“The room was wonderful, the meals were great, the hotel staff was courteous. Of course it was real pleasure to visit the beautiful area of Sopot once again. The conference itself was well managed. Everyone was accommodating and enthusiastic. I made some excellent contacts,” said John Styffe, the speaker of New Trends in Project Management 2013 conference.
Peter Taylor with “Strategies for Sponsorship” kicked off the second day of the event (or third counting “The Project from Hell” workshop). He started with statistics on project success factors. According to Standish Chaos Report “Executive Management Support” is the most important project success factor. Standish believe that “The most important person in the project is the executive sponsor. The executive sponsor is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of the project. I remember one of the conferences I attended many years ago where I learnt that “a good project sponsor can make for a bad project manager, but a good project manager cannot make for a bad sponsor”, so truth! We all look for a “balanced” sponsor: involved, objective, supportive and reactive. What’s your experience with project sponsors? More on sponsorships can be found in Peter’s new book: „Strategies for Project Sponsorship”.
I really enjoyed John Styffe's presentation on “Self Sustainability in the work place”. John describes sustainability as “a state of mind where one takes ownership of their ability to survive, exist, grow, develop and prosper be it as a corporate employee or as a business owner”. I liked it so much as it has answered one of the questions I ask myself. Before I let you in on it I will share a personal story.
Almost every day I hear about achieving work/life balance – some tips, books, debates etc. From time to time people accuse me of working long hours and not having work/life balance, which really used to upset me. Do I need to? What does work/life balance mean? I enjoy my job, project management is my passion, but I have a few more hobbies: felting, jewellery making, sport, travel, home design, so I’m not obsessed with the projects as find some time for other thingsJ. Do I need to worry about the balance? I think that’s a dilemma for many people. And I have a piece of advice on it for all of you, which I found in one of the Citrix webinars “The Rewired Resolution Eight Ways to Work Smarter, Live Better, and be More Productive” by Camille Preston, PhD AIM Leadership, LLC: 4. STOP: Worrying about work/life balance. START: Focusing on doing more of what energizes you and less of what depletes you. I love it!
Let’s come back to John’s speech which answered another dilemma I had. John shared an interesting graph – see the picture below.
So, when you work intensely for a couple of hours/days/weeks you need a break: a coffee/lunch break or a day/weekend or after a 2 week sprint maybe 1 “hack” day. Do you know that in Spotify to promote learning and innovation, each team is encouraged to spend roughly 10% of their time on “hack days. During hack days people do whatever they want, typically trying out new ideas. Some teams do 1 hack day every second week, others save up for a whole “hack week”. Hack days are not only fun, they are also a great way to stay up-to-date with new tools and techniques and sometimes lead to important product innovations!
More on Scaling Agile @ Spotify can be found here.
We all need these breaks and these breaks need to be free from worries. I know a lot of people that are on high Beta state all the day – even having breaks look at the watch and think about their workload. And how about me? Just discovered during John’s presentation - I switch between Beta and Alfa states easily. Work intensely and take breaks, move from Beta to Alfa state, recharge my energy and come back to work again at full pace. Of course, work longer than 8 hours, but what I gain is: wide open vision, wide perspective, clear mind and positive and caring emotions! Great! This is my secret and I know the answer now. Thanks John.
And some thoughts from Daniel Walsh, who closed the conference.
20 international speakers, 3 thematic tracks and 20 presentations and workshops made the decision which session to attend very hard.