This is Part 1 of a 2 part series and features a collection of just some of the key points from last year's Project Management Paradise interviews (Episodes 1 to 13).

Next week will be the 2nd part of this 2 part series where we look at other key lessons from last year’s episodes.

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Excerpts from Project Management Paradise 2016 Highlights – Part 1:

Fergus O’Connel – How to Manage the Impossible Project

The ‘10 Step method’ for Managing Projects was propounded by Fergus O’Connel in his book ‘Leadership Lessons from the Race to the South Pole’. The focus of the book is on two Projects with identical objectives – that of getting to the South Pole and back. Roald Amundsun and his Team were spectacularly successful while Robert Scott and his Team were a dismal failure in which all those who reached the South Pole died on the return journey. Both projects fortunately were documented comprehensively – Amundsun wrote a book titled ‘South Pole’ and the diaries of Robert Scott was found with comprehensive notes on the expedition after his demise.
Some astonishing learning can be found in comparing why one succeeded and one failed. The two most important ones were ‘focus’ and ‘attention to detail’. The success or failure of any project is often down to these two factors.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Cheryl Hartman – Organisational Change Management

Organisational Change Management (OCM) is actually Project Management. In order to avoid confusion with Change Management as it is used in the IT industry it is important to refer to it as OCM. The one difference however is that OCM is all about managing people’s reactions to change. The term may mean different things based on an individual’s experience, culture, values or even emotions. It is about managing people’s reactions and using tools and techniques to mitigate negative responses.
People will always show resistance to change whether fleetingly or over a prolonged time. But they will all usually react in one of three ways. Either they approach it positively or adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude; or in some cases they never come to terms with the required change.
Managing these reactions is important to implement the change speedily. And OCM provides a set of principles, processes or tools for managing people’s response to the change.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Pauline Stewart Long – Enabling People, Enabling Projects

In the comparison between Interpersonal Skills Vs Technical Skills – it is the Interpersonal Skills that differentiate a great Project Manager from a good one. Technical Skills can be taught to someone who has a keen interest and if the person has a good knowledge of the Industry. However, Interpersonal skills are inherent in a person and one can only enhance and develop them. If someone does not have the Emotional Intelligence and the ability to listen to people, talk to people and those inherent communication skills, they are not likely to make a great project manager.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Martin Egan – How to Manage and deal with Project Commitment Issues

The Top Management would set the objective of what the key priorities or foci are and what is most critical for the Business at a given time. That should establish the rules of engagement and enable prioritization and hierarchy of projects which need to be focused on. It is then important to look at the projects that are running concurrently, and choose which ones should be paused or halted and which projects should be implemented. At times several projects have to be halted in order to make one critical one successful.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

John Carroll – Effective Project Management in easy steps

One of the most important lessons learned over the years is that we should not focus on the ‘methodology’ but focus on actually running the project. The methodology should just provide the backdrop. The second lesson is to ensure a good ‘Project Sponsor’ who is sufficiently senior in the organisation and is therefore able to fix problems for you.
It is expected that not only IT projects but more generic projects will move from the old ‘Waterfall Technology’ to ‘Agile Platform in the future. The reason being that when using ‘Waterfall’ the Project Manager receives a requirement sheet off which you develop the project and when you deliver the completed project to the customer – it might not be what s/he expected owing to some misunderstanding. The beauty of ‘Agile’ on the other hand is that you can develop it piece by piece and get feedback in stages – which then can be enhanced and polished. ‘Agile’ also benefits from the 80/20 principle wherein 80% of the benefits come from the first 20% of the work. It is possible to review after the first 20% is done what more actually needs to be done to achieve the Project objectives.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Peter Taylor – The Lazy Project Manager

The two things excite me in terms of the evolution of Projects in this generation.
Firstly the ‘Social Project Manager’ who deals with digital communication and social media platforms in managing projects on top of the traditional methods of communication. This is particularly important in the decentralization of project behavior and the opportunity of mass collaboration that digitization provides.
Secondly it is the need for a trained competent Project sponsor. Today we have evolved to ‘intentional project management’ as opposed to ‘accidental project management’ of the previous generation. The Project Sponsor is a very significant member of the Project Team because s/he is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the project and they represent the investment within the Business. The Project Manager needs to be equipped with the ability to train and support the Project Sponsor to fulfil his/her role in the Project Team.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

John McGrath – Project Planning, Dynamic Scheduling and the Single Version of the Truth in Project Management

The ‘Single Version of the Truth’ is about having all stakeholders in one room and in agreement to the budgets, process, resourcing the scheduling and the details of the Project. This will help avoid different understanding by different stakeholders of the one project – which in turn will minimise glitches in the implementation when different stakeholders have different understanding based on their own interests.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Colin D Ellis – The Conscious Project Leader

Projects which have been concluded successfully have received very little publicity in comparison to the Projects that have gone wrong. This has led to a general feeling and even acceptance that most projects do go wrong and therefore it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. It leaves one with notions such as ‘the right to fail’ or ‘fail early’. Therefore it would be important and a very good thing to ensure that more stories of ‘Project Success’ are highlighted.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Alison Foster – How Software Tools benefit Project Management

Software to manage Projects has helped in many organizations like the Department of Health who have a huge program of driving efficiencies through technology. Many organizations are looking at online Project Management Software including the HSC (Higher School Certificate) who use an online platform to roll out their reform program.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Philip Martin – The changing face of Project Management

Over the last 15 years the term ‘Project Management’ has come into common usage. Now there is recognition that you need a Project Manager to ensure projects run efficiently – on time and within budgets. Back in 1999 when just two key methodologies PMBOK that is Project Management Body of Knowledge and Prince2 or Provek. Now you can add ‘Agile’ to that list and there are at least 253 different methodologies – all of which are different flavors of essentially the same process. Unlike in the past, centralised resource management is used in most projects today.
What is however obvious is that Project Management is common sense and not a complicated science.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Joel Goldfarb – Why PMP Certification?

Being certified and accredited as a PMP will give a potential employer or a client the assurance that you have a certain level of experience and that the quality of that experience would be significant in terms of credibility and will help open up doors for Project Management Professionals. You become part of a world of 700,000 other people who share a common vocabulary. Certifications do create a level playing field but PMP is not the final educational requirement for a Project Manager. There is in fact a requirement of 20 hours of professional education per year similar to other professions like accounting.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Joe Launi – Understanding and Leading Team Members

The course offered by the Training Company focuses on understanding the traditional motivational theories that have been around since World War II like Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzbergs motivational theory and McClellants theory of needs. It also looks at more modern theories over the last 10 years. A Team that is confident in themselves and their abilities will definitely be productive and will deliver results. These Team members will also desire appreciation, advancement, job satisfaction to motivate them while hygiene factors like poor job conditions would de-motivate them. They will seek power or the opportunity to influence and make an impact in a positive manner.

Listed to or download the full episode here.

Frank Balogh – Agile Methodology Insights

Agile is a reaction to traditional Management Practices. It requires the active involvement of everyone planning, doing and delivering the work in engaging with the Clients because this will ensure that those who do the work understand exactly what is required. In the past a Project was like the building of a battleship using subcontractors who will do a small part of the work – collect their pay – and go home.

What Agile recognizes is that in moving away from this model Project Managers need to develop not only managerial skills but be leaders and mentors. Management is about coping with complexity while leadership is about coping with change. Therefore when you lead people to get things done you are also trying to change the way they do things. That is a challenge when traditional project managers come into the ‘Agile’ environment. The good thing however is that ‘Agile’ can be done in steps and is simple to understand and implement. A lot of Agility is asking hard questions and clarifying everything that is done so people think through the process.

Agile cuts down a lot of administrative work because it is not about someone sitting in a PMO and giving updates about how much of the project is completed. It is transparent and easier to understand what’s done, why it’s being done and what we are working on. Those who have the experience of doing traditional project management and who can adapt to thinking in an Agile fashion can position themselves in their Company to make significant contributions.

Listed to or download the full episode here.