Welcome to Project Management Point-of-View (PM-POV).
This podcast series gives you brief and insightful conversations with PM practitioners in a variety of disciplines.
Host Kendall Lott draws on his experience as a PM, as CEO of M Powered Strategies and as former CEO of PMIWDC to explore how project managers create value in surprising places.
Our guests discuss their unique perspectives on project management, its uses, its challenges, its changes, and its future.
People in Projects at the UMD PM Symposium 2024
Heralding the annual arrival of the flagship UMD Project Management Center for Excellence symposium, this episode has 3 of the presenters in the People and Projects track: Kevin Coleman, a visionary leader and the founder and CEO of KMC Empowerment, John Eskandar, a seasoned professional in project controls at Exelon and graduate of the UMD PM program, who brings a wealth of experience managing large-scale construction projects and Abbigail Meah-Ali, a manager of construction services at the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago. From Trinidad to Maryland to Virginia, our guests span a wide geographic and professional spectrum, each contributing to a rich dialogue on the intersection of people and projects. Whether you're a project management veteran or a newcomer to the field, this episode is packed with golden nuggets of wisdom that you won't want to miss.
Program Value Management
Challenged by the hosts, Kendall Lott and Mike Hannan, returning guest Steven Devaux takes his value break down structure (the "Golden Triangle") to a new level, looking at quantifying value of project within programs. That’s the obvious, the less obvious is looking at the need for this view point in critical areas such as public health, emergency response and national security. He emphasizes the need to prioritize or sequence projects within a program to optimize the schedule for maximum impact, where the focus is on delivering outcomes rather than just producing products.
What might we achieve if public health professionals should be trained in program management to effectively deliver the benefits of their research? What we also need are feedback loops that give us the ability to reevaluate and adjust projects within a program based on emerging information and changing conditions. We'll start seeing value when we start focusing on return to mission rather than just the return on investment, it's about Program Value Management.
In this podcast episode, co-hosts Kendall and Mike are joined by guest Roy Mazel, a retired NASA project leader and guest lecturer. They discuss the Project Management complexities of asteroid missions, specifically, the OSIRIS-REx Psyche missions. As you might guess, the successful implementation of risk management strategies and the importance of technical integrity in the face of schedule pressure is the litmus test of getting these missions completed on time, on budget, and without failure. And what you might not expect, Roy highlights the importance of a strong organizational culture that values communication, listening to team members, and mentoring the next generation of leaders.
The discussion sheds light on the intricate project management involved in space missions and the lessons that can be learned from both successful and challenging endeavors. Listen to the podcast, and watch the news for outcomes of these two missions!
Let it Flow, Success without Force
In this episode, Kendall, Mike, and Wolfram Mueller discuss strategies to improve business workflows using the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Critical Chain Project Management, focused on two things: underloading system constraints and buffer management (having a signal that our flow is or isn't working). One thing that pops out is the importance of calculating business cases and recognizing growth potential--that becomes the compelling case to get middle management on board with the change needed. Getting a team to underload (reduce the non-critical work) of key resources, while having other enabling resources waiting for action is a really hard concept to get managers on board with…until you let them figure out what is holding back their throughput and let them figure out the solution. And that is the big news: consultants can help you identify and work through the problem, but successful change happens with they get out of the way and let the dedicated middle management drive the change. It helps to foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and problem-solving among employees. It enables the self-organization that creates the fix. And evidence shows it out.
Getting Out of Our Own Way
The crux of any success? It isn't the plan, it isn't the desire, not even the WIIFM, its EXECUTION. And organizational change is no different. Today's episode discusses the difficulties that organizations face when it comes to executing change. Once again guest and change management author and guru April Mills comes to us on the topic of change…but this time it isn't how to do it, but how she has seen managers institutionally throw up their own barriers to change even as they try to change…starting with outsourcing on the thinking to…professionals. It may be that we are so good at PM and Change techniques that we have once again lost the bubble…the point is to execute and create value. Recognizing and moving past the "aspiration ability gap," jumping through the hoops of just ticking boxes, we have to focus on execution and look for opportunities for acceleration. Managers are called to amplify positive responses to create belief ripples that lead to success.
Organizations can get in their own way,
Eager to change but miss the play.
Professionals may think they know the game, but
Focus on outcome, not the timeframe.
Sandbagging is when a project takes too long,
Outsourcing your brain leads to execution gone wrong.
The aspiration ability gap will widen and grow,
Unless leaders look for signals, they miss seeds of value they should sow.
PM Faceoff: Process vs Principles
So there we were at the 10th annual UMD PM Symposium, having the Great Debate of Process vs principles. Facing off were Crystal Richards, CEO of MindsparQ and Laura Barnard, CEO of PMO Strategies. One hour of back and forth and audience questions. In sum:
From the debate between Laura and Crystal,
It's clear that project managers should grab the handle.
Be a business leader and ask good questions,
Embrace risk and change with no exceptions.