International Project Management Day 2019 online conference: Focusing On What Matters part 2

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 second part of takeaways from keynote sessions and prerecorded videos on various related topics.

Portfolio as a Value Enabler: How to Make It Real
Kasia Grzybowska Head of Project Portfolio Management Nestlé talked about portfolio management, conflicting priorities, the large part of not executed strategies. It’s about making choices to realize the business strategy. Portfolio should be about value maximization, balancing risks, project types, categories, markets, functional areas, etc. A portfolio is not just a list of things to do. Portfolio management is an investment mechanism.

Make the decision process tangible, less emotional, more realistic. Cost transparency, value assessment, collaboration with the business, and strategic program management are key elements in closing the gap between business (strategy) and the projects, programs, and other change initiatives.

Process change is not enough. It’s all about people.

Digital Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities
Laila Faridoon Secretary General Hamdan Bin Mohammed Award for Innovation in Project Management) digged into the digital transformation. (R)evolution changes behaviors. Smart Factory, IoT, cloud computing, AI, Machine Learning, etc. are grouped as Industry 4.0. Am I able to manage such projects?

Countries and organizations are looking to the impact. Project Management Institute has jumped on this bandwagon, welcoming us to The Project Economy. What behaviors and capabilities on individual level are needed? Do I perceive the changes to be good or bad? Important:

  • Diversity, which requires conflict management and situational leadership.
  • Resilience, ability to bounce back, cope with failures.
  • High-Risk Appetite.
  • Analytical thinking, Design Thinking and Systems Thinking.

We can all be part of this transformation. Dream, take the risk, do the transformation.

Stakeholder Engagement Skills for Project Managers
Keith Wilson Senior Consultant/Trainer IIL goes by the PMBoK when it comes to stakeholder engagement. Out of the many stakeholders you should be looking for the key stakeholders. Wilson presents two new acronyms, which upset Melissa A McClure. I saw the tweets before watching the video presentation myself.

A second model is the well-known power/interest grid. After identifying stakeholders, the second step is plan to engage them. Help me help you. What’s in it for you. Success factors are time, intimacy and clarity in communications. Barriers to communication:

  • environmental, noise
  • culture
  • demography (professional jargon, gender, age)
  • ambiguity

Engaging and monitoring stakeholder engagement are typical text-book phrases. Engage, communicate, challenge, improve, and go on. Seek first to understand then to be understood. Ask open-ended questions.

The New Normal in Project Management: It’s All About the Benefits
J. Leroy Ward (Executive VP, Enterprise Solutions IIL) got immediately a confirmation to the question of why a project that is delivered within time, cost and quality constraints still can be unsuccessful. Several fail factors can be identified. Projects are about things that matter: benefits.

Future definition of a project: a collection of sustainable business value scheduled for realization (Herold Kerzner, 2017). Projects are one component in the investment life-cycle. Don’t consider your job done when your deliverables are ready. No way that you can do benefits realization management yourself as a project manager. Invest during the initiation of your project setting up the benefits realization management plan, the stakeholder(s) that really have their skin in the game, and potentially ones to hold accountable for benefits realization after the project closure.

Ward shares five tips to develop the plan. Value can be anything. Anything can be measured, says Douglas Hubbard in How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business. Furthermore, he referred to several PMI Pulse of the Profession publications in the field of benefits realization management, PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition (2017), and The Standard for Program Management – Fourth Edition (2017).

How to Build Curiosity: The Key to Improving Engagement, Innovation and Productivity
Dr. Diane Hamilton, author of Cracking the Curiosity Code: The Key to Unlocking Human Potential and CEO Tonera kicked off with conformity to peer pressure, as illustrated in Brain Games (2015). Curiosity comes first, it’s the spark that leads to innovation and productivity. 3-year-olds ask their parents about 100 questions a day. With our age climbing, that number declines. How many questions do you ask?

High-level of curiosity needs to be encouraged, developed. Smart, successful  CxOs have it. Interpersonal skills and empathy are core to emotional skills. It’s estimated that we loss $16.8 Billion due to a lack of emotional skills. Poor communication and conflicts count for $37 Billion. Here again, asking questions, being curious help. Asking questions and listening to the answers, to be precise. Developing engagement would gain $500 Billion to the global economy. Status quo thinking kills organizations.

Hamilton drew from Daniel Pink’s Drive, Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, and Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset – The New Psychology of Success for her research. Fear, assumptions, technology, and the environment are the key factors that withhold us from curiosity.

What can you do?

  • Hire curious people
  • Model curiosity
  • Bridge the communication gap
  • Ask fundamental questions
  • Make bridging statements
  • Reward exploration
  • Emphasize learning
  • Have What if? Why? Why not? How might we? days

Watch tip: Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk How to turn a group of strangers into a team.