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First successful online Event @ PMI Switzerland

Author: Dr. Zorana Boltić, PMP

Zorana Boltic 

It was a privilege to be able to participate in the first online event organized by the PMI Switzerland Chapter attended by over 100 participants from different countries, including Serbia. Especially in the disruptive environment caused by the pandemic situation, the topic of resilience was very relevant and the participants themselves were able to share different stress factors they might have not experienced before. 

Even though the challenges we are facing everyday such as workload, uncertainty, frustration and information overload are present in all times, it seems that there is a completely new dimension brought by this crisis. It is therefore obvious that we need to build our resilience now more than ever, as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and toughness we are exposed to severely nowadays.

Resilience and why do we need it?

The panel discussion brought together the professionals devoted to giving back and sharing their ways on how to manage resilience and stress. There was certainly a rich experience on the table in order to help the participants understand what resilience really is for them and discover what works best for each individual.  

If we define the resilience as the capacity to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and bounce back from instability, insecurity and fear, all the panelists agreed that the most important step is to validate these feelings first and begin with the awareness about our emotions. It’s only then we can enable ourselves to think about things we can control, since resilience may as well be perceived as a kind of “psychological personal protective equipment” where we learn to focus our attention to what is important to us. It is also a concept of transformation and an opportunity to become a better self.

“Being” before “doing”

How do we practice then and what do we actually need to do to build our resilience? The discussion led to a common conclusion that the starting point is always to understand what makes us stressed and then think about what we can control in order to decide what to focus on and make the actual shift towards learning. This means that before jumping into strategies, it is of the utmost importance to deal with “being” before “doing” and pay attention to reasons why the feeling is there rather than thinking about how to get rid of the emotion. Even if we split resilience into physical, mental, psychological or even spiritual, the main tool to deal with it is acceptance. This is how we nourish ourselves on all these levels before implementing the actual fixing mechanisms. Only after reaching the state of acceptance, can we turn our attention to what we can control, where sometimes creating rituals to reduce uncertainty can help, as well as using the agile mindset to develop sustainable strategies that work best for us through iterations. On the other hand, the question may arise what to do with things that we realize are not under our control? All the panelists agreed that pushing those back only makes them stronger, emphasizing that acceptance is key and that whatever we decide to focus on can become our reality if we embrace the change and manage to release the worst case scenarios we can imagine.   

Practical advice you can use today

There was a lot of practical advice from the panelists on how to use our micro skills and introduce them into our daily routines, such as “taking the frustrations for a run”, making micropauses in this greater pause and practicing different habits in order to develop positive patterns in our brains.

Visualization was suggested as a technique to apply in micropauses and a short exercise was a valuable gift from one of the panelists. It was an extraordinary experience that made me realize how words can be powerful in employing all our senses resulting in a truly liberating state of mind. Some coping strategies were also shared by the participants, such as walking, yoga, jogging and meditation, as well as supporting applications proposed by the panelists like Headspace and Yoga Nidra, Loving Kindness Meditation to cultivate compassion and build resilience.

The panel was closed summarizing some of the main points to keep in mind for managing our resilience successfully encouraging the participants to acknowledge their emotions, understand what is behind, reframe and take advantage of the situation. The importance of faith was also emphasized at the end because it means trusting ourselves that we can handle things and that we are in fact able to connect to our creative side, always ensuring space holders to improve. In conclusion, a good piece of advice is accepting “one foot in front of the other”, which is something most of us are not used to. On the other hand, once we connect our purpose to our values and what is important to us, we minimize the risk that this will be determined by external factors, accepting the ownership of taking care of ourselves.

Event Report – Ethical Leadership and Decision Making: The Business Case

Author: David Fowler, PMP

David Fowler

Thursday 24 August 2017

"Today is a good day"

It was indeed a good day for those who attended the first PMI event in Lausanne after the summer break. The speaker, Olivier Lazar, needed no introduction as a former president of the PMI Switzerland Chapter and well known presenter at distinguished PMI events worldwide.

The evening kicked off with an open question to the packed audience: “do you work for an ethical employer”? This thought-provoking introduction set the scene for an enlightening journey along the theme of ethical leadership and decision making.

Why is ethical leadership a key differentiator in today’s competitive workplace? Why is it so important for the employer to be trusted by its employees (a significant reduction in both staff turnover and absenteeism were among some of the reasons according to latest research). Why are more and more companies creating a Code of Ethics and how does shared accountability bring greater rewards? These were some of the many questions addressed by Olivier during the evening, with entertaining videos and an absorbing group exercise to support his business case.

There were plenty of questions from the audience and a positive vibe during the apéro, clearly demonstrating the high level of interest in the subject of the talk and appreciation for the eloquent way in which it was presented.

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Olivier

 

 

Event Report: Gotthard Tunnel: Learn from a 10bn CHF project !

Author: Carmelo Dimotta

CarmeloDimotta

“Everything can happen and you need to be prepared”. I think this is the message that Mr. Renzo Simoni, Chief Executive Officer at AlpTransit Gotthard AG, wanted to convey.

The event was scheduled to start at 18:30 but lots of us reached the location well in advance. Waiting that the event could start, we had the opportunity to start networking. The feeling around was of high expectations – we were going to learn something from a 10bn CHF project! And Mr. Renzo Simoni did not disappoint us.

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The Gotthard Base Tunnel project is one of the biggest, amazing and extraordinary projects I have ever experienced. Long lasting and of remarkable complexity, the project started officially in 1992, when the Swiss population decided democratically for it in a referendum. Key project milestones:

  • 1992: Project started

  • 1996: The construction work began

  • 2004-2010: Excavation work

  • 2010: The final breakthrough (completion of the drilling operations) in the east tube

  • 2011: The final breakthrough in the west tube

  • 2013: Operational tests

  • 2014: Railway track installation completed

  • 2016: Commissioning

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More interesting than the history itself, at the event we could hear the way how AlpTransit Gotthard AG brought the project to success. Needless to say, on a such long lasting project, the team had to face many scope changes and, therefore, a strong scope management approach was required. Communication also played an important role throughout the whole project lifecycle, especially with extended teams. However, key for this project success seems to me to be effective risk management. Mr. Simoni could barely mention words like issues or problems, whereas he was proud to refer several times to risk mitigations and alternative plans – for example describing the strategies of different excavation programs with the aim to parallelize the work, or what-if analysis performed to be prepared to face geology challenges, difficult to prevent.

 

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As we all of us noticed, Mr. Simoni didn’t mention or refer directly to the project management as a discipline, which triggered quite few questions in the audience at the end of the presentation and, maybe, a bit of initial disappointment. Nevertheless, discussing furthermore on the topic and answering questions, we could learn, by examples, the importance of collaborative planning, the need of efficient communication, implementing strategies to optimize the project timeline and that, above all, preventing the emergence of major issues is the essential key for success. And I believe it applies also to our smaller projects.

 

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My personal big thank you to Mr. Renzo Simoni for sharing his magnificent adventure and Prasanth for organizing it. Looking forward to participating at the next PMI event, I wish all the readers a happy and successful 2017.

Kind regards,

Carmelo