[00:00:00.410] - Announcer
Do you wonder if others are dealing with the same project management challenges as you? Not sure where to turn for guidance and leadership? Office Hours are in session as we discuss project management and PMOs with global leaders, hearing their story and learning their secrets to success.
[00:00:17.670] - Announcer
Our goal is to empower you and help you elevate your PMO and project management career to new heights. Welcome back to Project Management Office Hours with your host, PMO Joe.
[00:00:28.840] - PMO Joe
Welcome, everyone, to Project Management Office Hours. We're the number one live project management radio show in the US, broadcasting to you from the Phoenix Business RadioX studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe. And for the next hour or so, we'll be talking project management with our special guest.
[00:00:48.920] - PMO Joe
Before we jump into the show, couple of announcements as we do always for every episode. Boy, September is a busy month. There is a lot of events going on right now. On September 20th, the PMO Impact Summit from Laura Barnard is out there. Its registration is free. You can go out to pmoimpactsummit.com.
[00:01:09.660] - PMO Joe
This is a fantastic conference that Laura puts on every year, and there's a great opportunity to hear from PMO leaders in all the key areas that you need to build a successful PMO. I'll be participating again for the third year. And this year, I'll be talking stakeholder engagement in a interview type discussion with Laura. So head out to pmoimpactsummit.com and sign up for that.
[00:01:34.680] - PMO Joe
The next day, September 21st, Planview Accelerate conference. PMO Squad is proud to be partners with Planview, and this year, we're a sponsor for the 2021 Accelerate event.
[00:01:46.720] - PMO Joe
This is the first year that Planview is opening up their user conference to non-customers. So if you're interested in Planview and their products and services, head over to that. It's a very long URL to give to register for that. So I'll just say, go to Google, the 2021 Planview Accelerate conference.
[00:02:08.660] - PMO Joe
If you recall earlier this year, they purchased Clarizen and Changepoint. So Planview is bigger than ever with lots of different solutions to meet your needs. Head out to that event, and then head over to the PMO Squad booth. Love to talk to you about the project management journey and see where you are in your journey.
[00:02:26.860] - PMO Joe
Lastly, the Arizona State University Project Management Summit is back again this year on September 29th. This is another free event to register. Again, another long URL. These will be on the show notes, but you can do a Google search on ASU PM Summit to get the registration for this event.
[00:02:48.380] - PMO Joe
I'm proud to be partners with them with our nonprofit organization, VPMMA, the Veteran Project Manager Mentoring Alliance, which helps veterans transition into the civilian workforce. And we've helped them organize and plan a track geared to veterans, including Dr. Gerald Lowe, who is the Director of Operations at Arlington National Cemetery; Carl Haskins, as the Chief Executive Officer at White Lotus. He had served 25 years in Special Forces for the US Army; Michelle Loposky, who is Director at the ASU-Pat Tillman Veteran Center; and Marcus Denetdale, who is a citizen of Navajo Nation and also a US Air Force veteran.
[00:03:32.820] - PMO Joe
In addition to the veterans track, of course, they cover all range of project management topics. Keynotes this year will be from Randy Black from PMI and May Busch. And then some of our favorite fans and guests on our show, Rich Maltzman, Billy Mwape, Elizabeth Harrin, Kim Wasson, and many others are going to be presenting at that event. So that is a lineup of great events coming up that are out there. We'll have them in the show notes. Be sure to go out and check them out.
[00:04:02.980] - PMO Joe
Also, I want to thank our sponsors, PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. Go out to their websites to learn more about the services they offer.
[00:04:10.720] - PMO Joe
We've got our special guest with us. I am so happy to have with us, Marissa Silva. Hello, Marissa.
[00:04:17.700] - Marisa Silva
Hi, Joe. Welcome too, and thank you for having me. It's my first time on your radio show, so quite excited and honored to be here. Thank you.
[00:04:25.860] - PMO Joe
Well, it's completely my pleasure. And if you could just take a moment to say hello to the audience and introduce yourself to them, so they can learn a little bit more about you. If they don't know you, they probably do, but just in case they don't.
[00:04:40.050] - Marisa Silva
Hello, everyone. My name is Marisa Silva, also known as "the Lucky PM" out there in the project management industry. I'm a senior consultant with a company called Wellingtone; I'm also a trainer with them, and I see myself as an educator, an advisor in project management. And I'm also a speaker in project management conferences.
[00:05:01.550] - Marisa Silva
More useful things for you to know about me. I wrote a book about project management. It's called Bedtime Stories for Project Managers. It combines fairy tales with project management concepts, so keeping the stories alive. And also, I'm studying project management. So I did a Master's degree in project management, and I'm currently doing a PhD in project management. So as I like to say, I think I kind of like projects.
[00:05:29.420] - PMO Joe
Absolutely. Well, let's talk project management. Let's start with the most obvious question. I think everybody who is out there, as you mentioned, you're the Lucky PM. Why are you the Lucky PM, right? Where does that come from? It's a great tagline, but what's the origin story behind that?
[00:05:48.660] - Marisa Silva
Well, there are many reasons. I think that the first one, or the more personal to me, is that I really feel lucky. I do work in a role that I like, in a profession that I love. And also, the clients that I work with, the teams that I work with, they are all fantastic. So I've been very lucky in my journey. Then there is this saying that goes, "There are no good project managers, only lucky ones." The more you plan, the luckier you get. As simple as that.
[00:06:21.110] - Marisa Silva
And I think that in general, we tend to overlook the role that luck can play in our lives. Of course, effort, commitment, persistence, consistency as well is important, but sometimes it's just about being in the right place at the right time, and that can make a difference. So I think that chance, that serendipity, it's definitely something that we should pay more attention to. And finally, well, the Lazy PM was already taken. So Lucky I was.
[00:06:55.890] - PMO Joe
Well, it's interesting you say that because you're not lazy, right? You just mentioned-
[00:07:02.590] - Marisa Silva
I completely agree with that. Yeah.
[00:07:02.590] - PMO Joe
You have your master's degree and now a PhD. So you're trying to, I guess, minimize the amount of chance as possible because you're becoming as educated on the topic as you can. But we can't educate the unknown, right? I mean, there's still going to be variability there.
[00:07:18.580] - Marisa Silva
Sure. You don't know what you don't know. So I think that for me, it was a personal quest to try to find more about this area of study. So not the practice which I already got, but then, as I'm currently, acting as a consultant, as I mentioned, as a trainer, so I have a wide exposure to others who are in project management. But for me, it was also about understanding the theoretical pillars for project management, how did we came to know project management as it is now, and then what's the evolution of that area as well?
[00:07:53.190] - Marisa Silva
So it has been very interesting in that sense to see that it is still a discipline in its infancy, that there is some critics around the fact that it's too much [inaudible 00:08:07] oriented, that we should consider the wider role of projects and project managers. So the social and sustainability role of projects as well. And so it has opened my mind and also get me more paths to explore.
[00:08:28.590] - PMO Joe
As you were speaking, something popped into my mind. We had Dr. Harold Kerzner on the show, I think it was in our first season, and we were talking about education with project management. And he brought up the challenge he felt where project management wasn't yet accepted in universities broadly, was who is going to teach it, right? Because the profession hasn't been around that long, and there really aren't as many, we'll say, educators in the topic, right? So now that you're pursuing this PhD, right, it triggered a thought, "Who's teaching the PhD in project management?" How does that come together for you?
[00:09:09.060] - Marisa Silva
So I'm studying at Alma Mater Europaea, so that's a university in Slovenia, with branches in other places, but the one that I'm studying in is in Slovenia. And the PhD, it's intended for practitioners. So even the teachers, they do have a practitioner role as well. And then, of course, someone needs to start somewhere when it comes to project management. So we look, for instance, into critical studies, how it started in the engineering world as well, and how it advanced from it.
[00:09:44.960] - Marisa Silva
And so I think that when it comes to education, it's interesting the question that you asked there, Joe, because the linkage between education and also the profession, I think it's an important one. As you were saying, who is educating the PMs? Is it enough for us to have certification? Should we consider something more?
[00:10:02.720] - Marisa Silva
And then if project management is a skill that is useful to everyone, then what is special about the project management profession? What makes a professional, if project management is for everyone and for anyone? So everyone can have the certification and claim to be a project manager. How does it make us a specialist in project management?
[00:10:22.800] - Marisa Silva
I think that's a question that we should be asking ourselves in the industry, given that it's important that we educate project management [inaudible 00:10:31], but all that in the same way as we do learn mathematics at school, it doesn't make me a mathematician. So the same logic would apply, I guess.
[00:10:40.720] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I agree with them. And it's certainly a healthy, ongoing discussion and debate out there in the industry. And I don't know if we even have to answer that. Maybe it's one of those that's okay to be two school of thoughts because the people who want to just know math or just know project management, the accidental PMs out there, it's okay to have them.
[00:11:01.630] - Marisa Silva
[00:11:01.630] - PMO Joe
And then at the same time, there can be people like accountants who use math in a specific way to do a specific function.
[00:11:10.160] - Marisa Silva
[00:11:11.170] - PMO Joe
That we can be specialists and use that general knowledge in a more specific way to lead the higher priority, the more influential projects, and leave the maybe less demanding projects to the accidental PMs who are out there just doing what's kind of standard project management.
[00:11:27.890] - Marisa Silva
Or it's not about creating those barriers to enter in the profession, but more to understand what the profession really is about. Is project management really a profession, or are we just professionals with some enthusiasm about project management? Somewhere around there.
[00:11:46.090] - Marisa Silva
And then, of course, the role of the other actors in projects as well. Something that amazes me still is around the role of sponsors, for instance. Sponsors, they are the ones making the decisions on projects. And yet, they are the ones that have less education on the project management language, for instance.
[00:12:05.310] - Marisa Silva
So we are asking them to make decisions on things that they may not really understand or make sense of what the impact will be. And there are so many courses, certification, even education programs that are just starting to appear for project managers, but not that much for our roles as the role of the sponsor. So certainly something that as an industry, again, I think we could maybe have a look at.
[00:12:31.020] - PMO Joe
Yeah, I agree. So let's go back in time. At some point, you decided to become a project manager, or maybe you fell into that career path. But what's the Marisa Silva story? How do you start out your project management journey and your path to becoming the Lucky PM?
[00:12:50.240] - Marisa Silva
For me, I would say that it was, in some respect, a conscious decision. Of course, I didn't start as a project manager right away. So when I left college, I have a degree in management. I did start as, almost as a PA, but also with a role on doing the financials, payrolls, invoicing, and so on and so on. And I remember that my first contact with project management, I didn't realize that at the time, but then in hindsight, it's so funny, was when my manager asked me to start doing timesheets. And I didn't understand, why does she need to know what I'm doing?
[00:13:29.680] - Marisa Silva
Doesn't she trust me? All that, not realizing the importance of timesheets, for instance, for efficiency purposes, to see how the time's being spent, if the resources are well allocated, and so on.
[00:13:39.970] - Marisa Silva
So that was my first ever contact with project management outside university. Then I saw an ad for a consultancy role in project management, and I was reading that. I was not that... How to say? As enthusiastic in my current role as a PA as when I started. So it started to feel very limited to my abilities. And I looked into the path, and it seemed the right thing to do. So I then went to apply. I was selected. I feel very privileged, again, very lucky to have been part of that company and being part of the life of those people who were my mentors, because I think that was really a very solid start to my journey.
[00:14:29.640] - Marisa Silva
We had intensive training, three months of training. We had coaching. And this was about 12 years ago. So for some PMOs, they are starting coaching as a function now, and in that company that was already established. So I felt very supported. I may be wrong, but I think that I've learned from the best, at least in Portugal at the time. So that was really positive.
[00:14:56.880] - Marisa Silva
And from there, I then just went, evolved with other projects. And so I'm working with different organizations who are our clients. And working consultancy, you learn so much faster than perhaps if you were in a more permanent organization. So working there, in that environment, really gave me the driver for more, for setting more, for knowing more on how projects work.
[00:15:23.380] - Marisa Silva
From there, I stayed in that company for... well, maybe two, three years. Then I move into another consulting company, also with the same group of people. And in 2013, I decided that I wanted to have a more international career. And I went to the UK. In fact, I was very lucky again because I've been mentioning this to my company in Portugal, they say, "Okay, you want to go? We go with you. You're not going to do it alone, we believe in your abilities, we know what you're capable of, why not expand to another country?
[00:16:01.810] - Marisa Silva
Let's see what you can do."
[00:16:04.470] - Marisa Silva
The problem was that it was just me they are trying to sell this idea of a Portuguese consulting company in the UK, pretty much on my own. So after about nine months, realized that that wasn't working. And I said, "It's now time to set me free for me to find my own path." So it was a very sad moment for all, I think, but we still keep very close.
[00:16:27.640] - Marisa Silva
And since then, I then applied to Oxford University Press. So that was my first experience in the UK, for real, without the support of this Portuguese consulting company that I was working for at the time. It was a magnificent experience. And again, I was very lucky to have the manager that I had. She is terrific with stakeholder engagement, for instance. I learned a lot there on how to build relationships, to get defined for establishing and advancing their PMO. So we had a very good support for that department. And then I have entered, pretty much, for Wellingtone where I've been for the past five years now.
[00:17:13.290] - PMO Joe
[00:17:13.590] - Marisa Silva
That's [inaudible 00:17:11]
[00:17:13.290] - PMO Joe
Yeah. It's amazing the journeys that we go on. I think everyone we've talked to on the show, I don't think we've ever had a guest yet who said, "I went to college to become a project manager." But I'm wondering, is that changing? Because yours was 12 plus years ago, mine was longer than that, and it wasn't even an option. There weren't coursework yet for project management.
[00:17:37.790] - Marisa Silva
Yes. I believe so.
[00:17:37.790] - PMO Joe
But universities are adding that now. I mean, now it's becoming an option.
[00:17:42.080] - Marisa Silva
Yes. And we do now have apprenticeships in project management. So there's a career path for it more and more established, and I would even argue for PMOs now, which is fantastic to see. When I started, the PMO was still an entry route for a project management role. Nowadays, what I see is often the opposite. People who are doing project management now want to be more involved with PMOs. So quite fantastic to see the industry evolving, and also to be driving or being part of it.
[00:18:10.680] - PMO Joe
And the end point of that story is this year, you're now a finalist for PMO Influencer of the Year.
[00:18:20.450] - Marisa Silva
[00:18:20.450] - PMO Joe
So you start out with your PA role, and then you move into additional roles beyond that, and then you're acknowledged within the industry from the PMO Global Alliance as one of the most influential people out there. How does that feel?
[00:18:36.440] - Marisa Silva
It feels amazing. It was a total surprise. You are nominated, it's not something that you apply for. And for me, it's so strange and so fantastic at the same time. My parents, they are farmers. I lived growing cabbages and now, I'm being recognized by my peers on the area that I work. So being in the same group as Philippe, the same group as Bill or Laura, it's amazing. They were my role models, so to be involved in that same group, it's such an honor.
[00:19:13.610] - Marisa Silva
And I was asked the other day, after the announcement came out, I was asked by someone on LinkedIn, "How can I become an influencer? I want to [inaudible 00:19:21]." I said, "I have no idea. I just do what I do. I like to share my stories, I like to communicate with my networks." And so about sharing and learning. I don't know if there's any trick there. At least I've never thought of becoming an influencer. I think that just happened.
[00:19:38.240] - PMO Joe
[00:19:40.970] - Marisa Silva
And it feels amazing.
[00:19:40.970] - PMO Joe
Yeah, and congratulations to you, and as mentioned, Philippe and Laura and Bill. We haven't had Philippe on the show yet, but we've had Bill and Laura on. And of course, I was the top 15 two years in a row now. I got to be able to break through and make it to the finals one of these years.
[00:19:55.460] - Marisa Silva
You are an influencer too. Definitely. Known up there.
[00:20:00.320] - PMO Joe
It's kind of just a validation to your point of we don't try to get that, it just happens. So it's nice to see in your industry and through your peers that there's a confirmation for what you're doing people are receptive to. And that's what I think is what that means.
[00:20:15.100] - Marisa Silva
Yes, it is the recognition that what you are doing is right, or at least that people feel it's right, that you are helping the community to grow, that you are an active part of the industry. So that recognition for me, it makes it worthwhile.
[00:20:32.020] - PMO Joe
One of the things that I like, what you do out on LinkedIn, probably not the right word for this, but it's kind of these doodles, these creative ways to express thought in like a cartoon or a comic. It's not a-
[00:20:49.950] - Marisa Silva
[00:20:48.950] - PMO Joe
Yeah. How did that come from? What is that all about? Because I love just seeing that because I know it's a fresh creative take on a good, solid thought. So where'd that come from?
[00:21:00.220] - Marisa Silva
No conscious decision there. I do speak at conferences, as I mentioned, and I do like to use cartoons, images, because I do think that pictures do tell a good story. Sometimes there are words, they say it's worth a thousand words. And so I found, one day, a nice cartoon, I published it, people reacted to it. And then I thought, "Okay, let's see how this works," because I do have other cartoons, I think that would be funny to have that provoking thought there. But some, they are quite ironic or satirical.
[00:21:31.660] - Marisa Silva
So seeing how people react, it's my trigger for publishing those cartoons on [inaudible 00:21:38]. Sometimes people are quite emotional about it, and then I just think it's just humor. It's just for a happy Friday, just put a smile on your face. I'm not trying to lecture anyone on project management. Just to have a healthy discussion. So I do have varied responses sometimes, depending on the subject that the cartoon is about. Tomorrow is going to be about the role of the project manager. So [crosstalk 00:22:03]
[00:22:03.170] - PMO Joe
Oh, look at that, sneak peek, everybody. Well, what I like about that is this is how you're an influencer because you're finding a way to communicate within the industry that's... It's more receptive. You said people get emotional about that because they can connect personally.
[00:22:18.960] - Marisa Silva
Exactly. Yes. Exactly.
[00:22:19.840] - PMO Joe
Right? And that's what we need to be able to do. And you mentioned something just a moment ago about how you grew up a daughter of farmers.
[00:22:27.960] - Marisa Silva
[00:22:27.960] - PMO Joe
And we had a prior guest on, Carsten Ley, from Germany, and same thing. He grew up low income, farm family, and just recognized that wasn't for him and now he runs Asia PMO out of Vietnam, right after stops in Mexico and elsewhere.And you had this itch for this international. "I want to leave Portugal and I want be [inaudible 00:22:51]." So what was that like? That's why I do this show, to get into these insights to say... Because there's some other project manager out there, maybe in Portugal, maybe in Brazil, maybe in Israel, they could be anywhere.
[00:23:04.820] - PMO Joe
And they're thinking about, "I want to do more." What was that like for you? And how did you have the courage to be able to go do that?
[00:23:12.440] - Marisa Silva
Oh, courage. There are sometimes a view that people that move to other countries, they are very brave and so on. Sometimes they are, but it's not like in the '60s, for instance, in Portugal where people had to go at night, no one seeing them, and without any papers and so on. Fortunately, at least in the [inaudible 00:23:36], we do live without those barriers. So I wouldn't say it's courage. It's a matter of knowing what you want and go after it, having that vision of what you want to become and just pursuing it.
[00:23:51.660] - Marisa Silva
So for me, I always have, or at least my parents tell me, that I always talked about living in the UK or traveling. So it seems like there always have been that motivation, even if it was not fully conscious for me. And then after I did worked in Portugal, that consulting company with other clients, and some of them were having international projects. So at that moment, one of my biggest roles, or perhaps more challenging one, was being in part of a program management office for an international program,where we were representing the Portuguese branch together with another seven countries.
[00:24:44.580] - Marisa Silva
And that program was fully run in French and English. I do have broken English [inaudible 00:24:50], but still, that was an amazing experience. It allowed me to see that despite my broken English, despite being in a humble start, that everyone was able to connect in the same way and to have the same challenges on projects, to have the same challenges on engaging [inaudible 00:25:15] on passing a message.
[00:25:17.940] - Marisa Silva
So that was my first real international experience. Fortunately, in that case, the Portuguese branch, I think we did an amazing work there. We were recognized also for the work by the other peers that were part of that programs who we are pretty much leading the way. And then that just gave me the reasurance to say, "Yes, I can do this. Let's now try to do this in another scale." So then I just started the conversations with my company, saying that that's what I wanted to do. And in reality, that was easier than having the conversation with my family. So that required a bit more conversations, a bit more discussions.
[00:25:57.000] - Marisa Silva
And then, of course, there's always that concern, at least for my parents, that I'll be there on my own, alone, no friends, sleeping under the bridge, and not telling them the truth, things like that. So fortunately, it was not that way. And I had an amazing experience. In fact, I'm still connected to today. Currently, I'm based in Portugal. So I moved back in March 8th of 2020, when the pandemic hit. And since then, I haven't had to return to the UK because, well, everyone is still trying to find out how the new normal is going to be. But of course, my working relationships are still in the UK.
[00:26:42.260] - Marisa Silva
So having that international experience and keeping that international experience was quite important for me.
[00:26:49.250] - Marisa Silva
Now, that was definitely from a consulting and training perspective. But then, I also started to apply for conferences, to speak in conferences, to write papers, articles for blogs, also involved with other volunteer organizations, not just in Portugal and UK, like the APM, but also more global ones like Project Managers Without Borders, or Project Managers Against Poverty.
[00:27:17.190] - Marisa Silva
So I try to reach more and to confirm that, indeed, despite where you are in the world, we are experiencing the same challenges, we all have the same type of stories. So a long answer.
[00:27:30.890] - PMO Joe
No, that's okay. You said there's context to courage. And certainly, people who are leaving for political reasons or economic reasons, that's a different level of courage. But-
[00:27:46.300] - Marisa Silva
[00:27:46.300] - PMO Joe
Just like your parents were concerned about, "Hey, are you going to be sleeping under a bridge, and are you going to be okay?" That's courage, to be able to leave what was comfort, comfortable, and go into the unknown, whether that's a different country or a different company or a different role within an existing company, that takes courage. And I think a lot of people, even public speaking, to be a speaker takes courage. So I think a lot of people want to hear that others have been able to take that step and be successful.
[00:28:19.790] - PMO Joe
We were chatting before the show. We're digital assets on social media, and we don't get to have people learn about what we've done. And to actually hear your story and hear how you took that chance to move on, I think means something to people. And I think that people will benefit from that.
[00:28:38.060] - Marisa Silva
Thank you, Joe. And I fully agree on that, that courage being contextual, of course, what's courage. The [inaudible 00:28:44] was required for me to make that move, was one of the courages to speak to my parents about anything. But to others, certainly under the circumstances, and that should definitely be appreciated.
[00:28:58.630] - PMO Joe
So you've mentioned Wellingtone a couple of times. That's where you're currently working. Help us understand a little bit more about them and the type of company they are, and just to learn how they're making an impact. They're influencing within the industry as well.
[00:29:15.800] - Marisa Silva
So Wellingtone, they are based in the UK, so we're based in Windsor. They also have offices in Spain and in Ireland. And they are a specialist project management consulting camping. We do pure project management consulting, like setting up PMOs, mentoring PMOs, developing project management methods, running the [inaudible 00:29:37] assessments. Then we do training aligned with the APM, the Association for Project Management in the UK. And we have developed niche courses or specialist courses, actually. That's actually something that I'm very proud of, one of them being the PMO practitioner, PMO leader, or the assurance courses. So something that I think is revolutionary and I don't think there's anything like it out there, at least that I'm aware of, or the way that we have created that course.
[00:30:05.980] - Marisa Silva
And then also, we do the technology side. So covering pretty much all the enablers who are successful project management. The methods, the capability, and then also the tools to support it. They are a fantastic company to work with or to work for. I'm not sure what's the right word there. It feels like a company... sorry, like a family, so if I have any concern, I can go straight to my managing director.
[00:30:33.420] - Marisa Silva
There are no barriers there. And that was perhaps one of the biggest cultural differences when I started, internationally I mean, because in Portugal, there are so many barriers, so many steps to go in the hierarchy if you want to pass your message across. There are lot of, we call it here, doctors and engineers. So everyone has a title, then if you don't go to the [inaudible 00:31:01], you need to go to the PA first, and so on. So in the UK, and certainly other countries, that was different. And for me, it was quite a shock in the beginning, but then I adapted, then I found that's definitely a very flat organization where if we have anything that's upsetting us, we can just discuss it as a panel. So quite lucky, once again, to work there.
[00:31:26.900] - PMO Joe
How about just the way projects and PMOs work across different countries and geographies? We've had guests from all over the world come on and they explain how PMOs operate there and the cultural components, certainly which are different, and everything within the States. We always think we do things the best over here, but the reality is I think we're way behind the PMO journey for other countries. I mean, compared to the UK, PMOs aren't as accepted over here. I think we have a long way to go.
[00:31:59.650] - PMO Joe
So what's your perspective on having the opportunity to be in an international setting with the way PMOs and project management differs across regions?
[00:32:11.230] - Marisa Silva
It's interesting that you ask that question, because another shock was when I started to realize that the organizations were not as mature in the case I would expect them, compared with the experience that I already had in Portugal. Like, for instance, I learned earned value management and most of the organizations that I was working with in Portugal, their PMOs would know what I'm talking about when I refer to earned value and others. And in the UK, in my experience so far, I've worked with two, three companies who knew want that tool was. So that was quite intriguing.
[00:32:56.800] - Marisa Silva
Then another thing that I would like to highlight there is in Portugal, it's much more bureaucratic. So even the way how we do project management. I'm doing the parallel project. I do have several projects outside my day-to-day work, which makes me very busy as well, but nevertheless, which is something called "Voices of Project Management in Portugal." At the moment, it's not a book yet. It's a movement, let's say, where I'm meeting or I'm gathering the views of several project management practitioners, academics, and others in Portugal that want to share their view of what is project management, what's different about doing project management in Portugal?
[00:33:44.500] - Marisa Silva
So quite timely that you asked me that question about the cultural differences. And in Portugal, we do have something that is sometimes known as a trait by other countries, which is our ability to be flexible, to do some bricolage, if needed, to solve at the last minute without much preparation. So improvisation pretty much. In Portugal, we call it [foreign language 00:34:11]. You can try. A new Portuguese word, [inaudible 00:34:16]
[00:34:18.070] - PMO Joe
We'll wait for after the show to give that one a try.
[00:34:21.510] - Marisa Silva
Exactly. No, but that ability, all around improvisation, I think it's one that we do value, but one can also argue that that's not proper risk management being applied there. So leave it to the very end until we find a solution. Of course, we do value that flexibility, but at the same time, one can challenge if there are better ways.
[00:34:45.380] - Marisa Silva
So I like that difference there. And then the bureaucracy comparing to... Again, just based on my experience, comparing the UK with Portugal. In Portugal, everything is much more bureaucratic. If you want to present, say, a health insurance report, a health check on the project, if it doesn't have 100 pages, people will probably not read it. They wouldn't take it seriously. In the UK, it's pretty much the opposite. Show me what are the key concerns, what we need to do, and let's work on it.
[00:35:18.130] - Marisa Silva
But apart from those details, I would say that the challenges remain the same, though. We have poor visibility of what [inaudible 00:35:27] projects, poor engagement. Also, our usual delays on project efficiencies being applied in the organizations which, well, keeps me busy, it's my job. But at the same time, I think that organizations, they always think that they are different, but working as a consultant and having that international experience, I think we are very much alike.
[00:35:57.280] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that's interesting you mentioned that. PMO Squad, my company, we're similar to Wellingtone, we do similar things, and almost every client says, "Well, we need a consultant to come in that has industry experience." And I said, "Well, you're not hiring us for the industry experience, but you're hiring us for the project management experience."
[00:36:17.950] - Marisa Silva
[00:36:17.950] - PMO Joe
They all think their company and their industry is unique, but the reality is the project management challenges are common across those industries. Do you experience those same things?
[00:36:28.100] - Marisa Silva
Yes. And often, they already have the answers. They are just not utilizing a tacit knowledge. They are not listening to the ones that are on the field, actually running projects. There's this view of, what we call the "ignorance pyramid" where at the top, people don't have the view of what's happening on the lower levels, so the message doesn't flow as it could.
[00:36:54.110] - Marisa Silva
And sometimes what I see is that when we, as consultants, go to do our job and to provide our recommendations to [inaudible 00:37:03] what our findings are, and so on, it's not something that is new, but it gives them the case for change that they were missing internally. So it's almost like reassurance, and also having that ability to speak the truth to power that sometimes the organizations or people in those organizations don't have.
[00:37:23.720] - PMO Joe
So obviously, lots of wisdom, lots of experience, international and different cultures. So someone who's just starting out, a new graduate or somebody that's getting into the profession, what's the advice that you would give to them?
[00:37:39.620] - Marisa Silva
Work on relationships. That would be my key advice. I remember that when I started in my role as PMO officer at the time, so I was supporting the Portuguese team as well as the Spanish team on that consulting company that I started with, and I remember that I had all the support from the C level. They were backing any of all of my decisions or saying, "The PMO is the entity that you need to report to and you need to do what they are asking to do," and so on.
[00:38:14.550] - Marisa Silva
So I had all the power that I needed to complete my job. Yet, I didn't have any meaningful relationships with the ones that I was supporting. I didn't see at the time the PMO as a service.
[00:38:26.800] - Marisa Silva
Well, it was my first [inaudible 00:38:28] as a PMO, but indeed, I learned a lot from that role and one of the key things that you need to build the relationships. The rest will then happen. It's about co-creating the PMO, putting people as part of that journey, taking on the journey with you. And then also hearing what they have to say.
[00:38:50.070] - Marisa Silva
Something that I've learned that same company was that no one destroys what one helps to build. So if you are part of it, they are less resistant, and they will be sincere in their effort. I remember, it's just an episode there, completing timesheets was very important for us at the time. Why? Because that was connected to the invoicing system. And as a consultant, we need to identify what's billable work, what's not billable, and so on. And the view at the time was that everyone had to complete timesheets, unless you are in the hospital. That was the exception. And they was skin in the game there, because if people didn't complete their timesheets, that was going to impact on part of their salary every month.
[00:39:41.440] - Marisa Silva
So there was a financial incentive to do that.
[00:39:44.390] - Marisa Silva
So that also led, again, the role of the PMO to be one of control, rather than supportive, and I think that by the end, the C level was very happy with the results, but I was pretty much the most hated person in the project management community.
[00:40:04.260] - PMO Joe
[00:40:05.750] - Marisa Silva
So building those relationships, that's key.
[00:40:08.560] - PMO Joe
Yeah, relationships, and what's your thoughts also on the soft skills? Because a moment ago, you mentioned earned value, and companies necessarily didn't know that. So the technical skills we can teach you. I mean, those are things that can be taught, but a lot of times, individual struggle with the soft skills: the relationship building, the motivation, the influencing.
[00:40:28.010] - Marisa Silva
Mm-hmm. And the soft skills are the hardest ones to [crosstalk 00:40:31].
[00:40:33.310] - PMO Joe
Yeah. So where should we focus? I mean, because again, in a university setting, again, I haven't taken any project management courses at university, so I'm making some assumptions here, but they probably teach the technical skills, are they?
[00:40:46.690] - Marisa Silva
They do. Yes. With some critical thinking behind it as well. So not taking things for granted, seeing other alternatives and trying to find what are the weaknesses and the strength points of each of those theories that support project management, that support those tools. But answering your question, I think that the soft skills are the ones that we should be focusing on, and those are the ones that you cannot learn on a textbook. Those are the ones that you need experience to practice those soft skills.
[00:41:16.230] - Marisa Silva
In particular, I do think that emotional intelligence and empathy, coming back to the creating relationships topic that I was mentioning, I think those are the ones that should be in the toolkit of every project, any project management. So of course, you can also refer back to leadership, to communication skills, those are definitely important in order for you to be effective on your role, but I would say that if you do have a team to support you, then the rest will just follow.
[00:41:51.520] - PMO Joe
Everybody always wants to try to predict the future. "Hey, this is the new trend that's coming." We've been hearing AI now for three, four, five years, and maybe the next three, four or five years as well, but it's still not here. I mean, it's getting here, but we're not there. In your crystal ball of the future for PMOs, what do you see?
[00:42:12.830] - Marisa Silva
In my crystal ball, I see a bright future for PMOs.
[00:42:18.510] - PMO Joe
[00:42:18.720] - Marisa Silva
[crosstalk 00:42:17] PMOs are much more respected, where they are seen as a business, sorry, a value business partner, where people come to the PMO with open arms and say, "Do come and help us, do assist us, because we do value your work."
[00:42:33.830] - Marisa Silva
No, jokes aside, I think that the PMO will have a more strategic role in the way that more and more, we are involved in the portfolio management site, selecting the right projects. Project management, I would argue that it's becoming more established as a discipline. Now, the next level would be to look into how we are running our programs and our performance. So identifying the appropriate projects to run, the ones that provide the right balance of risk, resources, return as well. And prioritizing those is something that the PMO can support. And even scanning the horizon for more opportunities.
[00:43:10.340] - Marisa Silva
So not being so much involved in delivery and performance tracking, but more and more in assisting the indication of those opportunities and in the definition of the portfolio.
[00:43:22.670] - Marisa Silva
In the same way, using the predictive word, I think that that's also an area that PMOs will explore. So not being reactive, like for instance, conducting health checks, tracking status report and so on, but doing more and more predictive analysis. With information that we have, what can we expect for this project? And even for the organization through scanning of the horizon. So doing some scenario planning as well would be an area where I see PMOs starting to be involved.
[00:43:56.020] - Marisa Silva
Then, in addition to that, I would add to that capability side is when that I see more PMOs involved nowadays, and I think it is a growing area. So this has to be the acknowledgement that project managers do know their stuff, so they will have a toolkit to rely on and to use. There should be a knowledge for all the various tools that are available out there, but then the PMO can support that journey. So advice on what is the most appropriate tool to use for this particular context.
[00:44:29.320] - Marisa Silva
So relying on previous lessons, the previous projects story, you can find what were those lessons, those risks, those estimates, and then being the integrator of all that information to support the project managers.
[00:44:42.430] - Marisa Silva
So on that capability side, advising on the tools. Also, supporting the career path of the project managers by performing coaching, I think that's where PMOs will evolve to.
[00:44:56.370] - PMO Joe
[00:44:56.370] - Marisa Silva
Ultimately, and I do agree with [inaudible 00:44:58] on this one, I do think that PMOs must grow, or they must go. And that realm is definitely going to be assessed by the organizations. Those are the judges of what the PMO value needs.
[00:45:11.460] - PMO Joe
And you've mentioned journey a couple of times, because a lot of organizations think, "Hey, we've had our PMO for two years. I don't understand why we're not generating value out of it," but at the same time, the sponsors are disconnected, the stakeholders aren't participating, portfolio decisions aren't being made. It's an organizational maturation process. It takes years to get to that point.
[00:45:38.660] - Marisa Silva
Exactly. Exactly. It is indeed a journey, and sometimes it's just a start that is the wrong one. So just because I read on a book that having a PMO is a good idea, or because an audit said so, that's not a good argument, not a solid reason to have a PMO. That reason needs to come from within the organization, and the PMO itself needs to touch what's the perception of value from the different customers of the PMO.
[00:46:05.730] - Marisa Silva
So understanding the PMO is a service with customers, and as we would do in any other business, let's hear what our customers want from the PMO. Then you build the PMO, then you can show value. If you do it the other way around, it's a much difficult selling to do. You had this great idea, then you have to convince everyone that that was a great idea, and those are the services that we now want you to be involved in. It can work, but it's much, much more difficult.
[00:46:33.100] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that's the premise behind our purpose-driven PMO. Start with why you exist, then deal with what and how.
[00:46:40.990] - Marisa Silva
[00:46:40.990] - PMO Joe
But too often, PMO leaders... Because again, there's no school for PMO leaders. It's the good PM who got promoted to become a PMO manager but never got trained on how to run a department or manage a team.
[00:46:54.730] - Marisa Silva
There are courses, though.
[00:46:57.530] - PMO Joe
Yes. I wonder if anybody on this session has created any of those. Yes.
[00:47:03.280] - Marisa Silva
Perhaps. Perhaps. We don't know. But they have to be the PMO practitioner and PMO with their courses. Of course, there are others out there, but I think that the fact that ours, the one by [inaudible 00:47:14] has been created by people who have PMO experience, so it is by PMOs, for PMOs, I think that definitely makes a difference on knowing what the real challenges are, not just what's in the textbook.
[00:47:25.930] - PMO Joe
I would agree. I mean, practical experience, there is no substitute for that. I want to go back to the beginning here. You mentioned your book, and for those who are on audio, you couldn't see it. But here on our Zoom, Marisa held it up, so we got to see her book Bedtime Stories.
[00:47:39.940] - Marisa Silva
There it is. [inaudible 00:47:40] on video.
[00:47:43.410] - PMO Joe
Again, this to me is that creative piece that helps make you an influencer. Taking something as familiar as fairy tales and bringing project management into that to make it be relatable so that I can personalize it and experience it my way. How does that book come to be? And give us maybe an example or two of a story that you utilized in the book.
[00:48:07.660] - Marisa Silva
Thank you. Thank you for that feedback. I'm not sure this what makes me an influencer, but certainly was one of my first creative moments, so that's why the book was born in 2016. And I just stop and search to share more with the others a different way of looking into projects.
[00:48:28.750] - Marisa Silva
It was one of my training experience. So I remember that I was shadowing one of my colleagues, a more senior trainer at the time. And this was in Portugal 12 years ago. And he was telling me the story about the Stone Soup, which is probably known in Portugal. It may not be in other countries. But it's all about building a soup just by starting with a stone. I'm sorry, not building. Doing the soup.
[00:48:52.670] - Marisa Silva
So you start with the stone, and then you'd say, "Oh, this is nice, but let's put a bit of salt." And then someone will bring salt. "Let's put a bit of potatoes," and someone will bring potatoes. "Oh, this would be really good if you now bring some carrots." And by the end, you will have a soup, not realizing that you put and make it without having the ingredients to start with.
[00:49:13.550] - Marisa Silva
And he always told this story when he was talking about scope creep. I think that's a very clever way of explaining what scope creep is about in projects. And then I started wondering, "Could there be other stories that we could relate to project management?" And then I started my own quest of trying to find those stories.
[00:49:32.580] - Marisa Silva
So the book has 10 stories at the moment. Some of them would be, for instance, Emperor's New Clothes, which I hope is familiar to everyone, but I think this one is a bit more international, which is about the king that has these new clothes by a very renowned tailor. And it is so special, it's so nice clothes. And actually, what you find out in the end is the Emperor is naked, and so convinced that he has the more fine clothes up there.
[00:50:05.330] - Marisa Silva
And the way how you relate or how I related it to project management was around business cases. Sometimes business cases in the façade, they are so creative, the project is going to deliver so much benefits, and it's going to cost so few dollars, and in reality, what we have is the project doesn't have legs to stand up, to run. So I talk about the optimism buyers in there, for instance, also defining policy and just some guidelines on what to do or how to build a solid business case.
[00:50:42.570] - Marisa Silva
Then other stories that would be more familiar to people are, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood. So that one talks about the importance of the critical path, and not deviating from the critical path, quite important there. Or say, The Three Little Pigs. So that one talks about risk management. And also, it can also be applied to estimating, actually. So it talks about three-points estimate as one of the tools that you can consider, and then also the importance of thinking, what is the most likely scenario, but then what could go wrong?
[00:51:15.760] - Marisa Silva
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. This one is about quality assurance, watermelon reporting as well. So it brings, I hope, fresh ideas, even to people that are well established, well knowledgeable in project management, and for people that are new to project management, I think it makes an easy stack on what project management is about.
[00:51:37.160] - Marisa Silva
Ultimately, even if you don't learn anything from it, you can still just enjoy the stories, go back to your childhood or read it to your children. So it works for everyone.
[00:51:47.540] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And I love that. When we talk to clients, we try not to talk in project management language.
[00:51:55.710] - Marisa Silva
[00:51:55.710] - PMO Joe
So it'd be like an engineer coming to my house to tell me some electrical work that needed to get done. If they spoke in their language, I couldn't understand it.
[00:52:03.840] - Marisa Silva
There are so many acronyms in project management. PM, PMI, so many.
[00:52:11.900] - PMO Joe
So it helps with that. And so I think, again, this goes back to being relatable. It's putting our profession into a language or into a situation that other people can personalize.
[00:52:24.780] - Marisa Silva
Yeah, it's the stories, Joe, that we started this conversation with, not just the stories about project management, about ourselves, making ourselves relatable and making project management relatable to people. Definitely.
[00:52:35.410] - PMO Joe
And maybe you have the same experience. My parents still... I'm 53 years old. My parents have no idea what I do because I tell them I'm a project manager, and in their world that doesn't compute. They don't understand what a project manager does.
[00:52:49.160] - Marisa Silva
I work with computers. That's what I say.
[00:52:52.930] - PMO Joe
Same for me. My parents still think I work with computer... They call me like, "Can you come fix my computer?" I'm like, "No, I don't"-
[00:52:58.270] - Marisa Silva
[00:52:58.270] - PMO Joe
"I don't do anything with a computer." Well, Marisa, this has been fantastic. I really appreciate you taking the time. I believe it's late in your evening over there.
[00:53:08.330] - Marisa Silva
I'm getting ready for dinner.
[00:53:10.900] - PMO Joe
Yeah. So thank you so much for coming on and joining us and helping to share your story so that others can... to learn from that.
[00:53:20.940] - Marisa Silva
It was a pleasure. Thank you, Joe.
[00:53:22.540] - PMO Joe
So before we wrap up, just any last thoughts you have? Or how can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about what you have going on?
[00:53:30.380] - Marisa Silva
Yes, of course. I would say that the best way to get in touch with me is via LinkedIn. So that's one of the areas that I'm more active on. So you can find me by searching for "the Lucky PM." And you can also contact me via email so that... Can I say my email? If I can.
[00:53:45.030] - PMO Joe
Sure. Of course. Yeah.
[00:53:46.080] - Marisa Silva
So that is "marisa" just one S, ".silva" the most Portuguese surname ever, "@Wellingtone" with an E at the end, ".co.uk"
[00:53:56.460] - PMO Joe
Thank you again. It's been fantastic to have you on. And certainly, thank you to all of our listeners. I say this every show, but we're fortunate. If you don't have listeners, then you don't have a show. So thank you for coming back and downloading our episodes and hearing what we have to say. I put out on LinkedIn we've gone over the 40 million downloads mark, which, in four years' time, still blows me away. And it's only because we have guests like Marisa Silva joining us. So it's fantastic.
[00:54:25.550] - PMO Joe
Our upcoming guest, we're still fortunate to keep this great lineup coming, Ricardo Vargas will be joining us. Fatimah Abbouchi will be coming back on for a repeat performance from her. Then we're going to be having Sam Sibley and Matt Hubbard are coming on to talk about the PMI Citizen Developer Program, which I think is going to be an interesting discussion. And then, of course, we'll finish out the year with a few more shows. And then we'll be into season five, which blows my mind to think that I'm still doing this five years after we started.
[00:54:58.210] - PMO Joe
A reminder to everyone that these shows, while they're live, they're also being recorded. So please subscribe to Project Management Office Hours Podcast on Apple Podcast, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Spreaker, whatever your platform of choice may be.
[00:55:12.900] - PMO Joe
Thank you to our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. That's it for now. Office Hours are closed. Until next time, I'm PMO Joe, and you've been listening to Project Management Office Hours.
[00:55:26.680] - Announcer
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