Chapter Communications Blog

Have you already played LEGO®…but seriously?

Author: Thierry Altenhoven, PMP

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Every year PMI Switzerland Chapter invites all volunteers of the organization to a special event: the “Volunteers Day”. It permits to meet each other, to exchange ideas and purposes, to share experiences, to discover the activities of others, to reflect about the organization, to network, to celebrate and of course, to have fun.

This time, the event took place at the "Haus der Universität" in Bern on Saturday, the 13th of November 2021. It was introduced and moderated by two excellent coaches, Dr. Sandra Roth and Kristin Warnecke. They guided the participants in an uncommon journey with a very well-known material: a ton of LEGO® bricks!!!

In this article, I want to present to you this event and to share with you my observations. 

Let's go!

Have you already played LEGO®… but seriously?

Me? Not "seriously", until this event… Sandra and Kristin introduced the whole team to the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®.

Let me tell you first the origins of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®:

Once upon a time, in the mid-1990s, Dr. Johan Roos and Bart Victor, professors at IMD Lausanne, had a dream: they wanted to facilitate the work of the managers when they had to develop, explain and question the business vision of their companies. For that, they imagined a concept and a process of "Serious Play". It was consolidated in the LEGO Group, with Robert Rasmussen, the head of R&D for LEGO Education and Kjed Kirk Kristiansen, the former CEO of LEGO Group. It became an open-source methodology with a trademark on SERIOUS PLAY® submitted by LEGO Group. Today, it is used worldwide, generally moderated by certified coaches, to develop organizations, to grow teams and to bring companies to the next level.

Now, follow me back to our event in Bern:

After presenting each other in a one-to-one configuration, all the volunteers were ready to be led by Sandra and Kristin. The two coaches presented the program of the day, distributed to each participant a little bag of 50 LEGO® pieces and invited them to warm up. The goal was to familiarize everyone to the plastic parts and put them under light pressure because the exercises were limited in time (4 minutes per exercise).


After the warm-up, the participants could attack the important topics for the Chapter:

  • What is the vision we want to establish for the organization? What does our WOV (Way of Volunteering) look like?
  • What are the values and behaviors we want to focus on?
  • What are the actions each participant will make immediately?

Ten suitcases full of LEGO® bricks were at disposal to serve the participants in answering these questions. Here is a model created by one of the volunteers’ tables, representing the vision of our organization:

"An organization based on a strong and stable structure, a community growing year after year, with the share of professional knowledge through our events, publications and social activities. An organization ready to brave the challenges and the uncertainties of our world, ready to let back inefficiencies, old principles and things out of our focus, ready to inspire and connect people through project management and to welcome new members with high engagement and a lot of fun"


To answer the question about the values & behaviors, each member made a little model to show her/his important ones. In total, 18 models were built. Here are three of them, with the positive behaviors in green and in blue the key values:


To close the meeting, the participants had to communicate to the group what they will contribute to the Chapter in a positive way in 2022. Here is the action wall:


Now I want to share with you my observations of this journey.

First of all, I think that most of the participants didn't know each other so well because there was a mix of seniority from fresh new members to long-term faithful ones. On the other hand, along the year, the volunteers have activities in different domains in the organization but these activities are not necessarily cross-functional. So, the only efficient way to meet all of the other volunteers is to participate in several events of the Chapter. What was exceptional here is how fast the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® broke the ice between us. Building creative models, describing them, sharing the different points of view accelerated the interaction between each other. 

In fact, PEOPLE CONNECTION was one key to success for this day.

Secondly, commonly it says that a picture is worth 1'000 words. Here it was: a model of LEGO® is worth 1'000 abstract ideas. We were able to "materialize" ideas, visions, values, strengths and behaviors. The LEGO® builds were used as a support for communication. I could see stars in the eyes of most of the members, when a builder was explaining what she/he wanted to show or demonstrate with her/his construction. It was very inspiring to see how well we expressed our feelings through these colored plastic parts. 

In fact, CREATIVITY was one key to success for this day.

Thirdly, during the different sessions, the room was full of positive energy: music was played in the background, a tension was felt because of the time constraint of each session, but we were still doing our creations with lots of laughs, joy and pleasure. 

In fact, FUN was one key to success for this day.

Finally, I thought of you, dear professional: in your business, in your company, in your project, if you have to define a mission, the values and/or a strategy of your business, of your department or in your project, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® could be a very interesting tool to consider. 

If it arouses your curiosity and matches your needs, please contact Dr. Sandra Roth, she will guide you in this journey to achieve your goals, with high professionalism and full of enthusiasm.


Thierry Altenhoven, PMP



Editorial PMI Switzerland Newsletter December 2021

Author: Philip SPRINGUEL, PMP 

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Dear faithful readers of the PMI Switzerland Chapter newsletter,

We are pleased again to present a newsletter full of useful information about your chapter, including events and advice to bolster your own continuous improvement.

Your chapter President, Karolina Letowska, shares a motivational Message from the Board to remind us of what’s important in this year-end; and, in her continuing contribution, offers more amazing anecdotes about the 20-year anniversary of the Switzerland Chapter.

For those of you who missed the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference on 29 September in Zurich, we are lucky to have a special behind the scenes look at the highlights of this grand event.

A retrospective of Open Spaces 8 about the PMBOK reminds us of the excellent value of these innovative virtual events, allowing members to share views and draw conclusions in an effective and collaborative way. Similarly, the Community of Practice about Agile reports about its activity and invites you to join in bringing sense to Agile. Mark your calendars for December 14th 2021: Why did I get into Agile?

Seeking advice? Read this month’s book review to learn how to avoid digital exhaustion in remote teams and be an effective virtual leader. And, from the PMI Switzerland Master Class series, learn how to say “no” in a more elegant and constructive way. As always, be sure to check in on our social media channels and consider how you can contribute and volunteer to keep up your precious certifications.

Enjoy the newsletter and hoping you will stay inspired, enjoy the year end break and come back charged up for 2022!


Newsletter Copy Editor

10th PMI CH Conference – Behind the scenes


Martin Härri, PMP®, PMI-SP®, PMI-ACP®, PMI-DASSM®

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Agnieszka Skalska, PMP®, SAFe® RTE

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Danh Nquyen, PMP®, CEng, MEng, MIMechE

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Michèle Bapst

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Salina Santiago, PMP®, APMG PM

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 Jennifer Chang, PMP®

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On 29th of September, the 10th PMI Switzerland Conference took place in Zurich. Considering that Covid-related restrictions were still in force in many areas of life, it was quite a brave thing to do, but eventually the courage paid off: 120 participants came to enjoy 15 presentations under the guiding theme of “Innovation in Project Management – Expertise for Changing Times”. Looking back, we asked the leads of the 4 organization streams about their impressions and memories.


Agnieszka: What is your impression about the Conference? Would you like to organize it again?

Martin (Project Manager): I am so glad that the Conference went smoothly, everything ran like clockwork thanks to the great preparation by the entire team. The spirit of the participants was fantastic, you could really feel that everybody was so glad that they could finally meet and talk in person again. Would I like to organize it again? “Yes” and “Maybe”. Yes because I think we have a concept which works very well, as we can see from the very positive feedback from the participants. And because I have tons of ideas for making it even bigger, e.g. organizing this event with multiple locations which are connected via video. Those that have seen the presentation with Tom who was in Canada, and was giving a presentation together with Mario who was on site, or those that have tried out the Microsoft Surface Hub screens know what I am talking about. This would also be a practical application of innovative ways of collaborating and interacting, which would fit perfectly with the theme of the Conference. And “Maybe” because it was a hell of a lot of work to do besides everybody’s day job, so I’d like to find a concept which is more compatible with the fact that we are all volunteers, either by hiring someone to organize the conference, or by partnering with several companies that allow some employees to organize this event using company work time. Such a setup would make organizing the Conference more “volunteer-friendly”, and bring in different perspectives from even more companies.

Martin: Agnieszka, you were wearing 2 hats in the team, Project Manager and Marketing Lead. What are your impressions from the conference and tell me also if you are happy with the Marketing results? 

Agnieszka (Project Manager): I think that we created a memorable conference atmosphere and for many participants it is going to be a major annual event on innovation in project management. We sold out the event completely and we welcomed 20% more participants than originally planned whilst still following health and safety measures. The conference delivered a profit that will be re-invested in activities for our Members and Volunteers. Many of the participants also decided to join the Chapter. Regarding the Marketing activities, I think we had extremely strong marketing this year. We were very active on all our social media channels and we beat our internal record on Impressions (The total number of times your posts have been viewed). Nevertheless, there are still some things that we can do better. The key findings of our retrospective were handed over to the PMI CH Board. Now we will work together on their implementation to make the 11th PMI Conference even better for our participants.

Martin: Michele, you were leading the participants team and you were the first person that came to the Convention Point. I saw you talking to many participants. What did they say about the conference? Do we already have survey results? Can you share some insights?

Michèle (lead Participants team): I am very proud of the very positive feedback that we received. It looks like everyone was extremely happy to be among other people again. We received an excellent score for the conference organization in our survey - on a scale of 1 to 5 we received a 4.7. There are still some elements that we need to improve, such as the online experience or credit card payment but I am sure that by the next conference we will implement these changes.

Agnieszka: Salina, you were responsible for speakers selections. It must be an extremely difficult task. Which criteria did you use? Do you think that the chosen Speakers fit in well to our conference topic: Innovation in Project Management, Expertise for Changing Times? And please let us in on a secret; if someone wants to speak at the conference next year - what does he/she need to do?

Salina (lead Speaker team): 

It was great that the PMI Conference team came up with a timely and relevant theme for the conference. That really helped to frame and focus the search for speakers and topics. Our aim was to find professional speakers who share expertise and subject matter passion through unique delivery styles. In particular we looked for people who can bring diverse perspectives to the conversation as well as practical, real-world practices that participants could take away and apply.  It was also important to provide a balance of technical, transformational and personal development topics - something for everyone. so to speak. With the pandemic situation, face to face meetings with our speakers were limited but luckily we could interact on a visual platform (Teams, Zoom, Skype) and see them in action through their videos, website and social channels. 

For next year’s conference, we have a bit of a head start as there is a prospective list of candidates who could not commit for various reasons this year but would be willing to come forward next year. If anyone is interested, just contact any of the PMI conference team members. 

Martin: Jenny, tell me if you are a bee, a kangaroo, an eagle or a shark? As a Networking team lead for sure you were an eagle, right? Please share your impressions which networking activities participants liked the most? 

Jenny (lead Networking team): Indeed, I am an “eagle”! As a Networking facilitator, it is important to provide the right environment that motivates people to share and exchange with each other. This is great to watch from a distance. We were initially concerned about the Covid situation and the willingness of participants to interact  face to face. As such, we prepared some “networking triggers” for the participants, to be on the safe side. But, following a smooth certificate check, everyone interacted like Covid-19 never existed! In retrospect, our worries were unfounded, as participants were so glad to finally meet and exchange “live and in 3D” again. The evening eventually ended with a vibrant apero and a tour through our F10 Startup Accelerator, where participants could learn about the process of turning a regular office building into a space that fosters innovation. For the “hard-core” participants, there was also a live concert, which concluded the event.

Agnieszka: Danh, you were on our risk list as a crucial team member, without you we wouldn't have an amazing website, great pictures and our articles would be full of English grammar errors. You must have received many appreciation cards!  How did you enjoy organizing the conference? Are there any lessons learnt that we should take into account for the next year?

Danh (Marketing team): The conference was a lot of fun to organise for me, mainly because of the people I was working with. We got on well with each other and I didn’t find it to be “work” at all, except perhaps the last minute rush to get the designs out (though that was my fault really!). In terms of lessons learnt for next year, I would say to have the branding and templates defined early. The content will always come a bit later due to dependencies on other teams, but at least then, when the content is available, it is just a simple case of minor editing before publishing. 


About the authors:

Martin Härri

30+ years of experience in project management in consulting and financial services, having led more than a dozen project and program offices. Founding member of the PMI Switzerland Chapter, has held various volunteer roles, including event and conference organizer, board member, and Chapter president. In addition to organizing the Conference, he currently manages the organization network of the Chapter.

Agnieszka Skalska
11+ years of experience in global business transformations, project and program management. Executed over 20 projects for financial services, management consulting and manufacturing industries. Solid business acumen in Operational Excellence, Project Management, Change Management and Information Technology. Always follows the fundamental values of integrity, innovation and collaboration. Growth Mindset. PMI Board Member, responsible for Brand Management and Development.

Danh Nguyen

Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager in the mining and minerals industry. Enjoys working with people towards a common goal, trusting in the team to deliver in their own expertise. Supports the PMI Brand Management and Development team whenever possible.

Michèle Bapst

A highly service orientated person which matches her role in the Project Manager Office at SIX working with all kinds of experts from different areas. Despite often being a challenge at the beginning, she takes pleasure in a good working, harmonized team. When possible, she enjoys being in nature, especially in her cabin in the mountains!

Salina Santiago

25+ years experience in delivering programs and shaping portfolios in insurance, financial services, pharmaceutical, logistics in global organisations and complex environments. Enthusiastic and passionate about change management, innovation and business partnering towards value delivery and operational excellence. Member of PMI SCNG and PMI Conference Stream Lead for Program and Speakers.

Jennifer Chang

Has a career spanning 19 years in the financial services industry, from Data Production to Customer Support. Fully utilises her strengths of encouraging teams to collaborate and achieving a successful outcome as Project Management, Organisational Change Management and Innovation have become the areas of domain expertise over the last 14 years.

Book Review – Remote Work Revolution by Tsedal Neeley

Author:  Florian Puschmann, PMP

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I still remember vividly when we set up a workshop with a customer in a special video conferencing room a good five years ago. A couple of specialists were involved to hook up the two companies and their special rooms to make it happen. 

As you are reading this now, you are probably asking yourself why this is a big deal. That is precisely the point. Remote collaboration and hybrid work arrangements are becoming the norm in many industries to manage the interconnected global economy. Many of us, including myself, forget what this looked like just a few years back. While the fast global digitalization in the last two years accelerated this development, the remote work trend already started in the 90's.

The question now is no longer if dispersed remote teams work but rather how to make them work. 

Hence, now is an excellent time to take a moment, reflect, upskill and adjust to this new working style. 

Therefore, I was excited when I came across the recent book “Remote Work Revolution” by Harvard Business School Professor Tsedal Neeley. 

In her book, Tsedal offers background knowledge and hands-on strategies. I especially enjoyed that the content is backed by a good 50 years’ worth of solid research. Further, her book includes an extensive action guide that provides lots of ideas for direct experimentation and implementation in your daily work.

After a brief introduction to why remote work is not only much better than its reputation but also here to stay, the book dives into various areas of the topic.

As a basis, a framework is presented to “relaunch” your remote team for the most effective collaboration. The key elements of shared goals, understanding, and norms are almost too obvious. What is highly interesting though are the tools and techniques that are provided to achieve this outcome. Next, Tsedal takes her readers on a tour de force of the various dimensions to consider. 

Different elements of trust are covered. More importantly, she shows how to build trust to create resilient teams with high psychological safety.  

One of the key current topics is how to avoid digital exhaustion in remote teams. This topic is addressed with a general framework that allows avoiding digital exhaustion and how to use these tools to maximize productivity.

What fascinated me was the chapter that focused on the contrast of what it means to lead virtually. Different leadership techniques and skills are needed to promote a common purpose and harness productive conflict for the best overall outcomes. This holds especially true because the leader is never “in the room”. 

As a project manager, I was further intrigued by the chapter on how a traditional in-person agile team transitioned to a highly effective virtual team. This transition was not entirely deliberate, as the team fell apart at first when the pandemic sent everyone into a remote setting.  Tsedal presents this case study providing hands-on tweaks on making the methodology work that was initially designed for in-person interaction.

I hope this little review made you curious to explore this new “remote work handbook” to not only make remote work “work” but thrive!

Florian Puschmann, PhD, PMP

PM Master Class: Become your own chairperson and set boundaries

Author: Monika Keller, PMP

Monika Keller

Dear members and friends of the PMI Switzerland Chapter,

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite questions with you.

Think about it consciously:

-> If you say "yes" to X, what are you saying "no" to?

Why is this one of my favorite questions?
Because it sums up so well what is important to you in life. 

You are allowed to decide over and over again.

Let's say you have invited friends over for dinner. You haven't seen them for ages. After all, everyone is always busy. You've already done the shopping. At 5 p.m. you want to go home, but the CEO comes to you. He urgently needs you at a meeting tomorrow and you have to present a report. You didn't know about it until now. 

Apparently, your predecessor used to do it and it was forgotten until now. 

What do you do?

1. You send an SMS to your friends. Unfortunately, something came up and you have to postpone the dinner at short notice. You put in a night shift to prepare the documents (to the best of your knowledge) and shine at the boss the next day. 

2. You ask what exactly it is about. Right now, unfortunately, you're scheduled and can't take care of the details, but it's good that you have a meeting about it tomorrow. Then you can discuss it together right away. You will then hear what is required and can ask further questions. If the report is actually to be written by you, you will have a few more days for it. But maybe it would be an idea to have it done externally, since you have enough on your plate anyway....

What would you do?

Many people may find themselves leaning towards number 2, knowing that it may be better for their long-term mental and physical health. However, in reality, they often lack the courage and confidence to say “no” to a superior, so they may just try their best at both, preparing the dinner for friends (constantly looking at their watch and begging them to leave early) and trying to produce some kind of report for the next day for the meeting during the night, feeling guilty and stressed.

What if… you exchanged with others in this or a similar situation, learned what they came up with as alternative responses and did some practice with tips from me from my coaching and PMP practice, strengthened your confidence and learned how to say “no” in a more elegant and constructive way?

You can learn this as any other skill and you will see, it will get easier with time. Register now to secure your seat at the March 2022 Master Class on how to become your own chairperson and set boundaries at work. You can find more information at PMI Master Class (

I hope to see you there.

Have a great holiday season, some days to relax and let the year pass by. 

Next time someone wants something from you at short notice, remember to think about, "If you say yes to X, what do you say no to?" and then decide consciously.

Warm regards,


P.S. If you want to know more about me, visit