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December 22, 2015 In this edition:
Uncertainty and risk might not seem like feel-good subjects to choose for the last newsletter of the season. But actually, Kent McDonald's column makes the opposite case. Rather than viewing uncertainty as inherently bad and dangerous and uncomfortable, we can see it as a different sort of opportunity. Fast early decisions to get rid of uncertainty can backfire. Later decisions are often the best! Kent essentially argues that there is beauty and peace in ignoring the discomfort of uncertainty until the last possible moment. ☺ Read his column this week to find out why that is and how to use it on your projects and in daily life.

Beyond Kent's column, we're keeping it simple this last week before the holidays. I personally always look forward to this end-of-year time for personal relaxation, reflection, and recharging for the new year. Below I share a few things I've learned this year, or been reminded of, that I intend to consider further and take strongly into 2016 – everything from personal realizations to professional goals -- shared in the spirit of the season.

A very sincere "happy holidays" to you! I wish you the best possible time with family and friends during the holidays and I look forward to "seeing you" again in the new year. (We've been busy planning some new focus areas and features for 2016 that I'll be excited to relay in January.)

In the meantime --- All our best to you!

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Featured Article
How to master uncertainty via stronger (and later!) decision-making
by Kent McDonald

Kent McDonald People abhor uncertainty. When given a choice of whether to be wrong or to be uncertain, many people would rather run the risk of being wrong than continue in a state of uncertainty. Unfortunately, that tendency leads to uninformed decisions, without any good reason other than people were uncomfortable not knowing.

Chris Matts, Olav Maassen, and Chris Geary introduce the idea of Real Options in the graphic business novel Commitment. The idea can be summed up like this:
  • Options have value.
  • Options expire.
  • Never commit early, unless you know why.

There are two subtle yet key points that make the idea of Real Options especially useful in everyday life (both personal life and on projects). Find out what they are »

Spotlight – Other Project Templates, Tools, and Techniques
Miscellaneous Serious and Silly Reflections on Success, Failure, Learning, Loving Life,

As I close out this year, I love to reflect on important things I've learned, or things I've been oh-so-reminded of… totally surprised by… prompted to appreciate anew… inspired to pursue; or even just things that made me laugh out loud and appreciate daily life even a little bit more. As I personally transition to a new year of projects and people and decision-making and deadlines and, as always, a healthy dose of uncertainty, here's what's on my mind:
  • I am so grateful to be close to my parents, sisters, and nephews and nieces. I'm with a huge contingent now and so glad that I am. Family is always worth my time, no matter how crazy we make each other sometimes. I'm so stoked to be getting to talk to my now-adult nephew; it's like meeting new people! Here's to more phone calls and visits in 2016.
  • When I let my health take a back seat to work, I'm being pretty stupid. It's too easy to do, what with all those deadlines etc. mentioned above. But, stupid. I am celebrating all the times this year I walked 3 miles at night no matter how I felt, and times I made it to the gym even though I dreaded the elliptical machine as truly an instrument of torture. I vow to remember those wins as I head into an even healthier 2016.
  • I still avoid conflict too much. One of those life-long learning areas for me ☺. I've let it get in the way of instigating some important changes soon enough this year. Something for continuing work. (What's your life-long-learning area? Acknowledge it and commit to taking another step!)
  • I am working on 5 different types of projects and portfolios right now: Not-for-profit arena; IT and biz processes in networking industry; drug development; semi-conductor related new product development; content and infrastructure projects for the site to boot. What a brain stretch and what fun. (I remind myself of the fun aspect when I'm losing my mind popping between the environments. And I have some time management aspects to do much better in. But you know what? It's still FUN and I realize that I need to step back and remind myself of that sometimes!).
  • NOTE: Follow-on from previous bullet: I don't think any of us PMs will have early cognitive issues, if it's true that using your brain daily on really complex stuff wards off cognitive decline!
  • We do one of the hardest jobs in the world. I look at PM job descriptions and wonder when "walk on water" with just "3 years of experience" became a reasonable expectation in anyone's mind. I wish us all perseverance and increasing respect from our teams and managers. I feel blessed to work in such an interesting and challenging role; but/and I will continue to champion us to the broader world because without us they would NOT be pulling off those crazy projects.
  • Something I commit to making more time for: informal learning from colleagues. We're all too busy to learn all we could from those facing similar challenges. But I don't much like learning from professional society meetings, I've found. What do I want? I want in depth conversations over a beer perhaps, with smaller groups, for at least an hour. Wide-ranging, supportive, thoughtful, sharing, go-where-they-go and who knows what will come from it. (I have been thinking – do I need to start "Cinda's salon" as a monthly event (such as when intelligent folks gathered in someone's house in Paris in years gone by to just have meaty discussions…) Such a thing would make my heart sing.
  • Speaking of my heart: Best purchase of the year? Standing desk. I totally believe the research that says that sitting down at our computers for hours at a time is really really really bad for us. So I did something about it. (Next best acquisition: app to remind myself to stand up once an hour at least.)
Speaking of "standing up", I'll finish up with a quote that resonates both personally and professionally, in case it might be useful for you as well. It's especially appropriate in light of Kent's column on handling uncertainty. "Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down." – Charles F. Kettering.

We can plan for some things, we can mitigate some risks, but sometimes we just don't know how something is going to turn out, don't know what exactly to do to get where we want to be. I expect to "Keep on going" -- keep taking on challenges, dealing with uncertainty, and taking on whatever adventures 2016 holds. I wish you the best in your own adventures as well.

Happy holidays and a Happy New Year!


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