increasing steadily, but alarmingly. This reflects the trend of worsening economy. I hope things get better soon.
The chapter is trying to help the PMs in transition to support and help them cope up with the situation. There was a session a couple of weeks ago titled “Transition in Today’s Economy” by Doug Johnson. I found it to be a very good session. I will blog about some of the techniques that were highlighted in that session pretty soon.
I have been attending the Special Interest Group sessions of NC PMI. Some topics discussed there are very interesting while others are not so very interesting and down right FYI kind of sessions. The session I have attended in the PMO SIG was very interesting. The speaker Jose Solera, a former employee at intel presented a very interesting topic of “Project Accelerating”. This technique apperantly was used in Intel to deliver projects successfully. Timm Esque along with Jose Solera are evangelising this technique to deliver successful projects. Timm has written a book on this technique named “No Surprises Project Management“. This technique focuses on Planning and execution.
I have been so busy with work all these days to the extent that I have even ignored some of my own professional goals. I would not blame it completely on work, it is a mix of being busy and being lazy. I have tried to complete the PMP certification, without any success, after rescheduling the exam 12 times. I realized the need for being ‘Certified’ just now with all the turmoil going on with the company I work for. I immediately became a member of PMI (www.pmi.org) and also a member of North Carolina PMI (NCPMI.Org) chapter. I intend to complete the certification ASAP. Any tips and suggestions are welcome.