Insights from the 2016 PMO Symposium

Posted by Don Clarke on 11/29/16 8:30 AM
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I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 PMI PMO Symposium in the warm and sunny city of San Diego from 11/6/16 to 11/9/16. The primary theme of this year’s event was focused on the 2016 PMI Thought Leadership series "Creating Lasting Value - Benefits Realization Management". I have attended this event for a couple of years previously, and find them to be of great value.

General Observations

There was just over 700 people in attendance this year, aside from the normal expectations for networking and educational opportunities there were some interesting observations I came away with.

  1. There were a lot of first time attendees this year. In one session that I attended, when that question was asked, over 80% of the people in the room said it was their first time attending a PMO Symposium. Also, in that same group, their PMO was either just starting or was less than 1 year old. I would say there was 60-80 people in the room for this session. What that tells me, is that more companies are seeing the value and making the investment in creating and staffing a PMO.
  2. There was a new concept made available to attendees to this year’s event. The Knowledge Hubs, which were small round table discussion groups, were held multiple times throughout the event. I took the opportunity to attend some of these and found them to be very engaging. The concept was that an event speaker would lead this small group in a discussion on a specific topic, and the full group would engage and discuss their experiences around that topic. It was interesting to engage and share with others in the more intimate setting. I hope they continue this format at future events.
  3. The abundance of opportunities to take educational sessions on a variety of topics, beyond the core theme, were available and valuable. From personal development sessions, such as "Emotional Intelligence" and "Managing High Performing Teams," to more specific sessions such as "How to Build a Global PMO of the Future" and Benefits Management in an Agile World", you could find sessions that would meet your needs.


Key Note Speakers

The always engaging Keynote Speakers this year brought great messages to the attendees. The opening Keynote speaker, Jim McNerney, Former President and CEO of The Boeing Company, brought a great message on "Leading Innovation". Speaking directly to the rewards and challenges of bringing the Boeing Dreamliner project to life, and how the leadership of Boeing focused on PMO Leaders, Program and Project Managers to bring the vision of this program to life.

Dr. Jonah Berger, speaking on "Invisible Influence - The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior" spoke to the behavior that leaders can encourage and utilize to help their teams be more successful. Who would have ever realized that a restaurant waiter who accurately repeats back your food order in the same tone and order in which it was given, receives an average 70% larger tip because you believe that they have a more direct rapport with you? I am going to have to watch that as I go out to eat for a while to see if the wait staff knows that small behavior, and what it can do for their pocketbook!

On a personal note, I know I am still working on some of the concepts that I took away personally, and hope to continue to remember them going forward. One of the simplest, and one I hope to remind myself of frequently, came from the Emotional Intelligence session. It’s a simple equation. "S + R = E". That stands for "Situation + Response = Experience". A simple reminder that I control the experience of any situation by my response. How I choose to respond to any situation, defines my experience, not the situation itself. Think about that for a while and see if it settles in for you as it did for me.

Overall, the event was a great success. Whether your focus was networking and relationship development, or you focused on expanding your knowledge and learning opportunities, there were many ways for you to come away from this event with renewed enthusiasm in the PMO space.

Don Clarke
Director, Global IT PMO
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Topics: Events