Project Management

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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) or PMI® Global Summit, 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
Julie Ho
Heather McLarnon
Laura Schofield
Michelle Brown
Kimberly Whitby

Past Contributors:

Johanna Rusly
April Birchmeier
Nikki Evans
Dalibor Ninkovic
Dr. Deepa Bhide
Chris DiBella
Nic Jain
Nicholas Sonnenberg
Karen Chovan
Jack Duggal
Catalin Dogaru
Priya Patra
Josh Parrott
Scott Lesnick-CSP
Antonio Nieto
Dimitrios Zaires
Ahmed Zouhair
Carmine Paragano
Te Wu
Scott Bain
Katie Mcconochie
Fabiola Maisonnier
Erik Agudelo
Paul Capello
Kiron Bondale
Jamie Champagne
Esra Tepeli
Renaldi Gondosubroto
Mel Ross
Laura Lazzerini
Kim Essendrup
Geetha Gopal
David Summers
Carol Martinez
Tai Cochran
Fabio Rigamonti
Archana Shetty
Geneviève Bouchard
Teresa Lawrence, PhD, PMP, CSM
Randall Englund
Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Moritz Sprenger
Mike Frenette
O. Chima Okereke
David Maynard
Nancie Celini
Brantlee Underhill
Claudia Alcelay
Sandra MacGillivray
Vibha Tripathi
Sharmila Das
Gina Abudi
Greg Githens
Joy Beatty
Sarah Mersereau
Lawrence Cooper
Donna Gregorio
Seth Greenwald
Bruce Gay
Wael Ramadan
Fiona Lin
Somnath Ghosh
Yasmina Khelifi
Erik Rueter
Joe Shi
Michel Thiry
Heather van Wyk
Jennifer Donahue
Barbara Trautlein
Steve Salisbury
Jill Diffendal
Yves Cavarec
Drew Craig
Stephanie Jaeger
Diana Robertson
Zahid Khan
Benjamin C. Anyacho
Nadia Vincent
Carlos Javier Pampliega García
Norma Lynch
Emily Luijbregts
Susan Coleman
Michelle Stronach
Sydni Neptune
Louise Fournier
Quincy Wright
Nesrin Aykac
Laura Samsó
Lily Woi
Jill Almaguer
Mayte Mata-Sivera
Marcos Arias
Karthik Ramamurthy
Michelle Venezia
Yoram Solomon
Cheryl Lee
Kelly George
Dan Furlong
Kristin Jones
Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin
Olivia Montgomery
Carlene Szostak
Hilary Kinney
Annmarie Curley
David Davis

Recent Posts

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A Glimpse into PMI Global Summit 2023: PMOs, Change Management, Strategy and Networking!

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An Open Question During the 2015 PMI Congress

An Open Question During the 2015 PMI Congress

The Blank Chalk Board

During the 2015 PMI Congress in Orlando, the ProjectManagment.com Community Engagement folks wheeled out a blank blackboard.  NOT what I expected them to do!  Then, someone with a steadier hand than I have carefully drew the PMI logo (good job too!) and then the simple statement – “Why I became a Project Manager.”  Then…. They walked away leaving various pieces of colored chalk there.  I had a ringside seat in the “Ask an Expert” area so I just watched it.

Not a Well-Stated Problem to solve! 

My first thought was: “It’s not finished!”  There’s only one of the famous W’s up there!  What about: “Who? Where? What? When? and How?”  That’s CRAZY!  I didn’t do anything about my concerns -- I watched and was quiet.  But of course, the engagement folks are 100% more socially adept than I am, so I figured this must make sense somehow.  But it’s just a statement!  No guidance, no rules, no method of grading answers!  A chill crept into my engineering brain. 

WAIT!  Perhaps someone from PMI GOC would walk out and chalk in the answer based upon some expensive scientific study.  But, no, they left it blank.  No expensive answers.  Soon, some random Project Manager wandered by and boldly chalked up a response to the statement.  (Clearly, Project Managers aren’t shy.)  Within the two days of the congress, the board filled up and there was a very interesting collection of answers left on it.  Also, I didn’t see anyone erasing their answer.   Project managers, it seems - once they have an answer, have no need of an eraser.

Why I became a Project Manager

It took me a while, but I decided to study a photograph of the board (thank you Marjorie), to see if I could make sense of the complete randomness of the answers. To attempt that, I created categories and mind mapped it.

And the answers are…

NUMBER 1: IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! 

It seems that most of us probably didn’t plan to become a project manager, but fell into it, so to speak. You weren’t originally employed to do (or manage) project work, but with time you were asked to look after a couple of projects in addition to your regular responsibilities. You haven’t received much training—if any—and your company may not have a unified method for managing projects.  These people suddenly found they were responsible for managing a project but are unfamiliar with the “art and science” of project management.   It happened to me, and it seems it was the number one response to the chalkboard’s statement

NUMBER 2: TO FUTHER ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS

It’s not clear if these are “accidental” project managers that perceive the organizations goals and wanted to lend their skills to help achieve them, or if they were directly chosen to be a PM by the big bosses to forward the organization’s goals.   Notable in these answers is: “Change the world and me too.”  I like that!

  1. To make a bigger impact to the organization
  2. Change the world and me too*
  3. Produce results; drive strategy
  4. Link IT world to end-user’s world
  5. Make a difference
  6. Company needed someone who was organized

NUMBER 3: A FUNNY ANSWER (JOLLY JOKER!)

Project Managers are people with a good sense of humor!  I really like the first one: “I wanted to predict the future and figure out how to control it.”  If’ they’ve figured that out – they’re the world’s best PM!  I’d recommend they move to Las Vegas and start gambling!   “Work Release” is also very funny (I hope).    And, I’m just a tad worried about number 5 – I’m hoping I correctly put it in the “funny” category:  “I’d rather tell than be told.”  I’ve had managers like that, I’m sure we all have. 

  1. Because I wanted to predict the future and figure how to control it 
  2. Job security
  3. Work release*
  4. Retirement plan
  5. I’d rather tell than be told

 Schultz Jolly Joker

NUMBER 4: TO BE A LEADER

People want to be a leader in their organizations and saw Project Management as the way to achieve that goal.   Number 2 is my favorite: “It’s what I was born to do.”  And none of us could ignore number 4 – “Because I love the profession”

  1. I’m a leader
  2. It’s what I was born to do*
  3. I love the ongoing challenges and change faster!
  4. Because I love the profession

NUMBER 5: TO USE SOFT SKILLS

These are great!  People with soft-skill-ability decided to be a Project Manager to use their soft skills to help their organizations and themselves.  Perhaps number 4: “I think” isn’t really a soft skill but this seemed like a good place to put it. 

  1. Because people [is] are what matter*
  2. To use my soft-skills in high-tech
  3. Big picture thinker
  4. I think!

NUMBER 6: MONEY

  1. I need[ed] the money!
  2. $ (thanks Charles!)
  3. Because PMPs bank!*
  4. Good career path

A few of these are clear to me.  But, who is Charles?  Maybe the PMO manager?  The one that stopped me dead in my tracks was number 3.  When I closely looked it seemed to say "Because PMPs bark!”  I didn’t “grep” that.  Maybe it belonged in the “FUNNY” category?  Then it looked like it wasn’t really bark, but bank.  I put it in the money category, but was still clueless.  Maybe this was a financial PM?   

It bugged me enough that, I decided to rely on the (100% more socially adept) PMI engagement folks. My question to them was: “What does PMPs Bark mean?”   The answer (thanks Kristin!) was that’s “modern talk” for PMPs make money – it's not that they "BARK"  it's that they “BANK!”  Oooooh. 

NUMBER 7: PLANNING

We all plan.  These people became PMs because they LOVE planning.   I’m not sure I LOVE it, but I do a lot of it.  And I would probably fit into the first answer: “I think in plans.”

  1. I think in plans*
  2. I love planning
  3. Love launching new programs

NUMBER 8: THE WORLD IS A PROJECT

These seem like people that have been a PM a long time and probably are PMPs.  After a while EVERYTHING becomes a project.   Typing up this blog is a project.  Uploading it to ProjectManagement.com is a project.

  1. I’m a parent so I’m already a PM*
  2. Because we are managing projects everywhere, home, work, etc.

Non-Scientific Conclusion:  

People that have a good sense of humor and are concerned with their organization’s objectives are picked to become PMs and leaders. 

Posted by David Maynard on: January 29, 2017 05:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Things That Have Worked Leading Project Teams @ NASA

This is the fifth blog in a series dealing with the challenges and excitement managing “informationally diverse teams” of experts.   My goal is to communicate the challenges, fun and “things that have worked” in managing projects team that has widely different backgrounds, experiences, education, and understandings.  Informational diversity is based on different functional, educational and industry backgrounds that constitute information and knowledge resources upon which the team draws

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/6e/c2/31/6ec2316abc09b4c67ec915981f096395.jpg

THE FIRST FOUR CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAM BLOGS:

1. Herding a group of cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas…. http://bit.ly/2cr0ddH

2. How hard is it to herd a group of cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas?  http://bit.ly/2c6n3Gv

3. Cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas *CAN* be herded.   -  http://bit.ly/2cLpS2w

4. Things that have worked leading Informationally Diverse Teams - http://bit.ly/2cfkKka

 

NASA PROJECTS

Projects are the means by which NASA explores space, expands scientific knowledge, and performs research on behalf of the nation” - from the NASA Project and Program Management handbook.  NASA/SP-2014-3405 which can be downloaded (free) http://go.nasa.gov/2chNXuO 

While the NASA project management handbook is very closely aligned with the PMBOK guide, there are some important exceptions.  One being the absolute requirement for monthly status reviews (more on this in a later blog)

PROBLEMS WITH CROSS FUNCTIONAL TEAMS

Managing a cross-functional team can be very difficult.  People are certain they are right, they KNOW they are right and everyone else just can’t see the truth.  There are many well-documented studies showing some of these frustrations.  When I give a talk on this topic, I ask people to raise their hands if they’ve experienced any of these issues.  A lot of hands get raised!

  • Cross-functional new product teams had difficulty getting their products to market (Steiner, 1972; Hackman, 1990, Dougherty 1992)
  • Innovativeness is actually lower with cross-functional teams (Ancona and Caldwell, 1992)
  • Managers express frustration with the time and resource demands of functionally diverse teams
  • Cross-functional teams often prove ineffective at capitalizing on the benefits of their informational diversity (Stasser and Titus, 1985, 1987)
  • Difficulty motivating members to work together effectively (Dumaine, 1994)
  • When groups benefit from informational diversity –  members report the experience frustrating and dissatisfying (Baron, 1990); Amason and Schweiger (1994)
  • Workgroups disagree about task content or how to do the task (Jehn, 1997)
  • Groups with members of diverse educational majors experience difficulty defining how to proceed (Jehn, Chadwick,and Thatcher, 1997)

THINGS I’VE TRIED THAT HAVE WORKED

Again, I didn’t start off knowing these things – I had a lot of mentoring (formalized), plus I failed a lot.  So these tips come from years of “falling forward.”

Number 1: Establish a sense of Mission (blog 4)

Number 2: Establish a Communications Framework That Works 

Neville Chamberlain famously established a set of war rooms in 1939.  Churchill visited the Cabinet Room in May 1940 and declared: 'This is the room from which I will direct the war'. In total 115 Cabinet meetings were held at the Cabinet War Rooms.  What were the advantages of a war room?  COMMUNICATION.  Everyone saw the same maps, the same schedules, the same plans and could talk about them.  It was “total emersion” into the project problem. 

Today there are many electronic, internet-based versions of war rooms, and they can work well.  But the physical war rooms still exist.  Google has used its war rooms for over 80 startups

Not matter what technology you use - do it – CREATE A WAR ROOM.  A central repository of information where everyone can see the same material at the same time.

Here’s a corner of one of my own war rooms from a $46-million-dollar project.  What you are seeing is actually the network diagram of the project – along with a LOT of notes, photographs of the progress to date, completed “nodes” of our network.  

 

 

MEET ME IN SAN DIEGO NEAR THE PROJECTMANAGEMENT.COM BOOTH.

MAKE AN ONLINE / EARLY RESERVATION TO TALK TO ONE OF OUR EXPERTS HERE! 

Posted by David Maynard on: September 10, 2016 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Things That Have Worked Leading Informationally Diverse Teams

This is the fourth in a series of blogs on the challenges and fun related to managing a diverse team with widely different backgrounds, experiences, education, and understandings. (Or herding Cats, Cows, Sheep, Goats, Dogs and Llamas) This type of team has a high degree of “informational diversity.” 

The first three blogs:

  1. Herding a group of cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas. (http://bit.ly/2cr0ddH) 
  2. How hard is it to herd a group of cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas? (http://bit.ly/2c6n3Gv) 
  3. Cats, cows, sheep, goats, dogs and llamas *CAN* be herded.   (http://bit.ly/2cLpS2w)

Those set up the problem that makes it sound impossible to manage.  But it’s clearly not impossible.

THINGS I’VE TRIED THAT HAVE WORKED

First off, I didn’t get this anywhere *near* correct for the first ‘zillion’ times.  That’s right, I failed as a Project Manager (in varying degrees) for years.  The project may not have failed, and the product of the project never failed, but I clearly didn’t do as good a job managing a cross-functional team as I should have.  I did improve my skills and after continually trying and learning, I developed a cookbook of techniques that worked for me with a team of experts and a difficult technical project.   I’ll write about all 7 of my recipes for leading a cross-functional team or project.   The first one is the most important.

Number 1: Establish a sense of mission

There’s a popular story that exemplifies what I mean by “Project Mission.” During a visit to the NASA space center in 1961, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor mopping the floor.  The President stopped, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor replied: “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!”   This is awe-inspiring to me.

The sense of mission is the undeniable knowledge that everyone is working towards the end goal and that the goal will be useful.   There’s a PURPOSE to what the project team is doing.   My advice is to identify the mission of your project, in as few words as possible.  Believe it, say it, and do it.

Project Mission questions – everyone on the team must be able to answer these, and the answer to the last two is “YES.”

  • Why does this project exist?
  • Why is it important?
  • Will It will be used when we’re done?
  • Did I had a part in fulfilling the mission?

Remember the President Kennedy story?   The janitor had a strong sense of the project’s mission.  EVERYONE should have the same mission concept.   In 1973, Peter Drucker said:

“That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.”

So, say the project mission, believe in the project mission, live the project mission – all the time.

MEET ME IN SAN DIEGO NEAR THE PROJECTMANAGEMENT.COM BOOTH.

Posted by David Maynard on: September 09, 2016 12:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
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