My London PMI Congress 2015 experience

This is definitely not my first PMI Congress and the PMI professionalism still amazes me by bringing people to connect and create a community. Even if it comes from the U.S., they did manage to make it truly global. In this one I met people from the U.S. but also New Zealand and Sudan and of course many other countries between these. We were 850ish members in London and nowadays with virtual being a must from a costs perspective, it is fantastic to see so many people motivated by Project Management.

Before going any further, I would like to emphasise the quality of the keynote presentations given by:

These were inspirational and gave nice nuggets and stories based on valid researches and experience!

The quality of the presentation remains high if you think about the diversity of subjects, cultures, nationalities and the presenters are relevant and subject experts I.e. there is always good learnings coming from the different sessions. Having said that, let me give you the list of the sessions I did participate to with some quick feeling about these knowing that I will pick some of these and critically assess them and make specific blog posts about them. I won’t here mention the presenters as I would like to focus more on the content of the presentations than on presentation skills! There are two other sessions but I won’t mention them as I had to leave the room for business reasons so for obvious ethical reasons, I will not comment these.

I intent to go in more details about some of the sessions in future posts as some concepts were really interesting and I would like to do some work about these. If you have a preference, let me know!

The description of the sessions and their titles are the ones coming from PMI documentation:

  • PMO evolution: From the Origin to the Future. Over the recent years, the PMO landscape has been evolving from support and administration, towards a function with key commercial accountability. It is therefore important to clarify what a PMO actually is and what it is supposed to do. This presentation will guide you through the origins and types of PMO and review some new trends such as EPMO, DPMO and SaaS.

This was a really well documented presentation explaining the different levels of PMOs and what is basically the different roles & responsibilities for the members of that team and what can be expected from a stakeholder perspective. The presenting duo was well prepared and could answer questions efficiently. It was pleasant and good learning point. On the other hand it was rather theoretical and I doubt this can be applied in many companies and the catch might be that even if the theory is great, it means that PMO rules the world while I do think that a PMO is there to support Project Management and not rule it.

  • Improving Outcomes Through Change Management: Integrating Tools to the Project Manager Lifecycle. Project/programme management and change management are distinct studies today with different approaches and delivery frameworks. However, conceptual overlap between the two studies allow for project/programme management to leverage, and benefit from, change management. This presentation will help you integrate specific change management tools into the PM lifecycle. These tools can enhance project/programme value creation, stakeholder management practices, and delivering organisational changes.

This session was my only disappointment of the whole congress as it did not meet the promise that you can read in the description. It was just a bunch of common sense statements about change management and woaw guess what change and project management are inter-related and a Project Manager has to take change into account… Not sure I did need 1 hour in that room to learn this and by the way having the presenter in my back for 80% of the presentation did not help to feel included! So, sorry to be hard but I think that the audience was senior enough to get one or more layers deeper in this subject to get more learnings… I would classify this as a missed opportunity.

  • Getting a Grip: Implementing a Common Project Management Strategy in 50 Very Different Countries. “Do we speak the same project language?” This session will guide you to the answer “YES, we do!” by showing how we support the company´s mission more efficiently by improving the way of managing projects. We will look at best practices within an implementation of a global PM standard. In particular you will learn about the integrative approach/speed of implementation in a multicultural environment. You will also see the framework developed and the roll-out agenda of targets versus results.

Here we go, exactly what I am here for… Actual current experience shared with others humbly and efficiently! What you read in the description is what you get. Well done, straight to the point , we all could translate this in our company and the presentation was delivered by a practitioner who rolled-up his sleeves to make it happen. This will definitely be for me a point that I will deliver in more details in another post.

  • Storytelling: How to Engage Stakeholders As Never Before. We all love stories because they move us, they inspire us, they teach us. Stories are a primary means of connecting people across cultures by transforming the way we think, act, and live. Yet, we project management professionals rarely take advantage of the power that storytelling offers us. This session will discuss how to leverage stories to engage your stakeholders to deliver messages in a more memorable and engaging way.

This presentation was highly inspirational! Amazingly I surprised myself getting inspired by an academic… So you can imagine how not only entertaining but also precise, concise and interesting the presenter was. On top of this he could deliver the described promises through stories and sense of humour, all participants will remember the horse lie story… This session was indeed memorable!

  • Why Program Management is Essential for IT Projects. This session will demonstrate the unique benefits that programme management offers for information technology projects, where the interdependencies are, paradoxically, both the source of greatest risks and the basis of the projects’ ultimate added value. It highlights the technical and management dimensions of project management and shows how programme management can significantly aid project delivery by supporting such essential aspects of integration as architecture, requirements, testing, and change management.

This one is a tough one to talk about. Why? The subject is for me personally of high interest and developed by a practitioner having obvious accountabilities but was delivered almost academically. Nevertheless it delivered what was expected and did not state the obvious but demonstrated through actual storytelling the way a big organisation delivers by using IT integration. I can definitely relate to that story as from a size or complexity perspective, I do work in a similar type of environment. So highly interesting and great articulation of how programme management can support IT integration.

  • The Six Essential Skills that Define PM Leaders. Strategically applying business skills is the next step for project and programme managers today looking to get to that “next level”. In this session we‘ll explore 6 “meta-skills” and how project and programme leaders can employ these skills to lead, manage, and execute strategy through projects and programmes.

This was a great moment and if you are interested in a competent, straight to the point focused presentation for project managers with experience, you have found it! I was not excited reading the white paper but the presenter was inspirational and could put the so called meta skills in perspective and enlighten us with great examples that we could easily relate to. Really enjoyed that one and will for sure go deeper in this and put it at work in my day to day life. On top of this it was also dedicated to experienced practitioner said and it is to be highlighted.

  • Culturally Intelligent Change Management. This session will provide attendees an overview of global cultural attributes which may be leveraged during change management initiatives. It will provide practical insights and proven tips on how to conduct change initiatives in organisations dominated by one culture as well as those which are characterised by cultural diversity. Strategies for keeping stakeholders engaged and communication guidelines for various nations will also be described.

This sounds like an obvious subject but so complex and always current. The caveat of this session is that they related it to change management only while I think nowadays it should be applied to all aspects of the enterprise. I really think that this topic has to be extended and based on the current teams set-up used in major corporations I.e. highly virtualised and flat governance how to integrate vertically and horizontally including the diversity of cultures in one single team. Working in such an environment for two decades now, I will try later to bring my two cents to this presentation that was current, interesting and fun!

  • Build Organisational Capability to Improve Strategy Implementation – Enterprise Change Management (ECM) and Organizational Project Management (OPM). To be competitive, companies must implement their strategies successfully by projects. This session will show you why strategic initiatives fail and what the factors of success to implement strategies are. Come and learn about ECM and OPM as preconditions for organisational capability needed for successful strategy implementation. Answer the questions “Is my company, and our people, capable and willing to realise the important requirements to implement ECM and OPM?”

This one was theoretical and again try to demonstrate the obvious but using another angle in the sense that he used the OPM3 as a vehicle to bring the relationship between change and project management. These two concepts are simply mandatory to get strategies and objectives delivered in support of the corporate bottom line. At the end of the day, whatever the angle is being used, there is no way you can dissociate the two as they are intimately intertwined. You will never be able to deliver a project without taking change management into account. The way you position Project Management versus Change Management and PMO is really a detail based on internal politics but these three functions have to be operated… More to come on that relationships!

  • Complexity in Projects, Programmes and Portfolios: An Engineering Systems Perspective. Engineering Systems Management concerns itself with the management of large-scale sociotechnical systems. Project, Programme and Portfolio Management is a central element of Engineering Systems Management, flanked by interdisciplinary engineering (e.g. systems engineering), as well as public policy and business strategy management. This session explores some of the models and methods that have been developed to better design, create and manage those highly complex systems throughout their lifecycles. The focus is on their applicability to project, programme and portfolio management and, in particular, on system-oriented approaches.

Sense of humour was there but even if they tried hard not to be academic, the delivery was hard and the interaction between the presenters was not fluid enough. The time management was not top and I still try to get my head around the concepts delivered. This session is real case for the storytelling one we had previously… Honestly I cannot see what was memorable in that one hour beyond the story of the elephant with the blinds. Maybe getting the full presentation later will ring the bell more and. Maybe a new post but I doubt…

In conclusion, I really wish PMI will now start to think in terms of seniority of the audience so that experienced people in the subject 15-20 years of experience could have dedicated sessions focusing on matters that may bring even more added value. I think about specific sharing sessions with less people on specific topics or tracks but in the congress itself, not after or before as not that many people can stay a full week and so for business reasons! Hope this will be perceived as a constructive feedback.

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