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?
Now that I've had a couple of days at home after the close of PMI Global, I wanted to reflect on the positive things I observed, heard and otherwise inferred about PMI, based on the actions of the organization. Of course, this is my own opinion, but I'm hoping many of you will also agree with me!
Overall I feel that PMI has finally, officially, opened the door on true agility and applying flexible, adaptable project management processes, in our ever-increasing world of ongoing change.
I believe this is a very positive shift, and not only validates the many methodologies that exist, but also allows project managers to be at peace with the methodologies they choose to apply to their unique situations.
I have to admit that, in previous years, it seemed there was a bit of resistance to change in methodologies by PMI - something I disagreed with. There seemed to be a hold out, to hang on to the remnants of a waterfall-driven approach to projects.
As a change agent, I find this understandable, given the heavy focus of past issues of PMI's PMBOK and standard practices that have given steady direction to many a project manager over the years. In their defence, why change a good thing, right?
But, as I always encourage, change is here, and change is good! It is our only way to continue to succeed in our changing world!
I believe these shifts started a while ago, with the exploration of Agile, and then the introduction of the Agile Certified Practitioner, alongside the other certification options. I would say, however, that the application of Agile methodologies had still been referred to as something practiced primarily in the IT sectors. As if agility is not relevant for everyone - but this, too, I see continuing to shift, as all agile things should.
With the inclusion of some language around agility in the newest PMBOK edition, there seems to be more acceptance that agility is more of a way to work through any type of project - with collaboration, flexibility, and iteration - so that we can simply achieve the best solutions, and deliver those valued benefits each of our customers want and need. With this, I can agree - and it doesn't stop with Agile.
Upon being asked to partake in the Expert series, and with the acceptance of my presentation abstract (focused on Lean approaches), it became even more apparent that PMI is moving to a world of supporting Change in the project management world.
The entire conference was framed around "Difference Makers, Change Makers" - asking all of us how we will forge new paths moving forward. The lineup of presentations included highlights about many different approaches, including various combinations of hybrid agile, lean, and waterfall.
There was also plenty of focus on the softer side of things, including engagement, collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, and other leadership skills - to help facilitate the creation of positive team environments and applying various strategies successfully.
In all of this, I have a much stronger appreciation for PMI and it's open-mindedness to embrace such change. In its ambitions to be able to both continue to support its membership with change, and to help lead it too.
I look forward to continuing my support for the membership - whether it be through strategizing and implementing ongoing changes, by way of blogging, hosting webinars, or otherwise training and coaching folks who just might get a little lost along the way with all of these shifts.
If you want a little help, you have a way to reach me...simply connect and send me an email!
Change and collaboration are my forte, and in my opinion, the only perspectives to start with.
I urge you to open your minds, and engage with your peers - what is your opinion? And what is theirs? What is the best strategy to deliver the greatest value from the unique project that you've taken on?
And how can you work together to make your project sing?
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:
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:
You can also connect with me at:
Rethinking the Charter
Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Nontraditional Project Management,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Agile, Benefits Realization, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Complexity, Documentation, Education and Training, Facilitation, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Metrics, Nontraditional Project Management, PM Think About It, PMOs, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Delivery, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, Roundtable, Scheduling, Stakeholder, Strategy, Tools, Translations
Since I retired after 26 years in one company, I have had assignments in various PMOs in different industries. I’ve been in the energy sector, the insurance sector, credit card services, industrial/manufacturing, and now healthcare. Every industry has struggled with the project charter. What does baselining it mean? Does it ever get updated? Who should issue it? And the list goes on. And while PMOs in all these industries try to invent the perfect process – we are ignoring one important aspect.
The project charter, as defined by PMI, does not meet the needs of today’s business!
Before you call me a heretic and an incompetent – hear me out. The problem I have with the charter is it becomes a reformatting of existing information, bloated, and redundant – and it doesn’t provide the project team with the most important information it needs. Shouldn’t the charter give the team a definition of what success looks like?
I propose the charter should be extremely streamlined. After all, how many people, let along executives, will read a 14 page charter? Many charter templates contain information that is already in one artifact and will no doubt be included in another. I propose we throw away the bloated all-inclusive charter of today and replace it with a simple charter.
Project Organizational Wrapper
You need to have the organizational wrapper of project control structures. If the project pipeline has a defined Demand Process and there is a demand id, it should be in the charter. This should also be aligned to the business case information – what went into the approval, and other justifications. No need to repeat them in the charter – they already exist in a corporate database of record. If information is in two places – that doubles the risk of inconsistency, confusion, and delay.
If you have an integrated project management system (IPMS) that tracks project work in process – then that project id should be there. Projects assume titles and identify from the ideation phase through project initiation. That title, or name, should be included in the charter because that’s the lingo that has defined the initiative.
Should be results focused
Once the project is ready to kick off, the work initiative needs to be focused on the results. If your organization is mature enough to be doing Benefits Management Realization, the charter should map directly to the benefit register. The next section of the charter should be:
What does success look like?
Quite simply – what is the vision in reality? Knowing what success is far outweighs the value of several scope bullet points. The definition of success can be expressed in several ways including:
Critical success factors
The essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.
What can we do in the future that we can’t do now?
How do we measure success?
Not calling for specific key performance indicators here, but should have an idea of how we will measure success. It also provides requirements for the product and what are the critical success factors.
If you are driven by a legal requirement or an industry standard (HIPPA or an ISO requirement comes to mind) than that should be identified. The charter must identify conformation to external factors.
What benefits are being realized?
Again, if you have a mature benefits realization process, then the entire benefits quantification/qualification should be in place and your project is delivering outcomes and capabilities to realize the defined benefits.
The charter must be able to identify all the organizations that are impacted by the initiative. After all, how did you get high level estimates for the business case if you didn’t have a means of identifying organizations involved? This RACI should then be driven to know which groups need to receive and approve the charter.
What time frame is expected for the organization to start to realize benefits? Let’s avoid the charade of bottom up estimates and defining the schedule after you have all requirements defined etc. We are driven by budget cycles and funding is only approved to last so long. This isn’t to say those things can’t and shouldn’t happen, but at a Charter level – the approval has a defined end time. This also helps define the scope.
I have purposely omitted several pieces of what is considered part of a charter. Not that I don’t think they are important, I do, but they belong in defined sections of the project plan. There is no need for budget as that should already be in the business case approval – and I don’t know if it directly contributes to the definition of the outcomes and capabilities. Scope is implied in what success looks like and the Critical Success Factors. If during requirements definition, a question is raised that doesn’t directly support the definition of success, than it is out of scope. Assumptions, risks, issues, and constraints are all important, but they live elsewhere. The charter should identify the future state, not dwell on the challenges of the present state. And the charter should be a onetime document that is not modified or have addendums. It initiates the work – other artifacts ebb and flow during the project life cycle.
In closing – the purpose of the charter is to authorize the project manager to start delivering on the project. It is not to cut and paste from all over to make an all-inclusive summary of all business intelligence that justified the project. I propose to make it a lean document focused on the outcomes and capabilities and the definition of success. Items that have a workflow/life cycle (risks, assumptions, issues, etc.) do not need to be in a charter, they are taken care of elsewhere. A lean, concise, and easy to read charter allows the team to focus on delivering within the success criteria.
Please sign up for a 1:1 with me while at the PMI Global Conference! We can talk about PMOs, healthcare project management, teaching project management, or any other topic related to project management!
To schedule a 1:1, use the SIGN UP button on this page.
I have been contacted by a colleague who has a friend that is pursuing the SP-PMI certification. Is there anybody out there that has the cert that is willing to answer questions for a perspective candidate. If so, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also ask that you put a brief summary of the test content on here, so I can talk a little more intelligently on the topic. I can talk constraint, critical path, slack, lag, float and other rudimentary terminology, but I cannot get into the level of detail that I would expect to be needed to obtain the credential.
I do know one of the biggest challenges in my group is optimizing multiple schedules across projects. Things such as analyzing change across projects, determining impact to benefits realization when schedule slips, and models are opportunities for my education.