Bill Phillips’ #Transformation Program—Chapter Six (Healthy Spaces Makeover)

This is a continuation of the series of posts on Bill Phillips’ book Transformation, a component of his Transformation fitness program, which I started back in July before I started the program in earnest in August. So far I’ve lost 10 lbs and 4% body fat on the program, so I know it works, and wanted to encourage those readers who want to lose weight and keep it off to give the program a try. In fact, I checked yesterday morning and I’m on track towards losing my next 10 lbs as well.

1. Introduction

Here’s a recap of the chapters so far:

Chapter Title

Subject Matter

1. The Base and Summit Proper goal setting is essential to Transformation program.
2. Exercise Rx Intensive exercise six times a week, alternating strength training and cardio training, is one basic ingredient of Transformation fitness program.
3. Right Nutrition Eating six meals spread throughout the day, consisting of three regular meals, two snacks and a dessert, is the other basic ingredient of the Transformation fitness program.
4. The Community Connection The “secret” ingredient of the Transformation fitness program which sets it apart from many others is the built-in support system with the online community that I call the “Fitness Facebook”.
5. Lifetime Intentions Propelling you forward towards reaching your goals in the Transformation program is a matter of aligning it with the best of your intentions for your life as a whole.

 The sixth chapter is entitled Healthy Spaces Makeover, and it is designed to have you restructure your environment in such a way as to remove obstacles to your success and to install those features which make it easier for you to succeed.

 2. People

When we think of the environment we think of objects, but people are part of our environment in the sense that they shape our mental landscape through our interactions with them.

Surrounding yourself with people who are positive and supportive is one way you can increase your success. The flip side of this is that you need to remove yourself from the presence of those people who are negative and who are not supportive. If that person is a loved one in your household, this can be difficult.

Bill Phillips’ response to this dilemma is to find those people in your family who are supportive and shift your attention as much as possible to them. Once the results of the program start to show up in your life, many times those people who were obstructive can turn around, because part of them will want to emulate your success.

 3. Places

Of course, a good gym is a place you should try to make the central location of your exercise routine, with a home gym a possibility if you are on a budget. However, the connection with other people is the reason why going to a good gym is preferable. I know that on some mornings, especially towards the beginning of my Transformation program, I would not necessarily be in the “mood” for exercise.

 But once I got to the gym, and saw all the people getting their exercise done, I couldn’t help but be swept along in the tide of motion.

 For some people, a coffee shop can be a place that detracts from their fitness not because of the coffee but because of the piles and piles of baked goods that they often sell along with the coffee.

 That is why I carry around meal replacement bars when I am traveling around in my car so I can have something that is reasonably healthy to eat that will curb my appetite. I also did it specifically to wean myself off the baked goods sitting at the coffee shops that I visited on a daily basis.

 What I find interesting is that as the Transformation program continues and you gain more energy, there may be some mornings that you have so much energy that you find you don’t even NEED coffee to be a functional human being in the office or classroom.

 4. Things

You can tell about a person’s eating habits by looking at the contents of their refrigerator and/or kitchen cabinets. Bill Phillips in chapter 1 recommends taking a picture of your body before the Transformation program begins so that you can compare it with the end result. In this chapter he recommends you to do a “healthy space makeover” in the following way:

  • take a picture of what your kitchen cabinet and refrigerator look like,
  • clear everything out,
  • throw out the items which are not in line with the guidelines laid out in chapter 3 “Right Nutrition”,
  • restock your shelves with more nutritious items, and then
  • take a picture of what your kitchen cabinet and refrigerator look like NOW.

You should keep a picture so that, if you are tempted to buy what can only be referred to as junk, that you are reminded of what it is like to have a healthy space in your kitchen.

5. Music and TV

A lot of people listen to music while they are exercising to give them motivation to exercise or to get their mind out of a negative frame of mind. I have found that listening to foreign language tapes or podcasts from people I admire are also good motivators while exercising, but that’s just my own personal preference.

Don’t forget that what you watch on TV and movies can affect your body’s stress hormones such as cortisol, so try to avoid watching the news while you are eating. That was a rule my mother set down years ago when I was a child and I’ve learned the wisdom of this in my own life as an adult.

Before going to sleep, try watching something that either makes you laugh, makes you think, or inspires you. This, plus the exercise you’ve done during the day, will help your body ease itself into a peaceful sleep.

6. Summary

So the basic idea of the chapter is that, in order to increase your chances of success with the Transformation program, don’t just work on cleaning the interior of your body through exercise and better nutrition. Work on cleaning up the exterior environment in which you and your body live so that it will be like a current that helps you to swim in the direction you want to go.

Bill Phillips’ #Transformation Program—Chapter Five (Lifetime Intentions)

This is a continuation of the series of posts on Bill Phillips’ book Transformation, a component of his Transformation fitness program, which I started back in July before I started the program in earnest in August. So far I’ve lost 10 lbs and 4% body fat on the program, so I know it works, and wanted to encourage those readers who want to lose weight and keep it off to give the program a try. In fact, I checked this morning and I’m on track towards losing my next 10 lbs as well.

 I will stop at Chapter Six tomorrow and then go back to my regular blogging schedule regarding project management.

 1. Introduction

A recap: Chapter 1 dealt with goal setting, Chapter 2 with the exercise portion of the program, Chapter 3 with the nutrition portion of the program, and Chapter 4 with the support system in the form of the online community at

Chapter 5 deals with aligning your goals for the Transformation program with the larger intentions of your life. This will give your working towards those immediate goals a lot more will power because it is tied to your deepest desires for a better life.

2. A Tale of Two Lives

This is one of these chapters that is best not to just read, but to go along with and do the imaginative exercises involved.

 The exercise has two parts:

a) Imagine you are sitting talking to Bill Phillips and you are sitting comfortably healthy in your retirement. He asks you to look back at your life before then and tell him what your secret was: how did you get here? What will you tell Bill Phillips that have you done right so he can learn from your success?

 b) Imagine you are sitting talking to Bill Phillips and he is visiting you not in your retirement but on your deathbed in the hospital where you are dying many years “before your time” due to an illness that was preventable. He asks you to look back at your life before then and tell him what went wrong: how did you end up here? What will you tell Bill Phillips that you have done wrong so he can learn from your mistakes?

 3. Mission Statement

So these imaginative stories show you the direction you want to go in your life and the direction you don’t want to go. But how do you push or motivate yourself to go in the right direction. Here Bill advocates writing a mission statement. These are helpful in corporations to give a shape to the company culture and its values. They also help on an individual basis giving you clarity when it comes time to choosing what is best for you.

 4. The Importance of Intentions

Having positive, life-affirming intentions may seem like a nice idea, but are the benefits illusory? Is this something that belongs on an Oprah program, but not in a book about fitness?

To answer this question, Bill Phillips looked at researchers in the area of neuroscience, the study of the brain and its functions, and found their studies show that intentions in the mind have a positive effect on the physical health of the brain. The mechanism of HOW this works requires further study, but the FACT that it works is something you can use NOW.

 Follow the exercises at the end of the chapter on developing your personal, life-affirming mission statement and the rewards will extend far beyond the end of the 18-week Transformation program!

Bill Phillips’ #Transformation Program—Chapter Four (The Community Connection)

This is a continuation of the series of posts on Bill Phillips’ book Transformation, a component of his Transformation fitness program, which I started back in July before I started the program in earnest in August. So far I’ve lost 10 lbs and 4% body fat on the program, so I know it works, and wanted to encourage those readers who want to lose weight and keep it off to give the program a try.

 The fourth chapter deals with the concept of using a support system to help you succeed in the Transformation program. The support system has been set up by Bill Phillips in the form of the online community at

 1. Introduction

 Bill Phillips discovered the importance of having a support system when reading a study comparing four diet programs to see which was the most effective. They divided a group of 800 overweight men and women into four groups, which followed a plan which called for reduced calorie intake with an emphasis on the following:

  1. Low-fat, high protein
  2. Low-fat, average protein
  3. High-fat, high protein
  4. High-fat, average protein

 The conclusion was that all the plans worked about the same.  However, Bill noticed that in a footnote to the study that those who participated in support group meetings lost an average of 20 lbs, whereas those who didn’t attend the meetings lost an average of only 9 lbs. Participation in support groups lost 225% more weight!

So finding the right diet isn’t important as finding the right support.

2. Support group—accentuating the positive

Support groups help people increase their own mental capacity to overcome barriers. Many psychologists such as Abraham Maslow have stressed the necessity of social interaction, and this theory has been given updated evidence by neurologists that social interaction increases the production of serotonin, the chemical in the brain that produces a feeling of well-being and security.

3. Support group—reducing the negative

For many people, attitudes towards food can resemble those of addiction to alcohol or drugs. People don’t necessarily recognize these attitudes as such, because you can live without drugs, sex, or gambling, but you can’t live without food. Nevertheless, these negative attitudes can be short-circuited by participation in support groups, in the same way that alcoholics are more likely to remain sober if they join support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

4. Support group—what’s the best type?

The best support group is one that meets in person, but the second best support group for the purpose of the Transformation program is that found on the website.

You can join the online community for free, which gains you access to other members’ blogs and forum posts that discuss the various issues dealing with the program. If you want to discuss low-fat recipes, new exercise routines, or anything else that affects your performance in the program, then there is a forum post or blog that will deal with that issue.

5. Support group—give and take

When you first join the Transformation community, the best thing to do is sit back and read other people’s posts on forums and blog posts. However, at some point, a comment on some issue will draw you in and have you interact with others.

For me, what keeps me going back is not the help that I’ve received, but the satisfaction I get from having been a help to others. In that way, it’s just like the “pay it forward” attitude that good networkers have.

If you see someone whose attitudes mirror your own, and they are further along in the program, then the ultimate form of participation in the community is to have an accountability partner who will encourage you but also make it more difficult for you to cheat yourself out of the opportunities that the program offers you.

In the end, being accountable to yourself is the final goal, but helping someone to be accountable to their own goals is a good way to get there, especially if that person reciprocates and helps you push yourself towards your goal.

These first four chapters, covering goal-setting, right exercise, right nutrition, and the community connection, which means reaching out to help others and in turn be helped by them, are the core principles behind the Transformation program. Even if you just read the first four chapters and followed these principles consistently, you would most likely succeed in the Transformation program.

But I recommend going through all 18 chapters to suck all the marrow out of the bone of the Transformation program. In this way, you will have a PERMANENT transformation in your life which CANNOT be reversed.

Bill Phillips’ #Transformation Program—Chapter Three (Right Nutrition)

This is a continuation of the series of posts on Bill Phillips’ book Transformation, a component of his Transformation fitness program, which I started back in July.

Chapter 1 of Bill Phillips’ book on the Transformation program dealt with goal setting. Chapter 2 of his book was about setting up the exercise component of his program.

This post resumes reviewing the 18 chapters of his book, each of which corresponds to a theme which you should keep in mind while you are going through the 18 weeks that his program takes.

I’m on week 6, so I have a couple of weeks to catch up on. By the way, I can attest that the program works: I’ve lost 10 lbs and 4% body fat in the first 5 weeks of the program!

Today I’m reviewing Chapter 3 of Bill Phillips’ book Transformation, which is about the nutrition component of his program. You MUST do both the exercise and nutrition part of the program in concert if you want its full benefits.

1. Intro

It’s probably not a shock to many of you to realize that 70% of Americans are overweight. It should be considered a medical epidemic in this country, because being overweight can trigger problems of diabetes and heart disease, among others.

The cause is not that Americans eat too much; it’s that we eat too many calories and too few nutrients, a phenomenon Bill refers to as “calorie toxicity, nutrient deficiency.” The body craves nutrients but gets empty calories instead. It reminds me of the popular image in China of the “hungry ghosts”, those unfortunate denizens of the afterlife who have huge, swollen bellies and therefore ravenous appetites, but mouths that narrow to a very point so that they can never eat enough food to satisfy those appetites.

2. Problem with restrictive diets

When people try to lose weight by having a restrictive diet, they are like people that try to hold their breath underwater—they can do it for a short period of time, but when they finally come out of the water, they gasp for air. When the body eats after having been temporarily starved, it may eat more than it actually needs, leading to a weight gain rather than a weight loss.

3. First, concentrate on nutrients

Here are the 7 nutrients your body needs:

7 Essential Nutrients
Nutrient Sources Why important?
1. Quality protein Chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, soy,

milk and whey protein powders

Contains all 9 essential amino acids (building blocks of every cell); helps stabilize blood sugar levels when it’s consumed with carbohydrates
2. Good carbohydrates Whole grains pasta and breads, brown rice, oatmeal, starchy vegetables, fruits
Source of immediate energy for all your cells; releases insulin which helps amino acids and other nutrients enter cells
3. Essential fats Omega-6 and Omega-3 in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna; flaxseed oil Regulates blood pressure, immune response, and inflammation; reduces risk of heart attack, stroke, arthritis; improves memory and mood
4. Vitamins Daily supplement, fruits & vegetables Muscle strength, fat loss, strengthening of connective tissue, boosts immune system
5. Minerals Daily supplement, fruits & vegetables Nerve cell communication, proper fluid balance, energy production
6. Phytonutrients Fruits & vegetables; green tea, red wine Powerful antioxidants, prevents cell damage and degradation
7. Water Water Produces energy, detoxifies the kidneys, regulates body temperature, builds new cells, lubricates joints

4. Organic foods, macrobiotic diets, vegetarianism

Bill Phillips talks about many of these dietary movements (or fads, if you will), and says that with the last two, the most important thing is to get adequate protein intake, which can be helped by using protein powders made from vegetable sources such as soy. He also recommends supplementing your diet with vitamins, particularly B vitamins.

5. Frequency of meals

Rather than watching what you eat and counting calories, the key to success in following Bill Phillips’ program is to watch how many times you eat. Ideally, you should be eating six times a day, which is why my favorite nickname for the nutrition program is called the Hobbit Diet, based on the legendary creatures of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination from The Lord of the Rings who were renowned for their frequent meals.

If you eat six smaller meals, in the form of two snacks of mid-meals, as Bill likes to call them, in between breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and dinner, respectively, plus a post-dinner dessert, you will end up having a faster metabolic rate than those who ate just three larger meals daily.

If you follow this nutrition plan, you will reduce your “bad” cholesterol levels by nearly 15%, your stress hormone levels by 17%, and diminish your insulin levels by 28%, if your results are like those found in a study by the New England Journal of Medicine.

6. Protein + carb at every meal

One of the typical things for Americans is to get up and eat a bowl of breakfast cereal that is rich in sugar. If the grains that make up the cereal are not whole grain, but refined grains, then you have two sources of “bad” carbohydrates. This is a recipe for a quick rush of energy followed by a crash later on in the morning.

However, if you switch to “good” carbohydrates (whole-grain breads or breakfast cereals) and eat protein at the same meal, you will gain the benefit of the proteins which will provide you with longer, slower-burning energy, but the protein intake will slow the metabolism of the carbohydrates down, causing them to burn at a slower rate as well. In other words, your energy will last longer throughout the morning.

7. Post-workout meal: nutrition shakes or meal replacement bars

Combining exercise and nutrition is done in the following way: whether you exercise in the morning or afternoon, make sure you have a snack or, preferably, a protein-based nutrition shake (whether whey or soy protein is up to you). This will contain both protein and carbs and is the perfect recovery vehicle for your body. Many nutrition studies show that consistently exercising and consuming nutrition shakes or meal replacement bars per day will help you lose weight and keep it off.


One of the reasons why I am doing the Transformation program is because it reminds me of what Mark Twain said about quitting cigarette smoking. “Why, it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times!” Last summer, before I started the Transformation program for the first time, I saw my sister while I was visiting my Dad for his birthday. I told her I lost 40 lbs. She looked at me skeptically and said, “I’m sorry, but you don’t look like you lost 40 lbs.” I assured her that it was true, saying, “I did lose 40 lbs. I lost 10 lbs since January 4 different times! Well, I did gain it all back after each time, but …”

The Transformation program is your key to a PERMANENT transformation of your body. Exercise is one half of the Transformation program’s DNA; nutrition is the other. Only when you intertwine them together, will your body’s true weight-loss potential come to life!

Scope Management—The Verify Scope Process

1. Introduction—Verify Scope

If your project is to produce a product on behalf of a customer, then whether or not your project is a success or not will depend on whether that customer finally and formally accepts that product and signs off on the project.   But waiting until the very end of the project to gain that acceptance is unwise, because the cost of making changes towards the end of the project is prohibitive.    The general rule in the PM world is, if you’re going to get bad news, then the earlier, the better.   The interim deliverables are shown to the customer for acceptance during the entire course of the project when suitable milestones have been reached.   It is this acceptance process by the customer of these interim deliverables that is referred to in the process 5.4 Verify Scope.

2. Common Problems with Understanding 5.4 Verify Scope

In reviewing this process in our study group, I find it creates a lot of confusion. Here are the problems people have with understanding this process.

Fig. 1 Problems with Understanding 5.4 Verify Scope Process

Problem Explanation
1. Verify Scope ≠ Control Scope Upon first hearing the term “Verify Scope”, to some people it sounds like it means to check and see that the scope you have now is the same scope that is in the Project Scope Statement, i.e., verifying that you’re not experiencing the dreaded PM malady known as “scope creep”. However, what I have just described is actually what the process 5.5 Control Scope is about. Verify Scope, on the other hand, means rather having the customer verify the scope of the product, not the project manager.


2. Validated vs. accepted deliverables “Validate” and “accept” sound close in meaning, but to validate a deliverable is to go through the process 8.3 Perform Quality Control and show that the deliverable meets the quality standards and the scope requirements.

Validated deliverables then become an input to the 5.4 Verify Scope Process, where they are shown to the customer. If the deliverables are accepted, they now become accepted deliverables.



3. Negative outputs Both the 8.3 Perform Quality Control and the 5.4 Verify Scope Process CAN have a positive output, i.e., validated deliverables and accepted deliverables, respectively. Both either process can have a negative output, namely, change requests.

What do I mean by a negative output? If the 8.3 Perform Quality Control process shows that the deliverables do NOT mean the quality standards, then change requests need to be generated so that a) the defective deliverables are repaired AND b) the processes that produced them can be improved so that the deliverables DO conform to the quality standards.

Likewise, if the deliverables are validated and sent to the customer, then the customer may accept them, but if the customer does NOT accept them, then this also generates a change request to bring the deliverables in line with what the customer wants.


4. Interim ≠ final deliverables The Verify Scope is for interim deliverables. When discussing this process and saying “the deliverables are shown to the customer for acceptance”, people sometimes think that this refers to the final deliverable, i.e., the completed product.

That showing of the final completed product is NOT part of 5.4 Verify Scope, but part of 4.6 Close Project of Phase. The process 5.4 Verify Scope is only for interim deliverables.



3. How the Verify Scope process fits in with other PM processes

The flow of these processes can be summed up in the following diagram:

I hope this post helps clear up not only the purpose of Verify Scope, but how it fits in with other processes.

Scope Management—Creating a Work Breakdown Structure

1. Introduction

A work breakdown structure looks like an organizational chart.

However, it doesn’t show a hierarchy of authority with relationship to people, but rather a hierarchy of the production of the deliverables.

2. Work Breakdown Structure—Process

The process 5.3 Create WBS in the Planning Process group is the Project Management process where a WBS is created. Here is an outline of the entire decomposition process.

5.3.1 Decomposition

The techniques of decomposition means subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components to the level of work packages. Here’s how the project is broken down through the decomposition process.

Figure 1. Work Breakdown Structure Levels (from program to deliverables)

a. Programs are groups of related projects.

b. Projects can sometimes be broken down into distinct phases.

c. Major deliverables are first identified within each phase.

d. That work which can be outsourced to a contractor is referred to as a subproject.

e. Deliverables are broken down from the major deliverables.

Figure 2. Work Breakdown Structure Levels (from deliverables to activities/tasks)

f. Once deliverables are identified, for large-scale projects planning packages are identified which are basically fill-in-the blank packages for work that has not yet been identified, but will be in the course of progressive elaboration.

g. A control account is a summary level in WBS one level above a work package. Once a group of work packages under a control account are completed, some sort of monitoring & controlling activity is done here to make sure the project is proceeding according to plan.

h. Work package is the lowest level in a work breakdown structure which both defines specific deliverables and those resources (people, equipment, etc.) assigned to complete the work (through the WBS dictionary).

i. The work package, which specifies the smallest unit of deliverables, is further broken down into activities during the process 6.1 Define Activities. In some companies with large work packages, the activities can be further broken down into …

j. Tasks, but this is sometimes a confusing term because some companies have tasks at a higher level than activities. So for the purpose of the PMP exam, just focus on activities as the steps taken to produce the deliverable within each work package.

3. Work Breakdown Structure—What is it for?

The work breakdown structure is to the project what the blueprints are to the product, a guide for getting it realized. Although I have listed the WBS under Scope Management, because it helps prevent unnecessary changes to the project (also known as preventing scope creep), but it helps in EVERY knowledge area

Project Management Area How does WBS help the Project Manager?
1. Integration Management Helps the project management team see the entire project laid out in a single diagram.
2. Scope Management Helps prevent unnecessary changes
3. Time Management Helps create realistic basis for estimating schedule
4. Cost Management Helps create realistic basis for estimating costs
5. Quality Management Helps focus work on what needs to be done at the right time, increasing quality. If problems do occur, assists process improvement by making it easier to isolate root cause.
6. HR Management Creating the WBS as a team helps build the team and creates a sense of active participation that lasts throughout the project.
7. Communications Management Helps explain the project to stakeholders and helps project team members from different functional areas to cooperate with each other.
8. Risk Management Makes it easier to identify risks by making the work steps and work sequence easier to understand.
9. Procurements Management Helps identify those work packages which cannot be done with current company resources and/or expertise level.

With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you make creating a WBS one of the key parts of your planning process?

Scope Management—Managing Requirements

=The first project management process in the Scope Knowledge Area is process 5.1, Collect Requirements.

I have always felt that the title of this process is somewhat misleading, because you have to do more than collect the requirements; you must make sure they all get along well with each other and that there are no conflicts between them.

This post will explain the importance of requirements and how to do more than collect them, but rather how to manage them.

1. Requirements

The PMBOK® Guide definition (somewhat paraphrased) of requirements is the following:

Requirements are the conditions or capabilities of the deliverables of a project. They reflect the needs, wants, and expectations of the sponsor, customers and other stakeholders, and should be quantified and documented.

2. Requirements and Change Requests

The theme of this group of posts on scope management is to help a project manager prevent scope creep. Another way to put this is that it helps a project manager prevent unnecessary changes.

Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam prep guide stressed that the first principle of change requests is that they should be avoided whenever possible. The second principle of change requests is that if they do occur, it is best to have them occur as early as possible in the project, because they became increasingly more expensive to implement as the project goes forward.

Let’s go into the first principle a little bit more. Why do change requests occur? If we knew the root causes of change requests, we might have a better chance in avoiding them. There are three reasons: a) requirements were not all uncovered and harmonized during the initiating process, b) the project management plan was not sufficiently detailed, and c) risk analysis was not carried out thoroughly enough. The first of these reasons has to do with requirements, which is what I will concentrate on in this post.

3. Example from auto industry: bumper design

Let me give you an example from the auto industry. A certain car company decides it is going to re-design the bumper so that it is better from a functional point of view AND from a manufacturing point of view. Better functionality specifically means that it performs better on the 5-mph crash test that is mandated by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration or NHTSA. Notice how the requirement is quantified, one of the things that PMBOK stresses in its definition.

The requirement from the manufacturing point of view means that it takes the worker on the assembly line less than 5 minutes to secure the bumper on the car as it goes through the line.

Fig. 1 Requirements for bumper design (hypothetical example)

Requirement type

Requirement details

1. Functionality Must pass NHTSA 5-mph crash test
2. Manufacturing Must take less than 5 minutes to assemble
3. Repair Must be below the median on IIHS repair cost ratings

Let’s assume that, according to the engineers, the first two requirements dictate that the bumper should be one solid assembly. It will absorb the shock better and be easier to assemble because there is only one component to the assembly.

However, the engineers say the third requirement dictates AGAINST there being one solid assembly for the following reason: if every time you have a dent to your bumper, you have to replace the entire assembly and not just the portion that is dented, that will cause the repair costs to go up. So if you have a solid assembly, you may not be below the median, but towards the top of the estimates that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) puts out every year. Higher repair costs means higher insurance rates.

NOTE: Please note that the requirements are all quantified. One crucial question to ask a stakeholder who gives you a requirement is to say: how will we be able to test that the requirement has been satisfied? If they can’t think of a quantifiable “pass” test for the requirement, then the requirement has not been sufficiently thought through.

So now we are in a situation where requirements 1 and 2 together conflict with requirement 3. Now if the project proceeded with only requirements 1 and 2 being known, and requirement 3 was uncovered towards the end of the project, you might have to start the design all over from scratch.

My hope in this post is to illustrate the importance of uncovering all requirements, prioritizing them, harmonizing them, and documenting them..

4. Uncovering Requirements

In order to uncover all the requirements, you need to involve all the stakeholders. This process is amenable to brainstorming techniques where you try to encourage members of the project team to collaborate and think of all possible requirements. To do this, it is not just important to have a process, but an attitude of openness, which John Cleese in his talk on creativity calls the open mode. For details, see my summary of his talk in my May 27, 2012 blog post.

5. Prioritizing Requirements

For a large project, you may get so many requirements that it may be close to impossible to accommodate them all. In this case, you must prioritize the requirements, with the priority going something like this:

Fig. 2 Priority of Requirements

Those requirements that are specified in the Statement of Work (what was the business need and/or strategic objective of the project) have priority as seen by the smallest, darkest circle. The SOW is the “seed” of the project, often given by a buyer to a supplier in the form of a contract or procurement document such as a Request for Proposal.

Those requirements that are specified in the Project Charter, which is the organization’s scope “blueprint”, if you will, have the next highest priority.

Those requirements that are specified in the Project Scope Statement, the more detailed description of scope developed during the Planning Process, have the next highesr priority.

There are other project constraints, exclusions, etc. which are contained in the Project Scope Statement have the least priority.

6. Harmonizing of Requirements

As in the example of the bumper design, there may be requirements which conflict which each other, and these need to be negotiated with the stakeholders involved. One of the ways of resolving the conflict is to find out which of the requirements is more central to the core of the product scope as expressed in the business case or analysis of the Statement of Work.

7. Documenting Requirements

There is something called a requirement traceability matrix which takes each of the design features of the product and relates it to the requirements or objectives of the project.

This is part of the requirement management plan; another part documents who is responsible for which requirement, for signing off on it at the end of the project when the deliverable is sent to the customer for approval, etc.

The more completely this is done during the project management planning process, the less likely it is to get unpleasant surprises or previously unrecognized requirements popping up during the course of the project.

And that is one important way to prevent your project from having unnecessary changes.

CAPM–another pathway to becoming a Project Manager

1. Qualifications for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam

The requirements for sitting for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam are 3 years of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education; however, that project management experience must have been gained within the past 8 years. (That is, assuming that you have a four-year college degree or higher in terms of education; if you gave the equivalent of a high-school diploma, then the experience requirement goes up to 5 years.)

Reason for not qualifying for PMP


No project management experience


Not enough project management experience (< 3 years)


Not enough recent project management experience (> 8 years ago)

So how do you become a project manager if you don’t qualify for the PMP?

2. Certified Associate in Project Management
There is another certification sponsored by the Project Management Institute (PMI) called the Certified Associate in Project Management. This covers the same material as the PMP exam in terms of scope, i.e., the contents of the PMBOK® Guide, but not in terms of depth. The PMP not only tests your knowledge of project management principles in theory, as the CAPM does, but it also tests them in practice by using situational questions.

If you find yourself in one of the three categories above, then you may qualify for the CAPM exam if you have 23 hours of project management education. A seminar put on by a local PMI chapter would certainly qualify. There are online courses you can take, or you can go to a local community college, or even a state college or university to take a course in the principles of project management.

3. What will the CAPM qualify me to do?
You will not be qualified to manage a project yourself; that is the function of the PMP certification. However, you can be an Assistant Project Manager, because you will have enough knowledge of the PMBOK® Guide practices in order to be able to a valuable asset to a project management team.

Then, after you gain the requisite experience, you can go for the PMP exam.

For those who have no experience; i.e., those who have just completed a course in project management in college or who have studied something else and want to get into project management, this certification will set you apart from those who may just have an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree.

For those who have some experience, it will set you apart from those who have the same experience as you do because it tells your present or prospective employer that you are aiming towards the PMP exam in the future.

For those who have project management experience, but for whom that experience is not recent, it gives you an advantage in that tells your prospective employer that you are “up-to-date” in terms of your project management knowledge.

4. How else can I help my career towards being an Assistant Project Manager, and someday a full-fledge Project Manager?

Here are some of the things you can do to improve your skills that will set you apart from your competition:



1. Join PMI There should be a chapter of the Project Management Institute. Join it, go to chapter events and meet Project Managers!
2. Join LinkedIn Groups There are many LinkedIn groups that are related to Project Management. Join them and take part in the discussion!
3. Join Toastmasters Toastmasters will improve your communication and leadership skills which every Project Manager must have! There may be a Toastmasters club supported by the local PMI chapter which was created for Project Managers or those who want to become one!
4. Social Media There are people who are experts in the field of Project Management whom you can follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, whose blogs you can read, or whose podcasts you can listen to! Or you can take the ultimate plunge and create your own blog and write about Project Management yourself!
5. Networking You need to go to networking events, either those that are project management-related (like the ones put on by PMI local chapters), or general ones. You will run into people who are project managers who may be valuable assets to you in your job search if you are in transition. And if you are working, you may find people with whom you can trade ideas about how to improve project management in your organization.

If you do any, or preferably ALL of the above, you will enter the world of Project Management in some shape or form. Yes, opportunities may come to you by accident, but you will be more “accident-prone”, if you know what I mean, if you are actively within the field of those who are working in the profession.

So if you don’t qualify for the PMP, but you don’t want to give up your dream of being a Project Manager, you don’t have to–just use the CAPM as your stepping stone to success!

Scope Management—The Best Defense against Scope Creep (Intro)

1. Scope Creep and the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928

Scope creep is changing the original scope during the course of the project without considering the impact this change has on other constraints such as time, cost, or even customer approval.

This this is the bane of the project manager, and it is hard to underestimate the importance of protecting against it. At a recent meeting of the Orange County Project Masters Club, a Toastmasters club for Project Managers, one of our members, Van Wray, gave a talk on the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928.

NOTE: I must commend Mr. Wray on his excellent presentation; he won the award for the best speech of the evening, and he definitely deserved it. (I can say that with particular conviction because he won against the speech I gave that same evening!)

The St. Francis Dam was located about 40 miles NW of Los Angeles, and was constructed in 1924 and 1926 under the supervision of the legendary chief engineer William Mulholland.   The dam collapsed just before midnight on March 12, 1928, killing 600 people in the ensuing flood. On the morning before the flood, the dam keeper alerted Mulholland to a leak, which seemed particularly ominous since it was a leak of dirty water, indicating that erosion may have been occurring at the foundation. Mulholland deemed the dam safe, but his judgment was proved wrong less than 24 hours later.

A commission formed at the time to analyze the cause of the disaster laid the fault on incomplete knowledge of the geology of the rock formations around the dam.   However, a more recent study published in 2004 in the journal California History by historians Norris Hundley Jr. (Professor Emeritus, UCLA) and Donald C. Jackson (Professor Lafayette College) showed that the more direct root cause of the disaster was that there were two changes in the height of the dam that were done without having an engineering analysis done of the effect of those changes on the rest of the dam’s design. In other words, as we would put it today in project management terms, 600 people died because of scope creep. It was one of the largest civil engineering disasters of the 20th century, and was responsible for the second largest loss of life in California in the 20th century, second only to the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

2. Scope Management

The PMBOK® Guide lists 5 processes for the management of project scope.

Process Group  Process Number Process Name Process Description
Planning 5.1 Collect Requirements Defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs to meet the project objectives.


5.2 Define Scope Developing a detailed description of the project and product.


5.3 Create WBS Subdivides projectdeliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components.


Monitoring& Controlling 5.4 Verify Scope Formalizing acceptance of the project deliverables with the customer.


5.5 Control
Monitoring status of the project and product scope and managing changes to the scope baseline.

What I plan to do is go through these five processes in some detail to discuss each of the processes and to discern some principles that project managers can take away to be able to manage the scope on a project.

The next post will go through the first process, that of Collecting Requirements. It’s not just collecting them and collating them, but resolving conflicting requirements that it is the key to avoiding scope changes later on in the project.

A Time to Remember–A Dramatic Talk

The following is the text of the speech I did tonight at our Toastmasters Club.  I was doing the speech project from the Entertaining Speaker Manual called A Dramatic Talk.   In it I talk about the experiences I had living in New York one day exactly 11 years ago …

Time to Remember

(Stepping out to audience, and singing these lyrics of “Time to Remember” from The Fantastiks )

Try to remember the kind of September when you were a tender and callow fellow

Try to remember and if you remember then follow … follow follow follow

(beckoning to audience in “follow me” gesture, sitting down in chair)

(Picks up imaginary telephone) Hello, this is Mitsubishi Motors, can I help you? (Suddenly smiling and relaxing) Oh, Dad! Why are you calling me here in New York so early? It must be only 7:00 AM there in Chicago—oh, slow down, slow down. (Sitting forward, with worried look.) Oh you were watching CNN when you saw a report of … what? A plane hit the World Trade Center? John’s company is in one of those buildings, you know. Did you call him? You got a busy signal. Okay, I’ll call him and then call you back. Oh, speaking of planes, did Mom get on her plane yet? Well, call her while I’m calling John.

(reaches for telephone) First, I’d better tell Ken about this—he’s the only with a TV in his room. (Getting up, knocks on imaginary door in center stage.) Sorry, Ken—this is an emergency. My Dad called from Chicago and said he saw on television that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. You’d better turn the TV on to find out what’s going on. (Now looking to left at imaginary TV.)

Watches TV—I have no idea what kind of plane it was, but it must be one hell of an accident. (Puzzled look, and then shakes head in noncomprehension.) What? A second explosion? Where did that come from? A second plane (“oh my God” look forming on face)? You know what this means, don’t you. I’ve get to tell our boss.

(stepping back, folding hands in calm gesture and speaking directly to the audience)

At this point, we knew it was a terrorist attack, not an accident. I tried calling my brother John, but there was no answer; all communication was now cut off. It turns out his company, Marsh & McLellan, was in the center of where the plane hit in the North Tower. I knew he was safe because he didn’t work in that building, but rather in a building in Midtown Manhattan near where I worked. It was my mother I was worried about, because as far as I knew, she was getting ready to board a flight heading from the East Coast to Chicago.

(Moving forward and talking in center stage at same colleague’s “door” as before.)

I heard the secretary next door started a rumor that they “got the Sears Tower in Chicago” (imitating New York accent). Did they attack it or are they just evacuating it?  What is it, Ken? What’s happening to the South Tower? (looking at TV, staring in horror, as hands slowly cover face)

For months after seeing the South Tower fall in September 11, I had a recurring nightmare. I’m in an office building, and there’s a rumbling like an earthquake. I look outside the window and the high-rise buildings next to us inexplicably start shooting upward. And then, I realize that they are not shooting up in the air—it is our building that is falling to the ground, and I have only a few seconds to live … and then I wake up in a cold sweat.

I finally went to a hypnotherapist and he found under hypnosis that during that time when I saw the building fall, I empathized with those poor people who were about to die to the point that I identified with them. That’s why in my imagination I joined them in their final moments.

Yes, Hase-san. Major Guiliani as just given the evacuation has just been ordered.  One problem: there’s no public transport going in or out of Manhattan. I guess we’ll have to walk to the bridge, cross it and take transport on the other side. Hai, gambarimasho. Yes, let’s all persevere.

On the way back home, as I crossed the bridge from Manhattan to Queens, I saw the two gaping wounds in the Manhattan skyline pouring out smoke. I had the same feeling many had that day that we had just experienced the Pearl Harbor of our generation.

Oh, I’m so thirsty, thank Heaven for 7-11. (Tries door, face showing surprise) How could a 7-11 be closed? Wait a minute–there’s a sign … “closed due to terrorist attack”. Oh, for goodness sake. Why, did they think they were next? That’s what I call delusions of grandeur.

I can just see it now, Osama bin Laden is in a cave somewhere saying, “well, did you get the World Trade Center?” “Yes, we did!” “What about the Pentagon?” “Yes, we did!” “What about the 7-11 in the mini-mall in Queens?” “Uh, no, we didn’t!” “Son of an infidel! You’d better get it next time!” (Laughs at ridiculous image.)

I realized just then that I had laughed for the first time since all of this started. Of course I wasn’t laughing at the terrorist attack, I was laughing at fear. It was suddenly as if a fog lifted, and I realized, if I can laugh at fear, I can survive and move forward. I walked home the rest of the way.

(Hands in prayer position) Hey, I know you’re busy today, but you’re the only one who hasn’t given me a busy signal all day. Please make sure my brother and mother are okay, that’s all I ask. (phone rings) Dad! (points thumb up to ceiling in “OK”gesture). Oh, I’m so glad to hear your voice. I just got in. Is Mom okay? Oh, her plane got grounded. Yeah, she and thousands of other people. Oh, well, at least she’s okay. And John? I’m sure he sounded shaken, considering … Poor guy! Well, Dad, at least all in the people in your family are still alive. I really appreciate you calling. I love you, Dad! (looking upward and mouthing the words) Thank you.

(getting up and singing final verses from “Time to Remember”

Deep in December it’s nice to remember without the hurt the heart is hollow

Deep in December it’s nice to remember the fire of September that made us mellow

Deep in December our hearts will remember and follow …