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Editorial PMI Switzerland Newsletter September 2022

Author: Shalini Krishnan, PMP

Shalini Krishnan

Dear Members and Subscribers,

Welcome to an action-packed September newsletter!

Focus is on the upcoming 11th PMI Switzerland Conference which will take place in Zurich on September 21. We hope you are as excited as we are! Registration is still possible, and you can learn more about the conference in this newsletter as well as on the dedicated site here.

We are also highlighting the benefits and importance of volunteering, and you can learn about what a few of our very own PMI Switzerland chapter volunteers have been up to through some of the interviews within this newsletter.

Happy reading and we hope you enjoy the last few days of summer in Switzerland :)

Visit the 11th PMI Conference Website

Authors: Valerie Pierre, PMP & Adi Muslic, PMP

Valerie PIERRE Adi Muslic NEW 100x100

Interview on Challenges and Perspectives

Adi Muslic and Valerie Pierre, project managers and organization leads of the 11th PMI Switzerland Conference, exchanged their views on the challenges and perspectives for project managers in 2022.

 

●      Valerie: Adi, this year’s conference theme is “Innovation in Project Management - Shaping the Future of Projects”, could you explain how it was chosen and why?

The theme is the result of a collective thinking by the conference core team and the Board of Directors. The first part of the theme “Innovation in Project Management”, we inherited it from the last two editions and kept it unchanged to symbolize that we are constantly looking at new innovations in our profession.

The second part “Shaping the Future of Projects” was inspired by new PMI initiatives (Citizen Developer, Wicked Problem Solving, Organizational Transformation) and the Global Megatrends 2022 report. In the last three years we have experienced two big disruptive changes that have changed the way of working for many organizations. This is especially visible in Europe where significant geo-political and economical changes are taking place.

There is also a shift in the ways we run the projects and programs across entire organizations where agile in different forms is becoming a new standard.

As project management professionals and changemakers, we are playing a key role in shaping the future of projects. The conference is a great opportunity to skill up and exchange experiences.

 

●      Adi: Valerie, since we are talking about shaping the future of projects, how do you see the role of project managers evolving?

As I see it, project managers are essential to the future of work in general.

First, one thing I’ve noticed is that post-pandemic, many organizations are retaining flexible home working policies. Which means that project teams which were fully co-located before need to adapt and adjust the way they collaborate. Project managers need to be up to speed with these new working dynamics. In the midst of even more uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, they need those “power skills” to lead their team to achieve the project objectives — collaborative leadership, innovation mindset, system-thinking, empathy, to name a few. And I think that project managers are instrumental in creating a psychologically safe environment for their team and I can’t wait to hear Deepak Bansal and Dr. Stefan Bodenstab’s breakout session which will cover that topic.

Then, while it’s not new that project managers need to understand the business case and their sphere of influence, they must take on a more strategic role. As digital technology (don’t miss Marc Lahmann’s opening keynote) frees them from routine tasks, they will be able to drive innovation and organizational change, and more importantly unleash their team’s creativity.

 

●      Adi: What are some of the challenges you’re seeing for project managers?

The last decade has been amazing in terms of technological changes. Think for a second, when did you start buying your ticket on the SBB mobile app or registering for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) at the airport from your mobile phones? Long-established businesses have had to adapt and fast. They need to be more customer centric, revamp monolithic backend systems (e.g. fintech), rethink internal processes, regain agility, modularize etc. Companies are currently at different levels of organization transformation maturity, which means that there is no “one size fits all” approach to project management, which in turn needs a lot of tailoring. I would definitely encourage you to attend the keynote and breakout sessions about organizational transformation, as well as Frank Tassone’s talk on Disciplined Agile (DA) to learn more about the Hybrid Process Toolkit and the benefits for your teams and organizations.

Then I personally think that to face today’s challenges in terms of uncertainty and all, one of the key skills for project managers in the field is creative problem solving. We talked earlier about the importance of collaboration. Well, on top of that, project managers need to become facilitators who solve problems collaboratively. You’ve probably used or heard of Miro or Mural, those digital white-boarding tools that help teams collaborate online to analyze a problem and generate creative solutions. 

 

●      Valerie: What are some of the challenges you’re seeing while organizing this conference?

This year we had a late start. Fortunately, the chapter’s Gold sponsor, PwC Switzerland, was there to support us and eventually we could confirm the venue quite quickly. However, the next step, confirming the event date, proved to be quite challenging. We could confirm the final date only in early May. Another challenge was finding volunteers ready to commit their time to such a large project as a conference organization. Volunteers typically can dedicate 1 or 2 hours a month. As we needed to progress very quickly, we needed volunteers who could dedicate at least 1 or 2 hours a week. We started with the core team in May. In June, we had Speakers, Participants and Marketing teams formed, in total 25 volunteers. Having a previous conference project manager in the team and good knowledge of the chapter organization and volunteers in different roles was critical to plan and start project execution in such a short time. The website was live at the beginning of July and we opened registrations.

Promoting and planning an event during summer holidays is also a challenge, though we managed it successfully and did not slow down.

The next challenge is the conference day. All teams will merge into one big onsite team to cover various activities, starting with welcome and check in, through sessions facilitation and technical support, to the event closure. We are working on all small details and I am confident all participants will enjoy this special day.

 

●      Adi: Why would you recommend your colleagues to come to the conference?

Attending an in-person conference is a unique experience. You get to be in one place with like-minded professionals. This allows you to reconnect with your peers, meet new people, exchange ideas and share your own knowledge. After a conference, I personally feel energized and motivated to apply practices and methodologies I learned about.

This year, our keynote speakers are coming from PwC AdEx Partners and Microsoft. They will talk about the use of AI in project management, Organizational Transformation and low-code/no-code business applications. We introduced longer break-out sessions that are in fact 90 minutes long workshops. I believe this will allow participants to learn more about a specific topic and get practical experience. In addition, there will be “Ask me anything” sessions to allow information sharing around agile, citizen developer, organizational transformation or more general PMI topics. This means plenty of opportunities to learn and be informed.

The day will start with a welcome breakfast, followed by a 30 minutes coffee break, lunch-network-learn break, another coffee break and close with the networking dinner. Over 6 hours to network and exchange experiences with other participants!

On top of all the networking and learning, we’ve prepared several exciting surprises. Let me just say that we will be drawing vouchers for following trainings:

  • 5 vouchers for PMI’s Wicked Problem Solving (WPS) (value $649)
  • 5 vouchers for IIL’s Innovation Project Management (value $650)
  • 5 vouchers for PMI’s Organizational Transformation Foundation
  • 5 vouchers for PMI’s Citizen Developer (CD)

Even if you are not lucky enough to win one of these exciting prizes, all participants will receive 20% discount vouchers for WPS and CD training.

You can only agree with me that there are many reasons to recommend attending the conference.

 

●      Valerie: What perspectives are you looking at in the short term for the PMI Switzerland chapter and the next conference?

PMI Switzerland is one of the most active chapters in Europe. Although much smaller than chapters in neighboring countries, in terms of member numbers, we are equally strong in terms of volunteers and activities we offer to our members. We are constantly adapting our strategy to member needs. We keep organizing virtual events along with in-person events. The Agile Community of Practice (CoP) will be soon joined by an Organizational Transformation CoP. These focused communities allow interested members to discuss and exchange on specific topics. We are also looking to extend our collaboration with universities, other organizations and corporations.

I am very happy to share that we have already identified the venue for the next year's conference. We have a great team and can therefore start planning the next edition right after we close the conference project at the end of September.

Please come and join us at the 11th PMI Switzerland Conference on September 21st!

Find all the details by clicking the button below:

Click Here

Message from the Board - September 2022

Author: Adi Muslic, PMP - VP Sponsors & Partners

Adi Muslic NEW 100x100

We all have busy lives and very little time to spare. What do you do with this little time you can spare? Have you thought of volunteering? Probably not. However, the benefits of volunteering can be very positive and change your life. Here are the reasons why it's worth making time for volunteering in your busy schedule.

With volunteering, you connect to a community of like-minded members. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a big difference. It is a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. It strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network.

Behind the Scenes: Website Administration at the PMI Switzerland Chapter

Author: Eric Jelenje, PMP

Eric Jelenje

Information is Power, so the old adage goes.

The PMI Switzerland Chapter website is a vital source of information and creates opportunities for members and non-members across and beyond Switzerland, and critical to the Chapter’s communications and stakeholder engagement efforts.

An extension to the Chapter Website is the 2022 PM Conference website, through which users can access speaker profiles, the conference agenda and information about registering for the Conference. Keeping both websites functional is a mammoth effort that demands commitment, technological savviness, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we rarely get to see.

I caught up with the Website Team of Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen to get their perspectives on the challenges of website administration in the modern age, their experiences as volunteers, and, moving forward, what’s in store for users of both websites. 

 

1.    Philippe and Danh, it is a pleasure to speak to you. Tell us about your respective backgrounds and your work as PMI Switzerland Chapter Volunteers.

Phil: I am a Telecom expert. I passed my PMP in 2015 and joined the Chapter in the Technology group a few months after becoming a member and participating in some events. I started by helping people with the new Email service for the volunteers and took more responsibility, eventually becoming VP Operations. 

Now I am in charge of three teams (PMO, Office and Technology) but as I started administering the website from day 1 of the new design, I continue to work a lot on it. 

Danh: I’m a Mechanical Engineer but I have always had an interest in IT. I joined the PMI Switzerland Chapter many years ago, but in various different guises. I first volunteered on the Zurich Events team and have, for the past three years, supported the organising of the PM Conference. Currently, managing the PM Conference website is my main focus.

  

2.    You have highlighted your website management responsibilities. What is a typical day like for you?

Phil: My day has no fixed time. I’m working nearly all the time in front of two big 32” screens and I can switch easily from my main work to the PMI environment. As my work is flexible and the switch can be done in a second, I can answer a Slack or Email message quickly and go back to my work. It is a great advantage for PMI but also for my employer as it goes in both directions. 

Danh: A typical day is my job! As a volunteer, I have been mainly dedicating some time in the evenings when I have availability to tend to the website. The needs are driven by various stakeholders related to the PM Conference so a lot of the work is during the initialisation and startup phases leading up to the conference, to make all the necessary information available to prospective attendees. As the PM Conference is quite an important event in the PMI Switzerland chapter calendar, it has its own “website” within the PMI Switzerland website

 

3.    For how long has the Chapter website been operational? How has the website itself evolved to what it is now?

Phil: When I joined PMI, the website had articles but not every possible feature was exploited. 

We have worked on a component to present our events in a nicer way, with actions such as registrations, reminders and certificate issuances done automatically.
Then we upgraded the Event notifications service and the Newsletter system. The strategy is to have components doing the work on our website platform to centralize the information, to protect, and to use automation to minimize the work. An example is the automated email facility for welcoming new members.

Last year we implemented the payment by credit card and, lately, we refreshed the Job Opportunity notification service.
I am proud that, as PMI Switzerland, we are one of the chapters with the greatest amount of services and features for users on our website. 

 

4.    Cybersecurity and content management are some of the most commonly-cited challenges with managing a website. What are the challenges you experience as a team and how have you dealt with them?

Phil: Cybersecurity is one of the biggest topics of the last two years for every company and PMI Switzerland is also following the trend. The Operations department is following our new projects and implementations to ensure that we do everything to protect our data. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the challenges but we have to be vigilant on every threat and it is a daily work to monitor, correct and patch the systems we have. 

Danh: Since the PM Conference site resides within the PMI Switzerland website, all the policies, implementation and rules are inherited from the main website. This means that fortunately for me, as long as the main website is robust, the PM Conference site is also robust! 

 

5.    The COVID-19 pandemic heralded a greater reliance on virtual working and collaboration. How has the pandemic impacted your work as a team and with others?

Phil: For the Technology, PMO and Office teams, we were not impacted as we were already used to working exclusively online. We had some additional work to acquire Zoom licenses for our events online and it took some time for users to familiarise themselves with using the platform; “You are on mute” was the sentence we were sure to hear multiple times during a meeting!

Danh: The first PM conference I supported was very challenging. Not only did the conference itself get canceled, reinstated, and then postponed, we had to navigate the constantly changing pandemic landscape. Fortunately, the online conferencing, collaboration and other tools we use helped ensure that our work was not too heavily impacted. We had to adapt of course, but were still able to deliver a very successful conference.  

 

6.    The World Wide Web has grown exponentially since its inception 40 years ago. As user numbers skyrocket and technologies advance, how do you see the Chapter website in the short to long-term?

Phil: For the next few years I do not see a lot of changes. With the global trend towards a greater use of mobile phones for accessing online content, our website was designed to be ready to be mobile-friendly. Currently, 29% of our website serves mobiles. 

In the long term we see some changes on the way people will connect to the website as I expect PMI members to be able to roam to other chapters at no additional costs. Maybe this is a dream, but anything is possible!  

 

7.    The 2022 PMI Switzerland Project Management Conference’s central theme is Innovation in Project Management. What innovations on both websites can users expect to see in the coming months and beyond?

Danh: We are consistently trying to improve the user experience, whether it’s for the main Chapter website or the Conference website. Phil has been doing excellent work in this area, trying to make sure we have the tools available to deliver the information the user seeks in the most effective way. As Phil already mentioned, there is a natural shift away from browsing websites on a traditional computer which we need to accommodate. A lot of the innovation really happens on the back end to make this happen. 

Phil: Beside the technology, a lot of time is and will be spent verifying the consistency of the information displayed on the website, given by Email and propagated on social media. In the coming months, we will try to ease the discount proposition for students and unemployed members. 

We are working on added functionality for the Events List page, including an event search filter. We will also display the courses run by certification Training partners.

 

Special thanks to Phil and Danh for their volunteer work for PMI Switzerland Chapter and for sharing their thoughts and insights with us.

Philippe Soupart and Danh Nguyen

Solving problems with PMI’s Bodo Giegel

Author: Christopher Ziemba, PMP

Christopher Ziemba

For our 2022 Project Management Conference, PMI Switzerland warmly welcomes Bodo Giegel, Business Head Europe at PMI, to introduce us to The Wicked Problem Solving Toolkit. Do not let the word “wicked” throw you. Unlike Shakespeare’s famous line, referenced in this article’s subtitle, wicked in our context is not evil, but rather it indicates that we want to solve problems that are both serious and complex in a collaborative way. Project Management is fundamentally about solving problems and it is on the most serious and complex problems where innovative strategies can have the biggest impact.

The increasing complexity of modern work, projects and problems has driven PMI to partner with Tom Wujec, a leader, author and speaker on the subjects of technology, creativity and visualization, to develop and now offer the Wicked Problem Solving Toolkit, an innovative problem solving strategy based on visualization and collaboration.

I asked Bodo to provide me a bit of a preview for his session and to share some of his thoughts on the project. Let me say first, that I enjoyed our conversation very much. I could sense Bodo’s enthusiasm through the video call and I expect this will be more apparent in person. He is himself quite an authority on innovation, teamwork and collaboration, based on his rich history as a project manager, consultant and key account manager. I would say secondly, that I am now hooked. I look forward to attending this event and exploring how I can put these tools to work on my own projects.

Wicked_graphic_-_Christopher_Ziemba.png

In the words of Tom Wujec, “Wicked Problem Solving is a simple scalable visual system that helps people become dramatically more effective as creative leaders and modern problems solvers. It teaches three fundamental principles of creative collaboration. It teaches how to organize work into effective Plays and it teaches how to find a path to pick the best possible Plays. The concepts can be taught quickly. They can be applied to a vast range of business situations, and they can help teams run better meetings, untangle deep complexities and lead important change.”

A “Play” is the basic building block of Wicked Problem Solving. As described in the supporting program materials, a “Play” involves the three fundamental principles:

  • Leading with a key question – a clear articulation of the problem we’re seeking to solve.
  • Making ideas visible – creating a shared visual representation of the issue to help team members think through the problem. We mean this literally. Wicked Problem Solving is highly visual; we seek to get to the essence of the problem through drawings. 
  • Engaging with tasks – laying out an activity to help teams work through and solve the problem.

A Play is run in a time bound manner. Depending on the complexity of the problem and question this varies, but usually it takes 15-30 minutes to run a Play.

Wicked Problem Solving is a form of collaborative exercise. It is a very different manner of work to which many of us may be accustomed. Bodo explained to me how this can work very well with a Miro Board, how it can be done well in-person, but also remotely, or a combination of the two. As we discussed further, a key characteristic of this strategy for Bodo, and for me as well, is that it is an investment in your team. Instead of bringing in an expert to tell you how to solve a problem, Wicked Problem Solving enhances the collaboration and the productivity of the existing team, empowering them. Having input from different perspectives is essential, and visualization and time limited exercises enable different perspectives to be recognized more effectively.

I asked Bodo about how this effort has been received in the industry. He told me that the project is still in the early stages of deployment, PMI Switzerland is at the cutting edge, but that one company, which has strategically embraced Wicked Problem Solving, is Nagarro SE. They do not seem shy to discuss their experience. Nagarro is an information technology and digital product engineering company based in Germany, with more than 500 million euros in revenue in 2021 and more than 17,000 employees spread across 32 countries. Martin Hack, Global Head of Consulting at Nagarro has commented on the program, “At Nagarro we are striving to solve complex business problems with technology. For doing that, we identified the Wicked Problem Solving training material as a foundation on top of our own methodology…” He continues to say, “For us, Wicked Problem Solving is a complete operating system for creative collaboration.” Bodo explained further that Nagarro has already trained 500 of their consultants in Wicked Problem Solving and that these numbers will go up by the end of this year.

I suspect the numbers of Wicked Problem Solvers will also be going up across PMI Switzerland. A great place to get started is to join Bodo Giegel in Zürich on September 21, 2022 for his Keynote at our 11th Project Management Conference. I would like to thank Bodo one more time for speaking with me about the event, and I look forward to meeting you all there.

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