My Fifth Book-signing Event @Indigo, Signal Hills, Calgary, AB  

This is my fifth book-signing event (Venue = Signal Hills, Calgary, AB).  

I had the pleasure of meeting with John Castaneda, a Planning and Scheduling colleague , and Kate Knowles, a new friend.. Thanks for your support. My daughter Maria Zenka and Stephen Thornhill came to visit. It was a nice surprise.

Rubbed shoulders with fellow author (A Moth to the Flame) Deb Sanders and husband Ed. An interesting talk with Antonio Sevilla how risk-based management (RBM) relates to Christian beliefs was specially uplifting as it gave me the chance to explain how RBM applies to everything including religion. “Managing sins and temptations is in itself risk-based management to getting that heavenly reward at the end of each of man’s life cycle (Frago, R., 2015.The Risk of Sinning and the End of Times: Christian View of a Risk Manager).” https://lnkd.in/ecBqHBW  

My last book-signing event is on July 22, 2017, Saturday at Chinook-Chapters, Calgary, Alberta (11 am to 3 pm). See you there!  

Cheers!   Rufran C. Frago – Author Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls a Perspective.

https://lnkd.in/gNPT8ma

*My second book is coming out soon! “Plan to Schedule, Schedule to Plan. ISBN 978-0-9947608-2-1”  

 

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Posted in Book, Book-signing, Business, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Indigo-Chapters Ads, Program Management, Project Management, Quality Management, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risk-based Management: Data Maturity, Integration, Risk and Execution

An overall project execution plan is still a puzzle at an early stage. It is looking for the right information to replace fuzzy data, seeking to fill in missing information. Major data points are still more of constraints and assumptions. Even the strategy revolves around certain objectives that are more political in nature than logic-based; i.e. political dates (called economic dates), and targets, that are backed by some feasibility studies that are based mostly on assumptions (i.e. if ever they do have one).

When assumptions (fill-in information) and constraints are at it its peak, data maturity, and reliability are at their lowest.

The rule of thumb to follow: “Projects should not be sanctioned when the unknowns far exceed the known.”

The overall execution plan loses substance when important pieces are missing. It can also lose its essence when many smaller project elements are absent, through their cumulative effect.

Data maturity is a project attribute project managers have to deal with in some intelligent way. They seek to formulate a way to address missing and incomplete information and to strike a balance somehow. It is very risky trying to integrate a project with missing or incomplete work scope. Filling in an information space with assumed fill-in data is a risky trade-off.

Creating what-if scenarios and quantifying the trade-offs are two of the best approaches to come up with an intelligent decision. Through iterative simulations, the project will get some useful foresight. Note however, that this will not address project uncertainties but will only increase project awareness.

How can anyone integrate construction to engineering and commissioning & start-up to construction when information relating thereto are not yet in full view?

Figure 1 illustrates the general relationship between maturity, quality, and integration using time as backdrop (Frago, R., 2015. Risk-based Management: Data Maturity, Quality, and Project Integration). It is only a partial view of the whole project lifecycle but clearly demonstrates that data maturity increases through time. As the project moved to the right through the timeline, maturity summons quality to increase with the degree of integration improving as well.

At Gate 3 (G3), the EDS (Execution Baseline Schedule), Project Management Plan (some companies prefer to call it Project Execution Plan rather than the usual PMBOK terminology) have most of the necessary information. These include Risk Management Plan, Basis of Schedule, Execution Estimate, final revision of the Project Charter, Project Controls Plan (BOS), and others. All project documents are expected to be ready for approval and final sanction.

Figure 1 – Integration, Quality and Data Maturity Chart (Frago, R., 2015)

Although distinctly different, the project is often times compared to a precious baby in development. Each stage during the pregnancy gives us a glimpse of the whole until final delivery. The project lifecycle is similar to the baby’s biological stages conceptually. Time dependent information comes naturally, dancing around the business beat.

Much like a forming fetus, no one can force a project to mature ahead of its time. Like everything else in this world, there is a place and time for everything. Picking the right place, the right time, and the right resources makes a project extremely successful. What is right shall depend on company objectives and risk appetite.

Quality is frequently a victim of time. Think about it. Try doing anything quicker than normal. What will happen to the quality of any endeavor compared to one given enough time? Right you are! We will see resources skipping steps, doing shortcuts, circumventing rules, violating regulations, lying, cheating, sugarcoating, and many others. The adverse consequences, to name a few includes reworks, higher safety incidents, project suspension, strikes, disputes, litigation, lay-offs, and bunches of other bad news. All these will potentially happen because quality has deteriorated.

A quality person probably coined the phrase, “Haste makes waste!”

We often see it. If you are a project person, you have seen that a project schedule (that is supposed to manage time), itself becomes the victim of time. The PC Manager barking his order with a glint of a measured warning in his eyes:

“The schedule is good enough. We need to submit it today before 12pm! Senior Leaders are meeting tomorrow. Fail to submit now and we all would be looking for another job next month.”

The project team must comprehend that the integrative requirement of the project depends on data/information maturity. Maturity spells identification, clarity, correct level of details and completeness. Maturity of work components should spell quality (with quality achieving at least the accepted minimum requirement of the organization). The sooner we fill in the blanks, the sooner we get going. The maturity point can be advanced through the Gates.

The quality of information is directly related to data maturity. It is a measure as to when certain information are acceptably ready. Reliability of work data increases through time and signals the right time for full integration ( Figure 2). Reliability is a result of data maturity. Good integration results in an effective risk-based project execution, an execution that makes most sense.

While the acquisition of good quality information is always in progress, the risk specialist and each team member should strive to help the project manager identify and highlight critical elements needed for success. Always be reminded that risks must be identified first before they can be managed. Risks cannot be identified if no information or indicator relating thereto exists. Unknown risks cannot be managed.

Figure 2 – Data Maturity, Risk, and Reliability (Frago, R., 2015)

It entails the integration of people, various resources, standards, procedures, work instructions, methodologies, and tools. All these practically revolve around collecting and collating data and turn them to something useful and actionable. It requires risk-based management maturity.

The measure of maturity and decisions pertaining thereto emanates from the leadership, from the project manager. The drive to reach that certain maturity point comes from the people running the project.

Pulling a project together while fulfilling certain prerequisites that satisfy required quality criteria, such that it passes each review gate, is a challenge and a commitment.

For example, to achieve full schedule integration, the project has to make sure scope in the schedule is complete to a level that permits effective control. Alignment between estimate, schedule, plans, and strategy should not be discounted. Violating these base requirements is an invitation for trouble.

Project Directors, Managers, Checkpoint Reviewers, and Project Specialists therefore; must be prudent when making a recommendation. It is imperative that each project player reconciles “success needs” with real and proper integration.

A good cue: Final project execution needs all project components at an acceptable level of quality and integration. This is mandatory for highly critical project components. Data maturity leads to integration that leads to effective execution ( Figure 3).

Figure 3 – Maturity, Integration and Execution Chart (Frago, R., 2015)

The temptation of going ahead with the project despite a deficient plan, an incomplete scope, numerous engineering holds, schedule disconnect, unusually high number of assumptions, problems, issues, and uncertainties is pervasive in the construction industry.

Whispers coming from several grapevines say that this is an attitude that exists and even flourishes during the glory days years past. It is wise therefore to be aware that the attraction to skate through, if not circumvent, requirements are challenges that can become more prevalent during an economic downturn such as what we have in 2008/2009 and what we have started to see now.

When company coffers are under stressed and start shelving projects, some bands of project people will actively want to push the project quickly through the checkpoint or gate processes, even prematurely, towards sanction. It is a nonchalant way of maintaining work security at company cost.

The outcome of such quick turnaround decisions is once the project is budgeted; risk is quickly realized. Real problem starts. Missing information starts coming out and invalidating major assumptions by the projects.

Professionals are facing the ethical dilemma of a Go or No Go recommendation/decision daily. It is an opportune time for all professionals to review their individual professional code of ethics as a personal reminder of what are at stake.

Rufran C. Frago – Author (100915)

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. RBM: Data Maturity, Quality, and Project Integration
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  4. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  5. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  6. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  7. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  8. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
  10. Oil Price, Recession: Causes, Issues and Risks

ANNOUNCEMENT! The paperback and Kindle edition of the book “Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective” are now available. Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.

The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management.

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. Grab a copy now!

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

Source: Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

https://www.amazon.com/author

Posted in Analysis, Business, Construction Management, Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Economics, Execution Strategy, Information Maturity, Integration, Planning and Scheduling, Project Management, Quality Management, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Risk-based Management: Data Maturity, Quality and Integration

Chapter 9-Project Integration of my recently published book Risk-management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective discusses the challenges that many Project Managers are facing. One item that throws many to fits is project integration. It is a project requirement with varying level of complexities. Some have successfully toe the line but many just fail.

Integration happens throughout the project lifecycle using continuous collaboration. It becomes a big challenge to project professionals who do not have enough experience but especially true to managers handling large projects with multiple areas or multiple project portfolios.

Integration is similar to you and I having all our limbs, eyes, head, body, ears, etc. attached to us, functioning systematically to finish our chores. It is one essential criteria leading to success which many struggles with, an effort of pulling the project together to make a coherent whole.

The difficulty starts with the challenge of reconciling project decision maker’s own understanding of what integration entails. What does it really means. What it is all about?

What information does the project need provide at each Gate to build the final project execution plan required before sanction? Primer to Good Schedule Integration puts this requirement into perspective.

Metaphorically speaking, it is like asking the question “Should we pass Gate 2 (DBM) with just the head, an eye, an ear, and a lower limb.”

It still surprises me that in the more than three decades I’ve worked in the industry, there are still team members in every project who are not fully aware that integration is highly dependent on data/information maturity. While everyone goes about their activity semi-consciously in any particular phase and stage, the idea of data maturity and its relationship with integration remains vague to lots of project people.

A poorly integrated execution plan will result in surprises, potentially resulting in project failure much like a collapsed structure brought about by missing fasteners ( Figure 1).

 Figure 1 – Poor Project Integration like a Tower with Loose or Missing Fasteners

Most concerning is when Project Leaders and Managers exhibit the symptoms. Clueless, it tags along with them like their favorite pet every time. They amazingly could not put their fingers on it or perhaps, intentionally refusing to accept. The sad part of the story are the consequences their decisions will make, omissions they will soon regret.

Here are some examples of project professional freely speaking their views. You probably heard them yourselves somewhere. Read and reflect…

  • “I know that a schedule risk analysis is required to pass the gate but we have no more time. If you ask me, I have this strong gut feel that two weeks schedule contingency is more than enough.”
  • “Don’t worry about that missing scope. It is not a problem. We can use any believable assumption just to fill the gap. That should do it so we can get the bridge budget we need.”
  • “Keep your mouth shut and follow my lead. That’s what you need to do. This deliverable is not a big deal and should not affect the project’s end goal.”
  • “Not to worry. We’ll prepare a management of change notice and shoulder the risk involved.”
  • “We have to produce something from nothing. This is why we are here for.”
  • “We can actually do it our way and the office boys can plan and schedule later. What say you?”
  • “Project Auditors are too bookish. Why keep looking for something that is not there to fail us. Why not let us pass this Gate and we will complete this gate requirement on the next one. That sounds reasonable, right?”
  • “The amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task. We will finish when we are done. Parkinson law should set these governance people straight! Why ask for something not available at this Gate?”

Figure 2 illustrates the general relationship between maturity, quality and integration using time as backdrop. It is only a partial view of the whole project lifecycle but clearly demonstrates that data maturity increases through time. As the project moved to the right through the timeline, maturity summons higher quality. Increase in quality directly influences the degree of integration as well.

Figure 2 – Integration, Quality and Data Maturity Chart (Frago, R., 2015)

A huge chunk of information is usually not available during the Initiating/Scoping and DBM (G2) phase. Good integration is impossible at such an early stage unless it is an exact replica of a previous project. As for the schedule, a poorly integrated schedule will not show the real critical path giving a wrong handle to the team.

Situation like these are to be expected upstream of the project lifecycle (first two Gates) but should be addressed as red flags approaching EDS. Otherwise, with stringent auditors at the Gate, the project should not pass.

Consider the aforementioned statements from any of your leader, manager, director, and team member as risk indicators. It practically draws more or less a clear picture of what lies ahead. Of course, depending on the specifics of the situation, although the statements are generally unacceptable, some of these statements can actually be taken as normal.

The logic is simple.

Combination of maturity, quality, and integration is the lifeblood of a workable and successful overall execution plan.

Note: This article was first published in Linkedin Pulse on October 10, 2015.

Rufran C. Frago – Author (101115)

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago:

  1. RBM: Data Maturity, Integration, Risk and Execution
  2. Risks as a Function of Time
  3. Project Schedule: P50, Anyone?
  4. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  5. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  6. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  7. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  8. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
  9. Scaffolding Hours: What are they? Directs or Indirects? Part 2
  10. Oil Price, Recession: Causes, Issues and Risks

The paperback and Kindle edition of the book “Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective” are now available. Please follow the hyperlinks for more information.

The book provides new/additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, and for students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management.

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school. The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies. You can grab a copy now!

https://youtu.be/wxWgYUhiWos

Source: Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

https://www.amazon.com/author

Posted in Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Information Maturity, Integration, Planning and Scheduling, Project Management, Quality Management, Risk-based Management | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective

The book provides new and additional knowledge to project management practitioners (beginners to experts), risk management specialists, project controls people, estimators, cost managers, planners and schedulers, students of undergraduate courses in Risk Management, and the next man on the block.

The sectional contents offer practical and common sense approach to identifying/managing risks. It is a must have for company managers, directors, supervisors, aspiring industry professionals, and even those students fresh from high school.

The material is especially design to start with the foundational principles of risk gradually bringing the reader to deeper topics using a conversational style with simple terminologies.

042117-ADS Book Signing-Indigo, Signal Hill

What is risk-based management (RBM) to you? Do you have a good understanding of risk and the concept surrounding it? How is risk-based management applied? Are you aware that you are into risk-based management with every breath you take? Do you know that risk can be both an opportunity and a threat? Do you want to know more?

RBM is serious approach and a philosophy that considers risks while managing any endeavor (project or task) throughout its lifecycle.

If you fully understand risk, you will surely understand risk-based management. Think whatever endeavor you’re into. Did you select the best option? If you are not sure how to go about your pet project, then risk-based management will help you.

Management by objectives is coupled with a healthy focus on risk management by increasing the probability of success, enhancing opportunities, and/or preventing/mitigating threats.

In order to appreciate this management approach requires in-depth understanding of risk itself. This is what the book “Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective” is about.

101416-risk-relativity1

We attribute the high failure rate of projects to a combination of factors, namely a lack of support from business leadership, incompetent project managers, and a firms’ unwillingness to treat a project as they would a start-up business.

If you think this is all there is it to it, then you are in for a surprise. There are more where they came from. I have seen many of these things while in different roles after decades long of exposure across industries.

Of course, it is very clear that a project cancelled before it is fully completed is a failure. The degree of failure depends on how much stakeholder money and other resources have already been used and wasted.

We must also consider the cascade effects of such failure to any company’s bottom line. Crossing the bottom line can result to layoffs, across the board budget cuts, low dividend returns for stockholders, loss of reputation, and decreased stock price to name a few.

Risk-based management describes the available choices and options considered against their associated risks. Actions become possible when we are sure that we adequately comprehend the risks before us.

Looking at how other types of management work makes the risk-based concept ideal, since it is a simple perspective that can easily integrate other concepts.

Decisions evolve from a situation where one has to make a choice. The option can be to do or not to do something. It can also be to select one option from a range of options.

The most important objectives drive final decision. It is constrained by any, or combination of social, technical, business, safety, and environmental factors. Successful decision-making requires an understanding of each of these factors and objectives (RiskTec, 2013).

There are professionals who have difficulty accepting the term “risk-based.” It simply means that risk should be the main contemplation, while keeping an eye to achieving business objectives. It is therefore a foundational concern in the pursuit of a goal.

Pursuing a goal naturally results in risk management. This is how we end up with risk management. Under this paradigm, the concern revolves around the decisions we need to make, i.e. whether to avoid or mitigate in the case of a threat, and whether to enhance or exploit in the case of an opportunity.

Risk is not only a factor or featured element of management; it is the central concept at play. It should be the focus of management, second only (if not equal) to the main objectives.

An excellent risk manager will see clearly that the objectives and end deliverables are part of the risk. They are the grand consequences of the positive risks (opportunities) identified, and the very reason why the project was initiated. Risk-based management is as important as the objectives.

Failing to mitigate the risk means failure to meet the objectives. When that happens, the risk is on equal footing and of the same importance as the objectives.

I trust that you will find this book helpful as you proceed addressing the challenges of your own risk universe.

The book “Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A project Controls Perspective” was officially published by Amazon in Kindle Edition (e-book) and paperback in 2015.

042417-Amazon Book Page.png

The paperback edition is also now available in Indigo/Chapters Book Store.

042417-Indigo Book Page.png

Highlighted summary contents of the book:

1) The concept of risk and the practicality of risk-based management

2) Detailed instruction on risk quantification using the OPRA tool

3) The risk management processes and knowledge areas

4) How to prepare a good quality schedule and sound execution plan

5) Tips on schedule risk modeling

6) Planning and scheduling heuristics

7) Here is the list of chapters:

Chapter 1 -Risk Concepts and Philosophies

Chapter 2-Risk-based Management

Chapter 3-Risk-based Planning and Scheduling

Chapter 4-How to Prepare for Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis

Chapter 5-Schedule Quantitative Risk Analysis

Chapter 6-Importing Schedule to OPRA

Chapter 7-RBM and Natural Disasters

Chapter 8-Managing Cultural Diversity

Chapter 9-Project Integration

Chapter 10-Key Risk Indicator (KRI)

Chapter 11-P50 Risk-based Baseline Schedule

Chapter 12-Mega-projects Schedule Integration

Chapter 13-Risk Assessments and Treatments

Chapter 14-Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Chapter 15-Road to Operational Excellence

Chapter 16-Keys to Organizational Success

Chapter 17-Risk-based Management Wisdom

 

Information about the author

https://www.amazon.com/author/rufrancfrago

021116-Book Ads2

RUFRAN C. FRAGO, P.Eng, PMP®, CCP, PMI-RMP®

Rev: 24-Apr-2017

Posted in Analysis, Baseline Management, Black Swans, Book, Business, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Data Assessment, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Opportunities, Opportunity, Project Management, Publication, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Schedule Baseline, Threats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boxing and Risk-based Management

Boxing is a risk event. Monitoring risk is like watching boxing, both with the intention to strike opportunities, prevent and mitigate threats, make the right response, and to make the right decision.

As a risk-based management practitioner, the sometimes bloody sport of boxing is so fascinating in my view as it relates so well with the concept of risk.

Boxers have their response plan to prevent or mitigate the punches. The boxing judges have a decision to make and it has to be the right one

Risk-monitoring

In boxing, if one does not see whether the punch landed and where it landed, then one might make the wrong choice who wins. They will not appreciate the actual impact the blows bring.

Judges will not move the score. Risk managers will not make account of a realized risk (problem). It is imperative that observers be as hawk-eyed as they can possibly be to make the right decision.

If a punch or sub-event passes by without anyone taking notice, the project can wrongly claim success and the losing boxer can do a victory dance. Like it or not, the project can end up a total failure, while anyone of the boxers a complete loser.

Losing is an Opportunity! Amazing Statistics!

When Floyd (Money) Mayweather (48-0, 26 KO) and Manny (Pacman) Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO) finally fought for the 2015 reported USD$500 Million dollars Welterweight (147lbs) title fight mega-bout, this risk principle came to view. In 2016, the report was updated to USD$600M.

This was the biggest singular boxing event that the world has known. No future boxing event will probably even equal it in the next 50 to 100 years.

“A $500M figure is already absolutely staggering, and jaw-dropping when you put it in context:

1) It’s more than the GDP of seven different countries, according to the International Monetary Fund.

2) USD$ 500M is more than the military budgets of India, Japan and Germany.

3) You could buy SIX different private islands, and have change left over.

4) If you worked for minimum wage it would take 33,156 YEARS to make as much as the fight made in one night.

Source: Dator, J., 2015.SB Nation.Pacquiao vs. Mayweather made more money than anyone imagined”

The purse for the fight was set at $300million (£194,502,705), which both boxers agreed be split 60/40 in the American’s favour prior to the fight.

Over the 12 rounds, Mayweather earned $4,994,681 per minute of action, with Pacquiao earning $3,329,787 per minute.

I’m sure that everyone who is reading this cannot earn a minute of these boxers even in multiple life time. So unbelievable! Wow!

The fight against Floyd Mayweather in May 2015 broke every financial record in boxing history, including 4.6 million PPV buys and total revenue of $600 million from PPV, tickets, international TV, sponsorships and merchandise. Pacquiao made $120 million for the fight with Mayweather pulling down a payday twice as big. It broke the USD500M expectation set in 2015 (Badenhause, K., 2016.Forbes Business).

The fight was a risk event in its own right. It was a huge opportunity to a lot of people, especially to Manny and Floyd, win or lose!

The Eyes of the Beholder

PacMan thought he won.

Final official result: Floyd won by unanimous decision. However, the debate goes on. It continued to be an exciting fight years after. Technical hindsight in various boxing forums favored Pacquiao just like this featured video).

Who can really question an opinion?

Video 1: Detailed Account of Pacquiao-Mayweather Mega-bout of the Century a year after the event (2016)

Limitation to Objectives

A project Manager has to exercise caution because risk-based management can be quite subjective.

In boxing, if one does not see whether the punch landed and where it landed, then one might make the wrong choice who wins. They will not appreciate the actual impact the blows bring. Judges will not move the score. Risk managers will not make account of it.

Risk Managers tends to see things only based on where they stand. The event passes by without anyone taking notice. The project can claim success and the losing boxer can do a victory dance. The reference points are their individual or the company objectives the person represents.

Man is driven by what he observes and/or by what he perceives to be.

Objectivity versus Subjectivity

“Each individual player within the risk universe will see things a bit differently compared to the next person, with some people interpreting things in exactly the opposite fashion. In each case, the person can see only one attribute. The simplistic objective point of view is that risk is either a threat or an opportunity, depending on the observer’s orientation to the goal (Frago, R., 2015.Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities).

It is therefore plain and simple. What a man does is influenced by his interest, the things he advocates, his biases within, and the framework (codes) he follows while executing what he needs to accomplish in the pursuit of his goals.

Rufran C. Frago – Author (26-Feb-17)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Risk Relativity
  2. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  3. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  4. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
  5. Risks as a Function of Time
  6. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
Posted in Analysis, Boxing Analysis, Business, Causes and effects, Data Assessment, E-Touch Up, Economics, Execution Strategy, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Monitoring, Opportunities, Opportunity, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Case Study, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity Risk in the Canadian Workplace

If we look in the past, multiculturalism has a long and wide history in Canada. It was then adopted by the government during the 1970s and 1980s (Kobayashi, 1993) and (Duncan & Duncan, 1993).

From that time onwards, various religious and cultural influences flourished in our society; from the family to the workplace and into the main building blocks of Canadian politics. They consist of people from a multitude of racial, religious, and cultural background.

Multiculturalism was an open invitation to “cultural pluralism”, a state where smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities. It means that the values and practices of a distinct cultural group are accepted by the wider culture provided they do not violate any governing laws and values.

Note that “cultural pluralism” is often confused with “multiculturalism”.

Yes, the attributes are very similar except for one evident distinction-“multiculturalism lacks the requirement for a dominant culture (Wikipedia, 2013.Cultural Pluralism).

In the midst of these diversities lie the risks and questions that we all have to answer and manage every day. Before we proceed, let me ask you the following:

“Are you an internationally trained professional working in the Canadian workplace? Do you experience serious communication challenges although you feel that you have a good grasp of the English language? Do you feel that your leader and co-workers have not fully understood what you want to convey?

Do you find your action and your statement always get misinterpreted? Through all these snags and complications, have you started to use the race card to make a point? Are you debating with yourself on what to do, perhaps even giving up the Canadian dream and is now thinking of going back to your point of origin?”

Perhaps, it is the other way around. Maybe I should ask you the following questions.

“Are you a Canadian born/Canadian trained professional working in the Canadian workplace who serves under an internationally trained professional? Have you found it difficult dealing with a coworker sometimes? Are you still wondering why he/she sometimes comes in completely from the left field?”

How about the following situations?

  • Your project still failed after tremendous effort!
  • Someone refused to shake hands with you after being introduced.
  • A new acquaintance started to ask too many personal questions.
  • Someone jumped the queue.
  • Someone near your cubicle talked too loud.
  • Your office mate asked you not to talk too loud.
  • Your female co-worker embraced you in front of your wife at an office party.
  • You temporarily locked eyes with someone and it’s war!

Sounds familiar, eh? You will most likely feel bad if all of these questions remained unanswered. The Canadian workplace is highly diversified and your success at work is heavily influenced by your boss, co-workers and colleagues.

Refusing to admit that such situations exist is a mistake. Denying the issues will get you nowhere.

The truth is (that is whether you admit it or not) there were times and occasions that you just cannot seem to get your message across and vice versa. The other parties apparently do not appreciate what you are bringing to the table. You often wonder-what is wrong with them?

One of these days, you will wonder why an officemate suddenly reacted negatively on something you said while the other keep smiling. You will be surprised why a group of person said they do not agree with what you were saying just after two sentences.

Relationship turns more personal rather than professional. Frustration comes creeping into your life with you practically giving up the quest to understand. In extreme cases, you might already be in the midst of a conflict, spending negative energy, fighting and fending off adversaries and is now trying to get even.

The vicious cycle of conflict has started and there’s no let up to the stress it brought. You conclude that your work relationship with your boss, your direct report and/or your colleague, or stakeholder is no longer important and thus, need not be fixed.

The project you are managing is going south due to silent bickering or has already failed, so why bother? It is now a serious situation because the worse is about to come-… and that is you are going to start doubting yourself.

I know what it is like to become a victim of perception. You will not like it. They will not like it. Nobody will!

It is for these reasons that I want you to have the opportunity to learn and try to get a good handle of these challenges.

Nobody can do this perfectly but we all have to start somewhere. We need to be aware for without good understanding and appreciation of another person’s external and internal cultural dimensions, we can get lost, creating conflicts instead of harmony in the process.

In an article by John Hooker (2008), Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, Intercultural Business Communication, he stated that – “The key to cross-cultural business is to understand one’s business partners well enough to make cultural adjustments… A practical rule of thumb is that business transactions should favor the cultural norms of the social infrastructure on which they primarily rely.

In my opinion, the emphasis Hooker alluded to in his write-up is that business should not be seen as a self-contained activity that can disregard all other culture but rather, must offer more respect to the culture that provides the business. Since no one can really please everyone, this philosophy is very practical and makes perfect sense!

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Cultural differences were one of the top 15 reasons of Project Failure (Symonds, 2011.15 Cause of Project Failure).

Although it was at the bottom number 15 on Symonds’ list, my feeling is that the threat posed by improperly managing cultural differences can easily land on the top five.

Regardless, she is one of the many present day thinkers who believe that the concern have to be considered seriously by organizations because it is real.

She said, “… even on simple, straightforward projects there are many areas that can cause the sorts of problems that can eventually manifest themselves in failure. Add to the many possible causes of failure any level of complexity and problems can rapidly escalate into disasters.”

Imagine the piano… the right keys have to be pressed at the right time, together or alone, at the proper speed and sequence to create musical harmony. Press the wrong keys and you cringe with the sound it makes.

In conclusion, what is being touted by human resource experts as key to business success can easily become its own pitfall and demise if one is not carefully aware.

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Chapter 8.Section 8.1.page 157

Continuation…. “Diversity Risk-Case 1: Nho Klu

Rufran C. Frago – Author (10-Jan-17)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Risk Relativity
  2. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  3. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  4. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
  5. Risks as a Function of Time
  6. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  7. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  8. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  9. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  10. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
Posted in Analysis, Black Swans, Business, Canadian Politics, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Data Assessment, Data Maturity, Decision Making, Diversity, Diversity Risk, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Economics, Execution Strategy, Information Maturity, Integration, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Managing Constraints, Monitoring, Opportunities, Opportunity, Overseas Contract Workers, Overseas Foreign Workers, Pinoy OCWs, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Project Management, Quality Management, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Case Study, Risk of Working Overseas, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity Risk – Case 1 : Nho Klu

The book ”Managing Cultural Diversity in Technical Professions” (Laroche, 2003) is an excellent book that offers insightful observation on the subject that most of us take for granted.

Used as textbook and reference book in courses being offered by several Universities in Canada, including University of Calgary (BMC-316), it provides guidance to the complex attitudes and behaviors of another human being.

On the back cover, Laroche highlighted the facts that “1) …most technical professionals do not recognize the impact of cultural differences in the workplace and 2) cross-cultural issues lead to significant under-utilization of talent negatively affecting productivity.”

As I read the book, the clarity which eluded me in the past draws nearer. I now have a better view of what actually transpired and how I consciously and unconsciously contributed to the conflict.

I came to see that for a person to go out there in the workplace without understanding the cultural universe and the diversity that surrounds him/her will be in for a big surprise and a good share of heartache.

Case 1 – Nho Klu

Not more than a decade ago, Nho Klu (not his real name) was sitting in the office of John Didnotsee (not his real name) to complete the annual appraisal. He exerted all his best efforts and was hoping to be promoted to a Manager’s role. He felt that he has all the reasons to expect a promotion because he had exceeded all his goals & objectives.

After some small preliminary talk, the two went through Nho’s goals. There were a lot of nice praises and commendation, after which; John finally said,

“Nho, you know what? You are really good in what you do but I am sorry to say that although you are the best technical person in this group, you can never be a Manager. You will not be a Manager.”

Nho Klu was shocked at his leader’s concluding statement. He always thought that he was doing excellent. He confidently felt that he has the knowledge, the education, the skills and the experience. He was a respected Senior Engineering Manager for almost 15 years with several direct reports in his country of origin. The unexpectedness of the statement hurt his feelings.

Trained in a hierarchical culture with large power distance, Nho controlled himself. He respectfully responded to John’s shocking conclusion by citing his accomplishments and his other qualifications.

Unfortunately, it did not change John’s perception and in the coming days and months thereafter, their relationship soured and was finally eroded. John’s observation of Nho remained.

Adding more damage to Nho’s reputation, John spread his perception to the other Managers. This is a typical action made by many managers. It is both unfair and unethical given the particular situation.

After another six months from that fateful meeting, Nho decided that since he could no longer grow, he resigned.

I happened to come across Nho recently and he has this to say:

 “My family immigrated to Canada in 2003 and was into my second year when I got employed in that EPC company where I eventually reported to John. When John talked, I was all ears. By not being vocal against some of his methods, I thought I was showing my respect and loyalty. Although, I sometimes felt he does not have any idea about the task, I kept my mouth shut. He was my leader and I trusted him to do things correctly. I have never done anything unless I have his blessing. What kind of Leader was he that after giving my best approving-yes-attitude and respect, that was how he repaid me? I do not have any idea.”

He added, “I’ve attended so many meetings and interactions in my working life before Canada. They were all good experiences. As a Manager, my word is almost sacred. I expect my direct reports to accurately follow what asked them to. My training summons respect for the one who has a higher designation or authority. I am not allowed to say anything unless I was asked to give an opinion. I have no great appreciation for people who talks a lot. I see them talking for the sake of talking, to get attention and be visible. Getting recognition should be measured from what one delivers against a goal. Team work is important to me and I cannot bear to claim the group’s accomplishment as my own. When someone talked, that was how I see them-taking the credit solely for themselves!”

“I always consider that too much talking was a waste of time. I guess this kind of thinking got me in the end. My leader thought, I was not qualified and I thought my Leader was not qualified. It was a bad combination.”

“Fortunately, the company I am with now has embarked into a program called Understanding Diversity in the Workplace. Everyone in the organization, including myself, completed a prescribed mandatory cultural education. After my training, I saw to it that I make significant adjustments to my way of thinking and positive changes start to happen.”  

Nho came from a background where informal office talks are considered a waste of time, a mere rambling discussion about things that will not contribute to work objectives, where everyone was required to focus on business productivity through strict time management.

He carried this training in the Canadian workplace. He avoided what can be perceived as idle talks around the water coolers, or the hall way that might be construed as wasting time (read my article “Diversity Risk Case 2 : Puro Mali“). It was not long before he was labeled as weird and anti-social by his own group, including his Manager. They referred to him as a team-slayer (opposite of a team player).

With the pressure mounting, Nho, a loyal and qualified employee, eventually resigned.

Until now he refuses to accept that he should have made the necessary adjustments. He feels that he did nothing wrong. He did his job well and was passionate about accomplishing work objectives, but completely unaware (no clue) of any prevailing social norms he should have followed, at least for his own sake.

If only the others have some understanding about managing diversity, the outcome would have been more on the positive side as they would have provided Nho some helpful insights.

An adjustment somewhere could have been made and a win-win situation becomes the order of the day.

The truth is (that is whether you admit it or not) there will be times and occasions that one just cannot seem to get his message across and vice versa. The other party or parties apparently do not appreciate what one is bringing to the table. In the midst of these diversities lie the risks and questions that we all have to answer and manage every day (Frago, R., 2017.Diversity Risk in the Canadian Workplace.LinkedIn Pulse).

Managers tend to see the next person through perception all the time. He sees someone the way others painted the person or what he himself has painted the person to be. The danger is, what the leader perceived might be farthest from the truth.

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Chapter 8.Section 8.3.page 160-162

Rufran C. Frago – Author (12-Jan-17)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Diversity Risk in the Canadian Workplace
  2. Diversity Risk Case 2 : Puro Mali
  3. Risk Relativity
  4. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  5. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  6. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
  7. Risks as a Function of Time
  8. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  9. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  10. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  11. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  12. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
Posted in Analysis, Black Swans, Business, Canadian Politics, Causes and effects, Construction Management, Data Assessment, Decision Making, Diversity, Diversity Risk, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Economics, Execution Strategy, Information Maturity, Integration, Issues and Problems, Managing Assumptions, Managing Constraints, Monitoring, OFW, Oil Future, Opportunities, Opportunity, Overseas Contract Workers, Overseas Foreign Workers, Pinoy OCWs, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Progress Measurement, Project Management, Quality Management, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk Case Study, Risk of Working Overseas, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diversity Risk Case 2 : Puro Mali

Puro Mali (not his real name) was one of the company’s project reviewer and auditor. He had just completed his review and gave the project two high findings.

  • Not submitting the required project documents on time and,
  • Submitting a project schedule below the approved minimum quality standard

Within the day, Puro received an e-mail from the Project Manager Don Notagree (not his real name), with copies to all the department’s bigwigs stating the following:

“I do not agree with the position you have taken. High findings are unjust as it assumes that the project team had blatantly ignored the fact that we are required to prepare the requested information. Also, to assume that the team did not generate or have more current information is rather short sighted. At a minimum the initial findings should be “TBD” while your review continues.”

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Diversity Risk Case 2, Original Drawing by Rufran C. Frago, Copyright 2017

 

Puro was very unhappy with the e-mail. He felt slighted by the personal, strong, and accusatory tone of the message. He made it a point to reply promptly copying the same bigwigs the Manager chose to involve.

“The deadline for the submission of findings had passed. Your group submitted nothing and in doing so, the project got a high finding. I am not trying to insinuate that you and your team are irresponsible. Please do not make it personal by attacking me like this. We can always talk between ourselves before you issuing a broadcasted e-mail. The High rating is in accordance to the Review Guidelines. There was nothing shortsighted about it. I hope that this brings you some understanding. If you like, we can meet face to face, have a cup of coffee, and resolve this disagreement on neutral grounds.”

In spite of Puro’s apparent cool-headed approach, a cold war had started. Another work relationship was strained and upper management did not even know about it.

He also discovered during a follow-up meeting, that the words and phrases he used in the same report had elicited some really negative reactions from Don and the two members of his team. They complained that the wordings were too harsh.

Puro was not expecting that kind of feedback. In his view, the words and phrases that he used were all perfectly normal. Why did they see it that way?

“It cannot be this way,” he thought.

He has a Master in Business Communication in his country of origin. The intention of the review process is to identify room for improvement, and bridge the gap to help the project. It was not his purpose to create the gap.

In Puro’s contemplation,

“*#!%… there’s something wrong with this people. Why are they extremely sensitive?”

For the reader’s benefit, I captured some of the words and phrases that Puro used. They are listed below.

  • “The quality of the project schedule is questionable. It was below the minimum standard of quality.”
  • “The project should follow the governing procedure and must see to it that…”
  • “…schedule resource loading was incorrect.”
  • “There were mistakes in … “

Groping for answer and seeking a peaceful co-existence, Puro unhappily agreed to change his wordings resulting in the following:

  • “The quality of the project schedule could be improved as it is below the minimum standard of quality.”
  • “The project is requested to review the governing procedure and to check …”
  • “…schedule resource loading did not match the baseline estimate.”
  • “There were some misalignments in … “

Whether a person is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, the janitor or cleaner under contract, or a jobless person on the street, I am sure he wants some respect.

012617-case-2-puro-mali-project-y

Project Y, Original Drawing by Rufran C. Frago (Copyright 2004)

 

An intelligent person wants to be heard and a chance to be understood and validated. The American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945) Desiderata, which he wrote in 1927 underlined this principle in the first few lines of the famous prose poem.

 

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull, and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons. They are vexations to the spirit.”

“If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

I, for one, find the ideals of yesteryear more and more unsuitable to our current complex society. As such, it is imperative that organizations train and prepare all their employees not only to manage others, but also to manage themselves in a culturally diversified workplace. We all have to open our eyes wider, as it is crystal-clear that mismanaging cultural differences will adversely affect even a strong, skillful, and qualified workforce.

If we review Diversity Risk Case 1 : Nho Klu and this case, we will notice a glaring mismatch in the communication style of the characters. The most basic natural behavior that each one of them brought to the work environment reflected their styles. The mismatch of styles created a silent conflict that grew and became unmanageable.

The idea of hierarchical culture is tied closely to the power distance dimension (PDI) forwarded by Geert Hofstede. A visit to the Mind Tools website in 2012 provides the reader a starting plain look at what Hofstede calls the “Five Dimensions of National Culture”.

A revisit to the same website recently (2017) has added two more dimensions to the group. Suffice it to say, these general dimensional attributes are good tools in managing and distinguishing one culture from another. It is now generally described as “Seven Dimensions of Culture.”

“The cultural dimensions represent independent preferences for one state of affairs over another that distinguishes countries (rather than individuals) from each other. The country scores on the dimensions are relative, as we are all human and simultaneously we are all unique. In other words, culture can be only used meaningfully by comparison ( Mindtools, 2017.Hofstede Cultural Dimensions).”

It goes to show that the key to better understanding depends equally on all involved. Nho, John, Puro, Don, managers, and colleagues should have had open minds to avoid quickly succumbing to personal perceptions based solely on their own cultural lenses.

The challenges brought about by cultural differences like nationality, region, education, language, family values, political and professional affiliation, exposures, training, expectations, communication styles, philosophies, roles, positions, responsibility, unspoken languages, and many other potential differences produce the common office interactions and relationships we are seeing today in the workplace.

It is very interesting how new Canadians (newcomers to Canada) cope at work compared to their Canadian-trained counterparts in various settings.

In that aspect, communication being a two-way street, we can conclude that it will affect Canadian trained professionals to the same extent. The degree of understanding can improve only if one takes enough time to look through each other’s lenses. Seeing another person’s perspective with an open mind will influence the success and failures of any endeavor.

Source: Frago, R. (2015). Risk-based Management in the World of Threats and Opportunities: A Project Controls Perspective. ISBN 978-0-9947608-0-7 (Canada). Chapter 8.Section 8.4-8.5.page 162-166

Rufran C. Frago – Author (25-Jan-17)

Related sites:

Related articles authored by Rufran Frago.

  1. Diversity Risk-Case 1: Nho Klu
  2. Diversity Risk in the Canadian Workplace
  3. Risk Relativity
  4. Man is the Center of the Risk Universe
  5. Your World, Our Risk Universe
  6. Rufran Frago in the Global Risk Community Site
  7. Risks as a Function of Time
  8. Changing the Culture of Your Organization
  9. A Person Perceives Others Based on His Own Interest
  10. How Can Management Motivate and Empower?
  11. How Can Managers Increase Leadership Effectiveness
  12. Risks Surrounding Canada’s TFW Part 2
Posted in Business, Causes and effects, Data Assessment, Decision Making, Diversity, E-Touch Up, E-Touch Up Products, Economics, Execution Strategy, Integration, Managing Assumptions, Opportunities, Opportunity, Pinoy OCWs, Planning and Scheduling, Program Management, Project Management, Quality Management, risk, Risk Assessment and Treatment, Risk of Working Overseas, Risk Relativity, Risk Universe, Risk-based Management, rufran frago, Rufran's Blogs, Threats, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Season’s Message from RBMS Inc.

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Merry Christmas to all!

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