I promised that I’d pass along some thoughts about the PPM Summit so here goes:
1) We had a terrifically engaged audience. I’ve been speaking at one conference or another for just a few weeks shy of 13 years and hands down I felt that the attendees where there because they really cared about running a program or a PMO or because they actually managed a portfolio. The Gartner events folks set up quite a few peer networking events and based on my read of the audience there was ample opportunity for attendees to meet and share with others.
2) Everyone wants to be a program manager. Seems reasonable since we all stood up on stage and said program management is the next big thing BUT there’s a problem — real program management the way Gartner defines it shares very little overlap with project management. In fact I routinely tell PPM Leaders that only about 20% of their PMs will ever make it as program managers.
One interesting outcome of this interest in program management is that it’s given me a new goal. I’m sure of the 20% — it’s based on natural selection and skills cultivated from early childhood — but I’m now wondering if there’s a way to increase that percentage just a little. Or maybe a better way to think about this is what do we need to do to clearly and cleanly identify our future program managers and equip them for success. Definitely something I will be adding to my research agenda for next year.
3) Personal power vs position power seemed to be a background issue in some of my discussions. This topic is worth at least a half dozen research notes. The problem is most of what I want to say someone can misconstrue. For example a simple statement — do what YOU believe is right for your project, program or company and ask for forgiveness later, is good advice unless you’ve completely misread your management and your company culture. If you have misread your company you get fired — if you haven’t you get promoted.
Of course this is a hard lesson to learn. Even I screwed it up royally once and this was after years of nailing exactly how much I could get away with. In my case I made the mistake of trying to do my job (as I wanted to do it) and NOT covering my boss’s posterior first. It was naive and arrogant on my part and I paid the price. I only bring this up because it’s one of the reasons that PMOs and project management adoptions fail so often the first, second and even third time they’re tried. 360 degree servant leadership (with a passionate drive to get results) is the only approach that really works, but sometime it’s easy to take your eye off the ball.
More thoughts from the summit tomorrow.