Masters of Change

By Cyndee Miller, senior editor, PM Network

In a world fueled by change, project practitioners — the people who truly understand it — should be revered, said author Jon Duschinsky, a keynote speaker on the third day of PMI® Global Congress 2014 — EMEA. “And yet you’re not,” he said. “A project manager isn’t respected within society. But it’s time to change the conversation around what you do by changing our words and our thinking.”
To change perceptions of the profession, project managers should:
  1. Ask executives or project sponsors to define a project’s values and mission. “This gives you guiding criteria to carry you through the journey,” he said.
  2. Focus on aligning the project with company values so people stay connected to it.
  3. Determine what you want people to think. “That’s how you avoid a project gathering dust in the corner.”
The goal is to focus on the result, not the process, Mr. Duschinsky said. “Move from managing a project to inspiring people to care about the outcome.”
Change is a watch word at Formula One, the global auto-racing championship. “The last 15 years have seen such a dramatic change in our industry,” said Mark Gallagher, who has worked on Formula One for almost 30 years.
After a series of sponsors — tobacco companies, dotcoms, banking institutions — collapsed in the late 1990s, Formula One took a new tack. The organization developed a massive sporting project for the first time in Malaysia. Working in a different business and government environment, Formula One had to establish infrastructure and logistics requirements and operating procedures still used today.
More recently, Formula One spotted another massive change headed its way: growing demand for environmental sustainability. It wasn’t going to be an easy fix for an organization not exactly known for being green. “We take a bunch of fossil fuel and burn it, live on television, in front of 300 million people. And then we burn rubber. We also fly 500 tons of equipment around the world.” Formula One had its marching orders: “Turn innovation into something that can benefit everyone.” The result is an engine that still performs at 800 horsepower and lasts the same distance, but burns 40 percent less fuel.
To deliver that kind of cutting-edge innovation, organizations must make the most of their teams, said Mr. Gallagher. “It all comes down to how we harness our people and get the team working with a high-performance attitude,” he said. “When we can listen, they can give us the winning edge.”
What advice do you have for effective change management? What did you learn at congress?

The views expressed within the PMI Voices on Project Management blog are contributed from external sources and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PMI.

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