Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Post Modern PM

During MITPM in Kuala Lumpur I got to listen to Dr. David Frame give a talk in which he explored a number of PM methodologies and how none of them served every purpose. The general gist of it was that there are lots of methodologies/tools available and that you need more than just one.

This is something that I consider to be a big deal in the evolution of a project manager. Getting past the point where you consider one approach to be the “one true way”, and on to a place where you see each approach as viable and important is a huge leap. It is also where the creative part comes in and when being a PM gets to be an actually fun job.

In his talk, Dr. Frame used the phrase “post project management”. It seemed to fit, but at the same time, to beg for just a bit more. It started rolling around in my head as post-modern project management. If the post modern movement was a reaction against what had become standardized forms and something which achieved success by the ironic blending of the dissimilar, then wouldn’t the blending of things like Scrum and PMBOK fit that same bill? (Yes, I took just enough postmodern film classes in college to make me dangerous.) If so, then I’d argue that for a PM to success in today’s’ job market, a PM has to evolve to this post modern state in which all tools hold equal weight and are only as good (or bad) as the way in which they are implemented.

Monday, May 19, 2008

PMI 2008 Leadership Meeting - Malta
[pictures from Kuala Lumpur and Malta]

Right now I am in Malta for the PMI’s 2008 Leadership Meeting and Global Congress. IT&T SIG Past Chair, Mark Lurch, and I arrived here late Saturday afternoon straight from Kuala Lumpur by way of Dubai.

While Mark and I were not here in time to attend the VCP update given by PMI on Friday, the word on the street is that PMI is moving forward, full steam ahead with the project. This has the potential to have a heavy impact on the IT&T SIG in the coming 24 months and I’ll be posting more about that in the next few days. Right now, I just want to post some of the highlights so far.

Saturday evening the IT&T SIG EMEA Regional Director, Jose Pinto, hosted a networking event for the IT&T SIG Leaders (and potential leaders) throughout the EMEA region. The event was a huge success. We had a full room and a very entertaining and wonderful presentation on the wines of Malta by Don Victorio, the owner of the vineyard that produced all the fabulous wines we sampled. Jose gave a wonderful speech, welcoming all our guests and I had the chance to say a few words as well. It is a rare thing for us to get to meet face to face with the folks from this region that help support all we do. In addition to myself, Mark Lurch and Jose, IT&T SIG Vice Chair, Petra Goltz; VP of Professional Development, Vasilj Petrovic; and VP of Technology, Daniel Hunt were all present.

At the event we had the great pleasure to meet the 1  IT&T SIG member that we have in Malta, Syam Ravi Menon who works for Information Systems, LTD , a Maltese System Analysis and Design company that also provides Training and Software Development Services. Syam is a very charming guy who is doing all he can to help spread the word about PMI here in Malta. I’m hoping to be able to tape him for a video podcast while we are here on the island.

Another highlight was meeting Emad Aziz, PMP, who came from Cairo to attend the events here. Emad works for Brisk Consulting, a consulting company based in Egypt that focuses on delivering operational professionalism in Egypt and the Arabian Gulf. 

While the jet lag was a little too heavy for me, and I turned in early, the crowd apparently stayed until about 2 AM listening to the Don’s stories about life in Malta. All in all, the evening was a great success. Jose did an incredible job putting everything together.

Yesterday I was able to attend a few of the Leadership Meeting sessions, including a workshop given by IT&T SIG Vice-Chair, Petra Goltz on working with different cultures. Those types of talks are always fascinating when they are held in EMEA because there are just so many different groups of people working together. I shot some video during Petra’s presentation and I’ll be posting that in a few days.

The day ended with the PMI Leader to Leader discussion where PMI Vice-Chair Yan Ping Chen led the proceedings and the leaders from various PMI components got to ask the experts about all things PMI. This is always one of the most informative times of the Leadership Meeting. PMI President and CEO Greg Ballestrero; Executive VP and COO, Mark Langley; PMI Chair, Philip Diab; and others fielded a number of questions about the state of PMI, its’ competition and business model for the coming years. Clearly, PMI is on a path to grow both its’ certification offerings as well as a number of other products.

When the meetings were over for the day we took to the seas. A number of boats took the attendees to the island of Gozo, which is just a short ride across the water from Malta. There we were treated to a lovely dinner at a local winery under the stars. The boat ride over offered some great sites of the islands surrounding Malta. It is a very cool thing to ride across the water, watching the sun go down beyond cathedrals that are some of the oldest gems of the history of the Catholic Church.

Today is the start of Global Congress and we’ve got a few folks already lined up to interview for the podcast. I’ll be posting more as things unfold and I’ll get the video up as soon as I can.

MITPM 2008
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
[pictures from Kuala Lumpur and Malta]

One of the coolest parts about my involvement with the IT&T SIG is that I occasionally have the opportunity to get to take trips to some really interesting places. Last Monday I boarded a 28-hour flight that took me all the way from Oklahoma City to Kuala Lumpur so that I could participate in the 2008 MITPM conference. The conference was held in the days leading up to WCIT, which is one of the largest IT conferences in the Asia Pacific region and it draws attendees and speakers from across the globe.

At the MITPM conference close to 300 IT Project Managers gathered together to listen to presentations given by folks from the US, China and Malaysia.

Mark Lurch, the IT&T SIG Past Chair and I both made the trip and presented at the event along with PMI Fellow Dr. Davidson Frame, Professor Hubert Vaughan, Program Consultant for the China Galileo Navigation Satellite Program, Michael Song, who works for Motorola and others.

This was my first trip to Asian and it was an amazing experience. PMI Asia Pacific Regional Director, SK Khor was one of the organizers of the event and in addition to being an incredible asset to the IT&T SIG and our efforts to develop a stronger presence in the AP region, he is an even greater host.

Dr. Frame opened the session with a talk called “Re-thinking the PMBOK, CMM and ISO 9000”. His presentation showcased how different approaches to project management can be used and blended within the context of the PMBOK, CMM and ISO. In his talk he explored the way that waterfall, iterative and agile practices are each specifically suited to successfully manage different types of projects and can also be blended together. He was a very energizing speaker and set the tone for a very informative day that would cover a number of important topics for IT Project Managers.

The country of Malaysia has put a great deal of effort into developing a stronger use of Project Management practices across the region. MITPM plays a significant role in that effort.

On the way over, the airline lost track of my luggage and it arrived a few hours after my talk. Without my luggage, I was somewhat challenged in meeting the "appropriate business dress" necessary for the project. I took the stage to give my presentation comparing Agile and the PMBOK with items borrowed from both Mark and SK. As I mentioned above, SK is an incredible host and I am very thankful for the loan of proper attire... however, SK and are not exactly the same size and I gave my presentation looking a wee bit like a carnival barker. Despite that, the session went well and judging by the number of folks who had questions after the talk, there is definitely some strong interest in KL for more information on how to implement and use Agile as a project management tool.

IT&T SIG Past Chair, Mark Lurch gave a lively presentation on Managing IT Projects Like a Business. Mark’s talks are always informative and the topic was very well received by the crowd.

Michael Song, Director of Engineering for Motorola Technology, Malaysia, who spoke after Mark was probably the most fascinating part of the day. Michael arrived just barely in time to give his presentation on Managing Global Software Projects via Virtual Teams. Michael was in the region of China that was hit by the earthquake last week and had an understandably difficult time making his way in time for his session. Over the lunch session, he was kind enough to share his first hand experience of the quake.

Because of the recent disasters in China and Burma, the organizers of MITPM took up a collection to support the relief efforts. Overall they raised over 12,000 ringgit (approx. $3,700 US) over the course of the afternoon. The IT&T SIG was more than happy to be able to contribute $500 towards the effort.

The day rounded out with a presentation by Professor Vaughan who gave a talk on PMI’s Program Management Standard and its value to an IT Organization. Professor Vaughan is a fascinating guy. His talk was great, but one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was having the opportunity to listen to him and Dr. Frame tell their stories of Project Management during the beginnings of modern software development. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to that topic, and listening to these two masters hold court on “back in the day”, was an experience I’ll not soon forget.

I have a video podcast interview, which I’ll be posting in the next few days from one of the attendees who traveled all the way from Nepal to attend MITPM. The fact that he traveled from such a distance to participate is a great testament to the value offered by the event.

On Friday, Mark Lurch, Professor Vaughan and I had the opportunity to speak at Multimedia University in KL. The school is a leading university for folks pursuing studies in computer science and project management. Graduate students, lecturers and IT Professionals attended the session from the area. They were a very engaged group of people and following the lecture by Professor Vaughan; we held a roundtable discussion in order to dive into some of the Project Management challenges faced by the attendees. We had a great afternoon full of lively discussion and debate and made some new friends along the way.

Late Friday night Mark and I boarded a plane that would take us on another long journey from Kuala Lumpur all the way to Malta for the 2008 PMI EMEA Global Congress. More on that in my next post.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Digging the Big Visible

While I was at the Scrum Gathering a few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a presentation by the guys from Big Visible. George Schlitz and Giore Morein gave a presentation about their approach to analyzing and mapping the ScrumMaster’s relationship to project team members and stakeholders. The relationship maps they demonstrated were both impressive and controversial. Based on the real life experience of Scrum Masters who have worked on projects where they were successful for the client, but ultimately, were let go because of an erosion in the stakeholders’ appreciation for and understanding of their role. Their process for analyzing the connections and value systems of the various parties on a project might seem a little bit over the top to some, but for those of us who actually spend time sitting and trying to work out diagrams that demonstrate the influence each part of the team has on the other parts, it was both re-affirming and amazing.

Giore and George were kind enough to spend some time with me and I’ve posted the video here.


If you’d like to learn more about Big Visible, please go here:

Either way, these guys are definitely worth watching… very impressive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Transcript of Mike Cohn Interview

The Scrum Alliance has posted a transcript of my interview with Mike Cohn from the Scrum Gathering in Chicago.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Having An Impact

A few months ago the IT&T SIG started working on a project with an Oklahoma based non-profit called Heartline. Heartline provides a number of care services in Oklahoma, including a 211 line, a 24/7 Careline, a Gatekeeper program for vulnerable older residents and a suicide prevention hotline. The IT&T SIG, along with the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chapters of PMI put together a pool of volunteers who conducted an assessment of Heartline's call center and provided recommendations for enhancing what they have in place.

This evening we presented the final results to Heartline and the work was very well received. Randy Tangco, who is the IT&T SIG Newsletter Editor, has done a great job leading this project, and each of the team members (Spryo Lecouras, David Jackson, Umesh Satija and James O’Callaghan) have given beyond the call of duty in both time and professional expertise. This project is a huge deal for the IT&T SIG. The work that the team has done is already showing a positive impact in Heartline's ability to run its' suicide hotline and other telecom based care offerings which serve 1.3 million people in Oklahoma.

I'm so proud of the work this team has done...even more so because this isn't just a technology project. This is a technology project that is making it easier for Heartline to save lives.

This is also our first pro-bono project and we've done it in conjunction with the Tulsa and OKC chapters. I do believe that it is specifically because of our independent status that we are able to put projects like this together and have such a massive impact. If I have any concerns about VCP, it is that it may negatively impact our ability to work on projects like Heartline.

I'm not sure if any other components within PMI can say that a handful of volunteers have had as wide reaching an impact. It is definitely something we can all be proud of.

Randy, Spyro, David, Umesh and James, you guys have done amazing work! On behalf of the 1.3 million Heartline customers that you have helped... THANKS!