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
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Jack Duggal
Saurayan Chaki
Dan Furlong
Marcos Arias
Danielle Ritter
Marjorie Anderson
David Maynard
Laura Samsó
Cheryl Lee
Emily Luijbregts
Karen Chovan
Sarah Mersereau
Nic Jain
Lawrence Cooper
Yves Cavarec
David Davis
Deepa Bhide
Fabio Rigamonti
Gina Abudi
Kristin Jones
Michelle Stronach
Nadia Vincent
Sandra MacGillivray
Karthik Ramamurthy
Priya Patra

Past Contributers:

Catalin Dogaru
Carlos Javier Pampliega García

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Viewing Posts by Lawrence Cooper

Making a Difference: Are you ready to learn about Agile?

Categories: Agile

So we are all here at #PMICon17!

Are you ready to learn about Agile?

If so, here's a tour guide throughout the conference on sessions that may be of interest to you (besides coming and talking to me one-on-one during the Ask the Experts sessions).

Let's start at the top with Sir Tim Berners Lee on The Future of Tech.  Agile approaches are all about helping us understand solving complex adaptive problems. Sir Tim will set the stage on that one as he talks about The Internet of Things, Future of Artificial Intelligence, The Next Web Paradigm Shift, The Power of Data, Impact of Security and Privacy on the Web and Business, and into the real transformative impact these technologies are having and will have in the years ahead.

Here is a list of sessions to continue your journey - I show the session ID and title. I chose them on the basis of not pushing a proprietary tool or method, and of not being as close to pure agile topics as possible. I start all of my classes on agility with a slide about the fact we sometimes need to unlearn old things in order to learn new ones properly. This means my list does not contain any waterfall-agile hybrid sessions. I like to keep it clean!

  1. Saturday 337 W183A - Red Pill/Blue Pill: Design Thinking applied to Project Management
  2. Saturday 340 W185a - Balanced Project Management with Kanban: Maximum Control, Higher Productivity, Less Stress
  3. Saturday 358 W183a and Sunday 403-EXH - Hands-on Lab: Deep Dive into the Agile Practice Guide
  4. Saturday 362 W175 - Evolving Agile Leadership at Riot Games: A story of Challenging Convention
  5. Sunday 413 W175 – Winning! Using Improv Games to improve facilitation with teams
  6. Sunday 417-EXH – Planning and Delivering Value with an Agile PPMO
  7. Saturday 420 W183b – Six Agile Experts walk into a bar…Hours later what emerges?
  8. Sunday 426 W175 – How to use Agile Program/Portfolio Tools to Increase Project Health
  9. Monday 507 W183a – I see what you are saying: How to communicate better Visually
  10. Monday 510 W176 – Agile and Design Thinking, the perfect pairing for a successful project
  11. Monday 513-EXH – Hands-on Lab: Shaping Agile Transformation
  12. Monday 522 183c – Is the future of Project Management #NoProjects?
  13. Monday 527-EXH – Hands-on Lab: Writing Business Objectives and Quantifying Future Value

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 - FULL
  • Sunday the 29th from 3:00 to 5:00
  • Monday the 30th from 9:00 to 10:50

You can sign up here

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: October 28, 2017 07:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Maybe you need to help your people Make a Diffference

On Monday through Wednesday of this week I was teaching our PMI-ACP course in Toronto. Over the three days, as we walked among the different frameworks, methods and practices that are part of the course, a common theme started to emerge among the participants.

While the students could see the clear benefits of each framework, method or practice, they also began to recognize the challenges they faced in being successful at applying them in their organizations; Organizations that still operate under traditional management approaches.

Some of the more obvious challenge areas noted included:

  • Finance – budgeting processes would still be based on the big upfront estimates that cover multiple planning years.
    • Traditional cost accounting operates over long time horizons.  
    • The budgeting process focuses on controlling variances over focusing on what may be the right thing to do  
    • Operating and capital expenses are segregated; Often  times this I fairly arbitrary to order to meet prescribed percentages of what should be in each
    • Audit is focused on looking for the “smoking gun” rather than working with teams to avoid the smoking gun in the first place
  • Procurement – the current RFP processes rely on being prescriptive and transferring most of the risk to the vendors
    • Vendors bid to win and then use the Change Request process which often drives final costs to be two-to-three times the original bid price
  • HR – existing HR policies are primarily based on hiring to skill rather than hiring to behaviour and compensation policies are reward individual rather than team achievement
    • People are called  resources, assets and capital as if they are interchangeable like furniture and computers
    • Competition is valued over contribution to value creation
  • Executive level – see this “agile thing” as just an IT team level thing that will somehow increase the productivity of these groups but has no bearing on how their level of the organization

It is interesting to me that organizations are willing to invest in having their people learn about more agile ways of thinking and working, while they somehow believe that outside of these teams (usually within IT), that it’s OK to keep doing what they’ve always done.

The people who show up for these classes do want to do things differently because they genuinely want to make a difference. They recognize the folly of continuing to use outmoded ways of thinking that rely on prescription in an increasingly chaotic and complex world.

Yet here they are. In a class that will validate what they already have come to know about why things don’t work. Where they will learn some new ways of thinking and some new ways of working that offer the possibility of handling the complexity and chaos they know their organizations face.  

And now they have to go back to organizations that, outside of the teams that these people belong to, want to keep doing what they have always done.

The IT industry and those in the agile space have tended to focus on the team-level with their educational thrusts. There is nothing wrong with that. However, it does leave the part of  every organization that can actually make the real difference in meeting the complexity and chaos challenges to pretend that agile is a IT-team thingy. It isn’t. It’s an everyone in the organizational thingy – and that starts at the top.

Are you a leader in an organization where your teams are learning about and/or starting to use agile approaches? Do you  recognize the crucial role you will play in how successful or not these teams will be? Do you realize that in order for them to make a difference, that you will also need to make a difference by eliminating challenges such as those above?

In our course on Adaptive Leadership we refer to that part of leadership your need to be the CSR (Chief S**t Remover). Whatever impedes your teams' ability to help you achieve organizational and business agility needs to be removed. As a leader are you up to being a CSR?

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: October 26, 2017 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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: Change For Free!

This post is unabashedly about adaptability and agility.

We all want to make a difference. We also want the things we work on and create through our work to make a difference. In order for the things we create to make a difference to our business clients, they have to reflect the knowledge and insights of what is needed we gain as we work on creating products. This recognizes that we can't know everything up front. 

One of the challenges with traditional approaches is how to address change to reflect the new knowledge and insights  that the business acquires along the way. We know how it works - create a change request, fill in all the necessary sections to talk about what the change means to cost, schedule, scope. risks, who needs to approve, etc. It gets even more complicated and onerous, and expensive when we are dealing with vendors. It often makes you wonder if it's even worth the effort as most changes get rejected due to their cost or schedule implications anyway. Near the end of the project the change requests are often focused on removing things from the project to stay within budgets, timelines, or both.

In my experience, some the things that get dropped under such conditions can have significant value, while some of the things that were done early on actually had far less value, as the delivery approach is not based on an incremental highest value first model.

However, when agile approaches are practiced correctly, change can be free. No really. They can be free.

How can I possibly say that?

Let's use Scrum as the premise. When teams use Scrum they do the highest value things first. The backlog has everything they know so far about what they intend to build into the product. It is a statement of intent though - it is not cast in stone. It can be changed for the next and future Sprints based on new information, changes in team and business understanding of what is possible with the product, as well as priority changes of what is highest value by the business and the Product Owner.

The Product Owner is the one that talks to the business about what the product mus do, how long it will take to build it (the number of Sprints) and the cost. It is not uncommon to fix the number of Sprints and hence the costs at the outset. A good reason for doing this is so that everyone develops a laser-focus on what is truly of highest value first. The premise for this post is this was done.

The Sprint demo is where the business gets to see what was done so far in the latest increment of the product. They also get to reflect on the choices so far about what is in the product. Their reflection is also about what to do next.

  • They can continue based on the backlog grooming and hence the highest value items at the top of the backlog
  • They can choose to redo the priorities of what's highest value based on what is already in the backlog
  • They can choose to add new things to the backlog as highest value and hence will need to be done next

The team has a cadence to which it develops and delivers.  If you can agree on the number of total points that the product will contain based on the agreed number of Sprints, then any changes you need to make along the way, as long you drop items with the same number of points as the ones you are adding, then the actual cost of a change is free.

This is one of the ways to look at what is so paradoxically different about the thinking in agile versus traditional approaches. It forces you to really think about what matters most and to truly get the idea of being adaptable to what emerges. If something emerges that  has a higher business value than what you had previously identified then it must take precedence. 

Remember it's about what is valued most, not everything that may have value. What is valued most is based on what we currently know, which can be quite different than what we knew a month or two ago.

So whether it is an internal Scrum team, or one that as put in place through a procurement process, if you're really willing to focus on what has the highest value and willing to drop items that are of lesser value, then you should be able to make changes for free!

Jeff Sutherland, co-author of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and the Scrum Guide first suggested the idea of change for free in a class in the Netherlands in 2006.

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

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 23, 2017 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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)
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