Excel Shortcuts

By Bob Umlas, Excel MVP

Excel has hundreds of keyboard shortcuts. In this blog, I’ll describe some of my favorites

Ctrl+Shift+ numbers 1 thru 7, and 0 (and the tilde key, ~) can be used for formatting. Let’s start with this sample worksheet, and assume A1 thru B2 is already selected and contains 12345:

Ctrl+shift+1 –  add comma and 2 decimal positions:

Ctrl+shift+2 – Change to a time format:

Ctrl+Shift+3 – Change to a date format, but Day-Month-Year:

Why October 18? Excel stores dates counting the number of days since Jan 1, 1900 (that’s day #1). So, day #12,345 is October 18, 1933!

Ctrl+Shift+4 – Change to currency (Easy to remember because of the “$” on the 4):

Ctrl+Shift+5 – Percentage notation (Easy to remember because of the “%” on the 5):

Ctrl+Shift+6 – Change to scientific notation (Easy to remember because of the “^” on the 6, meaning raise to the power. That is, 3^2 is 3 squared, or 9):

Ctrl+Shift+~ (tilde – character to the left of the 1)- restore to General formatting:

Cttrl+Shift+7 – Put a border around the selection:

Ctrl+Shift-0 – Remove the border from the selection.

Ctrl+Shift-8 and Ctrl+Shift-9 don’t do anything regarding formatting.

Ctrl+U will underline, Ctrl+B will bold and Ctrl+I will italicize cells.

Non-formatting shortcuts:

Ctrl+minus will delete cells. If a whole row is selected (or more than one), it will be deleted. If a whole column is selected, (or more than one), it will be deleted. If less than a whole row or column is selected when you use Ctrl+minus, Excel will give this dialog:

Ctrl+Plus inserts cells, with the same “rules” as deleting cells. The dialog presented if not a whole row or column is selected is:

Ctrl+W will close a workbook (and will prompt for saving if not already saved).

Ctrl+N will create a new workbook.

Ctrl+O will prompt for opening a workbook.

Ctrl+P will print a worksheet.

A reminder that  Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+X, and Ctrl+C are undo, cut, and copy.

Ctrl+R will fill a selection to the Right, and Ctrl+D will fill a selection Down.

Ctrl+A selects the current region, Ctrl+A a 2nd time selects the whole sheet.

Ctrl+F brings up the Find dialog, and Ctrl+H brings up the Find and Replace dialog.

Ctrl+; inserts the current date, and Ctrl+: inserts the current time.

Ctrl+arrow (up, down, left, right) will move the cursor to the beginning or end of the next “block” of cells. For example, starting with this sheet (notice the active cell is C1):

Ctrl+down will select C4. From there, Ctrl+right will select F4. Ctrl+Down will select F11. Ctrl+Left will select C11. Ctrl+down from C11 will select C1048576!!

Holding the shift key with the above arrow commands will keep whatever the active cell was still active! For example, if C4 is active when you use Shift-Ctrl+Down, you’d see this:

If you have a shape selected, then Ctrl+D will duplicate the shape. Here’s what that looks like after Ctrl+D:

Shift/F2 (the F2 key) will insert a comment!



Okay, now for a totally different set of keyboard shortcuts. You have access to all the commands in the ribbon from the keyboard. If the first key you hit is either a slash or the Alt key, the ribbon will take on letters. For example, here’s part of the ribbon after pressing a slash:

The letters in the small black squares can be used to access that ribbon tab. For example, if you press “A” at this point (indicating the Data tab) you would then see this (truncated):

Not only are you now on the Data tab, but you have a whole new set of letters you can further select.

So, if you started by pressing “/AT”, meaning Data, then Filter, you might see the filter dropdown arrows (depending on where the selection was):

You can learn or memorize your favorite keystrokes. Each of the above examples works for beginning with slash or Alt.

Also, if you have a command that you use a lot, but you have to keep changing tabs to get to that command first, you can put that command in the QAT (Quick Access Toolbar). Those are the little icons above the ribbon. My QAT is already quite large and looks like this:

The little arrow on the far right side contains “common” commands you can add or delete from your QAT:

The checked items are already being used by me. But let’s say you want to have a quick access to creating a pivot table. You can go to the Insert tab, right click on the Pivot table icon, then choose the command to Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Then, the right of your new QAT would look like this:

Finally, you can visit the “backstage view” for more options. (That’s what you’re looking at when you click on the File menu). You can either get there from the right-click of a ribbon command:

Or by File/Options/Quick Access Toolbar:

Either will take you here:

The right side has the list of items already in your QAT (in this case, my QAT) Notice the dropdown above this in which you can have separate QATs depending on whether you choose “For all documents (default)”, or only for the current workbook!

The left side lists all the popular commands. You can change this dropdown to many choices:

My favorite is to select “All commands” where you’ll be able to find a QAT for any command in Excel!

You can tell from the small scroll indicator that this is a very long list!

Go make your Excel life easier!

If you are interested in bringing Excel MVP Bob Umlas into your company (either virtually or traditionally) to do Excel consulting and/or training work, contact roxi.nevin@iil.com.

About the Author
Bob Umlas has been using Excel since its inception in 1986. He has had more than 300 articles published on subjects ranging from beginner to advanced, VBA, tips, shortcuts, and general techniques using virtually all aspects of Excel. He is the longest running Microsoft Excel MVP in the world (25 years). He has been the technical editor of (about 20) of Bill Jelen’s (MrExcel) Excel books. Bob speaks at Excel conferences around the world on his favorite topic, Tips & Tricks, which wows even the experts. He is the author of 3 Excel books and is the current leader of NYC’s Excel Special Interest Group (which meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month).

This isn’t Excel, it’s Magic!
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Developing Your Benefits Realization Plan

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Is it possible to deliver a project on time, on budget, and to scope and still have an unsuccessful project?

Now more than ever, the answer is yes – because today’s projects are all about benefits and value.

A benefit is an outcome or a result from actions, behaviors, products or services that are important or advantageous to specific individuals or groups, such as stakeholders. The value of the project is what the benefits are worth to someone, typically in monetary terms. And managing those benefits, meaning making sure they’re delivered, is called benefits realization management.

The Benefits Realization Plan (BRP) is an instrumental part of benefits realization management. What’s that and what does it include? Let’s take a look.

The Business Realization Plan (BRP):

  • Documents all the activities the team is going to complete to achieve the planned benefits
  • Provides a timeline for when the benefits are going to be delivered, and outlines who’s responsible for getting the job done
  • Most importantly, it describes how those benefits are going to be sustained over the long run

Some suggested topics you should include in the plan:

  • The purpose of the project
  • The benefits to be delivered
  • How each benefit will be measured
  • Roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders
  • The schedule for delivering the benefits
  • Any changes to systems and processes
  • How the benefits will be transitioned and sustained by the organization

Right about now you might be thinking, isn’t project management loaded with enough plans? Do I really have to prepare yet another plan?

The answer is yes, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be as bureaucratic or time-consuming as it sounds.

To give you a head start, here are my five tips for developing the BRP.

Tip No. 1
Use the business case as a point of departure. It contains a lot of useful information about the need and justification for the project.

Tip No. 2
Interview your key stakeholders. Make sure you understand what they’re expecting when the project is done. After all, they’re the folks who decide whether the project was successful or not.

Tip No. 3
Gather as many good ideas and suggestions as you can about the whole benefits process by tapping into the minds of your stakeholders using techniques like brainstorming sessions, focus groups, and other approaches. People want to help and be engaged. Give them every opportunity to do so.

Tip No. 4
Do everything humanly, and inhumanly, possible to get the sponsor involved. PMI research shows that an actively engaged sponsor is the top driver of project success.

Tip No. 5
Make sure you put the benefits in writing and get the appropriate people to approve them. It’s not YOUR project, it’s THEIR Project; it’s their benefits.

I’ll be further exploring this topic (and sharing more tips!) in my IPM Day keynote, “The New Normal in Project Management: It’s All About the Benefits.”  I hope you’ll join me.

The IPM Day 2019 Online Conference opens Thursday, November 7.

Register Here >>

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.

Dates and Times in Excel

By Bob Umlas, Excel MVP

After reading this blog you should be an expert in Excel’s Dates and Times.

If you enter the number 1 in cell I1, for example, then look at the Home tab’s Number Format’s dropdown, you’ll see this (without the arrows!):

Notice that the number 1, formatted as a short date (dates as month/day/year), is January 1, 1900! (Also notice the time is 12:00:00 AM, but I’ll cover that later). Well, if 1 is January 1, what’s 0? Yes, it’s January 0 (not December 31, 1899)!

Excel stores dates as the number of days since January 0, 1900.

This article was written on April 11, 2017. Look:

What’s interesting here is the date expressed as a number: it’s 42836. That’s 42,836 days since January 0, 1900! So, Excel stores dates as numbers, but these numbers are simply formatted to look like dates. This version of a date, formatted as a number, is called a Serial number. The number 200,000, formatted as a date, is July 30, 2447!!

So now Excel can work with dates as simply as it does with numbers. Try finding out how many days old you are: You would enter a formula like =TODAY()-“5/6/42”. What you’d see probably makes no sense, at first: 12/6/1974, in my case! What’s that? It’s a number formatted as a date. The actual number of days is 27369:

You just need to format it as General. You can avoid the need to reformat the cell by using the DATEDIF function shown below. By the way, why did I use quotes around the date (=TODAY()-“5/6/42″)? If I hadn’t, it’d be treated as 5 divided by 6 divided by 42, not the date 5/6/42!! As a validity check, see the difference between entering these two: 5/6/42 or =5/6/42. You might even try entering =1*”5/6/42” – this too will give you the Serial number of 15467.

Excel has many functions to work with dates: MONTH, DAY, YEAR, TODAY, DATEVALUE, NETWORKDAYS, WEEKDAY, WORKDAY, DATEDIF and others. Using 4/11/17 as our date (and say it’s in cell A1), then here’s a sampling of these functions:

If you have =TODAY() in a cell and it returns 4/11/2017, then if you open the same workbook the next day it will say 4/12/2017. If you simply open the workbook and close it, you will be asked if you want to save changes. Why? You didn’t change anything! It’s because the TODAY function (among others) is a volatile function and is “always updating”.

Dates can be formatted in many ways. Here are some common ones, all using 4/11/17:

Suppose you have 4/11/17 in cell A1 and you want to refer to it from another cell, but with some text. You want it to say “Today is 4/11/17”, so you try =”Today is “&H1 but you get a surprise:

You need a new function for formatting that date, since cell H1 actually contains 42836, not 4/11/2017! Here’s the solution:

It’s the TEXT function. Here’s where you supply the formatting as in the table above. One more example (refer to the table above):

Okay, now let’s look at TIME. Time is similar to Date – it’s all formatting. Time is kept as a fraction of a day. Have a look at this initial example:

Notice that the formula in cell G3 is =G1=G2, and it’s returning TRUE. This means 6 PM is equivalent to .75. And similarly, column H shows 12 PM is equivalent to .5. There are 24 hours in a day. 12 PM is half-way through the day, or .5. 6 PM is ¾ through the day, or .75! What about 3:30 PM?

So, time is stored as a fraction of a day. Midnight is 0. This exact moment (it’s now about 3:37PM) is shown here via the NOW function:

It’s all formatting! Cell J1 is formatted as m/d/yyyy h:mm.

Here are some TIME built-in functions:

Here’s an anomaly you may have come across. Look at this spreadsheet:

The value in cell B7, summing the values in B1:B5, clearly seems wrong! In fact, it’s right, but it’s formatted wrong! Since time doesn’t go beyond 23:59:59 (1 second before midnight), once you would hit 24:00:00 (invalid), it’d be reset to 0. So, the value in B7 is right and would be displayed as you see in cell B9. Regular formatting of h:mm forces hours to be 0-23 only. The trick in cell B9 is to use the format of [h]:mm! The [h] overrides the hours to not rewrap at 24. The formatting as minutes (mm) also has an override of [mm], as does seconds [ss].

Here’s the display of cell B7 shown with [mm] and [ss] formats:

You are now officially an Excel Date & Time expert!

If you are interested in bringing Excel MVP Bob Umlas into your company (either virtually or traditionally) to do Excel consulting and/or training work, contact roxi.nevin@iil.com.

About the Author
Bob Umlas has been using Excel since its inception in 1986. He has had more than 300 articles published on subjects ranging from beginner to advanced, VBA, tips, shortcuts, and general techniques using virtually all aspects of Excel. He is the longest running Microsoft Excel MVP in the world (25 years). He has been the technical editor of (about 20) of Bill Jelen’s (MrExcel) Excel books. Bob speaks at Excel conferences around the world on his favorite topic, Tips & Tricks, which wows even the experts. He is the author of 3 Excel books and is the current leader of NYC’s Excel Special Interest Group (which meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month).

This isn’t Excel, it’s Magic!
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The PMP® Exam is Changing: Here’s What You Need to Know

Please note that the launch of the new PMP Exam has been delayed until June 30, 2020


By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

In June 2019, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® announced that significant changes are coming to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. In this post, I will provide important information about the new PMP® Exam and answer the following questions:

  1. When is the PMP Exam changing?
  2. Why is the PMP Exam changing?
  3. What is changing in the new PMP Exam?
  4. How do I prepare for the new PMP Exam?

Having been active in PMP Exam prep for many years, the first question almost everyone has when they hear about PMP Exam changes is WHEN? So, let’s start with that one.

When is the PMP Exam changing?

The new PMP Exam will make its debut on December 16, 2019.

The last day to sit for the current version of the PMP Exam is December 15, 2019.

There is no overlapping period of time when both versions of the exam will be available. The current version is available through December 15th and the new version starts December 16th.

So, if you have already started preparing for the current exam, my suggestion is to complete and file your PMP application ASAP. Remember, if you file online (and most folks do), PMI® has five calendar days to review your application and notify you if you’re eligible to sit for the exam. The five days is moot if you’re selected for an audit (you have a very low chance of that happening).

By submitting your application ASAP and being notified that you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will be able to immediately contact the Pearson VUE testing center of your choice and (hopefully) select the date and time when you prefer to take the exam.

Be advised that whenever the PMP Exam changes, there’s always a mad rush to take it which can cause problems securing the center, date and time you want. In any given month, there are roughly three thousand folks earning the PMP credential. In the months leading up to a change, that number can be much larger because people want to take the exam before it changes, AND SO DO YOU! Don’t delay — apply and sit for the exam ASAP.

Now that we know when it’s changing, let’s see why.

Why is the PMP Exam changing?

Many folks ask, why does PMI have to change the exam? Can’t they leave well-enough alone? The answer is it has to be changed because PMI has published a new PMP Examination Content Outline[i] (the “Outline”).

What’s the reason for the new outline? Well, PMI’s professional certification examination development process is accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 1704[ii] Standard, as well as other industry best practices. A key component of these standards is that PMI is directed to use a Role Delineation Study (RDS) as the basis for the creation of the examination. Basically, PMI identified, through a wide range of surveys, the knowledge, tasks and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of project manager. That content is contained in the Outline which is used as a basis for, and validates the outcome of, the PMP Exam. Each question on the PMP Exam is tracked to at least two academic references (which PMI does not reveal) and to the Outline. This is why it is such an important document.

The current Outline[iii], published in June 2015, includes the five domains of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. PMI also identified forty-two tasks across all five domains that competent project managers perform. The Outline also provides a “blueprint” for the exam in that it identifies the percentage of questions in each domain that will appear on the PMP Exam. The June 2015 version is the one tested on the PMP Exam through December 15, 2019.

PMI updates the Outline every four to six years to determine what has changed in the world of work for project managers. After all, in this world of ours, things can change, and change rapidly, and project management is no different.

As a result of redoing the RDS, PMI identified significant changes and trends in our profession that are not addressed in the current PMP Exam. So, in order to ensure that the PMP credential remains relevant, accurate, and current, PMI had to make changes to the Outline, and many of these changes have notable differences with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.

You see, the volunteer taskforce involved with the Outline were not bound by the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. This taskforce was charged with outlining critical job tasks of individuals who lead and direct projects based on their experience; information which can go beyond that which is covered in the PMBOK® Guide. Based on their work, the taskforce identified three domains and thirty-five tasks that competent project managers are performing today. It is the June 2019 version of the Outline that will be tested on the PMP Exam starting on December 16, 2019.

Now that we know the when and the why, let’s look at what is changing in the PMP Exam.

What is changing in the new PMP Exam?

The new PMP Exam will focus on the three NEW domains of People, Process, and Business Environment.

People: This domain is all about leading a team, including supporting, empowering, training, and building a team. Managing conflict and collaborating with stakeholders are also important components of this domain.

Process: Just think of the ten knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. That’s what this domain covers, as well as a few other topics.

Business Environment: Covering the link between projects and organizational strategy, this domain also includes compliance and organizational change management.

Below is the blueprint for the new PMP Exam that starts on December 16, 2019.

new pmp exam blueprint

But changing from five domains and forty-two tasks to three domains and thirty-five tasks represent only one aspect of the change. The new Outline also says about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.”[iv] You read that correctly: half the exam, 50% of the questions, will be on agile and hybrid approaches!

This is a major change not just to the PMP Exam, but to the PMP credential itself. PMI is making a major bet that agile is not just here to stay; it represents a significant shift in the way projects are, or should be, managed. And in order to earn the PMP credential, PMP candidates are expected to know all about agile.

But does a PMP candidate need to have experience using agile, as well? After all, the questions on the current PMP Exam are written such that one needs to have experience in managing projects to answer many, if not most, of them correctly according to PMI. If the PMP Exam is changing, will the PMP application change as well?

Here’s what PMI writes on its website:

“The PMP application will also change in December, but if you submit your application before then, please continue using the current application. We’ll share more information here as it becomes available.”

As of today, we will just have to wait and see how PMI will change the eligibility requirements for the new PMP Exam. Visit PMI’s website regularly to monitor any and all changes.

How to prepare for the new PMP Exam

As I recommend above, if you can sit for the current PMP Exam, do it. In this business, the known is always better than the unknown. However, if you can’t sit for the current exam, don’t worry. You simply have to develop an effective approach to learn the material you need to know to pass the exam.

If you’re a “do-it-yourself” kind of person, you need to obtain and study a minimum of three publications. They are:

  1. The new PMP Exam Content Outline
  2. The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition
  3. The Agile Practice Guide

(You will receive the Agile Practice Guide when you purchase the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.) You can also supplement your reading with online practice exams and other publications which you can find through a simple online search.

But if you’d like help using a more structured approach, which is what I’ve recommended for many years, we at IIL have developed a PMP Certification Prep course that will help get you ready. We offer this course in three modalities: instructor-led, virtual classroom, and on-demand (video based). The course includes:

  • 35 hours of education (required for the PMP application)
  • PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition and the Agile Practice Guide[vi]
  • Access to IIL’s Project Management IQ (1,000 PMP Exam practice questions)
  • IIL’s PMP Certification Prep course workbook
  • Access to IIL’s on-demand Agile and Hybrid Foundation course
  • Supplemental readings and reference materials

Regardless of your study approach, we stand ready to assist in helping you prepare for, and successfully pass, the PMP Exam.

Let us know how we can help. Email us at learning@iil.com or visit our website at www.iil.com.

Project Management Institute, PMI, Project Management Professional, PMP, and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


[i] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019

[ii] ISO 17024: Conformity Assessment-General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

[iii] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2015

[iv] Project Management Professional (PMP)®< Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019, p. 2

The 5 “Don’ts” of Project Management

By Liam Dillon, PMP, PMI-ACP, PgMP, PfMP
Senior Consultant, IIL | Managing Director/President, Turlon & Associates

Reading various blogs, articles and papers on how to be successful as a project manager got me thinking about what NOT to do as a PM. I have seen some major “do nots” throughout a 27-year career in project management and it is only in hindsight that these became my lessons for the future.

From experience, there are myriad reasons why project managers take the wrong route on things. It could be because they have little or no time to do the things required to manage a project, creating a pressure valve whereby incorrect decisions are made, and time is being spent on things that a project manager should not be doing. It could be because people are skeptical of the true value of project management or that the project manager simply does not understand what is expected of them in a project management role (which is very often the case). Whatever the reason may be, we can take the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.

So here are my top five “don’ts” of a project manager. Feel free to agree or disagree but I hope it gets you thinking. ?

Don’t get stuck in the weeds.

In most cases, the management of a project does not offer spare time to get involved in the weeds of the project. There is an old expression, the devil is in the details, and this is so true, especially on large and/or complex projects. A project manager can easily focus on various line items of the project while failing to ignore the big picture. The job of the PM is to focus on the stakeholder relationships and to manage expectations. If you want to live in the details, stop being a project manager.

Don’t take a short corner route for your own gain.

Taking a short corner is really about a lack of engagement. One of the surest ways of alienating any stakeholder is when they find out about things too late. The project manager is then becoming the master of ceremonies rather than the facilitator of ceremonies. Avoid the temptation to place meetings in front of stakeholders and expect them to attend every meeting you invite them to. Keep people informed as you go along and adopt the principle of ‘Management by Walking Around’ …yes, the great discipline of MBWA!

Don’t keep problems to yourself.

This is one of the most wasteful activities that a project manager can do. Keeping problems to yourself is a form of procrastinating that has little value to the role of a project manager. When the PM procrastinates, this means the business will procrastinate and that means we all procrastinate. Many managers do not have the time to do the things they should be doing, but in this case project managers should focus on the essentials of what needs to be done. Very often the focus of procrastination is on the difficult items or the items that there is no solution for. We rarely procrastinate on the easy things.

Don’t be afraid to challenge those around you.

It is impossible to please everyone all the time, but it is important to challenge people and to challenge the level of complacency, when appropriate. Understand the key project constituents and stakeholders and then focus your attention on them. Challenging others is not always focused on the conflict mode of operation but sometimes it is being creative and focusing on possible inertias within the project.

Don’t hide behind your desk.

Project managers need to get out from behind the desk. It is easy to get managed by email, most of which is an annoyance and unrelated to the project. If working in a virtual environment, get on the phone and build relationships with the project team. Speaking with people can help you identify risks and uncover those issues that are smoldering fires before they take hold.

My hope it that this gets you thinking about the “don’t” of project management – sometimes it is the simple things. If you have others that spring to mind, feel free to share them with us.

About the Author
Liam Dillon is a Senior Consultant with IIL and the Managing Director and President of Turlon & Associates. Liam has been involved in project and program management since 1995, working with various applications and technologies in Ireland, Asia-Pacific and North America. As part of Turlon, Liam works with various blue-chip companies, on a consultancy basis, in growing levels of project and program management maturity.

Liam has served as the President of the Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and is currently a member PMI’s Global Board Volunteer Advisory Group. Coupled with his industrial experience, Liam spends time speaking on the topic of project, program and portfolio management.

Project Management Training from IIL | Contact us today to request a free consultation

Pseudo Agile, Hyper Agile – Isn’t Plain Agile Enough?

By Dr. Willis H. Thomas, PMP, CPT

This article discusses approaches that are being used by some organizations who are utilizing agile principles in an ad hoc fashion in an attempt to realize its benefits. It stresses the importance of agile maturity, which can be segmented in five stages:

Familiarizing Emerging Embracing Applying Optimizing
Project teams begin to see the benefits of Agile as they compare it to other methods of project management, i.e., Waterfall, they may be currently using. Project teams receive basic training on agile principles and understand how, where and when it can be implemented in the organization. Project teams become certified or qualified in agile and are now able to convince key stakeholders that agile will work effectively and efficiently and gain their support to champion key initiatives where agile can be used. Project teams who have been certified or qualified are utilizing agile methods based upon industry guidance and best practices. Project teams have advanced their certification or qualification to agile job descriptions and organizational structures. They are now in a position to promote continuous improvement.

As you consider the maturity model represented above, it is important to keep in mind that this is only one way to look at how an organization’s adoption of agile will become stronger over time. The important thought here is that project teams must keep in mind that agile principles require patience and change management as the culture of an organization will likely change.

Many organizations have embraced Agile and are convinced it has:

  • Enhanced project coordination, i.e., streamlined documentation
  • Improved project communication, i.e., faster stand-up meetings (huddles)
  • Streamlined project cycle time, i.e., working in sprints to allow for changing requirements
  • Strengthened project teams, i.e., empowered self-directed work teams
  • Encouraged best practices, i.e., modernized development approaches

Because some organizations have not realized formality in their agile approach, they will utilize terms such as pseudo-agile to indicate where they are on the agile maturity scale. The term pseudo actually means false, pretentious and not real, but in the concept of agile it has been redefined as partial, somewhat or interim. In other words, pseudo-agile is not perceived as negative by some critics, but rather a natural evolution in transitioning from waterfall to agile.

Technically, it is preferable to avoid this terminology of pseudo-agile when referring to where your organization is at in its adoption of agile simply because it can be misinterpreted or confusing. Other terms that may be more appropriate to describe adopting agile include:

  • Being at an interim stage in transitioning to agile
  • In the initial stages of agile implementation
  • Intermediate knowledge of agile principles
  • Established and follow basic agile principles
  • Hybrid approach to software development

It is important to remember the concept of pseudo-agile might have a negative connotation:

  • Being wishy-washy in the commitment to adhere to agile principles by training team members
  • Using some agile processes, but really preferring to adhere to a waterfall model
  • Meeting infrequently in stand-up huddles, but usually electing to gather in sit down meetings
  • Documenting some aspects of the project extensively and others barely to reduce overall size
  • Taking short cuts in testing and development instead of optimizing the project life cycle

As one author expressed it, “Pseudo-Agile is a slow poison to Software Quality. Pseudo-agile is a dangerous practice for the Software industry. It impacts both the Software design & testing effectiveness. It’s a slow poison whose effects are not immediate.”

This has become increasingly important, especially for software developers who are experiencing increased pressure from their clients to keep up with the times and start utilizing agile approaches in software development to reduce cycle time. These software developers cannot afford to risk their credibility and state that they are pseudo-agile.

On the flip side of the coin, there are critics who have embraced agile and are excited about new advancements in agile methodology. Despite the obvious benefits of agile, the question remains – how do we make things (products, services and results) even “Better – Faster – Cheaper?”

In search of improving agile leads to some interesting philosophical discussion and an attempt to arrive at new terminology. Some people might refer to this as hyper-agile. In an article by Kayleigh Bateman, she talks about “speedy innovation” as a must for survival and says hyper-agile is the next big leap forward for larger organizations. Mike Chang has a completely different perspective on hyper-agile, calling it a term for “an agile organization that has become so obsessed with rapid prototyping and iterating that its processes start falling through the cracks.”

So the real key to the success of hyper-agile, should you choose to pursue it, is balance.

Hyper-agile can be thought of as:

  • Agile on steroids
  • Vitamin-based agile
  • Agile using templates
  • Agile with shortcuts
  • Agile probiotics

Essentially, the thought of hyper-agile is to enhance available tools and techniques to make agile more efficient. It may also incorporate the use of mobile apps that can streamline processes.

Reasons why some project teams struggle to properly adopt agile:

  • Organization has not embraced agile
  • Team members are not trained on agile
  • The development model, i.e., software has not been formalized with agile principles
  • They have not evaluated agile return on investment (ROI) or return on quality (ROQ)
  • They did not anticipate the challenges and key learnings when transitioning to agile

There are no firm statistics on how long it takes an organization to transition to agile. Some reliable estimates that can be considered include the length of time that it takes to certify or qualify project team members and how long it takes the project team to become comfortable with agile principles, i.e., stand up meetings in the form of huddles vs. traditional sit down meetings. Note: This is not to say that every agile meeting should be a stand-up huddle.

In summary, agile in and of itself is enough. Project teams do not need to be pseudo-agile, nor is hyper-agile going to enable a project team to see enhanced performance. Looking at agile concepts in stages of maturity is a better indicator on how to link project performance. This statement is supported by industry experts who support agile maturity models through research.

IIL can support your organization on its journey to agile maturity.
Contact Us to Learn More

About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, Ph.D., PMP, CPT has worked for large corporations and academic institutions in the areas of human resources, learning and development, quality assurance, project management, sales and marketing, measurement and evaluation, and operations. He has been in senior management for life sciences companies for the past 15 years. Dr. Thomas is a member of adjunct faculty at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, International Institute for Learning and Institute of Validation Technology.

His publications have received global recognition from associations such as the Project Management Institute (PMI) where he received the Cleland Award for “The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned.” This book was an 8-year effort that enhanced the framework for the evaluation of projects using the PMBOK® Guide. He has been a featured speaker on an international basis and has received the Apex Publication Excellence Award for implementing useful tools for project management, evaluation, and training.

Advanced Filtering in Excel

By Bob Umlas, Excel MVP

In this blog I’ll continue the discussion from my last blog on basic filtering. This one is on advanced filtering.

Let’s continue with the same worksheet used from the last blog:

You can use advanced filtering for any of the features you use basic filtering. The advanced feature enables you to do things that can’t be done with basic filtering. For example, how would you filter this data for items in which the Sales times the Units is over 30,000,000? You can’t, unless you add another column containing this calculation and then filter on that new column. But as you’ll see, you don’t need to do that with the advanced filter. Let’s take a look at what the advanced filter looks like.

It’s on the Data tab:

When you select this, you see a dialog box which you fill in:

If the active cell is inside a range of data, then the first field is pre-filled with the address of the contiguous range of cells. You can change this to be any range, but you usually leave it as is. The worksheet I used for this blog has data in A1:F59. The next, and perhaps most important part of the advanced filter, is the Criteria range. This is a range of cells containing at least 2 rows and at least 1 column. Usually, the top row is one of the column header cells, like Product, or Region in the above illustration. For example:

Cell H5 contains the column header from cell F1, “Region”. The criteria range in the dialog was created by clicking in the field, and then dragging across the 2 cells in column H. (“Filtering” is the name of the sheet tab, and preceded the address if you drag across the cells). You could have simply typed H5:H6 in the Criteria Range box.

But what does this mean? The top row identifies the column, and the 2nd row identifies what to filter this column by. You would definitely not use the advanced filter for this simple filter; I’m just demonstrating how this works. The result, when clicking OK is as expected, rows containing only North Region:

Let’s examine a more involved filter.

This time, the criteria range is 3 rows, not 2. This is how you indicate an or condition. The region is North or West. The result:

When there’s more than 1 column, it becomes an and condition:

This means you want to see all rows which have a Region of North and a Salesperson of Davolio:

You’re not limited to 2 columns. This filter adds 3 fields together:

That means that the Region must be North and the Salesperson must be Davolio and the Product must be Produce. You would enter this information manually before using the Advanced Filter.

The above yields this:

You can also have more than 2 rows and more than one column! This filter will show those rows where the Salesperson is Davolio and the Product is Produce, or the Region is South and the Product is Meat:

Let’s get back to the filter which can show those rows where sales times units is over 30 million. There’s no column you can use, so you resort to what’s called a “computed criteria”. It’s ok to have some kind of labeling in the top row of this column (or it may be left blank) – just don’t use a label that matches something in the headers being filtered, or this will not work as it is intended.

It might look like this:

The top row is clearly blank (H2), so this is a computed criteria. But what’s that “TRUE” in H3? As in all computed criteria, it’s a formula which specifies the criteria, and refers to the first data row (row 2 in this example) as an example to apply to every row. Cell H3 contains the formula =C2*D2>30000000:

It’s the test we want to apply to every row: Sales times Units (columns C and D) must be more than 30,000,000. Here’s the result:

(It’s accurate. I tested it!)

You can combine computed criteria with non-computed criteria as well! In this example, using just B for the salesperson will treat it as a wild card, indicating any Salesperson beginning with B:

Cell H3 contains the formula =YEAR(B2)=2017. This criteria is getting all rows in which the year is 2017 (even though the dates contain month and year), and the Region is North and the Salesperson begins with B:

If I wanted to see some field which is exactly equal to just B, and not just beginning with B, you have to use a very non-intuitive formula: =”=B”.
If you want something to be not equal to something, you could use this as the criteria:

You may also have noticed the choice in the filter dialog to Copy to another location.

This advanced criteria will copy all records in which the region contains an s (all except North) to cell I1 as the starting cell:

Notice that the “North” records are filtered out (See column N).

Here’s a trick that not many people know about. If you have cells already filled in with the data headers you want, as in J1:K1 below, you can limit or reorder the extract columns. This is easier shown than explained. Suppose you have your worksheet set up like this:

Note the computed criteria of C2<3000, meaning the filter will be for Sales under 3000:

The “trick” part is that the copy to location is J1:L1, and those cells already contain information. See what happens:

Only those columns which were referenced are extracted from the source data!

What if I wanted to copy to a different sheet, like Sheet3, below?

This gives an error message:

Hmmm. What if we start from that sheet?

Notice I’m starting the advanced filter from a totally empty sheet! I can fill in the fields:

(The criteria range is pointing to Region of North or West):

These records were “pulled” from the Filtering sheet. Cool! And if the empty sheet had Units in A1 and Product in B1:

That extract which points to these cells:


Okay, nearing the end. What is Unique records only?

Using this advanced filter:

(Notice the list range was changed to be column F only), and cell H5 is empty. When I click OK:

I have a list of unique items from the Region field.

Happy Advanced filtering!

If you are interested in bringing Excel MVP Bob Umlas into your company (either virtually or traditionally) to do Excel consulting and/or training work, contact roxi.nevin@iil.com.

About the Author
Bob Umlas has been using Excel since its inception in 1986. He has had more than 300 articles published on subjects ranging from beginner to advanced, VBA, tips, shortcuts, and general techniques using virtually all aspects of Excel. He is the longest running Microsoft Excel MVP in the world (25 years). He has been the technical editor of (about 20) of Bill Jelen’s (MrExcel) Excel books. Bob speaks at Excel conferences around the world on his favorite topic, Tips & Tricks, which wows even the experts. He is the author of 3 Excel books and is the current leader of NYC’s Excel Special Interest Group (which meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month).

This isn’t Excel, it’s Magic!
Excel Outside the Box
More Excel Outside the Box

Key Takeaways from 'The Phoenix Project' DevOps Simulation

By Paul Wilkinson | Owner/Director, GamingWorks

Parts Unlimited Shares Take Another Tumble
‘Once again, the CEO of Parts Unlimited is embarrassed by a tumbling share price as the unions threaten walk-out because of payroll issues caused by failures in the IT systems, and at the same time a credit card leak weakens investor confidence. The issues are put down to human error and IT skills shortages. Once again the company has also failed to make good on its promises to deploy the long-awaited Phoenix Project…’

These were the headlines confronting the team participating in a walk-through of The Phoenix Project DevOps Business Simulation as they failed to effectively collaborate and apply DevOps principles.

The simulation walk-through, held 16 May at IIL headquarters in New York City, was part of a meetup organized by IIL and the DevOps Agile Skills Association (DASA). The meetup was to explore the types of skills required for an IT organization in this age of fast-paced, digital disruption.

The author, Paul Wilkinson, and the DASA DevOps Competence Model  

What is The Phoenix Project?

The Phoenix Project simulation is a dynamic, interactive and classroom-based workshop in which a team of delegates play roles in the ‘Parts Unlimited’ organization. The one-day simulation is a form of experiential learning, or ‘learning-by-doing’, and can be used for a variety of learning objectives such as translating DevOps theory into practice, developing effective communication & collaboration skills, and developing continual learning and improvement skills.

Captured Challenges

During the simulation walk-through we captured challenges the team experienced that they also recognize in their daily work:

Unclear flow of work; work was ping-ponging back and forth.
Unclear insight into the work being done and the business initiatives and goals.
Tester involved too late, lack of insight.
Poor decision making on prioritization.
Priority information not passed downstream.
Filling up workloads with scarce resources, not cross-training to remove skills constraints.
Lack of security insights into work impacting financial data.
Poor business insight into progress.
Lack of insight into impact of issues and technical debt.
Too many assumptions about what was important and what to prioritize
Lack of business understanding and business engagement.
Flow of work kept stopping and going back upstream because of lack of information.
Defects being passed downstream and not being made visible.

These challenges were captured on the team’s visual improvement backlog, revealing the underlying causes for the dramatic news headlines reported above (luckily it was only a simulation, but delegates recognized the stress, frustration and waste that occurs).

We then explored the ‘Three Ways of DevOps’ and collaborated as an end-to-end team to develop a visual management system to help provide a solution to many of these challenges.

The meetup in action!

Captured Takeaways

At the end of this short, interactive learning session the team was asked, ‘What did you discover in this simulation exercise that you need to take away and apply?’

Prioritize skill development and cross training to deal with constraints (e.g. constraints caused by one person’s specialized skill, which limits the amount of work flowing through the system).
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! – Foster and practice active listening, confirm understanding, confirm agreements and decision making, blame-free feedback.
Coaching for communication and collaboration skills, as well as DevOps skills (e.g. stand-ups, retrospectives, Kanban, value stream mapping).
Start fostering more collaboration between end-to-end stakeholders including business.
Agree on ‘collaboration behaviors’ – what behaviors will we see? And coach and give feedback on these behaviors. Practice! Practice until these behaviors become a habit ‘the way we do things here’.
T-shaped skills as a building block to increase flow and remove constraints.
Visibility. Don’t just visualize work, but also visualize improvements.
Team validation of agreed ways of behaving and working, team build visualization together to support their own work and support decision making.
Visibility to support trade off ‘features’ vs ‘defects’, ‘debt’, ‘risks’, ‘improvements’
Reserve WIP for learning and improving (to develop T shaped skills, to remove constraints, to remove waste, to increase flow).
Accept that failure will happen. Experiment. Learn fast & improve.
Ask ‘How does this affect you?’, ‘What information do you need to be able to do your work and make decisions?’
Traceability. Work in progress, work done, work not done. Traceability of planned vs unplanned work and visibility; where does unplanned work come from? Defects passed downstream? What is impact of unplanned work?
Creating buy-in to responsibilities, new ways of working, end-to-end collaboration. This type of session creates that buy-in and captured ‘shared’ takeaway actions.
Shift mentality. ‘DevOps’ is NOT the goal. It is the value and outcomes that are expected.

In Conclusion

The delegates discovered not only the benefits of adopting DevOps principles, but also recognized and experimented with some of the core skills and competencies, as defined in the DASA Competence Model, that are critical for DevOps success.

The delegates also discovered how this type of experiential learning can help translate theory into practice, create end-to-end buy-in, and capture improvements to take away.

Interested in The Phoenix Project DevOps Simulation for your team?
Contact IIL

About the Author
Paul Wilkinson is the co-founder of GamingWorks, a simulation training company based in the Netherlands and a DASA Training Partner. He has been involved in the IT industry for more than 25 years and has a broad background in IT operations, IT management and product innovation and development. He was an ITIL V2 author and member of the ITIL V3 advisory group. He has facilitated 400+ simulations!

Rich Sheridan on Leading with Joy

Rich Sheridan is the CEO of Menlo Innovations and the author of Joy, Inc. and Chief Joy Officer. As opening keynote speaker at IIL’s Leadership & Innovation 2019 Online Conference, he inspired us all with his uncommon approach to leadership and productivity in the modern workplace.

We received so many great questions during the 15-minute Q&A that we didn’t have time to get to them all. Thank you to Rich for taking the time to answer each and every question. This blog post is a compilation of some of our favorites.

The recording of Rich’s keynote, and all other speaker presentations, are available to watch on demand through June 9. Log in or register here.

How do you tie joy to values and guiding principles?

First we define joy … quite clearly. We ask, then answer two simple questions: Who do you serve? What would delight look like for them?

Thus we align our joy with deeply satisfying those we serve. In other words, we don’t make it about us.

We declared we want to “end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology.” Our primary focus are the end users of the software we are designing and building. We don’t believe we can do this with a team that doesn’t care of itself and each other. Thus, we speak in our guiding principles about how we wish to “Create meaningful, positive human impact. Always demonstrate integrity and authenticity. And act in a way that expresses care, hope, love and joy.”

What’s the best way to convince my boss to try experiments on projects?

My suggestion is to first try to see the world through your boss’s eyes. What are the likely challenges that he or she faces? How are the experiments you are running or suggesting going to help your boss with his/her goals? If you happen to have copies of either of my books available, refer to the index and read all the pages where I talk about Bob Nero, who was my CEO at Interface Systems, Inc. When I better learned to see the world through his eyes, he became VERY supportive of all the experiments I was running.

Does leadership require passion in what they do to be successful?

I believe there are many different ways to lead. We don’t all need to be energized cheerleaders. I feel what is more important is to be your authentic self and truly, passionately BELIEVE in the systems and practices you are creating. Your team will have a finely tuned sense of smell for this authenticity and belief. If they sense it, most will follow, especially if there is trust.

What role does mindset play in a team environment? 

Mindset, in general, is always going to be important. I love Carol Dweck’s work (described in her book Mindset).

Ultimately, we typically don’t make change if we don’t believe change is possible. However, behind just the mindset for change, we need to be open to actually trying things. As leaders, we also need to accept that when we do try things, we need to give some space that things will at first be cumbersome and slow. This is really hard once we are very good at something. It is hard to get back into learning mode. It can actually hurt our brains as our brains start to rewire themselves. A great book on practicing new techniques is Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata.

Besides the nature of the project, and the technical skills, what are other criteria that you use to pair up team members? And as I am sure it happened before, how do you overcome personality challenges? 

We overcome the personality challenges by practicing (constantly) how to work with other people. It helps so much that we pair every minute of every day and we switch the pairs frequently. (I don’t think you need to be as diligent about pairing as we are!). However, the essential ingredient is to practice working with various different kinds of people.

The next step is to practice how to give effective feedback to someone. This is why Crucial Conversations (the book byVitalSmarts) and Leadership and Self-Deception (by Arbinger) are so important to us.

Do you discuss this office environment in your onboarding or interview process for new employees? 

Not so much discuss, as immerse them in it. We offer public tours once a month and many of those interested in interviewing here will come to a public tour before they even declare they are interested. So they can see the office set up outside of an interview event. Our interview process itself is not an interview, but a group audition that simulates the work environment. We recently had 28 candidates come in for two hours. They’d paired with other candidates three times, working together on a shared exercise. Menlonians observed their work together and noted evidence (or lack thereof) of good kindergarten skills: do they play well with others, do they support the person sitting next to them, do they share?

This interview setup isn’t a surprise. We send them a detailed writeup of what to expect. When we introduce ourselves to the group, we tell  them we want them to succeed so we describe the things to avoid.

Does your organization have remote staff, and how do you incorporate them into this process? 

We have been running more and more experiments with remote staff (and remote clients whose team members often pair in with us). We don’t prefer remote work, but we are making it work. We use screen sharing, video and audio technology. It’s working OK. I think there are still improvements to be made. We’ve been running these experiments for about 4 years.

Recommendations on how to do reviews without setting team member against team member? 

My suggestion is to change the compensation process first to not feel like a zero sum game. Second make all review discussions about collaboration and teamwork rather than individual contributions. Did they help others around them succeed?

Understanding you can influence your own team and company. Have you had any conflicts when dealing with customers that are “old school” and very formal? How do you influence your customers?

ALL THE TIME!! Thanks for asking. We spend a lot of time up front (as much as they need) teaching not only how our system works, but WHY we do things the way we do them. We make deep use of storytelling to illuminate the problems we are trying to solve with the approaches we take. It doesn’t work every time, but it’s so much fun when the light goes on for our clients. 🙂 Once it goes on, it never goes off again!

Do you find your structure beneficial for remote workers? 

We skew towards an in-person culture and steer away from remote work. We do have some remote work (either temporarily due to some life events, or permanently due to a life change … one of our great team members married a girl from Moscow and moved there!).

We make it work. It’s just not ideal for the way we have chosen to work.

Can you talk a little about when you get furious, get curious?

This phrase reminds me of the part of Crucial Conversations (by VitalSmarts) called Master You Stories. I think we often get furious because something ends up going differently than we expected. If we assume good intent on the part of the person we are upset with then we can ask:  why would my valued colleague act this way? If we start asking questions like: Are you OK? Is there anything I did to upset you? Am I seeing the full picture? We can diffuse a whole bunch of “furious” feelings once we see the bigger picture.

Regarding the pairing concept: your presentation sparked an idea for me to run the experiment of pairing different roles together–people who are stakeholders in each other’s deliverables. Have you paired different roles together? If so, how’d it go? If not, why not? 

We often pair different roles together. It works just as well as pairing within the role. We even often pair our client team members (say a project sponsor with the Menlo project manager). It’s so much more effective than trading lengthy and misunderstood emails!

How do you go about changing an organization whose culture is ingrained with a sense of entitlement and “this is how we’ve always done it”? 

As Deming once said so delightfully … Change is not required. Survival is not mandatory. 🙂

I’d say, start small, stay hyper local. Change you first … makes changes in your immediately team, group or department. Read the stories of MassMutual, GE and the DTW McDonald’s for examples!

How do you create positive stability among teams with different ways and processes? 

Use simple, repeatable, measurable, visible systems to manage work. For us, we use 8.5” x 5.5” handwritten index cards to describe work. We then estimate the amount of time we need for each index card, then prioritize them to 40 hours of work per week/per person so that we are never overloading our team. We never let work “sneak in the back door”. It all must be handled this way. By keeping our system under control (with very simple tools) we can keep our work from getting out-of-control.

We then work hard to keep fear at bay. If someone shares bad news our pre-programmed reply is to say “thank you” with a smile! As we say, “fear doesn’t make bad news go away, it makes it go into hiding” and then we can’t manage it!

Which book is a good intro book of the ones you listed?

This might seem self-serving, but I’d suggest Joy. Inc. as an introduction as it ties all the pieces together. From there my suggestions will be about where you’d like to start!

For building better relationships, I’d start with Leadership and Self-Deception or Crucial Conversations.

For building better teams: Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

For better team players: Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player.

For better design: Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, and Alan Cooper’s The Inmates are Running The Asylum and the Nightline Youtube videos (Parts 1,2,3) of The Deep Dive about IDEO.

For system’s thinking: Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline – The Art of Practice of the Learning Organization. And John Gall’s The Systems Bible (or Systemantics).

Then I’d study Deming, Drucker, Schein, and Tom Peters.

I’ve now given you a lifetime of reading assignments!  🙂

Joanna Durand on Why Passionate Leadership Matters

Joanna Durand is Global Head of the Enterprise Project Delivery Excellence Office at TD Bank. As a keynote speaker at IIL’s Leadership & Innovation 2019 Online Conference, she gave us an understanding of what passionate leadership looks like in practice and shared indispensable tips on how we can become passionate leaders ourselves.

We received so many great questions during the 15-minute Q&A that we didn’t have time to get to them all. Thank you to Joanna for taking the time to answer each and every question. This blog post is a compilation of some of our favorites.

The recording of Joanna’s keynote, and all other speaker presentations, are available to watch on demand through June 9. Log in or register here.

Can you deploy your solution to poor leadership?
How can a leader learn to not instill fear into employees? 
How can one of my leaders earn back the trust they have lost to their employees?

We detect a theme in these questions so will answer all of them together.

The person in question has to be receptive to feedback and coaching in order for any change to be successful and lasting. There is an opportunity to give constructive feedback if a feedback loop exists. The leader needs to be able establish and work through a trusted feedback loop to receive candid feedback, or leverage company structures like HR coaching or formal 360-degree feedback mechanisms. If this does not work and the organizational culture is not aligned to the leader’s behaviour, you are likely look at an exit scenario. Otherwise, as outlined in the keynote, you will risk the loss of the team members who work under that leader.

What would be some actions you identified successful to change the organizational culture to reflect and foster passionate leadership? 

The organization itself has to have a view that the people side of the equation is valuable to its success. If that is true, passionate leadership will flourish. If people are seen as interchangeable or disposable, then only a microculture could exist around a specific passionate leader or team.

How can a leader make sure their passion is reflected to others?

By being authentic, listening openly and reflecting back. Use a feedback loop to understand how you are being received by others.

In many organizations the team members report to a functional manager, so this can diminish the authority of the PM. Do you think passionate leadership of a PM can help?

Absolutely! The project manager owns the virtual team – the tension is the value and commitment to the project versus to the functional manager and resource pool. The Project Manager can change the full dynamic – for better or for worse.

How do you come across as authentic and positive without being fake?

Always BE authentic. Understand how you are perceived by others by asking and listening to feedback.

Does mindfulness meditation have a role in passionate leadership?

I think that depends on the individual and how they derive their energy.

What if the employee is not passionate about their job and not looking for ways to improve themselves? 

A direct career discussion is timely in this situation; indicate clearly how the employee is being perceived by yourself and others and try to understand that person’s desires and motivators, or potential causes of an interim abnormal behaviour.

How do you encourage team members who do not feel the passion? 

You need to have individual conversations with those team members to determine what motivates them, understand where they want to go and discuss what it takes to get there. However, you should also consider that some people just want a job…is this a really a problem for that person, role, or organization?

Can a person choose to portray “passion” and continue to grow a successful team, in a competitive environment? Without being a victim of company culture and the need to have a more tough approach?

Absolutely. Within a competitive and political culture, the passionate leader needs to set a vision based on fact and understand how they leverage their passion to achieve the organization’s goals. As the leader, you get to choose the how, not the what.

How do you steer your team to buy into this notion of keeping leadership accountable, especially to remain “passionate” consistently? 

You need to be authentic – then the passion follows. Everyone has ebbs and flows, so people may manifest varying levels of passion in different ways day to day.

Do you have any suggestions on how to work with a leader who may be passionate but mainly passionate about their personal success? Sometimes we don’t want to leave the job/position because of the leader and need suggestions on how to best work with them and maybe help them. 

It is important to recognize that the demeanor of your leader is important, and you may need to spend energy helping to make that leader successful. In turn, it is important to let the leader know what you need yourself, and if that is not forthcoming, you may need to leave and find the kind of leader you need for your own development and satisfaction.

What do you when you realize your immediate senior management (director) is not necessarily a “passionate leader”? How do you navigate through that? 

See the answer to the question asked above.

Do you have a business idol/mentor? What makes them so special and unique? 

I have had many mentors. A superior ability to engage is something I admire; observing people who are intensely committed is inspirational to me.