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
Marjorie Anderson
David Maynard
Fabio Rigamonti
Emily Luijbregts
Priya Patra
Karthik Ramamurthy
Stephanie Jaeger
Moritz Sprenger
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield
David Davis
Andrew Craig
Lorelie Kaid
LORI WILSON
Kiron Bondale

Past Contributers:

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

Recent Posts

Crowd Sourced Inspiration

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

Agility, Generativity, Terrific TED, and a Sparkling Shiny Surprise! Terrific Third Day of #PMIEMEA19

Dia daoibh ar maidin! (“Good morning all” in Irish/Gaelic)

Agility, Generativity, Terrific TED, and a Sparkling Shiny Surprise!

These phrases bring out my key learnings from what I felt was a terrific third day of #PMIEMEA19 at delightful Dublin.


Agilely Vaulting Over Waterfalls – Sripriya Narayanasamy and yours truly.

My day three started the same way that day two had ended: Presenting an EMEA Congress session on a completely different topic..

Many PMs mistakenly think that Agile and Waterfall are like oil and water that don’t easily mix, However, as Jesse Fewell, Agile Evangelist once wrote, “Many of us have been told that agile approaches are an all-or-nothing collection of techniques. However, true agility is defined by the agile manifesto… Don’t fall into the trap of only-this and only-that. A little agile can help anyone!

I presented two stories of Walter the Waterfall PM and Agata the Agile PM to highlight eight points on how Agile techniques can be used in Waterfall projects and vice versa:

  • Customer Engagement. Waterfalls projects see drastic drops in customer engagement after scope is defined. Increased levels of engagement can help project teams be more flexible, and avoid late-stage changes which can be extremely expensive!
  • Minimum Viable Features (MVFs) to deliver phased Minimum Viable Products (MVPs): Project Managers can get great results from grouping the customer’s highest-priority features into shorter project phases. This way, the clients actually get quicker value for money.
  • Avoid the ICU! Incomplete, Unclear, and Complex scope can be perilous for projects. Walter could effectively leverage user stories for the most critical 20% of requirements to derive advantages for 80% of project scope.
  • Poker, Anyone? Inaccurate Time, Cost, and Resource estimates imperil project success. Waterfall PMs can leverage the power of the “Wisdom of Crowds” to increase the accuracy of estimates, stakeholder buy-in, and sponsor confidence.
  • Meetings are events where the minutes are kept and the hours are lost! Countless hours are lost in unproductive meetings full of long monologues, arguments, and conflicts. Walter could derive considerable benefits from the agile technique of short, effective stand-up meetings.
  • Bonus Methods: I also briefly mentioned Ownership, Kanban Boards, “Just-enough” documentation, and Gamification as Agile techniques that could be effectively leveraged.

  • Don’t miss the forest for the trees: When there are several agile projects/sprints within a program, teams risk the possibility of the “big picture.” Kick-off meetings and frequent reinforcement of the overall program goals can really help.
  • Don’t Desert Design Discipline: Design discipline could be a casualty in environments of extremely high pace. Increased peer reviews and quality checks could go a long way in improving the quality of deliverables.
  • The Deadly Disappearing Design Dependencies! Missing dependencies between Agile projects, programs and sprints can be really deadly. Increased coordination between teams could help reduce these issues.


Creating Collective Value through Generativity: A Leadership Approach for Complexity

Stefano Setti, President of the PMI Northern Italy Chapter spoke of the challenges project managers face in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. Emphasizing the difference between “Complex” and “Complicated, he spoke of the relevance of Complex Adaptive Systems to project managers.

The speaker then discussed “Generativity,” a term coined by Erik Erikson in the book “Childhood and Society.” Generativity denotes “a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation.”

Comparing Erikson’s work with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he said that both conceive a person as moving from a “self-centered” to “other-centered” orientation.

Stefano emphasized the importance of “Servant Leadership” in Agile projects, mentioning 12 key virtues.

He concluded by stating that the real mark we can leave as leaders is to have project team members grow and flourish.


Closing General Session with Roberto Toledo and TED Talks curated for PMI

Roberto Toledo, member of PMI’s Board of Directors, opened the closing session.

Stating the vision statements of PMI (Making Ideas a Reality) and TED (Ideas worth spreading), he mentioned that this partnership was indeed “a match made in heaven!”

Session attendees were then treated to five fabulous TED speakers, each enchanting us with amazingly amazing and practically useful ideas.

I’ve added brief summaries. You can view the entire talks in their entirety through the YouTube links I’ve added for each speaker:

Mona Chalabi emphasized the importance of being skeptical about numbers. She said it was important to determine whether one could see uncertainty and relate to data. She said it was also critical to check the veracity of data by carefully looking at whether sample sizes were representative.

Mona also showed us excellent examples of how information could be effectively presented to us, including, visuals, voice, animation, and so on.

Interested? Watch a full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwwanld4T1w

Anab Jain started with the startling statement, “I visit the future. Not one future, but many possible futures. I don’t have a time machine!” She spoke about how she’s almost like the Avengers’ Dr. Strange, working to visualize many possible outcomes of the future based on current trends.

Anab gave us details of how she created a case study of a possible future lawsuit based on trends in genetics, insurance rates, and crime.

Fascinated? Watch more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYjWLqE_cfE

Mark Pollock & Simone George This amazing couple’s extremely inspirational and moving story brought most in the audience to tears. Simone had met Mark when he was blind. They fell in love and married. Tragedy struck when Mark fell from a second-story window, taking him to the doorsteps of death.

Mark and Simone narrated the extraordinary story of how he miraculously survived. He spoke about how realism, determination, and an undying spirit helped him achieve what doctors had said was impossible. He exhorted attendees to follow his mantra: “When the going gets tough, succeed as a REALIST rather than fail as an OPTIMIST!”

You can watch and get inspired by this amazing story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvfydcUeXls

Julia Dhar spoke passionately on the importance of healthy debate. She spoke about her journey from her early stages of debating to being a motivational TED speaker. While it was important to convince the audience of one’s extreme position, she said it was key to be “intellectually humble.”

Julia exhorted project managers to disagree respectfully, separate ideas from personalities, accept that they could be wrong, and find common ground.

Learn more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phgjouv0BUA

Ingrid Fentell Lee spoke about her experience as a design student. She narrated how terrified she felt when a group of professors examined all her design work in a full year. When one of the professor’s verdict was “your work gives me joy”, she could not quite understand.

Ingrid said there was a difference between “joy” and “happiness. While “joy” was a little "feel good right now, " “happiness” was "feel good over a longer period of time." Joy could begin with sensual insights such as pops of color, rounded shapes, patterns, and symmetry

She stressed the importance of actively and frequently looking for several small moments of joy rather than keep searching for elusive long sequences of happiness.

To get more on Ingrid’s excellent advice, you can watch her talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_u2WFTfbcg


The session ended with a very sweet surprise. Roberto Toledo spoke about PMI’s “Global Celebration of Service” pledging 50,000 hours towards the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) 17 Sustainable Goals.

What had happened in under five months? Watch here: https://youtu.be/jHvny4MlYPw and here: https://youtu.be/FfOz9s0frlg

If you didn’t watch, you really missed something!

Roberto Toledo announced that PMI volunteers all over the world had exceeded the 12-month goal of 50,000 hours of Celebration of Service in under five months! “We’re doubling in Dublin,” he said, adding that the new goal was now 100,000 hours.

Confetti was showered on the delegates and hundreds of coloured balloons of various descended on us. We erupted with applause. For a while, we all became kids, throwing the balloons at each other and enjoying every moment of the sweet surprise!


I hope you have enjoyed the continuous coverage of the EMEA Congress 2019 by our team of Correspondents Team of Emily Luijbregts, Stephanie Jaeger , Moritz Sprenger, and me, Karthik Ramamurthy.

In addition to tweets by @PMInstitute @ProjectMgtCom and @PMIEvents, we provided regular updates through Twitter handles of our team members, @heykristinj, @Em_the_PM,  @StephanieJaeg10, @moritz_sprenger and yours truly, @KarthikPMO.

Please follow, like, comment, and retweet our continuous coverage on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KarthikPMO), LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/kramamurthy) and Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/forkarthik )

See you soon with a wrap-up of my overall experience with #PMIEMEA19!


Meanwhile, have a great day, or as they say in Irish, “Bíodh lá maith agat”

Keep smiling, keep shining, and keep inspiring!

Posted by Karthik Ramamurthy on: May 16, 2019 06:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

The Third Day with a Grand Finale

I can't believe the congress is over already. However there is so much we have learned, so much we need to digest.

Today I started my day by attending another session on Virtual Teams. Dr. Mike Oliver brought us the session #603 "Enhancing Virtual Project Leadership Effectiveness". He has worked many years from home and virtual teams have become second nature to him. However globally more and more PMs realize they can work anywhere, anytime. After laying out for us why we are having more and more virtual teams and what the characteristics are of virtual teams are, he helped us think through the challenges of virtual teams. The 3 interactive functions of the Complexity Leadership Theory 

- administrative Leadership

- adaptive Leadership 

- enabling Leadership

need to be balanced and the PM needs to know when to use which and how. 

His practical tips:

1. Communication needs to be much more detailed, to ensure everyone gets the same message. Situations like the one in this video need to be avoided:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNz82r5nyUw&t=11s

2. If budget allows, it is best to meet at least once physically with the whole team as early as possible during the project.

3. Set very clear rules that touch on meeting etiquette, use of social media etc

4. Build trust and keep affirming it. 

In Session #609 "Governance: A framework for applying Agile Practices within Projects, Programs & Portfolios" Nicholas Clemens showed us that progressive elaboration has been part and parcel of the PMI Standards since the first PMBOK Guide. The use of Planning Packages helps tackle the unknowns. "Change is your job security", hence we best embrace it. Nicholas reminded us of the Movie "Dead Poet Society" and the central message that changing once standpoint can give us a totally new perspective.

In Session #614: "Collaborating with the Sales Team to delight your Customers" Neil Shorney gave us a refreshing insight into what Sales Teams and PMs think of each other, how they can complement each other and how they should work together. Sales People are not the ogres but the biggest source of information. Their job is:

1. Understand

2. Propose

3. Gain Commitment

They should provide all relevant project information through SPACE CHAMPS. If you ask the right questions following this acronym you get all the information you need. If you contact Neil through LinkedIn he will share the question list with you.

The Closing Session of the Conference was a series of TEDTalks, which were meant to build us up and help us focus on the possibilities not the problems. Often this is shackled by our belief systems and we need to overcome these. 

Mona Chalabi showed us how with 3 simple questions you can check if statistics are trustworthy or not.

1. Can you see uncertainty?

2. Can I see myself in the data?

3/ How was the data collected? - was the sample size representative? For example a sample of 600 might not be big enough if you try to assess the entire population of a country like America. Where key words defined and do all understand it the same way?

Anab Jain  visits the future for a living. No she does not have a time machine. However she and her husband are hired to imagine possible outcomes in the future. They then simulate these in extensive laboratory set-ups and simulations. With that they help clients to find ways of preventing the negative outcomes.

Mark Pollock & Simone George: Mark lost his sight with 22, when he met Simone he was "only" blind. Later he broke his back through a fall from a window. His biggest message is If you can't change the circumstances, you have to change yourselve". He is involved in amazing research and development of robotic walking aides and new approaches. He has seen the possibilities on his own body, including when well aimed electrical shocks made him be able to move his limbs again without the robotic exoskeleton. Now when he walks it is becoming less of the robot walking him and more of Mark walking. 

He stressed that the Optimist often get frustrated along the way. A Realist however accepts the brutal facts and moves on. Be a realist when the going gets tough!

Julia Dhar showed us how debate is healthy if done right. Engage yourself respectfully, separate the ideas from the person and accept that you may be wrong. If there is conflict about an idea / a situation / an issue, have a face-to-face meeting and discuss in the prescribed manner. Practice intellectual humility.

To practice this in your team you can start by devoting 10min in every meeting to debating and idea or issue.

Ingrid Fentell Lee showed us easy ways to find joy. Joy is a little short blimp of "feel good right now" as apposed to happiness which is "feel good over longer time". Joy begins with the senses. Pops of color, rounded shapes, patterns, symmetry, abundance will put joy back into your life. This will then lead to your team being more alert, more productive and happier. Each moment of joy is small, but these joyful dots add up and have many positive long term effects. Look for joy in your life, don;t chase the elusive happiness. It will come by itself.

Roberto Toledo, of the PMI Board of Directors brought us the great news that the pledged 50,000 hours of community service for the UN global sustainability programs has already been reached! The Goal has now been doubled. Lets all work together to reach 100,000 hrs - check on PMI.org for details, or ask your chapter!

Posted by Stephanie Jaeger on: May 15, 2019 06:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Wanted: You.

I've been talking to some colleagues recently about what makes a conference valuable and the overwhelming reaction has been: The audience and their participation. I've also spoken at several conferences (most recently at a national conference in the Netherlands) and the one thing that really made the event stand out to me was the quality of the questions and the feedback from the audience.

Whether you think that it's valuable or not, sometimes the 'easiest' questions are the ones that make us think the most. The definition of "why", "how" can really help others understand a unique viewpoint or difference of opinion.

As we start the ramp up to #PMICON18; there is one thing that I'd like to ask of you. Whether you are attending in person or following virtually; i'd encourage you to participate in the discussions and threads that are created. Actively discuss and question the presenters and keynote speakers with the information that you want to know and really try to share the knowledge that you have gained over the conference.

Throughout the conference, my fellow 'Ask the Experts' and I will be posting here as well as on social media (@Em_The_PM) on our experiences, how the conference is going and perhaps some insights/videos from the breakout sessions.

Is there anything that you'd like to see at the conference? Are you burning to know how the networking sessions look like? Do you want to see who the 'Ask the Experts' are? Let me know below and we can make sure that we try to cover it.

Posted by Emily Luijbregts on: September 28, 2018 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

#PMIcon17 - A round up.

I've finally arrived back in the Netherlands and it's been a whirlwind few days! I consider the "Ask the Expert" sessions to really be so beneficial to the wider community as well as the individuals involved. I wanted to provide a summary of the main things that really struck me over the weekend and some final thoughts about the conference.

Key elements:

This years session really had a few stand out areas of conversation:

  • Career advice: A lot of people wanted to talk to us for career advice as well as knowing where to go next or issues that they had in their career
  • Growth plans/ development: This was a really hot topic for a lot of people. They were struggling to know how to establish a development plan and knowing what they really wanted from their career.
  • Transitioning to a Scrum Master/working in an agile environment: This came from several people who weren't sure where to start or where to go in their agile career. There seems to be a gap between when you have your training and when you really start using agile in your daily career.

Key areas of advice given:

  • Your value: Spend some time understanding who you are, what talents you have and more importantly, what you want to do in your career. Then make any move that you want to make
  • Investigate! Research your local job market, look at the area that you're in and see what's available and open to you. Reach out to some recruiters in your area and see what's available.
  • PMI Chapters: Look at your local PMI Chapter and see what they can do to help. Network with your other Project Management colleagues and see what opportunities you can get from them.
  • Talk to your HR: Ask them what's available for you at your company and tell them what/ where you want to go.

Looking forward at your career and path is the most important thing that you can do for your professional development. You need to understand and analyse within yourself what you want to do and what's important for you. 

Did you attend #PMIcon17 and did you enjoy it? Did you come to the Ask the Expert area? 

Posted by Emily Luijbregts on: November 01, 2017 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

#PMIcon17 - Day 2

Today has been a really hectic day but it's been a really exciting day of listening to some great Project Managers and coaching them to a solution. One the best things about being part of the "Ask the Expert" group is being able to see so many different personalities and with such a different array of problems that they need help with. Here's a quick summary from today:

  • Dan: He's working in a government environment that has very limited project management skills and wants to help his organization implement better project management processes. We spoke about how he could sell this to his stakeholders and some pitfalls that he needed to be aware of. He's the only PMP in his organization and is trying to make the case for having his colleagues become PMP certified.
  • Sally: She was a technical project manager who was trying to transition into a Scrum Master. She was getting her certification but just didn't know where to start! How do you start being agile when you're struggling to see where to begin! We went through the initial processes that she could start with and additionally what she needed to NOT do. We then spoke about some of the issues that she's having in transitioning and what she's able to control in her transition.
  • Thomas: Thomas needed some career advice. He's a highly academic individual who works in a company that will not allow him to progress or develop. There's limited opportunity for him to develop and despite repeated requests to his managers, there's been no support or acknowledgement. We went through his options and how he can make himself more employable. We also discussed the various opportunities that networking with his local PMI chapter could provide.
  • Ruth: I spent an hour talking with Ruth about what she can do to 'find the love' in Project Management. She's been a job that isn't ideal for the past 5 years and the company is fine, the job is fine, but she's not enjoying it. We discussed what she enjoys doing and what she can do moving forward to improve her current situation and working environment. It was great to be able to leave Ruth with a list and plan of things that she can actively do moving forward.
  • Miguel: Miguel was struggling with his agile transformation and has been trying to go through the agile change with his traditional organization. We discussed the steps that he can do to help with the change management that he needs to do.

We've also had a few 'drop ins' on the couch as well which has been really fun to work together in a group and do some group coaching with people. We've spoken about: Closed industries and what you can do to break through, communication issues between cultures, working in a corrupt environment and how to talk to Senior Management.

We're going to be around tomorrow in case you want to drop by!

Posted by Emily Luijbregts on: October 29, 2017 04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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