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Episode 002: PMI® 2005 Leadership Meeting Part 1

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Several times a year, the Project Management Institute (PMI) holds Leadership Meetings all around the globe. These meetings are for component leaders (chapter board members, SIG chairs etc.) to attend and grow as leaders. This is my review of the first two days of the 2005 PMI® Leadership Meeting in Toronto, Canada.

Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of a computer-generated transcript with all its computer-generated quirks.

Episode 002: PMI® 2005 Leadership Meeting Part 1

Cornelius Fichtner (00:11):

You are listening to the project management podcast. We bring project management topics to beginners and experts. Find us on the web at PM. podcast.blogspot.com or send your emails to PM This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cornelius Fichtner (00:27):

Hello, and welcome to the second show. It wasn't recorded between the seventh and 11th of September, 2005. And this show will definitely interest you if you're a member of the PMI, or if you're thinking about joining it this week, I spent four days at the 2005 PMI leadership meeting in Toronto, Canada. PMI holds these leadership meetings regularly all over the world, some locations where, for instance, in October, 2004, they were right here in Anaheim, California in the United States in February of 2005, it was in Singapore and may. It was in Edinburgh, England, September. That was last week. It was in Toronto, Canada, and that's the upcoming shows that you'll hear. And at the end of October, it'll be in Panama city Panama. This was my first meeting and I have decided to divide my reviews for you into two shows. The reason for this is because the focus was quite different on day one, we focused on issues and trends within the PMI, and that's also going to be the first show to show that you're hearing today. And on day two and three, we were attending several seminars on leadership and that's going to be in one of the upcoming shows. Well, then let's jump right in and listen to what I had to say as I was traveling to the seminar.

Cornelius Fichtner (01:55):

All right, I'm sitting here at Chicago, O'Hare international airport. I'm on my way to Toronto, to the 2005 PMI leadership meeting. I'm arriving a day early because I'm a first timer and I want to attend tomorrow's first time of session, which of course means I have to spend a whole day in beautiful Toronto tomorrow, walking around, looking at all the sites. And hopefully also connecting again with my friends, all of whom I haven't seen in 15 years. Oh, well, all things I do for my profession as always, I prepared very little. Whenever I go to a seminar, I select the seminar. I generally know what it's all about. And I do very little before I actually do. So then I print out in this case, 50 pages from the website, and I read through these pages as I journey to wherever I need to go.

Cornelius Fichtner (02:51):

I looked at the schedule. I looked at everything that I want to do. And frankly, I'm quite impressed by the number of which the PMI office here. I counted 24 separate seminars. And that was just at a glance. Let me give you a quick overview here of what it is that they're doing. First of all, there is the association governance track. The association governance track has seminars in it like the building of a knowledge center, getting industry leaders on board and the theme that goes throughout all of the tracks volunteers, our most valuable resource. The next track is the PMI institutional knowledge track, where you can learn about generational differences and professional society participation research program, past, present, and future. And then there's also obtaining and sustaining volunteers. So once again, we talk about volunteers here and finally the individual leadership development. Again, they have one of the seminars in that track is leadership fundamentals for volunteer leaders, overview of the seven habits of highly effective people. It's an interesting topic. And then there is perfecting public speaking skills, which I doubt they can do on Friday morning from eight 30 to nine 30, but at least it's the stone. So I'm looking forward to three days, filled learning three days, which I'm sure the PMI can pull off with their years of experience in organizing such seminars.

Cornelius Fichtner (04:28):

I used my iPod to make this recording. And as you can probably tell the sound quality of an iPod is not all too great. I hope however that you could at least tell how excited and how motivated I was to attend this meeting at the end of day, one night, set up my recording studio, a laptop and a microphone in my hotel room. And here is what I had to say followed by a voice of someone else.

Cornelius Fichtner (04:56):

It is the end of day zero at the PPI leadership seminar, 2005 here in Toronto, and not much happened really today in terms of project management. So let me start with last night, I went out to dinner with Glen Fujimoto, who is the chair elect of the chapter project management Institute of orange County, where I am the programs director. We sat in a seafood restaurant and we talked and talked for two and a half, maybe three hours. And among other things we spoke about the implementation of the agile software development methodology at his company. If you don't know agile, let me tell you from what I learned yesterday, it is quite different from anything that I have ever done in terms of software development. I have asked Glen if he would be open to having an interview here on the project management podcast, he said, sure, so you can look forward to that today.

Cornelius Fichtner (05:59):

I enjoy Toronto. I went up to the CN tower. I stood on their gloss floor, which is 342 meters in the air. And there was nothing below me, but a piece of glass, which was quite interesting. I hooked up with my friend, Rob Brown, whom I hadn't seen in 18 years. And I'm happy to report that he is an actor, quite a successful actor here in Toronto. After that I walked over to the conference center, get my registration stuff, you know, the usual pact and name tag, the schedule, everything you really need for this concert conference. The day then continued with the first timer orientation Lynn Wheeling from the PMI welcomed us. And let me paper here, Lynn wheeling. She is the manager component and community relations were about 80 of us in that meeting room, maybe about a hundred out of 200 new time.

Cornelius Fichtner (07:04):

First time as this year. And she was very friendly and very cheerful. She first introduced all the PMI volunteers that were onsite. And then they did a little icebreaker. They had a bingo where you, as a first time, I got a bingo card with various questions on it. And you had to find somebody for instance, who drives the motorcycle. So you had to run around, get to talk to the others. And I had to find the person who drives a motorcycle and who first got his bingo card filled up, you know, five across five diagonal or five top-down one. And they actually won two free entrances to the next leadership seminar, wherever that is. I don't even know where the 2006 one is she mentioned about, I forgot. Then they looked at the schedule of the upcoming three days and they also looked at the locations of where the rooms are and all that showed us an app of that.

Cornelius Fichtner (08:04):

It was a regular, hello, first timer session. I mean, nothing extraordinary. What I missed, however, was, you know, some guidance. They didn't really tell us what you can expect. Granted Lynn talked about, you will be able to make friends for life here in the next few days. I believe that because in the project management area where we try to stick together, we know each other. So yes, I believe that we will be making friends for life here. I agree with that, but what, what are the takeaways? You know, the short term things, what am I going to learn? What's the attitude that I should have going into this. So I was missing that a little bit. And also the, the other portion of the guidance that I was missing. Like I told you, there are a very large number of the seminars that they're having roughly 24, right?

Cornelius Fichtner (08:59):

If I remember the number, correct. Well, which ones should I go and look at? I'm the programs director. Is there anything that you PMI suggests that I should focus on? What about the chair elect? What about a president who happens to be your first time, but what should they focus on? So that kind of guidance we're, what's kind of missing. Well, they're your habit? Day zero. From my point of view, my feet hurt from walking through Toronto. And even though the hotel gave me a really nice map of the town of Toronto, I feel that the PMI didn't really give me a really nice roadmap of the conference that is coming up.

Rosemary Tyler (09:45):

[inaudible] my name is Rosemary Tyler. Um, I live in the U S I've been a certified project manager since the year 2000. I've been in the business for over 20 years. And my personal model is I can, I will. I must, I shall not. How can people contact the women in project management suit? I'm very active in women, project management, SIG, and they can contact us at our website, www dot [inaudible] dot org.

Cornelius Fichtner (10:17):

The next day I got up at six, o'clock headed up to the conference center where I had a full day of seminars ahead of me. What I didn't know or didn't realize at that time. However, is it wasn't really seminars. Instead. It was discussions about issues and trends in PMI. Here's what I have to say at the end of the day.

Cornelius Fichtner (10:41):

At the end of day one here at the PMI leadership meeting in Toronto, I feel pretty exhausted. It was a full day of lots of discussions and listening and learning. And I would like to give you a brief overview of what happened today. Of course, it all started with the usual opening ceremonies and Lynn Wheeling, whom I've met yesterday at the first time as orientation started the day off. And she's absolutely excellent at working a crown. She really, really did a fine job. And she spoke again that during this meeting, your focus should be on networking and on meaningful dialogue. So that was a nice opening. And she then handed it over to, shall we call him the keynote speaker? His name was Mark Adams. He is a former NBA basketball coach. And I have to admit Mark did his homework as an NBA basketball coach, former.

Cornelius Fichtner (11:46):

He knew what project management was all about, or at least he winged it very nicely. He had also in the private industry, so he knew about project management and he was able to relate to it. He talked a lot about coaching off course, and he said that biggest role of a coach is the one on one coaching. And he made it quite clear to us folks. A team meeting is not coaching. It does not count as coaching. If you're coaching somebody. That's a one on one thing you don't just do that. During a team meeting, he talked about his friend, his friend, Josie Miller, his friend, Josie Miller is Amish. For those of you who don't know, Amish is a religious group here in the United States. And they live very simply. And when an Amish needs a new barn, well, everybody in the area comes together, chips in and they put up that barn in nine hours.

Cornelius Fichtner (12:50):

And Josie Miller is the well project manager among the Amish who put up that barn. It takes him three weeks to prepare. And he talked about what Josie does. And Josie focuses on the team. He focuses on the talents that he has available. Not everybody is a carpenter. So where do I put real carpenters? Where do I put the grunts? And he makes sure that he puts the right people into the right place. Oh yes. And even though bear Amish, they think about profit. They think, is this a profitable undertaking? Do we really want to do this? Mark also talked about the fact that what is the most important thing that you need in project management? And of course, as a coach, he said talent. When he was coaching the worst team in the United States versus one of the top 25 teams in the United States, the only difference was talent, man.

Cornelius Fichtner (13:50):

He was so much smarter and better when he had talented people on his team. Well, so that means to all of us out there as project managers find the right talent for the team. So that's my takeaway there for the opening ceremonies that we have this morning, we then moved on and we split up into the various regions. PMI splits the world into, I believe 14 regions. And my chapter is in region seven and we got together and we had the meeting was facilitated by Maria Mack Holland. PMI asked us today to look at three topics. And by the way, that's why the day was dubbed the issues day because they were really wanting us to dig deep and talk about the issues and identify issues both in the morning and the afternoon. So they wanted us to number one, identify and discuss trends. Number two, find out what opportunities and challenges these trends represent.

Cornelius Fichtner (14:56):

And number three, then identify gaps where we as components need help. The whole thing started out with quite a bit of backslapping there. Maria was talking about all the great things that each chapter did, and we gave ourselves a nice big round of applause. The various trends that we in our region came up with more or less boiled down to two words, value proposition. That was the number one thing that I kept hearing again and again today, what is the value of being a PMI member? What is the value of participating as a volunteer in PMI? So that came back again and again, we also talked about the delusion of the title, project manager, look around you in your companies. If they stick somebody in a position and they don't really know what to call him, what will they call him or her? Exactly. They will call him a project manager.

Cornelius Fichtner (16:02):

So it seems almost like the title project manager is being watered down somehow. And we felt that there needs to be some possibly standardization, some better definition as to what project manager is and what a product manager does. And we have to get it out there to people. The question of the PMP being watered down and diluted also came up. Is that the case? Because we now have so many more PMPs than we had years ago. Well, maybe, but I would like to call quote, Corina Martinez, who was also there today. And she said, when you have the PMP, that only means very few things. That means that you have some education in project management. It means that you've been able to prove that you have some experience in project management. And it means that you were able to pass the PMP test. It doesn't mean anything more.

Cornelius Fichtner (16:58):

It does not mean that you are a great project manager and think about it. If you are a CPA certified public accountant, or if you have an MBA degree or a doctorate degree, even if 200 million other people have the same degree, it's not going to water the degree down. It is a basic stepping stone for your profession. And so is the PMP. So we don't think that there is a dilution or watering down of the PMP actually happening. We also discussed other trends that we see in our region. There is the need for additional infrastructure. Some of our region components actually look at outsourcing, outsourcing bookkeeping, outsourcing the website, just to have better, more solid infrastructure right there. And we discussed the need for community outreach to talk more to vendors, to talk more to local governments, to companies in our area, go out there, bring them in, bring project management to them, get them out as your sponsors, you have to be involved in your community in order to make project management more understood better on the story.

Cornelius Fichtner (18:16):

After three breakout sessions in the 14 regions, we got back together and here are a few other trends that the other regions came up with. One was very good because I enjoyed that. It proved that we were doing the wrong, the wrong, the right thing in our chapter. And that was the need for advanced training opportunities. As you know, once you become a PMP, you need to keep it going because every three years you have to have 60 professional development units, PDs. And how do you get that? Well, you want to get trained, but you don't want to take yet another project management beginner's seminar, just so that you get one or two of those PDFs. You want to have advanced training. And this is what people are looking for. And I will be talking about how to deliver advanced training in an upcoming podcast anyway, because our chapter did it and I have done it for a whole year.

Cornelius Fichtner (19:18):

So I have some back best practices there to share with you demographics. It was good to note that our chapter is not the only one. There are many, many more it professionals now in the chapters. And we are very much looking for ways not to lose the other industries. I mean, there is construction out there. There isn't any factoring out there. We have to keep these people interested in project management in helping us in our local chapters to keep project management going the growth. If you've looked at the numbers of the PMI lately, it's skyrocketing membership is soaring, and that is an enormous strain on all the chapters. And then of course there is the PMP that has grown enormously. So the acceptance has grown of the certification and the requirement to actually, you have to have a PMP to even apply for this position has grown.

Cornelius Fichtner (20:17):

So that's a, that's a trend that everybody sees Asia and Europe. They reported that the trend that they need is to have more integration of cultural differences and local flavors into project management. And me coming from Switzerland, I can understand what they are talking about because project management here in the United States is definitely different from what I was used to back in Switzerland, branding consistency or something else that was talked about, think about it. People move around the globe these days. And when you move from a chapter in Switzerland to a chapter in orange County, California, well, you won't recognize it anymore. Everything is different, everything is done differently. So there should be some kind of a branding consistency, not just for folks like me. Also for global companies, you have international companies that are supporting the PMI. And if there is not a global brand logo recognition, somehow that everybody, every chapter kind of adheres to, and it's difficult for these companies to realize, Hey, we're supporting the same group here.

Cornelius Fichtner (21:27):

We're still on track with what we're doing. The agent region also spoken by the way the agent region comprises one third of the world's population. And the interesting thing that she mentioned was that the PMI in the agent region grew with it. And now they're actually embracing the other industry. So they are now bringing in construction and bringing in manufacturing quite different than what the PMI actually started out on. It started out in construction, manufacturing it now it looks like it is taking over the PMI world. And the final one I would like to tell you about here is from the Caribbean and South America. They talked about the fact that they are in places where sometimes natural catastrophes hit. So what do you do as a chapter? What do you do as a business continuity plan? What if your town is struck? How do you bring the chapter back up?

Cornelius Fichtner (22:29):

So they are looking for some help in that region. And also they need some more help with bringing job opportunities to their members there. So that was the morning session from nine 30 to 1130, about the component leader, learning and sharing by region. We then moved on and in the afternoon, once again, we talked about issues and this time we broke up into the component, learning and sharing by size. So we broke up into barriers, size groups. My chapter at this point has roughly 1500 members, but I joined a 2000 member group because we expect to, to be there quite quickly. And what happened? The two gentlemen, unfortunately at the, I didn't make a note of their names. The two gentlemen who led this group, the session, they first showed us the results of the component maturity assessment. This was a survey which was presented to all the components worldwide by the CS mag, the components services member advisory group.

Cornelius Fichtner (23:40):

That's a mindful CS mag. And they showed us the results of this. This was quite a different and interesting session because everything that they showed was challenged. The validity of the questions that were asked were challenged. The results were challenged. The interpretations were challenged. It was quite astounding for me as a newcomer to see that and tip of the hat to the two gentlemen who facilitated this meeting, they kept their cool, they gave very good calm responses. They consider that they suddenly found themselves in the defensive and they handled the situation very, very well. I learned later on that the other meetings were quite similar that even the same kind of responses came that even the statistical validity was questions of everything. It seems to point all into the same, same direction here. I'm not going to go into the details of this meeting as much as I did before.

Cornelius Fichtner (24:46):

Instead I have the following two comments. Some people take this fall too seriously. You might believe off this session here with the 2000 and more member chapters, that this is some people's real job. And for me as a first timer, it was quite off putting. And I believe that it was the same for others too, because after we had a breakout session and came back, the room was half empty and people left because they probably didn't want to be in this Slayer fast as it was. So folks learn to relax a little. This is not your whole life. Second, the intensity of these reactions and the discussions, however, showed that there is quite clearly a dissatisfaction with PMI out in the components. And there is definite need of a way, a structured, a clear way in which this dissatisfaction from the components is gathered aggregated and then presented to the PMI.

Cornelius Fichtner (25:58):

And then the PMI has to listen at need, has to take action. This is what I have taken from this, this particular session. Next the day ended with the graduation of this year's class of the leadership Institute. The leadership Institute is now in its fourth year. It's a four year old training initiative by the PMI and each year 25 volunteers from the PMI volunteers have chosen to attend this PMI leadership Institute. We had a couple of opening speeches by Louis Merican, the PMI, uh, chair, and by the PMI CEO, Gregory [inaudible] of course, both of them focused on the benefits of the leadership Institute. And then Gregory [inaudible] continued to introduce the next level of a PMI leadership Institute. It is now going to become PMI learn from what I was able to gather from the very short presentation that he made. I will may have to revise the statement.

Cornelius Fichtner (27:07):

I lay to point when it's really out there and we can all read up on it. It is now a online e-learning tool where every PMI volunteer and PMI leader can assess their own capability and their own needs, and thereby define where they need additional training. My hope really is that the PMI was able to capture the best top of what these four years of the leadership Institute has given them, and that they were able to translate this into this new PMI learn. I'm happy of course, to report that Christine Monson, my boss has graduated today from this leadership Institute. And I'm also happy to report that Cornelius Von inc. Yes, a gentlemen who shares my first name from Holland. He is, I believe that he has also graduated from the leadership Institute today and he had the guts to wear a red jacket. Exactly the same thing that I would have done, I would have graduated with a red jacket. So that was, that was good to see. I would like to end this first day with a quote from Peter Monkhouse and he said, I try to add value every day in everything I do. I believe if we can all do this as PMI leaders and PMI volunteers, then we can take the PMI to the next level.

Speaker 6 (28:49): [inaudible]

Brent Felsted (28:53):

Hi, it's Brent Felsted from orange County, California. I'm second time as the leadership meeting before it was the college presidents, and I've enjoyed this trip to Canada, a great deal. Some of the things that I've gotten is just interacting with the other chapters, talking to other people, finding out how they do things. That's what I found most valuable. Thanks. I hope you have a great, a great conference

Cornelius Fichtner (29:24):

In the two days following the recording of the review, you just heard, I spoke to many people at the meeting about their opinion of day one. Most of them rolled their eyes about it and said that in particular, the afternoon was just a waste of their time. The should never

Cornelius Fichtner (29:42):

Have presented the results of the survey at this early stage and that the PMI shouldn't instead have, let us discuss that quote real unquote issues that components face today that would have been much more valuable for everybody. That's about it for today. Thanks for listening in my next show, I will, of course, feature day two and three of the PMI, 2005 leadership meeting. I will give my review of the presentations I attended. I will share the gold nuggets I found in the seminars we'll do with you. You will hear more voices from other people, and I will give my overall verdict as always. You can find us on the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And finally, we have this good project. Management is not so much knowing what to do and when to do it as knowing what excuses to give and when to give them with that. Think about volunteering for your local chapter until next time.

Above are the first few pages of a computer-generated transcript with all its computer-generated quirks. A human-generated transcript is available to Premium subscribers starting with episode 136.

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on projectmanagement.com and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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