ipma-usa logo Welcome to IPMA-USA's March-April, 2015 Newsletter!


This opt-in Newsletter is from IPMA-USA, the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management. We are the USA member association of the International Project Management Association. Enjoy!

In This Issue
1. PM Change Agents Blog, Exploding the Myth of PM Best Practices
2. IPMA-USA Seeks Board Candidates for June, 2015 Elections
3. IPMA World Congress in Panama; Event Update
4. IPMA-USA's Shiny New Website; Featuring PRO
5. IPMA News and Updates From Around the World
6. Book Review: Light up the TEAM FIRE, by Majer-Schaden-Stabauer
7. Profession News From PM World Journal
8. Featuring Tim Herd in Our Series on Leadership

1. PM Change Agents Blog, by IPMA-USA President Stacy Goff
Our Change Agents blog embraces the change that the practice of Project Management brings to the USA, and to society. We post below a teaser from this month's blog posting; click the bold heading to see our latest.

Exploding the Myth of PM Best Practices
What are the Best Practices in the world of project and program management (PPM)? Are there a few immutable truths that are transferable across nations, organizations, industries, cultures, and project teams? I often see assertions promoting PM Best Practices--despite my belief that the phrase is an oxymoron--that our discipline is not yet mature enough to have universal best practices. best_practiceThis article is a recap of many discussions on best practices over my years as a PM practitioner, then as a consultant.

My opinions about PM Best Practices go back to the early 1980s, when, as a PPM consultant, I frequently encountered executives, line managers, project managers, and other consultants, who expected to hear my handful of easy-to-implement "PM Best Practices."

In that era, I often made recommendations for improved effectiveness, but I called them "Competitive Practices." And I usually sought, uncovered, and identified them from within their own organizations. I understood over thirty years ago that one organization's best practices could be a scourge for others. Here's why ... More

Follow-up note: We also posted this article at LinkedIn's blogsite, and it immediately triggered a spirited discussion. And, as of this newsletter publish date, it already had 710 views.

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2. IPMA-USA Seeks Board Candidates for June, 2015 Elections
As you know, IPMA-USA is a professional organization dedicated to the improvement of our practice, and run by volunteers from the project management community. These member volunteers drive the strategy and direction of our organization. We base our efforts on what our members and our stakeholders see as the most pressing problems facing the practice of project management.

Each year a third of our Directors and Officers come to the end of their terms and we call upon IPMA-USA members with vision, energy, and who are willing to serve, to take their place. The Board is currently accepting nominations for the positions listed below. Each position serves a three-year term; you can click on a position below to learn more about it.

This year's election is planned for the end of June. If you wish to nominate yourself, or someone else (with their permission) please review the Responsibilities and Duties (follow the links provided above). Then, submit a photograph and a short Statement of Qualifications and Statement of Goals for the position. These will be included in the IPMA-USA website and with links in the election ballot.

Thank you!
Stacy Goff, President -- IPMA-USA (IPMA-USA)
Reply to Stacy

Energetic Team Members Needed
A great way to serve IPMA-USA, and the practice of project management, is to support each of these our teams. Here are the teams that are working on projects for the next year:

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3. IPMA World Congress in Panama; Event Update: Join Us September 28-30, 2015
Westin Playa BonitaPanama City, Panama – Plan now to join us in Panama, for the first-ever American IPMA World Congress! While this global peak experience has been held in Australia, India and China, in addition to European offerings, this is the first time that it has come to The New World.

The theme is project, program, and portfolio management in a multicultural context and Panama, where North and South America meet, is a perfect venue! The preliminary program is now set, discounted hotel rates are published (scroll down to Hotel Registration; then see Link WPB, for Westin Playa Bonita). Registration is now open, and Early Bird discount rates are good through June 30.

And, this is the 50th Anniversary of IPMA, so there will also be many additional activities. For those who are interested in Young Crew, IPMA's young project leaders program, see the agenda for our September 26-28 Global Young Crew Workshop.

Important dates

Learn More at the IPMA 2015 World Congress Website! See you in Panama, 28-30 Sept.

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4. IPMA-USA's Shiny New Website; Featuring PRO
If you have not stopped by to see our website lately, you should come visit. Boasting a combination of increased accessibility, richer information about our IPMA Certification program, and a more modern face (and responsive--meaning it works equally well on mobile devices), we think you'll like what you see! We had a face-lift in 2010, but this time it was a complete overhaul, fully replacing some items that have been in place since 2001. In this issue, we highlight PRO, our Performance Rated Organization standard--an effective, and light-footprint organizational assessment.

Background
PRO StandardBeginning in 2006, our PRO study team (a group of IPMA-USA and industry leaders) compared the professional assessments we had performed since the early 1980s with the overly-burdensome, horde-of-consultants 'pm maturity model' assessments. These models, based on useful information technology maturity models were translated to the project context and sold by consultancies and professional associations for the last decade. Our research uncovered hundreds of offerings, some of which were useful: for example, the excellent work of Darci Prado/Russ Archibald. Many of the rest had produced little value. Not only that, but their time demands of key organizational talent, plus their cost, had created aversion to anything like the useful organizational assessment our study group members had performed for over 30 years.

Se we asked these questions:

  1. Who is the audience for Project/Program Organizational Performance Assessment?
  2. What are their compelling business needs about project and program management?
  3. How do top executives use the results to improve our practices' role in strategic change?
  4. How can a list of recommendations improve organization performance through projects and programs?
  5. What does it take to institutionalize the needed organizational changes?
  6. What is the organization's benefit? And, should organizations be certified as "performing?"
  7. Should this new enterprise powertool be administered externally, internally, or a combination?
  8. How can we produce the most viable guidance for the lowest cost and organizational impact?
  9. How do we differentiate our process from the hundreds of others?

Ours answers to these questions led to the completion of PRO, our Performance Rated Organization. PRO is not just another maturity model. The project team, led by Tim Jaques, completed the PRO Standard, posted it at the IPMA-USA website, and held training for consultants who wished to become professional assessors. More recently, IPMA-USA converted our publicly-accessible tool to a more formal version, the Creative Commons license. Now, organizations and consultancies can freely use and adapt, with credit to IPMA-USA, our insights and results.

Note that we have also consistently shared our insights and inspirations about truly useful organization assessments with the IPMA teams who have developed a maturity model, IPMA Delta®. For those who prefer that type of assessment, we recommend Delta--obviously!

PRO at the IPMA-USA site
That said, we encourage you to explore PRO at the IPMA-USA website:

And, watch for our next PRO Assessor Training!

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5. IPMA News and Updates From Around the World
As part of our "two memberships in one" in addition to other IPMA news in this newsletter, we present some of the latest featured news items. We mentioned the IPMA World Congress above, planned for September 28-30, in Panama, and here's more, below. Enjoy the IPMA Family!

nw-news-iconIPMA 1Q Newsletter
The First Quarter, 2015 IPMA Newsletter includes a range of topics of global interest, including the hand-over of PMA, IPMA-India, from Dr. Adesh Jain to Sivathanu Pillai. Adesh has server for over 21 years, and Siva will have a challenge to succeed him. On the other hand, Siva is very capable: he served on IPMA's Executive Board in 2011, before his nation called him back from semi-retirement to lead an important defense program.

The newsletter highlights an event in Morocco, where IPMA Executive Director Amin Saidoun is coaching a team towards membership as an IPMA member association. Mexico highlights a significant milestone, with 472 IPMA Level D Project Management Associates awarded their certifications. They all work for the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). Congratulations!

APM, IPMA-UK, announces that Sara Drake, APM's new chief executive, is easing into her role, succeeding Andrew Bragg, who did a brilliant job for 10 years. Congratulations Sara!

And, IPMA Awards announces the timetable for the Achievement Awards; this is important to IPMA-USA members, because IPMA-USA is developing an achievement Awards offering; note that we are still seeking member volunteers to work on this initiative. Plus, the newsletter highlights APM (IPMA-UK) as the Best UK Association, and Best Association Conference in London; features Austria's conference on the key topics of project management in the future; a five-step formula for project success, revealed by APM (busy, our friends are!); and other interesting topics. Download and read the 1Q 2015 IPMA newsletter!

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6. Book Review: Light up the TEAM FIRE, by Majer-Schaden-Stabauer
Review by Stacy Goff. I received a copy of this book from recent IPMA (International Project Management Association) President and Chair Brigitte Schaden. Brigitte is one of the three co-authors, lives in Austria, and is the Chair of pma, IPMA-Austria. She has long been an advocate of IPMA's "Eye of Competence;" which balances the technical side of project and program management with the leadership and social competences.

Subtitled "Social Competence: The Success Factor in Project Management," this new book (published January 2015) is great for many audiences in project and program management. As most of us know, the leadership skills, behavioral competences, and social skills are among the hardest parts of our discipline for many to master. And yet, those dimensions often account for most of our initiatives' success--or failure. This can be especially true for those of us who began with a scientific background, such as in engineering, information technology, or other areas--where what we know, rather than how we interact receives the most focus, until it is too late.

The challenge begins even before we begin our careers. In discussions with University deans and department heads, we ask them, "How important are the 'soft skills' in a project management curriculum?" They all say those skills are very important. Then we ask, "How do you teach them?" There is usually a long silence, then we hear answers, including simulations, team exercises, and games. The truth, for most, is that there are few excellent methods--especially methods with potential for longer-term retention--for learning the social competences.

The Method
This book cleverly uses allegory (story-telling), interspersed with useful content in preparation for the next story. We have our hero, Walter Pointer, working with a bright young consultant/coach. Walter has several supporting managers, and a variety of project team members. The gist of the allegory is for our hero to move past prior project successes with a very important new, large project or program. And, there will be even greater demand on his social competences.

The Setting
Walter Pointer is an experienced and accomplished senior project manager in Vienna (while the context is Austria, the book is in well-translated English). He is asked to lead a major reorganization of the global, multi-site corporation. Among the challenges include his relationship with recent young newcomers who have taken leadership positions, and now bring their perspective to the somewhat reluctant "old guard." And, even with a tight timetable, plus the challenges of organizational change, our hero has six months to prepare for the project (we should all be so fortunate!)... More
Our Rating: 5 (out of 5): checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark Stacy Goff.

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7. Profession News From PM World Journal
IPMA-USA has a long-time relationship with PM World Journal, and we are glad to see that David Pells and his team continues to provide increasingly relevant and useful news, articles, and global commentary about the practice of project and program management. IPMA-USA members and global IPMA leaders continue to provide insightful articles that David publishes, helping our practice--and society to continue Moving Forward! Thank you David!

Articles of Interest from the March and April Issues (out of many!)

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8. Featuring Tim Herd in Our Series on Leadership
Leadership Learning Logo
Now that most organizations and PM practitioners have figured out that the so-called "Soft Side" is key to project success, what are we doing about it? In addition to practicing those skills, we feature Tim Herd, who shares his perspectives on Leadership.

Envisioning a custom-built future
using the "eyepieces" of a well-focused vision statement...

My eyes are extremely near-sighted. That means they are able to focus only a very short distance from my retinas. It's particularly helpful when I need to remove a splinter from my finger; I can bring it right up to my eyeballs, detect the minutest detail, and nimbly extract the problem.

But if I ever attempt to pilot a plane in that unfocused, cross-eyed condition, I'll most definitely crash and burn. Big time!

See, it's clarity we crave
Clearly, our vision works best only when it is focused and delivers a distinct image of our surroundings to our brains so we know how to maneuver through it. --More

Take a turn at the front
Migrating Canada geese have a very public and proven way of spearheading their progress. By advancing together in a vee, their leader induces an aerodynamic lift for all who follow.

And if you observe carefully, you'll note that the Chief Honker switches periodically, as another energetic follower extends its neck and takes the lead for a time, sacrificing extra energy for the good of the flock.

Yet their unobstructed view of land and sky ahead is only a picture of their future—until the entire flock arrives and inhabits it.

But not all the geese take a turn at the front--only those with the ambition and initiative. --More

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IPMA-USA is the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management. We are a not-for-profit organization, staffed and supported by volunteers who are dedicated to improving Performance Competence in Project and Program Management. See our past newsletters at our website.

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