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Transformation Assurance: Benefits management, more than a mere buzzword ?

Marc Lahmann, Leader Transformation Assurance, PwC Switzerland

Thomas Parlitz, Assurance Manager, PwC Switzerland

Transformation Assurance: Benefits management, more than a mere buzzword in today’s demanding and changing business environment?

In the world of project management, amid efforts to sell large-scale business transformation programmes and control their success, ‘benefits management’ and ‘benefits realisation management’ are terms that are becoming increasingly commonplace. However, these processes often stop after the business case has been approved by the sponsor.

How can this be in a highly competitive business environment where change is omnipresent, investments are micromanaged by financial controllers, and failed business transformation programmes can endanger the careers of executives and managers?

An organisation’s success is not built on the capacity to adapt to change, or the right investment in new markets or products. Instead success, perhaps the very existence of an organisation, hinges on the overall benefit realised by implementing change through a transformation programme.


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To a person with a hammer all challenges look like nails

Geetanjali Bhat

Author: Geetanjali Bhat, PMP


To a person with a hammer, all challenges look like nails

“To a person with a hammer, all challenges look like nails”. What a thought-provoking quote on our perspectives. At this evening’s event, speaker John Carton shared great insights on how we can face challenges with different perspectives. "Think and Analyse" is the need of the hour!

Generally, people learn a technique that they use for all problems. Sometimes we see only different solutions to fix the problem rather than actually analyse the problem.

John explained this beautifully through an interactive session.

If we are compelled to do something, then we do it out of conviction and not because its required to be done. We go further and we do an extra mile when we are convinced about something.

He spoke about NEMAWASHI decision-making to actually “go around the root” of a problem. NE means “from root” and mawashi MAWASHI means “to go around”. When we analyse our decision-making techniques and take on a different route, we can achieve a better solution.


John mentioned that “sometimes chances of success are just 30% and the reason for success is most importantly PEOPLE”.

Too many times we do have a great solution that is easy and simple to work on, but we tend to be so engaged and preoccupied in achieving success in a short time that we fail to see the simple and easy solutions which can be achievable. Many people tend not to take the time to "pause & think".

We should consider our techniques of decision-making wisely by deciding slowly, considering alternatives and implementing rapidly. To follow this technique, we need to pause and think by taking a step back and considering all alternatives.

We put on our thinking caps when challenged with the question, ”what are alternate uses of a paperclip?” we were amazed to find so many uses of a paperclip other than its actual functional use.

The fact that time invested upfront to evaluate a problem thoroughly is repaid by a swifter implementation, brings one to a very insightful realization. When we engage time to think well, we develop more alternatives.  The more the alternatives we have evaluated and analysed the better the decisions.

This can be illustrated more through a simple example:

If a room full of people is too warm, what are the possible solutions to make the people more comfortable?

  • Open the windows--- > Windows cannot be opened
  • Have the people come out the room -> Outside its very cold

To generate the right alternatives, we have to understand the problem correctly. In this case, the AC actually may not work or the AC temperature is set too low. If another room is available, we can shift the people or we can set the right temperature of the AC.


The audience enjoyed a great knowledge sharing session when the speaker gave us some insights  to deriving the best solutions through “voice of the customer” and “true need”.

  • Analyse the voice of the customer
  • Define the true need
  • Define the measurement of success

The test measures divergent thinking or flexibility in our thinking in different areas, and gives us the ability to generate several possible solutions to a problem. Sometimes multiple brainstorming techniques give us different possibilities of best solutions.

John engaged all of us with an exercise of convergent thinking. He asked us simply, “How does one make a fire?” This exercise illustrated how we can make a long list to the most important requirement.

The audience gained great insights and knowledge from the evening’s session. As Mr. John Carton would say, “To a person with a hammer, all challenges look like nails,” but choosing the best tools from our repertoire helps us remove the nails and take the best decisions to implement the best solutions.


Post-Kerzerslauf 2019 impressions

Julia Posselt

Author: Julia Posselt, PMP


PMI Running Team - a sunny start to the Kerzerslauf season

Would you like to be part of the next race? Then send a message to Julia, 076 566 10 44 - and you will be automatically informed about the next run.

The Kerzerslauf is THE idyllic spring run for the season opening. The PMI Running Team was there, and we enjoyed the beautiful nature reserve in a sunny atmosphere. Together with thousands of running enthusiasts we start into the 5, 10 or 15 km long course.



Only a few hundred meters after the start in the village centre we leave the village on a long gradient. My first walk... For two kilometres the route leads over open cultivated land with a view of the snow-covered Jura heights.


Afterwards it goes over country lanes through dense forest area. At the halfway point we reach the Aare and then follow the idyllic reservoir near Niederried. Up to Golaten we overcome a steep climb, which demands everything again - my second walk, as sleek as Adriano Gelentano. For the remaining five kilometres, the running track is flat until we continue down the side roads to the finish line supported by steel bands and alphorns. On the last kilometre we mobilize our last reserves like many of the runners; I enjoy the strong applause of the numerous spectators and, together with my husband, sprint over the red carpet underneath the finish arch decorated with colourful balloons. We did it!


Happy and satisfied we meet our PMI colleagues in the Höfli Pub. With fine “plättli”, bruschetta and crispy pizza we meet new colleagues from the other regions, exchange running tips and the conversations take their course...



Be Strategic or Be Gone !

Daniel Rodellar 100x100

Author: Daniel Rodellar, PMP

 Be Strategic or Be Gone!

It is a good thing to create a strategy, it is even better to execute the strategy to get the expected benefit! In fact, only 2% of leaders/executives are confident that they will achieve their strategy’s objectives and goals.

Then, why such low rate of achievement? Thijs Wijnands has taken us on the journey to create a strategy, from the definition of strategy to the top 5 take away to prevent not achieving your goals!


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The purpose of the strategy is the reason why we do things; the strategy defines how do we do things at global level; the tactics are how at the detail level; the goals are what we want to achieve on a high-level and finally the objectives are detailed view of what will be achieved.

Once the strategy is created there are 3 phases:

  • Building a mutual understanding
  • Shaping the choices
  • Taking decisions

And on this part, Thijs describe the step-by-step on how to engage your colleagues to get them on board.

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We learnt that a project is successful if customers like it, but a failure from a financial point of view, like in the case of the Airbus A380. There the strategy was to make bigger planes, but it ended up been not practical to operate.

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You need to engage and lead strategic conversation to get from the “yes, but” (French version is the “Oui, mais” that you can write as 8 mai ) to the “yes, and…” that is a true dialogue.

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 Thijs was putting the focus on identifying, engaging and keeping engaged the people and how to talk with them which is the most essential for achieving the strategic goals and objectives.

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All this considering the 5 Ps: Pace, Points, People, Presentation and Place. You will look at the problem from different angles, and you will deal with complexity. And on the five beliefs that Thijs shared with us, I’ll take the first one: “There is no perfect solution, done is better than perfect”.

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The strategy is made of the strategy map and a balanced scorecard, highlighting the perspective (identify the benefit and reason we do it), the focus (critical success factors) and the KPI defined.

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With all this you are ready to build your cockpit and remember to be open for feedback!

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We ended up with 5 takeaways that should be applied to make us succeed on strategy implementation.

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A final note, do you know the top 5 for failure?

  • Culture of the company
  • Not enough or bad resources allocated
  • Insufficient agility/unwilling to change
  • External developments not taken into account
  • Strategy poorly understood

If you work on all these 5 to avoid them, you are on the best path to strategize the right way!


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Thijs was asked some questions about what type of mechanisms to put in place to review the strategy. He proposed to review complexity and difficulty to execute certain projects, to have very frequent progress checks by management and to foster discussions at all levels to get buy-in.

Is there a strategy lifecycle? Was also asked by the audience. It depends on the business you are in. It tends to follow the business cycles of the economy (3 years to 5 years).

It was a great event and presentation on February 21, 2019 in Geneva, and we should not forget that we must change, no matter what, we will, and there has to be something in the strategic vision that is engaging to succeed!



Message from the Board. February 2019

Julia Posselt

Author: Julia Posselt, PMP
2019 PMI Switzerland Board Announced
We are happy to announce that Irina Petkova has been elected President of the 2019 PMI Switzerland Board. 
Our big thanks goes to Stefan Vesenmeier and his glorious PMI Basel Events Team for a superb AMM 2019 where Michael Murray, our onstage host, led through the evening. We bid farewell to Serge Garazi who handed over to Philippe Soupart, our new VP Operations. We welcomed Thijs Wijnands as new VP Professional Development and are super happy to have Loïc Hascher reelected to continue as VP Members. 
Congratulations also to Daniel Rodellar for being the “PMI Switzerland Volunteer of the Year 2018”. 
Our ambition for 2019? 
We start with good inspiration from the AMM Keynote "Breaking Down Barriers – 5 Decisions for a Successful Mindset" with Matthias Berg: 
  • We take action and focus on our ability 
  • We stay disciplined when things get challenging 
  • And we take responsibility to use our mandates for providing you, our dear PMI Switzerland Community, with the most joyful times 
Our stance and attitude? Being thankful, being optimistic.
Julia Posselt
VP Special Projects