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Episode 266: PMO and Capitalizing on Diversity (Free)

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This episode is sponsored by The PM PrepCast for The PMP Exam:
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Episode 266: PMO and Capitalizing on Diversity (Free)Globalization and internationalization continue to change the diversity of businesses and our projects. Corporate structures mirror these trends. However, it seems that “diversity” mostly focuses on gender, age or origin. And diversification of employees is not the objective of diversity management. Roland Dumont du Voitel (http://www.amontis.com/ - http://de.linkedin.com/pub/dr-roland-dumont-du-voitel/14/9b7/567) says that there is much more to it.

He says that building on diversity focused on individual talents and qualities changes both corporations and provides also higher levels of creativity. This applies even more to project structures than to corporations. In project management we see that diversity is not a goal in itself. Its importance comes from the tasks and objectives of the projects. Just think of the diversity you create with mergers, acquisitions, global software projects, or even offshoring of services.

So hear Roland take a look at the pros and cons of applying diversity management in a mature project management environment, review its impact on culture and management, but also discuss the resistance to that change.

Roland Dumont du Voitel will be speaking on the topic of the PMO and Capitalizing on Diversity on April 29th at the 2014 Project Zone Congress in Frankfurt Germany. Find out more at http://projectzonecongress.com/ [2019 Update: the template website is no longer available, so we removed the link]

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. 

 

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode # 266. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Welcome back.

Globalization and internationalization continue to change the diversity of businesses and our project's corporate structures, they mirror these trends. However, it seems that diversity mostly focuses on gender, age or origin. But diversification of employees is not the objective of diversity management.

Roland Dumont du Voitel says that there is much more to it. He says that building on diversity focus on individual talents and qualities, changes both corporations and provides also higher level creativity. This applies even more to project structures than to corporations.

In project management, we see that diversity is not a goal in itself. It's importance comes from the tasks and objectives of the projects. Just think of the diversity you create with mergers, acquisitions, global software projects, or even offshoring of services.

So here, Roland take a look at the pros and cons of applying diversity management in a mature project management environment, review its impact on culture and management, but also discuss the resistance to that change.

And by the way, Roland Dumont du Voitel will be speaking on the topic of PMO and Capitalizing on Diversity on April 29th at the 2014 Project Zone Congress in Frankfurt, Germany. So if you are listening to this interview here before then, you can find out more at www.projectzonecongress.com.

And now, enjoy the interview.

Podcast Interview

Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Roland Dumont du Voitel, Managing Partner and CEO of www.amontis.com.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello Roland and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™!

Roland Dumont du Voitel: Good afternoon, Cornelius!

Cornelius Fichtner: So you will be speaking at the upcoming Project Zone Congress and your topic is PMO and Capitalizing on Diversity. What is it about the topic of diversity and capitalizing on it that interests you?

Roland Dumont du Voitel: From my belief, diversity is one element of intellectual capital or intellectual essence of a company. I think we cannot be global with an ethnocentric paradigm. So diversity is an asset and we're not really using it. We try to reduce it to a standard we're used to and just to include them into our everyday way we handle things, we handle projects and I think that's wrong. We are losing a high potential.

Cornelius Fichtner: And when we say diversity, are we mostly talking about gender, age, origin?

Roland Dumont du Voitel: I think that's the first thing that comes to everyone's mind talking about diversity to think about this. It's much more. It is more about the backgrounds, the experiences, life situations, history we live in, so many different things that are part of human being, of the different cultural elements of this world.

So it's much more than age and gender and the classical way company start more and more to deal with diversity management which in addition is most of the cases finding ways in introducing including other cultures into the national cultural environment or a specific organizational environment so to standardize again something in a homogene culture. So it's much more than that.

Cornelius Fichtner: And why should a PMO get involved in diversity at all? I mean isn't that the job of the human resources department?

Roland Dumont du Voitel: Human resources certainly have a stake in it because human resources deal with the resources, with the human resources as such but the projects and PMOs are part of this world dealing with innovations. And innovations need to look on things from new, from different perspectives, so changing perspectives as all of us know is an important element of innovation. And then one source of innovation is if you are an expert, you have a very in-depth knowledge of something, that's where you would then develop innovative approaches, ideas.

The other is taking the perspective of other social systems, of other people, of other culture, other history, other things that you learned. And in so far, innovation needs the diversity. The more innovative the project is, the more you depend on estimations and not on safe things, well-known things. So it's estimations and estimations are something very soft. They depend on how people view things, how they have a view of this world what they believe is important they are motivated or not. So estimations is amalgamation of so many things that if you are really managing innovative projects and to develop greater things, you highly depend on diversity and people or let's say companies have a lot of this potential but they are not using it. As a part of their intellectual asset, it's a way in capitalizing on this essence.

Cornelius Fichtner: When you look in the classical literature and you read up about PMOs, I don’t think diversity management is listed as a function for PMOs. So do you see diversity management as a new function of a PMO?

Roland Dumont du Voitel: Oh I absolutely think about this. I see a possible link in many discretional way of say, change management, becoming an element of PMOs. In the early days, I would say the PMO seems some years ago, change management was just the change of a plan. It was not the social change element. And in so far PMOs and project managers started to learn more especially in the IT environment, learned more and more that change management is a part of their business because they are changing their social, psychological environment and there are even more diversities of the same thing. It is understanding more about this change and more about the social, psychological environment and therefore, if you are thinking about PMOs that need to become a more corporate-wide philosophy, you need to also to enter this area of diversity management with a very different aspect or perspective and integrate that to the work of an ePMO or a strategically positioned project management office or portfolio management office.

Cornelius Fichtner: When we add a new function like this in an organization, there is always good and bad. So what would you say are the pros and the cons of empowering diversity management in a mature project management environment?

Roland Dumont du Voitel: There are two ways. The one is maybe a little bit academic because there is no academic evidence or proof right now that diversity is really empowering creativity but more and more studies show that it is only because the academic world has not looked at this area as they could from a business point of view and in so far, diversity becomes an important element but is not really recognized.

The other aspect is that it needs a very different understanding of organizations and of the social environment than most of the project managers I used to learn or to apply in their area. So you will see huge IT projects in the market where the project management are superb experts in the IT environment but never learned to look beyond that into the social arena and the same accounts for the sponsors, the decision makers. It is something that is quite new I would say and also to some extent some would encounter some resistance with most decision makers as they never really learned this holistic view and perspective in their career or in their education formation at the university. So it's more that side.

The pros are that once you understand this mechanism of a systemic view, you would certainly find a huge tension, new potential to find creative, new ideas to go on new ways and to include sources that you rejected in the past and so far.

Cornelius Fichtner: Along the lines of one of the cons that you mentioned, you have your own consulting company, Amontis Consulting AG, do you see the need from organizations for you to help them in regards of how to capitalize on diversity? Is anybody coming to you and wanting to do this?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete PDF transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

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