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“Project in an extraordinary situation” - In-person event retrospective

Author: Valérie Pierre, PMP

Valérie Pierre

When was the last time you attended a professional event in which you enjoyed every single bit of it? On 25 November 2021, Rodrigue R.R. Brugger, Head Global HR Case Management and Core Member Task Force Corona SIX, alias “Senior project manager” of the Taskforce, captivated the full attention of his audience in Six’s convention center while telling his report from 1 ½ years of Six’s Taskforce Corona. 

First, let’s review what was the starting position: in January 2020, an infectious disease outbreak evolved into an epidemic in China and the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed the name COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) for it. It is interesting to note that Six, as Switzerland’s systemically important financial market infrastructure responsible for the uninterrupted access to mission-critical financial systems, had the first consultation of SIX Pandemic Advisory Group as early as the end of January 2020, to discuss the current situation and immediate measures for COVID-19. 

The taskforce which was constituted faced several challenges. None of the members knew what was approaching and what tasks they’d have to do. However they all expected the volume would be demanding and were committed to the mission. There was no end in sight for the planning and the project work.

What’s probably one of the most important pieces of the strategy was the organizational chart of the taskforce, who’s responsible for what, who’s the back-up person, etc. Here are a few elements of that diagram that stuck in my mind. An intelligence/situation cell was created to extract from the news what was relevant to Six. A contingency planning group was in charge of thinking about the future. The role of logistics was of course so essential, creating new building security measures, delivering masks, etc. Information and communication was also key, just to name a few of the teams. And none of this would have worked without the support of the CFO. 

The method and tools were clarified beforehand, so that in case of a crisis quick action can be taken as well as a lot can be worked off. REDCON levels and risk heat maps were used. REDCON is short for Readiness Condition and is used to refer to a unit's readiness to respond to and engage in combat operations. The level was continuously assessed and re-evaluated as the situation changed. The level 5 was reached during 2 periods, and as of November 25th 2021, level is back at REDCON 3.

 

While this approach corresponds to a waterfall type of project management, Agile methods were also used, and above all “Agile thinking”. In the times of a pandemic, you can’t plan, nor be really prepared. Tthe key competence is the ability to react to changes at any time and to adapt your approach in a flexible manner.

It was very interesting to review the “Golden leadership rules in challenging times”. Most of those are probably applied in other companies, but possibly without being formalized. If there’s one that naturally stands out and that probably resonates for each one of us:  “Accept the new situation. You cannot change it.” To read more on those, check out Rodrigue’s slides.

Overall, we learned from this insightful retrospective overview not only how the Taskforce operated, but also how much almost two years of intense collaboration strengthened the bonds between the Taskforce members. 

The power of human connection is what you could feel when joining the #Apero after the presentation. On this #Thanksgiving2021 day, stories were buzzing around. My thanks go to the PMI organizing team, Prasanth Nair, Ethel Mendocilla Sato, Christopher Ziemba, Six team, Rodrigue R.R. Brugger, Martin Härri and everyone else who was there or helped make this in-person event happen.

#thankful #openminds #supportingthecommunity #supporteachother #inspireothers

Upskill with the Organizational Transformation Series - Review of the course

Author: Adi Muslic, PMP

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A recent study shows that over 70% of large-scale transformations fail and transformation risk continues to be a top concern for most executives. This global problem is why PMI invested in world-class research from top transformation experts to create the new Organizational Transformation (OT) Series: https://www.pmi.org/organizational-transformation

There are 3 self-paced courses: Foundation, Implementation and Orchestration. Each completed course will award you with 10 PDUs. You can earn a micro-credential badge for each one upon successful completion of the course exam.

In this article, I will tell you a bit more about the first course, Foundation.

The course is made for project leaders, but anyone interested in transformation can easily follow it. It is well organized, with interactive modules and engaging exercises. You even get to actively drive a transformation in a family-owned company in crisis.

You start with an overview of Organizational Transformation and its benefits, the Brightline Initiative and contributors. The second module is about change, what is causing change, and why there is the need for change.

The next module is Transformation Fundamentals, where you learn about transformation definitions, transformation in business and common challenges. In the Transformation Building Blocks module, you get introduced to the Brightline Transformation Compass - a comprehensive system for transformation. 

Compass Adi Muslic

 

The five building blocks are:

The North Star - A crisp, inspiring articulation of the vision and strategic objectives for the transformation.

Customer Insights & Megatrends - Embedding a deep understanding of the customer in every change you make, and in every employee

The Transformation Operating System - A flat, adaptable and cross-functional organizational structure that enables sustainable change.

Your Volunteer Champions - A mechanism to harness many thought-leaders from across your organization to drive transformation.

Inside-Out Employee Transformation - A set of tools to make the transformation personal for your employees.

Logically, this is followed by the Transformation Lifecycle module, where you learn about the Three Step Methodology: Inspire-Mobilize-Shift.

The last module is about Project Leaders in Transformation, summarizing what it takes to be a transformation leader.

My takeaways are:

  • There are plenty of additional resources to read, analyze, listen, and watch. Estimated time to complete this course can be easily doubled or even tripled depending how much you want to learn.
  • There are three key areas that can help all businesses improve strategy implementation:
    • prioritization of strategic initiatives
    • speed in decision making and execution of processes
    • empowerment of teams

I learned a lot from this course, and my intention is to continue learning. I recommend you to put this course on your to do list. It is a good value for money. The course is not tablet or smartphone friendly, so you will need a laptop or desktop computer to complete it.

Next month, I will tell you more about the Implementation course.

If you have questions or would like to get more info, simply get in touch with me. You can find me on LinkedIn or you can write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Best wishes,

Adi Muslic, PMP

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.

BR

Thierry Altenhoven, PMP


References

 

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!

Philip SPRINGUEL, PMP

Newsletter Copy Editor

10th PMI CH Conference – Behind the scenes

Authors:

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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Introduction

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.

Discussion

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. 

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

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.

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