Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Should you pursue ongoing education in project management?

In the New York Times article 'Learning Curves on the Career Path,' Steven Greenhouse writes about the different reasons that adults with careers consider additional education.

Several people interviewed for the article agreed that continuing education improved their career prospects. Education experts interviewed for the article stated that project management is one of the growing occupational fields.

This article touches on several of the reasons I studied to earn my certificate in Project Leadership from eCornell.

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at lisson@gmail.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Project Leadership Certificate from Cornell University

I feel so proud of myself, I have finished all my classes and now am the proud holder of a Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell University!

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at lisson@gmail.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Questions and Answers about eCornell online classes

Here is an email I received from a prospective eCornell student:

Thanks for blogging and sharing your Ecornell Project Leadership experience. I have found it to be very useful and informative. I am considering taking the Foundations of Employee Relations Certificate Program; however, I am a little nervous about the classes, homework, test, expectations, etc... I have an undergraduate degree and would have received my masters but did not complete my thesis. In any case, I have only taken a handful of online courses, which are generally challenging but not very interactive. I was pleased to learn that the courses can be as interactive I guess as one would make it to be via the chats with the professor and others.

My nervousness stems from my personal obligations:
I am married, the mother of three and I work fulltime. I also maybe teaching a class once a week. According to your blog and other information I have read, a student should allot 5 to 7 hours weekly. I believe you actually said devoting 1 hour daily would be very helpful. Three out of the five weekdays I could give one hour each day; and on the weekend I could give more.

Any advice would be helpful.

Thanks in advance.

Here is my reply:

Thank you so much for emailing me!

One of the things I find most valuable about the eCornell classes I have taken is the discussion boards. We are required to complete 2-3 assessments per class, where we answer questions that apply the lessons learned in the text to our actual work experiences. To complete the assessment, each student must write her own mini-paper, plus respond to the mini-paper of at least one other student. I have found value in reading the other students' papers and reading their responses to my assignment.

I think if you are able to devote an hour during the weekdays and more over the weekend, you will have enough time to complete the course. It all depends on how fast and accurately you can read and digest information.

I have had good results in supplementing my learning with reading the books that are utilized in the coursework. The names and authors are usually at the very bottom of each section of the course, as a footnote.

Kathleen Lisson

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at lisson@gmail.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tips on employee engagement - Free webinar from eCornell

How to Keep Employees Engaged in Challenging Times
by Cornell University Professor Samuel Bacharach

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
1:00pm Eastern/10:00am Pacific

Register http://www.ecornell.com/sam

Samuel Bacharach of Cornell University's Industrial & Labor Relations School will offer ideas and strategies for keeping team members engaged and productive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

How Different Cultures View Choice

In the Ted talk 'Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing,' Iyengar, author of 'The Art of Choosing' and professor at Columbia Business School, presents research on how people from different countries view choice.

As an American, I view choice as a part of life, and measure social status and intelligence by the 'quality' of others' choices.

Think of a man and a woman going out to dinner in America. The man asks for the woman's preference, and when she says "I don't care, you choose," he becomes agitated, pestering her until she makes a choice, so he can honor her choice.

I helped a friend out at her bicycle race recently. She was competing in the Empire State games. She was very insistent that I make her a lemon flavored electrolyte water to carry on her bike.

I compared that to my own experience running 15K and half marathon races. Runners rely on receiving liquids from water stations along the race, and there is little to no choice. In fact, a smart runner will look on the event website to see what will be offered at the race, and start using the same type of drink in her training to acclimate her system.

A rule of thumb for runners is 'nothing new on race day,' which means that the runner must not try anything new - no new foods, drinks, clothing, shoes, sunscreen, etc. in an attempt to prevent an unexpected negative interaction. For me, having limited to no choice on race day is comforting.

How can we learn to see our preference for choice as a cultural behavior? Would learning about the role of choice in other cultures help us to achieve more success in international interactions in the workplace? When setting up a choice for others, are we doing them a disservice by presenting them multiple options, or even by not letting them defer to the experts instead of making their own choice?

Iyengar provides examples of how European, Eastern European and Asian cultures react to choice. She also explains a situation where she discovered that her coworkers did not make a choice based on what should have been the obvious criterion.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

eCornell Conflict Resolution class supplemental reading

So far in my eCornell Conflict Resolution course we have learned from two books, Conceptual Blockbusting by J.L. Adams and Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury. Information from both these books is referred to extensively in the course notes, but I am also going to read the books to increase my understanding of conflict resolution.

The Wikipedia entry for Getting to Yes is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_to_YES

The Google Books link to Conceptual Blockbusting is here:

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at lisson@gmail.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

eCornell Conflict Resolution class review - the first week

I am in my first week of the eCornell Project Leadership Certificate course titled 'Conflict Resolution.' According to the eCornell website, the course focuses on, "understanding the organizational nature of conflict and the approaches that a leader can use to resolve conflict."

We are working with Role Theory, learning the sources of role conflict and utilizing the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, located at

I was surprised to learn that the class teaches that conflict is sometimes an integral and positive part of project management. It is recommended that project managers see conflict as a problem solving opportunity, not something to always be avoided.

Other texts the class uses include:

"How to Design a Conflict Management Procedure that Fits Your Dispute," Sloan Management Review

“The Social Psychology of Project Management Conflict,” European Journal of Operations Research

According to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, the five styles of conflict management include forcing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. If compromise doesn't work, I tend to use force to solve a conflict. I am certainly in need to learning additional methods of conflict resolution!

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions about my experience with the eCornell Project Leadership classes, please email me at lisson@gmail.com

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to improve relationships and negotiation with foreign businesses

In the article, 'After the Contract, What? Negotiating to Work Successfully with a Foreign Partner,' Tufts University Professor Jeswald W. Salacuse offers four tips to improve your business' long-term cooperative relationships with foreign firms.

Salacuse makes a very good point in the first tip. A signed contract, which is usually the goal for North American businesses, is not necessarily the finish line for a foreign company. Businesspeople from other countries may believe that the creation of a long-term productive working relationship is just as significant as a well-negotiated deal.

Salacuse also discusses the value of considering prenegotiation, renegotiation and conciliation in long-term business dealings.

Read the rest of Professor Salacuse's tips here: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/faculty/salacuse/pubs/aftercon.html