Agility, Generativity, Terrific TED, and a Sparkling Shiny Surprise! Terrific Third Day of #PMIEMEA19

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The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Dia daoibh ar maidin! (“Good morning all” in Irish/Gaelic)

Agility, Generativity, Terrific TED, and a Sparkling Shiny Surprise!

These phrases bring out my key learnings from what I felt was a terrific third day of #PMIEMEA19 at delightful Dublin.


Agilely Vaulting Over Waterfalls – Sripriya Narayanasamy and yours truly.

My day three started the same way that day two had ended: Presenting an EMEA Congress session on a completely different topic..

Many PMs mistakenly think that Agile and Waterfall are like oil and water that don’t easily mix, However, as Jesse Fewell, Agile Evangelist once wrote, “Many of us have been told that agile approaches are an all-or-nothing collection of techniques. However, true agility is defined by the agile manifesto… Don’t fall into the trap of only-this and only-that. A little agile can help anyone!

I presented two stories of Walter the Waterfall PM and Agata the Agile PM to highlight eight points on how Agile techniques can be used in Waterfall projects and vice versa:

  • Customer Engagement. Waterfalls projects see drastic drops in customer engagement after scope is defined. Increased levels of engagement can help project teams be more flexible, and avoid late-stage changes which can be extremely expensive!
  • Minimum Viable Features (MVFs) to deliver phased Minimum Viable Products (MVPs): Project Managers can get great results from grouping the customer’s highest-priority features into shorter project phases. This way, the clients actually get quicker value for money.
  • Avoid the ICU! Incomplete, Unclear, and Complex scope can be perilous for projects. Walter could effectively leverage user stories for the most critical 20% of requirements to derive advantages for 80% of project scope.
  • Poker, Anyone? Inaccurate Time, Cost, and Resource estimates imperil project success. Waterfall PMs can leverage the power of the “Wisdom of Crowds” to increase the accuracy of estimates, stakeholder buy-in, and sponsor confidence.
  • Meetings are events where the minutes are kept and the hours are lost! Countless hours are lost in unproductive meetings full of long monologues, arguments, and conflicts. Walter could derive considerable benefits from the agile technique of short, effective stand-up meetings.
  • Bonus Methods: I also briefly mentioned Ownership, Kanban Boards, “Just-enough” documentation, and Gamification as Agile techniques that could be effectively leveraged.

  • Don’t miss the forest for the trees: When there are several agile projects/sprints within a program, teams risk the possibility of the “big picture.” Kick-off meetings and frequent reinforcement of the overall program goals can really help.
  • Don’t Desert Design Discipline: Design discipline could be a casualty in environments of extremely high pace. Increased peer reviews and quality checks could go a long way in improving the quality of deliverables.
  • The Deadly Disappearing Design Dependencies! Missing dependencies between Agile projects, programs and sprints can be really deadly. Increased coordination between teams could help reduce these issues.


Creating Collective Value through Generativity: A Leadership Approach for Complexity

Stefano Setti, President of the PMI Northern Italy Chapter spoke of the challenges project managers face in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. Emphasizing the difference between “Complex” and “Complicated, he spoke of the relevance of Complex Adaptive Systems to project managers.

The speaker then discussed “Generativity,” a term coined by Erik Erikson in the book “Childhood and Society.” Generativity denotes “a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation.”

Comparing Erikson’s work with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he said that both conceive a person as moving from a “self-centered” to “other-centered” orientation.

Stefano emphasized the importance of “Servant Leadership” in Agile projects, mentioning 12 key virtues.

He concluded by stating that the real mark we can leave as leaders is to have project team members grow and flourish.


Closing General Session with Roberto Toledo and TED Talks curated for PMI

Roberto Toledo, member of PMI’s Board of Directors, opened the closing session.

Stating the vision statements of PMI (Making Ideas a Reality) and TED (Ideas worth spreading), he mentioned that this partnership was indeed “a match made in heaven!”

Session attendees were then treated to five fabulous TED speakers, each enchanting us with amazingly amazing and practically useful ideas.

I’ve added brief summaries. You can view the entire talks in their entirety through the YouTube links I’ve added for each speaker:

Mona Chalabi emphasized the importance of being skeptical about numbers. She said it was important to determine whether one could see uncertainty and relate to data. She said it was also critical to check the veracity of data by carefully looking at whether sample sizes were representative.

Mona also showed us excellent examples of how information could be effectively presented to us, including, visuals, voice, animation, and so on.

Interested? Watch a full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwwanld4T1w

Anab Jain started with the startling statement, “I visit the future. Not one future, but many possible futures. I don’t have a time machine!” She spoke about how she’s almost like the Avengers’ Dr. Strange, working to visualize many possible outcomes of the future based on current trends.

Anab gave us details of how she created a case study of a possible future lawsuit based on trends in genetics, insurance rates, and crime.

Fascinated? Watch more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYjWLqE_cfE

Mark Pollock & Simone George This amazing couple’s extremely inspirational and moving story brought most in the audience to tears. Simone had met Mark when he was blind. They fell in love and married. Tragedy struck when Mark fell from a second-story window, taking him to the doorsteps of death.

Mark and Simone narrated the extraordinary story of how he miraculously survived. He spoke about how realism, determination, and an undying spirit helped him achieve what doctors had said was impossible. He exhorted attendees to follow his mantra: “When the going gets tough, succeed as a REALIST rather than fail as an OPTIMIST!”

You can watch and get inspired by this amazing story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvfydcUeXls

Julia Dhar spoke passionately on the importance of healthy debate. She spoke about her journey from her early stages of debating to being a motivational TED speaker. While it was important to convince the audience of one’s extreme position, she said it was key to be “intellectually humble.”

Julia exhorted project managers to disagree respectfully, separate ideas from personalities, accept that they could be wrong, and find common ground.

Learn more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phgjouv0BUA

Ingrid Fentell Lee spoke about her experience as a design student. She narrated how terrified she felt when a group of professors examined all her design work in a full year. When one of the professor’s verdict was “your work gives me joy”, she could not quite understand.

Ingrid said there was a difference between “joy” and “happiness. While “joy” was a little "feel good right now, " “happiness” was "feel good over a longer period of time." Joy could begin with sensual insights such as pops of color, rounded shapes, patterns, and symmetry

She stressed the importance of actively and frequently looking for several small moments of joy rather than keep searching for elusive long sequences of happiness.

To get more on Ingrid’s excellent advice, you can watch her talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_u2WFTfbcg


The session ended with a very sweet surprise. Roberto Toledo spoke about PMI’s “Global Celebration of Service” pledging 50,000 hours towards the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 17 Sustainable Goals.

What had happened in under five months? Watch here: https://youtu.be/jHvny4MlYPw and here: https://youtu.be/FfOz9s0frlg

If you didn’t watch, you really missed something!

Roberto Toledo announced that PMI volunteers all over the world had exceeded the 12-month goal of 50,000 hours of Celebration of Service in under five months! “We’re doubling in Dublin,” he said, adding that the new goal was now 100,000 hours.

Confetti was showered on the delegates and hundreds of coloured balloons of various descended on us. We erupted with applause. For a while, we all became kids, throwing the balloons at each other and enjoying every moment of the sweet surprise!


I hope you have enjoyed the continuous coverage of the EMEA Congress 2019 by our team of Correspondents Team of Emily Luijbregts, Stephanie Jaeger , Moritz Sprenger, and me, Karthik Ramamurthy.

In addition to tweets by @PMInstitute @ProjectMgtCom and @PMIEvents, we provided regular updates through Twitter handles of our team members, @heykristinj, @Em_the_PM,  @StephanieJaeg10, @moritz_sprenger and yours truly, @KarthikPMO.

Please follow, like, comment, and retweet our continuous coverage on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KarthikPMO), LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/kramamurthy) and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/forkarthik )

See you soon with a wrap-up of my overall experience with #PMIEMEA19!


Meanwhile, have a great day, or as they say in Irish, “Bíodh lá maith agat”

Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

Posted by Karthik Ramamurthy on: May 16, 2019 06:46 PM | Permalink

Comments (21)

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Thanks, Karthik!

@Andrew Craig: Thanks a million for your encouraging words.
I hope you'll continue contributing for the benefit f our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

This was a great roundup, thanks for sharing! I'm sorry I couldn't be there this year.

Thanks Karthik, a great summary, I'm looking forward to watching your links....

Wonderful updates, really experienced "JOY " .
Thanks a lot Karthik!!

Thanks Karthik, for another exciting very detailed write-up of your day's learning. I love that you looked for the youtube videos of the original TED Talks as well. We got the abbreviated versions at the PMI EMEA Congress

Amazing Karthik, thanks a lot for sharing this

@Elizabeth Harrin: Thanks a ton for your kind words. It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I hope you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Juile Ann Jones: Thank you very much for your encouraging words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I hope you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Alok Priyadarshi: Thanks a ton for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I hope you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Stephanie Jaeger: Thank you very much for your encouraging words.
It was certainly awesome to listen to those amazing TED Talks, wasn't it? I included Youube links to the complete talks since it was virtually impossible to cover all terrific ideas in this blog post.
It was an amazing experience to cover the cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 with you, Emily, and Moritz.
I'm sure you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Rami Kaibni: Thanks a million for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I'm sure you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

Karthik, Good summary of your session Agilely Vaulting Over Waterfalls. it is definitely not oil and water :). Love the links of the original TED talks in your summary. Overall a great capture and yes keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Priya Patra: Thanks a ton for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I hope you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

Great summary Karthik. Thanks for sharing those wonderful moments of EMEA Congress 2019

@Sripriya Narayanasamy: Thanks a million for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I'm sure you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

@Nitish Patna: Thanks a million for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I'm sure you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

great roundup.

Amazing read, thanks for sharing

@Maya Kalach: Thanks a million for your kind words.
It was indeed a privilege to cover the PMI EMEA Congress 2019 on behalf of the passionate team of PMI Community Correspondents.
I'm sure you'll continue contributing for the benefit of our vibrant community here.
Meanwhile, keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

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