Wednesday, May 22, 2013

NTPM 2013 summary PART 1

2nd New Trends in Project Management conference organised by PMI Gdansk Branch took place in Sopot, 8-10 May and gathered around 100 participants. 20 international speakers, 3 thematic tracks – Agile, Risk Management & PM tools, networking and entertaining activities made the decision which session to attend very hard.

Before conference delegates had a chance to participate in “The Project from Hell” workshop, designed by Peter Taylor and Michael Finer, the authors of „The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell” and facilitated by highly experienced trainers Anna Erdmanska and Marzena Imilkowski.

“It's often said that mistakes provide great learning opportunities. In my opinion it’s much better to avoid mistakes in the first place especially while working on the projects. The Project from Hell workshop was a grand experience. From my point of view this training is helping project leaders to determine failure factors of a project in very unusual way. During the one day training session we were analyzing a failed project case study giving our recommendations to save project and ensure future success. I believe that this format has made the training more effective since I had a chance to ground the learning experience in a practical and experiential nature of the workshop.” Ewa Gasior, ESC 2013 Project Manager, the workshop participant.

The first day of the conference was opened and closed by agile evangelists, Michal Raczka started with presentation “It’s not agile, it’s YOU!”

Take Aways by Michal Raczka
And  Ray Arell finished sharing his experience in implementing agile approach of work. We have also learnt that Ray’s 3 children use kanban boards to plan their daily activities! If you interested in using personal kanban read the blog.

Culture by Ray Arell
As all presentations and workshops were so interesting it was difficult to choose which one to attend. This time I had decided to follow the risk management track. A workshop by Agnieszka Mrozik and Rafal Rudnicki started with a short introduction to risk management and followed by the groups’ discussion on Terminal 5 case study. Some of you might know the case, but for those who do not know two quotations from newspapers – first just before opening the terminal and the second 3 weeks later.

“The new terminal delivered ... on time and on budget by BAA, the airport operator, is one of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken in the UK. Terminal 5 is a significant step, it is a fantastic piece of infrastructure. It will allow us to transform the customer experience. March 11th, 2008”

"Pressure mounted on airport and airline bosses responsible for the chaos at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on Monday as ministers accused them of damaging the reputation of UK plc and national pride. Criticism in parliament of the “fiasco” at the £4.3bn showpiece terminal came as the government revealed it would take up to a week for British Airways to return 28,000 misplaced bags to their owners. March 31st, 2008"

Success or failure? I thought failure till the time I met David Hancock, responsible for creating and delivering the risk management system for the Terminal 5 project. I got his point that companies do not really care about reputation as long as they make profit. The chaos at the airport lasted only for one day and BA predicted it but did not want to spent more money on additional testing as 6 month testing was already completed. Remember when planning risk responses consider 4Cs (Costs/Consequences/Context/Choices). Your choice is based on costs, consequences of doing nothing and context!

In his presentation David also introduced 3 types of problems:

  1. Tame - straight-forward simple linear causal relationships and can be solved by analytical methods
  2. Wicked - have high levels of system complexity and have interrelated or interdependent problems needing to be considered holistically
  3. Messy - characterised by high levels of behavioural complexity, but what confuses real decision-making is that behavioural and dynamic complexities co-exist and interact in what is known as wicked messes.
Apart from T5, he also shared his experience from Olympics and Paralympics held in London in 2012, illustrating how risk was managed from the transportation perspective of getting athletes, officials and spectators to the Olympic park to enjoy the games and leave a great impression on all who came to the wonderful city of London and those that live there. An interview with David can be found here. 

And last but not least presentation on risk management I want to share with you was “Hubris and Happenstance: the hidden risk of bias in projects” by Ian Whittingham, where we learnt that as project managers we are taught to focus on tangible risks, but we perform our projects within environments that contain a hidden, intangible risk, which is called bias.

9 hidden risks:

  • Available data – A data-collection process that is restricted to data that is readily or conveniently available
  • Conservatism – Failure to consider new information or negative feedback
  • Escalation of commitment to a failing course of action – Additional resources allocated to a project that is increasingly unlikely to succeed 
  •  Groupthink – Members of a group under pressure to think alike, and to resist evidence that may threaten their view
  •  Illusion of control – When decision-makers conclude that they have more control over a  situation than an objective evaluation would suggest 
  •  Overconfidence – Level of expressed confidence that is unsupported by the evidence 
  •  Recency – Disproportionate degree of emphasis placed on the most recent data
  • Selective perception – The situation where several people perceive the same  circumstances differently; varies with the ambiguity of the problem or task 
  • Sunk cost – The inability to accept that costs incurred earlier can no longer be recovered and should not be considered a factor in future decisions

In summary, the great NTPM team, led by Przemyslaw Kotecki, provided the audience with the tools, the platform, the knowledge, the networking opportunity and the inspiration. Additionally in the evening the participants were invited to a networking event in Klub Atelier and  surprised by a tango lesson and performance by Iza Szoloch and Krzysztof Wojciechowski, teachers from Artorient dance school

Look for more in my next post –  PART2 coming soon, including Peter Taylor talking on project sponsorship, John Styffe sharing some tips on self sustainability in the work place and how this is connected to agile, Daniel Walsh.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Is it easier today to do the international business than 20 years ago? LIM 2013 PART II

Just to remind you (for more see PART1) this year EMEA PMI® Leadership Institute Meeting (LIM) gathered about 200 PMI leaders from 44 countries and 60 chapters and was held on April 19-21 in Istanbul, Turkey.

In this post, inspired by the closing speech of LIM: „Crossroads of Culture: How to do Business and Work Together in a Global Marketplace” by Avinash Chandarana, I would like to share my experience and thoughts from the short but enlightening trip to Istanbul.

Avinash Chandarana, as he has described himself on FB: “Passionate Learning and Development professional focused on helping others be successful. Building a high impact learning organisation is a quest; enabling talented staff to maximise all learning opportunities available: formal or informal; online, face to face, socially or on the job. Their development and success is my goal”

Avinash represents diversity through his personal and professional life experiences. Indian by culture, born in Africa and raised and educated in UK, leaves in Brussels and married to a Spanish woman. Do not need to convince you that his background exemplifies a broad understanding of the sensitivities and needs of the growing international and multi-cultural business environment.

Avinash presented the Lewis Model and I was surprised and proud at the same time to hear the same quotation* I used to describe my speech: “Successful Project Across Borders – How to Achieve Team Unity” I’m going to present at Project World & World Congress for Business Analysts in Orlando, Florida, this September. Coincidence or a good choice of the author? Does not really matter, I was really happy that we both read and quote the same book. BTW, recommending this book. 

According to Lewis there are 3 types of cultures:
  • linear-active – data/result oriented, factual, decisive planners
  • multi-active – dialogue oriented, warm, emotional, impulsive, relationship-oriented
  • reactive – listener oriented, courteous, amiable, compromisers, good listeners
Let me tell you my story to describe these in more details.

I had only left Poland for Istanbul and landed in Frankfurt when I realized I left my laptop on the plane. Rushed to the Lufthansa customer desk, full of hope that would get my laptop soon. Almost crying tried to explain what happened, but the guy did not seem to listen to me just gave me a business card and instructed coolly: The Cabin Found Property office is open 7am- 7pm (that was 8 pm), please e-mail us tomorrow.”  I know, I had completely forgotten I was in Germany. For Germans and Swiss the procedures and plans count more than people feelings and emotions. They stick to facts and agendas – they could not do anything as the office was already closed. Taught for a person like meJ. By the way, I got my laptop back – you can be sure that when lost in Germany you get it returned.

Although Turks are closer to the reactive culture than Poles, but both of us are closer to multi-active  that Poles to linear-active or Turkish to reactive. Bearing this in mind went shopping to the Grand Bazar, where decided to make relationship first – lesson learnt from my previous trips. Believe or not, that worked! After a short, friendly conversation on the real and fake silk, not only managed to negotiate good price for two scarves, but also was treated to a delicious Turkish coffee.  

The journey was too short to experience the reactive culture. A tip: do not expect from Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Thai to confront nor initiate action or discussion. They prefer first listen to and establish the other’s position, then react to it and formulate their own. Face to face contacts are very important for them. 

The last, but not least question: Do you think it’s easer today to do international business than it was 20 years ago? See the answer below.

So, let’s start the discussion. I would like to hear your stories, challenges and tips on working globally.

* “For a German and a Finn, the truth is the truth. In Japan and Britain it is all right if it doesn’t rock the boat. In China there is no absolute truth. In Italy it is negotiable” Richard D. Lewis. "When Cultures Collide: Managing Successfully Across Cultures".