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I am presenting my session about the importance of understanding and internalizing the needs and perspectives of your product’s end users and customers at the upcoming Project Management Institute (PMI) Portland Annual Conference next month. Recognizing that not everyone can attend my presentation at the PMI Portland conference, I created an exciting, interactive version of the presentation! And I am giving it away for free on my website: http://www.thecrowdtraining.com/free-content

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For those in the Pacific Northwest area and interested in attending the PMI Portland conference, you can find more information about the conference and my session You Did What In My Shoes? at their website: https://pmi-portland.org/2018-ac-meet-the-speakers/speakers-agile-track

PMI Portland logo

The “You Did What in My Shoes?” lesson is an interactive, engaging session on the best practices of project management in regards to considering and developing projects based on the needs, expectations, and perspectives of the user and customer.

This lesson is ideal for anyone working on or aspiring to work on projects. Often we lose sight of who were are building, designing, and developing project for and how they will be using our work. Even if we are good at keeping those end users in mind, putting ourselves in the shoes of others is an excellent reminder and results in better outcomes.

Exploring this fun, simple course you learn about the various techniques used by project managers, project teams, agile managers, designers, and others to get into the shoes of others. The You Did What In My Shoes? interactive lesson is a recreation of the breakout session presentation facilitated by The Crowd Training at Project Management Institute (PMI) conferences and Learning & Development conferences across the United States. The objective is to introduce or remind you of these concepts, techniques, and best practices in hopes you incorporate them in your daily professional life and/or explore them further. The lesson is not a complete, comprehensive deep dive into the practices. Only enough to whet your appetite, get in the mindset, and to motivate your interests.

The lesson has interactive content where you can be active in the lesson. Instead of sitting back and passively absorbing the information, you are prompted to enter responses, make decisions, and even help create your own stories, personas, and user experiences. There is even a Mad-Lib styled activity.

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You Did What In My Shoes? lesson is a free offering of The Crowd Training. Feel free to share this link with your friends, colleagues, and others. It is a good lesson for all of us.

If you know of others that can benefit from this material, please feel free to share!

Thank you.

Reddit Conversation

In discussions on Reddit about my kickstarter project page, some had suggested that I look at reducing my costs and using free or reduced cost offerings. I appreciate the suggestions and the ideas. Alas, I have looked into those options and many do not work. As such, my online project management course is going to a more expensive infrastructure to deliver it to those that enroll.

I looked into many options. If I was building the traditional “instructor-talking-at-the-students” type of online training course, then many of the resources out there would work. I don’t want to deliver that form of instruction. Having professors drone on and on in person rarely works well – especially in highly technical content like the Project Management Professional PMP exam – in person; it is even worse online.

Trying to retain the attention of the learner for 35 – 45 minutes at a time while they passively sit staring at their computer screen may not be the most effective and efficient use of their time and exam preparation. The computer is far too distracting. Facebook, Twitter, instant messages, the web, etc. are just too tempting. They are like sirens begging you to sway. These temptations are hard enough in a classroom when there are others around noticing what you are doing. Remove the instructor or any type of peer pressure or authority, you are kidding yourself if you think the learner is not going to give into any of those temptations. Sure there may be a really dedicated student. But I argue those are rare. They are the minority. They are the most successful and for a reason. The vast majority of others are not going to ignore that email or text that comes in. Few are going to stay focused. Most that shift attention to the email or text that comes in are not going to stop the guy or lady talking on the screen. When they return to the lecture, they may be lost, they are going to need time to catch up. They may even be forced to rewind the video. And scrolling and hassling with a video play bar is not efficient and annoying use of one’s learning time.

Hence, I am passionate about making something – even if just incrementally – better. It takes more thought, energy, and resources [read: costs]. In the end I think it will be worth it for the thousands upon thousands of individuals that study for and attempt to pass the PMP exam every year. Please take a look at my Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thecrowdtraining/interactive-project-management-course
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Here is my latest response on the PMP subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/pmp/comments/7acjcr/kickstarter_pmp_interactive_online_course/

I have tried Udemy and it sucks. They take half of your fee. And they give away coupons to lower the value of your work even further without any input of yours. So a PMP class that should be valued at $200 is reduced to $10 by Udemy, then they take half of that! So the person and teams that did all the work only get $5 from a class that is worth far more.
Plus Udemy only has video based lecture courses. I am building something interactive and engaging. The online courses on Udemy are just people talking over their slides or paying actors to read a script (I know because I wrote scripts for some of the other companies out there).
I know that blazing a new trail and trying to bring more dynamic project management online courses to the world is going to cost me more and make my courses cost more, but that is the price of quality and good work. Interactive online courses cannot work with all the options you mentioned – I wish they did, it would save me a lot of money. If I was just going to talk at you thru my video camera for 35 hours straight, then yes I would definitely go with the resources your suggestion. Although, I am aiming to bring out something better and long term. I am building it for 6th edition (I was a contributor to earlier versions of the PMBOK) and plan to support PMP candidates for many years to come.
If you want to see some of the games I made thus far, go to http://www.thecrowdtraining.com/games I’ll give you a 90 day subscription of $10 (like the Udemy pricing you mentioned) if you use code Reddit.
Thank you for the great discussion. I appreciate your input. I am open to more of your thoughts and discussions. It helps make a better product and help more project managers.

Added Another Project Management Game

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In my effort to give more options to those studying for the Project Management Professional – PMP – exam, I have developed and uploaded another PMP game. This one helps you test your knowledge of the terms in the glossary of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK. I used the 5th edition glossary to author the game, but most of the terms carry over to the 6th edition of the PMBOK. Once the 6th edition is formally released, I shall update the handfuls of terms requiring updating. Since my games are offered in an online repository of games you get all the versions of my games throughout your subscription period – so you are set whether you are planning to sit for the 5th edition or the 6th edition of the PMP exam or simply looking for fun ways to improve your knowledge and gain PDUs!

In this game, you are presented with three doors. One door is the correct door with the correct project management term according to the PMBOK glossary [note: some other project management references may define the terms differently].

The game randomly selects 15 glossary terms from the pool of 378 terms created for the game. There is a counter in the bottom right hand corner to let you know how many you have answered. At the end of the 15, you are provided your overall score. I choose 15 terms in each set to not overwhelm you each time you play but give you enough in one term to see how you do. Let me know your thoughts if that amount should be adjusted. I can easily change it or offer options.

If you want to download and own the Project Management Definition Game, click here to purchase the game for $12.

If you want to gain access to this game and the dozen other games currently offered (with more arriving all the time), then click here to subscribe. For a limited time, the normal $39 rate for 90 day access can be reduced to $14.50 using The Crowd Training’s coupon code opening50 when checking out.

Checked Out GoGogh Yet?

If you have not checked out GoGogh.com yet, then you should give a look.

Unlimited web based IT training for under $400.  Heck, I spent over $2800 for one project management class.  Then found that GoGogh’s $400 rate gives me that project management class AND any other one I want to take.

When you are not worried about additional costs, I took advantage of the freedom to explore other topics and material.  I would never take a C# or Oracle training class, but when it is included for Free, doesn’t hurt my curiosity to take a look around – and yes, still not too interested in those topics.

I did find some topics that I was very interested in.  Take Six Sigma for one.  Not too technical; yet very worthwhile and with diverse applications.  And while I was on it I thought, why not learn about Software Quality Assurance?  So I did.  And it still did not cost me anything extra!

Granted, the downside of not paying per usage, there is a little less ‘buy-in’ from you as the learner – shall we say.  It was easier for me to jump around the topics and take on another topic when it got too far over my head or I just lost interest.  Not issue for the topics that did interest me.  More an issue with my motivation.  But at least I can go back anytime I want.

Having the options of study has been really powerful in my quest for new employment.  On top of obtaining my ITIL V3 certifications, I know that in today’s workforce, having a diverse set of skills is important.  Even if I don’t know them fully, having basic comprehension is key. Especially in the interview.  Speaking the terms.  Knowing the terms when they are spoken to you.  Priceless.  A few GoGogh lessons gave me a quick brush up on SharePoint and Six Sigma.  Paving the way for a smooth interview.

In any case, explore GoGogh.com for what is worth.  They do have an option for taking just one class.  That is $195.  Still dirt cheap.  But why not go with unlimited for $395?  As their catalog expands,  I am certain their prices will to.  Catch the wave as it is just taking off and you could save yourself a bundle.

Happy Learning!

New “The ITIL Crowd” website almost ready

The ITIL Crowd has many projects going on concurrently – beyond this beloved blog.  Beyond instructionally designing ITIL, PMP, BA, and general management or general interest courses, we are facilitating marketing plans.  One major piece is of course developing a website that fits our personality.

The site is not complete.  It is not yet live on own domain.  Nonetheless, we are excited to show off what we have accomplished thus far.  Any feedback you have is greatly appreciated.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Link to the temporary FLASH based site: http://www.wix.com/theITILcrowd/theITILcrowd

Have Course Published at GoGogh

Want to hear my voice?

What to learn something?

What to earn PDUs – if you are a PMP?

I have produced a course for the Training website: GoGogh.com

You can see my course and the others offered.  My bio and list of podcasts (Radio Shows) are listed too.  I have more courses and podcasts in the pipeline and should appear soon.

If you would like a discount on your GoGogh subscription, use the code: gogogh46

Off to Phoenix next week to film a course at their headquarters.  That one is on the PMP Exam prep.  Look for it soon!

ITIL Foundation Classroom Course in Seattle Area this April

The ITIL Crowd is offering an exclusive certification preparation class for those planning to sit for the ITIL® v. 3 Foundation certification exam.  This one time (currently) course will take place in Issaquah, Washington – a east side suburb of Seattle and Bellevue/Redmond.

The course details and registration is posted at http://itilseattle.eventbrite.com.  The 2 day class is being offered at super-generous $499.  If you don’t pass, you can have all your money back.  So, if you are in the Seattle area, what do you have to lose?  Join the ITIL Crowd!

Register for ITIL v3 Foundations 2 Day Classroom Training in Issaquah, WA  on Eventbrite

The course is currently in the accreditation process.

Writing an ITIL Foundation Book

After writing for this blog and my many course documents/study guides, I have decided to also write a stand alone book for those wishing to learn the foundations of ITIL v3.

It is currently titled, ITIL® V3 Foundations in Plain (American) English. Being American and most of the ITIL documentation and study guides in British English or Dutch, I decided there needs to be a colloquial American take on the topic.

Using a conversational approach and my hand drawn illustrations,

ITIL Crowd customer
Sample illustration from upcoming book
I aim to bring a light, entertaining presentation of the complex – and often boring and abstract – ITIL v3 information.

Years developing course materials and comprehensive learning environments for project management, risk management, conflict resolution, quality management, emotional intelligence, project leadership, organizational theory, general how-to, and general management theory, beyond IT service management topics, I have found this formula to work well. Studying research on effective learning strategies and cognitive science as part of my Doctorate program, there is plenty to support the concept of presenting data in comfortable, conversational format. With graphics and supporting material coupled closely to the written text, reinforcing the concepts, the learner is absorbing the complex material in many formats – making retention easier and more lasting. I hope my efforts benefit many who desire to either take on the ITIL® v. 3 Foundation certification exam or simple familiarize themselves with the ITIL framework, purpose, and the processes involved.

Writing a book takes much longer than one thinks. Especially when producing one’s own illustrations and supporting material (not to much contributing to my other projects). With luck, this book project will be completed and published within the next few months. I will see how long I can work for free – I mean “invest” – my time on this endeavor over other projects.

I am in need of reviewers. If you are interested in reviewing rough drafts or advanced copies, please contact me or comment on this blog. Former participants in my PMP and ITIL training classes are accustomed to my style and published study guides. I may have to give a shout out to all of you!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Advice on Taking ITIL Intermediate Exams

Now having cleared all 5 ITIL® v. 3 Intermediate Exams on the Lifecycle Module path, I wish to share some of my suggestions on clearing them.

One suggestion I mentioned in an earlier blog post was to look to eliminate 1 answer choice off the top. There is one answer that serves as a distractor. Often, it sticks out. Find it. Get rid of it. The distractor may have it’s own direction or something the others don’t.

What I mean by “it’s own direction”, is for example: 3 answers may have a “negative” or all “positive” response. Say, “inform the CIO the suggestion cannot (can) work at the present time…”. Whereas, 1 answer has the opposite approach. That makes it stick out. That is the one you must remove. Granted, there are not many blatant examples such as this, nonetheless there are a few from time to time.

Frequently, the distractor has its own errors. Maybe terms/definitions wrong, off topic, repeats irrelevant material from scenario, or something you can -or should – spot as erroneous.

The other suggestion I have for you: READ THE QUESTION FIRST! It took me a few exams before I started doing this, and I wish someone told me to do this from the start. The scenarios are long. They have lots of information. Potentially, more information than you need. How do you know what is important and what is not? Exactly. You don’t. Unless you read the question first.

Some scenarios are written to be used multiple times for various questions. Each question seeks out different learning objectives from the same scenario. Worrying your little head about all the fine details unnecessarily clouds your mind. This is a timed exam. No reason to waste your time.

Scroll down to the question first. Don’t even start reading the scenario – you may not stop. Read the question – usually a line to a paragraph in length. Then read the entire scenario! Now you have a frame of reference. You know what they are seeking from you. You know which data points are important. You know what to look for.

Before, I would read a scenario slowly. Taking detailed notes. Making certain I had all the information comprehended. Only to read the question and discover some of the information was totally irrelevant. Sometimes all the scenario information was absolutely important. But a few times, I had to demonstrate in the answer is comprehension of a concept. Essentially able to answer without reading the story at all. The story helped put the question in perspective and give it “meat”. But not that crucial to answering the question. If you don’t read the question first, you do not know if the story and all its details are absolutely important, certain parts important, or very little of it.

That is my recommendation. Try it out on your practice exams first. It takes some behavioral change; but an easy one to make. It pays off in your ability to answer the exam questions and the time management. My later ITIL Intermediate exams I was finishing with 20 -30 minutes remaining. Earlier Intermediate exams I was taking them down to the wire.

I shall post more suggestions. More are being included in my ITIL v3 training courses and study book materials. Alas, I do not mind sharing some of my experiences for free.

An analogy of Why ITIL

In trying to explain why implement ITIL (IT Service Management) best practices within an IT organization, I played out a scenario of an IT professional speaking with an IT manager knowledgeable of ITIL frameworks. Here is essence of what I ad libbed. Want to throw it out there and seek critique because I wish to use this or similar in my books, trainings, etc.

IT professional does not see the point of changing the way we have always done things. He announces, “Business will use IT Tool X and Y because that is the tool we have and they will like it.”

“Ah, that is the fundamental problem of IT,” chimes in the IT Manager presenting ITIL v3 to the group. “That is why best practices such as ITIL are so important. IT is a powerful component of a business. But we are here because of the business.

“Our business has options. If we are not doing the best and striving to the aims of business, then what good are we? What is stopping senior management to outsource or find some other means? And the few customers outside our company we provide service for, aren’t there 100 other places or ways they can meet their needs?

“We are the backbone of business because we provide the support for the business. Allowing business to achieve its needs and value. We must place ourselves in a position to strive for better support to our business. This is done by delivering better quality at increased cost effecitiency and the best fit. Imagine if your backbone was bent and bent on doing its own thing. You cannot have your backbone sticking out. Your backbone certainly cannot survive without you. A misaligned spine is not going to do you well. If you were business, would you care about a backbone that was crooked and did not support you in the way you needed?

“Now business can swap out all or part of their backbone – us, IT. Physically, we cannot do it as easily in our bodies. Maybe some adjustments or paying attention to our posture a little better. Or a painful surgery. Getting rid of our IT department may be painful at first, but if the business sees more long term advantages of it, why not?”

ITIL at its core is providing an alignment to the needs of business with the capabilities and resources within IT.