Monday, December 11, 2017

PMI-ACP Success Story: Innovation Games Make The Difference!

By Suresh Juturu, PMP, ACP, CSM




Introduction
I have earned my PMP® credential and wanted to adopt the agile practices in my work place for few projects, where requirements churn is high and they have to be continuously prioritized. Also, it has become essential to become master in Agile concepts. Hence, I decided to go for the ACP® certification.

ACP Coaching Experience
The 3-day workshop by Satya was very much informative about the agile methodologies and concepts as well as agile planning and contracts and many more other details. The sessions not only covered the topics from an exam point of view, but also covered vast areas in terms of various agile approaches and myths associated with Agile development.

Satya was very much open to discuss various real-time problems we face in the real world. These were eye openers for many of us on how agile is really being mixed up in various organizations.

In the beginning session of the first day, this was mentioned: “All participants will remember the agile values and principles by the end of the program and also can say it out on their own”! Indeed, as mentioned, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of us were able to tell the agile values and principles easily. The TIPS & TRICKS provided by Satya ensured that we did.


The key takeaways from the ACP Coaching were these - just understand the concepts clearly and discuss as much as you can. These will be your keys to crack the ACP exam, rather than reading through various books many times.

Own Study
I am a big fan of combined study;-) . As usual four of us had attended the ACP classroom training by Satya and post the session, the four of us sat together for consecutive days for exam preparation – mostly done before the exam date.

Cracking the internal/online sample tests also gave a lot of confidence before appearing for the actual PMI® test.

In my view, the studying the book is just to gain the confidence on agile concepts. To crack the exam, you must discuss, understand, listen to others in the class. These will help you a lot in answering the questions in the actual exam. The questions in the exam are real time oriented.

Two important things which I would like to share are noted below.

1) Being Agile vs Doing Agile – It is very important to apply Transparency, Inspection and Adaption, to become agile.

2) Innovation Games – What do we do different when we are facing continuous failures in Sprint deliveries? Retrospective is the answer by many. But, it is not just about this one ceremony, but how effectively you are doing agile development, matters a lot. Innovation games help you to move forward in the right direction.
• Remember the Future – Ask your team to imagine that it’s sometime in the future and that they’ve been using your product almost continuously between now and the future date. Then ask - what product will make them happy?
BEFORE (and classically without the game): “What the product should do?”
AFTER (as part of the game): Context + “What will the product have done?”

• Speed boat/Sail boat – This is very interesting game to identify the blockers (rocks), risks (anchors) and opportunities (wind) for a given program in this form.

ACP Exam Experience
In ACP exam, there will be questions with roles mentioned (as in the PMP exam, like project manager, team leader etc.) along with terms such as Agile expert, Agile evangelist. These may confuse you a bit. So, be prepared to answer such questions. If you appear for mock exams, you can answer such kind of questions. 

For me, the exam duration was sufficient to answer 120 questions in the first 90 minutes. I utilized the rest of the time to review the book-marked questions and rethink on them.

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants
Dos 
- Attend class room training for ACP which will give you enough push to get the enthusiasm and tips to clear the exam. 
- I encourage taking guidance from Satya and get his feedback by the end of the course to assess your understanding and prepare accordingly after the course.
Don’ts
- Please don’t stick to one single reference book, rather refer few materials and discuss more with your colleagues and try to apply for understanding the same.

Conclusion
Getting certification is just one part of the goal. Applying what you have learned when you have the right fit or opportunity, will give exceptional value. Key here is identifying when to apply the agile values or principles or the techniques that you learned. One should not apply agile approaches everywhere just because you are agile certified.

Brief Profile
Suresh Juturu, PMP, ACP, CSM, Project Manager in an MNC, Bangalore.






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