Cinderella’s shoe, does it fit everyone?

Husband and Wife both are Six Sigma practitioners. Obviously, their daily lives conversations happen in Six Sigma parlance. The wife happens to be a very good cook, one of the reasons why the husband married her. Suddenly, three days at a stretch, the food starts to have extra salt. Husband objects, to which wife responds

“Common Cause of Variation”. One day, the wife adds a lot of salt to the food. Husband takes ill and is admitted to the hospital. Wife comes to see him and quips, “Sorry, special cause of variation.” Husband says, “It was Structural.”

Three days later, Husband hands out a divorce notice to wife and quips, “Process Unstable. Not meeting CTQ*.”
*CTQs are the internal critical quality parameters that relate to the wants and needs of the customer.

Thought of sharing this joke as I believe it will help us all in remembering few vocabularies used during our last session.

The last few session reminded me of one of the main product development projects that I’ve worked on, where we launched one product in 7 different markets, however we had to customize it a bit for each market in order to meet customer expectations in each of the 7 markets.
The product was basically a credit card in local currency, you may wonder what is so special about it? Well it was an American Express local currency Credit Card.  And as you may know, American Express is considered the most prestigious plastic card in the world, and it targets individuals with high expenditure patterns. Refer to this blog for American  American
Express’s Competitive Position

As this may be very true for its main product “the Charge Card”, it was not applicable for their Credit Card target segment, which made the product development & marketing teams wonder of what would attract customers to American Express Credit Card rather than any other credit cards available in their market? Well the development team followed the differentiation strategy while designing the product. It was the feel of the prestigious card that attracted customers to it, in addition to the appropriately designed product that met customer’s expectation in each of the targeted markets. But how did the development team identify the customer needs? They utilized their existing data and referred to the Charge Card customer base, they asked them if they would like to hold supplementary Credit Cards for their spouses and children with a credit limit, and bang that was highly demanded. As loyal cardholders they didn’t want to hold many different brands of cards and also didn’t want to  provide the open limit charge card as supplementary cards to their family. Of course further focus groups were obtained then to identify the requirements of each market, and to develop a product that is different than the current ones in the market. Tremendous amount of work was held but it was worth it, the product was launched successfully and it was well perceived in all 7 different markets.

However, do you think what AMEX did for identifying customer’s needs in each market was enough? If not, what alternative ways would you suggest?


During the last two sessions we covered the topic of Project Management, and the importance of having the right skills and knowledge in order to manage project successfully, meeting its agreed time, cost, scope without compromising on quality. We’ve also briefly discussed the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager, but would you like know more about the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager? Well MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! If you are a Project Manager, do you start your work every day thinking about ways to move your company forward?? Well again, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Or do you think of how to get better deals for your procurement processes? One more time, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Yes, you read correctly, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

In most of the projects the Project Manager is minding the business of the cost controller, the Human Resource Manager, the Risk Manager, the Quality Manager, the COO, the CFO and sometimes even the CEO.  Why is that? Because Project Managers always feel that they are in charge of the entire project and its end result, and tend to forget that they are not solely in charge of it, and that other team players are also in charge.

Think of it as channeling your energies toward successfully completing your own assignments – your domain of responsibility.  If everyone in your project focused on his/her own domain of responsibility, the project will do just fine.  In fact if your entire company started to think with this mentality, then not only your project will be more successful, but also your company will be more successful than it is today.

Let us agree on the definition of “Your domain of responsibility”, it includes all responsibilities and commitments that fall within the score of your assignment.  And this applies whether you are a one-person project, or a member of a 10-person project, of a 1000-person project, your project success is directly related to how well you perform within your domain of responsibilities.  It has been my experience that if you focus superbly within your domain of responsibility, your contributions will be the most effective and your career will shine brightly even without the extra credit.

I once worked in a company that did not have well-defined project management best practices that we could adopt as project managers for our projects, nor it had well-defined roles and responsibilities of the project manager, so we – the few project managers – worked together and developed clear “domain of responsibilities” as per the project management best practices and aligned with the PMI’s PMBoK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide).  Examples of the items we included in our domain of responsibilities that project manager often pursued weakly include:
– Seeking out a project sponsor and establishing an effective relationship
– Adopting/defining project management best practices for your own project
– Ensuring client participation
– Obtaining commitment from others and then holding them accountable

Some might think that focusing on your domain of responsibility is selfish and that you do not care about your company, I don’t think so, so what are your thought on this? Will you MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS or Not?