The Project Management PodcastAuthor: OSP International LLC
21 Nov 2017

The Project Management Podcast

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Project Management for Beginners and Experts. Are you looking to improve your Project Management Skills? Then listen to The Project Management Podcast™, a weekly program that delivers best practices and new developments in the field of project management. The more companies understand the importance of sound Project Management, the more will your skills be in demand. Project Management is the means used by companies today to turn their vision and mission into reality. It is also the driver behind transforming a business need into a business process. The Project Management Podcast™ looks at how project management shapes the business world of today and tomorrow. Find us on the web at or send your emails to The Project Management Podcast™ is a trademark of OSP International LLC. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2005 - 2017 OSP International LLC. All rights reserved.

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    Episode 405.1: The PMP Exam is Changing in 2018 (Free) #PMOT

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    Simona and Cornelius
    Simona Fallavollita and Cornelius Fichtner

    The exam for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification is driven by current practices in the profession. Because project management is evolving, so is the PMP exam. As a result of the release of the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition in September 2017, the PMP exam will change on 26 March 2018. This is to ensure that exam content is consistent with the guide.

    This interview with Simona Fallavollita (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the magnificient Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. We discuss the how, what, why and when of the changes that are coming to the PMP exam.

    Although the PMP is not a test of the PMBOK® Guide, it is one of the primary references for the exam. This means that students preparing to take the exam after the change can expect to see lexicon changes and terminology used within the exam as well as harmonization of process groups, tools, and techniques. Students planning to take the exam after the change are advised to use PMP Training materials that are updated to the new guide.

    Episode Transcript

    Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

    Coming soon...

    Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

  • Posted on 18 Nov 2017

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    Episode 404: Building Trust Using Virtual Communication (Free)

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    Sara and Cornelius
    Sara Gallagher and Cornelius Fichtner

    A large number of projects these days rely on virtual teams. This means that we project managers must master how we communicate in a virtual setting in order to properly lead our teams. But how do you build trust as a leader if nobody can actually see you?

    This interview with Sara Gallagher (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded at the awe-inspiring Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. It is based on her presentation "You Can Trust Me: Communicating When Nobody Can See Your Face" and explores tools and techniques project leaders can apply to improve communication and convey trust even in digital and virtual settings. Here is what Sara wrote about her presentation:

    Trust is essential to effective communication across your team and your stakeholders - but how can you communicate trust when no one can see your face? This engaging session will examine how the four cores of trust are impacted in a digital, global communication environment. Participants will be given the opportunity to immediately apply what they've learned to improve communication across their teams.

    Episode Transcript

    Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

    Podcast Introduction

    Female Voice: In this episode of the Project Management Podcast, we learned to apply specific tools and techniques to improve communication and convey trust even in digital and virtual settings.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™ at I am Cornelius Fichtner. We are coming to you live from the inspiring 2017 PMI Global Conference in Chicago.

    Podcast Interview

    Cornelius Fichtner: And with me right now is Sara Gallagher. Good morning!

    Sara Gallagher: Hello, good morning!

    Cornelius Fichtner: How are you today?

    Sara Gallagher: I’m doing great! This has been a fantastic conference!

    Cornelius Fichtner: You are smiling from ear to ear. You have already presented and they invited you back!

    Sara Gallagher: They do!

    Cornelius Fichtner: You’re going to have to give an encore presentation.

    Sara Gallagher: Yes, I’ll be speaking again at 1 o’clock today.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah! So you must be ecstatic.

    Sara Gallagher: Well sort of. It’s funny right after you present, you’re like: "Ah, finally I can relax.” And then you get the call that you are doing it again. And it all starts again and all the prep work and everything. But it’ll be fun. I’m really excited.

    Cornelius Fichtner: How do you like the energy at this conference?

    Sara Gallagher: Energy has been amazing! So I’ll tell you, this has been a different conference for me in that I came alone and I don’t always do that. But I haven’t felt alone. Everywhere I’ve walked, everywhere I’ve gone, people have smiled, introduced themselves, taken me to dinner. So I found friends everywhere and in every industry, every state and many different countries. It’s been amazing.

    Cornelius Fichtner: So to the people at home who are kind of on the edge: “Should I go to a conference? Should I not go to a conference?” What is your recommendation?

    Sara Gallagher: Oh absolutely do it. Absolutely do it. My first conference was 2015 and I went in both feet in. I came and I also spoke at two presentations. So it’s a first-time conference experience and a first time speaking-at-a-conference experience, and it was fabulous! I get so many great little nuggets of inspiration and ideas I can take back with me, and a great network I come back with. So definitely do it.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Your presentation is titled: “You can trust me. Communication when no one can see your face.” Which is something that we are doing right now!

    Sara Gallagher: It is true! It’s true!

    Cornelius Fichtner: Nobody can see our faces.

    Sara Gallagher: Yes.

    Cornelius Fichtner: What’s the story behind this particular presentation? What got you interested in this?

    Sara Gallagher: Well I think some of the best topics come from personal struggle. In my line of work, I work with high-stakes projects. So these are projects that have a lot of potential business reward but if they’re executed poorly can cause pretty disastrous disruption. In that line of work, I vastly prefer to do it face to face because often there’s a lot of political agendas, complex stakeholder issues and so fewer misunderstandings occur when you can just look someone in the face and really have conversations.

    And so, I struggle with this for a long time and I kind of made it my mission for a couple of years to just experiment, read, research and get better at it. So, I don’t have all the answers. I certainly don’t have a silver bullet solution but my goal with this talk was to just present some of those ah-ha moments that I’ve had, those insights and get people rolling towards a better to work online.

    Cornelius Fichtner: What tools do you use to connect to people online where this has grown out of and you learn from?

    Sara Gallagher: So I’ve done a couple of things. I do a lot of video conferencing and I’m a big believer in that. I think it has limitations still that people need to acknowledge. It is not the same as face to face. We’ll talk about why in a moment. But I do a lot of that both with a fully blown technology solution where you walk into a conference room and there are cameras everywhere and that type of thing. But also just Skype on my laptop which most people now have access to Skype for business or something similar. So in my mind there’s really no excuse, right, not to let people see your face when possible.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Well sometimes in the morning, 7:30 no, no, no.

    Sara Gallagher: Oh well that’s true. That’s true. I know.

    Cornelius Fichtner: I always say, I have a face for radio.

    Sara Gallagher: So I have been on video conferences with Germany, which is a 7-hour time difference and I’m full hair and makeup at like 5 in the morning at the office ready to do this. So I know all about that.

    And then of course you know telephone, instant messaging, email, all of those things that people use, I’ve done that as well.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Let’s take a step back and think about more the not the digital communication but the personal communication. Once you meet somebody if you’re in a meeting room together with them, what are some of the clues that we look for to determine if someone is trustworthy that we talk to?

    Sara Gallagher: Well you know it’s really interesting and we have an excellent keynote yesterday that talked about this very issue. The fact of the matter is what we do look for and what we should be looking for are usually separate things.

    What we do look for is body language. What are they telling us with their eyes? Where are they looking, and what are they paying attention to? And the keynote, we learned that’s not always the best clue as to what they are actually thinking. But what’s really interesting about in-person communication is you think about people you work with physically in an office, right?

    All week long you have all of these micro-interactions with them. You pass them on the way to the bathroom. You tell them a joke. You tell them a story, pass along an idea that you had. And you have accumulated all of this data about this person and what motivates them and what drives them. So when you get into a conference room and you have to argue about something or you have to push your way towards a solution, all of a sudden that person is a human. They are not just a voice or an obstacle on the other end of the phone or on the other end of an email. So in a virtual environment, our goal has to be to replicate the humanity that we have with in person interactions.

    Cornelius Fichtner: I had an experience once where we have an offshore team and they were just words on the other side of an email chain and one day we managed to finally be able to get them on a video conference. And just that 30‑minute conversation changed everything.

    Sara Gallagher: It did?

    Cornelius Fichtner: It brought us closer together. We knew them. We saw them. They were actually human beings over there, right? And they took the time. It was late for them in the evening to come and meet with us and that just personal interaction that we had there, that helped.

    Sara Gallagher: It absolutely does and that’s one of the first ah-ha moments that I had is number one: The more that can you meet face to face in the beginning of a project, the better. If you can afford it, do it. But as you go along, have those touch points where they can see your face or at least hear your voice, relying more on phone than email. But help them experience that warmth.

    And another thing that I’ve done is you can actually get in their physical space by simply using the postal system. So I had a stakeholder in a different state who was just notoriously difficult. I mean every interaction with this guy was just horrendous. And finally, I reached across on a video chat and I asked him to stay after a meeting and I said: “Jeff, I get the sense that you are really stressed about this project. Can you walk me through some of the things you’re thinking about with this?” I swear to God this is what he says to me: “Alright, I’ll come clean. I hate project managers.” I was like: “Okay!”

    Cornelius Fichtner: One way to kill a conversation!

    Sara Gallagher: Exactly! But actually it opened a conversation because I could see his face and I could see he was kind of half-joking. But we were able to have really honest conversations about his experiences in the past, what I was going to do to be different. I followed that conversation up. I learned that he was a big Reese’s Pieces fan. So I hear you’re a Gummy Bear fan.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah!

    Sara Gallagher: Yeah, yeah! So he was a Reese’s Pieces guy. So I mailed him a bag of Reese’s Pieces and a neck pillow with a note that said: “Use this every time I’m a pain in your neck.” And just that act that warmth of him getting something from me in the mail that sat on his desk that he could tap into when he was frustrated was great. And so that’s one the techniques that I’ve kind of found along the way as well.

    Cornelius Fichtner: And for our international listeners, Reese’s Pieces is a chocolate, right?

    Sara Gallagher: It’s a peanut butter chocolate. Think about M and M’s that little chocolate round, yeah! It’s like that.

    Cornelius Fichtner: And isn’t it in ET the movie? Isn’t that what Eliot uses to lure ET out of the shed there?

    Sara Gallagher: Yeah, it is. If you have a peanut allergy, I would not recommend them, but yeah!

    Cornelius Fichtner: Ah yes, okay! One of your slides in the presentation that caught my eyes, I go: “Oh, what is this, uncertainty tax?” What is the uncertainty tax?


    Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

  • Posted on 10 Nov 2017

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    Episode 403: Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) (Free)

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    M Ericson
    Marygracesoleil Ericson

    Advanced product quality planning (or APQP) is a framework of procedures and techniques used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive industry.

    This interview about APQP with Marygracesoleil Ericson (LinkedIn Profile) was recorded one day before the excellent Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

    Marygracesoleil was an attendee of the congress (not a speaker) who contacted me and suggested that we do an interview on a topic relevant to her industry. She is the PMO manager of a car audio equipment manufacturer, leading a team of program managers who build designs and coponents for the audio divisions in the automotive industry. If you have a premium sound system in your car then you might be using their speakers.

    For more information about APQP please visit the APQP Wikipedia Page.

    Episode Transcript

    Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.


    Cornelius Fichtner:   In this episode of the Project Management Podcast™ we look at APQP which stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning. A framework of procedures and techniques used to develop product particularly in the automotive industry.

    Hello and welcome to the Project Management Podcast™ at . We are coming to you live and one day before the excellent 2017 PMI Global Conference in Chicago. I am Cornelius Fichtner and with me right now is Marygracesoleil Ericson. Hello, Marygrace.

    Marygracesoleil Ericson:   Hi, how are you?

    Cornelius:   I’m doing very well, thank you. And thank you so much for stopping by a day before the conference.

    Marygracesoleil:   That’s right.

    Cornelius:   And doing this interview.

    Marygracesoleil:   I’m very excited.

    Cornelius:   So, you are the director of Program Management for a car audio manufacturing.

    Marygracesoleil:   That’s right.

    Cornelius:   That’s as much as we can say.

    Marygracesoleil:   Yeah. I lead a team of program managers that builds designs and builds component on the audio division for the automotive industry.

    Cornelius:   So, anybody listening to this podcast right now, driving somewhere on the freeway, listening it through their car speakers, there is a chance that it comes from your company.

    Marygracesoleil:   That’s right. Only the good speakers.

    Cornelius: [laughs] Right. We wanted to talk today about APQP—the Advanced Product Quality Planning. Ooh, that’s a mouthful. What is it?

    Marygracesoleil:   APQP is basically the disciplined approach to develop PM launching new products. So, it’s the process that we follow from cradle to grave. How do we build components from when we receive the scope from the customer, how we design it, what deliverables we have up until we launch it into mass production. So that’s what we follow.

    Cornelius:   And when you say the process that we follow, who is “we”?

    Marygracesoleil:   All automotive industries follow this. All components that deliver to the automotive OEMs need to follow the APQP process.

    Cornelius:   OK. So, we’re talking Ford, Chrysler, Toyota—whatever car you’re driving.

    Marygracesoleil:   Yeah.

    Cornelius:   If you are somebody who delivers components for those cars, that’s the process you follow.

    Marygracesoleil:   Right. And in some of the Fareast customers—they might not call it the APQP but the deliverables are the same.

    Cornelius:   OK. And my understanding is that APQP came into being because there are so many suppliers who not only supply to one car manufacturer but to multiple car manufacturers and they did not want to have to follow through your four different set of processes and so the car manufacturers actually got together and said, “OK, we may be competitors but we better come up with something to help our suppliers here”.

    Marygracesoleil:   Right. It’s more standardized.

    Cornelius:   Exactly.

    Marygracesoleil:   Yeah.

    Cornelius:   OK. The process that we have and that we can hopefully place on the website has a number of steps in it. It begins with a planning cycle then a product design and development stage, a process design and development stage. After that we have the product and process validation from where it goes into production. This all looks very much plan-driven, a lot of thinking is done upfront before anything happens. Is that the case? Is that what the idea is?

    Marygracesoleil:   Yes, we have to plan how we design, validate and manufacture the components that get delivered to the customer. And this is what we use as the APQP. So, for my program managers, we make sure that 1). we understand the scope of what the customer wants to produce and then we make sure that we plan, we design to the requirements of each of the customers. So, each of the OEMs have different requirements in terms of how they want it to function, what type of temperature does it need to not fail—to still function and also what type of manufacturing they want or capacity they want to produce our component. So, yes, there is a lot of planning involved.

    Cornelius:   Remember we’re only talking about the car audio here. We’re talking about the stereo, the amplifiers, the speakers and you are delivering to that but then there are other suppliers who have similar specifications and follow the same process but they deliver the tires or whatever their particular specialty may be.

    Marygracesoleil:   Yes.

    Cornelius:   In your business, when I look at this cycle here, I can’t really tell how long it takes but at the end, production begins and the planning is on the far left—how long does it take from the initial planning to the production?

    Marygracesoleil:   In a perfect world, this sometimes could take up until three years.

    Cornelius:   OK.

    Marygracesoleil:   So that’s in a perfect world. We can build head units, or speakers and amplifiers for about three years but that’s in a perfect world. In reality, the timing is shorter. There’s a few reasons for that. One is, maybe the customer is not ready to give the award of business. It could potentially be because the technology changes and they want to catch up on that technology so the scope of the component changes or it could be packaging issues. Maybe they want to prioritize on one technology but they can’t package it in the car so they’re still working on it and so that makes a delay also for when we have the final scope of the components we need to deliver.

    Cornelius:   But if it takes normally three years, and suddenly they’re squeezing it into—what—two years, one year, shorter even?

    Marygracesoleil:   Yes. So, there are projects that I’ve worked on where it takes two years. There actually is one particular project that was actually condensed from a three-year project to a seven months project.

    Cornelius:   Why?

    Marygracesoleil:   Yes. [laughs] you know, there’s a lot of things to be done and we only have seven months and tooling alone is sixteen weeks and I’m sure that some of your listeners understand that. So, we have to plan and work with even our suppliers to make it happen.

    Cornelius:   Does this basically mean that you have to get started with all the other processes even though you don’t have the award of business yet? Basically, you say, “You know what, we’re probably going to get this but we can’t wait any longer. If we want to, we have to start now”.

    Marygracesoleil:   Right. There are core designs so whether or not some of the key elements are not finalized, there’s always that core design that we can start with but again there’s a risk of changing that core design, right? Or did we use the correct IC to have enough memory for what they’re asking for—something like that. So, that changes. But again, the core designs are already there, there are some validation that we do during the engineering design phase, which is earlier on to the development but again it doesn’t change the fact that we are pushing our sub-suppliers as well to make sure that we can deliver on time—on target for our customers. 

    Cornelius:   Interesting because one thing that I read here is on the history of APQP, it says that this has an emphasis on upfront planning.

    Marygracesoleil:   Right.

    Cornelius:   Meaning—there’s a lot of planning that happens upfront yet I hear you talk about changes and things that—and when I then look again at the various steps, planning kind of stops at some point. Physically, that arrow for planning stops and says, “After this, there’s no more planning”. At least here in the drawing but that’s obviously not the case.

    Marygracesoleil:   Right. So, we can only plan so much, I guess. [laughs]

    Cornelius:   [laughs]

    Marygracesoleil:   …for the scope of the project but we also need to move forward. Right. We need to move forward so that we can direct or lead our suppliers into making sure that they can build their tools so that we can deliver an actual part to the customer. So, yes, the planning in a perfect world is in the beginning but there is also a lot of recovery plan—is what we call it—where we’ve planned one thing, there’s some changes, it could be driven by the customer, it could be also driven by us as well and then we have our recovery plan. How do we make sure that the end-goal, which is the part that we deliver to the customer, they still receive at the time when they’re expecting it?

    Cornelius:   OK. Interesting side note here: Each of these phases has inputs and outputs—so very PMBOK Guide-like—and one thing that I was wondering here at the end of the plan and define phase, it says one of the outputs, design goals, the quality goals, special characteristics, timing—who signs off on these at this point?

    Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

  • Posted on 06 Nov 2017

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    Episode 402: Generational Sensitivity and Diversity for Project Leaders (Free)

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    Margaret Meloni
    Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP

    Here are some buzzwords for you:

    Multi-generational teams. Generational shifts. Inter- and intra-generational communication. Multi-generational workplace. Millennials vs baby boomers. I think you get the idea... right? We’re here today to talk about how old I am... :-) Just kidding... we’re here to talk about generational sensitivity and diversity and how to make the best of it in project management.

    And in order to explore this generational topic we turn to our "soft side expert" Margaret Meloni ( She has been an IT and project manager for some time and has had the pleasure to work with people from many generations. And I’m not saying she’s old either...

    Episode Transcript

    Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

    Podcast Introduction

    Transcript coming soon!

    Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

  • Posted on 31 Oct 2017

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    Episode 401: Emotional Intelligence for Project Leaders (Premium)

    This episode is reserved for subscribers of the Premium Podcast. Learn how to subscribe to the Premium Podcast to access this interview and transcript...

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    Margaret Meloni
    Margaret Meloni, MBA, PMP

    Those of you who have, will or are preparing for your PMP exam, inevitably come across the term “Interpersonal Skills”. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) mentions them, your prep books talk about them, and you find me talking about them in my PMP exam prep training lessons as well.

    Leadership, team building, motivation, negotiation or trust building are some of the terms you’ll find. But there is another dimension to these soft skills that we project managers need. And that is “Emotional Intelligence”.

    Margaret Meloni ( has been coaching and training on the “softer side” of project management for a long time and so I’m very happy to welcome her as our expert today.

    Episode Transcript

    Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

    Podcast Introduction

    Cornelius Fichtner: In this episode of the Project Management Podcast, we get emotional and discover how the soft skill of emotional intelligence helps us be better at the hard skills.

    Hello and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™ at This is Episode 401 and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Thank you for listening in.

    Those of you who have, will or are preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam inevitably come across the term interpersonal skills. The PMBOK® Guide mentions them. Your prep books talk about them and you find me talking about them in my PMP® Exam Prep training lessons as well.

    Leadership, team building, motivation, negotiation or trust building are some of the terms that you’ll find. But there is another dimension to the soft skills that we project managers need and that is emotional intelligence.

    Margaret Meloni has been coaching and training on the softer side of project management for a long time. And so, I’m very happy to welcome her as our expert today.

    Podcast Interview

    Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Margaret!

    Margaret Meloni: Hi! Good to be here! Thank you! Hi, everybody.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Good morning, good morning! So to begin, let’s once again do a definition here. Let’s define emotional intelligence. What does emotional intelligence mean to you?

    Margaret Meloni: The ability to monitor your emotions or the emotions of others and use this to guide your actions. A shorter way perhaps for me to say this is to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Where does it come from? Who first brought up the term, wrote about it?

    Margaret Meloni: Well I’ve traced this back to about 1964 and it probably even goes back beyond that. But to somebody named Michael Beldoch who did a paper on it. I’m just going to quickly go through some of the parties involved. Then in 1989, there was somebody named Stanly Greenspan who created a model to help describe what emotional intelligence was. This was picked up and used by Peter Salovey and John Mayer, not the singer.

    And then we get to Daniel Goldman. If you use your favorite search engine and look up emotional intelligence, you’ll probably see a lot more about Daniel Goldman than any of these other parties. Although some of them are still actively involved in this field but you are going to see Daniel Goldman as he is very smart and he named one of his first book: EQ Emotional Intelligence. For those of us in the business world, he might be a little bit more of our go-to resource because he writes articles for Harvard Business Review and Forbes and others on a regular basis.

    Cornelius Fichtner: And what is the correct abbreviation please? Is the correct abbreviation, EI or is it EQ or does it even matter?

    Margaret Meloni: Well, I might get in trouble here with someone. That’s the risk I take when I say these things. I say tomato, to-mah-to.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Right!

    Margaret Meloni: But I will tell you is that I did run across one researcher who did use them differently and when he did, he used EI to discuss what we are born with, a potential that we are born with and he used EQ to talk about later our actual practical application of these skills. That being said, 99.9% of the time, I say EQ.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Okay so whether you say EQ or EI, you mean emotional intelligence. I prefer EQ myself but that’s just because that’s the one I have grown up with.

    Margaret Meloni: Exactly, exactly.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Why is emotional intelligence important to us project managers?

    Margaret Meloni: It is a significant differentiator in our success and I’m going to just bounce some statistics off of you and I borrowed these statistics from a man named Travis Bradberry who also does some work in this area. Basically, there is some finding that 58% of our success ties to our ability to be emotionally intelligent and that’s pretty high.

    In addition, if you look at people who are talk performers, who are considered to be successful that 90% of them rate high in EQ or higher than their colleagues. And this one, I’m going to bring this one up. I’m not sure that I am completely bought into this but I want to bring it up because I find it to be very interesting that there is an indicator that goes so far as to say that for each point that we increase our EQ, we might be paid $1300 more in our salary.

    Now, I didn’t go peel back the layers of that research so I don’t know if we could really make a case for that. But I think these statistics together what they are illustrating is that there is a theme and that we are going to experience more success when we are able to control our emotions and recognize what’s going on with others so that we can behave accordingly.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Okay. Those are impressive numbers. But I have some other numbers for you here and those are numbers that are of interest to the project manager and the project sponsor. And that those are earned value numbers. That’s the budget. That’s the date on which I have to deliver. Those are key performance indicators. It’s the scope. Do I really need emotional intelligence to be more successful on that?

    Margaret Meloni: This is the ultimate soft skills versus hard skills conversation I think or question. So if I’m just really high with my EQ, can I just forget about my earned value? No! Because there’s an expectation that I may be able to use my emotional intelligence to guide the team, to hit the goals that we have agreed upon. And so if I’m just like really fun to be around and I get along well with people but my team isn’t performing, that is going to come back to haunt me most likely.

    Conversely, if I’m all about the numbers and I am a misery to work with in many fields, that is also going to come back to haunt me. So I think EQ is like the ultimate integration of our soft skills and our technical skills.

    You know, so for example let’s say you are my sponsor and I do need to come into a status meeting and give you an update and tell you that we missed something in estimating and we’re going to be over budget. If I happen to know if I’ve done my work and I’ve had a chance to get to know you, and I happen to understand that budget is a hot button for you, I hope that I’m going to drop on my emotional intelligence to find the best way to present this information to you. I need to tell you, I need to tell you the truth it’s not okay for me to hide this but perhaps I can do it in a different way rather than blurting out to you: “You know, Cornelius, we’re absolutely wrong and we are $50,000 off and that’s just how it is.”

    Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! With all of that out of the way, we now want to turn our attention to the PMBOK® Guide. It has a long list of knowledge areas that it covers and what we want to do is go through them. Maybe we’ll touch upon all of them. Maybe we’ll skip one or two here or there and you have prepared an example for us on how we project managers use emotional intelligence in these knowledge areas. We’ve already heard one from cost.

    So let’s not start with project integration management, that definitely we want to do last because we first want to learn about all the others and then integrate it. So let’s turn our attention to scope, project scope management. How do we use emotional intelligence in scope management?

    Margaret Meloni: Well and you know in scope management, when it’s that time when we are preparing the scope and we’re trying to get the definition clear and people are beginning to get antsy: “When are you going to get this nailed down? Common! Hurry up!” And people are feeling pressured to agree to the scope and move on. Maybe it doesn’t happen to all of you but I’ve certainly seen that plenty of times. And you see a stakeholder who appears to be unhappy but doesn’t want to stand up to the momentum and wants to go along and sign it. But you can see that they are unhappy and they are signing off grudgingly, what do you do? Do you just say: “Ah well, they signed it. So too bad about them!” Or do you follow up with them to find out: “You seemed unhappy with the scope. I just want to come back to you and no matter what if there’s an issues, let’s work through it now because it’s going to haunt us later.” So you see that’s a way of sensing in the scope process that you think you really have it nailed but you really don’t because somebody is really not happy.

    Cornelius Fichtner: What about project time management?

    Margaret Meloni: You know you are still my sponsor because I’m not going to let you get away from me. But now that important constraint is time. It’s the deadline and I can see a forecast that we’re going to be over by 4 days. I can see that my time is working overtime, my team excuse me, is already working overtime. They are dog-tired, if you’ll pardon the expression, and I don’t know how I can get more out of them and yet I know that the business need is really needed this and we can’t be late.

    I’m not going really need to drop on my emotional intelligence to work with all of you to help come up with a solution. It’s likely the solution may still involve asking the team to give more. It may involve asking you to maybe to concede to two days late. I may need to ask you: “Can we bring in some temp labor and increase the budgets?” But in order to help with the team, and I may have to remind everyone that a team who is really pushed in overtired is likely to have some quality issues and some illness issues. And so, I really going to need to pull on what I’m feeling by the way at that time, which is I’m freaking out and pull on all of that so we can all sit down and come up with a solution.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Earlier on, you’ve already given us an example for cost management. Do you have a second example for us?

    Margaret Meloni: Well let’s say, so you as my sponsor, let’s say you are super helpful and one of the ways in which you are so helpful is you give us some estimates, more in the middle of estimating. You used to work in a certain area and you used to purchase a certain kind of material. And so you say: “You know I want to help you out and you don’t need to go research these estimates because I know this is how much these materials cost.”

    And my subject matter expert looks at your estimates and it came down immediately to the supplier that we used for those materials and prove that your estimates are wrong because that’s not in any way awkward because you are the sponsor and you’re trying to help us and you used to work in this area, and you’re wrong and my subject matter expert can prove that you’re wrong. And I don’t want to move forward with your estimates because I’m going to be off in the budget and sooner or later, I’m going to have to say ‘why’ and so you can see where I might have to draw on my emotional intelligence to: “How do I do this? Do I just not use your estimates and hope you don’t notice? Do I sit down with you privately? Do I bring he subject matter expert into it or does that going to embarrass you or do I just bring you a print out to say, look what has happened, or we’re obligated to use this specific vendor and that’s how much these materials cost at this vendor?” I got to pick the best way to handle this.

    Cornelius Fichtner: How do we use emotional intelligence in the area of quality management?

    Margaret Meloni: Let’s say that I am at a CMMI level IV or V where we use auditors and we have an auditor assigned to me as a project manager and the QA Auditor, I worked some place we call them QA Reviewers. Their job is to review how I’m running the project, to make sure that I’m following the processes that we say we’re going to use to run a project and my QA Auditor or reviewer finds a problem in my project management plan.

    My project management plan has already been signed. My sponsor and stakeholders are happy and we moved on. But in the eyes of the QA Auditor, this is not okay. And the conflict is that their job is to make sure that I’m doing things and following the process and I want to try to follow the process and I didn’t make a mistake on purpose. But now we’ve moved on and I don’t see the value in following back and spending time and updating a plan that everybody seems to be fine with and they are using.

    Now this auditor and I and perhaps others, we need to sit down and discuss what is really the best thing for the project without it being about missing: “That silly, we’ve moved on. Get over it.” Without the auditor saying: “This is how it is. You must stick to it.” So we’re going to have to find a way to be able to sit down and talk about this.

    Cornelius Fichtner: Then we have human resources management and this is probably the area where everybody can see: “Oh yeah, emotional intelligence, human resources. They probably go hand in hand.” How do we as project managers though apply emotional intelligence here? What example do you have for us?

    Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

  • Posted on 20 Oct 2017


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