PMI Global Insights

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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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Cameron McGaughy
Dan Furlong
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Andrew Craig
David Davis
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LORI WILSON
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Deepa Bhide
Nic Jain
Karen Chovan
Jack Duggal
Catalin Dogaru
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Sandra MacGillivray
Gina Abudi
Sarah Mersereau
Lawrence Cooper
Yves Cavarec
Nadia Vincent
Carlos Javier Pampliega García
Michelle Stronach
Laura Samsó
Marcos Arias
Cheryl Lee
Kristin Jones

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My parting thoughts on PMI's 50th anniversary Global Conference

My impressions from day one of "Ask an Expert" at #PMIcon19

Ask The Experts -- at the global conference

What Does an Invitation to the ‘Ask the Expert’ Panel Mean to Me? #PMIcon19 #Inspiration

So Hard to Communicate

I saw this potshots comic today and liked it, so I'm sharing it.

Why do many people (myself included) find it so hard to communicate?  I actually find it pretty easy to broadcast (as you can see from my posts), but true interactive communication is difficult.  I'm not sure if it's the risk of exposing my feelings, if its a disconnect of values with the person I'm communicating with, if it's my attitude, or if I just don't add anything of value to the person I'm communicating with.  Or is could be I'm just overthinking everything :)

Regardless, I frequently challenge my own ability to communicate.  Granted, I thought I was a good communicator until I had children, but I found that what I thought I communicated clearly, was not received clearly.

My path to green for this is to keep on trying,  Use active listening and watch for body language signs, paraphrasing back what the person said, and accept that I don't have to respond to everything said to me.  I can acknowledge with a smile or the nodding of my head.

Anybody else find communication more difficult that it should be?

Get your most burning project management questions answered in “Ask the Experts” at PMI Global Conference.  Sign up for a specific time at: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090c44a9ad23a7fb6-askthe5 or just stop by.

Times Dave is scheduled for:

Saturday October 28:  3:00PM -  4:30 PM

Sunday October 29: 10:00  11:50 AM, 3:00 5:00 PM

Monday October 30:  1:00 – 2:30 PM

David L. Davis PMP, PgMP, PBA

Senior Project Manager OhioHealth

dldavispmp@gmail.com

Posted by David Davis on: October 16, 2017 09:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Making a Difference: What are the behaviors we would exhibit?

For those who have seen my webinar on Organizational Agility you know that I am facilitating a book series called The Agility Series (you can find more on it over at www.TheAgilitySeries.com). 

The way I get content is by inviting people to answer a series of questions on the topic. I use the input I get which I augment with some ancillary research and my own ideas to write the final copy. So I was wondering what I could I do in the using the same approach leading up to the Congress on October 28-30. So with that as the backdrop, here is the question I have for the PMI community:

If we want to make a difference in our work and as people in our communities, what behaviors might we exhibit?

You have until October 15th to answer the question – that should be enough time for me to go through the results and get it ready to share in a blog post prior to the congress.

I am also throwing it out to my fellow experts to participate in the exercise and to help me sort through what we get in response to share with the rest of the PMI community.

So what say you all?

Here is the link where you can answer the question – you can offer up to three separate responses of the behaviors you feel would help you to make a difference.

It`s a single question survey and no need to ponder too deeply so you should be able to do it in a minute or less.

GO!

(BTW - it's an anonymous survey)

Also feel free to share with your colleagues and other professional contacts. The more the merrier!

If you will  be at the congress come on by anytime and talk to me and the rest of the experts about the results of the question and the blog post it will spawn.

If you’d like to talk strategic intent, adaptive strategy, back-casting over forecasting, outcomes over outputs, any of the agilities, or pretty much anything you think I may be able to help you with in making a difference in your world, here is my availability during the conference:

  • Saturday the 28th from 1:30 to 4:30
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 12:00

You can also connect with me at:

  • https://twitter.com/cooperlk99
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawrencekcooper
  • www.TheAgilitySeries.com
     

 

Posted by Lawrence Cooper on: September 27, 2017 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Making a Difference: Leaders are Everywhere...waiting...

Me again on the topic of making a difference.

I came across an article I though I'd share called How to Build Community Leaders of Today—and Tomorrow—Through Student Genius Hours.

In the spirit of Google's 20% time, Jen Schneider, a middle school Language Arts teacher in Omaha, Nebraska, decided to set aside one hour per week for her students to explore any question they would like. During Genius Hours "students get to use at least one hour of their class time each week to explore their own questions, create projects, and share with others."

From the article:

Genius Hour taught me to let go and let my students showcase their roles as active, engaged citizens. Their voices are powerful, and sometimes even stronger than our own.

These connections are beneficial not only for our students but the community at-large. Fostering relationships within the places where our students will attend school and possibly contribute as working members of society is beneficial for the common good.

Our students are future employees and leaders, but we shouldn’t be telling them that we’re preparing them for the future. In fact, programs like Genius Hour are preparing them for right now. They can make a difference today in their classrooms, cities, and the world.

So here we have a bunch of Grade 8 students, whose teacher recognized the value of creating a safe environment, facilitated their curiosity, and most importantly let them explore and find their own way. What resulted was far more that she or anyone else could have possibly imagined:

  • leaders emerged that no one knew existed in their midst
  • serendipity happened - they built off of each others ideas and willingness to try new things
  • students learned real world skills - building business cases, understanding of the importance of contributing to the social good, etc.
  • it broke the artificial barriers between teacher and student
  • it enabled some children to identify career aspirations - in grade 8!

So what does this have to do with making a difference in the world we live in at work? The answer is a lot:

  • potential leaders are all around us - are we creating the safe environment for them to emerge?
  • serendipity is huge force-multiplier - do we enable it or do we expect our people to sit in their cubes as they quietly beaver away on the work we told them to do?
  • learning new skills and capabilities help us in what we are doing right now, and pays huge dividends the more we acquire - do we encourage and facilitate that for our teams?
  • people often feel their leaders are not approachable or we require them to "follow the chain of command" - why can't we allow anyone to talk to anyone else in our organizations if it can help make things better?
  • people can get pigeon-holed according to their roles - but do you really know what they are capable of beyond their current role? Do you really think they have no other capabilities beyond what their current role requires? Do you really believe they necessarily want to do that role for their lives?

As leaders we have an obligation to create a safe environment, to facilitate the curiosity of our people, and to let them explore and find their own way in making choices about how best to do their work. It enables them to figure out how they can best make a difference. In so doing, we liberate ourselves from the burdens of management and share the benefits of leadership, wherever it may reside in our midst.

What do you think - can we do a better job of facilitating others to make a difference today so that our organizations benefit now and continue to do so in the long run?

If you’d like to talk strategic intent, adaptive strategy, back-casting over forecasting, outcomes over outputs, any of the agilities, or pretty much anything you think I may be able to help you with in making a difference in your world, here is my availability during the conference:

  • Saturday the 28th from 1:30 to 4:30
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 12:00

Posted by Lawrence Cooper on: September 15, 2017 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Making a difference: Let me count the ways

Image result for making a difference

 

 

 

 

 

Staying with this years conference theme, I'd though I have a go at ways we can make a difference in our lives and profession. This is my list of things that I have done at different times - and am mostly still doing. What's on your list?

Caveat emptor - I have a very distinct bias towards agility and adaptability so my comments are tilted in that direction.

Doing

The most obvious way to make a difference is by doing. If you are a Project Manager, Portfolio Manager, etc. or a team member working in active projects you have an opportunity to make a huge difference by helping everyone develop and shared understanding of WHY a project is being done before jumping into WHAT, HOW, WHO, WHEN and WHERE.

Knowing WHY matters because it means everyone can have a much better foundation for making all of the choices that have to made during a project. For example, is that new feature really necessary for the WHY? Does the WHY need to be adjusted based on what we now know that we did not know previously?

Depending on the organization you are in, asking the WHY questions may be not be popular. Why? (see what I did there..) Well, some projects, especially software development ones, have as their goal to replace existing things with newer technologies or a newer platform. As a result, there is a tendency to assume that the reasons for the original software are still valid. But are they? I mean what could possibly have changed in the 10 years since we originally built the software we are replacing? 

When we ask the WHY questions we are driving to "why does it matter and to whom does it matter?" See some earlier articles I write related to that question:

  1. Start at the end or the beginning? Perspective Counts!
  2. Outcomes Focused-Agility: Experience Report
  3. What? You don't know why you are doing your project?
  4. Value-centered Decision-Making
  5. Project Management is an upside-down concept

When we know WHY we can make better choices of WHAT to do, and HOW to do things, on WHO we need to do them for, and WHEN should they be done (sequence) as well as WHERE they could be done.

Leading

As a PMP you have a Code of Ethics that covers fairness, honesty, and respect. Making a difference can mean being willing to call out or address circumstances where those values are not being followed.

Creating a safe environment for the team is everyone's responsibility. Being willing to speak out for those who are vulnerable, such as new people on the team who may feel uncomfortable speaking, or who feel their jobs may be at stake if they say anything, is a PMP's duty.

We need to lead by our example. By leading to our code of ethics you will make a difference.

Coaching/Mentoring

This is an interesting one to me as I think there are many more opportunities for coaching/mentoring that many of us may realize. When we use the terms coach or mentor, the first instinct most of us have is that this is an exalted role to which only the most experienced among us can aspire.

So let me dispel that a bit. I'll use my son again (see my previous article). He's 15. He's in high school. When he started high school he was assigned a mentor - she was 16. Outside of school he has volunteered the past three years to coach hockey players aged 5-10 during the off season. The first two years he and his buddy ran the entire thing on their own - developing the drill plans and running the ice times. They were 13 at the time.

My point is simply this - it's not an age thing. It's a "do you have something to offer to someone else from your experience that they may find useful" question. Yes? Then you can be a coach/mentor. Maybe it's someone new to your team and organization and you can pair up with them to help them navigate things. Maybe they want to learn why you passed your PMP on the first try with the highest score ever. Maybe you are that experienced person and you want to start giving back to the profession. 

Maybe you have expertise beyond the PM role that can be shared with the team. It's not like we woke up one morning and we were PMs - we did other things before that that we were good at. Well, OK, I already confessed I was a lousy developer and switched over to managing/ PM because of it, but you on the other hand are not me - because you were good at something else before doing this, right? Well then, share that to make a difference.

Maybe you're into agile in a big way and want to help others understand it better. Maybe you want to bring agile into your organization by convincing them to let you run a project with it and develop the experience necessary in your group to do all your projects that way.

Coaching and mentoring can be a real joy and the more you do the better you get at it.

I have been fortunate enough to get to do this as part of my daily work for the past number of years.

Volunteering/Giving

Your local PMI Chapter as well as many other local organizations can use your help as a volunteer.

Maybe, because you, like me, are fortunate to make a decent living doing what they feel they waited all their lives to be able to do, you are doing well enough to share some of that good fortune with others less fortunate than you. For me it's my local food bank. Amazingly, they are able to turn every $1 I give them into $5 worth of food. Two thirds of the cost of what I used to spend on buying lunch every day is now making a difference in the lives of numerous families every month. I feel privileged and honored that I am able to do that.

Maybe for you it's the victims of recent catastrophic storms or earthquakes. Or it's your neighbor who has lost their job. 

Making a difference doesn't have to be entirely about work. It can simply be about being a good human.

Writing

Who knew that one would be on my list? The first time I was published was over twenty years ago because someone asked me to write two chapters for a book - you know the hard cover things that used to take two years+ to get into print. I had never written for publication before. So it was scary and exciting all at once. I actually thought I  did a pretty good job for a first effort (thought it was mostly technical so that did make it easier). I'd be happy to bring the book to Chicago for you to see :). I'm sure it didn't sell millions, but I'm sure (hope?) it was useful to someone.

These days literally anyone can write - blogs are everywhere. The neat thing about blogs is that they don't have to be profound, or be the next Great Gatsby (and no I was not around when that was written!). It can be about things you find useful in your work - a technique or practice. Or some idea you have been kicking around and you'd like to get the input of others.

Did you know that most authors these days started out by blogging first? I went from author to blogger and now to author/blogger. My first full book on my own was the result of writing it in blogs first. 

It can be addictive and fun once you get over the initial fright of thinking you have nothing to say. 

I am happy if I get one comment per post where someone found what I wrote useful - I have a low threshold on what makes me feel like I am making a difference. Which makes it easy to feel my writing makes a difference.

To find out about how I go about The Agility Series of books I am facilitating, head on over to here. It's not the typical book writing exercise. There are many different ways and forums available for writing to make a difference.

Speaking/Webinars

One of my pals on the Experts team, Karen Chovan, is speaking at the Congress on the 29th at 4:45.

Guess how I got my start speaking? By volunteering to speak at a local PMI chapter luncheon, and then putting in a proposal for the local symposium the following fall. 

Speaking is another way to make a difference. You can also combine your speaking with your writing by writing first and then creating a talk about what you wrote. A double hit on making a difference. I've done that a few times and you get to reuse content - which is kind of nice.

Speaking engagements can be live or through webinars. They can also be paid engagements which is an added bonus. I've actually managed to be paid for a couple of mine - so all goodness.

Most of us aren't very good at anything the first time. Some of the greatest speakers in recent history weren't very good when they got started either. Steve Jobs, the master of "and one more thing", even at the height of his speaking ability, practiced for days in the lead up to those events - as good as he was by then.

Most of us aren't Steve Jobs or TED speakers (certainly not me) - nor are most of the people who speak at events. So what have you got to loose? The second time will be better - it always is. Oh, and most people are pretty understanding when you are starting out.

So what haven't you done yet to make a difference that you'd like to try?

If you’d like to talk strategic intent, adaptive strategy, back-casting over forecasting, outcomes over outputs, any of the agilities, or pretty much anything you think I may be able to help you with in making a difference in your world, here is my availability during the conference:

  • Saturday the 28th from 1:30 to 4:30
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 12:00

 

 

Posted by Lawrence Cooper on: September 13, 2017 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Making a Difference: Learning How to Learn

Image result for learn how to learn

This past summer my 15-year old son was doing a course on careers. For his last assignment, he had to interview someone about how they chose their career and how it had progressed over time, so he decided to interview me. His last question was “what single piece of advice would you give someone starting out in life and career?”

I thought about it for a bit, and realizing what I said could really make a difference in how he looked at his life ahead, I gave him a simple four-word answer – learn how to learn.

My answer was based on a few realizations that I had based on my own career as well as the great job market uncertainties and opportunities that face today’s youth due to IoT, AI, robotics, climate change, social upheaval, an aging population – the list goes on.

I’ve probably changed directions in my IT/PM career a dozen times or more. It  is highly probable that most people under the age of forty (and even those above) will need to change career directions multiple times in their working life. As I noted in my previous post, my career changes were sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes for fun. I believe that one of the reasons that it was possible for me to keep reinventing myself, was because I like to learn new things.

Truth be told, at times I’m probably a bit too obsessed with it, but I do think it is what has kept me relevant, engaged, worthwhile to others, and most of all, worthwhile to myself. I am fascinated to read people who get things at a different level and then see if it can be applied at a practical level. I like to find out where some of the great ideas of our time came from and how they have morphed over time.

It’s part curiosity, part sheer joy in finding out things I never knew. 

Another reason I gave my son those four words as my advice is because we can never know everything. As soon as we can accept that reality, we can also accept the need to always be ready to learn. We won't know where those opportunities are until they are in front of us. Knowing that we can be ready to learn at any moment, is actually quite liberating. We don't need to be afraid of what we don't know. We also no longer feel the urge to hide not knowing something - it becomes just another thing we pick up along the way as we need it. 

There has been much talk over the years about "the learning organization". Organizations are made up of flesh and blood people (at least for now they mostly are). It is the people who learn. So my take is that to say organizations learn is to accord them anthropomorphistic qualities. We shouldn't. It's just people trying to find their way.

Uncertainty and ambiguity is the new reality. Knowing how to learn, and always being ready to learn, equips us for that reality - no matter our age.

As I approach sixty, I am in awe of people like Russel Ackoff, who at eighty is still learning and making a difference. Search for “A Lifetime of Systems Thinking” and have a read of a brilliant mind (hey, you gotta do some work here and show you are least a little bit curious!).

Over the course of the 2017 PMI Global Congress, you’ll have a chance to learn from some other bright minds and from each other. Bright minds like my friend and fellow Expert Karen Chovan who will be talking about The Necessary Culture for Soaring Performance on October 29th at 4:45PM .

Learning how to learn is also becoming a "thing" that itself can be studied. One of the most popular courses on Coursera is Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects which I intend to take before Global Congress. I'll let you know in a future post how it went.

The world of projects is also undergoing significant change and this trend will continue. What is valuable today may be less so tomorrow. What is mere idea or not even known today, may be the thing of tomorrow. Reinventing ourselves can be scary or enjoyable. It's a choice that most people will have to make at some point if they want to continue to make a difference. Knowing how to learn can make it not only enjoyable, but gives us options and choice.

As long we as are willing and ready to learn, we get to continue to make a difference.

I'd be interested to hear the community's thoughts on learning and reinventing ourselves so we can continue to make a difference.

If you’d like to talk strategic intent, adaptive strategy, back-casting over forecasting, outcomes over outputs, any of the agilities, or pretty much anything you think I may be able to help you with in making a difference in your world, here is my availability during the conference:

  • Saturday the 28th from 1:30 to 4:30
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 12:00
Posted by Lawrence Cooper on: September 07, 2017 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)
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