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Project Management: It's All Bollocks!

Adi Muslic 100x100

Author: Adi Muslic, PMP

 

“Project Management, It’s All Bollocks!” was the 5th online event organized by PMI Switzerland on 2nd of July. If you missed it, this is a 5 minute read to learn more about it.

The presenter, Peter Taylor, is an accomplished communicator, leader, and professional speaker, popular around the world for keynotes and as an event host. He is also known as the author of "The Lazy Project Manager" book.

 

PM Its

 

"Project Management, It’s all Bollocks !" is also the title of the book that Peter and Susie Palmer-Trew wrote together. It is explaining the basics of project management to new project managers, project managers revisiting those basics, and those who deliver changes as a part of their day job (but are not project managers) in their organizations that are not recognized as projects.

Peter, made the presentation quite interactive by the use of the Mentimeter tool. It helped to engage the audience right from the beginning.

Peter started by asking: What do you love about project management? On the screen we could see: people, collaboration, making a difference, bringing value, getting things done, etc.

The next question was: What do you hate about project management? Answers were: Stake-holders, politics, process, admin work, tools.

And this is, Peter told us, what the first chapter of the book is about, all annoying things in project management.

 

Then Peter introduced the second chapter, as the essence of project management - the Seven Cracking Ideas.

For this article, I decided to pick one of them: Communication versus Engagement!

 

Comms vs Eng

 

It tells us that we have to know our project management community. We need to know their needs and expectations. We should not spend much time focusing on those who are against or unsupportive. We should make sure that those who are supportive or at least undecided receive clear and consistent communications. Steady regular communications are also important.
An engaged audience is much more responsive and active in contributing to value creation.

Peter also shared a couple of examples from his rich experience advising that we should always explain what project management is about and how to contribute to value creation.

The event ended with a Q&A session. One of the questions that attracted my attention was whether we are allowed a failure in a consultant’s role. Peter’s answer was yes. He added that we need to have an open and honest relationship built with the client. They understand that we all make mistakes, as long as you do what you can to mitigate those problems.

If you like to watch it, 1hr 15min long event recording is available on the PMI Switzerland’s YouTube channel.

Kind regards,
Adi

Talk @ PMI Switzerland Coffee

Talk @ PMI Switzerland Coffee

Author: Felix Jimenez, PMP

 Felix _Jimenez_100X100

How about having a “virtual coffee”!

 Virtual Coffee Talk picture v6

In the current pandemic situation, we need to adjust the way we work and it is good timing to “have a virtual coffee” on how COVID will impact our careers. During this “virtual coffee” we shared amongst us different ideas / concepts like:

“It will help us to think long term”

“It will equalize the level of communication for all. No boss / employee”

“We need to get used to merging professional and personal habits to engage stakeholders. Video conferences with people at the professional sphere are not all formal anymore “

“More preparation of the information upfront is required”

“The advantage of sitting close to a stakeholder is over when it comes to engagement”

“Culture will play a key role. Some cultures require more physical contact than other”

“Let’s give us some time to get used to this new reality and to understand it. We will discover how to work with it”.

Thanks to you all to share these moments with us.

Disciplined Agile: Optimizing your Business Agility by Choosing your WoW

Adi Muslic 100x100

Author: Adi Muslic, PMP

 

On 18th June, over 100 participants from several countries joined the session organized by the PMI Switzerland Online events team. The presenter, Mark Lines is PMI VP and along with Scott Ambler, Co-creator of Disciplined Agile (DA).

Mark started the presentation by saying that with Disciplined Agile (DA) PMI is transitioning from traditional to more agile project management. The next version of the PMBOK will have even more agile content. And it will be a combination of traditional, hybrid, and agile project management principles.

PMI now offers the best of both worlds

 

Mark also added that there will be still a place for traditional projects. Launching of the Basics of DA course was delivered in the traditional way. 

Agile has many different practices. A combination of these practices makes a method. If you learn practices you will be able to apply it to various methods. This is why DA is also called a toolkit.

DA is a tool kit

 

DA promotes that having a choice is good, Scrum is good in many situations, but in some situations, Scrum is not good. A hybrid or traditional method might be better. SAFe is good in scaled agile implementations, but may not be suitable for all scaled agile situations. Teams should choose the appropriate lifecycle that suits them.

There are 3 ways DA helps to increase agility :

1. Enables you to optimize agile teams.

2. Enables you to extend agility to the entire organization.

3. Lets you accelerate value delivery in scaled agile solutions.

DA principles

 

As we already learned in "Achieving discipline in an agile environment" online event, agile projects require Risk Management and Governance. In agile projects, we still need to provide visibility on the progress to sponsors or customers or provide reports. 

DA comes with lifecycle phases: Inception, Construction, and Transition. They could be used or not, based on lifecycle choice. DA also incorporates a number of light-weigt milestones.

Lean governance

 

A typical DA team: Team member, Team lead (could be called also Project Manager or Scrum Master or else.), Product Owner, Stakeholder, Architecture Owner (this role is unique to DA and can be seen as a Technical lead).

We were also briefly introduced to Disciplined Dev Ops.

Disciplined Dev Ops

 

Successful agile organizations keep evolving their agility. Adopting a single methodology such as Scrum or SAFe results in limited improvements. To achieve true business agility we need to choose our Agile WoW, by building a methodology for our unique situation.

The process goals for tea agility

 

Another key to customizing your agile methodology is by use of the very classical Continuous Improvement process (Kaizen loop). It is also important to have everyone understand the available tools. If part of the organization involved in the projects does not understand agile principles they will not be adding value to Agile delivery.

With everyone understanding where you go, you can move to Guided Continuous Improvement and accelerate value delivery in scaled agile situations. However, putting metrics to measure the improvements might be difficult if there are no baseline metrics in place. It can be overcome by starting where you are, capture available data, and keep learning and improving.

The combination of Disciplined Agile and FLEX will be covering Agile at Scale. The DA FLEX lifecycle will help with the acceleration of value delivery at scale.

The DA FLEX lifecycle

 

At the end, Mark mentioned that in addition to the existing DA certifications, additional certifications are currently in development. DA for SAFe will be available in July.

The event ended with Q&A. The event recording is available on the PMI Switzerland YouTube channel.

The testimonial, one of the participants provided in the event survey, is a nice summary of what we all experienced: “Thank you for this opportunity! Disciplined Agile promises an answer for the future!

Exploring remote Open Space technique as a tool for PMs in the virtual space

Katalin Juhasz photo

Written by Katalin Juhász

On 28th May the members of the Switzerland chapter gathered for an exciting experiment, aiming to try out Open Space Technology in a virtual setup. 41 curious chapter members have come together to explore how the method can help to engage participants in a discussion around “Project management in a remote environment”. The event had been created by a team of volunteers taking care of the preparations from the design of the session, through the application management and the facilitator roles.

 As part of the introduction an animation video helped to give a quick overview about the method itself, positioning Open Space Technology as an agile facilitation methodology which helps to take down walls for participants with diverse backgrounds to engage them in open discussions. (More about the method here)

pic 1 open

According to Matteo Mazzeri, an advocate of the method, the real value of the technique lies in its ability to connect and engage participants in conversations according to their strongest interest. The most important enabler of such discussions is a safe environment, where participants feel encouraged to share their authentic self.

During the session, the precise implementation of the agenda and a clear guidance regarding the collaboration tools turned out to be a very powerful foundation, which helped to minimize the discomfort in the lack of physical proximity and to orchestrate the break out and the plenary sessions smoothly.

pic open 2

Two virtual collaboration tools have been used during the session:

  • Google Meets served as the primary communication platform with one virtual plenary room and 3 breakout rooms. The separate room links enabled participants to leave and reconnect discussions reinforcing the ’voting with feet’ rule.
  • Slido served as a facilitation platform to conclude on the three topics of the breakout rooms (participants could list their suggestions and vote on the most inspiring topics)

As several topic suggestions listed on Slido were overlapping, some consolidation was required by the facilitator. Finally, the following three topics were selected:

  1. Maintaining engagement in a remote work environment
  2. Remote project management opportunities in the post COVID-19 era
  3. Stakeholder engagement in remote home-based working environment

 The participants joined the breakout rooms rather evenly, the group size was fluctuating between 10 – 16 people during the discussions. After a few minutes dedicated to a short introduction shedding light on the diverse background of participants, engaging discussions emerged, which resulted in valuable conclusions.

In the first breakout room the focus of the conversation was the leadership challenge of keeping employees engaged and enabled in a remote work setup. The participants agreed that a different leadership style is required in the virtual space, corresponding with the identified needs of the employees. Shorter, but more frequent video meetings, small talk at the beginning can help to reduce the discomfort of the remote setup. It is equally important that the leaders do not only talk, but listen as well, even if keeping silent might be frightening for some. Being flexible and available to the team is a precious asset too, just like open and transparent communication. On a general note, a crisis can be an opportunity for leaders to deliver on their leadership capabilities and open a window for precious change opportunities.

In the second room remote project management possibilities in the post COVID-19 era were explored. The participants have concluded that although the crisis might bring business benefits and opportunities for innovation, in some cases face to face connection is indispensable.

The third discussion was focusing on ways to engage stakeholders in a remote setup. The importance of overcoming communication barriers to understand stakeholder expectations was concluded to be essential. Soft skills, like empathy and availability play a fundamental role in remote collaboration. Having small talk at the beginning of the meeting can help to strengthen social bonds and create a pleasant environment. Besides the challenges it is fair to acknowledge that remote setup can deliver some benefits as well. According to the participants, we tend to appreciate the time with others in the virtual space much more due to the extra efforts it takes to maintain connection. Another advantage can be the fact that it is easier to connect remotely: making a short call instead of long emails can be faster. The importance of body language enabling meta-communication has been highlighted in this group as well, so using video definitely has an added value. After the small group discussions, all of us gathered in the virtual plenary ‘main’ room to share the essence of the discussions.

As we considered the event as an experiment to explore how the method can be utilized within the PM domain, we could celebrate two important achievements: we found evidence that remote Open Space Technology can be a useful PM tool and we gained some learnings as well.

Starting with the positive findings, as Ka Yi Hui, one of the organizers phrased it, ’it is possible to transform a normally in-person event into a virtual event. […] the participants engaged during the brainstorming and discussion, just like they would have met in-person.’

Participant feedbacks are mirroring the high energy level of the discussions:

"It was the first time this kind of event for me and I am glad to be able to take part. Despite the virtual approach it was valuable experience and was great to discuss and learn from others. Thank you!"

 

"It was a great example of a community which is learning new ways of working while sharing their current feelings and building up new experiences"

 

"I enjoyed the team spirit we had in such a short period of time! It was great and it was because the participants and definitely the facilitator! Great job PMI Switzerland team!"

 

"I appreciated very much the opportunity from the PMI Switzerland chapter to get hands on experience of how remote open space works. It was very inspiring, and surely I will be able to use it in my PM practice."

 

"I am grately surprised by the efficiency of the tool the quality of the discussions and the outcomes"

Many of the participants shared the view that despite the complexity of the event (’especially from the technical side, participants were asked to open new tabs (i.e. voting, event site), to join breakout rooms, exit main room, re-join main room’), the discussions had a smooth flow. Having a clear agenda, well prepared facilitators and clear guidance on the virtual collaboration tools definitely contributed to the success.

‘This is one of the few online formats that actually helps build new network relations’ says Patryk Nosalik, whose idea it was to hold the Open Space, and the event’s Project Manager, (interestingly also his first volunteer experience for PMI). Furthermore he shared that ‘such positive feedback from participants is because they are active in the format – in uncertain times just another webinar doesn’t give you the feeling you’re being heard’.

We have gained a couple of learnings as well: ‘We have seen that the technical part is a bit more complex and needs a lot more guidance for the participants and the speaker’ – according to Philippe Soupart , VP Operations of the PMI Switzerland Chapter.

Besides the clear guidance, it is essential to dedicate sufficient time for introduction in the small groups and additional visualization boards can help to display shared ideas, making it easier for participants to join another small group discussion. 

Based on the participants feedback Open Space technique seems to be an enriching tool in the PM toolkit, primarily for brainstorming of ideas, doing retrospectives or any other instances where breaking down of barriers are desired to harness the collective intelligence of the participants. The organizers are going to further build on the learnings of the event, driven by their belief that the method can help to engage the PM community in fruitful discussions, so hopefully a wider audience will also have the chance to have a first hand experience.

Newsletter editorial July 2020

Adi Muslic 100x100

Author: Adi Muslic, PMP

 

"Due to the current pandemic situation, I want to take this as an opportunity and introduce “Online Events” for our community. However, to make this possible I need your help!"

This sentence comes from the message Stefan Vesenmeier, VP Events, published in the newsletter on 27th March. A group of volunteers had its first meeting on 1st April. In three months, the Online Events team delivered 5 events that were open to members and non-members. What made it even more exciting, was the fact that we had participants from other countries. The events were organized on different platforms, which sometimes resulted in technical difficulties though experimenting was necessary to help in selecting the right platform. All online events were recorded and can be viewed on-demand on PMI Switzerland's YouTube channel.

Without and doubts, this initiative was a great success, and will certainly change the way events will be organized in the future. It will probably require some changes in the organization as there are now new roles to be covered. I am looking forward to hearing how this experience will reshape PMI events in Switzerland going forward.

Wish you a warm, sunny, and safe summer.

Adi