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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
Oh, and spoiler alert... the answer that I received most often was "Relationships".
It's not a surprise to me, a this comes up time and time again in the things we see on social media for project managers, and you'll have picked up the trend in my past interview. Whether you are leading a PMO, directing a huge project, taking part in an IT software development initiative, or working in the role of project manager in SAFe agile, or any other project role, relationships are the things that power our success. Project manager coaching and mentoring can only get you so far. Building effective working relationships with your colleagues is what really makes the difference. But I have a feeling you might have already known that!
Enjoy this special episode.
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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.
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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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.
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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.
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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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.
As agile project management grows in popularity and use, it's important to consider what that means for us as project managers. There is no 'formal' role for a project manager in an Agile approach, but that's not to say project management isn't needed. We simply need to look for ways to provide project management, aligned with how the business works. From Scrum to Kanban, from the role of project manager in SAFe Agile and other ways of scaling, project managers have so much to offer in an agile environment.
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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. If you are looking to adopt agile project management with scrum and then intend to scale it, this interview will help you understand how that can work.
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
Scrum project management might sound like a term that doesn't fit into the 'traditional' view of Agile methods, but when you are looking to scale up your approaches, you do need to add structure. Scrum agile project management training is one way to support a team through a transition to scaled agile, and you'll learn more about agile in large enterprises in this episode with Joy, so you can make a decision about whether it is right for you.
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Agile began with the promise to make smaller project teams more able to react to ever changing customer requirements. Scrum project management teaches us how to make that happen and how to work in flexible, agile ways to deliver what the customer wants. 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.
Agile project management is a growing domain, especially agile project management with scrum. It is possible to scale this approch, as frameworks like the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) show us. The role of project manager in SAFe Agile can be critical. Scrum agile project management training can help if you want to learn how to scale, but meanwhile, Andrew's interview makes a fantastic starting point to learn more about scaling scrum to fit your organization.
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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 for project leaders 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.
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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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.
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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:
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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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".
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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.
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
The best Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam prep is PMP Training on your mobile device:
This interview with Dani Ritter was recorded at the 2016 PMI® Global Congress in San Diego, California. Dani is the Manager, Community Engagement at Project Management Institute and her primary focus is the PM community of www.projectmanagement.com.
In the interview we discuss:
This interview is 14 minutes 46 seconds long. This means that you can "legally" not claim any PDUs at all, because the minimum is 15 minutes for 0.25 PDUs. However... if you first listen to the interview and then also visit the site and spend at least 14 seconds reviewing all the great templates that they offer, then you can go ahead and claim 0.25 PMP PDUs in the technical category!Click to visit the website
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. Get your PMP PDUs:
This interview with Dr. David Hillson was recorded at the 2016 PMI® Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss his paper and presentation My Stakeholders are my biggest risk -- help!. Here are two passages from the paper:
Stakeholders can pose a real risk to our projects—at least some of them can—and project managers and their teams need to be aware of this and take steps to control risks to their project that arise from risky stakeholders. As with all risks, stakeholders present both positive as well as negative risks, and we need robust ways of identifying which stakeholders offer opportunities, and where potential threats might lie.
This paper presents a structured way of identifying risky stakeholders based on a best-practice stakeholder analysis model (The Stakeholder Cube). It explains how risky stakeholders might influence a project based on their power, interest, and attitude. Finally, the paper shows how applied emotional literacy can be proactively used to influence risky stakeholders in order to optimize the outcome for the project.
A risk is any uncertainty that could affect achievement of project objectives. Some of the biggest risks in projects arise from stakeholders, and project managers and their teams need to be aware of these risks and manage them proactively. As with all risks, there are both positive and negative stakeholders, and it is important to identify which stakeholders offer opportunities, and where potential threats might lie—and then act appropriately.
David is retiring and this was his last active participation at a PMI Global Congress in North America. He plans on continuing to attending the EMEA congresses and he has offered to be available for interviews over Skype in the future.
In this interview we talk about managing risky stakeholders, bringing together the disciplines of stakeholder engagement and risk managemetn. You'll hear some useful tips for making sure you're tailoring your risk responses in project management to your project and the stakeholders you work with.
This interview is 26 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
Please note that we have released a more current interview:
Listen to our interview on PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. Earn 37 PDUs::
This interview with Cyndi Snyder Dionisio was recorded at the 2016 PMI® Global Congress in San Diego, California. We discuss her presentation "PMBOK® Guide -- Sixth Edition: Preview of Coming Attractions". Here is the session description:
A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is being updated as we speak, and the Sixth Edition will soon be published. This session provides insights into the new edition, including a peek at a new chapter on the role of the project manager. For each Knowledge Area, there are new sections describing key concepts, emerging trends, and tailoring considerations, as well as updates to ensure the PMBOK® Guide remains relevant to most projects, most of the time. Come and find out what to expect!
Cyndi was the chair of the team that worked on updating the guide and in her presentation (as well as in this interview) she introduces us to the publication timeline as well as many of the changes that are coming our way. This was of particular interest to me professionally, because the guide is a central text that we use in our PMP certification training for our students.
More About PMBOK 6
If you would you like to know more about what's coming in the new version, when and how it will be released and when the PMP exam will change to the new standard, then please click to visit our PMBOK 6 article.
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. PDU for PMP®:
This interview with Peter Monkhouse was recorded at the 2015 PMI® Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "My Project is Failing, It is Not My Fault". Here is the paper's abstract:
Projects fail. This is not new; projects having been failing for years. Studies have been done on why projects fail. The Project Management Institute (PMI) reported in the Pulse of the Profession® (2013a) that poor communication is the number one reason why projects fail. In fact, PMI states that poor communications is a contributing factor in 56% of the projects that failed.
But is this the fault of the project manager? A good project manager follows the appropriate methodology for the project, including using a variety of communication tools. But it is not just the method of communication that matters, it is the also the content of the communication that is important. The project manager needs to communicate with the project sponsor and stakeholders in the language of the business. The project manager needs to take the project data and convert it into business information that is actionable for the project sponsor and key stakeholders.
To do this, there are two tools the project manager can use. The first is to determine how the product or service of the project supports the organizational strategy. Knowing how the project supports the strategy of the organization will provide the language of why it is important for the project sponsor to support the project.
The second tool is the business model canvas which uses nine building blocks to describe how the strategy of the organization is implemented through organizational structures, processes, and systems. Knowing which block the project impacts will provide the project manager with the context to describe the project in the language of the business.
A project manager that speaks the language of the business will communicate more effectively with the project sponsor and project stakeholders, and improve the chances of the project meeting its objectives.
To get you started on the right foot for 2016 we are offering an exclusive arrangement with Neal Whitten: All PM Podcast listeners who use the coupon code "pmpodcast" when purchasing a Neal Whitten eLearning Course from Velociteach will receive a 25% discount.
How to order and get your discount:
Offer Valid from January 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016
This includes the course "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance" which is the basis for our interview with Neal in episode 344. Here is what Neal has to say about that particular course:
The session I conducted at the PMI® 2015 North American Congress was called: Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance. It was one of the most popular sessions with over 250 people attending—of which only five hands were raised indicating that they were satisfied with their work-life balance. That’s about two percent. Of course, these folks selected this session because of their current dissatisfaction with their work-life balance.
The session was based on a new eLearning course (2.5 PDUs) I developed in partnership with Velociteach, a bellwether project management training company. The course is the same name as the session. Here is a description of the eLearning course:
If you have difficulty in juggling the demands of your job and your non-work life, you’re not alone. Many people feel like their lives are overcommitted and see no relief in sight. Nowadays work-life balance can seem like an unrealistic objective and can seem more elusive than ever. I have personally wrestled with my own work-life balance issues for most of my adult life but—as a senior-aged person—I have learned a massive amount of knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom, about the highly important subject of finding a satisfactory harmony across all aspects of life. I have also read the research and musings from many valuable contributors that have opened my eyes even wider on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. My mission here is to sift through the data and present to you meaningful information that can help you not only better understand your work-life balance but to give you ideas that can help you achieve the integration that is most important to you.
Listeners of The PM Podcast receive a 25 percent discount on all my eLearning courses (there are ten as of right now) by simply using the coupon code “pmpodcast” when they purchase a course through Velociteach.
This episode is sponsored by The Agile PrepCast. Earn 37 PDUs::
This interview with Neal Whitten was recorded at the 2015 PMI® Global Congress in Orlando, Florida. We discuss his paper and presentation "Achieving the Elusive Work-Life Balance". Here is the paper's abstract:
If you have difficulty in juggling the demands of your job and your non-work life, you’re not alone. Many people feel like their lives are overcommitted and see no relief in sight. Nowadays, work-life balance can seem like an unrealistic objective and can seem more elusive than ever.
I have personally wrestled with my own work-life balance issues for most of my adult life, but—as a senior-aged person—I have learned a massive amount of knowledge and, dare I say, wisdom, about the highly important subject of finding a satisfactory harmony across all aspects of life. I have also read the research and musings from many valuable contributors that have opened my eyes even wider on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. My mission here is to sift through the data and present to you meaningful information that can help you to not only better understand your work-life balance, but can also give you ideas that can help you to achieve the integration that is most important to you.