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The Value Proposition of the PMO (part 3) – An example of a personal concept of value

by Donna Fitzgerald  |  August 22, 2013  |  Comments Off on The Value Proposition of the PMO (part 3) – An example of a personal concept of value

Since my last posting didn’t generate a lot of feedback – I’ll take the next step by articulating what I believe the value of the PMO was for me.  It was a way to get something important to my company and the people I worked with done.  That is what got me up in the morning, that is what kept me there late at night, and that sense that I could help make a difference to the day to day working environment of the company and to our future strategic success was the fire in my belly.

Now of course I’m an expressive-driver.  I have to have a vision of a future state – this is hard wired into my DNA and I have no more choice about it than eye color.  The driver aspect of a personality is generally developed in childhood and while I can’t prove it I’d say that we “drive” because it makes us feel safer knowing that we are improving things so less can go wrong.

Of course there’s nothing special about my value proposition – it’s no better or worse than anyone else’s but it does condition everything about how a PMO I manage operates, (which is why I’m encouraging everyone to be clear about their own value statements)

So let’s decompose how my motivations would translate into activities

  1. Getting something done
  2. Ensuring that what is done is important
  3. Making life better for my co-workers

“Getting something done” fits very nicely into an approach to project management.  Obviously I don’t have much use for box ticking.  Anyone who ever just fills out paperwork and then blames others for delaying their project doesn’t work for me very long.  I completely understand the impediments that many PMs have placed in their path BUT it was my job to get those impediments removed (which is why I challenge all my clients to improve their approach to project resource management (insert note).  Once a project was resourced correctly and a reasonable deadline was agreed upon (or an unreasonable one was agreed up – -but with authorization to cut scope to the very bone to make sure we made the date) it was up to the PM to fight the day to day battles with Murphy to ensure that things stayed on track.  Needless to say I’m not a big fan of paperwork for the sake of paperwork – somewhere “people over process” is tattooed on my soul – but if anyone who worked for me tried to run a project without a dependency linked schedule, a clear understanding of their scope, risk, budget and the needs of their stakeholders and sponsors – well let’s just say they wouldn’t work for me very long.

Which leads us to doing what is important—this is where we move firmly into the art of PM.  I once worked for a man that said I needed to develop Long earlobes—which to him meant that I truly needed to listen and connect the dots to understand all of what needed to come together to encompass what was important.  I’ve tended to believe that this is a combination of inquiry and listening wrapped around a strong systems thinking ability.  I know I can hire for it because I did or – and no it’s not a common skill but in this labor market it shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone.

The last value statement is “make life better for my co-workers with the output of the project”.  This is also part of the art.  I think this require emotional intelligence and/or empathy which needs to underlie an understanding of the business process and overall business environment.  It also led me to want to understand UI and UX and to do a tour of duty through two firms as a product manager.  Great software is a pleasure – bad software is the bane of everyone’s existence.  It’s the same for business process.  A PM doesn’t need to do these things themselves (after all they have their own work) but ultimate the PM stands proxy for the end user.  This is a sacred mission.   As PM professionals people hand to us their future (because we are going to deliver something that affects their day to day lives) and we need to return the absolutely best product the allocated money and time can buy.

I’ve operated from this value model since I was 26 years old and was running my first global program.  I can articulate it better today than I could then but the underlying concepts haven’t changed.  Obviously there is nothing special about my value statement.  There are many paths to success and what has worked in fast moving high tech companies might not be what will work in other situations but a key point of the leadership challenge is we need to understand what we believe and how we judge success so that we can align our own goals with the needs of our staff and our companies.

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Category: pmo  program-management  project-management  

Tags: emotional-intelligence-2  leadership  system-thinking  the-art-of-pm  value  

Donna Fitzgerald
Research Vice President
5 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Donna Fitzgerald focuses her research on strategies and approaches for using program and portfolio management as a way to create unique business value. Read Full Bio

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