Dec04DenialPosted at 06:31 in Leadership, Project Management

Denial is endemic to most project management disciplines. You can find it at all levels of management, in Risk Management, Scope Management, Cost Management, etc. and this is the main reason why the monitoring & controlling functions of a PMO are most often failing. Managers are rather showing a weak green indicator on a report, than acknowledge an amber (or even worse ... a red). But problems that are visible have a better chance of being resolved. Learn how to recognize and reform denial behaviors before they damage your project by reading Saira Karim's post titled Denial in the Project Environment on PMI's blogs.

Dec03Facing your stressPosted at 08:04 in My Work, Personal

I read a very interesting article from Dr. Deepak Chopra on LinkedIn titled The Conscious Lifestyle: Facing Your Stress. Since stress is a subject close to my heart (no pun intended), I found it very interesting and wanted to share it here as a personal development item.

Dr. Deepak makes two important points: 1. Stress isn't good for you. 2. The vast majority of people do not deal with their stress effectively. Well, welcome to the club. While each of us is structuring a unique response to stress (there are people with high tolerances for stress and people with low tolerance), if you put soldiers under the high stress of battle, eventually all of them will become shell-shocked unless they are given time away from the front lines: The hormones released in the body's stress response are meant to be temporary. Their effect is to galvanize the fight-or-flight response, which is triggered in a primitive area of the brain. In the stress response, a privileged pathway is opened for dealing with emergencies, while at the same time the brain's higher responses are temporarily suppressed.

No one can healthily sustain the heightened alertness, quick burst of energy, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and other marks of the fight-or-flight response. Physically, the hormone rush must come to an end, leading to the opposite state - you become drowsy, lose energy, and have a hard time remaining alert and focused. When you are under stress, your mind closes down as an act of self-defense. Stress contributes to hypertension and coronary artery disease, along with susceptibility to infections, insomnia, and much else.

Don't try to make stress your ally, either by toughing it out or turning your back on the problem. Highly competitive people, who boast that they thrive on stress, are living in a fantasy world when you consider the potential for damage to their bodies. The conscious choice is to recognize that modern life is a battleground of low-level stress, sometimes peaking into high stress, that will have a damaging effect over time unless you deal with everyday stressors in a consistent, effective way. I can't wait for the next posts about the best ways to manage stress...

Dec02The 2012 PMO SymposiumPosted at 10:24 in Change Management, My Work, Project Management

In 2008, a small team of volunteers launched the PMO Symposium, as a small 150 person gathering of people interested in PMO topics. This evergrowing event has shaped the PMO space for the past five year, and 2 weeks ago, the annual event just concluded in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, with over 500 attendees. This year saw 3 areas of focus: managing change (which aligns with the new "Stakeholder Management" knowledge area that will be introduced in the next PMBOK®); include all aspects of the value stream (i.e. the "Program Management" component of the PMO); and enable innovation and creativity (i.e. the "Portfolio Management" component of the PMO, which also aligns with the soon to come PMI® certification).

This year, we also included an element of social responsibility, providing participants with the opportunity to give back to the community by supporting the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation of Nevada, a non-profit support group for families of children with cancer. The Candlelighter's Foundation provides support, education, hope and advocacy through programs and services for children with cancer, their families and the professionals who care for them. It also alleviates the isolation many families feel at the time their child is diagnosed, offers love, care, encouragement, and understanding so that nobody need face alone the uncertain world of childhood cancer. Symposium attendees prepared more than a hundred diagnosis bags with personal notes of encouragement to be distributed to children arriving for their first treatment. This contribution came just in time to help make a special Christmas for the Candlelighters families and make a difference in the life of children with cancer.

Feb03PMO Symposium 2012 Call for papersPosted at 07:12 in Networking, Project Management

Here we go again! The PMO Symposium 2012 will be held in San Diego (CA), from 28th to 31st of October 2012, and the call for speakers is now open. You can submit your abstracts here until 15th of March.

Nov12PMO Symposium 2011Posted at 09:15 in Leadership, Networking, Project Management

 PMO Symposium Keynote Speakers Jim Furfari and Iain Fraser, Rommy Musch (President of the PMI PMO CoP), Frederic Casagrande (PMO Symposium Program Chair) and Craig Letavec (PMO Symposium Chair)

It has been a while since last time I posted, and I apologize to the 43 readers of this blog :p. The reason for my absence from here is that I devoted all my "free" time (whatever that is) to the PMO Symposium 2011 that was held in Orlando last week. I have been involved in the organization of this event for quite some time, but this year I was privileged enough to be the 2011 Program Chairman. That gave me the opportunity to work with a fine cast of speakers for this year's event, and to build and deliver a program that I believe best depicts the current "state-of-the-art" of the PMO's for 2011.

Their thought-provoking presentations really make this event the worldwide reference in the field of PMO's; starting with our two Keynotes from Jim Furfari and Iain Fraser (pictured above on the left, with Rommy Musch, President of the PMI PMO CoP, myself and Craig Letavec, PMO Symposium Chair). For the first time, we have webcasted Iain Fraser's Keynote that you can replay for free during the next couple of weeks. If you could not attend, please give it a shot, it is worth your time.

Another first this year was the launch of the PMO Symposium mobile application, available on iPhone, Blackberry and Android platforms, with all conference details (floor-plans, schedule, speakers bio, and networking feature), which has been warmly welcome by the attendees, despite some challenges due to a late launch. I guess there is only that much we can do.

While I will try to take a couple of hours of rest before going back to my day-job tomorrow, I would also like to extend a big THANK YOU to the PMI PMO Community of Practice leadership team (Craig, Rommy, Art, Darlene, Dan); to the team of volunteers who supported us during the event (Karen, Audra, Elise, Debbie, Scott, Paul and Doug); to the staff of Swank AV and the Loews Royal Pacific for their outstanding service; to the fantastic audience that attended the Symposium this year; and of course to our sponsors and exhibitors who enabled us to bring this conference to you.

Stay tuned, for over the next couple of weeks, I will provide some insight on what has been discussed during the PMO Symposium this year, with some invited guest bloggers.

Jul17The Global State of the PMO (Survey)Posted at 08:53 in Dubai, Leadership, My Work, Project Management, Risk Management

In March 2011, ESI International conducted a Global PMO Survey: The Global State of the PMO: Its Value, Effectiveness and Role as the Hub of Training. Some of the key findings of this survey were highlighted in a recent seminar I attended in Dubai (Risk Management Practices for Establishing and/or Sustaining a Project Management Office by Raed Hadddad):

  • There is a paradigm shift from PMO Maturity to PMO Value and benefits realization
  • There is a general struggle in measuring the PMO effectiveness, and in defining the appropriate metrics for this measurement
  • The PMO sometimes acts as a hub of project management training, but does not measure the impact of this training in effective performance
  • Most of the PMOs operate more at a tactical level and are not involved in portfolio management or benefits realization

All those topics and more will be covered during PMI's 2011 PMO Symposium in Orlando in November. If you are interested in getting more out of your PMO, make sure you do join.

Jun21Entrepreneurs: Nature or Nurture?Posted at 06:32 in Leadership

Nature or Nurture?

I am very interested in all topics related to entrepreneurship. My dad was an entrepreneur, I started my first venture when I was 22, started 2 other businesses since then, and I know that one day, I'll jump into it again. I have always wondered where this flame came from. Nature or Nurture? Well, a recent report published by Ernst&Young provided insights into some key characteristics of some of the world's leading entrepreneurs.

As far as numbers are concerned, from the 685 entrepreneurs surveyed worldwide, 60% have worked in a corporate environment (and half of those claim this was key to their success), 55% started their first business before age 30, and 60% are serial-entrepreneurs (they started more than 3 companies in their career to date). Some well known stereotypes are challenged in this research, and some entrepreneurial challenges are outlined: Not all entrepreneurs start their companies without completing a formal education and without any experience of corporate life; Entrepreneurship is rarely a one-off decision; Funding, people and know-how are the biggest barriers to entrepreneurial success.

While the research suggests that entrepreneurs are made, rather than born, there are some common grounds likely to be different from many others. The top qualities identified are to have a vision, passion, and drive; flexibility, a relentless focus on quality, and loyalty. Most successful entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see only risk. This optimism enables them to succeed when eveyone else is telling them they cannot.

You can find out more here.

Jun12McClelland's Theory of NeedsPosted at 06:24 in Leadership, Project Management

David McClelland

In 2006, I started a "series" on motivational theories on this blog, talking about Maslach's Burnout Inventory FR), Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs (FR), and later on Adam's Equity Theory. Today's topic will be David McClelland Theory of Needs. In his theory, McClelland proposed that an individual's specific needs are acquired over time and are shaped by one's life experiences, and that most of these needs can be classed as either achievement, affiliation, or power. A person's motivation and effectiveness in certain job functions are influenced by these three needs.

  • Achievement
    People with a high need for achievement (nAch) will seek to excel and thus tend to avoid both low-risk and high-risk situations. Achievers avoid low-risk situations because the easily attained success is not a genuine achievement. In high-risk projects, achievers see the outcome as one of chance rather than one's own effort. High nAch individuals prefer work that has a moderate probability of success, ideally a 50% chance, and need regular feedback in order to monitor the progress of their acheivements. They prefer either to work alone or with other high achievers. High achievers should be given challenging projects with reachable goals. While money is not an important motivator, it will be seen as an effective form of feedback.
  • Affiliation
    People with a high need for affiliation (nAff) need harmonious relationships with other people and need to feel accepted by other people. They tend to conform to the norms of their work group. High nAff individuals prefer work that provides significant personal interaction. They perform well in customer service and client interaction situations, or in a cooperative environment in general.
  • Power
    People with a high need for power (nPow) can seek power of one of two types - personal and institutional. Those who need personal power want to direct others, and this need often is perceived as undesirable. Persons who need institutional power (also known as social power) want to organize the efforts of others to further the goals of the organization. Managers with a high need for institutional power tend to be more effective than those with a high need for personal power. Power seekers should be provided the opportunity to manage others in order to perform at their best.

McClelland used the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) as a tool to measure the individual needs of different people. Psychologists have developed fairly reliable scoring techniques for the TAT, and the test determines the individual's score for each of the needs of achievement, affiliation, and power. This score can be used to suggest the types of jobs for which the person might be well suited. McClelland's theory also allows for the shaping of a person's needs, and specific training programs can be used to modify one's need profile.

May06PMO Symposium 2011 Agenda publishedPosted at 06:09 in My Work, Networking, Project Management

The Agenda for the PMO Symposium 2011 has been finalized. Go have a look at the fantastic lineup of high profile speakers and interactive sessions, and if you did not already, register now!


Rodney Turner: The Handbook of Project-Based Management: Improving the Processes for Achieving Strategic Objectives Jerry Manas: Napoleon on Project Management: Timeless Lessons in Planning, Execution, And Leadership : A Guide To The Project Management Body Of Knowledge Project Management Institute: Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) Knowledge Foundation Craig J. Letavec: The Pmosig Program Management Office Handbook: Strategic and Tactical Insights for Improving Results Dennis Bolles: The Power of Enterprise-Wide Project Management

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