Lessons learned from PMXPO 2020

Yesterday, PMI hosted its 13th edition of the annual online conference and exhibition PMXPO! Whether you’re a seasoned PM or new to the field, PMXPO provided an excellent opportunity to learn, network, earn PDUs and broaden my perspective on project management. In times of mandatory working from home, an online event is the only conference I can go to. Let’s recap the lessons I took from the keynote presentations I could attend because our daughter’s birthday had to be celebrated too. On Saturday, I got an email saying that all presentations will remain available on-demand until 26 June 2020. So, I watched the two remaining sessions too and shared lessons here.

Tell stories about building your brick and mortar house or digital transformation

Cara Brookins, a bestselling author who rebuilt her broken family by building her own house watching “how-to” videos on YouTube. The subject of an upcoming movie, Building Unstoppable Teams, Cara shared her personal and inspirational story, showed family pictures throughout her endeavor. Family financial resources were sufficient to buy supplies only. The rest had to be done themselves. They did it, rebuilt their dream, Inkwell Manor in nine months on top of her 40-hours work week without a plan B possible. Problem-solving with a 20-year programmer background drove her to go for it. Key takeaways are:

  • Do hard things in front of you.
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • Show up on the days you want to and the days you don’t want to.
  • Perseverance is key. Never give up.
  • You don’t have to know everything to start. Start and figure out the rest.
  • Take action
  • …if you don’t know, watch Youtube.
  • Whatever you envision….you can build it.


Capgemini colleague and program manager, futurist and public speaker Priya Patra demonstrated the leverage power of strategic storytelling for a successful digital transformation. Purpose drives passion drives success. In an audio and slides-only stream – India’s on lockdown for COVID-19 too -, Priya quotes from the Leading Digital‘s research, that many organizations lack a purpose. Can we walk the talk when it’s about leading digital? The reason fables are important, is the repetitive use of appealing keywords, important topics.

Which challenges are we trying to solve:

  • Employee change resistance
  • Lack of expertise
  • Customer readiness

Can strategic storytelling solve these challenges? Storytelling affects the brain by nerual coupling, mirroring, dopamine, and cortex activity.

Start with the Why, thanks to Simon Sinek, to get a purpose story and mission statement. Listen more, tell less, or show, don’t tell as others would say. Share insight stories from the frontline. Draw on the past using success stories. What worked? Inclusiveness, relevance, and positivity. What didn’t? Complexity, passive listeners, and sharing.

Using the Disciplined Agile toolkit

Mark Lines is Vice President, Disciplined Agile, Inc. at the Project Management Institute (PMI). He is co-creator of the Disciplined Agile toolkit with Scott W. Ambler and co-author of several books on Disciplined Agile (DA). PMI acquired Disciplined Agile. Mark explained the toolkit in a fast-paced intermezzo. From principles, mindset, people, flow, and practices, based on the new book, Choose Your WoW!: A Disciplined Agile Delivery Handbook for Optimizing Your Way of Working.

Success doesn’t come from adopting a prescriptive framework or methodology such as Scrum or SAFe, although it may be a good start. Disciplined Agile is rich, comprehensive and well-organized toolkit of strategies to help your organization be more successful with agile. Understanding what your options are is key.

Why projects are the future….the Project Economy

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez just released The Project Revolution – How to succeed in a project-driven economy. He is the world’s champion in project management and founder of a global movement – Brightline – that has transformed a tactical topic such as project management into one of the central issues in CEO’s 2030 agenda. He argues that projects are the lingua franca of the business and personal worlds from the C-suite to managing your career or relationships Antonio’s research and global impact in modern management been recognized by Thinkers50 with the prestigious award “Ideas into Practice”.

We are witnessing the rise of projects as the main unit of work, as well as the essential model to deliver change and create value for individuals, organizations, and society at large. Welcome to The Project Economy! Yet despite this surge in project activities and project spending, the risk of project failure continues to be huge and will continue to increase unless organizations and governments embrace advanced project leadership practices. In addition, project management will not escape the disruptions that other industries are experiencing. If we act now, there is a good chance that project management becomes one of the most sought-after skills by organizations in the new world. Will we project managers be the next CEOs?

There are few ways of working and collaborating more motivating and inspiring than being part of a project with an ambitious goal, a higher purpose, and a clear fixed deadline. The future are projects!



Lessons of The Most Influential Projects

As part of its 50th-anniversary activities, PMI undertook a special initiative to identify the 50 most influential projects of the last 50 years. Thousands of projects were nominated by more than 400 key leaders in project management, and a special committee narrowed the pool to a ranked list of 50—and also identified the top 10 most influential projects in 14 categories. Together, these lists offer an engaging representation of how project work has moved our world forward. The initiative also provides significant insight into what makes project work successful and impactful.

Business expert Robert Safian shared 10 overarching lessons from the most influential projects—offering an inspiration playbook for success in the emerging Project Economy.

  1. Inspiration begins with action.
  2. The future is built.
  3. Magic takes work.
  4. Minimum viable projects are powerful.
  5. The door to democratization is open.
  6. Collaboration is unexpected.
  7. Deadlines matter.
  8. Bravery brings hope.
  9. These are the early days…
  10. …and we need to keep our eyes open.

While the projects highlighted may be historical, the approaches and impact that they provide are timeless, useful and essential to succeeding in an ever-more demanding future.

Mastering the Art of Human-ness in Project Management: Serving Others Through Powerful Communications

The human factor, know yourself, ethics and leadership, mediation, and conflict resolution. You make a difference in projects. Our values match the direction in which we take the project team.

Dana Lynn Bernstein, CMP, PMP, has been planning domestic and international meetings since 1992. She drew from Simon Sinek (Start with the why?), align your inner north star to your outer action. People follow you because of who you are. Choose wisely. Be a 360-degree leader to your staff, peers, boss, and yourself. What makes you frustrated? What makes you happy? Can you control your emotions? Think of conflict as a way to bring us together

The most important thing is to retain/build a relationship with them and retain a relationship with yourself. Stories create feelings, Dana has lots more of popular psychology, motivation speeches, inspirational posters, and behavioral sciences concepts to throw at you. The focus lacked and slide layout was bad.

Future Focused – Building a Change-Ready Culture

Payal Kondisetty leads the Pulse of the Profession® research team and is a key contributor to Thought Leadership at PMI. Tricia Cabrey oversees the Customer Experience Department for PMI. Tricia also serves as the cross-functional team leader for PMI’s annual Pulse of the Profession® global research and corresponding in-depth research studies. She has presented results from PMI’s Pulse in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 PMXPO. The Pulse® is a publicly available research series and is a leading source for trends in project management for organizations and practitioners around the globe.

The 2020 report addresses Future Focused – Building a Change-Ready Culture. Are you future-ready? Organizations that prioritize maturing their delivery capabilities enjoy more successful outcomes.

As technological innovations, trade tensions, urbanization and other macro trends fuel disruption around the globe, organizations must respond accordingly with bold changes to modernize institutional cultures, embrace emerging skills and reimagine their vision and focus. And project professionals are natural leaders of change.

In the presentation, several other recent PMI reports and surveys were shown.

The 2020 Pulse of the Profession shows that the project economy is reality. According to the Pulse of the Profession®, organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic competency for driving change report an average of 67 percent more of their projects failing outright. The top three future factors are organizational agility, choosing the right technologies, and securing relevant skills. Big investments are done in technology advancements and digitalization. Delivering customer value is key. Design thinking is considered to be a relevant concept to explore and solve problems. Senior leadership highly values project management professionals. More than half of the organizations require project managers to hold some type of certification for their role.

Leading companies excel in:

  1. Ability is agility
  2. Tech rules but people influence
  3. It’s a project leader’s world