What I learned at PMI Congress 2013 in Istanbul


I have not been to a global PMI congress for over 20 years now.  So it was about time for me to attend again and it was a learning experience.  The choice of location, Istanbul, was excellent; beautiful city that represents the trends and changes we are witnessing in a changing world of emerging markets.

I will try to sum up my learning  briefly, and hope to be able to cover some of the more important points in later blogs.  I do not think any of the items below are earth shattering, but they give telltale signs about where the profession is heading, and how to take advantage of the opportunities these trends offer.

The main theme for the congress to me was the new role for a project manager, beyond being just a manager.  Many of the keynote speakers made strong connections between project managers’ success and their ability to grasp and act upon the project from a strategic perspective that includes understanding the markets, policies, culture, politics, and business strategy surrounding the project.  There was consensus that the project manager has to act more as an executive than a manager to succeed in today’s fast paced work environment.

There was a lot of focus on the importance of agile as a business philosophy, not merely a development or management technique.  The focus was on repetitive fast paced moves, if you will, towards a goal, while keeping the stakeholders on board and revisiting and refining requirements and direction continuously and effectively.

The project manager as a leader and influencer also took center stage.   Jay Leroy Ward talked about the 14 skills a project manager must possess to succeed, and all of them where on the leadership and communication side of things, not on the hard skills side of project management.  He and many others emphasized that training efforts in organizations are more geared towards hard skills, and away from the soft skills required for success.  It does not mean that hard skills are not important, but they will be much less effective without the right leadership and communication skills.

Another theme in many sessions was the importance of collaboration, networking, and trust among stakeholders.  They are the real drivers for project success and are quickly replacing traditional modes of governance like hierarchy, direct authority, and we-they or win-lose relationships.

A related subject that also was discussed was the focus on quality rather than quantity especially in working hours, relationships among team members, and management.  Pushing people to work “harder” and longer hours is becoming something of the past, as more organizations are finding out that effectiveness is not proportionally linked to number of hours worked.

It is pleasant and reassuring to see the models of fairness, trust, and collaboration still reign with the professionals and experts even with the difficult situation of the economy worldwide.

There was lots of witty humor and use of YouTube and media in the presentations which was refreshing and fun.  May of them focused on cultural interfaces and challenges.  Here are a few:

– The offensive translator

lost in translation

Dinner Etiquette

And finally a picture shared by Jay Leroy Ward on the importance of trust among team members which shows my favorites: The three stooges



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