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My positive end-of-the-PMI-year review

The past year was certainly not the easiest for all of us, and it was probably not the most beautiful either. But nevertheless we made the best of it. 

 

Today I would like to share with you my very personal PMI-Year in review and above all show the positive that we achieved 2020 at PMI Switzerland despite or thanks to COVID-19.

 

Just as a great effort is required to move a rock, it sometimes needs external pressure in our lives (private as well as professional) to move us further.

 

My PMI year started in January with the notification that I was elected by the members to the board. After 10 years as a volunteer, a great wish has come true for me and I have taken on this opportunity with energy and a large list of visions. In addition to enhancing our successful live events, my agenda also included some innovations that I wanted to introduce together with the volunteer team.

But everything turned out differently!

 

Although we initially assumed a temporary and regionally limited impairment of our usual live events, we decided early on to offer online events as soon as possible. But what was initially intended to be more a supplement to our usual evening events, quickly became the only way to keep in touch with our community and to continue with sharing relevant knowledge for Project Management Professionals.

 

But after it started to become apparent at the beginning of March that there is a high chance of regional restrictions or even bans on live events due to Corona, I launched a call in mid-March to team interested members to help me realize my vision “PMI Switzerland goes Virtual”.

 

Two weeks later, I met 15 volunteers virtually to kick off the “online events” initiative. The great interest and the numerous positive responses to my appeal surprised and pleased me very much. But what followed was absolutely fantastic!

Based on the given vision and a few specifications, three teams were formed in the kickoff, each of which wanted to organize their own online event. From the beginning, each team had the freedom to work independently and open-endedly, which led to three resulting events each having a different topic and varied format.

It was really great to see how the first event was prepared, advertised and carried out within just four weeks. And I was overwhelmed by the incredible number of 250 registrations within 2 weeks.

Since this starting signal at the end of April, PMI Switzerland has now been offering an online event approximately every 2 to 3 weeks.

 

Also since the beginning of April, we have been offering our monthly “PMI Coffee Talks”. It is an open and freely accessible “online” coffee corner where we can meet to exchange information and ideas about current or desired topics in an informal and relaxed atmosphere (it usually takes place on the first Friday morning of the month).

 

The fact that, despite the general increasing Zoom-Fatigue, there is still great interest in our virtual events and that we are receiving many positive feedback, shows me that our offered events meet the needs of our community. And it also confirms to me that the way the event teams are planning and carrying out the online events is right and good.

 

And for that, the only ones to thank are the event volunteers!  They are not only willing to take on responsibility and ownership, but also contribute to the success of the events with their high time commitment.

 

And it makes me very happy to see that a large part of the volunteers involved in the three initial projects stayed at PMI Switzerland as volunteers, and actually most of them are still organizing virtual events.

 

There is nothing good, unless you do it.

 

From today's perspective, it is clear to me that PMI Switzerland will keep the virtual events as an integral part of the event calendar. And that even then, when we can finally hold in-person events again and consider the chapter Corona as closed.

 

At last, I would like to give a brief outlook on the coming events year.

During the planning and implementation of the events last year, many new ideas emerged, which we unfortunately were not able to implement all in 2020. The good thing is that we now have a large backlog with lots of great ideas. In the TODO column, we can find for example formats such as: virtual panels, virtual workshops, regular virtual open space sessions, community of practice, introduction of PM tools, and more. As main topics we see among others: Disciplined Agile, Career and Job Seeker Support, Leadership Skills, Power Skills, etc.

 

And one thing is also firmly on the agenda - my promise - as soon as the situation allows again, we will organize in-person events to meet friends and do live networking with you again. We have already scheduled the PMI Conference, which was cancelled last year, as a live event in 2021.

 

So much for my review of 2020 that I will not be remembered as the “corona year”, but as the year of birth of our virtual events.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to making 2020 such a good PMI Switzerland year!



Don't look back, because that is where the past lies. Look ahead, because that is where the future lies!

 

Stefan Vesenmeier

VP Professional Development & Events

AI meets PM

When I hear about Artificial Intelligence, the picture that comes into my mind is “Terminator” and machines that learn by themselves and that this technology is far , far away from what I can do in everyday life.

 

Anna Hakobyan and Manu Reynaert have shown us that Artificial Intelligence is closer to us than we think and that it is not “a kind of magic” (like Queen said in one of its songs). First of all , it is better to set up the basis and sharing a definition of Artificial Intelligence.

 Anna and Manu showed us that we do not need to think about Super AI to obtain benefits. Narrow AI using machine learning can provide us what we need and give us time for strategic thinking and/or human interaction (do not forget human interaction in these days of pandemia and confinement!).

 One of the examples that was used to illustrate this idea was the resource allocation in the port of Montevideo.  There are 4 clear processes with lots of data collected. Using machine learning with this amount of data can provide us with the best allocation of resources.

 Have you ever seen a chat window in some websites where you can ask some questions and they provide you some answers? This is also artificial intelligence using chatbots. The technology is here , it is only a matter of defining your strategy (what do you want AI for?) and applying the different technology tools to support your strategy.

When it comes to project managers we always hear that the majority of the time is spent in communicating and so called admin tasks. 

 Can you imagine that you introduce actual data into an algorithm to provide you the best resource allocation and estimated to complete based on data from other projects as reference?

 And what about having a free hands speaker that could record the meeting and write meeting minutes using NLP (Natural Language Processing)?

 This is how project could look like:

 

 Like all new proposals we can reach the ethical frontier when we start thinking about using sentiment analysis to identify personalities and recommend actions based on each individual personality. What if the sentiment analysis was wrong? Who will be responsible for this?

 If you want to start tomorrow here is a little roadmap

 

 Last but not least, let me thank Manu and Anna for sharing these concepts with us on such a special day like Thanksgiving. I hope that the turkey was not too roasted because we were keeping them busy .

 


You can also find the recording in the following link AI meets Project Management – How will the AI empowered PM world look like in2021 - YouTube

Editorial December 2020

Miguel Hurtado

Author: Miguel Hurtado, CAPM

 

Dear newsletter friends,

2020 is going to finish in a few weeks and I need to confess it is difficult to make a review of this year. During this year we learnt about Chinese cities, virus and vaccines and we added a mask to our daily life... But I would like to tell you the positive side about this year, we learn how to be closer to our relatives and the most important people in our lives. Human history is full of challenges and full of successful stories.

Let's be optimistic, we can do it.

2021 will most probably be a better and a greater year. Dear friends, have very nice holidays, enjoy them with your family and best friends.

Stay healthy.

 

Editorial Newsletter November 2020

Dear members and newsletter subscribers,

Autumn has set in; winters are on their way!!! Beautiful weather with new hopes and dreams filling our days. As we all are going through the second phase of virus situation, I am sure we will fight our ways to bring our normal lives back in track soon. These difficult phase in the country has not deterred us, this community of projects managers out here are working harder than ever.

PMI Switzerland Chapter continues to learn and grow more. Our Online events and meets are continuing to be a great success! With Online Workshops added to our regular online events, I am sure it becomes interesting to work and learn well remotely.

With great subject matter expertise, PMI has been ensuring latest contents in tough times through insightful events.

Members or Non-Members participating Online events had insightful takeaways from those sessions. It’s great to see that we were able to put PMI’s structures and processes today in these challenging times into practice. With successful PMI online coffee meets, online events and now online workshops, I am sure there is no stopping us into learning and growing more.

I would like to ask you all to Stay Safe and Healthy. Let’s all think positive and keep learning ensuring for better tomorrow.

 Cheers!

Geetanjali

Interactive LEGO Serious Play workshop

Daniel Rodellar 100x100

Author: Daniel Rodellar, PMP

Deep dive and hands on with LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® online

On Wednesday, August 26, 2020 we had a very playful and interesting online session about playing with Lego® bricks to solve serious problems.

Jens Dröge is Lead Trainer of LEGO® Serious Play® Methods and Materials for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and German author of the standard-setting book “SERIOUS WORK – How to facilitate meetings and workshops using LEGO® Serious Play®”. He guided us during the workshop, together with Rolf Bielser, CEO of Computare GmbH, a Swiss-based management consulting and training company, and he is Certified Facilitator of LEGO® Serious Play® Method and Materials.

Usually, after 10min on a meeting, people start surfing. It is not the case when doing meetings or workshops with LEGO® bricks!

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Let's start from the definition of what LEGO® Serious Play® is...

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The rules about how to participate in such meetings are easy to understand: we want to know and vehiculate the meaning, not to challenge the choices of the bricks. Participants are invited to express themselves with the models, they are not judged, there is no right answer. They are asked to respect time constraints: having few time pushes them to think with their hands since they do not have enough time to design the model before building it. And it offers value and benefits on people and communications, strategy and organisation and on innovation and product development.

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 The first thing we did was a tower, only using orange and green bricks, with a black baseplate, finishing with a flag. And we had to do it in a limited time (01:30).

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Then we could present and discuss the different realizations. We could discuss about structure and stability (solid and firm base), the selection of other colors (to fit, alternation of colors). It was important when building the model to keep time in mind and be efficient. We had some people that tried to use as many bricks as possible, that tried to do the highest tower possible with the bricks available, and also that put emphasis on simmetry of the model.

There were 20 versions of the same initial requirement. We do not justify our choices, and we should not judge. It is a truth that we construct.

The core process is shown on the following picture:

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1. challenge: the facilitator poses the building challenge to the participants.
2. building: the participants build a Lego model representing their reflections on the building challenge.
3. sharing: the participants share the meaning and the story that they have assigned to their own models.

These 3 phases are repeated several times, beginning with a simple task and gradually up to more complex tasks.

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In this workshop we have worked on Individual Models

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The workshop was divided into two parts: session 1 and 2.

Almost all people had the LEGO® bricks, but some used other things they had at hand, and it also worked. Basically the bricks are better suited because they fit to each other and they stay compact.

Session 1: The working environment after Covid-19

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The participants build and shared models on how they felt during the lockdown times.We talked about fear and feeling anxious about uncertainty and deaths, and people that lost their jobs. We shared that it was an unexpected series of events, and how people adapted quicly to work online and digitally.

There was also very positive feedbacks about the joy by going to the forest and recover the Nature contact and doing exercise (almost) alone.

What stroke us most during this first session was that:

  • everyone had positive things to tell
  • Nature was very important for most of us
  • there was a clear focus on working
  • we felt more humans
  • the difficult exercise of keeping the work-life balance in equilibrium

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What could a red brick be? You need to atach a meaning to the brick.

Take 3 bricks and connect them. Explain the words with the bricks. We asked participants waht was different on using bricks as methaphors, and the answers were that is was very free and open, that the other people see different things from what I see, and it is easier to memorize for most of the participants.

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It was touching that everyone could go into an introspection into their lives and get to take some distance from work to try understand what is important for each of us, in life.

Session 2: What’s required by today’s virtual leader

The second session was dedicated to the soft skills of a virtual leader.

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We had to put ourselves in the employee's shoes and say what was expected from good virtual leaders, and then from the leader's point of view.

The main take aways on the discussion and presentation of the models were:

  • the turning wheels that represented the fact that at work things need to keep on turning and people need to have this feeling that things do not stop working.
  • nice envionments were depicted, a virtual leader has to make the others feel confortable.
  • the leader must drive to targets that are special and give clear directions where to go.
  • all people's goals need to be aligned (and kept aligned all way through).
  • there is a strong requirement to synchronize with everyone, as we are all connecting remotely.
  • transparency on goals.
  • celebrating success and giving credit to each and everyone that contributed.
  • empowering, represented by a ladder on the models, to help people to get better.
  • trust on people and making all levels work together.
  • having a positive attitude and being relax
  • leading in a sustainable way.

We had to modify the model to meet the requirements expressed for the virtual leader, and this showed just small changes but specially adding professional tools that needed to be provided to execute these tasks and the request tha direction are not changing too often, and some sense of stability.

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As mentionned before, we just did the Individual Model for this introductury workshop, but the next levels of this training include Shared Model (a team building the same model all together) and the System Model to represent the more complex systems.

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The Shared Model needs very good communication between participants, an online (or in person) facilitator, and a good environment (light, connectivity, etc).

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As a final remark, this workshop fulfilled the original goals to show everyone the power of using LEGO® Serious Play® method to solve complicated problems and difficult concepts.

It is always open, and if you remember working with Lego® bricks as a kid, there is no barriers, everything can be represented and "materialized". It is most suitable for cases where "I have the problem, but not the answers".

To end up, we thank Jens for such great introduction and we were curious to play again, to foster our creativity and in fact, we realized that even for complicated models, not too many bricks are required.

 

Teaching Aids:

For this workshop we used the Starter Set of LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® with 46 parts.

The needed LEGO® parts are pictured here.