Archive for November, 2010

Last week I gave a presentation “Leadership Principles for Project Success” at the 5th Project Management Congress in Athens, Greece.  The motto of this conference was “Project Leadership in a Project Oriented World”.

There were more than 150 people attending which is considering the relative small size of the PMI Greece Chapter a very large crowd.



Next to me the following project leadership experts were talking:

Dr. Nicholas Clarke,Senior Lecturer at the University of Southampton (UK), was talking about “Emotional Intelligence and Projects”.  It was very informative as Nic gave a very good overview of the various schools of leadership.


My own presentation “Leadership Principles for Project Success” can be downloaded here.

Next came Alfonso Bucero.  He is founder and managing partner of Bucero PM Consulting.  Alfonso is a regular speaker at project management conferences worldwide.  His new book “Today is a Good Day: Attitudes for Achieving Project Success” was at the center of his presentation last week.  Alfonso showed that he has definitely the positive attitude we should all thrive for when there was a full power outage during his presentation.  His first reaction: “Today is a good day!  This is really good for now I can tell you more stories about the right attitude.”  Alfonso walks his own talk.  It was an excellent demonstration of leadership and the right positive attitude.

In the afternoon Dr. Janet Smart, Director of the BT Centre for Major Programme Management, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, entered the stage.  The official title of her presentation was “Projects and Programmes: The Project Manager drives the Change“.  It was fabulous.  She talked about the research projects of CERN and ATLAS.  It was amazing for she showed how these 2 large research projects function successfully without traditional, orthodox project management methodologies.  AGILE at its very best.  I am looking forward to her forthcoming articles on this research at the University of Oxford.

The conference concluded with a panel discussion.  Unfortunately, I could not attend it because I had to catch my flight back to Frankfurt.

All in all, it was an excellent conference.  The PMI Greece Chapter did a wonderful job organizing this event.


Oh, yes, I did get a chance to visit the city and the historic sites, too.  🙂  Yet another reason why I really liked this trip to Athens.  It will not have been my last one I hope.


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We all know that we live in an interdependent world.  This is common sense.  And yet again the proverb that common sense is not common practice holds true.  Recently I observed a project which was headed by an expert in his field.  He knew the business inside out, nurtured a strong network in the industry.  It was no big surprise that he was asked to lead the technical division of a new service offering of the company.  Alas, as much as he knew about the new product and services, he lacked a common project management understanding.  He was so convinced of his own expertise that he willingly ignored the project environment.  He defined his agenda and followed it.  He didn’t bother asking other people for their opinion.  This time he had the chance to prove the world that not only did he understand the business part of the service he also want to show that he knew the technical aspects and how to set up a highly efficient and yet effective technical infrastructure in record time.

There was nothing wrong with this motivation.  As a matter of fact following a vision is a noble thing.  IFF it is shared by others.  Even more important, IFF the vision is built by those who are involved.  Unfortunately this was not the case. The project manager did not share his vision openly, he withheld information from others, dictated his immediate “team” members what to do and micromanaged every step.

The project progressed according to plan.  At least this what his belief and perception were.  Until the first delivery to a sub-team which had to specify and implement “his” solution.  The feedback of this sub-team gave about the concepts submitted to them was devestating.  Little if anything was deemed valuable for implementation.  It was a mess.  It became apparent that the scope was far from being defined, even less approved and shared by all stakeholders.  The project came to a point where it was up to management to decide whether to go ahead nevertheless and fail or to step back for a second and think how to clean up the mess.

The good news was that the latter was the case.  The sub-team invited the project team to walk through every scope item of the project phase, estimated the effort and planned accordingly.  Project work could start anew. Only this time it was based on a common agreed upon scope and project plan.  The first release of the new service was delivered on time.  Alas, it was far from the originally thought scope of the project manager.

There were quite a few things the project manager did wrong.  As mentioned at the outset of this post, interdependence is not a mere buzz word.  It is reality.  You are foolish if you ignore it.  In the case descriped the project manager and the whole project would have faired much better if the project manager would have spent his energy on building a common vision, sharing information and winning the necessary support for his ideas.  Instead, he saved his energy for his own agenda, got lost in political power struggles he set up and in the process set up the project for failure.

Interdependence is all around us.  Open your eyes, identify your playing field and players and involve them.  For the better of the project.  For this what a good project manager does – care for his project and team members and not follow his own agenda.

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There are so many reasons to attend PMI’s Global Congresses. To learn about new trends, share lessons learned, networking – and meeting friends.  Returning to these conferences is like homecoming. There is a family of presenters which happen to speak and attend the Congresses year in and year out.  And this is fabulous.  Two of these experts I feel honored to call friends are Randy Englund and Alfonso Bucero.

Randy, Thomas and Alfonso

This year Randy was talking about how to negotiate with your project sponsor.  Alfonso’s presentation was entitled “Get out There and Fail: The Projecct Manager Persistence”; it was a reminder how important it is for project managers to keep a positive attitude.

If you ever get a chance to attend a PMI Global Congress, try to attend Randy’s and Alfonso’s presentations.  You learn a lot and the presentation styles are refreshing and innovative.  They are true role models of sharing project management expertise.

If you happen to attend the Project Management Conference in Athens, Greece, on November 25, you will get the chance to listen to Alfonso and myself.  See you thee or at the next Global Congress in Dublin in May 2011.

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