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
Danielle Ritter
Marjorie Anderson
David Maynard
Kristin Jones
Fabio Rigamonti
Emily Luijbregts
Priya Patra
Karthik Ramamurthy
Stephanie Jaeger
Moritz Sprenger

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
David Davis

Recent Posts

How does your behaviour support you in achieving your goals? - PMIEMEA19 Recap

Networking, knowledge and insight: PMIEMEA19

Final Summary of PMI EMEA Congress 2019 – my 3 top Lesson’s Learned

Round up of Videos from PMIEMEA19

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

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 (14)

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:

“Most of people define themselves through what we actually do: I am a Project Manager, I am a Fire Fighter, I am a School Teacher. Also, most organisations define themselves through what they sell, and not what customer values.” Jamil Qureshi told the story of a Fire Fighter, who, given the question what he did for a living, said: “I let the future take place, I build communities”. He believes that if he saves a family or a house from a fire, that family can live happy lives and the house will remain to exist. The firefighter defines himself through what he thinks and feels, rather than what he actually does, namely fighting fire.

 

Jamil made an important point: It is all about perspective. We are drawn to our most dominant thoughts and feelings. If we change the way we think and feel about something, we can change the way we act.

 

 

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.

 

Denis continues to investigate how Design Thinking will enrich project management processes and will talk again at the global Congress in September. 

 

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.

 

The sponsor is a tool to the project, a good project manager applies this tool effectively in their projects.

 

 

Now I am looking forward to a great 2nd day.

 

Don't forget to follow my fellow Community Correspondents for updates during PMI EMEA 2019: Emily, Stephanie, and Karthik.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn we will be covering the sessions live so you don’t miss a thing!

Posted by Moritz Sprenger on: May 14, 2019 03:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

#PMICon18 Ask the Experts

Several of the experts have created graphics that illustrate areas they can help with.  I didn't want to be left out, so here's mine!   Think about making a reservation (online here) to talk to one of us or just stop by and see if there's a slot open.  

We'd love to talk to you. 

-- Dave

Posted by David Maynard on: October 01, 2018 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Troubled Project? #PMICON18 Ask the Experts!

Ask the Experts - #PMICON18

#PMICON18 is just a week away now!   I’d like to encourage all of you to visit “Ask the experts” either by skipping a session or during a break.  You can pre-schedule time online

-----------------------------

Life after NASA

I’ve rambled on about NASA and the great things I learned while growing up there in other writings.  But, I’ve had a life after NASA too.  A group of us decided we could help troubled projects, programs and operations turn-around their troubles. So, we left NASA-Houston (and other places) and moved to Orlando, Florida (why not?) to start a company. 

Most of our work came from companies both large and small that had won US Government contracts and weren’t able to perform.  Why them?   Because there are very strict Federal procurement laws in-play that pretty much insist (legally) that for a fixed price contract, you MUST finish what you started.  It doesn’t matter what it takes, it must be finished and meet the customer’s needs.

At first, that was our niche.  We’d swoop in, understand the problems, give the poor company a bid for our services, put some of our key people in place and do our best to recover the project.  We never had one fail!  It was clear that after a few years of doing this, we saw the same reasons for failure over and over.  There were a few creative ways in which companies crashed while performing a project but not many. 

Well, word spread.  We started taking on commercial contracts (a different world from Federal contracts).  Surprise!  Commercial companies made nearly the same mistakes in their projects and programs as Government-suppliers.  There’s a continuity there, that would be an interesting study to do.  

Mistakes that stick out in my mind:

  • A software company decided that no existing database application would fit their needs, so they decided they needed to write their own database system
  • A systems integrator decided to save money off the final sale price by NOT conducting inspections of custom items that were ordered from vendors.  They just bolted things together and *knew* it would work.
  • A large supplier to the project was “bankrupt and didn’t know it.”  Neither did the people that had the contract to include their product in the final deliverable.  They just couldn’t believe it when I told them.  We ended up buying the bits and pieces and hiring key employees. 

What’s common in these stories? (there are many, many  more)

  1. Where is the boss?  Where is the Project Manger?  Where are the executives?  “Oh, we never talk to them except during our every 6-week review cycles. “
  1. The executive desire to never hear bad news.  Or, “Don’t tell me what your problem is, tell me what your problem was.”  This is totally wrong-headed approach.  Executives exist to knock down the problems workers are having, not to shove them back at them. 
  • This created a saying on our team “Bad news is good; Good news is Great" (the subject of a PMI paper I wrote years ago)
  • You as the PM – NEED to hear bad news, all the bad news there is!  If you don’t hear it, you can’t do anything about it. 
  1. Poor / no status tracking Many of these companies had a very high-level Gantt chart that they met once a month about and everyone said it was fine.  Risks were not discussed, budget was not discussed.  (see item one above).

The flip side of this was companies that had people planning down to the minute every action the project team should take.  Bathroom breaks, lunch… whatever.  That’s just plain silly and won’t work.

  1. No or poor communication between groups working on the project.   It was common on troubled projects that one group had no idea what another group was doing.  Yet, both groups had components that needed to work together for the product of the project to work.
  1. No WBS:  This used to get me very hot under the collar.  It clearly points to nearly zero project planning.
  1. No cost accounting: No idea what was spent for what or when.  Overrun?  Maybe.  Funds remaining to help a failing area?  Maybe…

These are all true.  I could get a group of people on the phone to explain these and much, much more. 

I’d better stop now – I want to create a nice chart like my best buddy EM THE PM did.

-- Dave  (or DAM PM [my initials are DAM] not to be outdone by EM the PM) 

 

Posted by David Maynard on: September 30, 2018 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Backward Expert

backward

This is a backward blog posting!

This will be my final post before leaving for Chicago tomorrow morning.  So, I wanted to do this one more like the way I think about things – BACKWARDS.  Instead of telling what areas I can help with, I thought I’d ramble about what areas I like to talk about!  I guarantee it would be an entertaining discussion.  Just make select an open appointment here:  then wander over, say hello and lets just talk about one of MY favorite things.

1.  Project failure.   I know more than I ever wanted to know about this.  There was a group of us that Left NASA at the same time and moved to Orlando to start a company dedicated to turning around troubled projects, programs and operations.  When we started, we thought we’d seen just about all the problems that project can get into.  WRONG.  For the next 5 or 6 years we only worked on turning around projects that were at least 100% over budget, perhaps 3 or 4 years late, had irate customers… or simply failed to deliver anything of value. 

It’s not easy to judge project failure!  EVA won’t do it.  It’s a very subjective thing.  “Could anyone have done better in the same situation?” is a basic test, but there are many more. 

So, we fired, hired, replaced, improved… bought contracts, had contracts “novated” to us, and were very successful ending up with a stand-along building and 70 employees.  There’s a lot of trouble out there!   There were project mistakes made that I didn’t think cold be made.   We worked on Casino projects, entertainment projects, airline projects, and many other types.  

Our group learned a lot!  I love to talk about a failed project and how it can be recovered.  Number 1: be ready for stress.  We called being personally ready “the full wax job.”  Exercise, diet, mental toughness, how you dress…  no kidding!  But you need to be prepared.

2.  Working with a team that has widely diverse skills.  If the team gets diverse enough, sometimes you can’t understand what the other people are saying.  I’ve managed teams with theoretical physicists, mathematicians, brilliant engineers and more – of course, they were totally convinced they were ALL CORRECT, don’t even think about doubting their work.  This was great fun.  I loved it and learned a whale of a lot about things they didn’t teach me (a humble engineer) in school.

3. Project risk.  How to think about it, how to predict it, how to anticipate it, how to communicate it, how to budget for it, how to look for the often-neglected positive risk.  It’s CRITCAL that project managers and their teams master this skill.   I’ve had friends die a horrible death  because we (in a larger sense) didn’t manage risk well.

4.  Have the courage of your convictions.  Tell people what you believe, tell the bosses what your project team believes.  Don’t fall into the trap of “drinking your own bath water” or the “echo chamber.” 

Well, I feel better!   Wander over and chat with me!

-- Dave Maynard

GOING TO THE 2017 PMI GLOBAL CONFERENCE IN CHICAGO?  

Don’t forget about ASK THE EXPERTS!

Stop by and talk to Dave Maynard or one of the other experts.  There’s more information about it at https://tinyurl.com/y7ff8f3g

Sign Up Now

Posted by David Maynard on: October 26, 2017 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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