International Project Management Day 2019 online conference: Focusing On What Matters part 1

Once a year the International Project Management Day is reason for International Institute for Learning to conduct an online conference. The 2019 theme: Focus on what matters. My first part of takeaways from keynote sessions and prerecorded videos on various related topics.

The Need to Focus on Business Benefits and Value
Dr. Harold Kerzner Sr. Executive Director IIL and author of many project management books started showing six pillars of changing times for project managers:

  1. Project managers nowadays manage strategic projects, no longer operational or simple projects. Benefits and strategy alignment become crucial.
  2. Project management now is a strategic competency, not just a career path.
  3. Project managers require new skills (risk management, prototyping, benefits realizations, etc.)
  4. Success is based on more than time, cost and scope. Success is defined in terms of business benefits and value.
  5. New frameworks like Agile ones are being used.
  6. New business-related metrics apply.

Highlighting his two recent books, Project Management Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence (2018) and Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies, and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects Kerzner lists 14 roadblocks to Benefits Realization and Value Success. Where CHAOS reports time and again conclude that 70% of all projects fail, Kerzner quotes research that – not surprisingly – states that 70% of the companies fail to reap the projected benefits.

Benefits are interdependent. Benefits realization management was a weak point in project management. Frameworks like PRINCE2 and Agile PM position it post-project, although planning for it is part of the Initiation stage (PRINCE2) or ensured that the Business Visionary takes responsibility. Project managers currently have both business and technology in their line of sight.

Value can be anything. Anything can be measured, says Douglas Hubbard in How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business. More and more models are available. Do you know them? Does your project management approach measure value?

Project managers should be brought in during the ideation phase. That’s where value is defined. Value is created during the project life cycle. Benefits are realized after the project. Should our responsibility be stretched? Change management is now an integrated part of project management. Transition management is key for benefits harvesting. There should be a long-term adoption consideration, according to Kerzner. That requires new skills, education, tools, reward systems, agreements, and relationships with chain partners. Business side of projects and project management will become very important. It requires at least undergraduate and graduate schooled professionals.

With the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition (2017) now defining benefits realization, value management, and strategic alignment, and PMI publishing lots of related content recently, Kerzner expects not only questions on these topics in future PMP exams, but value and benefits being around as key in the next decade.

The Evolving Project Manager – Past, Present and Future
Tom Kasel, 2019 recipient of the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management, reminded us of the 50th anniversary of both the Moon landing and the Project Management Institute founding.

He reflected on his personal journey as a project management professional. We constantly pick from transactional (directing by the process, as defined by PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition (2017) and transformational project management (servant leadership, team-focused) tools and practices. The future state is value-based leadership, or values-based leadership, as Kasel calls it. Let the foundation of your values system drive your thoughts, words, and actions as a project manager to bring out the best in your team. Is it new? No, Nicoline Mulder presented the core message of Value-Based Project Management at the IPMA NL Project Management Congress 2012, and got her PhD and published the research result as Value-Based Project Management, an English version was published in 2016.

Understanding and promoting value-based leadership and project management is taking one small step in your journey and one giant leap for project management.

Powering The Project Economy: How PMI is Preparing the World (and its Project Managers) for New Ways of Working
Sunil Prashara now has been President and CEO Project Management Institute (PMI)® for eight months. Globalization, digitalization, climate changes, etc. impact the profession. There’s a huge demand for project managers. Sunil had stunning examples from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

The Project Economy is one in which people have the skills and capabilities they need to turn ideas into reality. It is where organizations deliver value to stakeholders through successful completion of projects, delivery of products, and alignment to value streams. And all of these initiatives deliver financial and societal value.

Soft skills like empathy, appreciation are redefined as power skills, a term coined by Dartmouth University president Philip Hanlon.

PMI recently acquired Disciplined Agile and FLEX from Net Objectives. The DA toolkit is the world’s only comprehensive agile body of knowledge (BOK) that provides straightforward and practical guidance to help individuals, teams, and enterprises choose their “way of working” in a context-specific way. The FLEX approach helps organizations understand “what’s not working” at a system level and identify bottlenecks and eliminate them to improve workflows. PMI was lagging on the Agile front. With the combination, a powerhouse of project management in both traditional and Agile contexts emerges.

With over 1.5 million certified PM professionals and 300 local and regional chapters, PMI’s professional resources and research deliver value for more than 2.9 million professionals working in nearly every country in the world to enhance their careers, improve organizational success and further mature the profession. PMI as an organization is restructuring to be the go-to place for project management body of knowledge.

Sunil wants the project manager to be on speaking terms with the CxO.

The Responsibility of Leadership in an Agile Organization

Roy Schilling, Senior Agile Coach/Trainer, IIL stresses that Agile is not just a set of practices. It is a cultural mindset and philosophy that helps reshape organizational processes, tools, and relationships to improve organizational performance. Building an Agile culture requires vision, senior leadership support, and a clear roadmap. Organizational culture at odds with agile values, general organizations resistance to change, and inadequate management support and sponsorship are the top 3 failure factors for Agile adoptions, according to the 13th Collabnet State of Agile Report. Doing Agile ≠ being agile.

(Senior) management can lead by example living out Agile principles and values. True change starts here with championship to build and sustain an Agile culture. Every organization can benefit from these principles and values, even without applying the Agile artifacts, frameworks, approaches, techniques, and tools. The changing, more agile world will impact the leadership. Remember: change is incremental and iterative. Don’t change everything at once. You’re never done.