Summary of the Book Review – PMO Services and Capabilities

The book PMO Services and Capabilities is written by Dr. Robert Joslin. This book is unique as it addresses in a systematic and structured way for each PMO service including the associated attributes how to implement the service to provide the right service to the right people at the right moment. Each organizational unit is unique, and each organizational unit needs its own set of PMO services. The book is divided into two parts: The first (small) part contains a high-level overview of AIPMO’s services lifecycle framework (service strategy, service design, service pilot and implementation, service operations, service transform or retire) as part of AIPMO’s methodology on how to build and implement a PMO services and capabilities catalog. The second (main) part lists the PMO services that are in service groups and listed under the 22 service domains. There are 227 PMO services described in this book. The book is based on a three-level categorization system that allows services to be grouped (service groups) with a service domain. A service domain is related to an area of experience. There are 22 service domains explained.   Each service domain is broken down into one to three service groups (approximately 60). A service group is related to one of the three main activity types that the PMO is expected to perform: Design – A PMO can provide the standards, tools, templates, processes, procedures, help, guidance, and framework that defines how work will operate within that particular service domain. Operate – A PMO can operate (or perform) some of the work on behalf of other people within the project (program or portfolio) team. If the PMO does not perform this service, and if this is performed at all, then this will be done by another member of the project (program or portfolio) team. Monitor – A PMO can review the work done by others and provide an independent quality assessment and check. They can provide reporting across the service domain and can highlight items that require escalation. Not all of the PMO activities fall neatly into the three groupings. For some of the services, activities are categorized in a more relevant way. This has been done for ease of comprehension, as it fits more naturally into how the service domain operates. The 22 service domains explained in the book are: integration management; stakeholder management; communications management; governance; frameworks and methodologies management; PPM tools management; consultancy; portfolio management; benefits management; financial management; schedule management; risk management; quality management; supplier management; capability and capacity management; configuration management; change management; issue management; administrative management; innovation management; knowledge management; and PMO self-development. An example for the portfolio management service domain, its domain services, and services. Within each service group, there are one or more services. A service is the lowest level of offering that a PMO can provide. The service domains are grouped into four clusters (conceptualization, planning, execution, and safeguarding the future). Each service has two audiences: The PMO: How the service should be performed, and some hints and tips that the PMO should consider when performing the service. The Customer: Why do you want to get this service, what would you expect to be delivered from this service, and why would you benefit. For each service, you get a description, what it provides for the customer, why it is being offered to the customer, SIPOC (Supplier, Input, Process, Output, and Customer), demand triggers, measurement indicators, tips and tricks, needed capabilities (organizational enabler capabilities, personal capabilities, service domain capabilities, techniques, tools), and references to related services. Each service ends with suggestions for further reading. Conclusion I have never seen such a complete overview of PMO services for a single PMO. It is 1.7 kg heavy, 22 service domains with a total of 60 service groups and 227 services. On the other hand, it isn’t complete. For sure there will be PMOs offering services that are not explained in this book. New developments take place, such as, the rise of Value Management Offices with their own specific services. But this is something the author mentions too, and solutions to cover this will be offered in the near future. The book is structured as a reference work and will bring a lot of value for those involved in PMOs. If you are involved in a PMO setting, this is definitely a must have. The only struggle I have is to find the place where a service is explained. Table 2.1 shows the service group mapping, but the services themselves aren’t mentioned. I would suggest replacing the domain number with the chapter number used in part 2, where all the services are explained. See also my example regarding portfolio management. I am looking forward to some other titles AIPMO is preparing, such as the PMO Management Standard.   For the detailed review of the book using AIPMO’s 10-point scale, please visit the book review page.  

Troubling Trend: Attending Certification Programs While Working Full-time

In the pursuit of career advancement, there is a worrying trend of people enrolling in certification programs while managing full-time jobs. This trend has become particularly concerning with the observations from AIPMO trainers that an increasing number of participants are attempting to multitask their learning with work commitments. The visible signs of their struggle include constant camera-off during sessions, lack of interaction, and failure to engage in discussions, exercises, and case studies. This blog explores the underlying issues of this growing trend, the illusion likely fostered by the current certification landscape, and the real implications for professional development and workplace effectiveness. Understanding the Certification Landscape The certification market, tempting with promises of career progression, varies significantly in quality and engagement levels. This variety has set a dangerous precedent, convincing some that minimal participation is sufficient for learning and advancement. This misconception leads to a false sense of security and misaligned expectations, especially when faced with courses that are more demanding but ultimately more rewarding. The Misguided Approach to Multi-Tasking Education and Career According to the need-driven theory, people have different motivations to learn. Some may need education to better navigate adult life, while others may require it for a job promotion or to stay relevant in the workplace. Learning can also be a means to achieve self-actualization in life through professional course certifications, community membership opportunities, and recognition. Learners’ motivations for education may change as their goals and priorities evolve. In fact, it’s quite common for learners to have multiple goals in mind when pursuing educational opportunities. Attempting to balance an intensive course with a full-time job often results in cognitive overload. The belief that one can passively absorb course material while attending to job responsibilities diminishes the essence of learning and the potential for professional growth. AIPMO’s observations highlight a concerning trend: participants failing to fully engage due to divided attention, severely impacting their learning outcomes. The Problem with “Camera-Off” Culture The passive engagement in virtual learning, evidenced by the prevalent “camera-off” culture, signals a deeper issue of disconnection from the learning process. This behavior not only hinders individual learning outcomes but also undermines the collaborative and interactive aspects of intensive courses, essential for deep learning and skill development. The Illusion of Competence in Easy Exams A worrying trend in the certification world is the presence of exams that require minimal critical thinking or problem-solving skills. Such exams may provide a temporary sense of achievement but fall short of validating true competence, leaving individuals ill-prepared for real-world challenges. Effectiveness of Course Scheduling: Work Hours vs. Personal Time Disengagement and the Breakdown of Team Exercises When creating courses for adult learners, it’s essential to follow a reliable learning model. One such model is Wlodkowski’s (2008) model, which highlights the importance of linking learning instructions to the learner’s work context and expertise. The model also recommends implementing peer and self-graded exercises, providing study guides with multiple learning resources, and organizing mentoring sessions for learners. By following these types of models, adult learners can benefit greatly from a practical and well-rounded learning experience. However, the consequences of disengagement extend beyond individual learners, affecting the entire learning ecosystem. In team-based exercises, the absence or lack of contribution from one member can compromise the success of the group, diluting the learning experience and outcomes for all participants. Financial and Personal Costs of Misaligned Education Efforts For self-financed learners, the decision to undertake an intensive course without fully committing can result in significant financial and personal costs, without the anticipated return on investment. This misalignment raises important questions about the true value and efficacy of such educational endeavors. The Devaluation of Certification Programs Certification programs that do not require genuine engagement devalue the certification itself and, by extension, the fields they aim to serve. This devaluation not only undermines the credibility of certifications but also threatens the professional integrity of those who hold them. Rethinking Engagement: A Call for Rigorous Certification Standards There is a need for certification standards that demand real, active engagement, including critical thinking, analysis, teamwork, presentation and leadership skills. Accrediting bodies and educational institutions play a key role in upholding these standards, ensuring that certifications reflect genuine skill acquisition and professional readiness. AIPMO uses the motto “It’s not what you learn, it’s the impact you make” which is why real case studies apply the knowledge during the courses, which are part of the blended exam score and the participants take back the case study to apply in their work place. Strategies for Meaningful Learning While Working Professionals aiming to further their education must carefully select certifications based on their engagement requirements and personal capacity for commitment. It is important to choose certifications that align with your engagement requirements and individual capacity for commitment. McClusky’s Theory of Margin highlights the significance of managing the resources at your disposal to offset the demands of learning exercises and prevent a decline in motivation levels. These resources include time and location, and their effective management can help you overcome the challenges of group work and engagement, as well as maintain your motivation levels throughout the course. Certification courses such as those of AIPMO demand complete dedication and hard work from participants during team exercises and intensive case studies. Full engagement is important for success without any compromise. Many Learning and Development departments understand the importance of such certifications and often participate in presentations, contributing to the scoring process. Witnessing the participants’ teamwork and presentation skills firsthand also allows them to evaluate the skills that are being developed in the employees. Conclusion The path of lifelong learning is both commendable and essential for professional development. However, this journey must be approached with intention and dedication. The value of a certification lies in the depth of understanding and skill it represents, rather than the ease of acquisition. As learners, educators, and employers, we must prioritize meaningful engagement and genuine skill development over the superficial appearance of qualification. Reference Wlodkowski, R. J. 2008. Enhancing adult motivation to

Exploring the Damaging Effects of Polarization

In the world of project management, polarization causes big problems. It splits people into groups and makes it hard for them to work together. This blog looks at how this happens and why it’s bad for projects. We’ll discuss how individuals tend to concentrate solely on their existing skills, which prevents them from acquiring new knowledge and hinders their career advancement. We’ll also look at how polarization leads to wasted resources and makes it tough for different groups to share ideas. By understanding these issues and moving away from black-and-white thinking, we can enhance project management outcomes to benefit all involved. The Nature of Polarization in Professional Contexts Polarization, at its core, is the division of opinions into two distinct opposing camps. From the political arena to environmental debates, and from educational reforms to economic policies, polarization can significantly impede decision-making and societal progress. Polarization isn’t just about disagreement. It significantly impacts collaborative spirit, decision-making, and the overarching methodologies employed in project management. This division is prominently  seen in the vigorous debates over project management methodologies, political ideologies, and even professional environment, where the “us versus them” mindset severely undermines collective goals and outcomes. Theories Behind Polarization Social Identity Theory suggests that our group affiliations heavily influence our opinions, leading to polarized views (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Group Polarization demonstrates how discussions within a cohesive group can lead to more extreme positions (Myers & Lamm, 1976). Selective Exposure highlights our preference for information that aligns with our existing beliefs, further entrenching polarization (Stroud, 2010). Cultural Cognition shows how cultural values shape our perceptions and policy beliefs, contributing to polarization (Kahan, 2012). Echo Chamber Effect describes the phenomenon where insulated communication channels reinforce our beliefs (Jamieson & Cappella, 2008). Impact on Project Management and Implications The ramifications of polarization within project management are both profound and multifaceted, affecting dynamics, evolution, and the professional environment in significant ways: Project and Skill Set Silos Project impact: Polarization within professional environments often leads to the formation of silos, resulting in adverse effects on project delivery. Polarized groups tend to limit informal sharing and may exhibit suboptimal sharing practices formally. Consequently, this leads to segments of the project being delivered without access to available information simply because it hasn’t been shared effectively. Reduced market competitiveness: Professionals who silo their skill sets may find themselves less competitive in the job market. As industries evolve, the ability to adapt and learn new skills becomes crucial. Those stuck in one methodology or skill set may miss out on opportunities for career advancement or even face obsolescence. Innovation bottlenecks: Organizations with a high degree of skill set silos may experience innovation bottlenecks. Without a diverse set of skills and perspectives, finding innovative solutions to problems becomes more challenging, limiting the organization’s growth and adaptability. Resource Allocation Bias and Erosion of Professional Networks Wasted resources: Resource allocation bias can lead to wasted resources, as projects may be overstaffed with like-minded individuals or invested in technologies and methodologies favored by the dominant group, regardless of their efficacy or suitability for the project. Fragmentation of professional communities: The erosion of professional networks due to polarization can lead to the fragmentation of professional communities. This fragmentation hinders knowledge sharing and collaboration across the industry, slowing down the diffusion of innovative practices and insights. Leadership blind spots: Polarization can create blind spots for leadership, where leaders may be unaware of emerging trends, technologies, or methodologies that could benefit their organization. This lack of awareness can hinder strategic decision-making and long-term planning. Aligned Camps and Resistance to Innovation Echo chambers in teams: Teams may become echo chambers, where similar methodologies and ideas are constantly reinforced, and dissenting viewpoints are unwelcome. This environment can quash critical thinking and limit the team’s ability to respond to unforeseen challenges effectively. Stagnation of professional development: Individuals may find themselves stuck in a professional development loop, continually reinforcing their existing knowledge without acquiring new skills. This stagnation can lead to a workforce that is ill-prepared for the evolving demands of the industry. Divergence in Terminology Misalignment of project goals: Divergence in terminology can lead to misalignment of project goals and objectives, as team members may have different understandings of key concepts. This misalignment can cause project delays, cost overruns, and failures. Inefficiencies in cross-functional collaboration: As departments or teams adopt their specialized jargon, cross-functional collaboration becomes fraught with inefficiencies. Projects that require interdisciplinary cooperation suffer due to misunderstandings and the need for constant clarification. Certification and Authority Bias Exclusionary practices: The emphasis on specific certifications can lead to exclusionary practices where hiring or promotion decisions are made based on credential prestige rather than actual skill or performance. This can marginalize talented professionals who may not have access to certain certifications due to financial, geographical, or other barriers. Monolithic cultures: Organizations may develop monolithic cultures that undervalue diversity of thought and experience, leading to a homogeneous workforce less capable of creative problem-solving and innovation. This can stifle the organization’s ability to adapt to new challenges or market changes. The Law of the Opposites: Navigating Beyond Human Constructs Reflecting on the “Law of the Opposites,[1]” it becomes clear that our tendency toward polarization is more a product of cognitive simplification than a reflection of the inherent complexity of the natural or professional world. This understanding challenges us to move beyond binary thinking and embrace the spectrum of methodologies, perspectives, and solutions available to us. Conclusion The journey through the nature of polarization, its specific impacts on project management, and the broader conceptual underpinnings offers a pathway toward a more integrated, nuanced approach to our profession. By embracing complexity, fostering dialogue, and promoting adaptability, we can navigate and mitigate the effects of polarization, ensuring that the field of project management remains vibrant, inclusive, and forward-looking. In the face of division, the project management community has the opportunity to lead by example, demonstrating the power of unity, understanding, and collaborative innovation in overcoming the challenges of a polarized landscape. References Jamieson, K. H.,

The Transformative Power of Aligning Project Objectives with the Company’s Core Values

In the dynamic landscape of the business world, company values serve as the bedrock that defines a company’s culture and intricately influences its decision-making processes. This is important when steering toward the goals and continuous success. Let’s explore why company values are indispensable to the very fabric of thriving companies. How joining people around these core values, and furthermore, how aligning project objectives with those shared values, will super-boost businesses. The best workplaces grow from their roots  What propels certain companies, such as Bain & Company, to rank #1 (ref. Glassdoor) as the best workplace in US & UK in 2024? Is it attributable solely to their attractive compensation reward packages? Could it be the result of leadership teams diligently working to create a happy, motivated, and efficient workforce? Or could it stem from a strong focus on fostering open communication and teamwork? The truth is that continuous success demands all of the above and extends even beyond them. A unique culture of success has its strong roots in the company’s “True North,” its fundamental core values. Bain & Company employees attest: “The culture has been one of the most supportive and collaborative environments I’ve ever worked in. Bain truly values its people and invests heavily in their development, whether that means providing extensive training programs, offering opportunities to work on high-impact projects, or simply fostering a sense of community and belonging.” (Glassdoor and Bain & Company) Instilling fundamental core values creates a culture of success At its core, the backbone of a company’s culture is built upon its core values. They serve as collective personal, ethical, moral, and ideological guidelines, establishing standards for all aspects of business operations, from hiring up to decision-making and strategic planning, across all levels. Thus, a company’s culture is expressed by the collective behavior of its people.  By establishing a shared understanding of what company values are, a sense of unity, cohesion, and shared purpose among the employees can be reached. Clearly defined values help align employees with the company’s mission and goals. When employees understand and resonate with these values, they become more engaged, motivated, and committed to contributing to the organization’s success. Company values also provide a framework for decision-making within the organization. If/when employees face dilemmas or need to make choices, company values serve as a compass, ensuring that decisions align with the organization’s principles. Companies with clear and live-by values are better equipped to navigate challenges and changes as these values provide a stable foundation that endures over time, contributing to the long-term sustainability of the organization and, ultimately, the company. And do not forget how relationships are strengthened when company values align with those of customers. Customers often prefer to engage with companies that share their values and principles, leading to increased loyalty and satisfaction. Incorporating ethical considerations and standards into company values promotes responsible and ethical behavior within the organization. This is crucial for maintaining trust with stakeholders and avoiding legal or reputational issues. Companies with well-defined values also attract employees who align with those principles. This, in turn, leads to a more satisfied, efficient and engaged workforce, fostering employee retention and long-term commitment. Values also act as a catalyst for innovation and adaptability as they provide an encouraging foundation for creativity and problem-solving within the framework of the company’s principles. Positive brand images are built by consistently upholding company values. Demonstrating a commitment to these values both internally and externally attracts customers, clients, and partners who share similar principles. Understand what core values are Core values are not one-recipe-fits-all, as businesses differ, and so must the individual values that define their goals and mission. Core values are not to be mixed with slogans, catchphrases, or buzzwords, nor are they descriptions of work. Core values are unique to each company and its organization. They articulate why your business stands out and ensure a specific level of conduct and expectations. Defining core values is a collective endeavor involving not only the top management. A wider spread of individuals in the company should have an opportunity to contribute with their perspectives. This inclusive approach fosters a sense of ownership and inspires each person to uphold the guiding principles they actively helped to shape. Ideally, company core values align with its people’s personal values. Active collaboration between top management and employees ensures that strategic business goals are considered while still benefiting from the valuable insights and perspectives of the entire workforce. “Company values are not mere words; they are to be embraced and lived by every individual, resonating with intrinsic worth throughout the company, from its foundation to the top. Values are intrinsic guides that shape every action within the company and define the essence of each employee’s contribution.” – Anders BE Eklund Linking core values to actions Establishing the core values marks the important initial phase. Real integration occurs when these values materialize into observable behaviors and results within a company’s culture. For values to transcend mere rhetoric, they must be evident in the day-to-day actions, decisions, and interactions of every member of the company. When implementing core values, it is imperative to establish a clear set of expected behaviors. For instance, if “transparent communication” is a core value, a corresponding behavior may involve proactively sharing both positive and negative news with team members. Team leaders and managers are to embody these company values as they set the standard for the rest of the organization. Furthermore, it is crucial to incorporate values-based behaviors into performance assessments. Recognizing and rewarding employees and consistently exhibiting these behaviors creates a positive feedback loop, reinforcing the importance of aligning with the company’s values. Regular training sessions that focus on the practical application of values in diverse workplace scenarios are to be conducted. These workshops assist employees in internalizing and applying the values in their daily activities and procedures. Maintaining open communication allows employees to provide feedback on how well they perceive the company and their colleagues adhering to the defined values and behaviors.

The PMO in Times of Change and Transformation

A Project Management Office (PMO) can be found in many organizations today, helping to implement projects in a professional manner. It is important for me to emphasize that a PMO does not take over the management of projects but supports their professional conduct. This can be done by providing standards, methods, and tools to the project managers, advising, coaching, or training project personnel, professionalizing project management through continuous improvement, portfolio planning and control, and much more. A recent study by GPM Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e.V. shows that more than three-quarters of business projects are implemented internally within organizations. This includes, for example, IT projects, projects with the aim of organizational development, or marketing and sales. The study also shows that 50% of the more than 700 companies surveyed in 2022 stated that they did not have a PMO (compared to 35% ten years earlier). What has happened? Have projects become so routine that company management believes they can do without a PMO? I believe it is much more the case that the line organization has learned to handle projects professionally and needs less and less support from a PMO. Nevertheless, the GPM study also shows that companies with a PMO are significantly more successful (in terms of costs, deadlines, and quality of project results) than companies without a PMO. The question that arises for me, however, is whether PMOs still provide sufficient added value to cope with the growing project landscape in companies. After all, if the number of internal projects is already so high and primarily concerned with change and transformation, then a PMO must also have support services ready for this aspect. And in practice, unfortunately, I still find far too many companies that are relatively weak in this area! Internal projects are “change the business” and have much to do with changes that must first be understood, implemented, and sustainably anchored by the workforce. By “change,” I am referring to smaller, more tactical changes, while “transformation” refers to more strategic, comprehensive changes encompassing large areas or even the entire company. In functionally specialized companies, many employees not only find it difficult to plan and manage projects holistically but also lack expertise in planning and managing change and transformation. This is where a PMO can provide direct support. This can be achieved by building additional resources, skills, methods, and tools in the PMO. This involves strategic, tactical, and operational skills necessary to support change and transformation. The most important ones are briefly outlined below. However, it should also be noted that the PMO only plays a supporting role and that responsibility for change and transformation remains with the respective project or program manager. Before the start of a project, a PMO can work with the project manager to analyze the level of “change readiness” in the affected areas and prepare appropriate measures for the project plan. This also raises the question of whether the change vision and story have already been clarified, i.e., the WHY and WHAT of the change or the need for change in the affected areas. The PMO can support the sponsor or project manager with the appropriate resources, skills, methods, and tools. It is certainly also necessary to develop a change team and a corresponding roadmap. The PMO can support relevant stakeholders with consulting, coaching, or training. It is important to create a professional stakeholder management system with a communication plan that considers stakeholders’ needs throughout the project life cycle regarding information on change and transformation. Here, it is often important to address the reasons for the changes in detail right at the start of a change project and to plan targeted communication and participation opportunities in order to take those affected along on the journey. This is where the PMO can provide support with skills, methods, and tools, take on the moderation of workshops, and help orchestrate measures for project marketing, information, and communication. A community of practice for exchanging experiences in change and transformation, as well as collecting, processing, and distributing lessons learned, are classic PMO tasks, now expanded to include aspects of change and transformation. Do the support tasks for change and transformation have to be provided by a PMO? Not necessarily. An HR department often performs this task. A Change Management Office (CMO) or a Transformation Management Office (TMO) might also be set up for individual change projects. However, this is only temporary, so once the measure has ended, the company’s management runs the risk of losing the know-how and experience, which speaks in favor of anchoring the tasks in a permanent PMO. After all, this is where most of the threads come together when it comes to the professional implementation of projects, so this support task fits in perfectly. However, the PMO must systematically prepare for these tasks and build up the corresponding resources, skills, methods, and tools. The PMO management should emphasize the strategic design of this role because by strengthening change readiness in individual projects and programs, the PMO also contributes to the change readiness of the entire company, connects the company’s overall strategy with the project world, and can thus contribute significantly. This is independent of whether it is a decentralized PMO in a business unit or a centralized Enterprise PMO (E-PMO). Perhaps this additional benefit contribution of a PMO will strengthen its role in the company and prevent the PMO from falling victim to the management’s red pencil during the next wave of cost-cutting. Happy change!

Posted in PMO

Summary of the Book Review – The DNA of Strategy Execution

As we compile AIPMO’s library with book reviews using a 10-point evaluation assessment, selected reviews will be featured in blogs, providing a summary of their content utilizing a quick reference card. Recently, AIPMO conducted a review of ‘The DNA of Strategy Execution: Next Generation Project Management and PMO’ by Jack Duggal. This blog aims to provide a brief overview of the book’s key points. This book presents a fresh perspective on Project Management Offices (PMOs) through a strategic lens, using what is termed the “DNA” of management—strategy, execution, governance, measure, connect, learn, and change. The author uses the DANCE acronym to characterize today’s business environment. It is Dynamic and changing, Ambiguous and uncertain, Nonlinear, Complex, and Emergent and unpredictable, driven by disruptive factors and shifting stakeholder needs and priorities. DANCE is comparable but broader than VUCA (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). The author uses a complexity continuum (simple – complicated, complex – edge of chaos – chaos), where in the simple and complicated domain you can use SPEC (Scope-Plan-Execute-Control) to manage linear, well-defined stable situations and in the other domain you have to manage the unexpected by using an organic approach. You must cultivate skills to Sense, Respond, Adapt, and Adjust (SRAA). Note: These domains align with those found in Snowden’s Cynefin model. The book contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. The author asks and answers the question in this book if you could decode the DNA of effective strategy execution and what this means for project management and the PMO. He sees strategy, execution (the two foundational strands) and governance, connect, measure, change, learn as DNA elements. The context and customer focus is the operating environment in which the DNA thrives. Refer to the following Quick Reference Card that summarizes this book. Simplicity was added as an additional element and each element has its own chapter in the book. Strategy with strands: Diagnose the pain, make choices to minimize spending, design the selection and prioritization criteria, decide and commit appropriate action and evolve to adapt and finetune the criteria (based on evolving strategy). Where to play, how to win, and what to do and, more importantly, what not to do, then selection and prioritization (based on business fit, strategic fit, rewards, risks, and resources) of initiatives and projects in a coherent way.  Execution with strands: Develop your people‘s talent and skills (artistry, DANCEing, changemaking, connecting, learning, entrepreneurial). You need an adaptive platform of enabling processes, technology as enabler (tools, systems, apps, and bots) and work that flows through organizational channels (pooled, sequential, reciprocal, and adaptive flow). Governance with strands: To define and establish, you need a steering body; standards are needed to establish a foundation of stability; effective policies/procedures for each of the DNA elements can expedite the flow of execution; use gates as decision points as a project or program progresses; use review/audit to assess the status; you have to be cognizant of the compliance issues, unclear responsibility and accountability leading to confusion and delays; clear definition and limits of authority are pillars of sound governance and clear decision rights result in effective actions (recommenders, agreers, performers, input, deciders) and simple rules/guidelines can help to steer in the right direction in complex situations (boundary, prioritizing and stopping rules). Connect with strands: List what to connect – customers/stakeholders, silos, business, interfaces & interdependencies – with the how – networks and connections, marketing communications (marcom), relationships, and community and collaboration. The Stakeholder empathy map is a nice tool as a replacement for a stakeholder profile. Measure with strands: You have to know how to define success. Objectives help to define success and key results help to measure it (are you a Ben or BoB, Ben stands for Benefit: measure output, and Bob stands for Benefit of the Benefit: measure outcome). How do we report (present and communicate) the measures and metrics to influence desired action, and are we learning and adjusting (double-loop learning). Change with strands: Awareness helps to better sense and prepare for the consequences of the change. Anticipation takes it further to develop capabilities to anticipate what we cannot see currently, particularly the unintended consequences of the DANCE – dynamic, emergent, and unpredictable changes. The PMO must do enough to assess and prepare for change readiness and the absorption of the change. Execution or implementation alone is not enough. Without adoption, implementation has no value. Should we start by understanding the customer? What does the customer need? What do they like and dislike? What motivates them? The choices that you provide to the customer help in paving the path and help to design the structure toward desired outcomes. Structured checklists can also help to pave the path toward greater adoption. To connect you need to frame memorable and sticky messaging and communicate it in a relevant way. When a senior leader has to start something new or initiate any kind of change, they cannot do it on their own. They need the connectors, many agents, at different levels that are infecting others and spreading the positive virus. Learn with strands: Making failure acceptable and learning from it is easier said than done; it is a cultural issue. Curiosity is essential to remove the blinders. Knowledge management, document repositories, and collaboration tools to capture project artifacts are a foundational aspect, but not enough. You need feedback loops, feed-forward, retrospectives, pre-mortem, storytelling, and the learning question. All of this is only possible if employees feel they are part of a meaningful community. The PMO can be the curator to identify, organize, and share lessons, ideas, best practices, tools, and apps. There is a tendency to overestimate the role of planning beforehand, and underestimate the role of correction, after kick-off. In a constantly changing and disruptive world, continuous improvement is like running better and faster, just to stay in the same place, whereas continuous innovation is a double loop, where you learn and evolve to create something new and better. Simplicity: Simplicity is difficult to practice. Start by understanding and applying the following principles of simplicity: from whose perspective, minimalism – less is more, scalable, self-eliminating, desire lines and simple rules (10 laws of simplicity: Reduce, Organize, Time, Learn, Differences, Context, Emotion, Trust, Failure and The one). Build a Department of Simplicity and develop simplify intelligence.

Exploring AIPMO’s Book Review Project Through the Reviewer’s Eyes

There are rare times when the threads of life neatly come together, and I’m happy to say that the beginning of 2024, for me so far, has been one of those times. I’ve recently been given the honor of helping to lead an exciting new niche professional development initiative – the AIPMO book review project.  A lifelong lover of books and learning, this has been the perfect opportunity to combine my bibliophile tendencies with a passion for effective project portfolio management (PPM) practice – developing my own professional knowledge and making a contribution to the wider project management community in the process. AIPMO Book Review – What is it? In response to the vision of AIPMO’s founder Dr. Robert Joslin, the AIPMO book review project consists of a team of international experts in project and portfolio management practice with experience across multiple industries.  We have committed to conduct an independent and unbiased evaluation of as much of the available published PMO and PPM books in the English language as we possibly can over the coming months and years. What does this mean in practice? And, you may well ask, why on earth would a group of already busy professional people endeavor to undertake such a task? Let me try to answer first, the “what?” and then the “why”… Between us – a mixed group of 12 professionals from academia, consulting, and project delivery practice across various industries and different geographical and cultural domains – we will be assessing each PMO/PPM book against a standardized set of criteria so that a bank of categorized, unbiased, independent evaluations can be created.  This databank – which will be openly published on the freely available section of the AIPMO website, and in the near future on a PMO community website – has the potential to become the primary go-to resource for time-stretched business professionals, PMO practitioners, and students as it develops, enabling them to quickly identify the most useful literature from among an ever-expanding “canon.” As expert book reviewer and team member Henny Portman pointed out in our recent launch webinar, this will become an ever more useful resource to separate the rarer, high value publications from the sea of content, at a key inflection point in the AI revolution. With the help of AI technology, anyone who is so inclined, without knowledge or expertise, can quickly and easily produce and self-publish a low-quality output which simply regurgitates and reinforces existing thinking.   Democratization of the publishing process is in my view generally a good thing, but a proliferation of available texts does make finding and choosing a genuinely useful book ever more challenging! Another challenge is that publications which are the most insightful and useful are not necessarily those which are most widely publicized – especially when distribution and marketing is often controlled by groups with vested commercial interests. No educated person can be ignorant of the long history of conflict between book-publishing and freedom of thought, due to political or social challenges around fair access to resources.  By making this initiative a voluntary exercise and creating a review library which is available to all without subscription, we aim to provide a transparent and open resource that will enable good works to rise and be recognized for their merit.  This will empower anyone who is genuinely keen to learn about PMOs and portfolio management to benefit from the effort, and should benefit the truly capable authors too, regardless of commercial influence. In doing so, we have also begun to set a standard for what “valuable content is and how it is delivered” in our specific (admittedly niche!) area of interest. Already, only a few weeks in, as the first cohort to participate, our team is quickly finding that it is no small feat to produce a book which meets a high mark on every front! In our recent discussions to refine the standard, we decided that the ideal publication will be both insightful – bringing new thinking to the table – and also based on evidence and rigorous in its approach.  A top-rating book will be technically published to a high-quality standard and easy to read with good visual appeal, clear diagrams, and a logical flow.  While it should be based on sound thinking and theory that stands up to scrutiny, it also needs to have instructive elements and genuine applicability to the real-life organizational environments in which PMOs operate.  Treading this line between theory and practice is a tricky balancing act to strike! Another challenge we quickly encountered was the fact that, in our rapidly changing world, the value and applicability of content can vary significantly over time.  This means that even volumes which may at one time have been dominant resources for our industry can now be seen to be waning in significance vs more current works. In the age of the social network, we also wanted to give credence to the author’s standing and visibility in the field and not ignore the concept of authority and influence. We do realize, therefore, that a perfect score on all these fronts will prove challenging for any author to achieve.   However, having a framework that is independent and unbiased evaluation creates a standard to which serious professionals can aspire. We hope and expect that, as well as identifying the best of the PMO books available on the market now, new works will emerge which demonstrably meet several of the identified key criteria. We intend to rotate the review team membership over time, creating opportunities for participants to deepen and develop their own professional knowledge and leadership capability in the field. My poetic sensibilities convince me that the real beauty and power of the written word lies in its ability to introduce and explore new ideas, and to bring to us new ways of seeing.  Innately constrained by our own limited individual experiences, books provide us with windows to other worlds, and expanded awareness. Having the discipline to take a more reflective and critically

Unbiased Book Reviews: How Our Book Review Team Ensures Fair Selection and Evaluation

As AIPMO prepares to launch its Book Library with the “10-Point” Review System, this blog serves as the latest installment in the series focusing on insights into AIPMO’s Book Review Initiative. Navigating the world of book selection is fraught with hidden biases, often leading readers in the wrong direction. Our book review team, consisting of avid readers and scholars, many of whom are pursuing doctoral degrees, understands the disappointment of investing in a book that fails to deliver. We’ve experienced the frustration of wasted time and the disappointment of unmet expectations. With that in mind, AIPMO has developed a scientifically-grounded method to evaluate books, designed to equip potential readers with the necessary insights to make informed purchasing decisions. The Challenge of Bias in Books Bias can distort the book selection process, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives. It can stem from a variety of sources – from the allure of a bestseller list to the comfort of familiar authors. These biases can eclipse diverse voices and narrow the scope of cultural and intellectual exposure. Recognizing this, our team has committed to a rigorous process that champions diversity and challenges the status quo. Our team aims to create a fair environment, ensuring a wide array of voices are heard and considered. Establishing Our Book Review Team Each team member brings a wealth of knowledge, bolstered by a passion for reading and a commitment to academic excellence. Our shared experiences as consumers of books drive our dedication to providing trustworthy reviews.   Defining Our Selection Criteria We’ve established a robust set of criteria that serve as our objective standard. These guidelines help us evaluate a book’s merit, focusing on its ability to inform and engage readers, rather than its marketing prowess or popularity. The Review Process: A Step-by-Step Guide Our process is straightforward and transparent: Research and Nomination: Books are selected based on their potential value to the reader. Preliminary Assessment: Initial reviews are conducted to ensure the book meets our basic criteria. Detailed Evaluation: A deeper analysis follows, examining the content for depth, accuracy, and relevance. This takes a minimum of 8 hours reading the book, taking notes and structuring the comments in a 10-point review system. There is also a benchmarking process to ensuring consistency of reviews. Quality Assurance Review: An independent QA reviewer assesses the evaluations to mitigate any residual bias. Resolution of Scoring Discrepancies: In the event of differing views on scoring, reviewers discuss and resolve these differences. In rare cases, a third person is brought in to resolve differing reviews and scoring differences. Final Scoring: The team reaches a consensus, ensuring that every reviewed book stands up to our review standards of quality and objectivity. To delve deeper into each point mentioned above, we invite you to join us for the Book Review launch and keep an eye out for upcoming blogs.  Improving Review Integrity In our quest for excellence, we place a high priority on maintaining review integrity: Training for Objectivity: Our reviewers are trained to recognize and counteract bias, ensuring that each book is evaluated on its own merits. This commitment to impartiality ensures the integrity of our review process. The Role of the QA Reviewer: The QA reviewer’s role is critical in our process, serving as a checkpoint to validate the objectivity of our reviews. Escalation and Resolution: When disagreements occur, we engage in a structured dialogue to resolve differences, ensuring that our final recommendations are the result of a fair and balanced assessment. Impact and Outcomes: Our goal is to provide a selection of books that fulfill the promise of quality and value, validated by our rigorous review process. Conclusion Our team’s expertise and methodical approach provide a solid foundation for readers seeking trustworthy book recommendations. We’ve been in your shoes, and we leverage our collective experience to guide you to the best books on the market. Call to Action Join us in this book review journey by staying tuned to AIPMO’s LinkedIn updates. Suggest titles, engage with our reviews, and let us help you find books that are truly worth your time and investment. Don’t miss out—register today for the launch of AIPMO’s Book Library featuring a comprehensive 10-point review system: https://www.aipmo.org/upcoming-events/

Beyond the Bestsellers: Critical Review Initiative in AIPMO’s Library

As project portfolio management (PPM) and project management office (PMO) management have evolved, the availability of books on these topics has also increased. With over three decades of combined experience in the field, the authors, Henny Portman and Robert Joslin, have navigated through this vast amount of information, contributing their insights through reading, writing, and critically evaluating a plethora of books. This journey has been marked by both enlightenment from invaluable resources and the challenge of sifting through less impactful works. Henny’s years of book reviews, since 2009, have built a library admired even by smaller institutions. This demonstrates the high regard publishers hold for his critiques. Meanwhile, Robert’s academic journey has seen him delve into research papers, shaping thought processes with a critical eye since 2016 for leading project management journals. Their expertise allows them to distinguish between valuable and less valuable materials. Drawing from their extensive analysis, it was notable that about 70% of reviewed materials fell into the latter category. An endeavor in 2017 involved Robert’s analysis of 305 PMO-titled books on Amazon, revealing a mere two unique titles, highlighting a landscape saturated with derivative works offering limited new insights. Key Learnings from the Amazon Analysis (February 2017) Out of 305 PMO books, only 92 merited closer examination, with seven classified as good quality, and upon further review, only two were found to be unique. Books linked to certifications emerged as bestsellers. Success was largely associated with authors from the USA or UK, with multiple publications through Tier 1 or 2 publishers. Non-English or local native language books were mostly sold by local (online) bookstores. A rare academic book provided useful insights but proved inaccessible to practitioners. Fast forward to February 2024, and a repeat analysis now covering 879 PMO-titled books showed little evolution in content quality. In fact, the surge in self-published titles, many seemingly generated by ChatGPT since March 2023, has resulted in proliferation of books on the topic, many of which carry no independent value judgement.  The landscape reveals a dominance of personal experience-based works lacking in originality, frameworks, and structured methodologies. The Motivation Behind Writing Books The drive to author books can be split between personal benefits—such as establishing credibility, financial gain, and personal fulfillment—and community benefits, including educating others, standardizing practices, and fostering collaboration. However, the current trend seems to lean more toward personal gain, with the effort to create unique content overshadowed by the appeal of repurposing existing materials. Competencies Required for Writing Technical Books Crafting a high-quality technical or PPM/PMO book demands a mix of subject matter expertise, research prowess, access to various organizations to gather practical case studies, analytical ability, and clear communication and writing skills, among others. These competencies ensure the creation of content that is not only accurate and up-to-date but also engaging and accessible to the intended audience. AIPMO’s Library and Critical Review Initiative In response to the challenge of identifying valuable books in the fields of PPM and PMO management, we have formed a specialized review team comprising experienced authors, reviewers, and subject matter experts to independently assess books and assist professionals in discerning the most impactful sources of knowledge, examining the philosophical and methodological coherence of the works we review. To achieve this, we have crafted a unique review process that employs a detailed 10-point scale system, underpinned by strict governance protocols including quality assurance. This process is designed to direct readers toward the highest-quality books, ensuring their investment in professional books is both time-efficient and cost-effective. During our team discussion, a member of the book review team questioned the relevance of reviewing outdated books that no longer hold value. However, this aspect forms an integral part of our reviews: guiding readers toward books that remain pertinent and valuable in today’s context. And this is one of our primary aims with the book review. Details on how our review process operates will be shared in an upcoming blog post, where we will highlight our commitment to transparency and the rigorous standards we uphold to enhance the quality of books within the PPM and PMO communities. Through this initiative, we’re committed to preserving valuable knowledge and promoting a culture of excellence and innovation. Stay tuned for updates regarding the launch date, upcoming reviews, and additional insights. In the meantime, back to the reviews…

The L&D Dilemma: Identifying Certifications That Drive Organizational Success

In the changing world of professional development, certifications are key for advancing careers and organizations. Learning and Development (L&D) departments play a fundamental role in navigating this terrain, tasked with the challenge of determining which certifications genuinely contribute to organizational value. However, as the professional world becomes increasingly saturated with certified individuals, the ability to differentiate and select the right talent for projects and roles becomes a complex puzzle. The Role of Certifications in Professional Selection Traditionally, certifications have served as a benchmark for selection, guiding decisions on project assignments, roles, and expectations. They are perceived as a testament to an individual’s knowledge and dedication to their field. It is assumed the knowledge upon which these certifications are based contributes to success and the process behind obtaining and structuring this knowledge into a certification is sound. This is not always the case, and this will be discussed in our upcoming blog  on “leading and lagging” standards. When certifications become ubiquitous, distinguishing among candidates based on these criteria alone proves inadequate. This saturation begs the question: if everyone has the same certification, how do we determine who to select? The Question of Impact versus Knowledge The crux of the issue lies in the nature of the certifications themselves. Many programs focus heavily on theoretical knowledge, sidelining the practical application that truly drives organizational success. It’s not merely what one learns but the “impact of their application that counts.” Real value is derived from the ability to navigate real-world challenges, solve problems, and lead with innovation. Certifications that test these competencies through real case studies offer a glimpse into a candidate’s potential to contribute meaningfully to the organization, or an employee’s ability to solve existing problems. Advancing Beyond Traditional Assessments Certifications that incorporate real-time case studies stand out because they assess an individual’s problem-solving, leadership, and innovation in real-world situations. Unlike standard case studies, which can be memorized or learned, real-time scenarios demand immediate, innovative thinking and adaptability. These unpredictable situations reveal true competencies and capabilities, offering a more accurate assessment of an individual’s potential impact within an organization. Building Real-time Case Studies Observing Behavior Under Pressure The dynamic nature of real-time case studies allows L&D departments and department heads to observe behavior under pressure. This insight is invaluable, highlighting not only individual competencies but also team dynamics and leadership potential. Who steps up, who recedes, and how do team members navigate challenges together? These observations provide a rich tapestry of information, far beyond what traditional certifications can offer. Involving L&D in the Evaluation Process Participating in the final presentations of these case studies provides L&D professionals and the managers of the course participants firsthand insight into the applicability and effectiveness of the skills learned. This involvement extends beyond selecting the course; it encompasses evaluating the outcomes and directly linking learning to organizational goals. The scores from these presentations can reveal not only future training needs but also immediate contributions to the organization, offering a dual perspective on both current and potential talent. Connecting Learning to Organizational Challenges A novel approach involves integrating real organizational challenges into the certification’s case studies. This method allows teams to apply their learning directly to current business problems, creating a direct link between the course and tangible organizational benefits. L&D and management can assess the results, offering a unique opportunity to gauge the immediate applicability and impact of the skills acquired. Reevaluating Certification Value In light of these considerations, organizations must reevaluate the weight placed on traditional, exam-based certifications. Those that prioritize theoretical knowledge over practical application offer limited organizational value. In contrast, certifications demanding higher-order thinking, problem-solving, and real-world application stand at the pinnacle of professional development, aligning with Bloom’s Taxonomy‘s higher levels of learning and comprehension. Conclusion The journey through certification selection and professional development  is fraught with challenges and opportunities. As L&D departments navigate this landscape, a strategic shift toward certifications that offer practical, real-world learning experiences is imperative. Such programs not only enrich the individual’s skill set but also drive organizational success through tangible, impactful contributions. It’s time for a shift in professional recognition, where the value is placed on certifications that truly prepare individuals for the complexities and demands of the modern workplace. By embracing this approach, organizations can foster a culture of continuous improvement, innovation, and excellence, setting new benchmarks for success in the professional world.