When PMI staff moved to remote working on 12 March 2020, it quickly became apparent that the planned 30-day remote work arrangement would extend into the future, and it did. One of the areas experiencing opportunity and disruption was our professional development group, and namely, the Live Learning area that hosts in-person events. Having to postpone, cancel or reinvent the remaining year’s events was no small feat. A bright spot soon emerged: the creation of the Virtual Experience Series, or VES, featuring a fantastic line-up of talent, hosted by TV personality Tamron Hall. These speakers have relayed how the work that they do translates within the Project Economy.
PMI has a track-record of hosting virtual conferences around topics such as organizational agility, business analysis and talent & technology. In November, we took the business analysis program and invited two sports coaches to talk to the PMI community. I interviewed San Francisco 49ers coach Katie Sowers and tennis analyst Craig O’Shannessy to discuss how they use data and insights to improve the play and outcomes of their athletes. This Virtual Experience Series event is free to PMI members and can be located here https://www.pmi.org/virtual-experience-series/registration. Just register for the event to gain free access and up to 7.75 PDUs through 31 January 2021.
The Project Economy is one in which individuals have the right skills and mindsets to turn ideas into reality, no matter what type of initiative they are working on. It’s where organization decision-makers understand how to staff teams with the right skills to deliver value and drive strategic outcomes. In research conducted for the 2020 Pulse of the Profession report on “Tomorrow’s Teams Today,” project professionals rank collaborative leadership and empathy for the voice of the customer as the most essential skills for project teams.
Listening to Craig & Katie talk about their experiences, it’s evident they are more than just coaches or analysts — they are strategists. They take the whole of their experiences and break them down into increments in order to analyze performance. They are reimagining how games get played and athletes develop, and in a time where fans are not physically present and future events are uncertain. As PMI’s research shows, “fast and flexible is the name of the game for teams in The Project Economy.”
How do you view project management as a life skill? What is one day you have incorporated PM into your lifestyle? Have you applied a PM approach to a sport that you play and what have you learned from it?
If you are interested in learning more about Katie & Craig, here are two podcasts that provide a view into their stories:
One thing that I asked the community before the conference was what would like they to see during the conference? What was the best way to share the conference with you all? The feedback and answer that came from several of you was that you wanted to see various points of the conference via video. To be able to have this in a format that could be watched by everyone, I have uploaded to Youtube all of the videos and would really appreciate your feedback.
Are these the videos that you wanted to see? Would you want to see any others/different ones?
Today was another packed day and you could see that everyone was getting tired but was still energised to take part in the sessions and contribute.
Session 1: Cutting Edge Project Management: the future of Technology in Project Management - Dan Lefsky
My first session was with Dan Lefsky. I have a great admiration and respect for Dan as not only does he provide a lot of practical advice but he really goes all-out in a session including some wonderful live demos to see how things could be done in reality. During his session on: Cutting Edge Project Management: the future of Technology in Project Management, he showed possible technical solution to build out your solutions within your company. He really challenged us with how we work today and what the limitations could be in the future with regards to the reliability of data/ questioning the data that we have. This really resonated with me during the TedTalks Closing keynote as one of the presenters was talking about how we can critically look at the data and studies that we see in every day life.
Dan gave me a few minutes of his time to record a short video about his session. You can find it here.
During today's lunch session, I sat with some of my peers and discussed 'conflict resolution'. This came about as one of the table was working during lunch on an escalation and asked the table: How would you handle this sort of situation? Where a vendor is more focused on the contract than delivering the project? It really gave a lot of valuable insight into how other Project Managers would handle the situation and we had quite a lively debate!
I also managed to catch up with Laurel and got her insight into the conference, you can view the video here
Ted Talks - Closing Keynote:
I will first admit that I am a massive fan of TED Talks and regularly use them to learn about new topics/interesting topics. During this closing keynote, PMI and TED partnered together to cover a series of talks that covered every aspect of Life, Career and the possibilities of the future.
This end to the PMIEMEA Conference was not just an inspiring end to a fantastic conference but also an amazing opportunity to be inspired to what is really possible.
In the final closing, we found out that the goal that PMI had set itself at the start of the year to record 50,000 hours of volunteering had been met ALREADY! So they announced that it was going to be increased to 100,000 hours. I really hope that you'll get involved in the Year of the Volunteer to be able to contribute to the UN Goals. This is my video of volunteering for PMI when I was in Philadelphia earlier this year.
Over the next few days, I'll be writing a summary post of my time at PMIEMEA19, so if you have any questions, please feel free to write them below and I'll answer them in the summary post.
Do you want to know what the food was like? What was it like to network with so many people? How were the breaks? There's nothing off limits!
The Third Day with a Grand Finale
Education and Training,
Human Aspects of PM,
Nontraditional Project Management,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Best Practices, Change Management, Communication, Complexity, Education and Training, Ethics, Generational PM, Human Aspects of PM, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Mentoring, Nontraditional Project Management, PM Think About It, PMI, Reflections on the PM Life, Social Responsibility, Stakeholder, Talent Management, Teams, Tools, Virtual Teams, Volunteering
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:
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:
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!
Interesting how even at a conference, where you mapped out your session attendance, everything can change suddenly. In this case it made for a slightly different, yet fun day.
Initially I had wanted to start my day attending one of 3 offsite sessions that were on offer: A visit to the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). Since I worked the first 24 years of my career in the medical field and the RCSI won an award last year during the PMI Award Gala, I really wanted to attend this outing. However the offsite sessions are very popular and I was late trying to register. So I put my name on the waiting list. The waiting list was only for the Session at the Teeling Distillery. So I kept my fingers crossed and waited. Late last night I got an email, informing me that I had managed to get onto the Distillery Tour. So both @Emily & myself got to take part in this treat.
Did you know that there was a time when Dublin had over 40 distilleries, and then there was a time there was none? Until Teeling decided to open a small distillery again in Dublin in 2012. The tour takes you right into the distillery and you can see the entire process from end to end.
Did you know that Irish Whiskey is triple distilled, Scottish Whisky (note the difference in spelling) is double distilled and American Bourbon is only distilled once? Did you know that Whiskey gets its color from the wood of the casks it is stored in, while it matures? That's why older whiskey has a darker color.
We learned all about the 5 step process of making whiskey and the different kinds of whiskey. What is the difference between Blend, Small Batch, Single Grain and Single Malt. In the end we got to taste 3 of the Super Premium Whiskeys Teeling is famous for.
We were back to the Dublin Convention Center in time for lunch. I used the lunch break for more networking and meeting new people. One of my techniques is that I often either open a new table and sit there waiting to see who will join me, or purposely go to a table where I know nobody and join them. You end up meeting wonderful people and having deep discussion about project management in general, the sessions attended during the conference or your experience in your career as a project manager.
In the afternoon I attended a session by Dirk Doppelfeld and Nataliya Wiedemeyer about creating your virtual Band. Virtual Teams have their own challenges and the fact that you do not see each other face to face brings a whole lot of unique issues. It is very important that you pay special attention to and effort to getting to know each other, setting clear rules, reconfirming peoples attention and scheduling time for bonding. Dirk & Nataliya shared a set of 11 processes that help you assess the Virtual Team Maturity and position yourself for better collaboration. A great and practical session!
During the afternoon break I got into a discussion with Jim Snyder about progress in the medical world and how robotic surgeries are being done. He has amazing knowledge about it and it was great to discuss with him.
Unfortunately that made me miss the beginning of the next sessions and I found all the 3:15pm sessions full to capacity. So I was unable to attend any session. Instead I had another great discussion with Dirk Doppelfeld about Project Management Training, REPs and our experiences with classroom and virtual training.
As Jim Snyder said during the opening sessions, PMI is about the people. I could not agree more, even PMI Conferences are also all about the people. You meet amazing colleagues and peers, you have deep discussions with strangers.
The day ended on a high note again, we had the #PMI50 celebration party. It was good fun with great food, great drinks - lots of Guiness - and fun entertainment.
And true to his word Sunil Prashara was there, mingling with all of us, enjoying himself and chatting with many of the delegates.
What a great day at the conference! Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
Let us know if you want us to talk in more detail about some of the sessions we attended or those we want to attend tomorrow.