Half-day training on the project management framework

We often hear PRINCE2 and Agile in project management. This week I attended the Cardiff University Programme and Project Management Framework Introduction course. It’s the University’s own approach, not a specific certificate course.

It’s unexpected to know that people feel the fail rate of projects is 70-80%. However I didn’t think the projects I involved in have failed so much. The data is from the book “The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook” (2014). I need to read the book to check if I  misunderstand it.

The University’s Framework is designed for the University projects and only available for the University members. There are many resources online. I found the Charles Sturt University’s short courses on YouTube are very useful.


What is Mental Toughness?

Following the second Springboard work and personal development programme for women session, it’s good to find the Academi Wales website, and read the two useful booklets:

We have an automatic network in our brains for the negative, the ancient parts of our brains evolved over millions of years to respond to threats without thought or delay. We have no similar system for the positive and opportunities in life…

It suggested us to use 3:1 at work, which means to “give three pieces of positive feedback to every piece of negative feedback” based on Losada Ratio. I don’t know how accurate the tip is. But I think we do need to make effort to increase positive communications.

The concept of 7+/-2 was noted by George Miller in Psychological Review in 1956.

The basic formula is:

happiness = set point (50%) + voluntary actions (intentional activities 40%) + conditions(circumstances 10%)

I tried the test to learn my positivity ratio (set point) on the Positivity website owned by Prof Barbara Fredrickson. It actually tests a ratio at that moment you test it. It’s not a general resault.

Four C’s of Cloughs model – Commitment, Control, Challenge and Confidence suggests that Mental Toughness is a combination of resilience and confidence. I found two videos:

Rethink “Change”

Recently I attended a course about Change and Resilience. It’s good that I had a time to rethink of “change”. Change is not the problem, the poor implementation of any change process is the problem that threatens us. Change is not the problem, resistance to change is the problem.

The robertsoncooper (is founded by Sir Cary Cooper and Professor Ivan Robertson) provides i-resilience report for individuals to build resilience skills. The website also provides leadership, management and well-being support resources.

As I didn’t think about “winners/losers” in a change too much, when the presenter talked about it, I kind of questioned myself “Is there always winners/losers in an organisational change?” “Who are the losers? Who are the winners?” “Are the winners are leading the change towards a right direction?”

The presenter drew a diagram which basically shows people’s reactions in a change. Top 10% are champions who are happy to see the change and are keen on making the change. Bottom 10% are traitors who have negative views of almost everything, and those who disagree the change strongly as it’s against their beliefs. A large number of people are not sure. It’s suggested to focus on understanding and influencing the 80% people, rather than on persuading and influencing the bottom 10% people.

I remember the diagram immediately though I can’t say it presents people’s attitudes in the change very correctly. The diagram can be useful for me to reflect on my views and position in a change. For example, I can ask myself

  • “Am I in the top 10% group of people who have insight, foresee the impact of the change, believe in it and are keen on to make the change happen?”
  • “Am I one of the middle 80% group of people who are not sure and wait-and-see?” I think people who are open-minded and keep critical thinking in this group are those people can help the change and influence others.
  • “Am I one of the 10% group of people who are often have a negative view of any change?” “Do I really agree that this change has a good impact?”


This is a Chinese book that was recommended by my sister. Luckily I found the original English book “Scarcity: why having too little means so much” written by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir in our library.

I immediately enjoyed reading it as there are so many examples I can link to easily. I kind of see why I have made decisions in certain circumstance, and why I feel busy and can’t finish things I planned to do on the day. Although I have applied some good methods to make life smooth and simple, this book explains why sometimes I still go into the trap.

This is a talk from the authors.

On page 174-175, it mentioned a “financial education” class designed by economist Antoinette Schoar and her coauthors. This is a video that presents their work.

Two-day training course of “Leadership”

I always wonder what’s the difference between Leadership and Management? This course helped me to learn it.

What is leadership?

This video explains Leadership through an easy example. To lead is to have the ability to get people to follow. To influence people, we need to do:

  • Start from simple easy movement, which is easy for people to start
  • Be prepare you are alone, people won’t follow
  • Keep doing
  • Keep encouraging
  • Transform

Actually, I quite like Jack Ma’s talk which shows that he is an effective leader.

What is effective leadership and what is effective management?

Leadership and management are not either-or options. They work together as a blended approach. If management is about the procedure, then leadership is about people.

What are leadership styles?

The first approach is to use the Tannenbaum and Schmidt Continuum to see how we can balance between the level of freedom that a manager chooses to give to a team, and the level of authority used by the manager.

(image is from URL: https://culcj15020110.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/sa.png?w=1000)

The second approach is to use the Situational leadership model to understand different circumstances. Effective leadership is actually  working from high management towards low management. Trust and Believe people can do will make us spend less time on managing people. (e.g., displayed in the diagram below: S1 -> S2 -> S3 -> S4, sometimes it works another way around S4 -> S3 -> S2 -> S1)

(image is from URL: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~rsleeth/HBFigure.jpg)

Understand motivation

Motivation is a drive to satisfaction. It makes people make work forward positively, responsibly, and happily. We can motivate people in many ways, however it all depends on individuals. From Howthorne effect, we can see that more resources do not always make better outcomes and performance.

(image is from URL: http://cdn.b2binternational.com/images/stories/publications/white_papers/herzberg_theory_motivation.png)

So how do we know what motive the person and how can we motivate them? The approach is:

  • Talk to people and find out what’s important for them (their motivators)
  • Open your eyes/ears (try new ways; look opportunities for them)
  • Motivate them using their motivators daily

What are transformational leaders?

Transformational leadership is social skills that get the best of you and people. It creates real, fair, honest interpersonal connections. It creates valuable and positive change in the followers which develop followers into transformational leaders.

(image is from URL: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/d8/f2/4c/d8f24c8405a986c97f9ef77b095344a1.jpg)

So how can we develop transformational leadership skills? One crucial approach is to develop Emotional Intelligence, which fits in transformational skills well. According to Dr Goleman’s study, we know that it’s important, we can develop our EQ, we can learn it. It brings out the real self.

(image is from URL: https://managementpocketbooks.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/danielgolemaneimodels.jpg)

Then, we need to learn how we make the team work together. Here is an example of developing plans. It’s not a very good one. And it is not a single direction process. No7, actually linked back to Step 4, 5, 6.

(image from URL: http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/inspb3/html/images/circle.jpg)

Understand objectives

Objectives are difference from aims/goals. Objectives are short-term, highly specific and achievable new state of outcome. It’s never “ongoing”!  As a leader, you need to know your team objectives that you are able to governance.

Objectives can bring the team: motivation, focus on reality/priority, and measurable performace/sucess.

I quite like one of the skills the trainer used. When we state an objective, we should define the output like:

“By xxx (specific deadline), I will have + verb-ed (action) + noun (a new state).”

We can use the SMART checklist when we write objectives.

(image is from URL: http://cdn.zoeticamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/SMART-Objectives.png)

Deal with tricky cases and conflict 

This is too complicate to discuss here. I have seen many examples, but they were manageable and not exceptional. I was joking with a colleague and said, “The more different-characteristic people you work with, the more you learn.”

A few reminders for myself:

  • It’s a conversation aims to resolve a problem. You don’t solve people’s problems, you offer support and input you can.
  • Always deal with what presents!
  • Don’t mention the individual’s name when bring up a complaint from the person.
  • Bring the issue by saying something like “I notice…”
  • If people ask you a complaint they had, say something like “I will deal with it.”; “I am working on it.”
  • If the person respond silently, you can go back to your expectations for them and say something like “I can suggest… If you notice anything that I can do to support you, tell me.” Then you two need to set a reasonable agreed timescale to resolve it.
  • Divisive conflict needs to be dealt with at the time it happens.
  • Using verbal warning means a formal process starts.

Try Mobile Sat Nav Apps

I’ve never been a modish or a technogeek, but I like practical.

I had been annoyed by my TomTom One more and more recently. Considering its disadvantages below plus I have been using it for six years, I decided to replace it.

  • A frozen starting screen (the solution is to connect it to TomTom Home on computer to restart it!)
  • Can’t find signal at the beginning, and I have to drive for a bit distance to retrieve the signal. This is not relevant to my location.
  • The postcode button is disabled without a clue and I am unable to key in an address to find the specific place.
  • No free life-time map updates
  • Small screen
  • Slow notification when I need to know the direction at a Roundabout
  • No much difference between the ‘shortest’ route and the ‘fastest’ route.
  • For people who use it first time, the direction voice guidance is a bit confusion, for instance, ‘keep right’ actually means staying on the same road.

I haven’t decided to buy another GPS navigation device or simply use a mobile phone. I did a bit search online and on my week-journey in Cornwall, I tried two free mobile apps: Here WeGo and GPS Navigation & Maps Sygic as my temporary sat nav tools. Neither is ideal, but for my own purposes, Here WeGo is better and it matches most of my requirements as follows:

  • Free and good review rate
  • Can download the maps and use it offline (So don’t have to have Internet)
  • Map is accurate and easy to read
  • It has turn-by-turn voice guidance, so I don’t need to look at it all the time.
  • The map is easy to follow
  • Not really use a lot of battery
  • Have automatic day/night mode
  • Repeatedly notification when near a Roundabout/junction to change direction (can be too much too!)
  • Speed limit notification
  • Can save collections of the favourite places
  • Can set preferred route (I haven’t worked out how to use this the best. I found if I saved a collection and then I can choose between different routes before Start. However if I key in a postcode directly through Drive, there is no settings for me to choose a preferred route.)

Some disadvantages of Here WeGo:

  • Lose signal quite often, but often it connects again quickly.
  • If I don’t choose a preferred route manually, by default it will guide a shortest one (which could be very narrow country lanes).
  • When I key in a postcode, it changes to the one the system uses.
  • Only one voice is available, or turn off the voice guidance.

Rotating video recording

Recently I used a mobile phone to record a few interesting moments. When I played the recordings, the orientation would not been rotated automatically. Thus as usual, I searched the Google Camera features and found some good tips (e.g., 1, 2) of using Google camera.

Then I found this resource written by Christian Cawley. I have the VLC Media Player. Following the instruction in this article, it works for me as I don’t like to install extra applications to solve a simple problem. However if in the recording, I have turned the camera in two directions , I will need to use a Editor application to edit the video. This is because the Geometry features in VLC Media Player will only allow you to choose one rotation for the who video.

A note made from Germain Greer’s speech

Yesterday evening I attended a 2015 Hadyn Ellis Distinguished Lecture – “Women & Power: the Lessons of the 20th Century” made by Professor Germain Greer.  There was no picture and recording that I can share as Professor Greer did not like it. I respected it.

As a woman myself, I probably haven’t done anything particularly to seek equal opportunities for women in education and employment, like the feminists did. I assume that in the theater there were few people like me who didn’t know her feminism influence and her arguable viewpoint on transgender people. But obviously in the theater there were few people like me who is a Chinese and grew up and largely educated in China where women had equal vote right to men in 1949 (the same time when P.R.China was established).

May be because of the recent Paris attacks, the security and safety of the event was overwhelmed: security staff and policemen were around the venue, two times of ticket checking, one bag checking, and security staff stood in front of the theater watching the audience.

About 10 protesters again Professor Greer (mainly about her previous statement on transgender people) were outside of the venue. They were quiet and had clear message boards in hand.

The theater was almost full and the Vice-Chancellor started the event.

Professor Greer had both intellectual rigour and a sense of humour. Mostly sarcasm! I couldn’t understand all her jokes because I lack of knowledge about Western history and culture. She talked about the issues such as women vote, unequal pay and opportunities between women and men, “unskilled” from low payment, abortion, and sex-selective abortion. She encouraged women to endeavour to gain power for themselves but have fun in it. Those issues are closely related to women, however, she didn’t talk these issues without showing evidences. She didn’t try to convince you to believe her without having your own different opinions. It’s the free speech and the open critical face-to-face dialogue that influence people. I was thinking if a strong but clear viewpoint was stated by an ordinary person, probably no media would care much or think twice. If it was made by famous people like Professor Greer, it would call a lot of attention and bring up debates, which is a good thing. Why can’t we talk and learn from each other?

There are some viewpoints below that made me think more (they are not quite her own sentences).

  • What do women vote for? What do you think the vote accomplishes?
  • Equality is not enough.
  • Abortion and not allowing abortion, which is good or right for women?  (Not talking about what the law says, there are a lot of individual circumstances here! It’s case by case! Only people who are in the situation know it the best, however they are too busy of thinking between keeping or losing the baby to think of this issue.)
  • Women are not supporting each other enough, at least are not as much as men do to support each other.
  • It’s not the economic status that women need to seek, it’s the power that matters.

I was thinking about why I didn’t do as much as the feminists did?

Recalling my own experience, I was brought up in a family that girls are as good as boys though the culture at the time was that boys are better than girls. My parents/teachers didn’t say I shouldn’t do so and so because I was a girl. I studied in the same classroom with boys and went to university by passing the same exams. We had 1/4 female students in the subject and male classmates were nice to us. I worked in a core team in a company and I was the only woman in the team. I did the same job to male colleagues and we had the same payment. Companies encouraged young women to work in the IT positions. So in China I didn’t experience too unequal treatments because of my gender. Here I do not deny that it definitely had/has unequal treatments between women and men in life. I also don’t deny that in the same working area men in general get paid higher than women. For me it’s more about the inequality between the rich and the poor and the different opportunities from individual to individual. I wish I understand more of the issues if I didn’t experience it myself.

A good lesson for my life

A thing I learnt today. It’s not about work stuff, but about morality and communication.

See the picture. Do you think a banana looks like this is edible? It’s not really serious bruised. It’s just the peel went bad.

I would say “yes”.

However, once I saw a banana like this in the office wastebasket, I said nothing. I thought “What are waste of food! It’s still edible! Should I pick it up? No, no, I won’t take the thrown-away food from a rubbish bin.”

Today, I saw a banana like this in the office wastebasket again and said nothing. A colleague passed the wastebasket and saw it. He said “It still looks ok. Can I have the banana? I think it’s edible. When I’m hungry, I can have it.” Then he picked the banana up and put it on his desk while he was joking with other colleagues. He ate it later in the day.

Although I don’t waste food myself and advocate against food waste by joining volunteering, I suddenly felt that I am not a truly honest person. Comparing to my colleague, I worried what other people may think or say about me, and tried to avoid any conflicts (e.g., different opinions).

Sometimes, a simple way is to say my opinions out directly in a polite, honest and humorous way.


The research studies about mental disorder

Last October, I tweeted the news I heard in that morning, and questioned where the statement of “1/4 of us suffer mental disorder in our lifetime” was from?

By reading more on the Mind website (the mental health charity for England and Wales), I found lots of helpful information, however, I was still curious about who did the research and how did they conclude that statement.

I’m pleased to find the evidence in the book I’m reading – The How of Happiness by Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky.

On page 35,  it said “In the UK it is estimated that one in four women and one in ten men will suffer depression during their lifetime.


The references on pages 327-328 show the original publications.

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