Now THIS Is What I Mean By “Advanced” Training

We’ve had a ton of discussions with clients after the Project Management Institute (PMI)announcement that it would soon demand business and leadership training from its certification holders. Some organizations wanted just the facts – who, what, where, when, why, and how — then were on their way. A few weren’t interested for personal reasons: their organizations don’t require or reward PMI certification.

The most interesting talks, however, were with customers who didn’t really focus on the requirements at all. The original blog post or email had merely crystallized needs that they already had. We heard it again and again: “We’ve already had the basics, we’ve already put everyone through the curriculum. How do we get better, how do we advance?”

These kinds of conversations are music to my ears, because it means that we’re going to talk about building new and differentiated capabilities. In other words, these clients aren’t just thinking about industry standards and compliance. They now think strategically about how their staff’s strengths and weaknesses match up to their organization’s opportunities and threats.

So how does this play out in practice? Each firm or agency is different, but we believe there a few useful questions that help focus on the learning that your organization needs to advance.

  1. Knowledge and Skill Gaps: These are items that were simply missed in previous training or need formal reinforcement. Example course topics that address gaps:  How to Lead a Team;  How to Model, Analyze, and Improve Business Processes.
  2. Knowledge and Skill Mastery: Here’s where one truly goes beyond the basics and gets command of a subject. Courses like Project Cost & Schedule Management; Project Risk Management; Strategies for Effective Stakeholder Engagement; and  Vendor Relationship Management take one to the next level.
  3. Behavior Change: Here’s the real opportunity to breakthrough performance: ensuring that skills manifest themselves in behavior. Our simulations — for example, Managing by Project; Managing by Project: Construction; and Leadership in High-Performance Teams — move participants from mere understanding of skills to application of these skills back in the working world.

As always, if your organization would like discuss these ideas and how it will impact your project management training curriculum, please use the contact form below. We are happy to review your current curriculum, your upcoming learning plans, and make recommendations.

 

PM Skills Benchmark Study

PM Solutions and PM College are pleased to announce our latest research initiative: The Project Manager Skills Benchmark Study. This study is designed to help us understand current skill levels of project managers in the areas of project management, leadership, and business. What skills do project managers have, and how do these skills impact project and organizational success?

This survey should take about 10 minutes of your time. Complete survey results (which includes the full data and cross tabulations) will be sent to all those who finish the survey.

TakeSurveyNow

The Biotech IT PMO 2.0

As a CIO, you have either made – or heard – recommendations to create an IT project management office. Perhaps you have implemented one, and your department is reaping the benefits of project planning, monitoring, and controlling. IT delivers its projects on time, on budget, and to spec. Congratulations! You and your IT PMO have put the foundation of consistent innovation in place.

Nevertheless, it is no more than a foundation. A PMO must…

For more, see the full article at CIO Review.

High performing project management orgs are more agile — PMI

The Project Management Institute’s latest “Pulse of the Profession” report just came out, and it’s full of provoking findings. It clarifies the benefits of high-performing project management, and it highlights what the top organizations do differently. By the way, the “PMI Pulse” is a nice complement to the McKinsey report on building capabilities I wrote on last week.

So what does it mean to your organization if it’s a project management top performer? It means that you deliver more value and waste fewer resources:

…these organizations meet original goals and business intent two-and-a-half times more often than those in low performing organizations (90 percent vs. 36 percent). High-performing organizations also waste about 13 times less money than low performers. — PMI Pulse, page 6

Did you know that these top performers used agile techniques more often than other organizations? This use of agile, iterative, and incremental methods drove better organizational agility. In turn, this better agility allows for faster and more effective responses to competitive, technological, regulatory, or other external challenges. PMI found that the most agile delivered against business, cost, and schedule goals between 20 to 50 percent better than the least agile. Agile also means better top and bottom lines: the PMI Pulse report references a MIT study that found agile firms grew revenue 37 percent faster than non-agile firms, while generating 30 percent better profitability.

To that end, PM College has greatly expanded it’s agile curriculum, from the basics, to an Agile Bootcamp, to negotiating Agile vs. Waterfall, to PMI Agile and ScrumMaster certification prep.

Agile principles have a been a lifesaver on a number of my projects and programs. If nothing else, an agile education gets you and your organization thinking and working the agile way…even before you implement any methodology at all.

Practice makes champions: Lessons from Super Bowl 49

When clients or colleagues ask about my passion for simulations or other experiential learning, I go back to the counsel of an old baseball coach. I hated certain fielding drills, because I thought I already knew what do. But Coach reminded me that knowing what to do wasn’t my problem, the problem was that I had to think about it. In other words, when I — or any other fielder — had to recall what to do, we’d often go blank or get nervous.

The value of practice is clear in every field. Among other things, Malcolm Gladwell is famous for his 10,000 hour rule, which is “an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields … you need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good.” Of course, the untalented can’t simply work their way to genius, there must be some natural ability. He does say it doesn’t apply to sports, but I believe that caveat rings hollow if one has actually read Outliers. There are plenty of examples of sports genius manifest through practice, especially in complex team sports. More on this point later…

So what about that Super Bowl? Surely you don’t believe that Malcolm Butler’s last-minute interception was a matter of talent and luck? Let’s go to my favorite football site, Football by Football. Brady Poppinga, a former Packer linebacker, lays out how Butler not only made the play, but he had practiced it repeatedly…and had been beaten on it repeatedly.

Malcolm Butler had been given multiple opportunities to defend that same play in situational practice periods. “I’ve seen the route at practice. And Josh Boyce beat me on it in practice and Bill was telling me, ‘You’ve got to be on it,'” Butler said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “So memorization and preparation took over and I just said jump the route and make the play.”

In a separate interview with ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Butler hit on why practice got him ready — he made his mistakes before the game:

At practice I got beat on that play. I took steps back in the end zone, and when game time came I just didn’t back up. I just had confidence and believed what I saw.

Of course, Butler wouldn’t have even been out there if his coaches hadn’t known he was the right man for the job. His closing speed and fearlessness set him apart, even as a prospect from a small school. Which brings us back to Gladwell’s point about the interdependence of talent and practice. Leaders need to know the talents of their staff, decide on the best roles for those colleagues, then prepare them accordingly. That is what sets the Patriots and Bill Belichick apart. Poppinga’s quote from NFL Network analyst and former Patriot fullback Heath Evans nails it:

“The one thing that makes Bill such a special coach is that he will never ask a player to do anything outside of his own natural play-making ability.”

No amount of practice will make someone excellent at something they can never do well.

McKinsey: Simulation key to how effective organizations build staff capabilities

I’ve seen the impact of leadership development on organizations: it’s why I joined PM College. One of the challenges is to determine which methods work best to drive transformation, or accelerate improvements one has already reaped. Our firm has experience and research that pins this down, but it’s always nice to find a third-party that confirms what we know and believe.

McKinsey to the rescue, with a new survey on “Building Capabilities for Performance.” The survey refreshes data from a 2010 study, and found that:

… the responses to our latest survey on the topic suggest that organizations, to perform at their best, now focus on a different set of capabilities and different groups of employees to develop.

In other words, the best performers did personnel development differently.

What did they do? The first finding that struck me was the use — or disuse — of experiential learning: McKinsey model factories or simulations as examples. The most effective organizations used these methods more than four times more frequently than others. But even then, experiential learning was used sparingly, by just under a quarter of the top performers.

As long-time Crossderry readers know, I’m a big fan of simulations. We had great experience with them at SAP. As McKinsey notes, they are about the only way “to teach adults in an experimental, risk-free environment that fosters exploration and innovation.” To that end, several popular PM College offerings — Managing by Project, its construction-specific flavor, and Leadership in High Performance Teams — use simulations to bring project and leadership challenges alive…without risking real initiatives.

I’ll have more on other success factors — custom content and blended delivery — in following posts.

Leading PM College

FYI, I just accepted a role leading PM College, which is a leadership training group based outside Philadelphia. I’ve known the firm and its owners for 15 years and I’m very excited about the fit.

Thanks to all for your help, both temporal and spiritual!

If you have leadership development needs, you now know where to go! 😊

http://www.pmcollege.com/content/contact-us-0

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