The PM Podcast


Project Management for Beginners and Experts

Episode 386: Interpersonal Skills for Project Success (Free) #PM #PMOT

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Presenters Collage
Congress presenters reveal their most important interpersonal skill

Last year at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California I recorded an all time high of 14 interviews. They have all been published over the past few months and you’ve probably heard some or all of them. But what you don’t know is what happened once each interview was complete.

I pressed the recording button one more time and asked each of my guests the following question: Which is the interpersonal skill that you attribute the most of our success in your career to? In other words, what skill has helped you most on your projects when you interact with others?

And today you are going to get all the answers. In one nice mashup. Here are all the presenters in the order you will hear their answers

  • Jay Payette
  • Kristy Tan Neckowicz
  • Nk Shrivastava
  • David Hillson
  • Denise McRoberts
  • Joy Beatty
  • Kristine Hayes Munson
  • Andrew Burns
  • Kim Wasson
  • Wanda Curlee
  • Beth Spriggs
  • Cyndi Snyder Dionisio
  • Connie Inman

Oh, and spoiler alert... the answer that I received most often was "Relationships".

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Episode 385: Aligning Projects with Organizational Strategy (Free)

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Jay Payette
Jay Payette, PMP

Projects are the tool businesses use to take a strategy and turn it into reality. So your project better be aligned with your long term business plan. All of them!

This interview about strategic alignment with Jay Payette was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss his presentation and white paper Making it Happen - How Project Managers Can Drive Strategic Alignment and Strategy Execution. Here is the abstract:

Good strategy can be critical to organizational success, however in order for strategy to transform from ideas into results it must be successfully executed. In order for organizations to successfully formulate and execute strategy they must achieve sufficient strategic alignment.

Project managers and project team members can make a critical contribution to their organization’s strategic alignment. This paper examines strategic alignment through the frame of three strategic functions: formulate, align, and execute and how they interact with each other.

Additionally, three strategic alignment frameworks are presented and recommendations are made as to how they may be used by project managers to contribute to organizational strategic alignment at the project-level.

PDU Tip

This interview is 29 minutes and 30 seconds long. This means that it is 30 seconds too short and you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 384: Situational Awareness for Project Managers (Free)

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Wanda Curlee
Wanda Curlee and Cornelius Fichtner

Every project manager needs to master situational awareness. That is because no two projects are perfectly alike. What worked last time may have to be tweaked next time. Even worse, what may have worked just yesterday may have to be tweaked today!

This interview about situational awareness with Wanda Curlee was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. It was co-written and co-presented with Marie Sterling. Wanda and I discuss their presentation and white paper Situational Awareness. Do you have the Emotional Intelligence for it?. Here is the abstract:

This paper explores the relationship of situational awareness and emotional intelligence of portfolio, program, and project leadership. Included in the paper is an introduction to situational awareness, emotional intelligence, SAGAT, recommendations and details about the workshop exercise. Situational awareness plays a critical role in effective decision making, and more so in complex and challenging portfolio, program and project management environments. Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the study of how in tune a person is with his or her own emotions and the ability to understand emotions of those around himself or herself. Through the use of a live training simulation, an individual’s level of situational awareness and their emotional intelligence will be determined.

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 383: Project Failure Is Not An Option (Free)

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Kristy Tan Neckowicz and Connie Inman
Kristy Tan Neckowicz, Connie Inman and Cornelius Fichtner

At some point in their career, every project manager has to deal with troubled projects.

This interview about project recovery with Kristy Tan Neckowicz and Connie Inman was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss their presentation and white paper Recognize Warning Signs and Rescue Your Troubled Projects. Here are the abstract and summary:

Abstract: Come to this session to hear real stories of troubled projects and recovery journeys from two seasoned project management professionals. You will learn to recognize common warning signs of troubled projects, approaches to right-sizing your project management processes, and applications of stakeholder management lessons for project success.

Summary: The common theme across the case studies is a focused spirit of continuous improvement to rescue troubled projects. Although projects are temporary in nature, project management processes are always evolving.

It is tempting to move on to the next project when a troubled project has been placed safely back on track. However, you will have more assurance of the project manager’s future success by conducting a lessons learned evaluation focused on the practice of project management before claiming victory.

By sharing the warning signs, right-sizing approach, and lessons learned from these case studies, we hope you will leverage our experience to keep your next project “on track” to successful delivery.

PDU Tip

This interview is 29 minutes and 57 seconds long. This means that it is 3 seconds too short and you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 382: Top Five Warning Signs that Agile Isn't Working (Free)

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NK Shrivastava
NK Shrivastava and Cornelius Fichtner

This interview about why Agile might be failing in your organization with NK Shrivastava was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss his presentation and white paper Top Five Warning Signs That Agile is Not Working for You. Here are the abstract and conclusion:

Abstract: There are good possibilities of success when adopting an agile approach in an organization, but five symptoms in particular serve as warning signs that the organization’s agile transformation is not working well.

The five warning signs include: (a) no signs of value delivery for over 3 months, (b) teams resisting customer changes, (c) teams “waterfalling” sprints, (d) customers foregoing involvement in development and testing, and (e) lack of visibility for agile in the organization. Potential solutions for these problems are also described in this paper. Many organizations can solve these problems internally, but sometimes an external resource such as a change agent or an agile coach is needed. By addressing these issues, organizations can increase the chances of a successful agile transformation.

Conclusion: Agile doesn’t work by itself. Organizations that implement agile with minimal team support and expect it to work perfectly “out of the box” will likely be disappointed. Successful agile adoption depends on factors at the organization and team levels. Organizations need the right mindset, a strong commitment, a culture conducive to implement agile, and the ability to secure resources and outside help as needed. Teams need the training, skills, and empowerment to absorb and implement agile principles. With these factors in place, organizations and teams should be able to build the foundation for agile success.

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 381: Scaled Agile for The Enterprise (Free)

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Joy Beatty
Joy Beatty and Cornelius Fichtner

We continue our look at the topic of scaled agile that we started in the previous episode, this time by looking at "agiLE" - Agile in the Large Enterprise.

This interview about Scaling Agile with Joy Beatty, PMI-PBA was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss her presentation and white paper Making "agiLE" Work: Agile in the Large Enterprise. Here are the abstract and final thoughts:

Abstract: Almost all large enterprises are making some transition to agile practices. There are many approaches to scale agile in the large enterprise, and we’ll give an overview of the most common scaled approaches and their limitations. This paper also discusses the most common challenges our customers’ teams are facing when scaling agile and provides suggestions to overcome those challenges.

Final Thoughts: This sounds like a daunting task—to transition to agile approaches in a large organization. However, with solid collaboration and communication, it’s absolutely doable. Teams will constantly be collaborating through elicitation, answering questions, and testing the actual product. Business analysts have a critical role to play in keeping the collaboration running smoothly, including helping to facilitate backlog grooming and elaboration, participating in planning in sprints, working with interfacing teams to identify dependencies, and serving as a product owner proxy on any teams as needed. Likewise, project and program managers can act as advisors about appropriate levels of process, help guide projects toward common goals, and ensure a focus on prioritization based on business needs. Instead of instilling a hierarchical control between PMO and product owner, in agiLE the PMO and product owner work together to achieve the objective. The real goal for agiLE teams is self-organization and creativity, while still contributing as a part of a large organization

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 380: Scaled Agile (Free)

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Andy Burns
Andrew Burns and Cornelius Fichtner

Agile began with the promise to make smaller project teams more able to react to ever changing customer requirements. But what if your project is big? I mean really, really big. Can we have scaled agile?

This interview about Scaling Agile with Andrew Burns, PMI-ACP, PMP, was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss his paper and presentation Dragon Scales: 50 Teams Scrumming -- Implementing Adaptive Project Management Practices at Scale. Here is the abstract:

Product portfolios can easily scale to 50 teams or more in meeting large organizations’ needs. Large portfolios with strong foundations are derived through values-based leadership. The technique links corporate and individual values to scientific principles. Scientific principles inform us that change is constant and therefore adaptation defines good practices. Values-based leadership’s agile practices take root, thrive, and adapt at the pace of business change.

The three-hundred software engineers considered herein innovated within a portfolio of 18,000 colleagues. Their agile, adaptive product development practices continue to evolve from plan-driven provenance. Leveraging agile practices at the portfolio, program, and project level continually unleashes innovation, quality, and throughput of value. Though contextualized in terms of software product development in the 2010s with Scrum, the message of innovation through values-based adoption of scientific principles is timeless and framework unallied. Implementation of practices observant of values and principles endures as a way to deliver the best products regardless of toolset.

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 379: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership (Free)

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K. Wasson
Kim Wasson and Cornelius Fichtner

At its core project management is all about effectively leading your team. Therefore emotional intelligence for project managers and project leaders can be just as important (if not more) than knowing how to interpret the latest earned value data.

This interview about emotional intelligence in project management with Kim Wasson was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation One Unhappy Person Can Ruin Your Beautiful Plan -- Emotional Intelligence for Project Managers. Here is the abstract:

Just one unmotivated person on your team can bring everything crashing down. Unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and lack of motivation are highly contagious; ‘one person’ quickly turns into an unhappy and possibly dysfunctional team.

We're all focused on getting the process right and there’s no doubt that process is important. What many of us don’t take into account is that the success of most projects depends largely on the teams actually doing the work Process is important but it’s not going to build anything on its own – it’s a team of satisfied, competent people working together who will actually deliver a product.

The people side of the project management equation is critical. Managing effectively requires the ability to understand individuals and teams, establish working relationships, manage goals, and motivate team members. Effective tools and techniques discover what makes the team members and the team itself tick, to communicate effectively with many different people both one-on-one and as a group, and to generally balance the process part of the equation with the people part of the equation are critical to project success.

PDU Tip

This interview is 24 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 378: Project Metrics (Free)

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Denise McRoberts
Denise McRoberts and Cornelius Fichtner

Setting up a PMO usually means setting up some Project Management KPI (Key Performance Metric). But which?

This interview about PMO metrics with Denise McRoberts was recorded at the PMI® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation "Meaningful Metrics -- The Path toward Measuring what Matters". Here is the abstract:

"The project management office (PMO) was in a rut. The number of projects in work at any one time was increasing; project managers were routinely reporting that all was well while schedules slipped, and there was limited understanding of true project costs." Does this sound all too familiar? In this session, attendees will learn some innovative methods to implement metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to better understand your organizational weaknesses and how to overcome them. This session will provide a case study on how a PMO did just that, with plenty of practical examples

You will learn what makes a 'good' metric, how metrics should be developed, and that we also need specific project metrics and project portfolio metrics.

Click to download the white paper Click to download the handout with metric samples

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Episode 377: The PMI Educational Foundation (Free)

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Suketu Nagrecha
Suketu Nagrecha and Cornelius Fichtner

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Educational Foundation is a charitable nonprofit organization, with the mission to inspire and empower people to realize their potential and transform their lives and their communities through the use of project management knowledge. This interview with Suketu Nagrecha, PMIEF Chair, was recorded at the 2016 PMI Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss:

  • The history of PMIEF
  • How PMIEF can help you with
    - Scholarships
    - Grants
    - Awards
  • How you can apply for a scholarship, grant, or award
  • How your or your employer can become a PMIEF donor
  • And we'll hear a story from a project manager whom PMIEF helped in his career

Full disclosure: My own company is a PMIEF donor and offers certification scholarships. If you are thinking of earning a PMI scholarship but lack the means to do so then please visit https://www.project-management-prepcast.com/scholarships to learn how to apply.

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Episode 376: Influence Without Authority (Free)

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Kristine Munson
Kristine Hayes Munson and Cornelius Fichtner

Sharp influencing skills are a major factor that help project managers succeed. This interview about leading without authority with Kristine Hayes Munson was recorded at the 2016 PMI Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation "Getting Things Done -- Influence Without Authority". Here is the abstract:

"Project managers frequently face the dilemma of how to accomplish the project’s work without having any functional authority. Resources assigned to the project report to someone else who writes performance appraisals and recommends pay increases. In addition, resources may be assigned to multiple projects with competing priorities. Project managers must rely on their ability to influence others to get work done in a timely and thorough fashion.

This paper explores the influence cycle and the associated skills to be used by project managers in order to get things done using influence rather than authority. Five stages comprise the influence cycle: (1) prepare, (2) ask, (3) trust, (4) follow up, and (5) give back."

The paper concludes that in regards to leadership without authority "Developing influence skills is hard work and takes conscious effort. The influence cycle is designed to be repeated for each project in order to help us as project managers continue to improve our influence skills. Our success as project managers and the success of our projects depends on our ability to use influence to get things done".

Click to download the white paper

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Episode 375: Project Assumptions (Free)

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Beth Spriggs
Beth Spriggs and Cornelius Fichtner

This interview about assumptions in project management with Beth Spriggs was recorded at the 2016 PMI Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss her paper and presentation The Risky Business of Assumptions - Uncovering the Truth, as We Assume It to Be. Here is the abstract:

We all hold assumptions, then make decisions and take actions based on those assumptions without verifying their validity. Worse is when other people hold assumptions about our work and we don’t know it. This can impact user adoption, timeline, scope, quality, and overall project success. Not to mention personal frustration, stress, and desires to pull out one’s own hair.

Unchecked assumptions can be very dangerous in the workplace. We should be mindful of some common assumptions and actively work to uncover assumptions. Doing so will bolster project work and open up new paths for identifying risks.

Some project assumption examples that Beth introduces us to are assuming a project or task is easier or faster than it actually is, assuming priorities are aligned and haven't changed, and assuming who owns, or is responsible for, what.

Very importantly the paper and discussion also include a section about uncovering assumptions. Here, Beth offers us 5 ideas on how to develop and expand our project assumptions list.

PDU Tip

This interview is 23 minutes long. This means that you can "legally" only claim 0.25 PDUs for listening to it. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also read the white paper on which it is based, then you can go ahead and claim 0.50 PMP PDUs!

Click to download the white paper

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Cornelius Fichtner, PMP
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