I wish I had me when I was you...

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"I wish I had me when I was you..." That expresses precisely how I feel each time a project manager or PMO leader tells me a story about their frustrations encountered while trying to create effective and sustainable change, build (or fix) a PMO, or deliver projects successfully. I always think to myself…I wish I knew then what I know now. I’ve made it my mission to share with you everything that I have learned while creating change and building PMOs in both large and small organizations for the last 24 years, many of those years as an employee in the "hot seat" responsible for building internal capability. I’m hoping these articles help you along your journey as you continue to evolve and develop skills and techniques to be the high-IMPACT leader you are meant to be. Learn more at ImpactbyLaura.com

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What happens when you rescue your project team members?

Addressing Process Non-Compliance

Hot Topic: Stakeholder Engagement

Are you doing progressive elaboration or perpetual elaboration?

Are you a Project Manager or an IMPACT Driver?

Even Planners Need to do Planning

As project management types, many of us are so busy helping others with their planning and project activities that we forget to take time to do our own planning. I liken us to the plumber with the leaky faucet. Whether it’s planning the next step in your career or planning the next quarter, we need to take time to plan out our roadmap. We must be prepared to take our own medicine. It’s good for us, after all.

I’m taking my own medicine and beginning my process of planning the next year. Starting in quarterly chunks of planning. This helps to figure out what I can get accomplished. I always have more ideas than I possibly have capacity to complete. There are so many new projects I want to explore, new ways to deliver value, things I want to try.

Are you like me with a to do list that never quite gets to empty?

As I prepared for some time out of the office, I kept working furiously to get things knocked off my list. I got A LOT done, but as I worked, I found more things that I wanted to add to my list! It’s crazy, I know. The list just gets longer no matter how many things I check off! I have projects coming out of my ears and I know that I won’t be able to get them all done.

It’s healthy (at least I think so) to keep that list of ideas coming in, things you want to accomplish, goals that you are setting out for yourself. The creative energy is good for us. And it’s important to jot down the ideas we have when we have them instead of discarding the idea or possible new project.

So what do I do? I prioritize!

I am always looking at the order things need to be done in. What’s urgent? What’s important?

Urgent vs. important

It’s crucial to find the balance between urgent and important. So often, we spend so much time on the urgent that we never get to the important. For example, you have urgent client needs that must be addressed, but once you’ve taken care of all the needs of your clients, you have no time left for the important things like planning for the future.

As a business owner, I like to remember something my coach always says, “You cannot only work in the business. You must work on the business if you are going to be successful in the long term.”

The same applies to you, whether you run a division, a company or a project. We must make time to work “on the business” we are managing, as well as in it. This means taking time to step back, figure out where we are going and what big things we want to accomplish, then plan out our roadmap for getting there.

This takes planning for the future. Yeah, we gotta actually do some planning.

Take a few minutes to think about your big goals for the next year. What will bring you the most happiness? What will give you the greatest sense of accomplishment? How can you drive high-IMPACT?

Then, put a plan together and manage your big goals like you would any other project. Yes, this means actually writing it down. It’s only a dream until you make it a plan. Once you make it a plan, we know how to handle and execute a plan, right?

OK, now go Get. It. Done!


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Warmly,

Posted on: January 08, 2018 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

2017: Year in Review

Are you spending the last day of most holiday vacations traveling, tossing, or turning? Well, boredom and monkey-mind be banished! Put your travel time to good use by catching up on what you might have missed in 2017, learn new ways to drive IMPACT in your organization and careers.

Here are the articles shared in 2017:

Project Management Day of Service® 2017 (It's not too late to sign up for 2018!)

Fight, Flight or Freeze – Resistance to Implementing PM Practices

Are you owning the project management process, or are they?

The Project Doesn't Start at Charter

Top 10 Mistakes PMO / PM Leaders are Making (and how to solve them TODAY)

Focus Driven Change: Change Management Lessons from Ordinary Life

Why You Shouldn't Outsource Your PMO

What to Look for When Hiring a PMO/PM Consultant

The Project Doesn’t End with Closure

Are you doing progressive elaboration or perpetual elaboration?

Stakeholder Engagement

The culture made me do it!

Quick Tip: Explaining the value of Project Management to “non-believers”

Addressing Process Non-Compliance

What is a PMO and do I need one?

Because I wish I had me when I was you…

Are you a Project Manager or an IMPACT Driver?

Hot Topic: Process Discipline

What happens when you rescue your project team members?

5 Steps to Avoid Rescuing Project Team Members

From Project Manager to IMPACT Driver: Accelerating Your Project Management Career

Hot Topic: PMO

Even Planners Need to do Planning

Does a PMO need a charter? Probably not.

Hot Topic: PMO Startup

Top 10 Mistakes PMO Leaders Are Making and How to Fix Them

Quick Tip: Stop Calling Yourself a Project Manager

Did You Know That Project Management Can Change the World?

The Big Credibility Differentiator

Top 5 of 2017

The year 2017 came full circle, beginning and ending not only how to drive IMPACT in your organization and career, but also how project management can make an IMPACT in the community. Cheers to a bright 2018!


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Click here to receive these blog posts right to your inbox.

Fill out our one-minute survey if you have topics you would like read more about.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: January 01, 2018 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Top 5 of 2017

It’s always fascinating to go back through the numbers and data and determine where the biggest IMPACT was made. This is especially true when approaching a benchmark such as the new year. My team and I took a look at all of the data sources on social media and the IMPACT site to determine which resources users just like you, used the most. 

You will notice, the word "resources" instead of articles. As we dug deeper into the numbers, we found that it isn't just the articles we put out that were heavily used, but also some of the tools and templates we have available. Here are the top 5 resources from 2017:

  1. What is a PMO and do I need one? This article is the. most. popular. across the board, and if you take a look you will see why. This article covers the benefits, areas of support, and potential deliverables to help you and your organization determine if a PMO is right for you. I even dive into what to watch for in case your PMO is in trouble.
  2. Dealing with Difficult Stakeholders As PMs and PMOs we are in the people business, we are managing change with people. And you are well aware, that people can either have a positive or a negative IMPACT on a project. In this article, I go into 8 very simple steps to manage stakeholders (both positive and negative).
  3. IMPACT Inner Circle Membership Site  Have you ever thought, wouldn't it be nice to get all the information, resources, tools, templates, training (PDUs!) I need in one place? You have found it. The IMPACT Inner Circle helps you transform your organization to drive high-value outcomes, and provides you immediate actions, plans and new solutions to your toughest challenges. I encourage you to check out our flexible membership options.
  4. Top 10 Mistakes PMO/PM Leaders Make (and how to fix them) In this popular article, I dive into the top 10 mistakes I see happening every day and exactly how to fix them, fast. I built my first PMO in the 90's and the truth is that I had no idea what I was doing! BUT, I had a Get. It. Done. attitude and a desire to learn and boy did I learn! A lot. I made a lot of mistakes and I learned a thing or two over the following two decades of putting PMOs and PM best practices in place. You will find the solution in this article. (And for a more in-depth look, I recently did a training over the Top 10 Mistakes PMO/PM Leaders make, you can get that here.)

  5. One Page Executive Dashboard (2 PDUs) In this most popular and IMPACTful course, I share practical and immediately applicable techniques to give you the tools you need to start using right away in your organization! In addition to real-world guidance, you finish the course understanding exactly what you need to tell them and how, learn how to get your B.L.U.F. (Bottom Line Up Front) right, determine what information should be presented, and leverage color and symbols to help executives focus.

As you move through the holiday weeks, and you are doing your own assessment of the IMPACT that you have driven over the last 12 months, I hope that you will check into these resources and see how they can help to transform the IMPACT your career and organization makes in 2018.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

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Fill out our one-minute survey if you have topics you would like read more about.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Happy Holidays,

LauraBSignature_black

Posted on: December 25, 2017 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Quick Tip: Explaining the value of Project Management to “non-believers”

How do you convince someone that Project Management is the medicine they need to take? You don’t.

Our “go to” move when we want to bring someone over to our way of thinking is to talk and talk about the benefits because surely, they will “get it” if we just explain it right…right?

 

Well, you may want to consider starting with a few other things first, then they might actually listen to what you have to say…

  • Start by listening. Why are they unimpressed with Project Management? Maybe they have seen it fail before or “got burned.” Maybe they just haven’t been exposed to it. You won’t know unless you ask and asking allows you to figure out how to best approach engaging them on the topic.
  • Make sure that you are not over-complicating the project management process in the first place. There's a difference between project management and PROJECT MANAGEMENT. It might be that the process is getting in the way of productivity and that could contribute to their concern. Focus on what minimal best practices you can put in place in order to create value without making project management “the work” for them.

  • Think simple and small. If what you have been presenting to them is overwhelming, they won’t buy into it. You don't want to overwhelm people with charts and tools and templates they have to fill out if you want them to believe in the value project management. Always keep your discussion of the topic and what you introduce to them very minimal.

Then, you can start talking in a way that speaks to their perspective…

 

 

  • Provide examples of what other industry leaders are doing. In every industry, you can find people that are exhibiting good project management discipline and it shows in the outcomes that the organizations able to create. Take the opportunity to research other companies that do similar work and showcase how they have implemented project management discipline and are seeing stellar results.
  • Focus on the pain you can fix. Give them examples of what’s not working right now. The reason you want to add PM process is probably because something isn’t working as well as they could or something is just broken.
  • Make it real for them. When I do my project management training courses, I often walk people through very simple examples of applying project management techniques to day-to-day life. For example, when you are planning a trip, you apply a lot of the best practices of project management to plan the trip effectively. Just getting from point A to point B, you plan your route, plan for issues that can come up along the way, develop a timeline, plan for stops along the way, etc. Many times, applying project management to the “real world” makes it easier to see the value.
  • And the most important way to make a non-believer a believer is to get something done. Perform. Perform relentlessly and then explain to them that project management techniques are what got you there and got the outstanding results.

There is no greater way to transform a non-believer into a believer than to get something done for them that has extremely high value and creates a big impact.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

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Fill out our one-minute survey if you have topics you would like read more about.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

Posted on: December 18, 2017 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Top 10 Mistakes PM/PMO Leaders are Making (and how to solve them TODAY!)

I built my first PMO in the 90s (yes, in the last century!) and the truth is that I had no idea what I was doing! BUT, I had a Get. It. Done. attitude and a desire to learn and boy did I learn! A lot. I made a lot of mistakes and I learned a thing or two over the following two decades of putting PMOs and PM best practices in place.  Now that I teach and coach others the art of successful project management and PMO implementation, I am seeing some of the same mistakes I used to make when I was first starting out. I see PMOs that had a real chance of success getting bogged down in the not so important, while opportunity passes them by (as does their next promotion). While there are many things we can do wrong, there are MANY MORE things we CAN do right.

Here are the top ten mistakes I wish I had known to avoid when I was in your shoes (and most importantly, what to do about it). I hope this saves you from learning the hard way, as I often did.

  1. Suffering from “Me Too” Syndrome

Your execs go off to a conference or read an article and next thing you know, “we have to do that because everyone else is.” Sound familiar? Yeah, well, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it is going to make the most sense for you. You better be crystal clear on exactly what business problem you are trying to solve if you are going to make the time, money, and energy investment into an undertaking like putting in new PM practices or starting a PMO.

For more on this topic, check out Why do PMOs exist?

  1. Building the wrong type of PMO

Sadly, many PMO leaders start building an organization or putting templates and processes in place before they figure out what services will actually get the biggest bang for the buck in the organization. You need to figure out what your customers need help with first. Then DO THAT. Start with asking the right questions. Determine the “P” for your PMO. Are you going to provide project management support? Will you provide governance and portfolio oversight?  Do they need coaching of PMs that aren’t reporting to the PMO?

Think about who you want to be when you grow up…do you want to be the policing organization that everyone fears or do you want to be the support organization that everyone turns to when they need to Get. It. Done?

For more on this topic, check out 4 Questions to Ask when Starting a PMO.

  1. Blaming the culture

It’s very easy to say the reason your PMO isn’t working is because you don’t have the support or people don’t “get it” and it’s not your fault. It feels like you just keep pushing that boulder up the hill and it keeps rolling back down. I totally get it. I’ve lived that slow and agonizing nightmare of change resistance around every corner. What I learned, however, was to focus on what I could control and the rest would come along…eventually.

Yes, you must practice patience, but even more importantly, we must learn how to do change WITH people instead of TO them. People are not resistant to change. They are resistant to change being DONE TO them. So, next time you feel like you can’t get the support you need on your project, look at what you could do to bring people (as partners) with you through the process, including their insights and ideas along the way.

For more on this topic, check out People are NOT Resistant to Change .

  1. Measuring the wrong things

As a PM or PMO leader, your job is to drive business results and create value and IMPACT for the organization. You are NOT there because they want more templates or tools. You are there because they want a greater return on the investment they are making in their projects. Projects are costing too much, taking too long, or failing to deliver the value intended.

Solve. That. Problem.

From this point forward, you are no longer a PMO leader or project manager. Think of yourself as an investment manager for the organization. Because you are. They have given you some of their investment dollars (a.k.a. budget) to complete a project that will achieve some value or outcome for the organization that is worth more to them than the original investment of time, money and resources. It is your fiduciary responsibility to optimize the spend and get the greatest return on that investment possible. That means you need to be focused on more than the triple constraint. Earned Value Measurement will only take you so far. EVM will tell you how your budget and schedule are performing, but won’t tell you a darn thing about actual VALUE achieved. Did the revenue we expected to gain or the expense reduction we expected to see happen?

THAT is what the business wants to know. THAT is what the business is asking you deliver.

For more on this topic, check out EVM is NOT Enough.

  1. Methodology abuse 

When first tasked with building out PM capability, what’s the first thing most people do? They start building process and templates or start redesigning what’s already there to make sure it’s more “holistic.” We then spend months (or years) building out templates and process and then trying desperately to educate everyone on our methodology we are so proud of, all while they run and hide. What’s worse is that we have spent precious time using company resources to build things yet we haven’t delivered any value yet. I know, you feel like all those templates will provide value, but all your leadership and stakeholders see is that they invested in you a year ago and not one project has gotten done better, faster, or cheaper since.

Instead of spending time focusing on perfecting that methodology, go get something done! Find a team or a project you can help improve and then do that. Quickly. Then another, then another. This will help you more clearly define the need/gap you can fill and test out your services…all before you have spent a year building templates and process that may not actually serve you well once you see the services you should implement.

And if you already have best practices and process in place. Your job, today, not next week or next year, is to start simplifying it! Make lives easier. Make it easier to get things done. You do this and you become an invaluable asset to the organization.

For more on this topic, check out The Problem with Process.

  1. Tools gone wild

When I start with a new client and I’m helping to setup an IT PMO (or an IT leader is leading the charge), I can almost guarantee they will have purchased a tool before they’ve even engaged me. Inevitably, they start implementing a tool and meet such change resistance with their stakeholders that the entire PMO future hangs in the balance.

Tools are the last step in the process, not the first. You must figure out what business problems you are solving, what services you are going to provide, make sure your stakeholders all understand the fundamentals of project management and how to engage properly in the process, then you can start putting a tool in place that meets the needs of the stakeholders.

For more on this topic, check out Stop Playing with Toys.

  1. Missing the marketing

Make sure that you are telling the story of the value you are creating with your PMO. Recognize and celebrate the wins publicly. Tie the project completion to the value and impact your PMO was responsible for creating. Just make sure you are doing it in the language that the business understands. Talk about the business problems you are solving. Talk about the transformation that is taking place. Make it real for people. And make sure to have a set of key metrics that ties PMO success to the success of the value and impacts you are creating.

For more on this topic, check out Telling the PMO Story.

  1. Burying stakeholders in reports

If your sponsor has ever gotten stuck on the bottom of page 4 on some element of your status report and you can’t get them to refocus on the action or decision you need from them before the top of the hour, then you need to right-size your reporting.

Doing too much of the wrong communication or spending countless hours on meaningless and time-consuming reporting will prevent you from spending your time on delivery. Think about every document you create, every report you produce and ever meeting you attend or schedule. Every bit of communication should be tied to value and outcomes you can create. If not, stop doing it. No one needs to hear for the third time this week how Joe is doing on this piece of the project.

For more on this topic, check out Communications Your Sponsor will LOVE

  1. Sponsor abuse

We expect a lot from our sponsors (and should), but often we do so without understanding how to best support them so that they can support us. We also assume our sponsors actually know how to be good sponsors. Many of them don’t. If your sponsor isn’t engaged or you can’t get them to make decisions, then it’s time to TRAIN THEM on the role and what we expect from them.

Start by figuring out their WIIFM (what’s in it for me) and how they will benefit when this project is successful (and how much pain they will be in if it’s not). Then we need to set expectations with them, starting with how you will support them and how you will be working to ensure their success (according to that WIIFM). Then, you can start asking for what you need from them. Use their power for good (not evil) to get their peer to make that resource you need available, but be careful not to dilute your own power by saying “sponsor said” when you need cooperation from staff.

For more on this topic, check out How to Train Your Sponsor

  1. Misusing talent

I always looked for help when I was tasked with starting a PMO. I needed staff to help me with ideas and to execute our plans and I needed advisors to provide me a sanity check or guide me in the best way to get the PMO up and running quickly.  What I learned is what works in one place, may not work so well in another. It’s all about finding the right team and then doing this change together. Make sure you don’t bring in all your own people.  They are likely to have the same mindset and ideas you have, which will limit your diversity in thinking and idea generation. They may also have the same blind spots and weaknesses. Diversity is king here, which means you will need to learn to adjust your management style to each individual personality. :)

Sometimes we bring in consultants and then let them “do” the project management or PMO implementation for us. Don’t do it. Please, don’t. I’m not saying you cannot have temporary staff (a.k.a. contractors) performing project management for you. That’s fine. But if you completely outsource your PMO setup, you will either have to make those people permanent or the “life” of your PMO leaves when they walk out the door. You must ingrain the changes you want into the culture and behaviors of the people that will be around for the long haul. Make sure you find yourself the kind of consulting team that will teach you and the organization to fish instead of doing the fishing for you. They will help you build that internal competency and be a partner to you along the way, strategically encouraging the weaning process as soon as you can fish for yourself.

For more on this topic, check out The PMO Talent Profile.


Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Click here to receive these blog posts right to your inbox.

Fill out our one-minute survey if you have topics you would like read more about.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!

Warmly,

LauraBSignature_black small 90

Posted on: December 11, 2017 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)
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