Guten Tag, PMI world!
Thirty-one days ago…
A totally unexpected email popped into my Inbox. An email that really made my day!
As a long-time PMI volunteer, leader and speaker, I attended several PMI events in many countries. Every one of them gave me valuable opportunities to learn, share, network, and indeed grow in the profession.
Allow me to rewind another 30 days…
Online information on the PMI EMEA Congress was very inviting and exciting. Historic Berlin, the venue, was even more enticing. However, with no direct volunteer role to play here, I was resigned to follow the event over social media.
The surprise email changed all that. PMI was inviting me to cover the EMEA Congress onon Soci Media, to interact with peers and provide live social media updates. Here was a chance to let the entire PMI community get a taste of the conference virtually!
Tamil, my mother tongue and the oldest living language, has a famous phrase that roughly translates to “Will you refuse a reward to eat sweet, delicious sugarcane?”
Of course, you wouldn’t. Neither would I!
A hectic few weeks required collating documentation and applying for my Schengen visa, buying flight tickets, and booking a hotel room.
Landing at the Tegel airport, I was impressed with three well-known German traits put into practice: Speed, efficiency, and thoroughness. Immigration processing, baggage collection, and the taxi lines were a breeze. Traveling to the hotel, I couldn’t help notice the clean roads, plus the quaint mixture of modern skyscrapers and historic buildings.
Let me fast forward back to the present.
Here it is. Day One of the big event! I’m really excited!
I really look forward to joining my able team members, Priya Patra and Emily Luijbregts in taking you, our valued PMI community member in front of, and behind the scenes of PMI EMEA Congress 2018.
We will cover the key points made by speakers in all key sessions, interview speakers, chat with your peers, and maybe even post a quiz/trivia question or two.
We will do this over Social Media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, as well as through this blog.
Stay tuned to get continuous updates all through the day!
Meanwhile, have a great day, or as they say in German, “Ich wünsche ihnen einen wunderbaren Tag!”
Today, I plan to attend and cover these great sessions:
What I've learnt at #PMIcon17
Education and Training,
Human Aspects of PM,
PM & the Economy,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Agile, Best Practices, Career Help, Change Management, Communication, Communication, Documentation, Education and Training, Generational PM, Human Aspects of PM, Human Resources, Innovation, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Lessons Learned, Mentoring, PM & the Economy, PM Think About It, Reflections on the PM Life, Stakeholder, Strategy, Talent Management, Volunteering
It's been a week since #PMIcon17 started and it's been a time to reflect on a few things that were really visible to me during the conference that I think is valuable to share with the wider community.
Personally, I felt that the Conference not only highlighted the opportunities that we have as Project Managers to learn and develop as stronger Project Managers but also showing the possibilities that are available in the PM world to contribute and grow.
Where will I be going from now? I'll be continuing to connect with everyone that I met to make sure that we can continue collaborating and sharing knowledge. I'll also be making sure that my 'contribution' to the Project Management industry remains involved, active and giving back just as much as I have been learning!
What will your contribution be? How can we collaborate together?
I've just finished my final slot on the "Ask the Expert" booth and it's been a jam packed morning! The overriding theme this morning has been coaching people to understand what their value is and what they really want from their careers and lives. It's been a really interesting journey to see how people want to develop and progress in their professional careers and how differently that this looks across the Project Management spectrum. Here's a quick summary of who I met with today*:
Here's some pictures from today:
*Please note all names have been changed for privacy reasons.
I thought I would add to David's post "I've Learned..." because I feel it's always nice to have some key takeaways from peoples' experiences to, shall we say, leap-frog past those things ourselves? We don't want to learn EVERYTHING from our own mis-steps along the way...
So what can I share that might help a few souls out?
- that you can ALWAYS learn something new from another person, no matter their age, education, background, or experiences.
- that diversity matters - diversity in all ways - when it comes to assessing challenges and finding their solutions.
- that in times of change and uncertainty, the best thing you can do for the people around you is to be open, honest, and to help them see why and how they still matter - how they've contributed to what once was, how they can help shift through the change, and how they will continue to provide value moving forward.
- that if you trust and give people the opportunity to step up to higher expectations, and provide them the necessary support they need (tools, training, moral support, backing, or other), they will rise to the challenge.
- that it's okay to be wrong, and
- that it's better to say no when your plate is full, than to think you can do it all, AND that people will understand, especially if you open up and choose to tell them why.
For this last point, I find it can be one of the most difficult ones to stick with.
I am passionate about so many things, and I love to see positive change, in our working environments, and in the world too. So, when people ask me if I can volunteer to help them do something, my heart and mind are often quick to say "YES"...
Not only is this not healthy, it is not a reality when we have family, when we would like to care for ourselves, and when we still need to pay the bills. So, be careful with what you say yes to, and balance that volunteer time with everything in your life.
I've deliberately said no to many things of late, and a few more where I said, maybe - in a few months...when (and if) the waters calm!
I'll be sharing other lessons around engaging your teams, collaboration and lean processes that will increase the performance within your organization, when I present on Sunday, Oct. 29, 4:45...you can find more details about my session here.
What have you learned that you might share?
If you'd like to discuss anything in particular with me, please book an appointment with me at the Ask the Expert booth during the following times. (And if you miss this chance, or won't be there? Book a time with me anyways...)
Saturday, Oct 28th: 3:00 to 4:30
Sunday, Oct 29th: 10:00 to 12:00
Monday, Oct 30th: 9:00 to 12:00
Looking forward to meeting you there!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: