Friday, January 25, 2013

Is the concept of the PMO obsolete? PMO discussion continues.

PMOs will focus on proving their worth and driving innovation
Continued poor project performance in many organisations will result in more PMOs being terminated.
These are 2 out of top10 trends 2013 for project management, which were identified by a global panel of ESI International senior executives and subject matter experts.

“Gone are the days when just implementing a methodology and creating a project dashboard convinced corporate executives that the PMO was pulling its weight. More organisations are conducting PMO “audits” to identify areas where the PMO can accelerate its evolution and provide higher levels of value to the organisation

ESI research shows that the average life span of the PMO is about four years.That number is likely to drop if project performance continues to underwhelm executives and stakeholders. PMOs are created to improve project performance; yet, few organisations give the PMO enough resources and authority to do the job”

After my interview with Peter Taylor on successful PMOs I asked this question to my colleagues from Thomson Reuters and here are some answers.

If you want to learn more on: “Leading Successful PMOs. How to build the best PMO for your business and keep it relevant” join PMI Gdansk Branch workshop on 1st February 2013, Sopot, Poland. More details on the workshop can be found on PMI website. To sign up for the workshop please follow the link.

Ian Whittingham, Program Manager
“I have been holding an on-going conversation on this topic with one of the external guests who attended the London PM Unconference back in September.  He has just posted a blog that is timely to this discussion. You can read that blog posting here.

What sparked our conversation was a mutual recognition that there is a necessary tension in applying project management techniques to solve business problems that demands both a common framework of concepts, processes and activities that need to be adhered to in order for teams to work in a concerted and competent way BUT there also needs to be enough 'give' in the framework to allow teams to improvise and depart from standards and procedures if it is appropriate to the circumstance of the project to do so.

Thus, a PMO needs to define and enforce the common framework so that we don't fall into an anarchy of fragmented and incompatible project management processes and practices BUT it also needs to permit departure from that framework if it is in the best interests of the project (= business problem successfully solved) to do so. As accountable owners for how projects are performed, it is intrinsic to the functioning of PMOs that they enforce policies and standards. Acting in a way that signals permission to depart from the framework invites the danger of undermining the value of mandated policies and standards and weakens the authority of the PMO. This is why PMOs can sometimes feel like your big brother, stopping you from doing what you want to do simply because he's bigger than you.

The trick here is to find the balance between 'just enough process' to enable everyone to play the same game but 'loose enough' to facilitate and encourage inspired improvisation, because that's where some of the biggest payoffs in project success often come from. The evolution of Agile as a means of creating successful software illustrates just how this balance can be achieved. Perhaps the solution is to help PMOs find a similar way to evolve in the same way that Agile did?”

Anthony Allinson, Head of Customer Support
“I have just read a great book, No Straight Lines, by Alan Moore. I say great because it really made me think about collaboration outside the hierarchy, the power of connecting people, the speed at which we can get things done in big conversations and how much we can enjoy ourselves and each other if we do things differently. It is also scandalously badly edited and repetitive. It is also dogmatic, even a little cultish. This made me angry at times as I felt it undermined the powerful ideas in the book by asserting that we could get rid of all linear control. What? All of it?

Strict adherence to the No Straight lines philosophy would declare the PMO to be obsolete. We can certainly rely on it less. But not at all? Replacing one dogma with another (which is what really made me angry about this book, despite the fact that I read it all, scribbled all over it, agreed with 90% of it and then put it in the post to friend) strikes me as a little dangerous.

The PMO challenge is always to balance throughput, efficiency and reliability. The Goldilocks PMO (the one that is just right) will vary from day to day, company to company, portfolio to portfolio, project to project.  We have the luxury of being paid to think for a living. It's never dull is it.”

James MacManus, contractor
“What would I expect a PMO to actually do?
·         Set standards for how projects are run, ensure they are followed and provide guidance for project managers.
·         Maintain project management resources: standards and guidelines, templates, check-lists, project review outcomes, lessons learned etc.
·         Collect project data (progress, status, RICs) and collate it for consumption by management.
·         Assist in prioritising requirements, forecasting demand and producing scheduling and resource planning information.
·         Oversee or facilitate project reviews and appraisals.

A bad PMO will have a single set of templates (one size fits all) that it expects every project manager to complete, no matter what the size of their project. A good PMO will offer different formats, engage with the project manager and guide them to the most appropriate data capture mechanism. A failing PMO will have probably tried the first option, failed to get compliance and then given up trying. The key to a good PMO is knowing what is appropriate and striking a balance between necessary constraints and oversight and unnecessary paper-work and restrictions. To do this they must engage with their PMs, understand what it is they are trying to achieve and be conversant with their methods - Agile or otherwise. If there is no PMO, then who will take responsibility for the activities I've listed?”

Nicholas Whitford, Business Analyst / Agile Product Owner
“Good description James, and I think describes why PMO value gets questioned.
They effectively provide processes and tools to make sure projects are "run properly" - but what does that mean? Well, in the simplest form, they are to provide support to make sure projects are delivered on-time, in budget and satisfy a set of requirements.

This assumes the projects require support - processes and tools. I suppose the study has proven that perhaps many professionals, when made more accountable (rather than diluting the accountability) rise the occasion and make sure the right processes are in place in order to deliver the right outcomes, which is what we're all about. Delivery is always more important than how you got there.
Reflection is the tool to make sure you make delivery more efficient each time - and perhaps that's what the PMO should be tasked with, making sure that over time, projects become more efficiently run (less deviation on time and budget).”

Ken Lamparter, Global Program Manager
“There are a number of good comments here.  I have seen some very good PMO's (and one very bad example of a PMO which was a bureaucratic nightmare). Some thoughts of mine on the subject.....

1) PMO's should have senior sponsorship - they must be guided with a purpose on what they are trying to achieve.  Peter Taylor's points therefore are very valid that senior managers know who the PMO are. PMO's should be guided by the CTO / CIO etc and have clear objectives that are aligned to the CIO/CTO's objectives.

2) The purpose of a PMO I believe can be summed up as "ensuring that the key projects keep to the guidelines set, but that the guidelines can and should change depending on the project". I totally agree with others in other discussions who have said that a good set of project guidelines get people up and running very quickly, but we should always look to challenge and then improve them.  We should also allow some flexibility. PMO's should be able to be challenged about why a particular process or guideline is there, and if the Project Team can identify a modified process that meets the project teams needs while also meeting the end result expected by the PMO then that flexibility should at least be discussed.

 3) The PMO should not be seen in an ivory tower dictating project process to the project managers. It should be engaging in a dialogue with the project management teams about what is working and what is not, and then championing the good practices and fixing the bad. The PMO must ensure that there is a mechanism to make change to the overall process and also to ensure that the reasons for specific ways of doings things are understood. Never underestimate the amount of "education" a PMO should be doing.

 4) PMO should be challenged to make improvements each year. Ideally this should be as a tangible benefit... example .... save some money in the project lifecycle by eliminating or streamlining a process, or maybe to better define the project funding process so that project selection is better optimised. If you show you are contributing to the bottom line, then there is rarely a discussion on the value of any team to the organisation.”

So, is the concept of the PMO obsolete? I do not think so.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Are you writing the story of your life?

Am I really holding the pen and writing the story of my life?

That was a question I asked myself after the closing speech of PMI® Leadership Institute Meeting 2012 – EMEA which took place last year on May 4-6 in Marseille, France and gathered together 200 PMI leaders.

Leadership Institute Meetings are designed to inspire and support PMI leaders by offering face-to-face opportunities to connect with and learn from fellow volunteer leaders. At the meetings PMI leaders collaborate in productive, curriculum-driven educational sessions. Additionally, they earn professional development units (PDUs) for the formal learning activities related to project management.

Jim Lawless, one of the most popular inspirational speakers in Europe, was the closing speaker of the 2,5 day event and talking on “Ten Rules for Taming Tigers” made the audience laugh and cry.

What is the barrier to peak performance, influencing tricky stakeholders and driving project success? It’s internal and we have the power to tame it whenever we choose. We call it “the Tiger” and it’s the thing that roars at us and makes us back down when faced with innovation, personal change and bold, committed action. The Tiger seduces billions of people into delivering comfortable mediocrity.

Taming Tigers is a unique and highly practical way of understanding and winning the battle that we have with ourselves to take risks, grow and succeed. Taming Tigers is one of the most advanced coaching and cultural change tools on the corporate landscape. It has been tested twice by its creator in the sporting arena. First, by Jim’s journey from overweight non-rider to jockey in 12 months, at the age of 36, and then by his breaking the British No Limits Freediving record in 2010, the first British diver to cross the magic 100-meters barrier.

After the emotional, entertaining and inspiring speech I really wanted to read his book “Timing Tigers. Do things you never thought you could” – did not buy it during the event and was not aware I would like it. Fortunately, Jim was also the speaker of the PMI EMEA Congress and my friend who was staying longer got a copy for me.

Taming Tigers changed my life (more on this soon) and now it is your turn to tame your Tiger:

1.         Act boldly today - time is limited!
2.         Re-write your Rulebook - challenge it hourly
3.         Head in the direction of where you want to arrive, every day
4.         It’s all in the mind
5.         The tools for Taming Tigers are all around you
6.         There is no safety in numbers
7.         Do something scary everyday
8.         Understand and control your time to create change
9.         Create disciplines – do the basics brilliantly
10.       Never, never give up!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Personal Development Planning - help your dreams come true

New Year, new plans, new development goals. My dream map is almost ready, so this week I decided to devote to planning my development – need to help my dreams come true. For the last 6 years, actually since I joined Thomson Reuters I split my development actions into three categories: 1) on job; 2) from others; 3) formal learning and use 70:20:10 approach to my learning and development.  In this article I will explain the 70:20:10 approach and will share some tips development goals settings.

Just before we move to the core subject just a quick recap on goals settings.Remember – the meaning of the goal determines the direction.
  • In the first column formulate the goal –1-2 sentences.
  • In the second column name all actions, you need to undertake to reach this goal. Remember the 70/20/10 approach – explained below.
  • In the third column consider all possible results of your goal. How will you know success has been achieved?
  • In the last column set the date for your goal. Try to stagger so all results are not expected at same time.

When we think about actions we should be taking to acquire the necessary knowledge or skills, we should remember the 70/20/10 approach. Formal learning (e.g. e-learning & classroom training) is not sufficient on its own.

The majority of learning comes from interaction with others:
  • 70% of development comes from learning on the job
  • 20% of development comes from learning from others
  • Only 10% of development comes from formal training

We believe that most of the learning (about 70%) happens on the job – as we learn mostly by doing, and this learning could happen when we are:

  1.  part of projects or working groups
  2.  a member of a committee working in charge of a special task
  3.  seconded to another assignment
  4.  given stretch assignments on the job.

 TIPS FOR FUTure project managers
  • Look for opportunities to facilitate goal-defining, decision-making, problem-solving, idea generation sessions.
  • Identify an existing task, project, process or approach where is an opportunity to improve or solve a problem. Take a lead of this task.
  • Lead or sign up to be a member of a team other than your own that is working on an addressing a requirement, enhancing systems and processes, or meeting an objective.
  • Work streams such as charity, diversity, green team and others create a great opportunity for future project managers - join and lead a project on their behalf!
Do you know that all English Summer/Winter Camp Project Managers are certified PMs or studying towards certification!

We also learn from others, and this is were coaching, mentoring and feedback comes in.

  • Discuss your scenarios with other Project Managers, either internal or external, in café room, workshops, seminars, or lunch time. Share and listen their advices
  • Join local project management communities – find one in your area. That might be a local PMI chapter or other PM interest groups.
  • Take part in PM events (conferences, seminars, etc) - both as a participant and a speaker/presenter. These are great opportunities to share your experience, learn new PM trends and get feedback from more experienced colleagues.

Finally, we learn through formal or structure activities such as workshops, courses – and session such as this one!  But this will only be effective if they are applied on the job.

Equipped with all these theory we are ready to define our goals. Try to define 2-3 goals per period and then once completed you can add more. Have a look what I have come up with- do not worry if the letters are too small to read - I have written all content below.
Goal1: Build expertise in Agile further

My 2013 PDP (Personal Development Plan)

  • Manage projects involving software development where SCRUM has been adopted
-       At least 1 project delivered by end of 2013
  • Use Agile tools & techniques and Agile mindset in all charity/social projects involved
-       At least 2 social projects delivered using Agile approach. Feedback from the team. 1st project by June 2013, 2nd project by end of 2013.

  • Build relationships with Agile gurus
-       Relationships with 2 Agile gurus built by end of 2013
  • Find an Agile Coach or Mentor
-       Mentoring / coaching relationships set up by end of Q1 2013
  • Join the local Agile community & attend the meetings
-       7 local community meetings attended by end of 2013

  • Take part in Agile events
-       One 2 day conference on Agile topics attended by end of June 2013
-       3 other events attended by end of 2013
  • Read books/articles and write on Agile
-       Read and write reviews on 2 books – 1 book & 1 review  per 6 months
-       Write 2 articles on Agile by end of 2013

  • Prepare for PMI-ACP certification
-       PMI-ACP certificate achieved by Q3 2013

Now is your turn. Help your dreams come true!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

If you can dream it, you can do it. Goals setting and Dream Mapping

 If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

If you are a Project Manager or your job is related to project management setting goals is one of the important skills. How about your life? Shouldn’t we treat our life as the most important project?

Do you know that only 3% of Poles set their goals and these people achieve more. The same applies the whole World!

Treat your dreams seriously. You are here to become as good, as you can. You owe it yourselfSusan Hayward, “Begin it now”

Goals can be:
-          short and long-term
-          serious and light
-          related to job or your private life
-          related to you or people, world
-          secret and public

And related to different areas:
-           professional goals
-           social goals
-           financial goals
-           goals focused on you
-           goals focused on your family
-           goals focused on your health and life style
-           intellectual goals
-           other (hobbies, travel, etc.)

It’s good to set several goals – the life starts to be more interesting and balanced. Apart of that if you meet obstacles you can always focus on other goal for a while.

Brian Tracy, success expert, suggests: write down your 10 goals, choose one – the most important for you at the moment, and every day do one small thing that brings you closer to achieving this goal. Easy?

I have another, more creative idea: Cut & Paste Your Perfect Life – create a Dream Map sometimes called Mood Board or Vision Board. If actors Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey use them to plan their careers, why not to have a go. Tekst based on the materials from a workshop delivered by Marzena Imiłkowski I've attended and the article "Cut & Paste Your Perfect Life" - RED, September 2010.

A Dream Map is a physical manifestation of what you want in your life, it can help point you in a new direction, shake up your ideas, gives answers when you’re stuck on anything: career, relationships, finances, family

How to create a Dream Map?

  • Before you begin, spend a few minutes setting your intention for the exercise. Think about what you'd like to manifest in your life
  • Flick through magazines and cut the pictures and slogans that you are drawn to without knowing why.
  •  Look for inspiration everywhere: slogans for adds, product packaging, radio jingles, song lyrics, etc.
  •  Don’t have a specific idea’s in advance of what you are trying to create. Just allow yourself to be attracted to images or ideas
  • Trust your intuition, however weird. The idea is to make surprise connections
  •  Be careful: it’s not a fantasy shopping list. The map is not about the things you would like to buy if you won a lottery. It’s not about wishing you were someone else.

    • Then paste the images to a paper card – choose a big enough canva! You can use the structure suggested below
    • Feel free to add your own drawings to complete your dream map.
    • You can also put a frame around it and sign it with a affirmation: “I am asking for this or anything better for my best benefit”
    •  Have fun!
    • When ready hang it in the place you can see it often – that’s what I do - it helps me to focus on the things are important to me.
    •  Some people avoid places visited by others, to keep their wishes private.
    • There is also a theory of not looking at it for some time and return to see if the dreams came true after a while.
    Not ready yet, will leave some for next weekend
    You might not believe till the moment you try, but this works! I have created 2 maps so far and all my dreams came true. A mystery?  Not really:
    •           When you commit your ideas and dreams to paper, whether in words or pictures, you make them more concrete.
    •           This helps harness the power of visualization.
    •          When you put a desire or an intention out to the Universe, amazing synchronicities and coincidences begin to occur.
    •           When you've clarified what you want, it becomes easier to recognize opportunities that could provide the openings you need.
    When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream.  Paulo Coelho

    Advantages of creating a Dream Map:
    -           guarantees you will spend some time on dreaming
    -           helps to understand your needs better
    -           makes your goals clear and set them in logic whole
    -           helps you to keep balance in your life
    -           helps you to believe in reaching the goals by transferring your wishes to real life
    -           provides focus to your mind
    -           mobilizes and motivates you to acting
    -           gives you a direction
    -           gives you much positive energy and sets you in a good mood

    Your Dream Map structure proposal

    Wealth & Prosperity

    Fame & Reputation

    Love & Relationship

    career - end

    spiritual goals 

    Family & Physical Health
    Spiritual Health & Well Being
    Creativity & Children

    plans for future

    Knowledge & Wisdom
    Career & Life Path
    Travel & Helpful People
    career start
    social goals


     Wish you all your dreams come true. Enjoy!

    Saturday, January 5, 2013

    Meet a Project Management Expert – ALAN HARPHAM, the co-author of “The Spirit of Project Management”

    I have a pleasure to announce that Alan Harpham will be a guest of PMI Gdansk Branch on the evening 17th January 2013.

    As an interesting fact you should know that first time Alan came to Poland with 1000 other English workers to take part in a PVC factory construction project which took place in 1978-1979 in Wloclawek (PL) for a Polish company Zaklady Azotowe Wloclawek (currently called “Anwil”). During this 1 year assignment he was coordinating the work of subcontractors. Among these 1000 was also Sir John Alexander Armitt, CBE, FREng, the Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, the body charged with building the venues, facilities and infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games.

    Alan Harpham BSc MBA CMC FAPM FIC FIOD is currently a Chairman of the APM Group, trading as APMG-International in Poland. For many years he worked in construction projects at John Laing. Till today he is an active guest lecturer on European universities.

    Alan is the co-author of “The Spirit of Project Management” book published by Gower in a series edited by Prof Darren Dalcher and one of the books in the ‘advances in PM series’. A member of selection committee for Faith and Spirit at Work Awards, previous director of The Center for Spirit at Work (University of Newhaven), Chair of Workplace Matters, an ecumenical Christian organisation in UK providing chaplains to workplaces (60+ volunteer chaplains), chair of Cranfield University’s Science and Engineering Research Ethics Committee, Member of the Cranfield University Research Ethics Committee, Chair of SPD Ethics C’ee (a medical research company), founding chair of MODEM UK (charity organisation encouraging dialogue between those interested in Leadership, Organisation and Management and those interested in Theology, Spirituality and Ministry), Member of the Christian Association of Business Execs (CABE), and many others.  

    Advances in Project Management provides short, state of play, guides to the main aspects of the new emerging applications including: maturity models, agile projects, extreme projects, six sigma and projects, human factors and leadership in projects, project governance, value management, virtual teams, project benefits.

    Projects have always been essentially human endeavours. Large modern projects are generally highly complex, fraught with technical difficulties and supported by diverse, often apparently conflicted stakeholders. The spirituality that originally defined some of the great construction projects of the classical era surely has a role in project management today.

    The Spirit of Project Management explains the context for spirituality in projects and explores how it can be used to create a larger sense of purpose and achievement; to help encourage an esprit de corps amongst all those involved; to act as a touchstone for ethical and sustainable decision-making

    .“In writing this book the authors remind us of the longforgotten and vital spiritual component of business life, and how to get a better balance into our management methods – one that will bring greater success . In giving practical advice, through examples as well as tools and techniques, they help many of us do what we know we should be doing already. They propose an exciting new future, one where the full potential of people and teams is realised – probably the only way we can deal with the complexity of the modern world.”
    John Kay, Director of Change Management,Transforming Business and former partner at PA Consulting Group

    Alan privately loves mountain hiking and is a supporter of his favorite rugby teams Northampton Saints and Scotland.

    If you are interested in meeting Alan in person please join PMI Gdansk Branch seminar in Sopot on the 17th of January. Sitting is limited. More details and registration here.