.ru Ready?

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

Two recent experiences resulted in the title of this article: First, we were recently in Russia to keynote a very successful Project Management conference, and .ru is the national web domain for Russia. Second, we recently saw the latest updates in Project Management Institute’s “Are You Ready?” campaign. For the last few years, they have been pivoting to embrace the leadership/behavioral and context/strategic linkage aspects long-advocated by IPMA, International Project Management Association.

I especially appreciate this pivoting action because these were our PM consulting firm’s (Goff Associates, Inc., the ProjectExperts) key differentiators from the early 1980s. Our clients’ success was based on their early embrace of the importance of these demonstrated competences. And, I have long-fought for the consistent application of the factors that make the greatest difference in project and organizational success–even in the era when they were a difficult sale. It’s about time all professional associations recognize the importance of these factors for success!

Project Management 2013: Mission Possible!
The conference, organized by infor-media Russia, and held at the Swissotel Krasnye Holmy Moscow, was very well-managed, interesting, and informative. Among the most interesting parts was the level of experience of most participants–truly outstanding, compared to many events I have participated in. It is an audience similar to the high level of sophistication of the UT Dallas PM Symposium, the PMO Symposium, and of course, our IPMA World Congress. As kick-off keynote speaker, my primary role was completed early in the event (except for a panel later in the morning), so I had the opportunity to relax, observe and enjoy the other presentations.

So why was I in Russia, keynoting a major PM conference? Because this is a highly visible event, and SOVNET, IPMA-Russia, arranged for me to bring the IPMA global perspective, giving one of my “Stacy speeches.” SOVNET President Alexey Polkovnikov and past IPMA Executive Board member Alexandr Tovb made sure I was able to not only participate in the conference, but had the opportunity to see some of the major attractions of Moscow.

It was interesting to see the presentation style and content of speakers such as Alexander Pavlov, Managing Partner of PM Experts (not related to ProjectExperts), a Russian training company; the Project Manager responsible for a just-finished stage of the Sochi Olympics; government experts who are bringing innovations to project management; and many others. As an advocate of audience engagement, I especially appreciated the openness of the conference participants in asking tough questions of the speakers, especially those in high government positions.

One of the presentations covered survey results that identified which PM methodology was most often used by respondents. In the most interesting findings, over 60% of respondents used “the PM Institute methodology.” Only 2% used “the IPMA methodology.” Repeat readers of my articles and posts will understand the irony of these survey results: A body of knowledge is not a methodology, and IPMA is universal, and essenstial–given PM Institute’s latest pivot, mentioned above–across all methodologies: IPMA’s competence-based approaches, not just knowledge about methods, remain as its differentiation. See What Is A PM Methodology? A Search for Efficiency, Consistency and Performance, for deeper insights into what is, and what is not, a PM methodology.

Are You Ready for the Talent Triangle?
We have watched for the last several years as the PM Institute has moved to embrace IPMA’s grasp of the full range of competences needed for project and organization success. Last Spring, in A Health-Check for Our PPM Practice (near the end of the article) we traced the Institute’s recent discovery that projects require more than technical knowledge to deliver the needed results. This is good for their business, their members, and for the practice of project management. Now, if the pivot follows through, I’d expect these more appropriate practices of Project Management to more often meet executive expectations.

At the North America Global Congress, the pivot appears to be nearly complete. The “new” Talent Triangle proclaims that there is more to project management than technical knowledge areas. The practice of project management can now move beyond triple constraints and golden triangles. Of course, ICB3 Project Manager Gerrit Koch made this point in an experts panel at the 2005 IPMA World Congress, in Delhi, India, when he stated “The Golden Triangle is Obsolete.” Dr. Martin Barnes, also on the panel, agreed. Dr. Barnes originated the triple constraint in the late 1960s.

This move finally acknowledges, at least at the knowledge level, the rest of the story for project success. As mentioned above, we have long proclaimed that business savvy and strategic linkage, plus interpersonal and leadership skills and demonstrated competences (not just knowledge) are 90% of project and business success. And now these factors are added to the Talent Triangle, moving us beyond the “triple constraint.” Perhaps, as this significant change begins to affect other associations’ certification practices, we will begin to see needed improvements in project and organization performance.

We salute this change in position, and support it. This will not be an overnight change; it will be difficult for some project managers. It will be difficult for some training organizations, because soft skills are hard to learn. On the other hand, it will be easy for other trainers, who have all-along understood the full spectrum of skills and competences needed for business results, through projects. And it will be easy for the most competent and performing project and program managers–those who are savvy enough that they have been demonstrating these insights all along. Of course, these are the ones who are most qualified for IPMA-USA’s advanced PM Certifications.

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