This past Friday, both of us (Kristi Kuetemeier and Justin Rowe) along with our recruiting team had the pleasure of attending this year’s PMI Symposium hosted by the PMI Mile Hi chapter. The event itself was attended by around 1,500 local project and program managers from the Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs metro areas as well as other municipalities within Colorado and neighboring states. In addition, Lewis Fowler sponsored a booth for the chapter, marketing our organization, capabilities and team members.
In this post we discuss the highlights we captured from the event.
The Symposium kicked off with an outstanding presentation by a group of former military personnel from all branches called Afterburner Consulting. This team captured management experiences and leadership practices from their time serving their country. They defined their process documenting, communicating and demonstrating these practices to non-military leadership throughout a variety of businesses, aiming to improve their overall ability to plan and execute their strategies. Afterburner’s ability to perform at high-levels within any engagement was translated into a four-step process defined by “Plan, Brief, Execute and Debrief”. Each step was broken down into individual actions where organizational leaders, especially in the Project Management space, can include these basic tasks into their daily operations.
During this first session, the Afterburner team provided examples of how they performed these activities and the expected outcomes they should provide if implemented correctly. They emphasized continuous identification into team member strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to the overall business mission and defined strategies. I was impressed by their team’s ability to translate these military-focused actions to the commercial sector, defining how to scale planning and execution dependent on the size and complexity of the project, especially during times of uncertainty and ambiguity. The presentation was concluded by their ability to discuss performance outcomes, what went right and wrong and future actions to take during the debrief, actions that should be performed consistently and without judgment towards any team member.
Throughout the day, there were other breakout sessions to attend, all related to improving hard and soft skills within Project Management as well as instructing new capabilities and techniques that are being integrated into the PM community. One presentation Justin attended was “Project Management in the C-Suite”, assimilating Project Management people, process and technologies into organizational strategy planning and execution, company products being sold as well as how Project Managers can exercise project leadership throughout multiple phases of stakeholder engagement. During this presentation, there was emphasis on C-level executives having more experience in Project Management than ever before and how important this is to understand the purpose of the PMO and how projects are governed and sponsored. At Lewis Fowler, we feel this topic is very critical to defining the legacy of PMOs, to continuously link the PMO to the business, more than just projects managed, but integrated to business-driven decision making and having a voice into the prioritization and selection of business-aligned projects.
Another breakout session Kristi attended called “Linking Strategy to Projects”. This session outlined case studies of various sizes and practical tool examples to demonstrate how to align project requests to the company strategy. Also, it highlighted how critical it is to represent the demand management alignment to strategic information so that businesses can make data-driven decisions regarding what to work on. The premise of the session was to show how this activity is the first step to a successful project. We agree that project alignment to Strategy is critical to company success. Not only does it help team members understand why a project is important but it is a deliberate tie to furthering the purposeful direction of a company. Determining what to work on, and sometimes more importantly what NOT to work on, is critical to getting the most out of limited company resources.
In all, this Symposium focused on Project Management topics that are influencing the direction of the practice such as Organizational Change Management, improving leadership skills, progress and trends around the use of Agile Project Management, and embedding strategic thinking around all Project Management processes. Like our colleagues in attendance, we aimed to walk away with important and valuable insight into what is going on within our field and how we can apply thought leadership into our practices within the PMO. Lewis Fowler was built upon the foundation of Project and Portfolio Management, integrating a forward-thinking mindset to ensure innovation and empowerment is continuously performed through the project lifecycle and how our team members can lead their teams to success within each and every project they perform.