Dr Rumesh Kumar is a certified project management professional, a certified professional trainer and performance improvement consultant specializing in the areas of leadership development, continual productivity improvement and enhancement of interpersonal skills.
When preparing for the PMI-ACP exam, one is confronted with two nagging concerns. The first revolves around the width of scope of questions that would appear as agility covers a very wide area. The second hovers on the extent to which one is expected to know the details of agility as this can vary considerable from one aspect to another. To make matters worse, a readily available textbook that one can refer to which delineates the scope and depth of the PMI ACP requirements is hard to come by.
When I had to prepare for the PMI-ACP examination myself, I set myself up not to pass the exam but to ace it. I relentlessly sought for materials to help me master the concepts. I desperately searched for questions I could attempt which provides ideas on what will be asked. I eagerly surveyed countless webpages seeking guidance on how much I needed to know to ace the exam. Unfortunately, I found nothing that came close to providing me with the answers I sought.
After registering for exam, I gave myself 3 weeks to prepare for it. Within that three weeks I kept asking myself how I can “master” the subject. When I finally set my eyes on the questions during the exam and after securing above target for 6 out of 7 domains tested, it finally dawned on me that the answer was very simple. Just think agile.
Developing an agile mindset
What is needed to ace the exam is to start developing an agile mindset and learning to think from the customers perspective, analyzing what adds most value to the customer as well as to the project success and then deciding what is doable given the existing constraints. As long as you keep this in mind and train yourself to “think agile”, you will be able to eliminate options that are not in line with agile principles as well as agile concepts and zoom into the correct answer. This is done by linking domains to agile principles and intelligently assessing exam questions presented.
Linking the Domains and Agile Principles
The PMI ACP is based on 7 domains with each domain corresponding with a series of best practices or tasks that relate to those domains. Be very familiar with what these are. In agile many key principles and values are described. You should know this very well and be able to relate these principles to the best practices listed within the Domains provided. What I did was link the principles to the tasks within the Domains so that I understood why these tasks are proposed within the domain. Once you mastered this, look up some good questions.
Learning from selecting the wrong options
What you need to do, to ace in the PMI ACP exam, is to get a set of tough situational based questions that require an agile practitioner to decide based on a situation faced. This could be declining velocities of the iteration, poor estimation of story points, distractions from stakeholders, final products not meeting specifications, product owner’s unavailability to support team etc. The options provided should be based on agile principles and concepts but the extent they relate to the situation presented may vary.
I went through around 1,500 questions in that three weeks focusing my mind on seeking options that augured well with the confines of agile practices. Whenever I discovered that my answers were wrong, I relooked at he answers provided to find out what I missed in terms of deciphering the “agility component” within that option. This provided me with the “aha” moment I desperately sought.
Format of questions in the PMI ACP exam
The questions in the exam were brief and to the point. Very direct and focused on application of agile principles and values within common practices associated with agile. The options provided were very close. To distinguish between the correct and wrong option required an ability to understand the intent of the question and to analyze the options against agile principles and best practices.
Understanding intent of questions
Understanding the intent comes from internalizing the key principles of agile and imbibing the core values agile espouses. These principles apply in many different contexts. For example, the principle of collaboration and focusing on developing a working software that adds value to the client may be tested in one question that seeks a response on how to deal with a situation where a member of the development team faces a specific problem that could impact the delivery of a functionality.
Selecting the right option
The option selected should be one that imbibes most of the principles and values in agile that relates to the situation presented. For example, for the question I discussed earlier, the option selected should be one that indicates that efforts to inculcate collaborative efforts are undertaken and the primary end result is that the iteration is concluded in accordance with the conditions of satisfaction required by the client. That option that demonstrates application to a variety of principles, values as well as prescribed practices within the arena of agility is the most likely response.
In short, internalize agile principles and values by studying and thinking through about how they apply in practice under different situations. Familiarize yourself with agile practices, roles and responsibilities of the key players involved, including the agile coach and master the domains as well as what is needed to be done in each domain.
After that has been done, attempt many questions and develop a firm grasps of why you selected the wrong answer and, in the process, train your mind to “think agile” helps. You should gradually be better at identifying the principles and concepts that relate to the situations presented and decide on which option is most relevant to the situation presented.
If you need any further advice on how to ace the PMI ACP exam, please feel free to contact us at here
Wishing you all the best!
Dr Rumesh Kumar
DBA MBA PMP PMI-ACP
A doctor needs to understand human anatomy as well as physiology to be able to detect and treat diseases. Similarly a knowledge management practitioner needs to understand how information is put into context and the nature of information flows in an organization. This helps such a person develop a framework that enables him or her to map knowledge flows.
Developing such a framework that includes knowledge rather than information helps identify what knowledge is available and what knowledge is missing so that gaps in knowledge flows are better identified. The process of identifying the gaps in knowledge flows is called information modelling.
Through a process of information modelling, it becomes possible to identify what knowledge is available and what knowledge is required to either improve a process, solve a recurring problem or seek better marketing opportunities
Sharma Management International has the required expertise to develop suitable knowledge maps as well as undertake information modelling to enable your company manage its knowledge assets better. For us to understand how to help you better, please provide basic information by clicking here
When Donald Trump ascended to the presidency in 2016, the United States was a global leader, a world power that exuded immense global influence. The US was held in high regard by their NATO allies due to their ability and willingness to support the military alliance.
Four years later, the United States is described by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, as having lost its position as a world power with its global influence declining significantly. The French President, Emmanuel Macron called on his European allies to forge a European “strategic autonomy” so that European leaders may defend the continent “without reliance on the US”. This very significant shift in how the United States is perceived worldwide occurred during the presidency of Donald Trump.
When Jorgen Klopp joined Liverpool, it was drifting away from its glory days as a team to be reckoned with. A once towering giant of football supremacy was flirting with mediocrity, having spent two decades without a Premier League title. Jurgen Kloop revitalized and transformed a creaking institution of the past into a behemoth, with the team transitioning from being in the 10th position in the League to becoming the European Champions, and has now returned Liverpool to their domestic perch as Premier League Champions, exceeding all expectations.
A deep dive into differentiating factors between both leadership styles can reveal how specific leadership behaviors play a defining role in shaping success, as well as breeding failure. This article compares and contrasts both leaders within the context of how both leaders ‘sense and respond’ based on their ability to ‘connect people and collect knowledge’.
Sense and Respond
The global uproar due to the heavy-handed manner in which police officers killed George Floyd was unprecedented. Everyone was up in arms against police brutality against people of color. Black Lives Matter trended globally on social media.
This very significant shift in popular mood was keenly sensed by local American politicians, who had no other option but to respond to this crisis. Monuments of public figures who championed of slavery and racial segregation in the past was removed in many cities across the US. The US state of Mississippi passed a resolution to replace the state flag with one without the Confederate emblem. This was done to assuage the rising tide of anger against entrenched systematic abuse against African Americans.
In sharp contrast to other American politicians, President Trump’s response to anti-racist protesters was deny their cause as being a justified cause. He swiftly signed an executive order to protect the monuments of men who fought to preserve slavery at the expense of the union. He ignored and at times contradicted the actions of local US politicians.
President Trump’s COVID 19 response also illuminates his leadership deficiencies. Despite repeated warnings from the US infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci that the nation has a "serious problem", the President routinely dismisses his top man’s advice. He refuses to wear face masks and insists that the spike in COVID 19 cases is rising purely based on “too many tests” being done.
Clearly Donald Trump appears unable or unwilling to accurately sense what is happening around him. As a result, his response is not only inappropriate but totally contrary to how a leader should respond in times of a crises.
Jurgen Klopp on the other hand has remained focused on the mission ahead of him ever since he joined Liverpool. He could sense that he needed the support of everyone who had a stake in helping him achieve success. Jurgen Klopp was obsessively immaculate in detailed planning and displayed flawless execution of his plans in the field. His planning was always done in collaboration with experts. He has been quoted as saying: "I know I'm good at a couple of things and really good at a few things and that's enough. My confidence is big enough that I can really let people grow next to me. That's no problem. I need experts around me."
A good example was how he sensed the leadership qualities within Jordan Henderson, signed by Kenny Dalglish in June 2011. Klopp recognized that Jordan Henderson needs to continue to play a leading role in inspiring the team despite his declining form. He responded by supporting Jordan Henderson all the way, even with his slump in form. By doing so, he built the midfield foundations and team culture which led to Liverpool being the well-oiled machine that it is, rather than a collection of individual players. This foundation led to Liverpool, with Jordan Henderson as captain, lifting the Champions League in Madrid last May. Klopp never wavered. Now, Henderson's form and reputation has never been higher.
Jurgen Klopp was able to instinctively sense the need of the moment, and by doing so was able to correctly respond to the situation appropriately, leading to results that were expected of him as a leader.
Connect and collect
As president, Trump must navigate an increasingly uncertain and complex world. Escalating tensions with North Korea and China, dealing with the current pandemic, and navigating relations with the Kremlin are just some of the challenges on the table.
MIT Leadership Center executive director Hal Gregersen said he would characterize Trump as a "top-down" or "command-and-control" leader. He said that such leaders tend to work best in "predictable and certain" atmospheres.
However, they fail significantly where it's unclear what to do or even pay attention to. Their fixation on them being “the best person to decide”, springs from an inherent inability or unwillingness to connect with others and collect knowledge crucial from making the right decisions.
Jurgen Kloop was the opposite. In preparing for games, he insatiably gathers information before condensing it into the essential and most urgent details. Based on reports from inside Anfield, this is regarded as a key skill that helps drive one of his best qualities - the ability to take big decisions quickly, without prevarication, and getting those decisions right. This was attributed to his ability to connect with the right people to acquire the right information needed at the right time.
He worked very closely with both his assistant managers, Peter Krawietz and Pepijn Lijnders who are assistant managers. No hierarchy exists and both serve crucial, differing roles within Klopp's team. Krawietz runs a team of four analysts, focusing on all aspects of previous and forthcoming games - a role so integral it shapes training sessions and team selection.
During a normal week at Melwood, Krawietz will usually present Klopp with 90 minutes of analytical detail which will be whittled down over the course of two meetings to a 25 - 30 minute presentation which the manager will deliver the day before the game.
The very close connection he had with his assistants enable them collectively to collect crucial information about the best strategy to adopt when playing with top notch teams. In 2016, they honed in on the increasing influence of defensive and attacking set-pieces for crucial games against top opposition.
Consequently, in 2017-18, Liverpool scored 13 goals from set-pieces. He was open to ideas and innovative ways of scoring goals. What greater example than Trent Alexander-Arnold's quickly taken corner that caught Barcelona cold in last season's Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield?
As a leader, Jurgen Klopp connected very well with people that mattered and by doing so collected ideas and knowledge that helped him make the right decisions at the right time as a leader should.
When it comes to identifying what leadership is best in today’s world, we need only to apply the law of inertia that says an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Simply put, progress under a certain leadership style will be forever stymied unless and until we remove the unbalanced force that glorifies leaders that are unwilling to sense and respond appropriately. But to do that such leaders need to reexamine their ability and willingness to connect with people and collect knowledge from them.
If back in 2016, Donald Trump imbued the leadership trait of being able to sense correctly and respond appropriately to situations, having internalized the need to connect with people and collect crucial knowledge from them, the world today would be in a very much different position.
Likewise, if Jurgen Klopp failed to sense the enormity of the challenge that lied ahead of him and respond accordingly, dismissing the need to connect with people that matter, Liverpool would still be hovering in the mid table of the English Premier League.
In today’s rapidly changing world, agile leadership that hinges on responding correctly and responding appropriately is the only way to lead people out of crises. All else is bound to fail.
Dr. Rumesh Kumar
What you need and how you do it?
Whenever the need to convince someone arises, the need for justification always arises as well. Justification means providing a reason for proposing something new or different. It could be a new approach you want to adopt or when seeking funding for projects that involve considerable need for adaptation to changing requirements.
This is when it becomes imperative for the Product Owner to justify the deployment of a project undertaken based on a scrum-based framework. All stakeholders involved, including clients have to understand that scrum adopts a “Value Driven Delivery” concept unlike traditional projects. Scrum, unlike traditional projects is designed to drive value throughout the project, not only achieve value at the end of the project.
In this regard, for scrum-based projects, business justification occurs on a continuous basis; at the beginning, at established intervals throughout the project lifecycle and whenever a risk or issue presents itself. This justification process takes place prior to the initiation of a project and is consistently validated throughout the lifecycle.
Here at Sharma Management International, we believe that this business justification should entail three steps:
By ensuring that these steps are undertaken without fail, business justification for scrum projects increases confidence levels of the ability for scrum projects to provide value driven delivery.
Business Justification can be learnt at a deeper level by joining our online Scrum Master Certification course on 14 – 15 July 2020. Click here to find out more.
Dr Rumesh Kumar,
PMP, SMC, CST
As we emerge from the COVID pandemic, complex problems are bound to emerge. Such complex problems require adoption of agile practices for innovative solutions to emerge. It requires a different way to manage a business. There are many ways to apply agile principles in practice. One common way is to use a methodology called Scrum.
Scrum solves complex problems faced and enables development of innovative ideas for improvement. These ideas come about through collaborative interaction among key stakeholders that is facilitated by a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master provides an enjoyable and a streamlined atmosphere for the development team, which in turn improves the product and fosters innovation. Such a role is fast replacing the role of a traditional Project Manager.
Scrum Masters are in high demand due to the limited number of people working in the field. For instance, in 2017, the role of a Scrum Master was ranked 10th among the most promising jobs in the world
Let’s explore why you should consider playing the role of a Scrum Master.
1. Become more valuable to the Company
Scrum decreases time to market, which means there are high returns on every investment the company makes. Since you are guiding the development process, your services become even more indispensable to the organization. For example, regular feedback through sprint reviews directly from stakeholders, including customers, enables project correction earlier which is less costly and time-consuming than later in the process.
2. Contribute towards developing “cool” products
The joy of developing products which simplify complex problems for the end users is unparalleled, and so is the recognition that comes with it.
As a Scrum Master you can contribute to delivering customer centric products and have the satisfaction of knowing that your team was pivotal to the success of the project. Moreover, it makes everyone, the company, the team, and the customers happy.
3. Be in a position of higher visibility
As a Scrum Master, you oversee every aspect of a project. This kind of visibility makes it easier to identify issues during the development phase and resolve them quickly. A complete control of the project comes with the responsibility for its failings.
Thus, encouraging you to take full accountability to reduce the risks of developing a project, which in turn makes you—as a Scrum Master—more visible to the company.
4. Drive exciting innovation