Design Thinking & Project Management

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.

About this Blog


Recent Posts

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

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)

Top Project Management Conferences


I am a big proponent of proactive career development. Professional training and conferences are a great way to stay current on industry and business trends, gather new ideas, and expand our networks of like-minded individuals from around the world.

Over the past year I have been assembling a list of the top project management conferences that we as project leaders should consider in order to grow our careers and knowledge. This is not the ultimate list, but will provide you with plenty of new ideas. Plan ahead and save the dates!


Deliver Conference (January 2019) is based out of Manchester, UK and covers the full range of project execution methodologies. The sessions aim to help those who lead digital projects to learn and grow existing expert knowledge and be successful in their jobs and careers. In the end, it is all about delivering customer value.


Resource Planning Summit (Feb 10-13, 2019, 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.


Change Management Conference (April 28 - May 1, 2019, Orlando, Florida) 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 (April 25 - 26, 2019, 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.

PM Congress “ADAPT OR DIE” (April 11-12, 2019, Delft, Netherlands) is organized by the Delft University of Technology and the PMI Netherlands Chapter. This year's theme is "Research Meets Practice: Towards Project Management 3.0" with the aim of building bridges between research and practical expertise.

New Trends in Project Management (April 2019, Gdańsk, Poland) is organized by the PMI Gdańsk and focuses on the exchange project management knowledge and best practices in Poland and abroad.


APM Project Management Conference (May 2, 2019, 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.

UMD Project Management Symposium (May 9-10, 2019, College Park, Maryland) pulls together project managers from the Baltimore-Washington metro area, and abroad, for DC’s premier PM symposium. The PM Symposium a great hub for scholars and practitioners to meet and share their latest technological/organizational achievement and cutting-edge vision.

Global Scrum Gathering (May 20-22, 2019, Austin, Texas) 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.

Agile & Beyond (May 2019, Ypsilanti, Michigan) 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. I attended and presented at AAB18 and found the conference and its sessions to be well-run and informative.

PMI EMEA Congress (May 13-15, 2019, Dublin, Ireland) 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. This year's theme is "Be a Champion of Change".

HAPPYPROJECTS19 (May 23, 2019, 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 team is "Reset".


Project Summit Business Analyst World 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.

Project Management in Practice (June 14-18, 2019, 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.

PMO Conference (June 2019, 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.


Agile2019 (August 5-9, 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 (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.


The Digital PM Summit (September 2018, TBD) 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.


PMI Global Conference (October 2019, TBD) 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, this conference 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.

Australian Institute of Project Management National Conference (October 2019, TBD) 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.


PMO Symposium (November 2019, TBD) 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.


Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Whatever conference you decide to attend next year, and whatever the lessons learned, you will know that you can face the future of project management with confidence when you are equipped with the right tools for the job. Keep learning and growing!

Connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter @brucegay


Posted on: August 10, 2018 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

PMI Global Conference

Do you have experience and knowledge to share with project and program managers from all over the world? The PMI Global Conference 2018 call for presentations is now open! The deadline for submitting proposals is 28 March. 

Additional details and instructions can be found on the PMI Website. 

Key areas of focus this year include, but are not limited to:

  • Analyzing and Process Improvement
  • Communication and Teamwork 
  • Decision Making and Problem Solving 
  • Enhancing PM skills
  • Hot Topics / New Trends
  • Influencing and Business Strategy
  • Practical Case Studies

I presented at the PMI Global Conference 2017 in Chicago and found the experience to be both professionally and personally rewarding.


Look forward to seeing old colleagues and making new ones in Los Angeles this October!

Posted on: March 02, 2018 01:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Digital Disruption and Project Management

I am honored to participate on a panel at the 2017 PMI Global Conference on the topic of  "The Digital Future and You: The Project Manager in Times of Disruption"

The chair of the panel, Kirsten Lora, PMP, wants us to explore the role of Project Managers in the current era of "digital disruption". Here are a few of my thoughts going into the conference...

New technologies allow us to innovate at record speed. I would call out three themes that have manifested themselves from this economic disruption:

  1. Accelerating speed to market
  2. Personalization of products and services and
  3. Increased access to data & Too much data.

There was this excellent quote from Marc Andreessen in the WSJ (2011) “…all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.” Basically, the resources and infrastructure needed to start a new billion dollar company (i.e. via the Cloud) is widely available to anyone with a credit card and access to the web. Which is practically everyone.

So how do I see the role of Project Managers in this?

For companies to deliver value to their shareholders and customers, they in turn must embrace creative destruction of “digital disruption” rather than wait to become a victim of this unstoppable force. The creation of products and services, the production of something new is the end result of a group of people or disciplines working together to solve a problem. Project Management is the discipline largely responsible for guiding this effort from start to finish in an efficient manner to achieve the best possible outcomes, i.e. via projects. But Project Managers cannot continue to manage projects the way it was done 50 years ago, 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

Some have used the analogy of the Formula One race car, with a PM in the driver seat. I see the role of PMs is one who is to build the right working environment for their teams to work effectively and efficiently together. The PM may not be the F1 driver, but they help the entire team succeed on the race track. This requires establishment of a culture, governance and pace to allow more flexible processes, early engagement with the product or services end-users and laser focus on the customer’s/user’s needs. Yes, there will be more chaos and uncertainty, but I expect good PMs to thrive in environments where they come in and “tame” the chaos. (I know that is what gets me revved up about my work in healthcare IT!)

The impact on the PM profession is that we need to become more empathetic to our customers’ needs, our stakeholders’ needs and our teams’ needs. PMs who follow traditional methods that are closer to command & control will not be successful. PMs will need to allow some level of exploration and allow their teams to take risks and have failures.

I have a slide share that captures some of my thinking:


I look forward to others' thoughts on the role of Project Managers in the current era of Cloud and "digital disruption".


Connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter @brucegay



Posted on: September 27, 2017 08:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

Making a Difference

I am really looking forward to this year's PMI Global Conference in Chicago. This will be my first PMI Conference that I have attended outside of my regional chapter's professional development symposiums.

This year's conference theme "Making a Difference" asks us as professionals: Are you a Difference Maker? Who do you want to be?

I ask myself "Am I a Difference Maker"? -- "Miracle Worker"? -- "Bar Raiser"? -- "Game Changer" or even a "Deadline Crusher"? I probably could best describe myself as both a "Chaos Tamer" as well as a "Collaboration Wizard". Throughout my career, I endeavored to build working environments and team cultures that promote collaboration, innovation and fun.

I am also looking forward to the keynote speakers (Tim Berners-Lee, Nicholas Epley and Mercedes Ramirez-Johnson) at the Global Conference. They each have interesting background and experiences. 


Where you will likely find me at the conference...

Saturday, October 28th

  • Coffee and First-Time Attendee Conference Orientation
  • Opening Keynote with Sir Tim Berners-Lee
  • I hope you can join my session from 3:30 to 4:30pm (New Timeslot) for my presentation "Design Thinking & Project Management". This session is for individuals who want to learn more about design (e.g. managing innovation) and who want to start incorporating design into their projects and programs. 
  • How to Make Better Choices for You, Your Team, and Your Projects by Andy Kaufman or Transformation Leadership by Steve Mayner.
  • And to close out the day with the Annual Membership Meeting and then dinner and networking.
  • I plan on reviewing the PMI Global Standards Poster Sessions sometime on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, October 29th

  • Morning Coffee and then Keynote with Nicholas Epley
  • Organizing for Projects by Monique Aubry or Facilitating Effective Brainstorming Sessions by Brian Richardson & Katrine Maguire
  • Leadership Lessons We May Have Learned... by Ron Kurtz & Melissa Panagides-Busch
  • Adaptive Project Management by Andy Silber or Leading During a Disaster by Niraj Kumar
  • And of course I plan to attend Karen Chovan's The Necessary Culture for Soaring Performance.
  • Dinner and networking

Monday, October 30th

  • Morning Coffee and then AI and Project Management by Prasanna Adavi 
  • Creating an Enterprise Culture of Project Management by Beth Allen & Abby Frelich
  • The Language of Leadership by Dennis Cummins
  • Closing keynote with Mercedes Ramirez-Johnson

See you in Chicago!

Posted on: September 14, 2017 11:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."

- Dorothy Parker