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Five Core Principles of The PMO Squad

leadership pmo problem solving project delivery project management Jan 06, 2023
Five Core Principles of The PMO Squad

The PMO Squad is quickly coming up to its 10th anniversary in March 2023. It only took 10 years to become an “overnight success” and we’d like to thank all of you who have been part of our journey! You may have been with us since the beginning as a client, employee or more recently as an Office Hours listener, podcast subscriber, or blog reader. Whenever you joined, you have been a part of our success and we are that much better because of it.  Collectively, we’re all the Squad! 

This milestone is also a good time to reflect on the tenets or principles that resonate in all we say and do, because The PMO Squad is doubling down on them in 2023. Why? Now more than ever we need to transform the way we operate as PMO Leaders and deliver projects. Our industry has been doing and saying the same thing for over 50 years (all you need to do is deliver projects on time, under budget, and in scope) and that doesn’t cut it anymore.  

We need to transform so that PMOs deliver business value and results. We need to partner closely with business operations and make sure our projects are providing a return on investment in our organizations. Each organization is going to define their ROI differently, and it’s up to you as a PMO Leader to deliver those results. 

How can The PMO Squad help you transform your PMO and deliver results?  Our five principles improve project delivery and lead to successful project outcomes. 

ONE: The WHY is more Important than the WHAT or the HOW 

WHY does your PMO exists? This is the first question we ask all PMO Leaders.  Other firms will immediately start with WHAT you need to do or HOW you need to do it. The PMO Squad is different. We believe that you must have a solid grasp on Why your PMO exists before considering the What and How.  

The metaphor of three bricklayers emphasizes the importance of Why your PMO exists. Each bricklayer was asked what he was doing. “I’m laying bricks,” said the first. The second bricklayer said, “I’m building a wall.” Finally, the third said, “I’m building a cathedral to The Almighty!” Which do you think was more motivated and productive? The first two bricklayers knew the WHAT and HOW, but the third understood the WHY. 

TWO: Communicate with your Customers and Understand How to Satisfy Them 

We took a lesson from the restaurant industry for our second Principle. Consider your favorite pizzeria. You are going to be asked a number of questions during your meal: whether your pizza tasted good, if you have what you need, or if there’s anything else that needs to be done to make your experience more enjoyable. You may even receive a link to a survey to anonymously take online at home later. Restaurateurs ask for feedback and act swiftly to make things right. They want you to come back time and time again. 

When’s the last time you asked, “How does your project taste?” We believe that it’s critical to ask project sponsors and executives what their expectations are for a successful project delivery. Once you understand those expectations (effectively, what they want on their pizza), it’s just as important to follow up with them on a regular basis and ask how their project tastes. 

THREE: Put in the Work 

It’s easy to say you’re going to transform your PMO in 2023, but it’s another thing to do it. It’s the equivalent of setting a New Year’s resolution to lose weight (the easy part) and getting off the couch and making it happen by going to the gym, exercising, and eating better (the hard part).  

That’s why our third Principle is putting in the hard work necessary to transform your PMO by doing today what others won't, so tomorrow your PMO can accomplish what others can’t. How do you do this?  

Investing time and money to attend conferences, hire coaches, and to read or listen to books about PMO and project management optimization are just a few. Attend networking events, connect with people in other industries and try new methodologies. Plug into an external source of thoughts and ideas that will continue to give you the energy needed to transform your PMO.  Establish new relationships within your organization to build an informal feedback loop.  

FOUR: Focus on Results rather than Activity 

There’s busy-ness and then there’s bus-iness (aka business). It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like something is getting done because we are having meetings, putting plans together, and clearing out our Inboxes. These activities keep us busy, but also lead to a false sense of accomplishment that is quickly deflated when business comes knocking and asks about results. 

Our fourth Principle prevents this from happening. Focus on outcomes and not outputs. Emphasize results over activity. Being activity and output-focused is like putting a ladder up against a wall and having everyone on your team scamper up it only to find that it’s the wrong wall! Make sure you have your ladder up against the right wall so that everyone’s actions count. 

FIVE: Prioritize People over Process 

Finally, our fifth core Principle is to put people over process. This one can be tough because having a process for everything is in our DNA as PMO Leaders and project managers. We want a predictable path to follow time and time again; we bristle when someone strays off this path. The reality is that new situations will arise and decisions will need to be made on the spot that may require our people to deviate from our process. 

That’s why we believe it’s vital to train your people, empower and trust them to make on-the-spot decisions, and not handcuff them with a process that’s too rigid. Think about how the military operates. There is a strong command and control hierarchy with clear expectations on how soldiers will operate. But, in the heat of battle, real-time decisions need to be made without needing to go up the chain of command. What makes these decisions possible? The extensive training and preparation they have received. Similarly, prepare your people with the training they need and empower them to think on their feet. 

Those are The PMO Squad’s 5 Core Principles. We’ve believed in them for nearly a decade now and will continue to incorporate them in everything we do in 2023, maybe even to the point of you getting tired of hearing them. We’re willing to take that risk, however, because we also believe it’s time to end “that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking, transform our industry, transform your project delivery capabilities, and help you deliver successful project outcomes!


The Five Principles of The PMO Squad  

It’s time to transform the PMO and Project Management industries. The PMO Squad’s five core Principles are critical to this transformation and will make a noticeable difference in how you deliver projects in the years ahead. 

  1. The WHY is more important than the WHAT and HOW - Make sure you know the reason why your PMO exists. Check with executives and those who were around when the PMO was established to find the original intent and see if it is still being met. Adjust as necessary. 
  2. Communicate with your Customers and Understand How to Satisfy Them- Get plenty of feedback regularly from your project sponsors and executives. Are their projects coming out of the oven just the way they ordered them, or do adjustments need to be made?  Do your projects taste good? 
  3. Put in the Work - Put in the effort today so the results you want to achieve tomorrow can be accomplished. Invest the time and money necessary to attend conferences, hire coaches, read books, join associations, and network with those outside of your company and optimize your PMO based on these inputs. 
  4. Focus on Results over Activity - Just because you feel busy it doesn’t mean that you are busy working on the right thing. Define the results you want to accomplish and then ensure all your activity is driving towards those results.
  5. Prioritize People Over Process - Don’t handcuff your team with unnecessary and counterproductive processes. Train, empower, and trust your people to make the right on-the-spot decisions necessary to achieve results. 

Incorporate these five principles into your strategies and plans for your PMO in 2023 and experience the difference as you begin to transform your PMO and projects! 


Busy-ness - A feeling as if something is getting done by just managing scope, budget, and time. This is a false sense of accomplishment that comes from non-value-add project management work. Could include activities such as endlessly checking emails, updating status reports, sitting in unnecessary meetings, manually putting reports together, etc. 

Busi-ness (Business) - This is what provides the money that makes it to your paycheck. You don’t get paid until something is sold and delivered. Make sure you understand this concept and focus all your efforts on making it easy to do business with your company. This can be done by ensuring that your projects integrate into operations and provide business value.  

Principle – A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning. 

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