Project Management

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.

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cyndee miller
Lynda Bourne
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Wanda Curlee
Christian Bisson
Ramiro Rodrigues
Soma Bhattacharya
Emily Luijbregts
Yasmina Khelifi
Sree Rao
Lenka Pincot
Jorge Martin Valdes Garciatorres
Marat Oyvetsky

Past Contributors:

Rex Holmlin
Vivek Prakash
Dan Goldfischer
Linda Agyapong
Jim De Piante
sanjay saini
Siti Hajar Abdul Hamid
Bernadine Douglas
Judy Umlas
Abdiel Ledesma
Michael Hatfield
Deanna Landers
Alfonso Bucero
Kelley Hunsberger
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
William Krebs
Marian Haus
Shobhna Raghupathy
Peter Taylor
Joanna Newman
Saira Karim
Jess Tayel
Lung-Hung Chou
Rebecca Braglio
Roberto Toledo
Geoff Mattie
Dmitri Ivanenko PMP ITIL

Recent Posts

Lessons Learned: Don’t Be Afraid to Share Responsibilities

The Not-So-Secret Ingredients to Success? People and Purpose

The PMI Future 50 Delivers Action—and Hope

Contingencies Are Not a Soft Option

The Power of Diverse Project Teams

The PMI Future 50 Delivers Action—and Hope

By Cyndee Miller

Greta Thunberg isn’t messing around. Joining forces with three other young climate change activists, she called on political leaders last week to stop talking and actually do something: “Our current system is not ‘broken’—the system is doing exactly what it’s supposed and designed to be doing. It can no longer be ‘fixed.’ We need a new system.”

For many people, taking on such massive issues can be overwhelming. And even the mighty Thunberg admits to Reuters she was “very worried” when she first began. “But when I started doing something, then there came hope from that. Because hope comes from action.”

Hope comes from projects.

Thunberg is part of a new generation of leaders who see that potential—and are using it to transform and define the future. Unflinching in the face of change. Naturally collaborative. Digitally fluent. Deeply committed to social good. Constantly learning.

This is the PMI Future 50. And they’re coming in with their own POV on building a better workplace—and a better world. There’s architecture activist Pascale Sablan, determined to right the social injustices embedded in design. Alagesan Hanippuya, PMP, is forging a fintech future in Southeast Asia. Tiago Chaves Oliveira, PMP, is pushing for more creativity and innovation in Brazil’s government. Gregory Daniels, PMP, is helping Zoom manage a 30-fold traffic surge amid the COVID-19 crisis. And there’s Thunberg, too.

They’re all putting their own stamp on the future of work and how projects get done. Deloitte reports nearly half of millennials and Gen Zers prioritize making a positive impact on society, for instance. And 32 percent of Gen Zers say they’re motivated to work harder and stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager, per The Workforce Institute. It’s common enough advice for leaders, but this new cohort is determined to put it into action. “We need to take care of people. Just asking for results will not work. We also need to try to understand their needs and their perspectives and to encourage each person to ask critical questions,” says Gabriel Costa Caldas, director of operations at GPjr, Brasília, Brazil.

This also means a shift in the most in-demand skills. “I would expect big-picture thinking, creativity and empathy to play an even bigger role in successful project management,” says Miishe Addy, CEO of Jetstream Africa, Tema, Ghana.

Read more about the youthquake and meet all the Future 50 leaders in a special issue of PM Network® and in a series of videos and digital exclusives. (Pro tip: This is a multimedia affair to be enjoyed. Flipping through the pages of the magazine is a grand experience where you can take in everything and everyone at once, along with loads of pretty pictures. Check out the digital profiles and you’ll find most have Q&As at the end with some content that doesn’t appear in the magazine. And the videos let you see and hear these leaders in action.)

How is the next generation of leaders transforming your organizations and industries? And who gives you the most hope for the future? Fill me in in the comments.

Posted by cyndee miller on: July 24, 2020 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

100 Days to Becoming a Better Project Manager

By Emily Luijbregts

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell explains that you need 10,000 hours to master any skill. That equates to several years of work and development.

But even dedicating smaller amounts of time can lead to progress. If I told you that you could become a better project manager within 100 days, would you believe me?

I’ve been spending a lot of time during the pandemic thinking about professional development and how we can become better project management professionals in every aspect of our careers.

When I started on this journey myself, I decided to take a look at my leadership skills and determine how I could better manage my remote and virtual teams. I chose this path based on the projects that I managed this year and where I felt that I could add the most value to my projects, organization and, more importantly, my team.

Your challenge—if you choose to accept it—is to sharpen your skill set as a project leader over the course of 100 days.

In the next 100 days, I want you to consider taking the steps below and tracking where this journey can take you:

1. Determine three areas that need your attention.

Where are your weaknesses? Where do you most need help?

This can be a real challenge for some people to comprehend, as knowing your weaknesses is a sign of a deeper understanding of yourself as an individual. I have truly come to understand my weaknesses, not only in my professional life but through my private challenges, which enabled me to look at myself from a different perspective and analyze my achievements and shortcomings.

When I’m mentoring an individual, we’ll spend quite a bit of time working on this topic—normally, it’ll be something that they didn’t think of initially. If you struggle with this task, I suggest talking to someone whom you trust and working on this together.

I recommend choosing three areas of focus, but if you have two or four areas, that’s absolutely fine. This is your path and your journey.

2. Make a plan for what’s realistic to achieve in this time period.

Let’s be honest, no one can devote 24 hours a day to perfecting a skill or personal development: It’s just not possible. Life gets in the way. And that’s absolutely fine.

Determine what’s feasible to achieve in the next 100 days and set yourself some realistic SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based). Also, analyze how you’re going to get there. What tools do you need to be able to develop? Is there a course of action you need to follow? What about guidance? This is the time to make sure that you’ve got the resources that you need to succeed.

You can plot this plan however you feel is most appropriate. You can choose a Kanban Board, Gantt chart or even a list of to-dos. Keep it simple and tailor your methods to your needs. When I did this for myself, I created a sheet in my workbook that looked similar to the below:

 

Task

How to achieve it

Deadline

Status

Study management styles in different cultures

Webinar: Projectmanagement.com

How to Be a Chameleon in Your Project: Changing Your Management Style to Lead a Successful Project

1 March

Done

Look at leadership in different cultures

Book: The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

Outcome: Analyze the takeaways and see what I can use in my projects.

30 March

Done

 

3. Seek out support.

Make your manager and colleagues aware of what you’re doing, and maybe they’ll join you. Make this a positive turn towards professional development and collaboration. I bet there are skills that you have that your colleagues need and vice versa. Challenge each other to become better professionals and raise the bar within your teams.

My support network came in the form of my peers. I asked several respected project managers whom I trust if they could recommend courses or webinars that might be suitable or give me advice based on their experience.

4. Complete the action plan.

Now, we get to the difficult part: You need to actually do the work and execute the plan that you’ve made. Watch some webinars, attend training courses and find a mentor. Along the way, I’d like to suggest that you adopt the agile principle of “inspect and adapt.” Analyze what you’re doing: Is it working? Do you need to change paths?

At the end of the 100 days, you will emerge a stronger, more confident project manager.

What 100-day challenge are you willing to take on to become a better project leader?

 

Posted by Emily Luijbregts on: July 09, 2020 01:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)

It’s Up to You and Your Teams: Turn and Face the Strange

By Cyndee Miller

For the past several years, business pundits have waxed poetic about “unprecedented change” brought on by what seemed like massive socioeconomic shifts. Well, buckle up, because it’s become abundantly clear that was just the pregame. The past few months alone have shown we’re in for some painfully uncertain times.

The one thing we do know the future is sure to hold? Change—delivered through projects.

More than half of organizations are refocusing their identities around projects and programs, according to PMI’s research. And even before the pandemic and accompanying economic meltdown hit, project leaders said the biggest project delivery obstacle was managing changing priorities.

It’s going to take a new kind of multidisciplinary team—the kind that can turn strategy into reality, even as shifts in scope or requirements inevitably pop up.

These change-ready teams are grounded in innovation, collaboration and empathy. Complexity doesn’t faze them. They’re ready for anything. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report, Tomorrow’s Teams Today, lays out three core tenets behind the new take on teaming:

  1. Agility, always: As roles and responsibilities are redefined, teams that adopt an all-for-one mentality will be best prepared to adjust on the fly.
  2. Collaborate and listen: Hierarchies are dying—or at least the idea of an all-knowing, top-down leadership is fading fast. The onus is on project leaders to build team trust and forge a collaborative pact.
  3. The customer comes first: Pretty obvious, but making consumer feedback the backbone of planning and execution will help teams stay on track to deliver meaningful value.

In the renewable energy sector, supercharged growth is rapid-fire technological change. And that means a lot can happen between project tendering and execution, says Jeanette Ortlieb, PMP, project manager, Distributed Power Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa. “As project manager, you need to be ready for change to happen,” she says in the latest issue of PM Network®.

The most effective project leaders don’t just manage change—they rally their teams around new ways of thinking. Case in point: Rocio de la Cuadra Vigil, PMP, of Yanbal International in Lima, Peru: “I love changing all the time in search of better ways to work.”

Even amidst all the change, though, the idea of projects delivered by teams isn’t going anywhere, says Peter Moutsatsos, chief project officer at Australian telecom giant Telstra.

“I do believe that the construct of a project team will persist into the future,” he says on a recent episode of Projectified®. “It might mean that projects become perpetual in that you may have a persistent team of people working constantly through a series of iterative projects.”

That will bring its own challenges and opportunities, Moutsatsos says, as far as team composition—and keeping everyone energized and engaged. And who knows what the post-COVID team will look like. People may be suffering from serious Zoom fatigue, but are they all going to rush back into the office or hop on a plane for an in-person project launch?

What are you seeing on your teams? How are you staying ready for anything? Let me know in the comments.

Posted by cyndee miller on: June 22, 2020 11:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

5 Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Crisis

By Jen L. Skrabak, PfMP, PMP

 

“It is not the strongest that survive, but those most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin

It seemed as if everything changed overnight when the news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke. In California, where I am located, we went from the hustle and bustle of going to work every day and an abundance of options in travel, restaurants, entertainment and events to self-isolation, mandatory family time and the shuttering of many businesses.

We adapted quickly to schools and workplaces being closed. And most project managers, who are fortunate to fit into the small percentage of the workforce able to work remotely, are working from home.

So, what can we learn from all this change? It’s important to reflect on the leadership lessons that will carry us through this crisis—and beyond:

1. Welcome change.

I think the area that reflects the greatest change to everyday life is the grocery store. As essential businesses, grocery retailers were forced to change their business model and how they operate while staying open and serving customers. Each day, stores implemented new procedures to adapt to rapidly shifting federal, state and local requirements.

I was at a grocery store recently and noticed how, in a span of days, the business had changed its hours, hired thousands of new workers to stock shelves, implemented hourly cleaning procedures, installed new systems for checkout, managed a surge in online orders and even adjusted how groceries were bagged. California typically charges a fee for plastic bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own. That’s changed. Many stores no longer want you to bring your own bags, and now they are giving away bags for free. During a recent visit to my local grocer, the cashier told me they were running out of bags, and I said I could just take the larger items without having them bagged. I commented on the shifting dynamic I witnessed. 

The cashier replied: “It will change again.”

It’s a great sentiment and true demonstration of leadership from someone who is experiencing a great amount of change every day at work. It’s not just the changes that are forced upon us, but more importantly, how we adapt to those changes with agility. It starts with us.

2. Master agility.

When this crisis is over (and it will be), take the time to understand what distinct behaviors work well rather than just going back to the way things were. I have found that turning on the video in conference calls is a more effective way to engage with teams vs. just having audio. In fact, research shows that 80 percent of people on audio-only conference calls are multi-tasking. And people rely on body language to help understand the message. The most important takeaway is to approach new things with curiosity and a desire to learn. Don’t just return to your comfort zone.

3. Work with what you’ve got

It seems that every day, we hear new information that conflicts with the old information. First, the experts told us not to wear masks. Or that only N95 masks are effective. Then, we were told to wear masks when we went outside and that any cloth or scarf would be fine.

When dealing with complex issues, there is a constant stream of new information that we must digest and react to. The ability to keep working well and moving forward, despite the ambiguity, means that we don’t wait for the perfect information in order to start developing and executing plans.

4. Embrace the now.

If you took it for granted that you could get a haircut, go to that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or travel to a dream destination anytime, we now know that things can change in an instant. Procrastination may result in objectives not getting met at all or a delay that may last months or years.

The lesson here is to prioritize what’s important—and do it now. Good time management practices show that handling something (like an email) once and making a decision on it right away is more effective than putting it aside or making a task list to deal with it later.

5. Be thankful.

While this is a stressful and difficult time, there’s also a lot to be grateful for, such as more time with family, no commute, less pollution and a focus on simplicity. Take a moment at the start of each day to remind yourself of three things that you’re thankful for—and why they are really important to you. It will make you happier and more focused for the day ahead. 

What leadership lessons has the pandemic taught you? Sound off in the comments below.

Posted by Jen Skrabak on: May 06, 2020 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (30)

A Woman’s Place Is in Project Management

 

By Jen Skrabak, PMP, PfMP

The future is female—but it appears project management is behind the times.

An estimated 30 percent of project managers are women, dominating administrative (project coordinator) roles instead of taking on managerial responsibilities. 

As we look at income, women working in project management around the world rake in a fraction of what their male counterparts earn:

Source: Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey—Eleventh Edition, PMI, 2020. Originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of PM Network.

Gender inequality in project management is inescapable—but it’s not irreversible.

In a male-dominated field, how do we start carving out an equal playing field for all? Here are seven challenges we as project professionals should tackle to change that narrative:

  1. Rethink Diversity: Diversity does not begin and end with gender or physical characteristics. It involves how we build teams and consider varying viewpoints based on each person’s unique experiences, skills, background and knowledge. As senior-level program professionals, we need to consider how to make everyone feel seen, heard and valued.
  2. Know Your Worth: “Impostor syndrome”—feelings of inadequacy, despite evident success, and the fear of being exposed as a fraud—is real. Women are disproportionately impacted by impostor syndrome when faced with a new project, role or position, as reported by The Telegraph. Gone unchecked, it can act as a major career obstacle. 
  3. Stay the Course: Life’s journey isn’t a straight line—it’s a roller coaster. Consider your strengths and what can you do (not what you can’t do). And most importantly, if you fall down or stumble, how quickly can you get back up? In the Olympics, the difference between a gold medal and no medal is fractions of a second. Remain focused.
  4. Have a Game Plan: Men will apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, as reported by the Harvard Business Review. Most women apply only if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications. Go for it, but have a plan. For any journey, you need to assess where you’re at, determine where you want to be and outline the path to get there. 
  5. Take Risks: A little risk-taking can go a long way. It’s not always about whether you succeed or fail, it’s about gaining lessons learned. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo—women can be the leaders of change, too. And don’t get too comfortable: Remember that the skills that got you where you are today may not get you to where you want to be in the future.
  6. Make Your Voice Heard: Amplify who you are. Seek out sponsors who are more senior and will advocate for your career trajectory in an organization. First, build trust by performing well. Then, raise your hand to volunteer for opportunities. Make your value visible by speaking up and driving results. 
  7. Visualize Your Goals: As part of your plan, chart out specific, realistic and measurable goals. Break down your progress into clear milestones.

Earlier this month, we celebrated International Women’s Day and honored the women leading project management into the future. How are you empowering women to grow within the project management field and in your organization? 

Posted by Jen Skrabak on: March 13, 2020 07:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)
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