Viewing Posts by Moritz Sprenger
PMI EMEA 2019 is over and just slowly I start to realize what a great Congress it was. And foremost, it was a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow project managers from many different countries and backgrounds, share experiences, and celebrate PMI's 50th anniversary. It has been a week since I arrived back home, enough time to organize some thoughts and reflect on the experience.
I initially attended the Congress to get more involved as a volunteer, learn from global thought leaders and practitioners, and to look out for inspiration. I have realized for why I am passionate about the profession of project management: It’s all about mind-set. Furthermore, it's the freedom of choice and personality to use a variety of tools, insights, methods, processes, and competences to achieve goals. The people I have met in Dublin all had these things in common: Personal drive, the willingness to communicate, being results driven, working passionately towards personal goals, and foremost: curiosity. These are exactly the traits that distinguishes a good project managers.
I can’t speak for the rest of the attendees, but inspiration is what I found. Most of the speakers transported a real passion for what they do and what they talked about. That’s probably the reason for why some sentences and learnings still occupy me every day at work.
Five key sentences from the Congress really got stuck and already made a difference in the way I look at projects in my organisations and at the effectiveness of project leaders today. I use these sentences to challenge my own thinking at work. They are thought anchors, not actual learnings. Maybe they will have an impact on how you go to work tomorrow, as well:
“People are drawn to their most dominant thoughts”: Change the way people think, then you can change the way people feel and act; it’s all about mind-set – Jamil Qureshi
“Key emerging competences in project management will be agility, customer empathy, advanced analytics, and curiosity”: Traditional roles will be disrupted by a more complex and uncertain environment organisations are embedded in, be part of that change – Hilary Baker
“Many companies measure how they implement change, but not the actual change itself”: A change is no longer a change when it is part of the DNA of the organisation. It is often difficult to attend change until full implementation as Management or Sponsors prioritise new initiatives, when change management projects are perceived to be completed. – Olivier Lazar
“The next big challenge will be to standardise terminology of agile beyond the small task group and define an integrated framework with the 3Ps: project, programme, and portfolio management”: The hype around agile methodologies is profound, however, they still fall short of providing an integrated framework in relation to the 3Ps on organisational level – Nicholas Clemens
“How does your behaviour support you in achieving your goals?”: The one who asks the right questions leads. The importance of coaching skills for effective communication cannot be underestimated for project managers – Maria Fafard
What do you think? Will these five anchors provoke your thoughts and actions, too?
Thank you Kristin Jones for providing me with the opportunity to volunteer as community correspondent at this years’ congress. I hope there will be a chance in the future to volunteer once more.
A big thank you also to my team of community correspondents, Emily, Stephanie, and Karthik – it was fun working with and learning from you. Hope to see you all soon.
What a last day at the PMI EMEA Congress 2019. The last two days have been packed and I am somewhat exhausted due to information overload. But there is still room for another full day of promising sessions and hopefully inspiring TED Talks.
All in all, it was a great experience. I have a learned so much from fellow project managers and speakers. I will go back to work with a long bucket list of things I need to address.
I will hopefully see you all soon.
Coaching as a powerful tool, the cat-metaphor on agility, and the crux in project monitoring at #PMIEMEA19 Day 2
What a second day at the PMI EMEA Congress 2019. Not only did the sun shine again in Dublin. PMI also celebrated it’s 50th birthday with us. Half a century of caring about the people and the profession; I am happy to have witnessed just over a tenth of that time. PMI also brought on a stage the most incredible Irish a-cappella-band for the evening celebrations. They would certainly be in the final of any X-Factor show.
It was the first time Maria Fafard spoke at a PMI Congress, and it will not be the last. As an Executive Coach, Maria’s goal was to emphasize the value of coaching techniques in project management.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Does this question ring a bell? Avoid this question if you want to effectively coach. Coaching is essentially about helping the one being coached to change their beliefs, and with it, their behaviour. Because you touch the belief system of a person, the strongest tools in coaching are open powerful questions: How is your behaviour serving you to achieve your goals? Ok, you received feedback from peers, how are you going to use it? Why is this important to you? A common misconception: As a coach “you are not there to be liked, you are there to give a service. Kindly and firmly state what you observe”, says Maria.
Maria also highlighted to overcome the urge to provide a solution that worked for you in a similar situation. Descriptive support will not provide a change of the belief system in the person being coached. People are not vested in the success of a solution that was brought to them from external.
In the afternoon Leonor Viturro demystified organisational agility and described the three basic layers of agility needed in today’s organisations to respond rapidly to change: (1) Project Agility, (2) Personal Agility, and (3) Agile Decision Making, of which Personal Agility is the pre-requisite, and also the most difficult to obtain in organisation. Leonor applied a metaphor of a cat to distil the key characteristics of personal agility:
In order to increase organisational agility, starting to push processes to become agile (project agility) will most certainly fail, if the other levels are not addressed (personal agility and agile decision making).
The last session of the afternoon was highly engaging and sparked a lot of discussion. Anderson Gordon introduced a systematic approach to project monitoring: He extended the common Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to include the importance of studying the data being collected and then using the insights to constantly review and adapt the monitoring system.
Anderson mastered the task to facilitate discussion and lead the audience to come up with the key take-aways themselves. He showed examples of performance indicators that lacked completeness and were rightfully challenged by the audience. Performance Indicators should combine two set of criteria: CREAM and QQT. Meaning Clear, Precise, Economic, Adequate, and Monitorable indicators, which can be collected in the right Quality, Quantity, and Time.
And don’t forget to evaluate the indicators you have selected before adopting them.
Let’s see what day 3 holds ready for us.
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Think-Feel-Act, Design Thinking, Governance, AI in PM, and the importance of Sponsorship at #PMIEMEA19 - Day 1
What a first day at the PMI EMEA Congress 2019. A single blog post won’t suffice to cover all the learnings of one day. I chose to pick out some of the key points that stuck in my head of each session I attended – so here it is:
Denis Vukosav is a passionate project manager from the banking industry. That industry may not be known specifically for their ability to deploy Design Thinking and Agile methods in their projects, but Denis is challenging this: “When Design Thinking and Agile methods merge, you can combine best of both worlds. Design Thinking devotes an entire process step to developing customer empathy, which is often minimized within the agile framework for the benefits of speed.” You can make your projects become more successful by incorporating the needs of the customer with design thinking early on in your projects.
Michael Knapp presented his research findings from a study on the importance of governance in 3P (Portfolio, Programme, Project Management) in managing innovation in organisations. “One common mistake management and project managers often do is confusing governance and management. Management is about the execution of tasks and processes. Governance is about decision-making. Today, we have good standards and processes defined for the execution, and research shows, there are very little standards and processes on Governance in organisations.” The lack of maturity and metrics in governance can often lead to barriers to manage innovation effectively. If a project manager experiences the following barriers, there is a high chance that these symptoms are the result of a lack of governance maturity: Under-funding, culture clashes, sclerosis, politics and poor alignment, lack of strategy and vision, and lack of executive commitment.
“The best thing you can do as a project manager working in innovation is to grab management and sponsors and drag them down to the shop floor where the action takes place basis”, said Michael. This will make them start to rethink their commitment.
What will the future of work look like for a project manager? The next session I attended was organized as a panel discussion formed by three industry leaders in their field of expertise (project management). Hilary Baker from Airbus, Jim Robinson from the Ministry of Defence UK, and Dieter Butz from Bosch.
“Knowledge management, empathy, and anticipation are probably the key competences that distinguishes a good project manager from any future AI-driven tool in the profession”, says Hilary. Jim adds, that: “Hard project management skills such as scheduling, risk management, planning, and reporting the right information may become less manual, but need to be understood by a PM”. “Role perceptions will constantly change, and we need to change with the changing needs of the organisation to stay competitive, as an organisation, and as an individual”, concludes Dieter.
The gist of the talk for me: Now is the time to rethink standard role models in a project in order to shape the profession in 2030. AI will support, but cannot compete with the human intuition, passion, and creativity of a project manager.
Olivier Lazar, one of the very few people in the world holding each PMI certification, made an inspiring talk about the role and the need of the sponsor in a project.
“41% of projects fail because there is a lack of sponsorship”. Especially in Change Management the role of the sponsor is inevitable. The project manager does not have the credibility to effectively sponsor change and convince negative influential stakeholders.
Furthermore, he stresses a vital point: “The project charter is a contract between the organisation, the sponsor, and the project manager. It is the accountability of the sponsor to write and own the project charter”. This is sometimes forgotten. Olivier reminds us that the Initiation Process Group of the PMBOK 6th is owned by the Sponsor.
Now I am looking forward to a great 2nd day.
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How do you multiply value from attending the EMEA Congress this year?
All conferences and technology festivals I have been to specialized in a specific field of technology or market, which I deem not to be my core field of expertise. Attending these events, I took the initiative to learn from the best. It helped me to put the work I was doing as PMO into perspective. Most importantly, my communication with experts on projects has become more effective. I believe this was mostly due to the fact that I made an effort to show genuine interest in the complex work they were doing.
That will be different this year at the PMI EMEA Congress. It’s a first for me to attend a PMI Conference. I am expecting an energy boost; a wave I want to keep on surfing. The difference now: the subject matter of the conference is not the field of expertise my current project as PMO is embedded in (Logistics and Flows). I expect limited enthusiasm of the project team in receiving detailed conference reports or being confronted with a healthy portion of PCSD (post-conference stress disorder - John Bonini offers some advice to avoid afflicting your team after such events in his blog post).
I thought about three things that will help me to preserve my enthusiasm, share my experience bit by bit, whilst not afflicting anyone around me:
1. Commitment from management to present my top 5 take-aways in 4 weeks time
Advice and expert knowledge picked up from speakers, workshops, or conversations during a conference tend not to have a daily-news-type expiry date. I requested to present to management a couple of weeks after the event, sufficient time to step of the conference roller-coaster, reflect on what I have experienced, and bounce back some ideas with project team members.
Furthermore, „knowing you will be required to present the information you are gaining at a conference with the team back at the office can help you focus on takeaways and practical interpretations of what’s being presented, instead of what you don’t like or the lacking presentation skills of the presenter", as Lee Odden puts it in his blog.
2. Create and populate a diary of quotes, pictures, slides, notes, and key take-aways
I have set up a digital workbook, which will let me organize all the data I collect, including business cards that will be exchanged. I want to be able to refer back to a given information instantly. Setting up the workbook prior to the conference lets me populate it live and at the end of each day, so nothing slips my mind.
3. Multiply the value of the conference by sticking to some established advice
Scanning some very useful blog articles on how to make advice stick, it's all about sharing your experience in any form suitable to your target audience, formal or informal. As a project manager I know you are trained in knowing what words, voice, and situation to choose best to get your message across. A coffee or a lunch sets a good scene for me.
Do you have any advice on how to multiply value from attending PMI EMEA Congress? Comment below and let the community now.