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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3 Questions To Ask Yourself This New Year

By Yasmina Khelifi, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP

I was a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I used to write clear and precise ones, and I tried to keep them and refer to them during the year. It put me under pressure and, unconsciously, left little space for the unexpected.

But if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we cannot control everything. In 2020, there was a lockdown in France—and all that I planned to accomplish could not happen. On the contrary, I could create many new things (like a podcast) and meet new people by getting more involved in volunteering.

A usual January activity for me is to update my CV and portfolio of achievements. It helps me gain confidence. What do you typically do at the beginning of the year to set yourself up for success?

Let's get prepared for this new year! I propose to you three lenses to view this coming year through:

  • What new thing would you like to experiment with?
  • How are you developing your network and meeting new people?
  • What thing do you need to stop?

1. What new thing would you like to experiment with?

Some of us are getting back to work in an office, others continue working from home or in a hybrid model.

How do your teams feel about it? As a project leader, you don't necessarily have the power to change the organizational rules, but you must advocate for your teams.

How were your projects impacted last year? Did you take the time to discuss this with your teams?

Uncertainty, fear and grief might be part of our lives for some months. During this outbreak, we all have learned that work can be done differently and still in a very efficient manner. HHHow can we smooth the work of our teams and colleagues? Shall we reduce the length of meetings and/or reduce the number of meetings? Should we stop having meetings at 6 p.m. on Fridays?

Don't refrain from having big goals, even if it looks ridiculous. You have the right to want to challenge yourself and be ambitious. What new things would you like to try this year?

2. How are you developing your network and meeting new people?

In the Harvard Business Review article “Learn from People, Not Classes,” the writers share this important observation: “The most successful leaders we know learn differently: by tapping into what we call network intelligence.”

Some of you may think that remote work reduces the possibility of meeting new people. Plus, the pandemic has uncovered a strong desire to relate to people differently.

This is what happened to me: I’m more open to video calls than before. What about you? Reach out to the newcomer, even if she is not part of your team, to exchange pleasantries and learn more. Were you were contacted on LinkedIn by a stranger for a question about project management, or did you get a good comment in one of your posts? Write to the person to find out more.

Are there some communities at work you can join? A project management community? Do you take part in extra work activities? What about organizing a virtual coffee break or a tea gathering?

Don’t limit your network to your work colleagues or people only in your field. Take the opportunity of a training/virtual event to meet new people.

That’s how personal growth occurs—through human interactions to feed your mind and get new perspectives.

3. What thing do you need to stop?

Posted by Yasmina Khelifi on: January 24, 2022 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Debunking 3 Project Management Myths

 

By Yasmina Khelifi, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP

Our profession faces some consistent myths. During my career, I’ve came across three that I’d like to debunk:

1. Project management is administrative.
When I first applied for a project manager position many years ago, I talked to a PM and he told me: “It’s an administrative role.”

Despite this, I applied and was accepted—and I turned the “administration” into valuable delivery. The administrative part was not created by the project management role, but by the organization around project management in an effort to follow the budget and check the quality of the project; each person wanted a Word document to be filled to check if the project was on the right track.

Documentation is needed on a project…but what level of documentation? And what level of detail?

If someone tells you project management is administration, answer with this:

  • “The level and details of documentation required is defined by the organizational culture in some companies; we must evaluate the aim of the documentation.”
  • “I’m an advocate of always seeking out improvements in documentation.”
  • “As a project team, we will define the level and detail of documentation for onboarding newcomers and for handover.”

2. Project management is repetitive.
In another role, a colleague told me: “Aren’t you going to be bored? Once you deliver this project, all the other ones will be the same.”

But he was wrong, because each project is unique. Of course, in this particular role, there were some commonalities—but the requirements were different, and the people I worked with were diverse. Plus, I could refine the processes and improve the way I worked with practice and experience. I could also train newcomers to the team. So, I didn’t get bored at all.

For some people, project management is not innovative or creative, because they think there are activities or roles with higher status. But project management is creative in that we need to create a path, aggregate knowledge, practice, use tools—and also use intuition. Now with globalization and the hybrid workplace, we are at the forefront of innovation.

If someone tells you project management is repetitive, respond with this:

  • “Each project is unique given its context, requirements and teams.”
  • “Just because the external flow of actions looks the same, that does not mean the path to resolution will be the same. We need to set new norms and rituals. We need to explore the causes of problems.”
  • “In each project, we make retrospectives or lessons learned. These are great moments of collaboration and creativity.”

3. Project Management is about processes.
Project management uses processes to organize the work and define a plan. In some domains, processes are more prevalent than in others, and for good reason: If security issues are involved, processes have to be followed.

But more than processes, project management is about people and how to work together as a team—of knowing how your behavior is going to impact others.

If someone tells you project management is about processes, answer with this:

  • “Processes are used to organize; when you facilitate the work, project management is not used for the sake of processes.”
  • “Processes are not carved into stone; change them if they don’t work.”
  • “The backbone of the project is teamwork.”

As a community and as practitioners, we need to be role models and change the image of project management—which some people like to keep negative narratives about. Don't let others' perceptions diminish the impact you're making on the world.

What other PM myths have you faced? Share your comments below

Posted by Yasmina Khelifi on: December 14, 2021 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

3 Ways COVID Changed My Leadership Style

by Yasmina Khelifi, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, PMP

The unforeseen chaos of COVID-19 has changed the way we work, the way we live—and the way we lead. Here are three ways I’ve reinvented my leadership style in such uncertainty:

1. Increased empathy

I’ve worked in a virtual global environment for the past 20 years. Still, this crisis helped me sharpen my skills and I’ve also become a more empathetic leader. 

I’m more understanding as project delays arise. I’m more accepting of small mistakes made by my team in haste. And I’m conditioned to push through work challenges that are outside of my control, like the internet connectivity issues of teammates abroad. I’ve also noticed I’m more sensitive to my tone of voice when I communicate information to remote team members.

2. More thoughtful self-discovery

The external crisis forced me to focus on some questions that may sound philosophical, but chart a path forward:

  • What is essential?
  • What is meaningful?
  • What impact do you want to leave?

It takes time and courage to begin the journey of self-introspection but it’s rewarding. Have you made your leadership self-diagnosis? Try repurposing an agile retrospective tool:

Posted by Yasmina Khelifi on: December 11, 2020 05:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

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