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2011 – Going Strong – A Review of a Great Year




The big and typical question you ask yourself at the end of the year how the past 12 months were, how you faired.  This year it is a simple question to answer: yes, it was a great year!  Or, shall I say another great year.  Most of my consulting this year was for an internet service provider in Karlsruhe.  Not only did were these consulting engagements challenging and intellectually rewarding it was and is convenient to our family for it is only a 35 minutes commute from Heidelberg to Karlsruhe.  One of the main reasons I am very grateful for this consulting opportunity.

Next to consulting I have been giving seminars, webinars, podcasts, presentations and interviews on numerous topics such as leadership, collaboration, learning project organizations, ethics, agile product development, team building, innovation, project management, and empowerment.  The main conferences I attended and spoke at were the PMI Global Congresses in Dublin and Dallas and the NASA Project Management Challenge in Long Beach, CA.  Wonderful events.  I can encourage every professional project managers to attend at least one of these conferences.  The learning is exceptional as are networking opportunities.

One of the major milestones in 2011 was the founding of i-Sparks I founded this summer.  i-Sparks is an open online innovation and learning community that facilitates innovation across entire systems. It provides a platform for people and institutions to discover, develop, and test new ways of operating and to put their ideas to work.  i-Sparks aims at every person or institution which is motivated to understand the root causes of today’s and tomorrow’s challenges, to rethink how people and institutions live and operate, and thus to create opportunities for redesigning business models and social change protocols, working more collaboratively across groups, institutions and sectors.

At present we are working on a first prototype which we plan to launch this coming spring.  Stay tuned and follow us on our website www.i-sparks.com.

Business is only one element in our life though it absorbs most of it these days.  Luckily there are the welcome breaks called vacation.  Have a look at my online photo albums for impressions of Long Beach,

Vail,

Vals

and South Tyrol.

So, what about next year?  The outlook is more than promising.  It is funny that lots of people talk about an economic crisis.  Unemployment is at a record low in southern Germany, economic growth is strong, the overall atmosphere and outlook are positive.  And yet other European countries and their economies are struggling.  There are numerous reasons for this imbalance.  I don’t want to start this debate.  What is worrying however is that people, i.e., European politicians and so-called experts, continue to talk about the dawn of another recession in Germany.  This, of course, can have an impact – psychologically.  Rationally and ethically, this chitchat is not comprehensible.  Let’s see what next year will bring.  I am optimistic and hope you too share this enthusiasm.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted in: Agile, Book, Empowerment, innovation, Keynotes, Leadership, Miscellaneous, Project Management, TJEP company

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Handout for today’s webinar “Ethics and Project Success”


Join me today for my free webinar “Ethics and Project Success” which I will be conducting for the Ethics in Project Management Community of Practice of PMI on December 21, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM Local Time (UTC +0100) (1 hour), i.e., 12 noon EST.  What will it be about?  Let me share with you the abstract:

We all need and thrive for project success. But what does it take to get there? There is no doubt that good project management is a critical success factor. But is it really sufficient? I don’t think so. I claim that effective project management needs to have a solid foundation in holistic leadership. This leadership is embedded in strong project management skills, personal leadership, teamwork, and last but not least, a solid understanding and honest practice of the four codes of ethics, namely: respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility.
Based on my own experience having managed projects of all sizes, from a few to 24000 person days effort in various industries, I identify 5 team leadership principles that put the code of ethics into the context of high-performance teams. They include building a common project vision, nurturing team collaboration, promoting team performance, cultivating team learning, and ensuring team delivery. These 5 principles combined with the 4 codes of ethics encompass the core of effective and holistic team leadership. The webinar will present these principles and show how they can help build and manage a performing and winning team, thus building project success.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/c27grmq to register for this free webinar.  A handout of the presentation is available here.

Posted in: Empowerment, Leadership, Project Management

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Empowerment: The Path to More Responsibilities and Better Results in Less Time


To those of us who are used to empowerment, may it be that we empower people and organizations or that we are empowered by others, it may have become the natural way to conduct daily business.  On the other side, to those who are used to a more “traditional” management style (managing top-down), empowerment may look like an esoteric phenomenon.  Having to transition to empowering management and leadership style is hence even more disquieting to them.  But why?

Knowing the power and the rewards of empowering people and organizations it can be hard to comprehend when you are faced with opposition to transitioning to empowering.  I have witnessed this transition in several occasions when I advised clients how to introduce agile software development frameworks thus shifting the organization to a more customer-focused and business driven IT organization.  Software development is one of the most innovative areas you can work in.  Hence, it is even more surprising to observe that lots of people working in this area are actually skeptical of trying new approaches.  It goes like, “I am innovative, so don’t tell me that I have to change the way I am working.”  Funny and scary at the same time.  One of the most prominent reservation is that people with line responsibility, i.e., having disciplinary authority over other employees, think that transitioning to an empowerment management and leadership style will diminish their responsibility and sphere of influence.  Fact is:  just the opposite is the case.  Empowering your own subordinates yields more power and influence than traditional management and leadership styles.  How come?  By empowering your subordinates you promote performance.  You are no longer sidetracked by micromanagement.  You share the necessary information and supply the required resources so that they can do their job.  You define the desired outcome; then let go, i.e., let them organize how they work.  For it is the result you are interested in.  In most cases, this procedure is less time-consuming and less strenuous than micromanaging.  You get more for less work.  This by itself is a valuable benefit.

So what about decreased responsibility on your part?  The truth is that your responsibilities increase when you empower people and organizations.  You have to ensure that the empowerees have the information, tools, resources needed to their job.  You remove impediments and thus level the path to successful deliveries.  This is a huge responsibility.  The way you handle this provides you with more influence and authority.  By building your team you simultaneously build a foundation for “power” and control.  Not in the negative sense, but in a positive and empowering way.  You control the success of those you empower by the mere act of empowering them.  You build a structure that promotes performance and yields greater returns in less time.

If you are new to the concept of empowerment this may sound like a fairy tale.  I encourage you to give it a try, say, 3-4 weeks, and then see what happens.  Tell your people about your plans, involve them and seek advice from the outside facilitating this experiment.  Remove yourself from the equation in that you shift your focus from micromanaging and controlling to empowering your people and organization.  If the outcomes are suboptimal you can still go back to your own traditional management style.  But before you do, give those whom you empowered a chance to talk about their experiences, too.  This experiment costs little if anything.  This way you have nothing to lose.  A safe bet with huge potential returns.  Give it a try!

Posted in: Centeredness, Empowerment, Leadership, Project Management

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Ethics and Project Success – Free Webinar on Dec 21


I invite you to my new webinar “Ethics and Project Success” which I will be conducting for the Ethics in Project Management Community of Practice of PMI on December 21, 2011 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM Local Time (UTC +0100) (1 hour), i.e., 12 noon EST.  What will it be about?  Let me share with you the abstract:

We all need and thrive for project success. But what does it take to get there? There is no doubt that good project management is a critical success factor. But is it really sufficient? I don’t think so. I claim that effective project management needs to have a solid foundation in holistic leadership. This leadership is embedded in strong project management skills, personal leadership, teamwork, and last but not least, a solid understanding and honest practice of the four codes of ethics, namely: respect, honesty, fairness, and responsibility.
Based on my own experience having managed projects of all sizes, from a few to 24000 person days effort in various industries, I identify 5 team leadership principles that put the code of ethics into the context of high-performance teams. They include building a common project vision, nurturing team collaboration, promoting team performance, cultivating team learning, and ensuring team delivery. These 5 principles combined with the 4 codes of ethics encompass the core of effective and holistic team leadership. The webinar will present these principles and show how they can help build and manage a performing and winning team, thus building project success.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/c27grmq to register for this free webinar.

Posted in: Book, Centeredness, Empowerment, Keynotes, Project Management, Tools

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The 2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas – Part 3 – Take-Aways from Sessions on Leadership, Project Winners, the Learning Project Organization, and the future PMO


This is the third part of my impressions of the 2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas.  Part 1 talks about the conference setup.  Part 2 covers my lessons learned from sessions on sustainability, ethics, innovation, and Agile.

In this 3rd part I am talking about my takeaways from sessions about Leadership, Project Winners, the Learning Project Organization, and the future PMO.  Happy reading!

Leadership

Slides of my own session “SFT02 – The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success – Part of Leadership Community Track” are available for download as well as on Slideshare.  Both Links are available on my blog.

Michael O’Brochta’s session “PRJ09 – Leadership Essentials for Project Management ProfessionalsPart of Leadership Community Track

What else can I say about any of Michael’s sessions?  You have to attend them.  They are and Michael is AWESOME.

Here are some of my tweets and insights I took away from this exceptional session:

  • Servant leadership: how can I help? What can I do to help?
  • Powerful leadership styles: collaboration, trust, empathy, ethical use of power
  • Situational leadership: participating, selling, telling, delegating
  • Transformational leadership behavior: inspiring change beyond self-interest
  • PMP + Leadership = Success
Thomas Juli and Michael O'Brochta

Thomas Juli and Michael O'Brochta

Lazy Project Managers

Peter Taylor’s session “ISS09 – The Lazy Project Manager Salutes the Project Superstars

Peter Taylor explains why we should think of us as superstars.  Why?  Because project management is – or shall we say, ought to be – more prevalent than most of think.

One of my tweets during this great session was:

  • Famous historical project managers: Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford, Nelson Mandela

The Learning Project Organization

Slides of my second presentation “ISS13 – The Learning Project Organization Part of Learning, Education & Development Community Track” can be downloaded from my blog at  or viewed on Slideshare.

The Future PMO

What I have said about Michael O’Brochta applies to Jack Duggal, too.  His sessions fall in the category “Must attend”.  In Dallas Jack talked about “Reinventing the PMO for the Next Decade”.

My tweets during this session included:

  • A high degree of compliance (80% and more) to project management processes did not correlate to project success, according to a recent study by Jack Duggal.
  • Today’s project environment: Dynamic and changing, ambiguous and uncertain, non-linear, complex, emerging
  • Bob Dylan: If you are not busy being born, you are busy dying.
  • The focus of the future PMO will and has to change:
From focus on … to focus on …
Service & support Ownership & accountability
Delivery Adoption and usability
Delivery-oriented governance Business-oriented governance
Delivery of projects & deliverables Benefits revitalization and value
Configuration-oriented change management Change leadership
Dealing with the pain of the day Holistic, balanced and adaptive approach

… what about the other sessions?

There were so many sessions I wanted to attend.  Often it has been very difficult to make a choice.  Luckily there are papers and presentations to download from the Congress’ websites.

Future Congresses

Oh yes, there will be many Congresses to come. And I hope that I too can participate in them.

So, tell me and all other readers what you have experienced in Dallas.  What were your highlights?  What did you miss?  And what did you take away from the Congress?

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, innovation, Keynotes, Leadership, Miscellaneous, Project Management, Uncategorized

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2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas – Part 2 – Take-Aways from Sessions on Sustainability, Ethics, Innovation, and Agile


This is the second part of my impressions of the 2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas.  Part 1 talks about the conference setup.  You can read it here.

In this second part I am talking about my takeaways from the sessions I attended.  In other words, what have I learned?

Sustainability

On Saturday Oct 21 I attended the day-long research workshop “Sustainability and Project Management”.  It was a good mix of lecture, workshop / breakouts, discussions. If you prefer smaller crowds and like interactive sessions, these research workshops can be very good choice.  My own expectations were met.  Alas, it would have been nice if reading material would have been made available prior to the Congress.  Something PMI and future hosts should seriously consider.

Insights I tweeted during the workshop:

  • Corporations will not survive without embracing sustainability.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage. It hence makes holistic rather than one-dimensional investment analysis mandatory.
  • Accounting for sustainability principles ensures a holistic project setup.
  • Frame projects as learning opportunities.
  • Benefits of considering sustainability principles: cope with the complexity and dynamics of projects.
  • Investing in sustainability means having greater flexibility and more options in the future.
  • Sustainability is about effective project management and opportunities.
  • Understanding the project goals the desired sustainable outcomes forces innovation and out of the box thinking.
  • Sustainability requires a holistic management and leadership approach.

Ethics

PRJ15 – Really…Are You a Professional Project Manager? Presented by the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Implementation Advisory Committee (CIAC)

Speakers: Christiaan Kindermans, MSc, PMP; Saji Madapat, MBA, CSSMBB, PMP; Peter Pfeiffer, PhD, PMP; Michael O’Brochta, MPM, PMP

This session was a pleasant surprise.  Not only was the content really valuable, the structure of the session was wonderful, involved attendants from the very beginning.  After a few Pecha-Kucha style presentations (3-5 minutes each) the audience split into 4 groups discussing how to improve applying the code of ethics (1) responsibility, 2) honesty, 3) fairness, 4) respect) in our everyday project life.  Each group discussed the various codes for 5 minutes, then moved on to the next topic.  The session concluded with the presentation of the group discussions.

This session was exceptionally well prepared.  It proves that you can interact even with a big audience and get a lot out of 75 minutes.  Congrats!

My tweets during this session included:

  • You will attract more with honey than will vinegar. Hence, lead through your own positive example.
  • Saying what you mean and meaning what you say = integrity.
  • Opposite of professional conduct? An empty suit.

Maxwell Gladwell’s Keynote on innovation and the right organizational culture

Excellent keynote if you are interested in innovation in your project environment.  I loved it.

My tweets during this session:

  • You have to understand the social dimension of technology.
  • Innovation is a mass phenomenon and not an elite one.
  • We privilege resources too much.
  • Innovative tweakers take someone else’s ideas and turn them into money makers.  Perfect example: Google.

Want to learn more of what I am thinking and doing about innovation?  – Visit and follow www.i-sparks.com.

Agile

TRN10 – Agile Collaboration in a Virtual World: Harnessing Social Media, Web 2.0 and Beyond Presented by PMI’s New Media Counsel

Speakers: Elizabeth Harrin; Cornelius Fichtner; and (sorry, forgot the name of the 3rd speaker)

Very good session.  It was hands-on.  The speakers did not elaborate on abstract theories but covered what matters in day-to-day work when you are working with and for virtual teams in an agile setting.

Among my tweets during this session was:

  • The best architecture, requirements and design emerge from self-organizing teams.  However, even self-organizing teams still need a strategic decision.

Jesse Fewell’s session “PRJ26 – Fixed Price Agile Projects: Making the Impossible Possible Part of Agile Community Track

Boy, let me tell you Jesse does understand and live Agile. He is the person to go to if you have any questions about Agile.  Excellent session!  Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your experience.

——

Part III of my impressions and take-aways coming soon.  Topics will include leadership, the lazy project manager, the learning project organization, the future PMO, and upcoming conferences.  Stay tuned!

Posted in: Agile, innovation, Keynotes, Miscellaneous, Project Management

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The 2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas – What a great event! – Part 1


The 2011 PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas is history.  Time to look back and see what I took back from this conference.  Overall, it was yet another GREAT conference.  It is impossible to describe all impressions and lessons learned.  It would fill volumes.  Since unfortunately I don’t have this time I will limit myself to the most significant take aways.  Here we go.

Networking, networking, networking

If there is one good reason to attend the PMI Global Congress it is networking.  Where else can you meet thousands of people working in project management, share experiences and learn.  If you are seriously interested in the project management profession attending such a big conference is a must at least every other year.

Sessions, sessions, sessions – which to choose?

There are so many sessions to choose from it is easy to get lost.  This is especially so if you attend a Congress for the first time.  My advice:  come prepared.  Take the time to read the abstracts of the sessions which sound interesting to you, then make your decision.  If you find out after a few minutes the session is not what you expected from it, it is up to you.  You can always stay for maybe you learn something after all.  Or you jump up and escape before it is too late. Unfortunately, this happened to me in one occasion (SFT11). Rather than an interactive session it was a lecture where the two folks were reading a transcript.  Disastrous and a waste of time for I can always read the article (which, by the way, is excellent and worth reading. I wish the presentation would have come close to it.  It didn’t).  It is faster and I may even get more out of it.
A conference is about content and the presentation.  – The good news is that most sessions are indeed worth attending.  At least this has been my experience.

Venue – in Texas everything is bigger than anywhere else

The Gaylord Convention Center is no exception.  It is BIG.  For those people who could stay at the hotel it was a convenient walk to the conference halls.  For the rest of us, either we were lucky to stay at hotels with shuttle-service, we took cabs or drove.  The Gaylord is in the middle of nowhere.  Personally, this year I didn’t mind at all as I was not really too interested in the city of Dallas or Fort Worth.  Still, if you wanted to go elsewhere in the evening, choices were limited.  Fortunately, next year’s Congress will not be at another Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.  Instead, we will be in beautiful Vancouver.

Exhibition Hall – so much to see

The exhibition hall was just as big as last year’s.  It takes some time to see everything.  Either you focus on a select few or skip one or two sessions to visit all booths.  It would be nice if the Exhibition Halls would open earlier and stay up open longer.  A feedback I heard from many other people.  Will see if PMI takes this feedback seriously.

Do you twitter?

It is interesting to see / read how many participants have twittered about the event.  A trend which could be observed during the last 2 or 3 conferences.  The more people carry their iPads with them, the more they seem to twitter.  Maybe I have to get one of them in the near future for typing with your Blackberry is not that much fun.

If you are interested in my tweets, my twitter alias is @thomasjuli.

 

To come in part 2 following:  Insights from the sessions I attended; topics include sustainability ethics in project management, agile, leadership, innovation, and PMO.

Posted in: Keynotes, Miscellaneous, Project Management

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Free Webinar “The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success”, Oct 5, 12 PM EST

On October 5, 2011 I will conduct a one hour webinar entitled “The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success”.
What is it about?
We all need and thrive for successful projects.  But what does it take to get there?  There is no doubt that good project management is a critical success factor.  But is it really sufficient?  I don’t think so.  I claim that effective project management needs to have a solid foundation in project leadership AND team work.  It takes a performing team to run a project successfully.  And it takes effective leadership to empower the team to do so.  This is why team building is a decisive factor for project success. 
Webinar Date: Wednesday October 5th 2011
Webinar Time: 12:00PM EST (Eastern Daylight Saving Time USA/Canada)
Webinar Duration: 1hour

Webinar Title: The 5 Team Leadership Principles for Project Success  
Webinar Presenter  Dr Thomas Juli

To Registerhttp://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=82418

WebCast Log-In Instructions for Participants:
For your reference, all participants will log into the Webcast via the following registration URL: http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=82418
As a reminder, participants will hear the audio via their computer speakers If participants are unable to hear the audio via their computer speakers, would prefer to listen via their telephone, please have them call the following phone number at anytime.
Dial-In Instructions for all Participants:
Toll-Free (US & Canada):  (888) 567-1603
International Dial-In (Toll):  (201) 604-5052
Callers will reference the PMI  webcast.

Posted in: Empowerment, Keynotes, Leadership, PMI Congress, Project Management, Training

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Why Agile Fails Without a Common Vision


It was a crystal-clear mission.  Thought the management.  Develop and launch a new software product.  The project objectives were defined and announced.  It was not the first time the various teams from product development, software development, IT operations, marketing and sales faced a challenge this big.  After all, processes were defined and worked in the past.  Still, this time things were different.  Given that product requirements were permanently in a flux and management wanted to have the flexibility to react to changing market demands all team teams agreed to embrace an agile approach to product development.  That is, software was planned to be rolled out every 2-3 weeks rather than at the end of the project in a big bang.  Dedicated teams were formed, regular stand-up meetings to synchronize the teams were set up.  From an organizational point of view things were well prepared.

And yet, things did not quite work out as planned:  Software could not be rolled out every other week because the various teams did not synchronize their efforts across teams.  There was a widening gap between the functional teams, i.e., between the requirements side, the software development teams, marketing, sales and IT Ops.  Information was not openly shared and got lost in translation between teams and organizations.  While some teams applied Scrum for software development, IT operations and other software development teams favored a sequential waterfall approach and blocked all agile efforts.  In consequence, gained productivity gains from agile teams evaporated in conjunction with non-agile teams.  In addition, there was disagreement about what would happen after the product launch.

There were a number of reasons for the suboptimal outcome.  Project objectives were clearly defined at the beginning of the project.  Alas, some project objectives competed against others, were not compatible or did not account for other dependent projects and organizations.  Plus, there was no common vision of the product in the first place which would have given every team a direction of the journey.  When you asked 3 or 4 teams about the vision of the product and project you got 3-4 different answers.  Productive teams were moving into different directions.  Energy and effort were wasted.

At the end of the day, project objectives were achieved.  The product launch was successful.  However, overall spent effort was much greater than principally possible and originally thought.  Consequently, team morale and confidence in agile product development approaches were at fairly low levels.

This need not be the case.  When you choose an agile approach to product development the first and foremost thing you have to ensure at the very beginning of your endeavor is making sure that people and organizations involved in this project have the same vision and share the same values.  In other words, invest time with your teams to develop this vision and let them share it with others.  Developing a project or product vision which works requires involving all key parties that will actively work on and in your project.  This process may be time-consuming.  But it pays off.  If you cut it short for short-term gains, chances are you will have to pay the bill in the form of greater effort toward the end of your project. 

Posted in: Agile, Project Management

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Project Management Zen: Project Success Requires Project Failure


If project success is the opposite of project failure, what does failure mean?  How do you define it?  What does it encompass and how do you feel about it? – These are not fake questions.  They are serious and they are meant to be answered.  For, if success is the driving force in our projects, we should be able to describe what the opposite of success is about.   Is it so that the fear of failure moves us to action?  Can we start a project and act without being discontent with a situation?

I have come to the understanding that without an imbalance in a present situation it is very, very difficult to proceed and virtually impossible to motivate others to follow you.  There needs to be a creative tension between the status quo and the desired outcome.  And, you and those who follow you or vice versa need to understand the purpose of the journey, need to be able to identify themselves with the cause.  I want to go a step further and state that it is not sufficient if this identification is purely on the rational level.  Instead, you need to be able to relate to it on an emotional and sometimes even deeper level, let’s call it a “spiritual” level.

In order to develop this creative tension you need to understand the cause(s) of the present situation and the desired state.  Why are you dissatisfied with the status quo?  Who is affected by it and how?  What happens if nothing changes? Then juxtapose those questions with the following:  what is the ideal, desired state you want to be in?  Why?  Who benefits from it and how?
Once you have come up with responses which satisfy you and those around you, proceed to the next question: what does it take to get to the desired state?

Posted in: Centeredness, Project failure, Project Management

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