Interview with Cecilio Mills
Creative Adaptive Thinking
is a solutions design firm which happens to teach project management. Many have run projects but have never taught. Many can teach but have never run projects. Creative Adaptive Thinking happens to do both. They go beyond the cert and into the why.
Hey Cecilio, could you tell us more about the service offerings of Creative Adaptive Thinking?
Creative Adaptive Thinking is a solution design firm that happens to teach project management. We do three things: we teach advanced project management, fundamentals of project management and project management certification training. We do project consulting and we provide project resources for people looking to get certified whether that be PMP, Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma. Many people have taught but have never run projects and many people have run projects but have never taught and we happen to do both. We help you go beyond the certification and dive into the how in project management. We start with the certification training and then we can dive into other areas including Agile or Waterfall projects and provide you with more information about how to use this, when it's appropriate and where it might be applicable. We do Agile transitioning process mapping in terms of consulting services. We do leadership training, we create training sessions for your organisation and we'll help you take it to the next level. We'll create solutions, we'll adapt your processes and we'll think strategically about where you're trying to go and will develop a package that's custom created for you. In the chance that you need someone to help take you through, we'll provide you with a project manager that'll help you identify the total scope and figure out what the timeline will be, what those costs are going to entail and who we're going to source it from, how we'll procure information, how we communicate with everybody, what the risks are and how we'll manage stakeholders. That's the total package of solutions that Creative Adaptive Thinking provides.
Why did you decide to found your own business?
I decided to start Creative Adaptive Thinking because I felt there was a better way to explain what project management is and why it's useful. With all due respect, I still don't think we're there within our industry yet. Up until that point, I had spent time in government, education, IT, construction, software development and health care and project management is very different in all of these industries. Even within a specific industry, it's different from company to company and even within a company, it's different between the verticals. IT project management is very different from finance or HR or especially capital expenditure projects. I also have experience in managing software development. I'm now within the Agile field and I'm running sprints and I'm leading ceremonies and becoming a servant leader and I'm spending my time figuring out how can I make this person better. How can I remove whatever it is that's in their way so that they can be the best version of themselves? I wanted to figure out a way to combine the overall lesson and culture of those types of projects and what we called the Agile environment, compared to the traditional Waterfall projects and I wanted to be able to give that back because most of the stuff wasn't created by me. I've learnt this knowledge and I want to package it up and give it back to everybody in a manner that's useful. All we ask is that they pay for it and they go out and spread the gospel of project management along. That's the story of how we began.
What technological innovation will most affect Creative Adaptive Thinking business in the coming years?
The technological systems that are going to impact our business the most in the coming years are going to be the learning management systems that exist and the capabilities that they're able to add and the enhancements. As well as the ability to engage with the user throughout a various continuum of devices and touch points and along their journey of starting a course all the way to the end to when they feel they've mastered it. With all the devices that we have and their ability to hold content, to capture and share it, combined with the new 5G technology coming out and the ability for that information to be transferred quickly, all of that makes it more and more appealing for people to consume educational content on the go. For someone like me, my goal is to provide you with that same experience that you have at my course face to face and that the energy and the vibe that you feel. I want you to be able to feel that across the screen and I want to be able to feel that whether it's on a desktop, a laptop, an iPhone, an iPad or any tablet or smartphone. A good learning management system that's going to take advantage of all of the functional capabilities of the software and wireless capabilities. That is going to have the biggest impact on our business and in the next coming years and how we're able to engage with our students and help them become who they hope to be.
How do you find clients for Creative Adaptive Thinking? What is your main acquistion channel?
Our main acquisition channel at this point is still word of mouth. When I founded the company I didn't have this genius business idea with great marketing and an awesome funnel and a way to lead magnets and capture people. I didn't really have that, but I knew I wanted to help people and that's translated into people letting other people know that "this guy's here to help" if you need help, go find him. Since then, it's grown to a team and it permeates through everyone that touches the organisation and that has any type of contact and communication with people that are looking for any type of help or assistance with project management needs, with learning, with education, with resources and so on. From that standpoint, we get a lot of people who have looked us up on Yelp so they can see what other people have said so thank you to everybody that's left a comment. It's been a great tool for people to have confidence in us and use us for the first time. For the most part, people just reach out and say "Hey we heard about this from somebody else and we want some of it". That's been the biggest part for us so far.
What has been the most rewarding facet of your work with Creative Adaptive Thinking?
The most rewarding facet of my work so far is is when people get the "aha" moment. It's similar to when someone gets the light bulb moment but it's a little bit different. It's almost like when you've opened this door and you've unlocked this world to all these possibilities and people can recognise that they can really accomplish some of these things and acknowledge that if they use some of these tools and techniques they can be more consistent and more successful in what they do. That is the biggest and most rewarding aspect is to see people actually learn and absorb the material. Then I can have those geek out sessions with them because I see project management in everything. For instance, I think the NFL is the ultimate form of project management. I mean they look at it week to week and have a new roster. I can show you project management in every facet of life. To get to a place where you can have that conversation with the people at the end, and connect with them in that way, that's probably the most rewarding aspect of working with all the clients, is at the end when that moment happens.
How did you discover your love for boxing?
This is a very long story. When I was done playing ball, I didn't want to go to a regular gym, so I found a boxing gym and I went for a free trial. But I didn't need the trial, I signed up immediately. I loved what I saw and immediately I was saying "Hey can I get in the ring, I want to compete". The owner said I wasn't ready and I kept bugging him and bugging him. Finally, he put me in a ring and I was humbled, to say the least. Long story short, I was competing in Golden Gloves and Olympic trials and I was ranked nationally. Boxing is such a complement to project management. That's because there's this element of discipline and the idea of a goal that you've got to work to and you chip away at the goal and you make a plan and you work backwards. There's a real synergy that happens when I was competing because I could really see the essence of what I'm trying to accomplish, but in my own body, like taking a science project and experimenting with your own body you're doing that in terms of making weight, in terms of your endurance, speed or nutrition everything that goes with it. I found this love about 13 years ago. It'll never go away and I'll always be involved. I'm an assistant trainer at the gym and I always spread the knowledge. I've worked with a lot of the amateur people and continue to help them and just pass on the knowledge that was given to me. It's been a blessing from my life. If you're ever in the Bay Area come on down Pacific Ring sports.