Project Management

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PM Network is the award-winning magazine for members of the Project Management Institute. This blog will highlight some of the publication's valuable information and insights, keeping you up to date on industry trends.

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Cameron McGaughy
Aaron Smith
Deryn Zakielarz
Jill Diffendal

Past Contributors:

Dan Goldfischer
cyndee miller

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Hours For Impact Initiative

Imagine a world with no poverty, zero hunger, good health, and quality education. Add to that clean water, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth. These are just a handful of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which serve as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all individuals worldwide.

Since 2019, PMI has been a member of the United Nations Global Compact, supporting these SDG. The Hours for Impact initiative is based on the belief that when we’re all in it together, we can make a bigger impact. The initiative, which launched on 22 September, has a goal of 100,000 hours pledged for projects that make a sustainable and equitable society for all a reality. As of 1 November, almost 70,000 hours have been pledged by our PMI global community, including members, volunteers, chapters, partners, project manager, PMI staff and more.

From developing new water treatment plants to building new schools, all of the volunteer hours and service-oriented projects help improve our world today… and in the future. Here is a look at a few of these inspiring projects, which range from several to thousands of hours:

  • Organic vegetable cultivation: This pledge of 14,120 hours supports SDG #15, Life of Land.
  • Audio books for visually challenged college students: This pledge of 300 hours supports SDG #10, Reduced Inequalities.
  • River and stream cleanup: This pledge of 25 hours supports SDG #6, Clean Water and Sanitation.

Read more  here about how PMI is enabling changemakers across the globe to make an impact on society in a positive way. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to join the Hours for Impact initiative, and make your own pledge to help make create a better world for all.

Posted by Deryn Zakielarz on: November 04, 2021 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Leading the NASA Team Behind the James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in December 2021, is the largest space science telescope ever developed. It is one of the most technically complex projects ever undertaken and will fundamentally change our understanding of how the universe works – and it all depends on people. PMI Strategic Advisor Dr. Ed Hoffman recently spoke with Greg Robinson, the Program Director of Webb at NASA, on the Center Stage podcast about leading the teams that made this futuristic endeavor a reality.

Hoffman: What are the biggest challenges that you have and your team faces in ensuring value delivery for Webb?

Robinson: Some of the larger challenges over the years were around performance. And with projects, it's all about performance, doing really good planning, getting your requirements right, setting your team during development, and getting it done within your constraints.

With that performance, the team is so important. Do we have the right team, the right team makeup? Are we communicating properly, not just talking but communicating? I took over Webb about three and a half years ago, and that was one of the largest glaring weaknesses, that communication was not good at all.

The biggest challenge was really getting the team focused not on the technical, but stepping it up a notch to make sure we were operating as one machine throughout the agency and with our stakeholders.

Hoffman: What are your principles in a leadership position or when you're part of a team? What do you look for to create a team that's high performing and successful?

Robinson: You want a good leader. That means a lot of things to different people. Someone who can look at the technical skills based on the work breakdown structure of the project. Do I have good technical prowess, technical leaders, good integrators, people who are not afraid of being challenged.

The great thing about NASA's history, internally, we've always been able to challenge each other. And we tend to end up with a better product. And that challenge has to occur with performance in mind, not taking too long to get it done. So recognizing people who have that skill, or can go deep technically, who are not afraid of being challenged, and often communicate.

In communications also we tend to talk technical language. And when we're communicating up and out, we have to talk layman's terms - that's not an easy skill. Those are the things I look for in my teams.

Hoffman: How did you develop into such a successful leader?

Robinson: Mentoring is a really big deal. A lot of a lot of people mentored me. We didn't even call it that at the time, but I reached out to other senior leaders, and basically saying, sure in different words, “I want to be like you one day when I grow up.”

Another area that came along a little bit later, the soft skills, which I did not appreciate early in my career at all. Then I took some class that was put together at NASA, and I was sold from that class on. I made sure I continued to develop my social skills through training and other types of development, kept the mentoring going, built networks within the agency.

So a combination of apprenticeship with senior leaders, mentoring, and training and development and networking. I think those were the key. And I continue to work on social skills today, believe it or not.

Listen to the full podcast on Center Stage.

Posted by Jill Diffendal on: October 15, 2021 03:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Smart Tips for a Stronger Virtual Connection

PMI’s final Virtual Experience Series event for 2021 is fast approaching. This two-day event promises to deliver the engaging speakers and sessions you need to navigate the shifting landscape of today’s world of work. Here are a few great tips for getting the most out of this virtual experience, and others like it.

On 6-7 October, our global community will gather virtually to engage in live presentations, interactive sessions and networking at PMI’s Virtual Experience Series. Highlights will include award-winning chef and restauranteur Marcus Samuelsson, entrepreneur Peter Hinssen and Time Magazine’s 2020 Kid of the Year Gitanjali Rao discussing issues of global impact and how to meet new challenges with new solutions.  But perhaps one of the biggest event draws is the opportunity for human connection, made possible by pushing through physical boundaries and onto a cloud-based video conferencing platform.

Even as life starts to return to normal, virtual events will likely remain in some capacity. But how can we make the most of these opportunities that have been presented to us? Before you log in to the October Virtual Experience Series, or any other virtual event, make sure you are ready to be fully engaged.

For example, start by stepping away from your everyday work routine, and treating the event as something special… because it is! Set up your space so that you can be fully immersed in the event as you would be if you were in there in person. Another idea is do some prep work in advance of the event. Research the topics and discussions to pinpoint where you want to focus. And make sure you can avoid technical difficulties by ensuring your connection is ready to go.

For more smart tips on creating a stronger virtual connection, check out Make the Most Out of Virtual Events. Then, put these tips into practice by registering to attend PMI’s upcoming Virtual Experience Series. Reserve your spot today!

Posted by Deryn Zakielarz on: September 23, 2021 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Servant Leadership in Project Teams

Categories: Leadership, Teams

Are you a manager who is responsible for a team, or a leader who is responsible to a team? Johanna Rothman, author and coach known for her Modern Management Made Easy book series, talked with PMI CCO Joe Cahill on a recent episode of the Center Stage podcast about the difference, and how managers can make the transition to serving their teams.

Cahill: You talk about being responsible to a team versus being responsible for a team. Can you explain the difference?

Rothman: ‘Responsible for a team’ means the team reports to you, the team tells you what's going on. You, however, are going to take that information and you will filter it, and report it out to the other people and up to your managers.

However, what if you're ‘responsible to a team’? That stops at their achievements. You are then responsible to help them find the environment that they need, right? Do they need more equipment, do they need access to other people?

So ‘responsible to a team’ is much more about servant leadership than ‘responsible for a team’.

Cahill: It's a small distinction in language, but there's a big difference in what people actually do with that mindset, right? How does that actually impact the team?

Rothman: The team is much more responsible, because you're there to support them. When a manager of any stripe is responsible to a team, the team can actually create its own self organization.

With that change in mindset, they are much more likely to take on responsibility for themselves, not be helpless. That totally changes how the team works. And in my experience, it's a really positive thing for how the team works.

Cahill: So if you're advising a project or program manager how to take this on, how would you suggest that they approach this reframing?

Rothman: You will need to start at several levels. First, with the team - start slowly, and say, what is the first thing I should delegate to the team? Which decisions can they make all by themselves without me, where they just tell me the result of those decisions?

Now, you will have to say, I see what you want. Let me go work that issue. So you work those issues on behalf of the team. It's all about being responsible to the team.

Now, the next piece is, what do you do about your rewards? You will have to start the conversation with your manager and HR to talk about how do I get rewarded for my support of this project or program instead of my deliverable, right?

And if you say to them, “My job is to serve the people I work with, so that they become more capable,” then it cannot be my achievement, it has to be their achievement.

So it's several conversations about agility, several conversations about what we reward, what we can discuss, who gets to make the decisions. It's a slow and steady set of conversations, and the more you start with small wins in the team, the more likely you will be successful over the long term.

Listen to the full podcast on Center Stage.

Posted by Jill Diffendal on: September 20, 2021 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Emotional Intelligence for Leaders

Good teams become great teams under great leaders. One skill great leaders need is emotional intelligence. Dr. Rodolfo De Acutis, Executive Leader for Nestlé in Research and Development, Dr. Rodolfo De Acutis, Executive Leader for Nestlé in Research and Development recently spoke with PMI CCO Joe Cahill on the Center Stage podcast about the subject of leadership and emotional intelligence. Dr. De Acutis, who is responsible for implementing the Project Management Office for Nestlé R&D, shared his perspective on how leaders can harness the power of emotions to drive results.  

Cahill: Can you describe the importance of emotions in the workplace, and help us understand the importance of that?

De Acutis: Often a project manager is facing situations where emotion can come alive. Usually there is a very simple sequence of events - there is a trigger and there is an act. In between the trigger and the act, often there is an emotion.

But in between the emotion and the act, we have a moment of choice... If we pause, step back, reflect, shift perspective, then we will be more in a situation of choosing wisely what will be the act to do.

Cahill: Emotional intelligence sounds critically important to leading, not only at the project level but at the company level.

De Acutis: When you run a project, the interaction with others is extremely high. Having the ability of understanding the mood of the room is extremely important. When you go into a room, is there is an emotion of excitement or is there is an emotion of de-motivation?

That’s when the empathy, that you can flex the style of responding to the emotion appropriately, is extremely important. And to do that, you need to create an environment of trust. 
To build the trust, the team needs to feel that the leader or the project manager is credible, reliable, has got that connection on empathy. 

Cahill: You indicate project leaders must be really comfortable in asking the question “why?” day to day. So let me ask you - why is this important?

De Acutis: I can give you a very simple example. Because we [Nestlé] produce food, and sometimes we need to provide samples, it can happen that we go to our project team and we say can you please just do another 50 samples for the head office? Now the explanation of the why is on giving the samples to the office. That actually doesn’t motivate or encourage a team to really do it. 

Could we explain the why in a more compelling way? What if we say, look, we are meeting with the markets, and if we have these 50 samples that will add more presence in every market and it could become one of our priority projects. 

Very likely the team will feel much more engaged, but this is not necessarily enough. What if then we give also something that is more individual? What if we say, look, I know that you are busy but you don’t have to worry because I will speak with your manager and I will make sure that you can focus on this. And by the way, I am asking you because I know that you delivered for me in the past. 

You see how if we explain the why in a much more compelling way with the rational and emotional and individual aspect, then there is much more of a potential for success.

Listen to the full podcast on Center Stage. 

Posted by Jill Diffendal on: August 18, 2021 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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