Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Conrado Morlan
Kevin Korterud
Peter Tarhanidis
Vivek Prakash
Cyndee Miller
David Wakeman
Jen Skrabak
Mario Trentim
Shobhna Raghupathy
Roberto Toledo
Joanna Newman
Christian Bisson
Linda Agyapong
Jess Tayel
Rex Holmlin
Ramiro Rodrigues
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Wanda Curlee

Recent Posts

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Project Management Is For Everyone

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Bring on the Praise

By Cyndee Miller

People like praise — and it’s not just millennials (despite what you read lately). For leaders, the point of providing positive feedback isn’t to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. It’s to build the wildly brilliant team you need to get the job done.  

“This is what builds great cultures: reinforcement,” Adrian Gostick told symposium attendees in the closing keynote. “On great teams, members root for each other — praise doesn’t just come from the top.” 

This isn’t about spraying good vibes everywhere, however. That can backfire. Engage team members in one-on-one feedback sessions, and be specific and sincere, he said. And don’t wait until a holiday party or some off-site retreat to toast your team.

There’s a straight line between positive reinforcement and two of the three “Es” — engaged and energized — that Mr. Gostick highlighted as hallmarks of high-performance cultures.

The third E, enabled, is about creating a place where people believe they can make a difference. It’s bigger than autonomy. People should feel empowered to challenge the status quo if they see better ways of doing things, and to fix a problem on their own if they spot it.

Building a culture that drives results is way more squishy than say, mapping stakeholders or aligning budget numbers — and can often prove more challenging. “The soft stuff is the hard stuff,” Mr. Gostick said.

How do you handle the soft stuff?

That’s it for this year’s coverage. Fear not, we’ll be headed back for more PMO Symposium action 11-14 November 2018 in Washington, D.C., USA.

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 13, 2017 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Credit Where Credit Is Due

By Cyndee Miller

It’s the not-so-secret secret: Project management doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. So it’s nice to see the best of the best get their due with the PMO of the Year award. They not only get the rock star treatment — they take that acknowledgment back to the office.

“This award is going to make us more recognized in our organization,” said Carrie Fletcher, PMP, in accepting the PMO of the Year for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The PMO has already built up quite the track record helping provide staff members with the tools they need to deliver better patient care at Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital,

Bringing together clinical and technical teams, the PMO helps assess what projects will best address hospital bottlenecks and pain points — and maintain buy-in once the work is underway. One of the PMO’s first projects, for example, consolidated 30 different forms into a single access point for the more than 20,000 annual external referrals CAMH receives each year. That one initiative cut patient wait times in the child, youth and family service by three months.

The other finalists had impressive results of their own:

Engineering and construction powerhouse Henkels & McCoy (HMG) has seen its annual revenue more than triple since 2005. To keep every project in its US$3 billion portfolio on track, the company’s PMO relies on project controls, with regular risk reviews and clear documentation. By delivering reliable results for HMG customers, the PMO has also helped boost profitability, which has grown 110 percent since 2008.

The PMO at MetLife has helped bring strategic order to the insurance giant’s US$500 million global IT portfolio. Rigorously vetting the business case for every project — and following up after completion to make sure the intended results were delivered — has helped the PMO maximize the portfolio's ROI. Since 2014, Metlife has seen a 22 percent increase in programs that closed on time and on budget, and a 35 percent increase in overall customer satisfaction.

Look for in-depth features of the three PMOs in upcoming issues of PM Network and check out video case studies on PMI’s YouTube channel: CAMH, HMG and MetLife.

Want your PMO’s accomplishments recognized? Learn how to apply for the PMO of the Year Award here.

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 10, 2017 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Unsung Hero of a Mega Transformation

by Cyndee Miller


The “T” word is getting thrown around a lot. So I might have been skeptical walking into Anthony Gayter’s symposium keynote on a “real-world transformation.”

Once he started laying out the details, it was clear this was the real deal.

It all started when HP went on an acquisition extravaganza, gobbling up 60 companies from 2002 to 2015. All that wheeling and dealing made HP one of the biggest conglomerates in the world.

“Then reality hit,” said Anthony Gayter, vice president, enterprise services, global transformation service, DXC Technology, a division of HP. “We were behind the times.”

In 2015, HP made the strategic decision to split the company in two —and then eight months into the split, they decided to cut the company into several more parts. “We had three splits and two mergers going on top of normal day-to-day work.”

The transformation was not just complex, it was happening on an epic scale: The team had 4,300 project milestones — and only 10 months to complete the initiative. “We were putting everything on the line,” said Mr. Gayter.

Where did the organization turn to for support to seamlessly separate the entities? “Project management is the unsung hero.”

Throughout it all, the meetings and endless milestone mapping, the project management team led the charge. And execs took notice, maybe not in overt proclamations, but in one very powerful way.

“Any companies that are merging, one reason is to cut costs,” Mr. Gayter said. “Project management has been kept whole.

While more than 40 percent of vice presidents have exited — no project managers have been fired. Instead, the organization hired more and continues to invest in project management training, certifications and development. “It was a recognition of their skillset and capability,” Mr. Gayter said.

But after playing such a powerful part in the transformation, the pressure is on. “It’s a double-edge sword. The expectation is that perfection is the standard now.”

Is project management an “unsung hero” at your company? Or does it get the credit it deserves?

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 09, 2017 02:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Victory Is Fleeting

By Cyndee Miller

Buckle up: The new world of transient advantage is upon us, according to symposium keynoter Rita McGrath, PhD. The days when a company could sit back on the glory of a competitive edge they’d diligently honed? Done.

“If the world around you is changing quickly, you can’t be the kind of leader who says, ‘This is our goal and we’re going to follow it relentlessly,’” she said.

Leaders high on their own success — and too attached to a goal — are laying the seeds of their organization’s demise. This is the time for “healthy disengagement,” the ability to shut a project down when it no longer makes sense and reallocate resources in a better direction when the project landscape shifts — as it inevitably will.

“We have to get away from thinking about stability as the normal thing and change as the weird thing,” she said.

The ultra-fast pace of change can make it hard to see a clear direction forward. But smart leaders know they must build project portfolios that cover more than just business as usual. They craft opportunities for future growth when the path forward becomes less foggy.

“You want to create options for yourself to make more substantial investments when you know more,” Dr. McGrath.

PMOs have a role to play in this whole transient advantage adventure. They’re like the sherpas guiding organizations up the mountain. They know the landscape of budgets and power, and how to implement the right kinds of change at the right time.

Are you and your PMO ready for the era of the transient advantage?

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 08, 2017 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Change Is Cool

By Cyndee Miller

Who’s a cool kid?

If organizations really want their tech transformations to take hold, the answer should be everyone.

That’s especially true in an era of digital disruption. Whether the source of change is a new cybersecurity threat or opportunities arising from nascent 5G networks, engaging all internal stakeholders and not just a select cadre will vastly increase enthusiasm and the likelihood of project success, said Tony Scott, CEO, TonyScottGroup LLC. He was the lead-off keynoter at PMO Symposium this week.

This fellow knows a thing or two about transformations, having served as CIO in transitional periods for major organizations including Microsoft, Disney and the U.S. federal government. “One of the most important functions of project managers and PMOs is to get people aligned and get people moving in the same direction,” he says. If a new direction is afloat, “make change a priority — and communicate it.”

Take his time in the White House. A massive data breach necessitated that teams across government departments update their security practices. But engagement with the government’s previous efforts to increase digital security was tepid at best. Whatever. That was before his time. His call? Make the transformation a contest and take the results public — which meant department leaders faced the prospect of a public reprimand.

“In 30 days, we made as much progress as they did in 10 years,” Mr. Scott said.

With change happening at such a head-spinning, mind-boggling pace, those people adept at handling such rapid shifts — i.e., project, program and portfolio professionals — are in a prime spot to reap some serious rewards. Anyone tasked with recruiting those people should get ready for a true battle royal for talent.

“Project management skills are more in demand today — and that need will only intensify,” Mr. Scott said.

How does your organization handle tech changes? Does it get the word out across the company — or does it just let a very special group of cool kids engage? 

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 08, 2017 12:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Solutions are not the answer.

- Richard M. Nixon