My great company gave me the day last week to attend the 2017 NCPMI Annual Conference.
I like this event a lot as I not only gather a nice handful of PDUs, but get to connect with fellow Project Managers from the area. It’s been hard to attend the monthly sessions and workshops with my schedule lately, so I always like when I can make time for this annual event. Also seeing former colleagues and catching up is always nice.
Overall, I’d say the keynotes this year were much better than last. My favorite was the opening keynote with Chris Stricklin. He is an Air Force pilot who leads Afterburner and has successfully bridged the gap between military leadership and civilian leadership. A lot of great highlights from his speech applied to everyday PM success, especially on the importance of the debrief. So many companies skim over this as they move on to the next project. It was fascinating to hear how from a military standpoint the debrief is one of the most crucial tools to improving performance the very next day.
I attended the morning session on Take the Lead: Manage your investments in Projects. However, it seemed a rehash of an event I went to last year with just some very basic high level overviews of Portfolio Management in companies and why they often don’t succeed. To be honest, I got the least out of this presentation.
I did enjoy the afternoon keynote, Applying Improvisation to your Team, with Kupe Kupersmith. Working in a distributed company, I found a lot of valuable pointers in how he addressed applying improvisation to your team to make sure everyone is always as laser-focused as they can be. I particularly got a lot out his direct suggestions and application of applying improvisation techniques. Think some of these will be very useful to take back to my own. Was a pretty hands on keynote, which I appreciated.
I attnded some other afternoon sessions and while I found some of them rather generic, I did manage to gather some useful information out of all of them. I do find it interesting that PMI still seems to talk about Agile as though its this new thing. However, the soon to be released PMBOK promises to address this more head on, and all I can say is to stay relevant, its about time. Who is not using this everyday at this stage?
I actually found the closing keynote pretty interesting (not an easy task at the end of a long day) and it did address some of the changes coming to the new PMBOK. The Future of Project Management (3.0) while presented in a rather dry tone with somewhat less than stellar slides, actually contained good information. (Speakers and PMI, please attend an Open Source Conference sometime, learn how to keep your audience engaged).
However, the focus of the talk itself was interesting. PM practices are undergoing changes that are being recognized as a significant competitive advantage for the companies that see their operations as managing business by projects. The focus of the talk was on benefits realization and value management. This next generation of PM methodologies addresses companies that want to gain that competitive advantage and replace traditional methodologies (or at least pair them) with value measurement ones. Reporting on the creation of these value reflective metrics through metric driven dashboards is crucial to the success of how companies can do this. Included in this focus is project governance and stakeholder relationship management as each stakeholder will focus on a different value driven metric. I actually found this to be one of the most useful talks of the day as anyone can recognize that data is gold and a project should only be done if it bring business value.
All in all, the conference was well worth attending, but as I’ve said when I compare PMI events to others I attend (I keep mentioning the Open Source conferences as they are just so good) I would urge PMI to step outside of the box just a bit with outlook, reality and how most companies today practice Project Management. There were some encouraging signs this year, but I’d like to see that trend continue to continue to view PMI as a relevant organization.