Newsletter January 2020

$37 billion per year is wasted on unproductive meetings in the U.S., according to the Small Business Newsroom.

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Are your project managers (PMs) good stewards of your meeting money? If not, GBMC recommends the following three tips.

1. Review and revise company guidance for project meetings.  Your PM organization should have established methods and tools for planning, conducting, and following up on project meetings. Give guidance about the type and frequency of meetings; whether a meeting is needed at all; the purpose of the meeting and how your PMs control the meeting.  Train them to be efficient and effective meeting leaders. 

2. Give PMs meeting tools.  Once your organization is up to date with meeting technology, ensure your PMs have templates, checklists and the means to issue minutes of meeting quickly. Go with the philosophy of “less is more.” When your PMs are still learning, support them in the planning phase. Have a template that helps them think through the purpose of the meeting.  Is it to pass along information? Is it for making a decision? Is it a bid review or clarification of a contract meeting? A kickoff meeting?  Each type of meeting should have a specific way to conduct it, but all should have a timed agenda. And here’s a curve ball…Let them know it’s OK to not invite or even uninvite participants if the person cannot contribute to the purpose of the meeting. Help them reduce waste by providing the right tools.

3. Reward good meeting behavior.  Here’s the tough part—the human factor. Many PMs struggle with controlling discussions, managing conflict and holding meeting participants accountable for actions. Even when your PMs master the planning skills, conducting the meeting requires additional skills in the leadership domain. Think through what should be on your PMs’ development plans:  facilitation, negotiation, listening, even writing and public speaking. Show them what “good” looks like, and maintain a high standard.

 

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Newsletter December 2019

Have you ever funded a successful project that had unintended and undesirable consequences on the organization? Launched a new product or service that didn’t land well with the customer? Or designed an improvement to an internal system that employees then resisted using? GBMC believes it’s critical to manage not only change to the project but also change caused by the project.
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Here are three tips for doing so:

Determine the breadth of organizational change – The business case, the project charter, and the project plan must all consider what is required to successfully deliver the expected project objectives and benefits. While it’s important that your projects have efficient processes for change, they also should recognize the need for change within the performing organization, within client or supplier organizations, or even within broader stakeholder groups. The change may be temporary, while the project is underway, or permanent as a result of the project.  Some projects, like organizational change projects, have as their primary objective implementing change into the organization. Others, like a software implementation, may have product installation as their primary objective. However, regardless of the main purpose of the project, be ready to manage organizational change as part of the project scope.

news dec 2Use established change models – Project teams should take advantage of established models to help guide them to identify, plan for, and manage change to the affected organization(s).  Many change models are available to help the project team identify organizational change requirements and navigate the change management process.  These include:

– Kurt Lewin’s Change Model (Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze)

– Proci’s ADKAR® Model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement)

– John Kotter’s Eight Stage Change Model

 

Select the model that ‘fits’ the project and makes sense to the team and other stakeholders.

Align project outcomes with the project executive’s expectations – We should consider the project from a business executive’s perspective because they are one of our most important stakeholders. At the end of the project, what does the executive want and expect to see? …usually a complete, successful change to the business. For example, the executive doesn’t look at a new product development project as just delivering a working product. They want to realize benefits from the working product.  For example, the executive probably wants to see:

  • happy customers buying, using and gaining benefit from the new product,
  • support by marketing, sales and advertising persons knowledgeable about the product,
  • development by persons who understand new processes and technologies required by the product,
  • use of new materials delivered on time and within budget by qualified and capable suppliers.

Looking at the whole value stream gives insight into the degree of change that is necessary if the project is to be successful and therefore helps identify the true scope of a successful project.  The example above could easily be rewritten for an internal software project, a bridge construction project, or a new school curriculum development project. But remember, all projects involve people, so all projects will require changes in what people do. Managing organizational change is not a luxury, it is a requirement for project success.

 

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Newsletter November 2019

Achieving Measurable Value – Tailored PMO Framework

Leading organizations are adaptive in response to increasing complexity and disruptors in their industry.  A tailored PMO Framework can be implemented quickly and with low cost.  It drives focus and agility through proactive decision making based on an integrated, consistent, data-driven approach.

Recently, GBMC worked with a publicly traded, multinational cloud-computing and software company that needed to undertake a strategically important transformation project.

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The Challenge:

The project’s complexity was driven by the high number of international stakeholders involved and the risk to business continuity of the Inside Sales and Tech Support functions. Key stakeholders included valued sales team employees across multiple countries and regions whose work directly impact the company’s bottom line.

Unlike typical technical, IT and finance functions, sales and marketing team culture is often less structured with lower adoption of project management practices. This business transformation project would require a highly diverse, cross-functional matrixed project team coupled with a consistent integrated approach, underlying structure, and common language for measuring and communicating progress.

 

 

 

 

 

The Approach – Measure Benefits and Realize Value in a Sustainable Way:

GBMC was engaged to establish a PMO framework for the geographically dispersed, cross-functional project team.  The scalable PMO framework approach provided the foundation for streamlining the flow of project critical information, exception-based reporting and progress tracking against deliverables tied to milestones, and a dashboard for multiple levels of key stakeholder reporting.

Project Dashboard: The heart of the effective PMO framework is a dashboard driven by an exception-based reporting approach, with progress tracked against an agreed plan of deliverables and completion dates linked to key project milestones. The dashboard forms a ‘bridge’ between the high-level view of the project work-streams and milestones created as part of the initial project creation process, and the detailed schedule. This high-level view was adapted to include progress updates from the detailed schedule and utilized by the Steering Committee for monitoring overall performance.

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The dashboard was used in two ways, for briefing the team, and as further back-up information for the Steering Committee when dealing with exceptions.

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The dashboard was designed to provide an integrated view and communicate both overall project “health” and at the work-stream level to:

  1. – Show progress consistently, using tangible metrics
  2. – Focus on what matters, in terms of exceptions to plan via Red-Amber-Green indicators
  3. – Highlight key inter-dependencies, with emphasis on impacting risks, issues, and scope changes
  4. – Make key decisions and address assumptions

 

The Impact – Measurable Benefits and Realized Value

The timely execution of strategy via the sales transformation initiative directly impacted organizational performance. The investment made in the PMO framework reduced the complexity risk from the large number of international stakeholders (external and internal) and potential disruption in business continuity ultimately contributing to fewer delays.

Key intangible benefits attributed to the tailored PMO framework included:

  1. – Increased engagement of the Executive Steering Committee
  2. – Ongoing alignment with the project business case and evolving business needs
  3. – Clarified ownership and accountability across stakeholders
  4. – Clear, proactive communication of project priorities, changes, risk, and actionable feedback from key stakeholders
  5. – Timely risk identification, mitigation, and resolution through visibility of project risks and interdependencies
  6. – Effective transfer of knowledge and consistent progress tracking behavior (cadence) across the project team

Key tangible benefits from increased effectiveness (through reduced progress update meeting time and better alignment with jointly accountable stakeholders) included:

  1. – 4 days per month time saved for Senior Project Manager
  2. – 2 days per month time saved for Work-stream Managers
  3. – The PMO Framework was implemented into the business practices well ahead of schedule, at 40% less cost than the forecasted budget

Conclusion

The tailored PMO Framework was implemented within two months, had a low administrative burden, and drove focus on what is important. Project execution became more effective by shifting from reactive to proactive behavior and applying an integrated, consistent, data-driven approach.

This timely, actionable information for proactive decision making by the Executive Steering Committee, the Project Manager, and the team ensured alignment with business needs, reduced risks and increased benefits realized.

 

 
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Newsletter October 2019

Executing Strategy with a Tailored PMO Framework

Leading organizations are adaptive in response to increasing complexity and disruptors in their industry. Recently, GBMC worked with a publicly traded, multinational cloud-computing and software company that needed to undertake a strategically important transformation project.

 

 

The Challenge:

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The project’s complexity was driven by the high number of international stakeholders involved and the risk to business continuity of the Inside Sales and Tech Support functions. Key stakeholders included valued sales team employees across multiple countries and regions whose work directly impact the company’s bottom line.

Unlike typical technical, IT and finance functions, sales and marketing team culture is often less structured with lower adoption of project management practices. This business transformation project would require a highly diverse, cross-functional matrixed project team coupled with a consistent integrated approach, underlying structure, and common language for measuring and communicating progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Approach – Align & Deliver:

GBMC was engaged to establish a PMO framework, create a detailed Project Schedule, and efficiently drive the project management monitoring and control cadence for the geographically dispersed, cross-functional project team.

Step 1: Validate the high-level project schedule and milestones. GBMC met with work-stream owners to establish a detailed project schedule with tasks, timelines, and dependencies. The 4-week intensive, upfront investment in creating the schedule provided the underlying structure for a shared understanding of project objectives, key milestones, deliverables and accountability. Additionally, the process clarified ownership for deliverables across the complex stakeholder group.

Step 2: Establish cadence for holding the work-stream leaders accountable for progress against commitments captured in the project schedule. In addition to facilitating collection of progress updates from stakeholders, the cadence included regularly updating the master project schedule, disseminating the updates, and alerting work-stream owners to upcoming critical path due dates.

Color-coding was applied to the detailed project schedule to further drive focus on exceptions to the plan, to create regular drum-beat behavior around progress updates, and to celebrate success.

 

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Since the integrated PMO framework was tailored to individual functional work-streams and overall project needs, adoption was successful. Additional efficiency benefits included:

  • Driving effective agendas and cadence of project team calls
  • Facilitating transition of project monitoring and control activities as work-streams ramp down

Step 3: Project Risk Plan and Decision Log. The PMO Framework established a Project Risk Plan and Decision Log, capturing:

  • Uncertainties, identified through “what-if” scenarios and prioritized by probability and impact
  • Mitigating actions and key decisions
  • Triggers to identify when immediate action is required

Focus was maintained on high probability, high impact risks which were incorporated into the agenda for regular cadence of stakeholder meetings. Key decision outcomes of these discussions were communicated via the project dashboard.

In summary, the PMO framework solution was flexible and tailored to organizational PM practices and culture, delivering the right balance between the time required in detailed progress reporting for effective steering and accountability and the time needed for project deliverables and conducting business as usual.

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Newsletter September 2019

The Project Management Office Case Study

Leading organizations who generate value from their Project/Program Office (PMO) are more adaptive in response to increasing complexity and disruptors in their industry. PMI defines a PMO as a key “management structure that standardizes the project/program‐related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.” PMOs also enable strategic change by aligning project/program work with business strategy.

news sept 3GBMC worked with a publicly traded, multinational, cloud-computing and software company that needed to undertake a strategically important transformation project. The project had many layers of complexity, including risk-to-business continuity of operations. The company needed a consistent integrated approach, an underlying structure, and a common language for measuring and communicating progress, in order to manage the project’s complexity and risk. During this successful engagement, GBMC partnered with key stakeholders to establish a tailored PMO framework, enabling successful delivery of the complex transformation project while capturing benefits realized.

The PMO framework effort included creating a detailed Project Schedule as a baseline for efficiently driving the project management monitoring and control cadence for the geographically dispersed, cross-functional, business transformation project team.
The PMO framework solution was flexible and tailored to organizational PM practices and culture, delivering the right balance between detailed progress reporting for effective steering and accountability, and the time needed for project deliverables and conducting business as usual.

In the next two newsletters, GBMC will delve further into this case example on how to:

1. Implement a tailored PMO framework. There are many models of PMO to contemplate. However, it is essential that the framework fits the situation and the challenges being faced by the organization. It should be flexible, tailored to the organization’s PM practices and culture. It must be designed to deliver the right balance between detailed progress reporting for effective steering and accountability, and the time needed for project deliverables and conducting business as usual. Make it scalable and fit for purpose.

2. Capture benefits and communicate value realized. Like any project, benefits realization management is a key process. The business realized benefits such as increased engagement of the Executive Steering Committee; ongoing alignment with the project’s business case and evolving business needs; and clear ownership and accountability across stakeholders, to name a few. Communicate value realized to key stakeholders per an agreed cadence, using impactful visuals and consistent measures.

 

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Newsletter August 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Motivation

What do you do when your project managers (PMs) discover the carrot and stick isn’t working? Your employees may be saying, “I don’t want to work with that PM. His/her projects are always so____” (fill in an adjective that indicates poor motivation).

When we hear this at GBMC, we suspect it may be something closely related to EI: your PMs are not in touch with what motivates their team members. Although current research indicates that the ability to motivate others is not specifically part of the EI construct, it is a related leadership skill.

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So, here are some tips to help your PMs motivate their teams.

Relate self-motivation to motivating teams. When training PMs on how to motivate others, challenge them to look inside themselves first. The EI construct does include self-motivation. Similar to the notion that you have to lead yourself well before you can lead others, we propose that PMs have to know what motivates themselves, first. When asked, PMs usually come up with a list that resembles what the motivational gurus have been telling us for years. So why the disconnect? Self-awareness seems to be the culprit. Help your PMs reflect inward, and then expose them to the latest thinking in team motivation.

Reward PMs who model self-motivation. Here’s how to spot them. They say and do things that demonstrate they are driven to improve and achieve. They know how to create a compelling vision about the goals of the project and build team commitment. They take the initiative to solve problems and remove road blocks for their team. They exude optimism about their project and their team. When adversity hits, they bounce right back.

Pay attention to extrinsic motivators. Use existing people processes like performance evaluations, professional development planning, or talent reviews to identify and put in place those external factors that support or increase the motivation of your workforce. Ensure your PMs are aware of these processes and external motivators, and make it easy and desirable for PMs to take advantage of them.

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Newsletter July 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Project Leadership

We all know that one project manager (PM)—the one who gets results, but leaves a trail of human upset behind. And, we recognize that few people want to work with that PM again. What’s missing in the PM’s interpersonal skill set? At GBMC, we believe a lack of emotional intelligence (EI) is in play.

In previous newsletters, we’ve defined EI and discussed how it is vital to stakeholder management. It’s also fundamental to project leadership. As PMI® reminds us, the competent PM has skills in the strategic, technical and interpersonal domains.

Here are some tips for building EI skills, that critical dimension of project leadership that engenders extraordinary results by teams.

 

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Train. Project leadership requires different skills and approaches than does functional leadership. A new leader taking over a function, inherits momentum, a vision, strategies and a team trained to execute on the purpose of the function. The PM has to work quickly to put all that in place in order to get the team aligned and moving in the same direction. In addition to the technical toolbox of PM skills, it takes EI skills, the ability to monitor and manage emotions in ourselves and others, to motivate and to build enthusiasm for the work ahead. Invest the time and money and provide the experience for your PMs to learn these critical EI skills.

Coach. Like many interpersonal skills, EI is best developed on the job. However, a huge enabler is a coach who helps the PM assess their current skill level and figure out what the end state should be. The coach provides initial accountability for change in behavior until the PM is ready to “fly solo” and be accountable to self. Don’t confuse mentoring with coaching. A coach encourages the PM’s improvement based on a plan devised by the PM, whereas a mentor has a responsibility to transfer knowledge. Use your skilled PMs as role models and mentors but show your PMs how to identify and leverage a coach to up their game.

Reward. When management learns of behaviors that demonstrate PMs do not have, or are not using EI skills, don’t sweep it under the rug. Confront the issue. On the other hand, when you find excellent EI skills, reward them, and recognize the PM publicly as appropriate. Effective talent management often requires both the carrot and the stick.

 

July 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Newsletter June 2019

Emotionally Competent PMs Manage Stakeholders Better

When a stakeholder is upset…do your project managers (PMs) have the skills to manage that? Can they honor that emotion and get to the root of what’s causing the upset?

Alternatively, can they leverage positive stakeholder emotions? Can they navigate the rough waters of stakeholder management and close out their projects with minimal noise?

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is being aware of how emotions, ours and those of others, play a factor in attitudes, actions, and decisions. At GBMC, we believe PMs who have EI skills are best positioned to identify, assess, and manage project stakeholders for the benefit of the company and the people involved. Relationship management is fundamental to project success.

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Here are some EI stakeholder management tips:

Include Stakeholder Satisfaction in Project Metrics.

Most PMs are results driven. They go for the key performance indicators (KPIs) the organization demands they achieve. A core competency of project leadership is stakeholder management. Understanding and responding to stakeholder emotions is essential. Teach it. Measure it. Reward it.

Ensure Relationship Management Training Includes EI.

Eliciting stakeholder requirements that define the project’s objectives can be tricky. Quite often, there are unspoken requirements and a PM without a good EI toolkit could overlook them. Imagine the surprise when the stakeholder feels those unspoken requirements are being ignored. Sometimes, the requirements could be as simple as having a dedicated parking space when they visit or work at your office, or as complex as wanting a project environment where empathetic listening and transparent communication are the norm. Train your PMs to seek out unspoken requirements.

Add EI to the Stakeholder Management Plan.

Usually, the stakeholder management plan is a table with the name of each stakeholder, notes about their contact information, their requirements, the best way to work with or communicate with them, and how the PM plans to “manage” them. What if the bit about managing them is labeled, “How to Develop and Maintain the Relationship”? What if there is a column or two about the stakeholder as a person? What if the PM includes what they like or don’t like; their hobbies; personal information they have revealed about themselves or their families; and even behavioral style or preferences? Help your PMs make this mind shift.

 

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Newsletter May 2019

Emotional Intelligence and Project Performance

If you hire and supervise project managers, you’re probably confident they have an above-average IQ. But what about their EQ? What are the consequences of appointing a PM with low emotional intelligence? At GBMC, we believe it can lead to project failure.

The Emotional Quotient, sometimes interchangeably called Emotional Intelligence, is the ability to monitor feelings and emotions and to discriminately use the proper ones to guide decisions and actions. EI can be thought of as aptitude, and EQ as ability.

Industry is convinced that project leaders who can monitor and regulate their own emotions and react positively to the emotions of their team members, perform better. Current studies now conclude that EQ can be considered twice as important to success as IQ, technical expertise, and training. Assigning values to choices by using feelings is indispensable for wise decision making, and will make better use of IQ and experience.*

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Can EQ be improved?

Yes, according to top researchers and authors on emotional intelligence.

 

 

 

 

Here are some tips for improving the EQ of project managers.

Raise Awareness about EI 

Train and communicate about EI. Include EI in your project leadership curriculum. Project managers who accurately understand their own EI – the innate ability to recognize, pay attention to, and distinguish between their own emotions – are better able to do this in others. Provide opportunities for your PMs to self-evaluate and get feedback, and give them time to reflect on their project accomplishments.

Motivate PMs to Increase EQ 

Emotions are powerful, and sometimes PMs need encouragement to see them as a benefit on their projects. Project leaders may perceive that “emotions don’t belong on the job.” Help them see that emotions are required for project commitment and completion. Optimism and a positive attitude are prime attributes of capable self-motivators. Expression of negative emotions from leaders detrimentally affect project teams. Don’t let your PMs have the attitude that “this job would be easy if it weren’t for the people.” They must believe that the team is their greatest asset.

Reward PMs for Perceptive Use of Team EQ 

EQ can be a potent synthesis of soft skills with technical skills. Emotional intelligence makes good judgment calls and enables effective communication to the team about things such as budgets, deadlines, earned value, deliverables. What makes your company and your teams stand out? Your ability to motivate team members to their full potential, providing the right project environment for success. Recognize and reward PMs who have skillful teams.

*Sources: Casper, C. M., 2002 and Karen Davey-Winter, 2019

 

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