In May 2016, I presented a webinar to the PMI Community on the topic "Design Thinking & Project Management".
In this article I address options and recommendations on how to structure User Experience (UX) Design teams within your organization.
Each company or organization is different. How you decide to organize your teams will depend on what works best for your company's goals and culture. The key organizational models for UX Design are: centralized, de-centralized (aka embedded), or hybrid of the two. There are advantages and disadvantages for each model.
1. Centralized Model
In a centralized team model, designers belong to a single unit and are "farmed out" to work on individual projects around the organization. When a particular designer's work is complete they return to the central group and are re-assigned to new work and new projects.
2. Embedded Model
In this model, designers are embedded into multidisciplinary teams and report up through local management. Designers are dedicated to a team and each team is devoted to a distinct aspect of the product or software development.
3. Hybrid Model
From recent experiences, we overcame the disadvantages of the two previous models by evolving a hybrid model with both embedded and centralized attributes. We found that having UX designers embedded in the development teams, but also members of a design group within the organization, worked best. The result had the combined advantages from both models.
In the hybrid model, there is a degree of commitment and engagement desired from the embedded designers assigned to specific projects. In this case, the designer understands the full life cycle and is deeply wedded to the business or domain. Having a centralized reporting structure lets designers to be managed by other designers. This allows for peer design, knowledge sharing across projects and quickly ramping up on a project.
I am passionate about evangelizing Design within the Project Management community. I welcome any feedback or comments on this article.
KPMG released their U.S. CEO Outlook 2019 report with survey results from 400 U.S. CEOs. Key Findings from the survey provided some very relevant insights for Project Leaders who want to grow in their careers and remain on the forefront of technical, cultural, and economic change. I decided to turn the insights into an infographic which can be downloaded here:
You can read the full KPMG CEO Outlook report here: https://home.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/us/pdf/2019/06/2019-ceo-outlook.pdf
Summary of the Key Findings: https://home.kpmg/us/en/home/campaigns/2019/05/key-findings.html
Key Finding: CEOs reported a positive outlook and tempered optimism. A majority of U.S. CEOs (81 percent) plan to pursue inorganic growth, favoring strategic alliances and M&A.
Actions you can take based on this finding:
Key Finding: CEOs have more realistic expectations of AI implementation and are becoming more enthused about AI-driven decisions.
Actions you can take:
Key Finding: Agility is a critical capability and requires innovation maturity. Sixty-three percent (63%) expressed the need to improve innovation processes and execution in the next three years.
Actions you can take:
Key Finding: Investment in tech is prioritized over people. When asked to make a point-blank choice between investing in technology or people, more than two-thirds of CEOs chose technology.
Actions you can take:
Key Finding: Companies are actively disrupting their sectors. Seventy-six percent (76%) noted that their growth relies on their ability to challenge and disrupt any business norm.
Actions you can take:
Key Finding: Cyber security risk is slowly being seen as a top organizational risk. CEOs no longer look at cyber risk as a separate IT topic and are embedding cyber in all technology-fueled growth decisions. Only a minority (16 percent) point to cyber security risk itself as their organization’s top threat.
Actions you can take:
Key Finding: Organization want to align policies to reflect the values of their customers. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of U.S. CEOs believe that they could significantly improve their understanding of their customers. Eight-one percent (81%) feel it is their personal responsibility to ensure that their organization’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies reflect the values of their customers.
Actions you can take:
Again, a copy of the infographic can be downloaded here: CEO Outlook and Insights for PMs
Project Managers need to balance process rigor and process with allowing teams the time and space to do their best work. Here are nine (9) tips and lessons learned for managing creative teams.
1) Shield your team from as much administrative work as possible. Keep your team focused on the most valuable tasks and where they can be most productive.
2) Train your team in creative problem-solving techniques.
3) Allocate time for new ideas to emerge. Try not to hold your team to unreasonable and arbitrary schedules and deadlines.
4) Let your team do their job without the constant check-ins and oversight. Avoid micro-management!
5) Stress the importance of open communication.
6) Encourage your team to utilize you as an escalation point.
7) Allow exploration to happen and encourage the team to share ‘learnings’ across all disciplines. Promote interdisciplinary collaboration.
8) Keep challenging the way your team approaches their work. Encourage team members to keep looking anew at the way they approach their work.
9) And most importantly — tolerate risk-taking. It is inevitable with design thinking and agile models now being used on projects. Foster a team environment where failure is a learning opportunity, not something that would limit one’s career.
In summary, make space for creativity, investigation, and failure on your team.
Over the past two years I have been assembling a list of the top Project Management conferences that project leaders should consider to grow their careers and knowledge. This is not the ultimate list, but it will provide you with plenty of new ideas.
Plan ahead and save the dates!
Agile2019 (5-9 August 2019, Washington, DC) is dedicated to furthering Agile principles and providing a venue for people and ideas to flourish. The annual event is organized by Agile Alliance is touted as “where the Agile tribes meet”.
Women in Agile (5 August 2019, Washington, DC) is half-day workshop that strives to expand as a community and continue supporting, cooperating, and compassionately including all underrepresented groups in the Agile community. This event has coincided with the Agile2018.
PMO Impact Summit (September 2019, Virtual) is a multi-day virtual conference that has been planned to allow participants time to actually watch each presentation and to absorb the information. The conference brings together 35+ top industry experts to share their knowledge and experience around PMOs.
British Academy of Management Conference (3-5 September 2019, Birmingham, UK) brings together researchers seeking solutions in uncertain times. The annual conference offers a rich source of knowledge and an opportunity to find alternatives to the status quo in our understanding of management, performance, organizations and the nature of the challenges we face.
PMI India Project Management National Conference (20-21 September 2019, Hyderabad India) is the largest PM conference in India. The two-day conference is a platform for business leaders from various industries to discuss how effective project management can be used to yield better results and help organizations make a higher impact on the region’s and the country’s economy.
APM Women in Project Management Conference 2019 (26 September 2019, London, UK) aims to challenge how diversity can deliver better balance in the project profession. The conference will explore the role of diversity when embracing transformation and change and will offer tools and techniques that they can use to make their projects work harder and smarter.
PMI Global Conference (5-7 October 2019, Philadelphia, PA) is organized by the Project Management Institute and is the preeminent professional conference for project managers world-wide. The event focuses on the evolving role of project management. It is open to project, program and portfolio professionals and will discuss new ideas and approaches, while giving participants the opportunity to make new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
PM Forum (22-23 October 2019, Nürnberg, Germany) began as a small event 30 years ago and now has become the leading congress for project management in Europe. The international event is organized by the German trade association for project management (GPM), which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2019. Over 1,000 delegates are expected to attend.
Women in Project Management (WiPM) (24 October 2019, Dublin, Ireland) is a forum for women in project management to network with their peers, hone their skills and engage in the community as it develops, all while further promoting our profession. The conference is organized by PM Summit Ltd.
The Digital PM Summit (20-24 October 2019, Orlando, Florida) is organized by Bureau of Digital and brings together professionals who manage digital projects. The conference welcomes all methodologies and approaches, from Agile to waterfall and hybrid, offering new perspectives in a social networking-friendly environment.
Global Scrum Gathering (28-30 October 2019, Vienna, Austria) is organized by the Scrum Alliance and is organized around multiple themes, such as Champions of Agile, Community of Agile, Organizational Transformation, Scrum in Hard Places, Scrum Toolkit, Scrum in my Heart, and Scrum in Unusual Places.
Australian Institute of Project Management National Conference (20-22 October 2019, Melbourne) is the premier event for the project management profession in Australia. The annual conference is the platform for project leaders, both established and up-and-coming, to gain knowledge and share experiences on a range of areas that impact the management of projects today and in the future. This year’s theme is: (R)evolution.
FuturePMO (17 October 2019, London, UK) is 1-day PMO conference for practitioners at all levels. It is organized and run by Wellingstone Project Management, a leading PPM consultancy from the UK. The 2018 PMO Global Awards will be presented at this year’s FuturePMO conference in London.
International Project Management Day (November 1, Virtual) is organized by the International Institute for Learning. IPM Day is an online conference that brings together professionals from around the world who are passionate about change, our future, and the important role of those in the project management profession. IPM Day is always on the first Thursday in November.
7th Art of Projects Conference (7 November 2019, Budapest, Hungary) is organized by PMI Budapest. Each year, this international event brings together hundreds of project, program and portfolio managers from around Europe for a full day of cutting-edge education, knowledge-sharing and networking. The Keynote Session this year will delivered by James R. Snyder the founder of PMI.
PMO Symposium (3-6 November 2019, Denver, CO) is organized by the Project Management Institute and provides participants access to executive-level networking, workshops and discussions. Participants will come away with insights that can be used to build resilient PMOs.
XIV International Congress PMI Poland Chapter (18-20 November 2019, Warsaw) aims to integrate and inspire participants with the latest trends and innovations in the world of constantly evolving styles of work, leadership and project organization. The slogan of this year’s congress is “Make the difference”, with a focus on agility and responding to changes in the context of digitization and increasing project complexity.
PMI MENA Conference 2019 (23 November 2019, Kuwait City, Kuwait; 24 November 2019, Manama, Bahrain) is a two-day conference organized by the Project Management Institute for professionals and practitioners around the Middle East and rest of the world to share experiences, reinforce core skills, and network with leading international speakers, industry experts and other practitioners across all areas of expertise.
Baltic Project Management Days (28-29 November 2019, Riga, Latvia) is organized by the members of International Project Management Association in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Baltic PM Days is the central meeting point for project management professionals from the Baltic States, Nordic and other European countries.
Planned for 2020 but dates are not yet set
PM-Summit 2020 (TBD 2020, Germany) will be the 3rd congress of all German PMI Chapters and is one of the biggest project management events in German.
New Trends in Project Management (TBD 2020, Poland) is organized by PMI Gdańsk and focuses on the exchange project management knowledge and best practices in Poland and abroad.
APM Project Management Conference (TBD 2020, London, UK) will explore how the profession is Delivering Value in a Transforming World and transitioning from a position of facilitation to influence. There are three streams of focus: adapting to develop your career, working smarter in your approach to projects and how to develop your performance.
PM Summit 2020 (TBD Ireland) is about the creation of a Community of Practice for project, program and portfolio management professionals in Ireland. 2020 will be the 6th year of this even that brings together a diverse group of speakers and provides the opportunity for true knowledge transfer and the exchange of ideas.
Planned for 2020
Passion for Projects Congress (9-10 March 2020, Malmö, Sweden) is organized by the PMI Sweden Chapter and is Scandinavia’s largest project management conference. The event typically has 4 keynotes sessions and over 25 breakout sessions.
PMI Singapore Regional Symposium (March 2020, Singapore) is Asia’s leading conference attended by more than 800 project management professionals, executives, scholars and practitioners.
Change Management Conference (3-6 May 2020, Anaheim, California) is the annual meeting of the Association of Change Management Professions (ACMP). It brings together change management professionals to share the latest business solutions, explore best practices and trends, and offers networking opportunities.
International Scientific Conference on Project Management (24 April 2020, Riga, Latvia) is organized by the Research Institute of the Project Management of the Faculty of Business, Management and Economics, University of Latvia, in cooperation with the Professional Association of Project Managers. The aim of the conference is to discuss results of scientific research in project management issues and the sessions are conducted in English.
LearnFest Caribbean (13-14 May 2020, Kingston, Jamaica) is a two-day fun and non-traditional development experience unfolded in a festive atmosphere. Each year the LearnFest Caribbean conference gets bigger and bolder. The speakers are top notch and the delegates come from around Jamaica to attend.
PM Welt (May TBD 2020) is organized by Projekt Magazin and is the largest meeting of the German-speaking project management community.
UMD Project Management Symposium (May 2020, College Park, Maryland) brings together project managers from the Baltimore-Washington metro area, and abroad, for DC’s premier PM symposium. The PM Symposium is a great hub for scholars and practitioners to meet and share their latest technological/organizational achievement and cutting-edge vision.
Agile & Beyond (May 2020, Detroit Area) is a grassroots, volunteer-run conference that helps people learn about agile principles and practices, as well as covers topics that help make people and companies awesome.
HAPPYPROJECTS 20 (7 May 2020, Vienna, Austria) brings together project management practitioners and academic researchers to share information about new theoretical developments and best practices, as well as facilitate networking with participants of other companies and speakers. This year’s main topic will be “Mindset & Methods”.
Project Summit Business Analyst World (multiple dates) is a series of conferences for project managers and business analysts. Participants can earn up to 26 PDUs/CDUs and the sessions are accredited by both PMI and IIBA. PSBAW Conferences are held in Orlando (April), Toronto (June), Washington, DC (June), Vancouver (September) and Boston (October). The Toronto event has their largest attendance.
PMI EMEA Congress (14-16 June 2020, Prague, Czechia) is organized by the Project Management Institute and gathers project, program and portfolio managers from around the globe. They are there to discuss best practices, identify new trends and reinforce core industry skills.
Project Management in Practice (June 2020, Boston, MA) is organized by Boston University and covers a wide range of topics of interest to both academic and business professionals. The two-day conference is also available online, and PDUs are available for attending the sessions virtually.
Resource Planning Summit (June 2020, Nashville, TN) is advertised as the premier thought leadership event for promoting best practices in resource management, demand management, capacity planning, and portfolio management across industries.
PMO Conference (June 2020, London, UK) focuses on portfolio, program and project offices. Attendees will learn about the latest PMO research, discover new PMO ideas and techniques, and network and share with other like-minded practitioners.
Keep learning and growing!
Have you ever stopped to think about the common characteristics you have with other Project Managers? In order to explain these to an audience of non-project managers, I generated a user persona to explain the goals, motivations, mindsets, and pain points of Project Managers.
The persona I generated is based off of interviews Aurora Melchor, a UX Designer, conducted with her team as well as additional data points that I added from my circle of colleagues.
GOALS: Keep everyone happy; Deliver value and project success; Predictability
MOTIVATIONS: Wants interesting, fun, and challenging work; Recognition and promotion
MINDSET: Likes problem-solving; Feels the urgency to “get stuff done”; Driven by accomplishment; Often does well “riding the wave” of change
PAIN POINTS: “My day is a fractured experience!”; Inadequate planning and poor estimates; Manual repetitive work across multiple applications; Having to do more with less; Risk, complexity, and uncertainty has increased (VUCA)
Let me know your feedback on this representation of a Project Manager.
- What insights do you draw from the persona?
- What can non-Project Managers learn from this persona?
- Is there additional information that you recommend to include in the persona?
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