Design Thinking & Project Management

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Design Thinking has emerged as a practical methodology for driving innovative outcomes. This blog aims to explore the intersection between Design Thinking and Project Management and to start a conversation on leveraging Design Thinking for contribution to the Project Management practice.

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Big Bang Delivery is Dead

Does a Specific Mind-set Drive Passion for our Work?

Reflections on PM Congress 2019 (TU Delft)

Design Thinking Introduction for Project Leaders

Comparison of PM Approaches - Help Needed

Big Bang Delivery is Dead

ASSERTION: The era of the big bang transformation and delivery is dead. Rapid, hybrid solution delivery is ascendant and necessary.

- Do you agree or disagree?

 

Given the rapid pace of technology and business disruption, most organizations are investing heavily just to keep up with the changes. What differentiates the leaders from the laggards in addressing this disruption is how they organize their business to execute against strategy.

We can no longer use the model of monolithic programs that go on for 2-3 years. Organizations find that what they set out to do or solve at the beginning is not what they will finish doing.

In the current business environment, traditional delivery models are now looking too rigid and organizations are locked into investments that often miss the mark. Leading organizations are using rapid delivery cycles that mobilize a project very quickly, aiming to release the product into market or to customers with minimum investment.

 

- How does role of the Project Manager change with this trend?

- How does the role of the PMO change?

- Does the approach to portfolio management need to adjust?

 

Posted on: June 12, 2019 06:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Does a Specific Mind-set Drive Passion for our Work?

I am reflecting on my experiences attending multiple PM conferences over the last couple of months. My aim is to identify and share emergent themes that are bubbling up across the project management profession.

Moritz Sprenger's "Voices in Project Management" retrospective on the PMI EMEA Congress had a topic that stood out to me. Mortiz made the keen observation as to why we are passionate about our profession, it is the PM mind-set.

An excerpt from Moritz’ blog post: “I have realized for why I am passionate about the profession of project management: It’s all about mind-set. The people I met [at PMI EMEA Congress] in Dublin had these things in common: Personal drive, the willingness to communicate, being results-driven, working passionately towards personal goals, and foremost: curiosity. These are exactly the traits that distinguishes a good project managers."

Project Manager mind-set. Is that what attracts us to the profession?

I would love to hear if others agree whether it is the mind-set that drives passion for Project Management?

Posted on: June 11, 2019 06:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Reflections on PM Congress 2019 (TU Delft)

The PM Congress 2019 ran April 11-12 on the campus of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in Netherlands. The conference had the provocative tag line "Adapt or Die", but its theme was the more-grounded "Research Meets Practice". There was good mix of academics, practitioners, and students from TU Delft in attendance at the conference. The organizers had the forethought to include several breaks during the two days and evening events to allow networking and sharing of ideas.

This edition of my retrospective will focus on the conference key note sessions.

Key Note presentations:

Prof. Lynn Crawford (Dir. of the Project Management Program at The University of Sydney, Australia) used a mind map visualization to organize her presentation themes: Forces of change, Research, Practice, and People. (Very nice technique that I will have to use someday!) Lynn challenged the conference attendees with the question: "Are project management practices behind the times?" Essentially our profession and its related training needs to move from a focus on technical skills to assisting project managers develop a variety of skills, abilities, and different mindsets currently not central to our profession.

Lynn also noted that we will move from project management to "project leadership". The usage of "Project Leadership" is a subtle change that I am starting to hear more and more as I attend international project management conferences. The evolution is one I welcome.

Marco Eykelenboom (Exec. Project Director at Fluor Corporation) addressed the complexity and challenges of the project management profession. Marco shared learnings, insights, and experiences from managing large, complex projects in the energy sector. One useful takeaway was the use of visual status reporting on Marco's teams. The teams at Fluor would generate one-page "Weekly Flash Reports" with pictures of the project's progress. These artifacts resonated with both stakeholders and team members. A second key insight from Marco's presentation were polling results to the question: "From your last successful project, what were the key success ingredients?"

Not surprising, the top three responses were:

  1. Team work / cooperation / team spirit,
  2. Communication / information sharing, and
  3. Relationships / trust.

Marco's last key takeaway for managing complex projects was to emphasize the focus on Mission, People, and Balance between human versus technical aspects of project management.

Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Gemünden (Chair for Technology and Innovation Management, Berlin University of Technology) shared research findings on the value of Project Management on innovation projects. The research focused on answering the questions: Does Project Management delivery value? Or is Project Management only a self-deception based on an illusion of control? Based on his research, "project organizing" does indeed create business value but with diminishing returns. Project Management creates higher value for more complex projects versus those with lower complexity. Hans Georg advised the audience that Project Management matters, but we cannot manage projects as we always have. Highly innovative projects need to be managed in a different manner. Ideation, user centric, and collaboration are more important than planning and controlling. Hans Georg correctly noted that current PM standards do not this as they have a focus on formalized processes as key success factors. 

Gerard Scheffrahn (Project Director at OT Osborne) spoke about project organizing and innovation, using Amsterdam's long-delayed North-South metro line expansion project as a great case study. Gerard encouraged Project Managers to spend the majority of their time in what Stephen Covey termed the "Circle of Influence”. In other words, PMs should focus on the decision making process and proactively work from the center of their influence and constantly expand it. Hearing stories about the complexities of building the North-South metro line were also interesting and enlightening.

Connect with me here on Linkedin, at www.brucegay.com, or follow me on Twitter @brucegay

Posted on: April 28, 2019 08:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Comparison of PM Approaches - Help Needed

Fellow Project Leaders - I need help validating the information in the chart above comparing management of communications, quality, and risks across PMBOK, PRINCE2, Agile and Lean approaches. 

I plan to use this summary as a starting point to show areas where incorporating design methodologies on projects could show benefit.

Feedback is most welcome.

 

Posted on: December 31, 2018 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thoughts on PMI 's Strategy Refresh

The PMI Board of Directors is discussing what the organization should be doing to facilitate implementation of its “strategy refresh".

The objective of the "refresh" appears to be a return to the original mission when the organization was founded in 1969 - service and support project management practitioners. Over the years, however, PMI has drifted from this initial focus. The current Board of Directors' discussions are asking the question: What can PMI do to demonstrate that it has the right focus and is providing value to its members?

From my perspective, there is a clear sense of PMI's shift toward the individual (not just chapters), as evidenced by the EMEA Congress 2019 program theme of  “Innovation Made Possible by a Project Manager.” This shows movement toward serving the members better, but it also has me thinking about PMI's “strategy refresh". 

Here are some of my thoughts on implementing PMI's “strategy refresh":

  1. Reduce the proliferation of certifications offered by PMI and focus on the fundamentals of project management,
  2. Differentiate and show value of PMP from other certifications like PRINCE2, ITIL, etc.
  3. Educate members about adjacent certifications and partner with those groups as the management of projects evolve,
  4. Promote both the hard and soft skills that project leaders need for future of work (e.g. less command & control and more adaptive planning and discovery),
  5. Be more supportive of chapters and regions - Global staff should be seen more often and be more responsive to innovations from and the needs of chapters,
  6. Continue and boost efforts to promote project management with veterans and universities, and
  7. Have more fun! Our profession is both challenging and rewarding, but in the end - we get stuff done!

What opinions or recommendations do other members have around PMI's "strategy refresh"? 

Posted on: December 11, 2018 11:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)
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