14th International Project Management Day: People, Passion, and Purpose in a Digital Age – Part 1

The 14th International Project Management Day, an online event hosted by the International Institute of Learning, focuses on People, Passion, and Purpose in a Digital Age. Today’s organizations need the right people to lead the charge into the digital frontier. Those people are project managers whose passion and sense of purpose galvanizes their teams and stakeholders to bring their very best to every project, every day in pursuit of major change.  In this first of two reviews, I’ll take you along the key takeaways of keynotes and other presentations. For more information on the IPMDay or possibilities to register and watch the recorded versions, please head to IIL’s website.

Joanna Durand – Catch the Wave: Transforming Program & Project Funding to Deliver Business Value Sooner

Joanne Durand explained the Enterprise Project Management Office function in TD Bank. Its span of control are lead, engage, strategy & planning, govern, tools, agile transformation program, and Concepts, Planning and Deployment Guidance. Smart funding and the need to adapt governance to support Agile delivery are current challenges.

Rolling wave planning (planning as you go) is used. Multiple tranches of funding are used to just free up resources that matter now. Decision making is on a tranche-by-tranche basis, just as PRINCE2 or the stage-gate model in the past would do. It enables re-prioritization and enables team to focus on near-term execution rather than building multi-year business cases early in the project lifecycle.

That methodology agnostic approach increased the certainty on time, cost, and scope at TD Bank. Predictability on outcomes went up. Tier and complexity now drive an adaptable governance. Business value delivery’s faster now.

Sure, there were implementation challenges like a cultural change in accepting an iterative business case and ensuring consistency across the organization.

Harold Kerzner – How Changes in Project Management Are Supporting Agile and Scrum

Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. is IIL’s Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks, most recently Project Management 2.0. Several best practices change project management in support of Agile.

  1. Roles and responsibilities of the project managers: value and benefits management are now core. PMBoK Guide 6th edition recognized that.
  2. Executive-level Project Management Education.
  3. Project health checks. Known when to start and stop a project.
  4. Collecting best practices. Success must be repeated, pitfalls and failures avoided. Lessons learned must be given back to the project management community. Microsoft’s idea of ‘proven practice’ appeals. Then, improvement is still possible.
  5. Project management tools. We now have more tools than ever before. Think of dashboards, alignment with business objectives.
  6. From Triple to Competing Constraints. Back in the time when Earned Value Management was created, it was already clear that there’s more to project success than just cost, time, and scope.
  7. From Methodologies to Frameworks. More flexibility, less prescribed procedures, checklists, and strict templates to be used, please.
  8. The Impact of Mergers & Acquisitions on Project Management. Up to 90% of the mergers & acquisitions don’t reap the benefits promised. You may be able to foresee these problems and proactively integrate project management approaches.
  9. Future Educational Needs for Project Managers. Hard skills, soft skills, ethical behaviors are known. Future educational needs include politics, culture, and religion.

Sherry Kytonen – Defrag Your Brain: A Balances Holistic Approach to Life and Work

Sherry Kytonen (senior project manager at The Boeing Company) learned it the hard way. No one will say on his deathbed that more time should be spent in the office. A personal mission statement will embed your passion, the choices that can change your life. Be your own best advocate. Stay calm and confident. Take care of yourself first before you can be effective for others.

Apply the Golden Rule: treat others like you want to be treated yourself. Show respect and love. If you’re not healthy at work, you cannot be healthy anywhere. Strategies to defrag your brain include mindfulness, time management, and a healthy lifestyle. It takes practice to manage stress in this way, but it will pay off.

As humans, we are not wired to multi-task. Context switching of task switching fragments our time and attention. Defragging increases efficiency by reorganizing ourselves, just as you do on your computer. Slow down, be mindful, spend time on Deep Work. The 80/20-rule can be applied to prioritizing work. Get into the zone, learn to say no. Prioritize aligned to your values. Simplify and organize. Move and stretch throughout the day. Actions become habits. Habits form character, leading to your destiny.

Breathing techniques can help, as well as focus, or the awareness of the present. Where are you? What do you see, feel, smell, and notice? Art, meditation, and (long distance) walks are other ways to release stress. Guess what I’ll be doing this Saturday again 😉

Kytonen paid attention to the consequences of screen time. A recent investigation by Dr. Jean Twenge highlighted the negative impact of smartphones on society and especially younger generations.


Jordon Sims & Amanda Good – Design Thinking in Today’s Organization

Video streaming performance was that bad, that I had to log out and in for several times, open new browser windows, eventually switching to Internet Explorer where this keynote was already 7 minutes in progress.

Jordon Sims (Strategic Advisor @ Project Management Institute) and Amanda Good (NextPert Initiative Lead Facilitator for PMI’s Global Executive Council) shared Design Thinking in action at SAP and GE. The second example is on Youtube too.

PMI’s NextPert Program embeds Design Thinking in PMI events. Solutions for benefits realization management for the PMI Global Executive Council were created despite different cultural backgrounds. It led to the Benefits Thinking Movement (December 2016).

In my opinion this presentation had little flesh on the bones. Design thinking was taken as a given. What Nextperts are, was not explained. It’s a pity the time for this keynote wasn’t used to elaborate this 5 stage process more in-depth. It’s typical that one question in the Q&A was about knowing whether the right questions are posed during a Design Thinking workshop. The Five Whys is an important ingredient.

You may learn more by reading the PMI article Contributions of design thinking to project management in an innovation context.

Jennifer Rome – Design Thinking in Action

Well, if one presentation on Design Thinking cannot serve my learning objectives, let’s grab another one from the library. Jennifer Rome (senior manager at Deloitte Consulting) reimagines and crafts the employee experience (CX) using Design Thinking. The customer is put at the center. What about treating employees as customers?

Human-Centered Design (HCD) starts with the people you are designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor-made to suit their needs. These techniques were once the domain of creators and craftsmen. Nowadays, thousands of executives are trained in HCD techniques for problem-solving.

  • Know your customers. Personas are recommended.
  • Find the moments that matter. Customer journey mapping is a recommendation.
  • Co-design solution. Reach out to your customers who are closest to the experience to brainstorm ideas.
  • Pilot, test, and integrate feedback. Everything is a work in progress. Fail early, and learn fast. Crowdsourcing is one proven practice here.