Sunday, April 28, 2013

Anyone can do it! Leadership Institute Meeting 2013 – PART I

This year about 200 PMI leaders from 44 countries and 60 chapters gathered together on April 19-21 in Istanbul, Turkey at the EMEA PMI® Leadership Institute Meeting (LIM) 2013. This was a third time I have attended this 3-day learning and sharing experience.

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.
For me LIM is more than a conference.  This is a very inspiring and motivating event with focus on networking and exchanging experience.

Some tips to maximise your networking opportunities – hopefully you find them useful when organizing your events:
1.     Attach a meeting ribbon to your badge to promote networking!
2.     Introduce yourself to the person you sit next to in each session, exchange business cards!
3.     Try to join different people during each session and split when you come from the same chapter!


The event was opened by Mark Langley, PMI President and CEO and PMI Chair, who stressed that more and more companies and governments embrace project management and PMI grew and grows because provides value. Passion and purpose appeared a few times in his opening speech with the conclusion that passion without purpose is wasteful.

As always there were a lot of workshops and presentations to choose from, but this post I would like to dedicate to a keynote speaker Sahar Hashemi

Sahar Hashemi founded Coffee Republic, the United Kingdom’s first U.S. style coffee bar chain, with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with 110 bars and a turnover of £30m. Giving up professional careers (she as a lawyer in London and her brother as an investment banker in New York) they staked everything on a dream and made Coffee Republic one of the main players in the coffee revolution that transformed the UK high street. She is the author of  a bestselling book Anyone Can Do It – Building Coffee Republic from Our Kitchen Table, which has been translated into six languages and is the second highest selling book on entrepreneurship after Richard Branson’s. Her most recent book, Switched On, published in 2010, focuses on eight habits that foster a more entrepreneurial mindset for employees.

During her presentation “The Entrepreneurial Mindset” Sahar walked us through her journey from being a lawyer to become an entrepreneur and proved anyone can do it. She did not follow the Hollywood pattern from rags to riches – the thought of selling sweets or worms never crossed her mind. Not only was she brought up to be an entrepreneur, she was taught to study “useful subjects” and aim for a solid profession

Habit 1: Step into the customer’s shoes. The idea came from a need of a customer – she missed the skinny cappuccinos and fat-free muffins from New York espresso bars.

Habit 2: Get out of the office. Sahar bough a one-day travel card and circumnavigated the Cricle Line getting off at every single one of the 27 stops to inspect what kind of coffee was on offer to the commuters. What she found out was no choice, basic, undecorated sandwich bars with long queues – it was obvious that coffee was sold in huge quantities.

Habit 3: The importance of being clueless

Habit 4: Bootstrapping. The process of starting and developing a business by using a lot of effort and no investment by outside owners. Sahar has moved to her mother and rent her flat!
Habit 5: Notching up no’s
Habit 6: Taking 100% of Yourself to work

Entrepreneurs don’t quit, even when all they have to go on is gut instinct. They keep working hard to realise their dreams. “I do not have any experience, or special skills, I don’t have the money. I have no idea how I’m going to do it. But I’m still going to do it” – that’s how an entrepreneur thinks!

To sum up: switch off your left part of your brain (responsible for logical thinking). But do not take it wrong, being an entrepreneur is not risky. Entrepreneurs do not take risks – it’s all calculated: dream – project – make it happen!

Sahar helped us better understand how to move outside our comfort zone, ignite our innate creativity and forget the “this is how we’ve always done things” mentality.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

What do developers think about PMs? And more from 4Developers conference!

4Developers, a first fully interdisciplinary IT conference in Poland took place on the 12th of April 2013. 13 thematic tracks and workshops attracted around 400 delegates – among them were both less experience, including students and very experience practitioners.


I would like to share my experience from this event, including the workshop I delivered: Risk Management Agile Game and also have asked one of the participants, Agnieszka Biernacka, to share her view – a short summary in English and a full story in Polish.

As a PM I was most interested in IT PM track and agree with Agnieszka that the most valuable aspect of the event was that presenters decided to share the real life stories and their experience instead of talking about theory. Agnieszka mentioned 2 Scrum Masters sharing the way from a mentor to become a coach – both very interesting but different. What interested her the most was the project heath indicators (both agile & waterfall) – for example AEV (burn stories vs budget used) or the team estimates vs real realization (planned vs actual values). Also there was an interesting presentation on cultural differences – how people from different parts of the globe perceive the role of a leader, communication and time. The speaker shared a lot of real life examples of problems and gave some tips how to overcome them.

For me, that was a great opportunity to meet interesting people and find out that most developers really hate “traditional” Project Managers! PMs are perceived as creators of complex, useless schedules, expecting team members to act as they (PMs) have planned. It’s sad that there are a lot of PMs/ organizations who do not really understand the real role of a 21st century Project Manager. The shift from micromanagement and looking at the project from a task perspective to team empowerment, self-organisation, self -motivation, trust, authority and ownership are the key to success of today’s complex and risky projects.

A few take aways from my Agile Risk Management workshop:
  • Not many organizations manage risk (scary!)
  • Engage people to identify, own and manage risks – games are great for agile teams!
  • Consider 4Cs (Costs/Consequences/Context/Choices) when you choose the right risk management approach (risk planning)! Your choice is based on costs, consequences of doing nothing and context! Be careful: do not use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but take a serious approach when responsible for a complex and risky project!
  • Teach some risk basics to the team during the planning step since they may not be familiar with the concepts or terminology!
  • To manage risk costs, but it costs more not to manage it!
  • Opportunities (positive risks) are as much important as threats – do not neglect them!
  • Risk management activities do not need to be boring! Be creative – have fun – this will help you to build the team!
Agile Coach recommendation 
The event was a great opportunity to discuss, share our experience and seek solutions to challenges associated with software creation and development projects.

Wrażenia z konferencji, Agnieszka Biernacka
Pomimo pierwszego niezbyt korzystnego wrażenia, jakie wywarł sam  ośrodek konferencyjny znakomita większość sesji była na równymi, profesjonalnym poziomie. Zarówno nowicjusz, jak i osoba od pewnego czasu zajmująca się projektami mogli się czegoś nowego dowiedzieć. Było to możliwe dzięki temu, że większość prelegentów zdecydowała się na podzielenie się swoimi osobistymi doświadczeniami zamiast mówić o teorii.

Mnie osobiście najbardziej zainteresowała sesja poświęcona sposobom mierzenia projektów zwinnych i kaskadowych, pokazująca kilka nieznanych mi wcześniej sposobów prezentacji kondycji projektu. Między innymi AEV, czy nałożenie wypalanych stories na konsumpcję budżetu czy ocena poprawności szacowań zespołu w porównaniu do realizacji projektu. Ogromną zaletą prezentacji było życiowe podejście do metryk, czyli przewijające się cały czas zagadnienie co i po co mierzymy, wraz z końcowym wnioskiem, że należy mierzyć to, czego zespół potrzebuje, żeby sam mógł skutecznie korygować swoją pracę.Interesujące były również doświadczenia z prowadzenia projektów międzykulturowych, pokazujące jak poszczególne elementy zarządzania są traktowane przez osoby wywodzące się z różnych regionów świata. Cenne było zaprezentowanie oczekiwań dotyczących czasu, roli lidera i sposobu komunikacji wynikających z danej kultury, poparte praktycznym przykładami jak rozwiązywać wynikające z tego problemy. Prezentacja była tym ciekawsza, że nakładała na siebie wiedzę z zakresu psychologii międzykulturowej z wynikami badań oraz własnymi doświadczeniami prelegentki.

Dla osób, które się interesują zwinnymi metodykami na pewno ciekawe było posłuchanie dwóch scrum masterów opowiadających o tym, jak ewoluowało ich podejście do swoich obowiązków oraz jak się zmieniała świadomość zespołu. Obie prezentacje, mimo, że zupełnie różne w stylu, pokazywały drogę od mentora do coacha, jaka charakteryzuje każdego dobrego scrum mastera w dojrzewającym zespole.
Konferencja była też okazją do spotkania wielu osób z kręgów IT oraz poznania nowych, ciekawych osób. Zdecydowanie, jak na tę cenę, impreza była udana. Cieszył mnie też fakt, że było wielu studentów oraz osób o dużym doświadczeniu. Myślę, że pozwala to na najbardziej wartościowy przepływ wiedzy - od praktyków do osób, które dopiero zaczynają swoją karierę.