Author Archives: Kimi Ziemski, MBA, PMP, CSM

Change…One Step at a Time

Change... One Step at a Time

You know you can improve your professional self. Of course you know and of course, you can.

The ‘how’ is the problem.

The mother of all self-improvement initiatives happens the first day of any given year. As we shrug off the lingering effects of the night before, we vow to make some changes to better ourselves. I’ve done it, you’ve done it.

By that, I mean made the vows, not the actual changes. We start off with much promise, signing up for workshops, programs and gym memberships and by March they’re just so many rollover items on our credit card statements making us feel just a bit worse than we did on December 31st. New Year’s resolutions are an excellent example of good intentions gone bad.

So can we change? Well, of course, we can. But it doesn’t involve a list.

Often it’s just one thing. Don't try to change everything at once and forever. Maybe just change one thing at a time.

Here’s why. When we try to change too much at once, the combination of learning those changes while maintaining the rhythm of our lives is just too much for most of us.

Consider any one of the sessions you’ve been in or perhaps led. There are always takeaways, sometimes implicit, mostly explicit, to spur change in our professional strategies.

There is always a PowerPoint slide suggesting you “please go to the action plan and jot down what you will do differently as a result of having finished this module”.

So when you’re sitting down the day after the class, you review the 12 things that you have now committed to doing differently based on the entire class. But, here’s the thing. You're not going to succeed at any of them because you're taking on too big a task, twelve of them to be exact.

So was the session a waste? Nooo, not at all. But how many habits can you really change at a time?

Not as many as we might hope. But even then, it’s not that simple. It’s about the scale and number of the changes. Most importantly, it's about both those factors and you: how many you can handle. That’s not easy to quantify as it involves so many shifting variables; your schedule and your life among them.

Let’s tackle this another way. Let’s go back - or ahead - to New Year’s Eve and changes we want to make.

I think we make the mistake of quantifying the changes too quickly. Consider your desire to be healthier in the coming year.  You’ve learned that aiming for a specific amount of pounds or inches hasn’t worked for you. So, in 2020 you resolve to be healthier. This is good. Now, what does that mean to you?

Does it mean joining a gym, taking up a cooking course focused on healthy eating or just something as simple as walking to work once a week?

This is exactly the process we use when discussing project strategies with clients. What does success look like to them? Do you start with a solution? Ideally, I would hope not. The smart questions center around how they see this project changing their company or business. From there, solutions and strategies develop.

As goes your clients, so go your resolutions. Smart resolutions.

Set your goals, one at a time. But make it a smart goal, be it your health or a new car. Focus on what that success means to you and shape it as you move toward your goal. Let the solutions develop from the goal.

When done incrementally your goals will be achievable. Don't start with a solution. Start with your vision of success for you or a client and let it grow from there.

What does success mean to you? Are they successes or just re-positioned solutions? If you find these ideas key to growing your project management prowess, please be in touch with Kimi or Michael at

How the NFL’s work to mitigate head injuries and unsportsmanlike conduct was dealt a deadly blow

How the NFL’s work to mitigate head injuries and unsportsmanlike conduct was dealt a deadly blow

Wow.  Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct.

Last night Myles Garrett dealt a blow that will reverberate for at least the immediate future of his career.  Why do I believe it is only the immediate future?

We don’t seem to have much of an attention span these days.

If there is a lesson to take from this event, then, we’d best take it quickly.

Let’s start with the immediate participants.  Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph are both, albeit in unequal portions, to blame for this getting out of hand.

Didn’t anyone teach either of them to walk away?

Garrett is quoted as saying all sorts of things – all of which are considered ‘appropriate’. Here’s what I keep looking for.

Why hasn’t he apologized to Rudolph?

If John Maxwell’s principle of 360° Leadership is anything to go by, Garrett shouldn’t have to wait to be told what to do.  His conscience and values should have already informed him.

The NY Times coverage, being my primary source of information here, also cites Brown’s coach and Mayfield, the Cleveland quarterback, as weighing in as well.

Still no apology to Rudolph.

Leadership is not about ducking responsibility. It’s about owning up to the harm your action has caused. And it’s not about you – it’s about the people you have harmed by your actions.

A culture that is truly leadership driven is about everybody.

What is your team’s culture? Does it celebrate the collaborative spirit of each of the individuals or does it tempt people with the rewards for ‘rock star’ standards?

Learn more about how team leaders can create and support higher performing teams at or on the KSP Partnership channel on YouTube.

Or, of course – you could always contact me directly! kziemski@ksppartnership.comNFL - Penalty called forNFL - Penalty called for

Should PowerPoint be Killed… or Should We Address the MIS-use of the Tool?

Should PowerPoint be Killed... or Should We Address the MIS-use of the Tool?

Disclaimer: these suggestions will not work in organizational climates that demand the ability to use the slide deck to brief those who did not attend the meeting.

KSP Partnership is proud to participate in the Black Diamond Charity work teaching returning veterans project management tools.

As part of this program, we help them prepare for the inevitable day when they will have to speak to leadership teams or change control boards.  In other words – presenting, public speaking. You know -  that which often causes nerves and other parts of you! - to act up.  You might not realize how parts of you are bothered by the prospect. Particularly if you are in front of people who can determine the quality of life you will have after the presentation.

Your reptilian brain (amygdala) is frustrated. Your safety state is threatened and there are just enough folks in the audience that are not like you to make this part of your brain is uncomfortable.

Your processing brain (oh so much of your brain!) is hoping/wondering/praying that you remember everything – wait! Maybe I SHOULD have put everything on the slide! - it thinks very loudly.

Your heart is pounding – why are they all looking at us? it wonders.  Is something unzipped? Should I worry? What if I say something weird?

It’s entirely possible you might start perspiring a bit. Is it warm in here or just me?!

Okay – first of all, you won’t die – REALLY! – from the act of public speaking. If you think about it, you speak to people all of the time.  This time you may be standing and they are sitting.  Think of standing as a power position – you have energy flowing right up to your brain when standing!

Second – simply channel the version of yourself who hates it when people read from their slides. Then remember when someone obviously knew their topic and still provided visual aids in the form of slides. That’s you, by the way. You got this.

Heart pounding? That’s good! It is a sign that you care – you care about your message, you care how the people listening respond to that message, and you care about representing your team well.  Breathe in deeply, tell the energy from your pounding heart ‘Welcome! Now fuel me so I am just a little bit more ‘me’ when I’m up there!’  Because you don’t need to be anybody else. Just you.

And that perspiration? If it’s heavy – ‘cos that’s just how your body acts – make sure to bring a handkerchief or have a tissue handy.  Wear either a jacket/sweater, or a shirt that you change into just before your presentation.  Blot your brow then blow them away.

Ultimately, my response to the post predicting a long, painful and death for PowerPoint is this:

Appropriate use of any tool is always a sticking point – particularly when most of the time training is ‘on-the-job-eeek!’ style training.

That doesn’t mean the tool doesn’t have uses. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to make a strong point with it. It means use it appropriately.

Do you have an important presentation coming up? Would you like to schedule a complimentary 15 minute quick run-through? Contact me at or hit

Oh – and this might also be a handy resource – hope it helps! is now live - join the Academy and start earning easy PDU’s!’

Civil Discourse and Communication

Civil Discourse and Communication

The harshness of our current political culture has a way of seeping into all aspects of our lives, and yes, even into our work lives.

I find this shift rather disheartening and even disgusting. Harshness means polarization and that means an almost profound lack of communication, respectful or otherwise.

Simply put, it’s about civil discourse. How we communicate with regard to politics should be the same as when we engage our teams and vice versa.

In far too many situations, standing up for one’s self or opinion is done at the expense of caring for others.

There’s been a lot of focus in self-help circles about authenticity, being true to one’s self. That’s fine in theory but when executed, somewhat ham-fisted. I do not believe that standing up for yourself has to mean running roughshod over everyone else.

I’ve noticed that some of the worst drivers on our roads are those with Baby On Board stickers on their rear windows. If your baby is important to you then we should also expect you to be a very good, cautious driver.

It’s not about using the sticker to shift the responsibility for your children’s safety onto fellow drivers. Seeing that sticker signals to me that you are asking us to care for your children as much as you do. That is absolutely wonderful and we will. But you have to as well. When you see that sticker on a vehicle that just cut you off or roared past you on the inside lane, am I the only one who hopes that the baby is NOT on board at that moment – because the care requested by that sticker is not being exercised by that driver.

That driver is also not being respectful to our fellow citizens. This in turn circles us back to civil discourse.

For example, using your views on global warming as a cudgel rather than an incitement to make the world better, is a good example of how not to get your views heard. It’s not about you, it’s about communicating your message to achieve change.

It’s about how we speak to each other, how we communicate our ideas without slamming other’s ideas or even who they are as a person.

The ‘hows’ of communication always win out over ‘what’ you’re communicating. And in fact, it can ensure you’re being heard far more than the presumed veracity of your arguments.

How does the culture of your teams support civil discourse – respectful disagreement? If you believe it could be better we’d love to support that –

Meetings – Work Culture Death?

Meetings - Work Culture Death?

There is another term for death in work culture. That word is ‘meetings’.

You know I’m right. You just smiled. I don’t mean to suggest you haven’t had wonderfully productive, engaging meetings that took exactly the amount of time needed and gave all in attendance an energetic boost similar to a fruit smoothie.

You have had those meetings. But counting them only takes a few fingers.

There are zero reasons why a meeting has to be long, tedious and implicitly disrespectful of everyone’s time.

I’m not suggesting it has to be a wild ride. But it does have to be a participatory sport!

You can’t complain about a boring, tedious meeting if you’re making your shopping list or, even better, texting colleagues about what a boring meeting it is.

Unfun Fact: You may be part of the reason the meeting is a de facto torture chamber!

You have to find the edge of your seat in a meeting. It is not a time for multitasking. Meeting with your colleagues requires a single focus. It’s not just about respect (but that’s part of it), it’s about pushing the meeting to its close, topic by topic, minute by minute. Your time is valuable. The best way to make that clear is by leaning into the meeting.

If you’re chairing the meeting, then all the better. I once knew a man who survived a serious heart attack. Post-hospital stay, he was intently focused on not wasting his time as well as others. Being in one of his meetings was a joy. He kept everyone focused, politely managed people who repeated what had just been said and decided and moved quickly toward that wonderful agenda item called ‘Adjourn’.

They were meetings where everyone had to lean forward to keep up and were all the better for it.

Are your meetings bracing or boring? If they’re the latter, you can shift into a higher gear now!

If your team meetings are roadblocks rather than driving results we’d love to talk with you about a few practical things you can do –

Upcoming Events

  • Critical Thinking for Problem Solving November 20, 2019 Champaign, IL, USA
  • Critical Thinking for Problem Solving November 21, 2019 Champaign, IL, USA
  • Influencing Skills December 3, 2019 Private webinar
  • Influencing Skills December 4, 2019 Private webinar