Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrations are heartfelt

On that special day H.E.A.R.T formula in details (both Polish and English)

By Ken Blanchard, Lois Hart, Mario Tomayo

Heartfelt (Szczery, płynący z głębi serca)
Świętowanie powinno odzwierciedlać twoją wizję, misję i wartości
Świętowanie musi być incjowane przez liderów i musi dotyczyć osiągnięć i celów organizacji
Świętowanie płynie z głębi serca
Lider jest głową świętowania
Świętowanie jest ludzkie

Świętowanie jest zabawą, sczęściem, które się pamięta
Korzystaj z różnego rodzaju muzyki podczas świętowania
Pokaż produkty i korzyści

All – inclusive (uwzględnij wszystkich)
Zaproś klientów i małżonków na świętowanie
Podziękuj im publiczne za to co zrobili

Recognition (uznanie)
Świętowanie uznaje wyniki i ludzi
Odnawia ducha
Zapewnij, żeby uznanie było częścią świętowania

Timely (w odpowiednim czasie)
Świętować musisz często
Doceń ludzi, którzy dobrze wykonali zadanie
Świętowanie musi nastąpić zaraz po zrealizowanu zadania/ osiągnięciu celu, który chcemy wynagrodzić

The HEART Formula
by Ken Blanchard, Lois Hart, Mario Tomayo

Celebrations must reflect your vision mission and values
Celebrations must be initiated by leaders and must be based on performance and the organization’s goals
Celebrations are heartfelt
The leader is the head of celebration
Celebrations are human events

Celebrations are fun, happy and memorable
Suggest and use different kinds of music for celebrations
Show products and props

All – inclusive
Invite customers or spouses to celebrate
Thank them publicly for their part in the achievement

Celebrations recognize work outcomes and people
They renew the spirit
Be sure you make recognition part of the celebration

Celebrations must happen frequently
Catch people doing things right
Celebrations must occur around the time of the achievement or event that deserves or needs to be recognized (as soon as possible)

Wish you all your dreams come true. Enjoy the evening today! Happy New Year! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

If you want to have an impact start blogging

It’s not even 2 months since I started my blog. I got more exited about blogging seeing people read it – after first month had about 1000 clicksJ

To be honest I did not think about having my own blog till the day I attended Wiola Wabnic lecture at Progressteron festival (have written about it earlier): “How to create a blog?” – the only reason I decided to join was the fact that the session was free, just after my workshop and next door. The main goal of the lecture was to inspire us and Wiola really succeeded, at least in my case.
I wanted to say that blogging was not on my dream map (about the dream map or mood board and the goals setting in more enjoyable way will write in one of my next post) till the moment I have realized that blogging was not, but writing yesJ

Yes, writing is on my agenda - a piece from my 2012 dream map

I agree with Dorie Clark If You're Serious About Ideas, Get Serious About Blogging (btw, very interesting article) that:
  • ·         Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise on the web
  • ·         Indeed, if you want to shape public opinion, you need to be the one creating the narrative

“Of course, it's no secret that the number of blogs has shot up in recent years; at the end of 2011, there were 181 million, compared to only 36 million in 2006. It's harder to get noticed as the noise level increases. But there's reason to believe that serious (high-quality, idea-focused) competition in the blogging world is likely to wane in the future, further increasing your impact.

One of the reasons for a future decline in high quality blogs is:
“,,,,,"avocational" bloggers are likely to drop off simply because it's hard work to keep up the pace. Writing an insightful 700 word article several times a week, for no or little money, is far more taxing than snapping a photo or sending a 140 character tweet.

2011 dream map

3 main reasons to start a blog:
# passion (yes, I have a passion for project management)
# need for sharing (yes, I have a need for sharing my knowledge and experience)
# productive laziness (yes, trying to be lazy or better word more efficient. A lot of people ask me for mentoring/coaching sessions  and after each session used to send an e-mail with some recommendations (very time consuming) and now ask them to follow my blog – very cleverJ

Yes, it's hard work to keep up the pace, so fingers crossed I have enough motivation, time and energy to keep it going. All your suggestions how to make my blog more interesting are welcome.

Some plans for next year: more interviews (including videos), books reviews and recommendations, announcements/coverage of pm events and more project management- focused articles.

“If you want to have an impact, you might as well be the one setting the agenda by blogging your ideas.” Dorie Clark

Friday, December 28, 2012

Add HEART to Your Workplace — Celebrate!

Introduction in both Polish & English and the rest in English.
Koniec roku to czas świętowania. A czy koniecznie musimy czekać na koniec roku, czy koniec projektu, żeby świętować?  Zachęcam do „wpisania”  praktyk celebrowania do codziennych czynności, dzieki czemu wzrośnie motywacja i energia zespołu.

„Większość, a właściwie wszystkie projekty w naszej organizacji kończyły się bez specjalnej refleksji, a osoby zaangażowane w projekt po wykonaniu swoich zadań przechodziły do realizacji kolejnych zadań. Świętowanie nie było elementem kultury organizacyjnej firmy, dlatego też nie zdawaliśmy sobie sprawy jak ważną umiejętnością jest świętowanie sukcesów!  Często też wydaje nam się, że musimy osiągnąć nie wiadomo jak duży sukces, żeby mieć niejako prawo do jego świętowania. Zapominamy, że celebrowanie mniejszych osiągnięć dodaje nam pewności siebie, wiary we własne możliwości oraz dodaje energii do dalszego działania i osiągania naprawdę coraz to większych celów” Cytat z pracy dyplomowej MBA, Zbigniew Sarwiński.
Get ready for celebration! Celebrations must happen frequently!
End of year is time of celebration, but to celebrate we do not need to wait till the end of the year nor the end of the project.   I would like to encourage you to add the frequent celebration practices to your workplace to energize, motivate and empower your teams. A few ideas below I’ve taken from  “The Leadership Training Activity Book: 50 Exercises for Building Effective Leaders by Lois B. Hart and Charlotte S. Waisman. Chapter 50: Add Heart to Your Workplace—Celebrations.

Steps to follow:
1. Decoration
Decorate a meeting room  – use balloons, sweets, streamers, hats, napkins with hearts,  banners that say Congratulations! Let's Celebrate! etc. Use your imagination here! Provide a basket and place it outside the room – next to the door.
2. Preparation (20-30 min) - outside the training room (which has been decorated)
Split the team to smaller groups (5-7) and ask them to prepare a celebration of:
-       Completing a project milestone
-       Signing a contract
-       Completing a project etc.

Provide paper, art materials  and CDs. Each group must create a large poster-size invitation to their celebration and should select a piece of music.
Ask each person to fill out a card telling about a celebration they attended at work that was meaningful to them. Instruct them to drop their cards into a basket at the door.
Open the door of a decorated room with great fanfare.

3. Discuss the items from the basket
4. Present H.E.A.R.T formula (created by Ken Blanchard, Lois Hart &Mario Tomayo)

   All – inclusive

5. Presentations of groups
Ask all the groups to present – using the posters they have prepared & playing  the music they have chosen. 

Then everyone can vote on which group best represented the "HEART" formula. The prize is a large heart—perhaps a heart box of chocolates to share.

6. Enjoy the celebration !

Saturday, December 22, 2012

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it” - The Power of T.E.A.M

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments; I feel the credit is due to others rather than myself.” Alexander Graham Bell

Today, just before Christmas I feel like writing about something special, something that has helped me to grow as a leader.  I’ve already mentioned English Summer/Winter Camps a few times on this blog, but this time I will share my experience from being a part of a great team - English Summer/Winter Camp T.E.A.M  -Together Everyone Achieves More. I don’t think it’s possible to describe this in writing as it’s more about feelings, but will have a go.

English Summer/Winter Camps is a charity program run by Project Management Institute Gdansk Branch since 2004 (summer edition) and 2010 winter edition. The main goal is to let the children deprived of such possibility take part in English language courses. Apart from English lessons kids have an opportunity to take part in other educational/motivational activities including project management. Every camp is organized by a group o volunteers.

Almost 10 years, 12 editions (13th in progress), more than 1000 kids and hundreds of volunteers.
English Winter Camp 2013 team devoting their Saturday to plan the project
First time I joined the initiative was ESC 2009 – just attended the final event, so not much contribution from my side, but that day changed my life – I decided to get involved! Started as a Project Manager of two 2010 editions – it was my idea to extend the program to winter camps and then playing a role of a mentor and coach till today.

And now I cannot imagine my life without this amazing experience 2 times a year – the most what I admire is the collaboration of a group of people who believe that together they can change the World. All the players devote their free time, working mainly weekends and nights for 4-5 moths or even more (those involved in a few editions) to make a difference for a group of young members of our society. Although the goal is the same, each project is different as created by a different group of people – the diversity, creativeness and the engagement make each edition an unforgettable experience.

For example in coming winter edition in the cooperation with LPP children will take part in a real fashion show. On the catwalk, boys and girls will be dressed in clothes from a collection of Reserved donated by LPP. The fashion show will be fun and a great adventure, but also it will help the children to build their self-esteem and to boost their confidence. 

And since last summer edition we have adopted some Agile practices which really improved communication and reduced documentation, generally helped us to use our valuable time in more efficient way. We’ve succeed as we’ve managed to create a spirit of unity – although of diverse backgrounds and skills we really work well together as a single team to achieve a common goal – both children and our growth. 

The Spirit of the Team by Marcin Targowski, ESC/EWC volunteer
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.” Mother Teresa

Wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The project success is to large extend subject to its context

For all my project management career I’ve been moving sectors and verticals (starting from telecommunication through R&D – new product development / manufacturing electrical devices and financial services: setting up an office in Poland, suppliers consolidation,  technology (infrastructure & network), software development, different sets of content). At the same time I’ve been delivering a lot of social/educational/event projects, where strong leadership skills are required as they are based on volunteering. I cannot say that’s easy, but definitely if you have strong people skills plus you are aware of the project management process, tools and techniques you can succeed, but only on one condition: all people interested in project’s success support you. 

Collaboration and engagement is a key to project success
I would like to share here the project management competency model Martin Price, the founder & CEO of EngagementWorks and the author of “Project Gathering Pace” book to be published soon, presented during New Trends in Project Management 2012 conference.

MOCs (Methodical & Operating Competences)that means the “process” necessities, essential schemas and HOCs (Human & Organisational Competences), the “engagement” necessities, vital behaviours). A complete Project Management needs integration of both MOCs & HOCs.

PM = getting things done= schemas (doing things right) x behaviours (doing the right things)

Martin calls the players (stakeholders) and their organization that manage a project the “project regime” and I call these a project culture or context.

In projects we very often find ourselves in the situations than could not been anticipated. The situation is even more difficult for a Project Manager who does not have expertise in the field of the project or/and is new to the organisation. Therefore, in order to succeed a skilful dialogue is required. A conversation is needed from all the team members as we address uncertainties, ambiguity and controversy. The team is needed for their specialist professional contribution but also for their participation as a project community players in shaping project direction and organisation.

Martin and I discussing "project regime" during Thomson Reuters unconference in London
To succeed  in project management a deep understanding of the wider organisation structures, the process and people involved are crucial (and these come with the time of experience/length of service), but the human and social factors are even more important (people’s behaviour – sharing ideas, championing issues, taking decisions, keeping promises etc.).

Today slow economic growth, shifting global market priorities and a push for innovation all make for a very complex and risky business environment and put additional emphasis on the need for excellence in project, program and portfolio management. Research conducted with senior project management leaders on PMI’s Global Executive Council found that the most important skill for managing today’s complex projects and programs is the ability to align the team to the vision of the project and design the project’s organizational structure to align people and project objectives. PMI’s Pulse of the Profession – Trends to Watch for in 2012.

I have been managing very complex projects and some of them were very successful and the other ones struggled, not because there were more difficult but because there was no social engagement and collaboration between stakeholders. The lack of skilful, spirited dialogue between people responsible for the success of the project is one the most reasons for project failure. 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.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Building a Better Prepared Society for Future Success (Part 2) - Project Management Skills for Life by Aleksandra Skowron

Project Management Skills for Life is a part of PM at schools program and includes a basic introduction to project management (2h) -  creating WBS, building a team, budgeting etc and then managing through delivery. Project Management Skills for Life including student competitions have been used in after-school programs during English Summer/Winter Camps. 

Please find the summary by Aleksandra Skowron, PMI Gdansk Branch volunteer, ESC 2012 Project Manager.

Aleksandra  & Kamil taking on projects - ESC 2012
English Summer/Winter Camps held by PMI Gdansk Branch since 2004 aims to take around 35 children from orphanages, foster and poor families for a two weeks English course holidays. Main goal is to learn English, but PMI also tries to pass the knowledge from its field of expertise: project management.

This year it was decided to involve all the kids into a project which would be implemented by the kids during the camp. English Winter Camp 2012 project was named “Venice Carnival” and the aim was to organize a carnival ball. First the kids had a lesson during which the idea of the project was explained and the kids got familiarized with some key elements of the project such as scope and stakeholders, work breakdown structure and roles within project organization. The way to talk about project was customized to be appropriate for the kids at the age range from 9 to 15 years old.
EWC 2012 project teams working on WBS
When kids knew how the work will be organized they divided themselves into teams, Project Managers were chosen and the work kicked off. They had made a list of tasks to be completed, placed them into time frames and had assigned persons responsible for every activity. Teamwork is crucial in every project, so we had planned some activities to help them to prepare for the ball. The beautiful Venice Carnival masks were created, the venue was decorated and the final presentations on the project work done by every team were prepared. 

Every team had to introduce themselves and talk about how they were collaborating on a project. The jury had chosen the best team who had fulfilled all the requirements and has shown an excellent teamwork during the project. After the contest there was time for fun and celebration - a disco. Our first experience with teaching project management on the camp was great, the kids have a lot of potential and great ideas.

 Best Project of the Camp EWC 2012 winners

We decided to continue with “the project of the camp” during the summer edition. This time the theme was “A travel through Europe”. The aim was to gain knowledge about some European countries and to present the country during the closing ceremony of the camp. As in the winter edition, we have started with a class delivered by Kamil Gmerczynski and Aleksandara Skowron, PMI Gdansk Branch volunteers, division into teams and making WBS’s. 

One of the team creating WBS - ESC 2012

We planned this at the beginning, so the kids had time to prepare during the whole camp. We had invited volunteers from abroad to show them the culture of their countries. 

Every team had decided to present the country in a bit different way. Italian team had learned a few worlds in Italian, Spanish team was dancing flamenco, English team entered the venue of the ceremony in the court procession with a king and knights and boys from Greece team had concentrated on the popular dishes of Greece. Everybody was dressed up according to the flag of the country they represented. In previous days they had also made cardboard models of famous buildings of each country. It was great to see how keen they were on gaining the knowledge about the world. 
They have learned a lot and collaborated during the whole camp. And like with those cardboard model, at the beginning it was not so clear how to put all the puzzle together to build those great building but with an effort and time dedicated the kids had come up with something really valuable. 

Spanish team has won, as they had put a lot of effort into the project, they had even invited a real Spanish man to join them on a presentation! 

Spain - the winning team - ESC 2012
Definitely we will continue with “the project of the camp” initiative as the kids learn a lot and have lots of fun while they collaborate on their projects. A big thank you to all volunteers! Well done!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Creativity, risk management and agility

IBM study reveals that creativity is the most important leadership quality followed by integrity and global thinking – 1500 corporate leaders, from 60 nations and 33 industries were pulled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.
Creative leaders are more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise, and revenue models

“Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart”
— Mencius (Meng-Tse), 4th century BCE

In times of Speed-to-Market & Agility we cannot rely on yesterday’s ideas, products and ways of working. Today’s leaders in order to improve performance need to stimulate creative thinking and unleash the creative potential in themselves and in their teams.

Creative thinking is also required when dealing with uncertainty. During risk identification sessions I always encourage teams to think of and record as many risks as they can. I also prefer having people working individually for coming up with ideas, so ask them to write down ideas on post-its and then put them all on a flipchart paper, group logically and remove duplicates. Working individually instead of discussing ideas as a group we avoid “group thinking” – also shy or less experienced team members can contribute.

To ensure coverage a kind of risk break down structure (RBS) should be used – can be a WBS or “a clock” as used in collaborative games by Agile teams recommended by Mike Griffiths. Collaborative games are powerful tools to engage a larger group of stakeholders and this might lead to a better list of possible risks and then yield more creative ways of avoiding or reducing those risks. By engaging the team, not only do we get better input data and ideas, we also encourage problem solving, foster action, build social capital and foster collective ownership of ideas.

Find Friends and Foes (Opportunity and Threat Identification)
Both positive and negative risks matter and need to be managed proactively. Opportunities are the “good” risks, events that have a positive impact if they occur. We want to avoid threats and exploit opportunities.

Using a clock view pre-drawn on a flip chart ask team members to think of project risks associated with each of the topics represented by an hour line on the clock -12 in total. Spend about five minutes on each. Do not access or solve the risks. This is risk identification - we will have plenty of time to assess them later.

Always within the same session run a similar exercise to identify opportunities: “Karma Day”. We generate opportunities for events and outcomes that would assist the project, creating ideas for things that would help the project go well. Using the same clock metaphor, we come up with lists of all the good things that could occur to assist the project.

Cynical team members may still continue to gripe, suggesting opportunities “inverted issues” such as ““no resistance from the PMO”, but these can be really useful. Later on we will try to reduce or avoid the negative risks (threats) and ensure or maximize the positive risks (opportunities).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tym razem o Lean

W poniedziałek, 3 grudnia 2012 Starter Gdański Inkubator Przedsiębiorczości zaprosił wszyskich chętnych na relację z San Francisco z konferencji The Lean Startup Conference, w której zarówno początkujący założyciele startup-ów jak i firm dojrzałych podzielili się z nami swoimi doświadczeniami jak zbudować dochodową organizację „lean” ( The Lean Startup, to sposób na biznes wymyślony przez Erica Ries’a, którego celem jest zmiana sposobu powstawania nowych firm oraz wypuszczania na rynek nowych produktów. Opiera się on na „potwierdzonej nauce” (ang. validated learning), eksperymentowaniu i wypuszczaniu produktu w iteracjach w celu skrócenia cyklu rozwoju produktu, pomiarach postępu i zbieraniu opinii klienta).

“Being lean is not our goal. Our goal is to have fun creating a product for a customer”

Konferencja zaczęła się o 18:00 naszego czasu i trwała do 2:00 rano, a otworzył ją Eric Ries, przedsiębiorca i autor bescelera New York Timesa “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Business, published by Crown Business”

Trudno mi powiedzieć ile osób wytrwało do końca konferencji, gdyż opuściłam ją około 22:30, ale postaram się podzielić swoimi wrażeniami i opowiedzieć o kilku innowacyjnych pomysłach zaprezentowanych w ciągu tych pierwszych 4 godzin. Tempo było tak duże (średnio 10 min. na wystąpienie), że nie jestem w stanie wymienić wszystkich, ale dzięki tej dynamicznej formie prezentacji (coś na wzór pecha kucha), przeplatanej krótkimi dyskusjami, pomimo zdalnej relacji było to dla mnie interesujące doświadczenie.

Jessica Scorpio otworzyła Getaround, startup z doliny krzemowej, który jest pionierem w obszarze dzielenia się samochodem korzystając z technologii mobilnej. Podoba mi się pomysł dzielenia  samochodu z kilkoma osobami z sąsiedztwa.

Danny Kim tworzy instrumenty muzyczne okulary, rowery i inne dziwne rzeczy.  A rok spędzony w podróży, gdzie ledwo uszedł z życiem zainspirował go i postanowił przeciąć samochód na pół, dzieki czemu powstał mały i bezpieczny pojazd miejski.

Nikhil Arora i Alejandro Velez jeszcze na studiach stworzyli “Back to the Roots”, miejską hodowlę grzybów w Oakland (Kalifornia). A teraz produkują „pakiet grzybowy” – możesz wyhodować sobie świeże grzyby w pudełku, a zamiast ziemi fusy po kawie. Ciekawe i ekologiczne rozwiązanie.

Andres Glusman, vice-prezydent Meetup, gdzie eksperymentuje z podejściem lean dał nam kilka wskazówek: 1) „Ludzie nie mają w nosie lean, ale mają w nosie pracę” „Ludzie nie chcą testować, a budować rzeczy, których inni będą używać”!

A Stephanie Hay odkryła przed nami tajemnicę „Jak przetestować naszą komunikację, żeby była lepsza”. Cel biznesowy: Być wybranym! Cel marketingowy: Być zrozumianym! Cel rozwojowy: Znaleźć się!

Jocelyn Wyatt z, organizacji non profit, pojechała do Afryki, aby dowiedzieć się, że nasze założenia są błędne. Wykorzystując prototypowanie produktu i serwisu w ciągu 3 lat 10 000 rodzin w Ghanie będzie miało swoje własne toalety. Bardzo interesujące - nigdy nie wpadłabym na wykorzystanie lean w projekcie, którego celem jest instalacja toalet w Afryce.

Muszę przyznać, że był to bardzo inspirujący wieczór.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Building a Better Prepared Society for Future Success - PM at Polish Schools

“Building a Better Prepared Society” is one of the 3 areas of focus of PMI Educational Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that champions project management for educational and social good. This is about giving youth and communities a better chance of success through training programs for teachers, youth and local schools.

On Saturday, 1st of December PMI Gdansk Branch organized the second edition of project management training for educators. This workshops is a continuation of PM at schools program run by PMI Poland Chapter in cooperation with PMI Educational Foundation (PMIEF). A one day workshop took place in Gdynia in Thomson Reuters office and gathered 9 teachers from local schools

After a short introduction to the program and benefits of implementing elements of project work to Polish schools two groups worked on the project called „The Earth Day”. Regardless the same goal of the project each team took a different approach.During a one day workshop a few documents such as a Project Charter, a WBS and a schedule were created.

The course was delivered by Marcin Gora, PMI Gdansk Branch volunteer and myself. At the end of the course each participant received a Certificate and Project Management at Schools materials, including presentations for a 12 hour project management course, mentoring materials and templates and group exercises. These materials are to be used to deliver the project management courses in middle schools.
PMI Poland Chapter planning more workshops for educators in other regions of Poland, so more young people will have a chance to familiarize themselves with projects and project management practices.If you have any questions or would like to know more about the program please contact me on: would like to thank Agata Witczak and Thomson Reuters for the possibility of using the office premises. Thanks a lot.

Friday, November 23, 2012

What does Agile mean for you? PART 2. First Tricity Agile Community meeting

Agile is about a fundamental shift in thinking. “Agile is not a process is a mindset” that was the title of Janusz Gorycki’s presentation at New Trends in Project Management 2012 conference held  in Sopot in May. Also Bob Hartman has a good presentation on this topic – Doing Agile is not the same as being Agile. The essential point is that we are “Doing Agile” when we follow practices and we are “Being Agile” when we act with an Agile mindset – set of values and beliefs defined in Agile Manifesto. According to the survey results and recommendations presented in Agile Maturity Report – Benchmarks and Guidelines to improve your effectiveness” a broken waterfall based project execution approach is not sufficient reason to commit to Agile. Agile is not a “silver bullet” or a solution to a mission critical initiative without any background in the approach.

The most popular Agile framework is SCRUM, although from the discussions with practitioners I know organisations very often tailor their approaches to their needs. Steve Denning, Forbs’ contributor, described practices that facilitate agility as: (1) Work is organized in short cycles: (2) Management doesn’t interrupt the team during a work cycle. (3) The team reports to the customer, not the manager. (4) The team estimates how much time work will take. (5) The team decides how much work it can do in an iteration. (6)  The team decides how to do the work in the iteration. (7) The team measures its own performance. (8) Work goals are defined before each cycle starts. (9) Work goals are defined through user stories. (10) Impediments to getting the work done are systematically removed.

Adopting Agile is about transforming the culture of a company to support the Agile mindset. I really like the conclusion from one of the yesterday’s discussions during Agile3M meeting on Agile practices - first Tricity Agile community meeting, that Agile is about creating a culture/ team environment where everyone is self-motivated to contribute to the overall success of the project. That’s also my understanding of Agility.

Agile3M meeting update
The first Tricity Agile community meeting was held yesterday in Sopot and gathered 21 Agile practitioners, supporters and others interested in this new approach of working. The umbrella subject of the meeting was “Retrospectives” and 3 tables with more specific questions were organized: A) Tools & Techniques, B) Problems, C) Solved Problems. Each person after 20 min discussion at one table moved to another table to be able to hear and talk on all topics.

Generally, most of us take part or run reflection meetings regularly (after each sprint/ milestone) and start from positive aspects of the project/sprint by asking a question “What went well?” to move to the problems: “What could have gone better/ done differently?”.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Project retrospectives are a powerful opportunity to find and change the things that lead to undesirable results

Some tips on effective retrospectives:
  • Start form positives to give credit for achievements and accomplishment
  • Discussing what could have gone better also can be constructive, especially if your intent is to identify needed changes.
  • Keep everyone focused on the process and potential remedies instead of character assassination and “blamestorming.”
  • Implement top 3 changes  - most people will willingly participate in retrospectives if they know that their efforts will not be ignored

As a result of more frequent structured learning, team members become more adept at reflecting collectively in a group format - enabling them to feel more competent and skillful in the art of addressing sensitive issues and communicating in ways that reduce the impact of defensive routines, blame, and avoidance. In some cases a kind of “ballot box” is used to encourage less confident or shy team members to feedback on the project unanimously and at the time they feel like. Although not everyone fancied the idea due to the fact I mentioned before that Agile is about creating an open minded, positive and less judgmental environment.

Project teams stop and reflect at regular intervals while the project is in flight so that they can define improvements and tangible action items that can be actively applied during the next phase. The result is learning and performance improvement as the project progresses, reducing the risk of project failure, improving team effectiveness, and providing real- time feedback and development opportunities for project members.

I would like to thank the organizers Hania, Bogdan  and Jakub for the opportunity to be a part of this interesting meeting and look forward the next one – we have agreed to meet on a monthly basis. Good luck with your retrospectives!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leading a successful PMO in the times of Speed-to-Market & Agility. An exclusive interview with Peter Taylor

“Project Management Offices (PMOs) fail to help most companies reduce IT cost or improve performance, according to new research from The Hackett Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: HCKT). In fact, companies with high utilization of PMOs see materially higher IT costs while also failing to deliver projects with higher ROI or better on-time and on-budget performance, according to the research. The research also found that companies have significantly reduced their use of PMOs over the past three years, in part due to their inability to positively impact performance”.

I met Peter Taylor in Warsaw at 7th International PMI Poland Chapter Congress last week and asked him a few questions on his book Leading successful PMOs and the future of PMO. Peter will be in Poland (Sopot) again 1 February 2013 to deliver a one day workshop: “Leading Successful PMOs. How to build the best PMO for your business and keep it relevant” and on 31 January he will be also speaking at PMI Gdansk Branch seminar. For more information please follow PMI PC website or PMI GB on Facebook.

Part I – questions on the book “Leading successful PMOs

Malgorzata: What does a good PMO mean for you?

Peter: As with most things in life (and business) getting a balance right can prove far more effective, especially in the long run, than having a single focus that ignores other key elements. The same is true of the PMO. A balanced approach will definitely pay dividends and will not only ensure that the PMO is as effective and efficient as possible but will also aid the acceptance of the PMO by the rest of the organisation.

For example if your PMO is created solely with the purpose of being the ‘project police’ then you will be in for a very short run. No doubt the role of policing projects is one part of the PMOs responsibility but not the only part, such an approach may work for a short period of time but it is not sustainable. And if your PMO is focused on fire-fighting then again it will work for a while but not beyond that as it is demoralizing to only work on problem projects and deal with escalating issues. Far better is to prevent the fires from even starting. So a ‘good PMO’ is for me one that keeps a good balance of activities and focus.

Malgorzata: I like your PMO declaration: “doing the right things, in the right way, in the right order and all with the right team”. So, what does exactly a PMO do?

Peter: Continuing the theme of balance then I always describe that a PMO should make sure that they cover what I call the ‘5 Ps’:
                    P = People
                    P = Process
                    P = Promotion
                    P = Performance
                    P = Project Management Information System

It may be tempting to just think of the PMO as all about the process, the means to ensure that good project management is achieved through methodology and quality assurance etc but that ignores the people side.

And it may be that your consideration is towards the project management community and your focus is drawn towards the people (projects are all about people after all) and so you direct your efforts as a PMO leader towards training and team building etc but this ignores the project mechanics.

You may also accept the need to build a good tracking and reporting system, supported by an investment in a project management information system, to deliver the visibility of project health and progress towards business goals.

But without the inclusion of a promotional program it could well be the case that all of the good work you, and your team, achieve in the areas of process and people will go unnoticed and unappreciated by both your peers and the executive.

The best PMOs balance all of this to achieve the most effective development of capability, representation of capability and sharing of capability and achievement.  And at the end of the day it is a supporting business unit to the strategic intentions of the organisation.

Malgorzata: The title of your book is “Leading successful PMOs” and many people confuse the different attribute of management and leadership. So, what’s your definition of leadership and how does it apply to a PMO?

Peter: The simple answer is that PMOs must be lead as their definition of function and operation is not yet truly settled and so it is not a management task as such.

‘If there is a clear distinction between the processes of managing and the process of leading it is between getting others to do - managing - and getting others to want to do – leading’ so said James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner in their book The Leadership Challenge.

Being successful in project management is not just a case of do ‘A’ followed by ‘B’ and all will be good – it is much more complex than this – and being a good PMO is about finding your place within the organisation, connecting to strategic intentions and driving change through the business.

‘Leaders work on the culture of the organization, creating it or changing it.  Managers work within the culture of the organization’ says Edgar H. Shein in ‘Organizational Culture’ in J. Thomas Wren, ed. The Leader's Companion.

Malgorzata: What makes a PMO successful? Could you please share both your view and the view of the survey respondents?  There was a survey conducted for the purpose of your book, where 822 respondents supplied their opinions, views and comments.

Peter: Much of what I have already covered allows a PMO to be successful but the number one element uncovered in my research for ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ was that each and every PMO needs to be unique and that an ‘out of the box’ approach won’t make for the best PMO for your particular organisation at this particular point in time. Add to that the fact that a PMO is not fixed – it needs to flex in it style and approach according to the demands of the business (and projects) it supports.

Malgorzata: What makes a good PMO leader? Please share again both yours and the survey respondents’ opinions?

Peter: The key skills seem to be that a PMO leader needs to have a passion for projects (some of the PMO failures I have come across can be attributed to the fact that the PMO head had no project background experience). Secondly they need to be great communicators and strong negotiators – to help the PMO find its place inside the organisation and explain the value. They also needed to enthusiastic about leading change and finally they must not be afraid to tailor their PMO to the unique model that suits the business.

Malgorzata: And last, but not least question related to your book. In the Appendix 4 you’ve mentioned International Project Management Day and Frank Saladis, the founder of the IPMD. The purpose of IPMD is to promote appreciation for project managers, their teams and their achievements. And to promote the value of projects as a method for achieving success in any industry. Frank suggests doing 5 things in support of IPMD. Can you please explain what these 5 things are and what have you done this year? I have attended Synergy  and set up my blog on project managementJ

Peter: Yes, International Project Management Day is a great idea from Frank so every project manager should be aware of this and join in the annual celebrations (it is always the first Thursday in November).

Frank suggests:
1.         First do something positive for yourself to increase your sense of personal power and self-worth
2.      Second, take the time to say thanks to your project managers and team members. Do something organizationally to recognize and appreciate those working on projects with you
3.              Third, participate locally in project management events
4.             Fourth, create or join a regional mission to enhance the public relations of the industry
5.            And finally, identify actions you can take to build your international network and become an international ambassador of project management          

And what have I doneJ? Well I do spread the good work about IPM Day in my blogs, podcasts and through my books, I travel the world speaking and delivering workshops on project management with one special presentation being ‘PM Superstars’ which is all about what a great job PMs do and how they can engage with people outside our project world.

PMI Gdansk Branch with Peter at PMI PC Congress

Part II – questions on the future of PMO

Malgorzata: PMOs fail to help most companies reduce IT costs or improve performance, according to new research results from The Hackett Group, Inc. So what this report shows is that PMOs with high utilization rates actually increase costs, did not produce better business outcomes or project delivery and has been on the decline since 2009.  So why even bother with implementing a PMO? What’s your view?

Peter: Well it is interesting research but it really comes down to building the right PMO for the job in hand. I totally accept if you empire build or put together something that is bureaucratic and costly then a) it won’t deliver and b) it should be changed.

I am going to go back again to the balanced PMO – the one I lead in Siemens was reviewed and we were thrilled to receive the report that said ‘We were too valuable to lose (but not too expensive to keep)’. It seemed me that we had the right balance and so the PMO journey continued. There are other reports that suggest contrary to the Hackett report that the investment in PMOs was on the rise – either way they must be ‘fit for purpose’, if they are then they are a great way of connecting strategy to projects and ensuring high success rates.

Malgorzata: Do you agree with Don Kim that the traditional model of the PMO needs to get seriously re-evaluated, revised, then field tested to make sure it works? What’s your recommendation?

Peter: I don’t even agree that there is a ‘traditional’ model of a PMO – there are many models (Supportive, Directive, Controlling, and Blended), there are many types (Departmental, Special Purpose, Internal, External and Enterprise), there are many levels of maturity and focus and so on and so on. The PMO is not an ‘out of the box’ use it again and again animal, it must be right for the needs of the business.

Here’s a simple way to test if you are leading the right sort of PMO:
‘Call up your CEO and then count the number of seconds before he recognizes your name...’

If you are really connected to the business, at the right level and with the right PMO profile, then your CEO will know you and your PMOs work.

(You don’t have to start with the CEO, you can try this out moving up the organisation level by level – who at two levels above you knows you and the PMOs work? For those that do say ‘thanks’ and for those that don’t; well tell them about it).

Peter's Bio

Peter is a dynamic and commercially astute professional who has achieved notable success in Project Management. His background is in project management and marketing across three major business areas over the last 28 years and with the last 8 years leading 3 PMOs. He is also an accomplished communicator and is also a professional speaker, workshop trainer and consultant – specialising in PMO coaching.

Peter is the author of ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, The Lazy Winner’ and The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’ (Infinite Ideas), as well as ‘Leading Successful PMOs’ (Gower) and forthcoming books ‘Project Branding’ (RMC) and ‘Strategies for Sponsorship’ (Management Concepts). More information can be found at  and  and  – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.