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"We're not forming PMOs for the sake of forming PMOs. It's about helping organizations deliver initiatives or change in a way that's aligned with strategy," said PMI president and CEO Mark A. Langley during a panel discussion at PMO Symposium 2013.
And organizations could certainly use the help. While PMI research shows that 88 percent of organizations say strategy implementation is important, less than half say they're good at it. "There's a major disconnect happening in organizations," noted Mr. Langley.
That's where PMOs have a role to play. "All strategic change within an organization happens through projects and programs, so our job is to connect what we do to strategy," said Mr. Langley.
The need is greater now than ever for PMOs to step into that lead. The exponential acceleration of change today means nimble strategy matters more and more.
Panelist Margo Visitacion of Forrester Research encouraged PMO leaders to translate tactical project elements into the language of the C-suite.
"Aim for smart simplicity," added panelist Perry Keenan of Boston Consulting Group. "Don't serve up 300 activity reports to the senior leadership team. Serve up milestones and key metrics instead."
In a later session, Mr. Keenan discussed how PMOs can serve as powerful change agents. For change initiatives to really take root, organizations require a "change delta" composed of:
Strong governance and sponsorship with an active PMO
Executional certainty, initiative owners with a transparent view of progress
Enabled leaders who are aligned and visibly own change
Engaged employees who understand what the change means to them and are equipped to change behaviors
"The world is changing at an unprecedented pace," Mr. Keenan said. "Almost every organization in almost every industry should be mindful of resisting temptation to think it's different for them."
For more on PMOs, check out the PMI® Thought Leadership Series: Strategic Initiative Management - The PMO Imperative: