[00:00:14.370] - 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 Project Management and PMOs with global leaders hearing their story and learning their secrets to success. 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.
[00:00:44.810] - 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 today from our Studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe. And for the next hour or so, we're going to be talking project management. And I'm also excited to share a bunch of events that are coming up that I'm participating in, and hopefully they'll be available for your schedule as well. On January 27, I'll be participating in the PMOs around the World conference. Have the link here available for you. We'll have that in the comments as well later. And this is an informal conference with the initiative brought together by the PMO Global Alliance by the PMO leader, PMI officers, PMI Latin American region, and several other PMI chapters. So lots of great conversation one day virtual conference. So I encourage everybody to go out there and sign up for that. The next day, I jump right back into it and I'll be speaking with the PMI Phoenix chapter here locally in Phoenix, talking about the topic of the project management journey and PMOs maturity and the project delivery function and how that can be an evolution over time.
[00:02:09.530] - PMO Joe
That's a free registration, and we have that link right now on screen as well. And then coming up in February, the PMO leader on February 22 is going to be doing their kick off of a new Webinar series called Digital Transformations. And we have a panel discussion. For the first time ever, America Pinto, Laura Bernard, and I will be sharing the stage together. And that's never happened before, so that's going to be a lot of fun. I'm really excited for that. That's a free registration as well. So we encourage everybody to join in on that. And with that, I'd like to introduce today our special guest from Vermont calling in from the Chile Northeast. Joining us, Anne Marie Curly. Welcome, Annmarie.
[00:02:59.590] - Annmarie Curley
Hey, Joe. Good to be here.
[00:03:01.510] - PMO Joe
If you could just take a moment and introduce yourself to everybody, that would be fantastic.
[00:03:07.430] - Annmarie Curley
That's great. Yes. So I'm so delighted to be here and be talking to all your listeners today. It is chilly, but we've got lots of snow here, so it's gorgeous outside. My name is Annemarie Curly, and as you've probably been able to figure out, I'm not from Vermont. I'm what Vermonters call a flatlander. I moved to Vermont about 16 years ago, and I actually grew up in Ireland. So my background is software engineering. I started off developing trading systems and fell into project management by accident. And fast forward a lot of years and a lot of lessons learned. I now have a management consulting business here in Vermont, and I help clients transform their businesses by implementing their strategy effectively through projects. I also help them establish and lead powerful teams and help leaders to really step into their own leadership potential, leading their teams, and just really delivering on outcomes that are going to change their organization.
[00:04:08.210] - PMO Joe
That's fantastic. I was just talking with some people in Ireland yesterday, so I get back to back days with some folks from Ireland. Just a reminder to everybody, New Year, some new technology. We are streaming live on YouTube and LinkedIn. I hope so. It says we are. So that's good to know. And if you have a question for Anne Marie, certainly ask a question in the comments section. Again, becoming familiar with the technology. I'm assuming it's going to show up over here on our end so that we'll be able to see it and we'll get to those throughout the course of the show. So we'll start with the journey just a little bit. Obviously, we've got some topics we want to dig in, but I always like to hear the story of Ireland, to New York City, to Vermont. What was that journey like? How did that all happen for you?
[00:04:58.920] - Annmarie Curley
Well, how long do you have? Well, I'll keep it short. You know, I went to University in Ireland. I did a computer science degree. Ended up getting just headhunted for a position in investment banking in London. So I moved to London and then from there moved across to New York. And I worked in investment banking for about ten years. And I was initially a developer working on development teams, just different fixed income and equity trading systems. And in one of my early jobs, I was only a couple of years out of College. My manager and her manager decided to leave the organization at the same time. And I was promoted into project management. Lots of other people. I was good at technical delivery. I was good at planning and organizing the work. But I had no idea what it was going to take to actually lead the team and lead the project. So a lot of bootstrapping from there. So we lived and worked in New York for about ten years and then had some kids. And at that point, we were like, okay, do we go back to Ireland? Do we try something else? And we'd been skiing in Vermont.
[00:06:10.700] - Annmarie Curley
So we said, okay, let's try Vermont and see how that works out for us. And if it doesn't work, we can come back or we can go to Ireland. And we stayed. So we have three boys. My oldest is 18 and has just gone to College in Edinburgh. So he's back across the pond now and we have two other boys and Vermont has just been a great place to live and sort of grow really Hardy kids. And it's the type of environment that forces you to be resourceful. And I think it allowed me to establish a business and really think about how to do things differently. And that's the journey that I've been on sort of personally and professionally for a number of years.
[00:06:50.510] - PMO Joe
Yes. I grew up in the Ulben, New York region, so not too far from Vermont and actually had early parts of my career would spend a lot of time up in Vermont as well. So totally understand that all my family is still back there. So I have a complete appreciation for that rugged, hearty lifestyle that you talk about and how exciting to have your oldest now off of College. Mine just started yesterday, his first day of College as well.
[00:07:17.500] - Annmarie Curley
Excellent. So hopefully it will go well for them.
[00:07:20.800] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Fingers crossed.
[00:07:22.130] - Annmarie Curley
[00:07:22.350] - PMO Joe
We can prepare them, and then it's up to them to make the best of it.
[00:07:25.700] - Annmarie Curley
Exactly. It's all a learning experience regardless.
[00:07:28.980] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And talking about learning experience. Right. You're like so many other guests we've had on the show because the way you talk, you didn't start out as a project manager.
[00:07:38.430] - Annmarie Curley
[00:07:38.620] - PMO Joe
You started out as a developer and kind of fell into project management. How did you react to that? What was that like? Again? It's almost a shift.
[00:07:50.360] - Annmarie Curley
[00:07:50.560] - PMO Joe
Hey, I'm going to go in, I'm going to be this technology person, and then all of a sudden you're leading people and trying to execute strategy.
[00:07:56.630] - Annmarie Curley
Yes. And for many people, including me at that time, I was also an individual contributor. So I had my developer job and I had my team lead job, and I was trying to balance both of them. And that can be a little tricky. I think. Again, for me, I was very good at the organization of the work and working with different people to figure out what needed to get developed and how we could do it. So that piece came very naturally to me, what's called soft skills. And I really react now to the word soft skills. I call them power skills. But that term of like the communication, the engagement, building relationships, that piece I had no clue about. And so I think the communication especially is something I've had to learn the hard way over a number of years. So it's not enough to sort of just be good at being an individual contributor. You have to really shift into you being there first and foremost for the team, and that's something that you have to learn. And I think when you're in that position and you don't really have any guidance, that's the piece that probably is the most tricky for people to understand that shift and that dynamic.
[00:09:07.490] - PMO Joe
And I'd say another shift to start your own consulting business. Right. Newgrange It consulting. How do you decide to make that change because again, now you're taking on big responsibility supporting clients as a business owner as opposed to an employee. What was that like for you?
[00:09:25.710] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. And so it's all a journey, right? So when I moved to Vermont, I started to work in a consultancy. So I got experience just working with clients, building those relationships with clients and going out and responding to proposals and proposing solutions. Just all of that interaction that happens before you actually go do the work and do the project. So I had a couple of years exposure to that under my belt. And at the time, from a family perspective, it was just the right time for me to jump in and take on something that was a little bit less intensive. So I was working 60 hours a week in my job, and I was able to take on a couple of client projects and cut back a little bit from that. My kids, my youngest son was two when I did that. And so that gives me a little bit more flexibility. And over time, I added new clients. And I would say about 18 months later, I was probably back up to and exceeding my salary as a full time person, but working considerably less, like probably 50% of the time. So jumping into Newgrange for a couple of years was very much about me and just very much about being an independent consultant and bringing on those client gigs and having the flexibility to be a mom and be a parent while doing all of that.
[00:10:48.960] - Annmarie Curley
And then over time, as my kids started to get older and a little bit more independent, I was able to take on bigger projects and take on people to come work with me as part of teams and start to take on larger digital transformation type projects, for instance, and rely on team members to help with that and branch out a little bit more. So we've been in business now eleven years, and we have a lot of very long term clients that work with us. And business just keeps shifting and changing. A couple of years ago, I got into helping to train project managers, and that sort of resulted in a whole other shift that took me down a path that made me better at the delivery side and the engagement side because I had to just be really good there in order to be able to teach it. And I couldn't teach theory and not actually act that way. For me, it's about being authentic. So I couldn't tell someone, hey, you should go do this. You should behave this way if I was behaving this other way. So it sort of drove this accountability for me to be a much better person, be a much better leader, and to start to sort of dig deeper around what all of that meant and dig deeper into what does success mean and why are there okay, project managers and why are there outstanding project managers and what are the difference?
[00:12:07.980] - Annmarie Curley
So I've been on this whole other shift in the last couple of years. In addition to the delivery side of the business and the consulting side of the business around how do you really coach and mentor and train people to take on and feel empowered to be able to grow into that role themselves?
[00:12:24.570] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And that's an amazing story to hear because so many people within our industry just think it's, hey, snap my fingers, I'm going to become a consultant. But the evolution of your business over time, it isn't a static thing, right. It's a growth, it's a journey. It's a maturity that you get both as an individual but as a company and your capability to be able to deliver for what the client needs are not just what you want to be able to deliver as well. And certainly eleven years in business is fantastic. So many companies don't make it past the first three to five years. And kind of once you do that, you've got it figured out right. And now it's a matter of knowing that you have to adjust and make the right changes.
[00:13:08.310] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. I mean, I think entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. And you have to be ready to be able to jump into lots of different positions and be able to team with lots of different people who have lots of different skill sets in order to make it work. And you've got to just sort of learn that over time and figure that out over time. But I think I'm ruined now. I'm very firmly in the entrepreneurship category, and I love it and I love helping clients, and I love the diversity of that and the diversity of working with different people and different skill sets and being able to train people and help them deliver and guide them to deliver, but also be able to do delivery as well. I got the perfect sort of balance of all of that. So going back in full time again, I think would feel like a challenge to me. But I have to tell you, at times, like any entrepreneur, you're probably scratching your head and saying, oh, my God, it would be so easier if somebody would just pay me a check at the end of the month.
[00:14:07.000] - Annmarie Curley
And I don't need to worry about all these other things.
[00:14:09.830] - PMO Joe
I know that feeling well. I have our leadership meetings with my company every Wednesday, and we always review the numbers. And again, we're nine years in, so things are going well and we're financially sound and stable and all that stuff. But I tell them every day I wake up and there's a little man that pops up on my shoulder and he says, Joe, make sure you've got enough money in the bank to pay all your employees today because families are counting on you. And it doesn't matter how much money we have in the Bank, I always have that feeling. So I totally understand where you're coming from with that. But you learn a lot, as you pointed out, on this journey, and part of that is this gap between strategy and execution. And you alluded to that earlier. So how do you see this affecting clients that you work with and bridging that gap between strategy and execution?
[00:15:02.850] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. So it's really interesting. I think the world of project management can seem sort of small. Right. It's like project management is this thing in a box, but really the ability to execute goes way beyond the project and the initiative and the program. Working with clients, I'm mostly working with people who have multiple projects on their plate. They're not fully dedicated to this one project. So you can see and appreciate how they've got so many other things going on that it's really hard for them to focus. And you can see how the executives are saying one thing like this is the priority do this. But yet at the same time, the tap isn't being turned off with respect to all the other work. They've still got all of this other work coming down in them. And then in my training world, I'm training several hundred students, and they're coming in from all of their organizations and telling all of these stories, and we're telling them, oh, here's how you go prioritize and execute. And they go, yeah, but you know, my manager goes out the night before with a group of buddies and then comes back in the next day and shifts and changes all my priorities.
[00:16:09.840] - Annmarie Curley
And I've got no control over it. So you can see that there's a really misalignment between the people doing the work and the work that's getting executed on both the operations and the project side and the strategic objectives and goals of the organization. To me, when you could say that, it's like, well, okay, how do you bring that together? And PMOs can really help with that, but they're not the end answer, too, because it depends how you structure that conversation from a PMO perspective. And so I got involved with a couple of client projects and a couple of PMOs that really wanted to do better within their organizations. And I did a lot of research around different rubrics that were there around the strategic side and around the execution side, but I couldn't find anything that actually went across the entire area. So I ended up developing a rubric that had twelve core capabilities that I felt were really important for organizations to be good at or to be at some level on in order to have a really good environment where their teams could execute. And so these twelve core capabilities, I split them across a strategy, leadership, and execution.
[00:17:20.400] - Annmarie Curley
And it goes beyond what I think most in the project management world think of as either the methodology, the process of how to do things, the resources that they need and the actual projects themselves and the priorities it starts to look at, well, what's the strategy? Where is your budget? What's the governance like? What does that engagement look like? How does that all come together? How is decision making? How does that happen within the organization, between the executives and the rest of the organization? And then on the leadership side, it's looking at people and their skill sets and their capabilities and not just like them as in, I'm going to put you in these roles, but really looking at the culture and how people are developed and how learning is approached and organizational change management, how does that factor in as well? How does the company think about that? And then on the execution side, it's a little bit more standard. Right? So you got the process. How do we do the work? What does our methodology look like, the actual work itself? How does that happen? How are we performing? How are we reporting on health?
[00:18:23.400] - Annmarie Curley
How are we doing those retrospectives? And what does that team makeup look like? What are the tools that we're using for that? But the shift also when you're thinking about those elements is to think about how it feels from a project team perspective, not from a project manager perspective. I think a lot of our tools and our methodologies that we're using as project managers are geared towards project managers, and project managers often speak in this very structured way that tends to be just like, off putting. It like sort of nails on the chalkboard for functional team members. They're just like, oh, my God, you're hurting my head. Just stop talking. So it's like, well, can you put yourself in their seat? They're a functional team member. They're on your project, but they've got like 50%, 75% of their time is dedicated to their operational work, and that's the focus. And maybe they've never really been on a large project before, and you're changing a legacy system that they've used for ten or 20 years. So this is all so new to them. Put yourself in their seat. Think about it from their perspective. How do you lead them?
[00:19:28.340] - Annmarie Curley
How do you help give them the information that they need to be successful? So when I think about the strategy execution gap, it needs to be bridged with leadership. And I say that strategy is about setting clarity, setting direction, and execution is about being effective. But leadership is about alignment between the two and making sure that everybody's sort of doing the right work at the right time and that they have what they need in their environment to be successful. Long winded Answers I don't think I can give any shorts.
[00:20:01.770] - PMO Joe
That's fine. Hey, we have an hour, so we've got plenty of time. And that's what we love. We love getting deep on the show to be able to really understand what leaders in our industry are thinking and utilizing successfully with their clients. And I love the part where you spoke there about speaking in the terms of the team members and not just our project management speak. I think back to several clients we've had where they were engineering clients, and when they're talking their engineering speak, I just start zoning out. Right. I don't understand that language. And I think we all have to be aware of our communication methods and the way that it's being received, not just the way that we're delivering it. So I think fantastic point that you mentioned. You bring up the rubric. Does the rubric have a name? Is there a name for this? What do you call it?
[00:20:53.400] - Annmarie Curley
Well, I called it the business results maturity model because I feel like, you know, we get lost in the weeds of we're doing this project, we're doing that project, and we forget that we're actually trying to drive business results. And a lot of people get I see a lot of project managers, especially folks who come into my training, they're doing projects, but they don't really know why those projects are important for their organization. And they don't know they're like, yes, this is why we're supposed to be doing this, but I don't see the value there. Or they get stuck on the scope and they go down a rabbit hole with scope and scope sort of expands and deviates. And now the original outcome and the original results were sort of lost in the mix. So this is about driving business results. It's about looking for the outcomes that are really going to make a difference to your business. And if you're managing projects and managing work that is busy work and isn't actually going to yield the outcomes that are going to propel you forward, then you should be asking, why am I doing this? Even if sometimes people say to me that's above my pay grade, which I really don't like that answer because I feel like that's someone who's in more of a victim mindset.
[00:22:04.090] - Annmarie Curley
And yes, you might not be able to make that decision, but you can ask the question, you can say, hey, you know what? I'm seeing this project that we're doing, it's spending a lot of hours. I'm not sure it's going to yield the outcomes that you're looking for. So back to your questions. Business results maturity model, all about the business results and outcomes. I think outcomes is even a better word, but it didn't quite work from a naming perspective.
[00:22:25.060] - PMO Joe
I love it. We're a believer in the PMO squad and outcomes over audits. Too often PMOs are concerned with the process they've built and our people adhering to it and we lose sight of what we're trying to do. Right. We have to be able to have those results. So I love that name. I think it fits perfectly.
[00:22:41.800] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah, I'm a big proponent of no process for the sake of process. I do not like process for the sake of process.
[00:22:51.030] - PMO Joe
The other piece that you tied into that is leadership.
[00:22:54.060] - Annmarie Curley
[00:22:54.410] - PMO Joe
And the ability to make that connection and bridge the gap. And you have a term that I hadn't heard before when we were getting to know each other, just duct tape leadership. I love that one. What's that all about?
[00:23:08.310] - Annmarie Curley
Well, that sort of came out of some presentations that I put together and some blogs that I put together based on some of these case studies around. When I put the business results framework together and started talking about strategy and execution and started looking at the gap, I started diving into, well, why do we have a gap? What's happening in our organizations that's resulting in this gap? And how do we bridge the gap? How do we get through that? How do we help an organization bridge that gap effectively? And so duct tape leadership is this term I coined. I think a couple of people have sort of used it in the past. There's some other collateral out there on it. It's shortterm measures that have ended up sort of becoming a long term approach, but it's not working for the organization. It's tactical. And so it results in churn, it results in burnout. It results in people just sort of spinning their wheels and doing things over and over and over again. Now, duct tape is great for hatching over problems, right? You got a hole in the bucket, you stick some duct tape on it, and you'll be able to carry that bucket with you for a little bit, but you're not going to carry it 100 miles.
[00:24:22.620] - Annmarie Curley
Right. Because it's not going to last. Right. So that's the idea. Right. So use the duct tape, do the short term reactive stuff when you need to if you're in an immediate crisis, but recognize when that crisis has become a long term strategy and that reactivity has become a longterm strategy and pause, really look at whether you're treating symptoms of all of the stuff that's going on around you in your environment and pause and think about what is the underlying root cause. A leader steps into that inquiry. The leader tries to figure out, you know, what we're spinning. My team is burning out. Let me see what we need to do upstream that's going to influence us. And so duct tape leadership is one of those terms that when I started using it on calls and presentations, people got behind it. And I ran some surveys and I got some feedback in from people around how it feels in their organization. And it's a real thing. And it's so prevalent. And this was even before COVID Hit. So I haven't gone out and done any surveys since COVID hit. I think the last survey I did was early, maybe 2019.
[00:25:34.490] - Annmarie Curley
I think it's gotten even worse. I think we are now in a long term reactivity holding pattern that has become just really detrimental to people. And I try to sort of write and blog a little bit about that, too, because it takes really strong leadership to get out of that hole. And we need that strong leadership and we need everybody to step up with that strong leadership, not just the executive leaders.
[00:26:01.930] - PMO Joe
Well, to your point, duct tape will only last so long. And here we are trying to wrap it and wrap it and wrap it. And our roll is getting thin and the tape is getting old and the strength of that is wearing out. Right.
[00:26:16.150] - Annmarie Curley
Unlike toilet paper, there's been a run on it, so there's none in the stores.
[00:26:20.670] - PMO Joe
Good point. Leadership, obviously, is something that's so important within the project space because we're dealing with people on every project is a leadership function of somebody working with people to motivate them and drive towards execution and using stakeholders. Right. Executive sponsors to be able to help us get successful. What can those executive leaders do to be able to help our projects be more successful?
[00:26:50.970] - Annmarie Curley
Well, that's a great question because I believe they are responsible for helping to establish an environment for the team to be successful. And that's like the team culture, the dynamic, it's adequate staffing. It's making sure that they're trained and they have the coaching and the support that they need. It's giving the team mentoring. When they need mentoring, it's prioritizing. It's being able to say no to work. That's not important. Steve Jobs I just did a blog, a newsletter on this last week. Steve Jobs said that he was most proud of the 10,000 things that he said no to versus a couple of things he said yes to. And so you really have to say no to a lot of the things that are not the right work for right now and allow your teams to prioritize. And coming out of covet. I think there's a lot of all of the news is about the great resignation and people leaving and people burning out. And leaders should show empathy and they should be there, sort of rallying the troops with like this cheerlead. I'm going to show empathy. I'm going to be there with you. I'm not going to push you too much.
[00:27:59.710] - Annmarie Curley
I'm going to sort of give you space. But I feel like that's great. Yes, that's important. Giving people space, showing them empathy really important. I talk about empathy in action. Empathy in action is actually setting clear priorities and saying no to the stuff that's not important so your team can focus. It's about giving your team the mentoring and the coaching and the support that they need. Bring in consultants to help you, bring in other people to help you. Look at what's really hurting your team. Look at the root causes. Stop treating the symptoms, stop just causing your team to turn. And that's on the executive leader side. And I also talk about what can project leaders do to show that empathy and action, too. For project leaders, I don't think you need to sit back and wait for your executive leaders to get the memo and to suddenly change how they're operating and show up as somebody else. You can leave that. You can show up as someone who's organized on calls. You can make sure that you're using your team's time effectively. You can be really clear in setting context and really clear about how you distill information to the team, sort of put the information into their hands in a way that they can leverage and use it just be really effective with how you do your job and be really excellent around how you do your job and driving towards outcomes, cherry pick the stuff that's important versus doing all of it.
[00:29:22.930] - Annmarie Curley
Right. And so I think every individual has the power to show up and help it be part of establishing an environment that helps the entire team to be successful. But I like to tackle it from both angles. Right. From the executive side with the strategic side and from the people who are part of the project team and sort of coach both to sort of meet somewhere in the middle.
[00:29:47.250] - PMO Joe
Yeah. It's interesting. You mentioned that quote by Steve Jobs earlier this week, an active LinkedIn individual Milvio, whose frequent poster out on LinkedIn had put a quote from Tim Cook up and it was at Apple, we say no thousands of knows each year so that we can concentrate on the few. Yeses. That matter. And I've been sharing that with our team internally as well, because although we're helping customers, guess what? We're still a business, and we have to go through those dynamics as well.
[00:30:20.670] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. And it's not easy. Right. So again, that's one of those things that sounds really easy in theory. And I was just doing my OK or last week for my business. And like everybody else, I sort of looked at it after I had written them down and I had them up on a sheet. I looked at them and, wow, that's way too many priorities. We're never going to be able to do all of that. Okay. So what's number one? What becomes the focus? I looked at the work I had on my schedule for the week, and I looked at what I said was number one. And there was a big gap there, like the work that was on my schedule for the week was not going to move item number one forward. I'm thinking, okay, well, I need to do something different. I need to be focusing on item number one. So what do I move off to do that. So it's really taking that approach both on a project site and on the overall strategic side in terms of priority setting.
[00:31:11.910] - PMO Joe
Yeah. We talked about strategy and execution in that gap. And there's a famous quote by Morris Chang, who is CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor and he had said execution without strategy is aimless and strategy without execution is useless. Right. And so we can build all the strategy we want. If we don't have the ability to go execute on, it doesn't matter. But we still need to have the strategy so that it's not just aimless execution that we're working on.
[00:31:42.510] - Annmarie Curley
Absolutely. And you know what was interesting to me? I did a little research in the end of 2020 for a presentation I was doing. And what was really interesting to me was there were some studies out there, and I can't remember. I think it was Forbes or Gallop or Gartner, maybe they quoted like the majority of executives do not know what their teams are working on, and the majority of teams don't understand or even know that there's a strategy from the organization. So that's a pretty easy fix. Right. The same report or one of the other reports I read said something like 75% of people do not even open their emails. So I think if organizations are coming up with our top ten strategy things or whatever and shooting them out by email and aren't engaging people in the discovery of those, then that's going to fall flat. That's not going to be successful. So you can have a strategy. But if your team don't know what it is and they don't understand what it means for them, then again, that's not going to be effective. And it's a waste of time. It's burning people out.
[00:32:47.520] - Annmarie Curley
It's a waste of money. We're spending all this money with all of these people and not actually getting the leverage that we need for it.
[00:32:58.590] - PMO Joe
With the PMO Quadrant. We tie purpose into that as well.
[00:33:01.500] - Annmarie Curley
[00:33:01.750] - PMO Joe
It's the strategy with the purpose to lead to execution. I've told the story many times about an organization doing a CRM project. And I would ask the It team, like, why are you doing this project? We're implementing a new technology. But you go ask the head of sales while you're doing that or the CEO. I said, why are you guys doing the new CRM project? They said, we're trying to achieve 20% revenue growth this year. So what a disconnect between our execution team and our strategy team. They're completely misaligned on what they're trying to achieve with that project.
[00:33:38.070] - Annmarie Curley
Unfortunately, that's more prevalent than you might think. Right. I had a consultant who was out at a client, and I was sort of touching in with what they were doing a couple of years ago. And he said, well, this piece came up. We had to build out this reporting function, for instance. And he said, well, that's done. We're going to ship it next week. And that's our radar. I'm like, great, you did some data reporting and you got it out there. How are they going to use it? And don't mean that the users have been trained on it. And they've pulled the data and they've looked at the data and the data actually is telling them what they needed to see in the first place. And he was like, oh, no, we haven't engaged the users. We haven't had any of those conversations. I'm like, okay, well, you got to get a move on then and go talk to them. And of course, when they went out there and engaged the users, they found out that they needed other pieces of data and the report needed some other tweaks and needed some other iterations. So that's one of the reasons I feel really strongly like change management needs to be baked into our project management approach.
[00:34:40.680] - Annmarie Curley
It can't be this separate thing. If the project you're leading is not resulting in some sort of change that needs to be managed in some way, then you should be questioning why you're doing the project. Because even if it's an operational project or to reduce risk, there's some change involved in it typically. So you've got to really have those upfront conversations with stakeholders, talk about outcomes right out of the gate and make sure that you're really clear on the outcomes. And it sounds like with your purpose. Joe, you do this right if you're really clear on the outcomes and not even the scope statements like just the outcomes of what you're trying to achieve. When you get into the scope and then the project starts to deviate and meander, as projects tend to do, you can always come back to that outcome statement and say, well, does that scope increase that you've just asked for further this outcome, or does it detract from this outcome? And then you can have real meaningful conversations with your folks and you can start to stagger the work that really will get to the outcome more quickly and you just manage it in a whole other way.
[00:35:46.940] - Annmarie Curley
So I think those upfront discussions and outcomes are really important.
[00:35:50.500] - PMO Joe
Yeah, I certainly agree. And I just want to acknowledge Don Gleason's comment. He said, leaders inspire managers, motivate empathy and action. Spot on, Annemarie. So great to be able to see that reaction out there from those who are listening in. And that's why we're live streaming to be able to get that instant feedback from folks as well.
[00:36:09.820] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. And it's awesome. Don does a lot of work in digital transformation as well, so he's got a lot of good posts. Folks want to follow some of the work he's doing. It's great, too.
[00:36:19.170] - PMO Joe
So we talked about the rubric that you've created. Another item that you've penned and created. Right. Is your project leader manifesto. Share a little bit with us on what that is.
[00:36:32.080] - Annmarie Curley
Well, you know, it's interesting. So as I was digging in a couple of years ago to what set okay, project manager apart from an awesome project manager, I started to really develop out the core capabilities and skills that I felt like were really important and were really there in project leaders. I call them project leaders now versus project managers, because I think it's a blend of leading and managing. So I pulled together this framework that I called the Six Pillars Framework that I have done some presentations on. And it's really about leading from a place of engagement. And it's not just about the discipline of project management, but it's about communication, building relationships, collaboration, building great synergy on your team, connecting with people, being clear, et cetera. So I had the Six Pillars Framework that I have sort of developed into training, and I've done a lot of presentations on. But then I did a presentation last year where Alistair Coborn was the keynote speaker. And I followed Alistair's stuff and read his books way back when I was leading development teams on investment banking and some great stuff around the Agile Manifesto. And he's now got the heart of Agile, which is very simple, four very simple terms that describe the heart of Agile.
[00:37:46.830] - Annmarie Curley
It's sort of deliver, collaborate, reflect, and improve how to write them down. So very simple, right? So it's simple terms that people can get behind. So I thought, okay, well, you know what? I've got all of these new words that we're using around what leaders do and what project leaders do. What would a project Leader Manifesto do? And so I sort of pulled some of that stuff together into eight principles that I think are really important for project leaders to embrace. And the call to action that I put out there with this was lead boldly. So it's like, start taking accountability for yourself and your own leadership. Start taking accountability for your team. Get out of that victim mindset, as in it's being done to you. You can empower yourself to have the right conversations, and you can empower yourself to change how you're showing up and change the outcomes for your team and just change how it feels to work with you as part of leading a team. So the Project Leader manifesto I put out late last year to just sort of solicit feedback. I sort of tend to write these things out and push it out and get some feedback on it to see what resonates with people.
[00:38:52.580] - Annmarie Curley
And that one really resonated. And I just love the simplicity of it. And I have to read the terms of it because I can never remember what I thought it was to be so personal accountability, lead boldly, connect, meaningfully, foster engagement, promote coherence on the team, be self disciplined, be inspirational, and put people first. And so if you think about these as principles, as to how you show up every day, and if people want to see more details on this, I did a webinar, and it's on LinkedIn, one of my first LinkedIn newsletters. You can go search for it on LinkedIn, and you'll find it in there, and you'll get access to the webinar and everything. And you hear me talk about that, and dive into detail on it. But again, trying to be inspiring and motivational for people who I feel like project managers have a tough rap. Right. If projects aren't going well, people look to the project manager, and often the project manager feels like they're the point that it's like, oh my gosh, the project is failing because of me. But we know we've been in it long enough to know that there are so many factors external to the project and even internal to the project, so many dynamics that cause failure.
[00:40:05.150] - Annmarie Curley
But I think the last couple of years in particular have been really challenging for project managers to keep people motivated and keep the work going. And in the face of this constant turn. So in some of the material that I've tried to develop is really trying to just inspire people to think about their job differently, think about their role differently. It's bigger than the project you're leading right now. You are there to help your organization deliver on its mission. That's what your role is. You're there to help advocate for your team. You can do that. You don't have to have 20 years experience to go do that. You can do that. You can lean into your instincts and do that. And the Project Leader manifesto is really there as a guideline to think about how should you behave and how should you act as a project leader. And what can you bring to the team in terms of how it feels to work with you?
[00:40:56.670] - PMO Joe
Yeah, I love it. Obviously, everyone's so familiar with the Agile Manifesto and how that's changed software development and even project management to some degree, different schools of thought. People argue it's not intended for project management. It's a software development mindset. But the other part of that is and you touched on it, I think two of your principles. Right. And we believe in this strongly at the PMO as well. It's people over process.
[00:41:26.190] - PMO Joe
Right. It's the leadership of the team and understanding that those people are your coworkers and together that you're working with. And as you were talking, what popped into my mind was I'm a big fan of baseball in all sports. But if we think about baseball, the manager, project manager leads the team, and each team member has a Smee, right. There an expert. It could be a pitcher, a first baseman, an outfielder, et cetera. If the team's not performing well, sometimes they'll fire the manager, right?
[00:41:58.440] - Annmarie Curley
[00:41:58.860] - PMO Joe
But oftentimes more likely, what happens is they bring in different players. They'll bring up somebody from the minor leagues, they'll go get a trade and bring in a different player. But project managers were never afforded that opportunity. Right. We always have to continue working with the same team. So we have a harder job in the sense that we have to figure out how to get maybe a disjointed team or a team that doesn't work well together or individuals who may not have the appropriate skills, whatever it may be, we have to be able to find a way to go do that on a project that's got a specific duration.
[00:42:33.330] - Annmarie Curley
[00:42:34.210] - PMO Joe
And that's the challenge of a manifesto like that. I think gives us something to rally around, to try to center us and work towards something. So I think that's certainly I want to learn more about it and learn how we can share it and see if there's an opportunity there for an industry to say, hey, let's take a look at this. Let's see if this makes sense for us or not.
[00:42:54.150] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah. And I think the team leadership piece is so important there because I think when you look at Agile, Agile is a mindset. And I really believe I blend in the way I approach my work and the way I approach programs and projects. I blend concepts from Lean, from Agile, from the Scrum in there. You got the PMI framework in there. So you take in all of these things and you put together a model that's going to work for the client and for the team. And the situation that you're in and agility is about the mindset, and it's about the flexibility teams. When you think about project teams versus product teams, a product team tends to be in place for a longer duration. So you're working with these team members for a long time, and you get to know them very well. And many of them are allocated full time in their role. There might be some people on the fringe that are subject matter experts, but many of them are full time in their role. So you build that team strength and that team synergy, and it sort of sticks. Projects tend to spin up and wind down, and maybe you're in place for three months, maybe you're in place for six months, maybe a year.
[00:44:05.000] - Annmarie Curley
Your project team, especially with some of the more recent cloud transformations and digital transformation projects. Your project team might have a couple of core members who are allocated, but the majority of folks are operational members who they've got their day job. And then this is one of the projects that they're also working on, so they don't really have time for it. So when you're spinning up your project and you're starting that project, a lot of project managers go straight to the project charter and then pull that out. And that's their starting point. I like to start with a team charter. So really looking at bringing the team together, doing a values discovery with the team, very simple exercises. It doesn't have to take a long time, but pull your team together, talk about what's important in the team dynamic. How do you want to behave together? What are the constraints you're facing as a team? How do you want to be able to manage that? How do you want to navigate conflict and friction when it comes up and we develop what we call guiding principles for the team and how the team wants to operate.
[00:45:03.870] - Annmarie Curley
And then we pull all of that together. And that's our starting point. We have that framework of how we're going to behave as a team at the start of the project. And when things come up down the line on projects, we pull those back and we say, look, guys, remember, this is this word cloud that we want to put together. That was our values. This is what we think is important. How do we want to handle this and how do we do it in a way that's not going to hurt other people on the team. And so it enables you to have those engaging conversations that help bring the team together and helps people get to know each other. And when a team has synergy and when they feel that from each other, they feel supported, they're going to feel better about the work they're doing. They feel more motivated and they have more energy around the work. They're less depressed and they're less sort of down rabbit holes. And it's a much better dynamic, and it's much more fun to work in an environment like that.
[00:45:56.630] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I mean, after all, regardless of the project we're working on, aren't we just leading people to accomplish an outcome?
[00:46:04.110] - Annmarie Curley
Absolutely. And that's why one of the things I talk about a lot is engagement. So we have vendor management, stakeholder management, vendor engagement, stakeholder engagement, team engagement. How do we engage people? How do we engage them in conversations that are going to help move all of us forward into win win situations versus manage them? Manage them. I feel like is this sort of concept of I'm going to tell you what to do or we're going to have a plan and we're just going to manage to it. It's engagement. It's a two way dialogue, a two way conversation to create a situation that's going to work for both sides.
[00:46:42.310] - PMO Joe
Yes, I totally agree. And you had eluded a moment ago about change management as well. And obviously, every project is bringing about change.
[00:46:51.270] - Annmarie Curley
[00:46:51.480] - PMO Joe
So it's kind of the definition of a project.
[00:46:53.490] - Annmarie Curley
[00:46:53.700] - PMO Joe
Going from one thing to another. Do you really feel project managers and or individuals in a company can drive that change?
[00:47:03.010] - Annmarie Curley
I think they have to be part of the change driving the change. They have to be change agents. Project leaders should be their change catalysts. They're change agents. They're driving the bus that's going to result in the change. Therefore, there are certain things that they need to do to engage stakeholders and ensure stakeholders are ready to adopt that change. And they're responsible for that. Executive leaders are responsible for a lot of the communication and a lot of the transparency around the change. And you want their involvement, but they might not always appreciate the nuances of the actual work of what it's going to take to transform. We're talking about changing behaviors. Right? Whatever type of change we're doing, it's really all about changing behaviors. So in order to change someone's behavior, you have to involve them in the process. You have to understand how they're behaving today and what you need them to be doing tomorrow. And you have to be able to coach them to get to that place and support them as they're doing that. So I feel like that's the part of the change that project leaders should be responsible for. On the executive side, the project leaders need to be informing the executives around, hey, look, you know what?
[00:48:16.880] - Annmarie Curley
You need to go out and this messaging needs to come from you because it's a bigger, compelling reason. Right. I need the executive sponsor to be really vocal here and to sort of lay this path that I can then walk the team down. So the executive sponsors have a role there as well. And sometimes they know that and sometimes they don't. And if they don't know that, then I feel like it's the project leaders responsibility to step up an advocate for what the team needs and say, look, you know what? It's going to be pushing a Boulder up a Hill unless the organization hears from you about how important this is. And we've been in a situation where we've written emails for executives. We said, we need you to save these messaging, take this sort of template. They'll tweak it to their language. They'll make it sound like them. But it's going out with the messaging that we need them to say from a project perspective. So I think the bottom line is project managers should, I think, look at themselves as project leaders. You are the face of the change to the organization. And if you think about yourself as a leader, leaders don't just take orders and execute.
[00:49:22.820] - Annmarie Curley
Leaders really look at what the right thing to do is, how they need to better support the team, how they need to advocate for the team. What conversations do they need to have in order to be able to do that? How do you set up an environment where everybody can be successful? And all of this is part of that conversation.
[00:49:40.690] - PMO Joe
And change management is such an important conversation within our project space. And a couple of months down the road, we're going to have Tim Creasy come back on. He's the chief innovation officer with Prosai. He was on the show last year. We're going to do a second show with him because this is such an important topic for us so that's in a few months, I don't remember the exact date, but that will be coming up. And I love how you say that. We're project leaders. Right. And we are the catalysts of change. We may not be change management experts, but certainly you alluded to lean skills, project skills, agile skills. It's another tool in our toolbox that as leaders we can bring to the occasion when appropriate.
[00:50:25.270] - Annmarie Curley
[00:50:27.610] - PMO Joe
We're getting close to our time here, but I wanted to touch on one last item before we got into our goodbyes. And that's the kind of reactive nature and Proactive nature within projects.
[00:50:41.020] - Annmarie Curley
[00:50:41.370] - PMO Joe
Oftentimes projects are a proactive approach to go accomplish something, but within the projects, we act reactively. Two things. Is there any guidance or experience that you've had on how we as project leaders can be more Proactive and try to get in front of the upcoming challenges and not as reactive?
[00:51:05.470] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah, we're never going to solve it 100%. However, I do feel like project leaders can be more self disciplined. And if I had a dollar for every time I showed up in an organization and I had certified project managers and leaders who weren't necessarily they'd sort of forgotten some of the discipline and weren't really using some of the discipline and some of the important parts of the discipline, and that was negatively affecting the team. I'd be pretty rich. I'd be retired instead of an island, someone else doing this from the Bahamas. So I think there are certain parts of the discipline that are important. And before you get into a room and meet with people, take five minutes, really sketch out what outcomes you want to achieve. Get into that room, make sure you've got the people that you need in the room and use their time effectively. I think it's really about that, right. It's about trying to be plan, pull as much as possible. You clearly do not want to go into analysis paralysis and planning. You're never going to get the 100% plan, but you should be able to forecast what you need the team to be focused on for the next four weeks.
[00:52:14.200] - Annmarie Curley
And if you're at the point right now where you're in this daily, daily reactive, spinning the wheel, I'm on a hamster wheel, and I'm not sure how to get off. Start with planning three days ahead, then start with planning a week ahead and sort of train yourself to build that up a little bit. If the project manager is running around in a state of constant reactivity, then the entire team are churning, and you've got these two forces churning, wasting a lot of energy and burning people out and not necessarily getting anywhere. So the project manager has to call time. But I would say, please don't waste your team's time in hours. After hours of planning sessions, get your Ducks in a row. Really think about the context. Think about how you can help your team work more effectively, what you need from them, and really Whittle it down and educate yourself. I think project managers need to be able to understand the context that they're working within. And sometimes project managers, they feel like they're not the experts, so they can't talk to any of us. But you should be able to at least get to a level of information that you don't always need ten experts in the room.
[00:53:22.540] - Annmarie Curley
Right. Your goal is to connect the dots, and you should be there to be able to connect the dots for the team.
[00:53:28.990] - PMO Joe
I totally agree. I love all of what you talked about today. It's fantastic to hear another voice that we're opposite ends of the country, but we're in the same industry, so we're connected by that common bond. And I think the people who are in consulting firms, as opposed to just staying within that organization, we get the benefit of going to multiple companies and seeing the same challenges repeated from organization to organization and then providing solutions that get successful outcomes. So it's great to hear a lot of all the inputs that you provided today, Emery. I think it's been very eye opening for me and I think our listeners as well. So I obviously want to thank you for being on today and also give you one last opportunity here to mention anything that we didn't cover today. If there's any sessions you have coming up or anything you want to share with the audience.
[00:54:22.690] - Annmarie Curley
Yeah, it's been a great conversation. I think these are really important conversations, and you have some great folks on your sessions talking about really important topics. I would just give a call to action to Project Leaders, really take a look at how you can be the leader that you wish you had, how you can be the change you want to see in the world. Connect me on LinkedIn. I have a ton of free resources. I have a leadership platform that I set up late in 2020 that has a lot of free resources for project leaders. It's called Fullest Leadership. You can find that on any of my links within LinkedIn. And Joe has my LinkedIn profile here. I'm happy to share that with anybody who would like to jump on. We have a couple of hundred members, and I really want to help support Project Leaders as much as possible because we're here doing the good work and it can sometimes feel like a heavy load. But I think you can approach it in a way that's going to make you feel so much better about your job and make your entire team feel so much better about what you're doing together, and that can really re energize your team.
[00:55:32.400] - Annmarie Curley
And I think, Joe, you just said when we're in multiple clients, the grass is not greener elsewhere. If you're thinking that, oh my God, this job is terrible, I need to leave it. Yes, maybe it is, but think twice. The grass is not necessarily always greener somewhere else. I read a great book called The Obstacle Is The Way in March of 2020 really recommend it. It's really thinking about how do you empower yourself to change and really change the situation around yourself versus just feel like you're very stuck. So that would be the final note I would leave everybody to think about.
[00:56:07.350] - PMO Joe
Well, thank you so much for joining us and of course thank you to all of our listeners. Without listeners we don't exist here in our live stream world. Thank you for those who were participating and ask questions as well. Great to have you as part of the conversation and then be sure to check out project management office hours website to see what else we have coming up. We have great shows lined up for the coming year including guests from around the world. As we try to do, we try to bring a global perspective to this so upcoming guests include Louise Gardner from Australia, Melissa McDonald here in the States, Bruno Morganti from Germany, Tim Creasy as I mentioned, Louise, wersley from South Africa, Ricardo Martin from Spain and many more that we're going to be having over the course of the year. A reminder that these shows while we are live are also being recorded and please go out and subscribe to project management office hours on Apple podcast Spotify iHeartRadio Google podcast whatever your platform of choice may be and of course thank you to our sponsors the PMO squad and the PMO leader to leaders in the industry hoping to improve the PMO space for all of us.
[00:57:22.810] - PMO Joe
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 thanks for listening to another episode of project management office hours with PMO Joe.
[00:57:38.550] - Announcer
You're not alone in your project management journey. We're here to help you achieve your goals. Subscribe to project management office hours on your favorite podcast platform to catch all of our episodes and hear industry leaders share their story and secrets to success.