[00:00:01.450] - 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 stories story in 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.
[00:00:29.870] - 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, your host, PMO Joe. And for the next hour or so, we're going to be talking Project Management with our special guest, so very excited about having her join us. Before we get started, as we normally do, I'll start in with a couple of announcements. First up, for all of our listeners out there, I'll ask you, just drop in the comments where you're joining us from. Always good to be able to see the different people joining us from around the world. So excited to know where you're joining us. Also, I want to say thank you to the team at Project Management Update. They hosted me yesterday for a session. We called it the Great Debate, Agile versus Waterfall. It was fantastic. We had over 300 attendees on that session. Very well received and certainly appreciate everybody taking time out from their busy day to be able to join and listen in and also provide the feedback and comments and questions during that show. So thank you.
[00:01:45.060] - PMO Joe
And for anybody that may have missed that show, it is now the recording is available out there on the Project Management Update website, so you can go out there and get that. I also wanted to say that The PMO Leader has finalized their date for our second annual conference. That is going to be October 18 of this year. So you can go out to The PMO Leader website and get a little more information on that, but reserve it on your calendar. October 18, we're going to have one day virtual event, global in nature, and we're going to break it up into three separate regions. So an APAC region and an EMEA region and an Americas region. We'll have localized content keeping us live for a 24 hours window around the globe to be able to present information. If you're interested in sponsoring or speaking and presenting at that, go out to, as I said, www.thepmoleader.com, and you'll be able to get information for that. Also want to remind everybody for listening to these shows. They're worth one PDU. It's a fantastic offer because it's free. This is our 102nd show, so you have 102 PDUs available to you to help you with your registration and renewals of your certifications.
[00:03:05.630] - PMO Joe
So go out to the PMO Squad website, search for Office Hours podcast and they're all the shows. Feel free to listen at your leisure, provide comments and feedback, and claim your PDUs. A reminder to everybody that we are live, we are streaming right now on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and of course, we're on Internet radio. So welcome, everybody who's joining us from around the world. We are thankful, of course, to our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO Leader. I had mentioned them earlier, but you can go to either one of their websites. You can go out to www.thepmosquad.com, learn more about all the different services that they offer to help clients deliver projects better. And the PMO Leader, of course, is a global community that's focused on helping PMOs and leaders deliver better for the industry around the world. So with all the announcements finished, I am super excited to have us today. Our special guest, Louise Worsley, joining us from South Africa. Welcome, Louise.
[00:04:11.150] - Louise Worsley
Thank you very much, Joe. Thank you. It's wonderful to be here, really is.
[00:04:15.530] - PMO Joe
If you can take a moment just to say hello to everybody and introduce yourself, that would be fantastic.
[00:04:22.440] - Louise Worsley
Hi there, everybody. So, yes, I'm sitting here in South Africa. It's a little bit dark here at 08:00 at night. I've been in project management for over 35 years. Can you believe that? So we're talking about the 80s when we go back to them nowadays. For the last 1520 years, I've been a consultant, mainly working in portfolio, PMO consultancy type assignments, and more recently, mainly focusing on my academic side. I've also been working universities for nearly 1520 years now as a lecturer. And I am a lecturer on the University of Cape Town's master's program in project management, where my speciality lead is on leadership.
[00:05:03.980] - PMO Joe
Well, thank you so much for joining us. It's impossible that you've been in the industry now working on 35 years. It's just not possible. Right? You haven't been around that long, but it's great to have all of that experience, to be able to influence and share with the community. So that's why it's so important and valuable for me to be able to have a guest such as yourself on the show because you do have that experience. To be able to share and then to be able to share that with students as well is fantastic. So thank you for everything that you do to contribute to the industry.
[00:05:37.690] - Louise Worsley
Thank you. Thank you.
[00:05:39.410] - PMO Joe
So with all that experience, kind of thinking back over your career, have there been any pivotal moments that stand out to you as wow, that was a moment that really changed the course of my career and influenced what you've done in your profession.
[00:05:57.110] - Louise Worsley
Yes. I think in terms of becoming a project manager, yeah. Like a lot of people, I started out I wasn't a manager. I was a programmer. I wrote in Basic and COBOL. And if you know those languages, then you probably like me. Maybe we should be retiring. I think maybe I wrote computer games to start with. So I kind of went on from there as usual in those days, I got budget programming, so there may be a project manager and I got budget project management, so they may be an It manager, for goodness sake. I think the thing that really hit me is as I went into It management and my first job that kind of changed me is I became an It manager in one of the large London universities in the UK. I'd got this job and I knew that it was very exciting. For the first few days I went there. I couldn't get into University because there was ticketing, people were on strike and universities. It was the most political environment I've ever worked, and it was just amazing. And I had been bought in. The University was in trouble. It had quality assurance problems.
[00:07:05.130] - Louise Worsley
I was going to be running a project across University which the Vice Chancellor wanted and nobody else wanted. They all hated me. I've never been so hated in my life. It's strange. I come from an environment where I had this wonderful It team, and now I was in an environment where nobody loved me at all. I had to really come to terms with that. And I had to realize that having come from an environment where I ran teams, I was now an environment where I had to work through people. And a few things happened to me. One of the first things is, fortunately, I got a mentor who was the HR director. It's so important. I'm sure you've heard this before. How important mentors are in project management.
[00:07:46.950] - PMO Joe
[00:07:49.010] - Louise Worsley
So that was very important to me. And then the next big realization from and this is why I think it's important for me as a project manager was around leadership was that I had to lead by influence, I had to work through people, not have people working to me. And that was really important. And I had to change, and I had to learn about influencing skills. And for me, the currency of leadership is relationships. So I had to build those relationships in the University so that I could run this relatively complex program and build that coalition of support that we needed in order to do this major change program. And I think I personally had to change. I have to now focus not on doing things, but on creating those connections. And I think that for me was when I started to feel, gosh, this is what it means to be a manager. Here's what it means to run projects. It's not just about the doing stuff, it's about creating that environment. So, yeah, I think that for me, was when I started to become. I started deny. I started to say, I'm not in it know how we do that.
[00:08:59.790] - Louise Worsley
We come along, we've been in it for years, and then suddenly we have to say no, I'm not in it. I'm a manager, and I had to go through that process and become a different person. Yes, for sure.
[00:09:10.670] - PMO Joe
So you mentioned the leadership component of that, right. And every project we run is unique by definition, and therefore the team has become unique. But we're the leaders of these unique teams. And I would imagine for you personally, and I know for me it has been as well leadership and improving those skills have probably been as impactful, if not more impactful than project management skills. And really, I guess leadership is a project management skill. What's your thoughts on how all of that has impacted your career as well?
[00:09:44.090] - Louise Worsley
I think that is true. And I think that naturally, as you go into more complex project management, you are going to have to you're going to get forced into that leadership type of approach. Now, if I put my academic hat on for a moment here, it's still often quoted that we don't really know what we mean by leadership. There's still a lot of confusion by what we really mean by leadership. And I think that's quite interesting. And you've probably been involved in some of the debates that we're hearing now about these different types of leaders, like the servant leaders, like the ethical leaders. And it's an important debate to have. But we have to go back to what is leadership about. And ultimately, leadership is being able to create followers. That's an interesting thing. You're not a leader unless you have followers. And so how do you create those leader follower relationships is really interesting.
[00:10:44.390] - PMO Joe
Yeah. It's the managers have authority because of positional rank, and leaders have authority because people are following them. And there's an inherent difference. Right. In the impact and effective of those two. And certainly I'm a believer that the leader is more powerful than the manager because you don't have to command it. Right. People are drawn to what you're doing and you're leading them.
[00:11:11.120] - Louise Worsley
Yes, I think that's right. It's a debate that I have with my students. One of the things that we debate is that we'll talk about servant leadership, and there's a natural tendency to say servant leadership is just wonderful. We should all be doing server leadership, shouldn't we? But then what I'd like to do is like to put them into different project situations and to ask them in that situation, what kind of leadership style do you think might be most appropriate? And I think that's an interesting one, because ultimately you almost always end up back in the concept of situational leadership, that the most successful leaders are those who are able to adapt their style to the situation we find ourselves in. That's an important one. Are you a fan of servant leadership, Joe Robert Greenleaf?
[00:12:07.410] - PMO Joe
Absolutely. I don't know if I'm an academic follower of the principles of servant leadership, but I am a philosophical follower and believer in servant leadership.
[00:12:18.130] - Louise Worsley
Yeah, I think it's an interesting one in projects because in its simplest way of thinking about it and Green, I think, describes this is it like a continuum between being focused on yourself. I want to control I'm the leader through to focusing on the team and ensuring that the team is able to be as effective as they can possibly be, which is the other area here. And the only thing that worries me slightly about that is that in projects where there is another group of stakeholders and it's the client, where do we see the client on that continuum? And that's why I think it's an interesting debate. Certainly, I want students to debate that is to consider. Okay. So I might feel comfortable being at this end or even at this end. But what about these other stakeholders over here? How do I find myself in that servant leadership role and still ensure that the client stakeholders are being satisfied? That's the clever bit. That's the leadership.
[00:13:23.350] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And certainly I just want to also say thanks to everybody joining us remote. We've got folks coming from Brazil and the UK in the United States. So it's fantastic to see that diverse crowd joining us. And on this discussion, I go back to a long time ago when I was in my College days. My thesis my master's thesis was on transformational leadership. And it goes back to I wrote the paper on Apple Computer and how they use Steve Jobs transformational leadership to be able to evolve the world. Really and the company Apple into that servant leadership wasn't really as strong back then. But yesterday's debate on Agile versus waterfall, of course, the Agile mindset includes the tenets of self governing teams and servant leadership built into that mindset. But to your point, yes, it's what happens when there is a different perspective, the clients focused versus the team's focus. And there should be some line drawn connecting those, of course.
[00:14:25.340] - Louise Worsley
[00:14:26.390] - PMO Joe
So what's some of the different debates that you get from your students when it comes to those discussions? How are those without perhaps the same professional experience that we have? How do they respond to those sorts of discussions?
[00:14:39.970] - Louise Worsley
Well, one of the debates that we sometimes have around this is to ask the question is, are all leaders ethical? Are all leaders good? And so immediately we can do the common ones and the classic seven leader ones like Gandhi and people like this who are in the public domain. But of course, there are plenty of other leaders out there who are tremendously effective and not wishing to mention the war. But if you pick somebody like Hitler and a very effective leader, but not an ethical leader.
[00:15:13.830] - PMO Joe
[00:15:14.520] - Louise Worsley
And I think it's interesting if you look at some of the work done, even on servant leadership, let me be controversial here. There's a tendency to assume that a servant leader is an ethical leader. But if you take the actual view about servant leadership, which is taking the team on that journey. Well, I know we could say that there are people out there who do take their followers on journeys who do satisfy the needs of those teams, but they aren't necessarily very ethical about how they've done that. I could be controversial. Is Trump an ethical leader because he's got great followers? So I think one of the interesting debates is where ethics fits into this. And it is possibly mistaken to assume that something like servant leadership is always ethical leadership. And I think that's quite interesting. What about if it's just to another end, if you like.
[00:16:14.680] - PMO Joe
Yeah. I mean, that's a great perspective for us to consider on that. I'm wearing a shirt today. We can't really see all of it. But it says birds aren't real. And we have a lot of followers that are for leaders out there where they're putting conspiracy theories out there and followers follow along with them. It could be cult people, it could be whatever it is. Right. It doesn't have to be political in nature, but people believe the absurd from leaders that share that information with them.
[00:16:44.190] - Louise Worsley
[00:16:45.030] - PMO Joe
And there was this gentleman here in the States who is a College student, and he happened to be listening. He was sitting on a rooftop as a parade was going underneath him of these conspiracy theorists. And he said, this is just ridiculous. What is the most insane thing that I could write down on a board and I can walk around with these people? And he wrote on the board, birds aren't real. And he joined the parade and was walking around holding up the sign. And within minutes, people started chanting, birds aren't real, birds aren't real. The followers were just coming. So now he's written this whole backstory and history about this fake sarcastic movement to mock these conspiracy theories.
[00:17:29.010] - Louise Worsley
[00:17:30.590] - PMO Joe
So he's hired actors to portray CIA agents who said they were part of the US government's mass extinction of birds, that they're now all robots that sit on power lines to recharge and sit on phone lines to be able to eavesdrop on our conversations. But again, to your point, the leader can take that message and do with it however he or she wants. It doesn't have to have to be a message that's for the good, the greater good for the people.
[00:17:59.990] - Louise Worsley
And I think one of the things you've mentioned, the word followers now is that if you look at the leadership literature, there's a lot of work on leadership. And we're just starting to see we just started there has been in the past, but it hasn't been as much to look at. What does it mean to be a follower? And I think that's really interesting. And I think if we were to link that back into what we do as project managers, there are some parallels here with the way that we do stakeholder analysis, because clearly, if you want to influence people, and by influence, that means getting them to want to do what you want to do, essentially taking them on your journey because you've inspired them to do that rather than tell them to do that and they want to do what you want to do. So the part of being able to do that means we need to understand, I think, as I said, some parallels with idea of followers. And I suspect that over the next few years we're going to see more research, possibly because of things that have happened in politics and things like this about how do people become followers.
[00:19:02.690] - Louise Worsley
I think it's an interesting area. I think it's finding it quite scary. And I suspect that if it happens in some areas, we are going to be looking at things like social media, how people get affected by social media, which is what you're referring to there as well. Joe, how do people get affected like that? But I think in projects, if we take that back into projects, it comes back to how important it is for us. If we're going to act as influencers, to understand all the stakeholders that we're working with.
[00:19:29.450] - PMO Joe
To understand all of that, we need to research it right? We need to collect data, analyze the data and make understandings and then take action on that. I know you've been very involved in research as well. Can you share some of that background and the work that you've done from a research perspective?
[00:19:49.090] - Louise Worsley
Yeah, I use that term earlier. I feel that relationships is the currency of leadership. And I use that guideline because my area of research for like 20 years now has been what makes project managers successful. And apart from the pure research, I've got to do some wonderful things. I worked with a number of companies. This is when I can talk about BA Systems huge defense group. And they had decided they wanted to invest in their top 50 project managers, but they wanted to find out how their best project managers got to be their best project managers. If I were to pay them, but they pay me, I got to go and interview some of their top project managers and program managers. And I got to job shadows. And these were program managers who are running things like Eurofighter and massive programs. And there were some interesting things about them. I think one of the first ones was clear was at some point in their career, every single one of these had a mentor who took them under their week. And I keep coming across this now is that to be successful in this way is that you need these kind of mentors.
[00:21:04.670] - Louise Worsley
And these mentors fulfilled a number of different roles. Part of it was to help introduce them into the organization, to help them know who's who in the Zoo, in these political organizations. But also when you're on these tough projects and they are tough. You need integrity. You need organizational bravery. It's very hard to do it on your own. This kind of mental approach was also almost like a social support. It was the person to go to when the times are really hard. And I think that's important for us when we find ourselves in these complex projects, is that you need that the mentor is a really good place to go and you should consider what you're looking to get from your mentor. And the other thing was interesting about these people is that in all cases, they had very extended personal networks in their organizations. And that's something that we found time and time again in high performing project managers is that they tend to be very good at creating these relationships. So going back to what you were saying, Joe, about understanding our stakeholders, perhaps it's not even just research. It's that because you put real effort into building those relationships, creating the social capital that you need to draw upon to make your project successful, that turns out to be really important.
[00:22:31.320] - Louise Worsley
And these good project managers were very good at that. They really were. And they created these networks. The other thing we found out, I mean, these very successful project managers, none of them were under 40. You don't get 22 years year old project managers of this kind of complexity. So it appears to be there's some kind of maturation process that project managers have to go through. And these project managers have worked in many different types of project arenas, and they built what we now tend to call is judgments around making the right decisions about the right approaches, the right leadership styles to apply to deal with the different types of projects they were going to be faced with. That was a fascinating one, and I very much enjoyed hearing, hearing their stories. I suppose the other thing that was in common with the three big ones that I followed, the program managers, every single one of them had a heart attack. So just be careful as well, the stress.
[00:23:35.110] - PMO Joe
Yes. Well, this is interesting. Right. So we haven't talked about this previously. So this is again, we're a live show. So this is on the fly type of thinking based on your comments. Right. All of them over 40, yet you're an instructor at a University, speaking with young adults, getting them to successful project management careers. How do we as corporations take on these young adults, future leaders, when they don't have that experience to run these projects?
[00:24:09.270] - Louise Worsley
Yes. Just to kind of correct you. But the MSC, like most master's programs, is actually they're all mature students, so they're all out there working, which is common for an MSC. I mean, most Masters now, particularly in management people, have gone away, bit like an MBA. They've gone away, got some experience, and then he come back to do the Masters. So they all are more experienced. It's an interesting question about undergraduate project management courses, because education is different from training. Do you have a daughter, Joe?
[00:24:50.270] - PMO Joe
I do. She's a junior in high school this year. Yes.
[00:24:53.070] - Louise Worsley
Okay. So if I said to you that they were doing sex training at school, how would you feel?
[00:24:58.560] - PMO Joe
Oh, not good.
[00:25:00.890] - Louise Worsley
So you're probably quite happy for them to do six education?
[00:25:03.400] - PMO Joe
[00:25:05.220] - Louise Worsley
So there's this huge difference that we see as academics. We see that education is very different from doing your Prince Two course. We're doing your MSP course. What we're actually trying to do is broaden our understanding so that when you get faced with lots of different environments, you've got almost like a set of principles to go back to. That's what you'd hope that we try and achieve in universities, but bringing young people on. I've been working with a lady who I think you might be interviewing a few times from now who won the South African PMO lead award, lady called Marion Baxter. And she put a lot of effort into bringing on PAs and project coordinators and rising them through the ranks. And one of the most difficult decisions for a manager is when to throw that more complex project for that individual. And it's a really hard decision. And it's hard in organizations for a number of reasons. One is because as a PMO manager, you'll know this, you don't get too many trials when you get it wrong, right?
[00:26:12.740] - PMO Joe
[00:26:15.290] - Louise Worsley
You put this young person on who you think can be ready for it, and it turns out they're not. It comes back to you. So it's a hard decision. And the other problem that exists is that because that person has been maybe a junior project manager in the organization, they've got baggage. People still treat them like a junior project manager. So bringing somebody up in the ranks is quite tricky because how you move from just giving them the normal projects and then trying to push them into the more complex projects which they absolutely need in order to gain experience and judgment necessary can be quite hard. And Funnily enough, I've just been talking with another project manager in Marion's organization. And what she had done is that she'd done really well in Marionne's group, but she just couldn't make that break. She went to another organization. They hadn't got the baggage in that organization, was kind of allowed to do things that maybe she couldn't do. And now she's come back into Marion's organization. And I have seen that sometimes the glass ceiling is hit by these young project managers and the best thing they can do is go somewhere else and hopefully come back.
[00:27:25.210] - Louise Worsley
Hopefully come back. I don't know. Would you recognize that? And people around you have tortured.
[00:27:29.650] - PMO Joe
So now running the PMO Squad as a consulting firm, we only bring in those senior level resources. But having 15 plus years being a PMO leader, PMO director. Yeah, that was a struggle that we had. This person has tremendous potential. They may have started out as a developer like so many project managers have, but they haven't found that switch. And I, as a leader, haven't been able to help them find that switch to get them to elevate. So maybe it's not them problem, maybe it's an environment problem, maybe it's a leadership problem. And that's where mentoring comes into play. Right. Having somebody that can listen to your situation and guide you to make career decisions that may be uncomfortable but may be beneficial in the long run.
[00:28:17.660] - Louise Worsley
Yes, absolutely. I think many PMOs are doing this now. Marion certainly does. Is this concept of attaching one of the more senior project managers to more junior project manager to help them through with that process. And I think that's absolutely essential. I think what's interesting, though, is that not all project managers make good coaches, and there's even been research done on this to suggest that that shouldn't be surprising to us because good project managers are often very task focused. So you tell a good project manager now on top of doing this really difficult project and the other couple of things you're doing, you could just mentor this person as well. And sometimes they take to it, but sometimes they're just not necessarily natural at doing it. So just because you've got a good project manager, one shouldn't assume that they'll make a good mentor or coach for your more junior project managers. And I'm sure PML managers will recognize that.
[00:29:22.830] - PMO Joe
Yeah. We had a few shows back with Bruno Morganti, and he had talked about his time doing mentoring as well. And whenever we get into discussions about mentoring, I always take a pause and call time out and do a plug for my nonprofit organization VPMA, the Veteran Project Manager Mentor Alliance. And that's an organization that helped that we project management professionals, mentor veterans and military spouses who are transitioning into civilian careers to help them elevate their game, because there's that big difference, of course, between the military and civilian life. And we can help them with that. So for anybody interested in mentoring and helping veterans and military spouses, go out to the Vpmma.org and you can sign up to be a mentor, or if you know somebody who is transitioning into civilian work, they can also sign up to be a mentee. And there's no cost for that. So that's my shameless. Plug for the nonprofit organization and mentoring out there. You mentioned, though, about how it's not a good fit sometimes. Right, for certain project managers. And what I find in my experience is that people who excel at the relationship building side of project management are the ones who have the best chance of being a successful mentor.
[00:30:45.410] - PMO Joe
They've figured out the people component. And Ruth Pierce and Carol Oster Wheel and so many other guests that we've had on the show before, that's what they talk about in the project management space. Right. Is understanding people. Has there been any of your research that you've done that comes back to the people side of project management? If so, what are some of those results that you might be able to share with us?
[00:31:08.690] - Louise Worsley
Well, when the original work was done and in fact, that work was done for an American organization, I'm not sure if you see if this could CSC, does that still exist?
[00:31:18.350] - PMO Joe
That the Computer Sciences Corporation?
[00:31:20.780] - Louise Worsley
Yes. Original work was done with them because this is now going back to 30 years. And they had looked at project management, and they found that they estimated at that time they were losing $4 million a year off the bottom line because of poor project practices. And so they thought they could spend some time and money on trying to find out what would make their project managers good. And in the early 30 years ago, what we worried about was methods. So we went in, they got us CITI I was working for to do this work, and we went and worried about what methods. And they were using all different methods all over the place. And what we did prove is that it didn't really matter which method you were using. And that's important today when we're looking at things like Agile and or west of It, is that it didn't matter which method they were using, although those organizations which had a shared and common process tended to be more successful. So where CSC was working, where there was a common process, which people shared, they were more successful than the random types of things.
[00:32:23.250] - Louise Worsley
But what we also found is that you could have one person using the same method and another person using the same method. One was incredibly successful, one was incredibly unsuccessful. So what was different about the people's? What really mattered? So we went and measured their high performing project managers and looked at them. And I think one of the interesting first, the most important behavioral competence came out. And I've mentioned this before was integrity. Being able to deal with all of the stuff coming at you, you could call it resilience. You could call it bravery just being able to deal with this stuff coming at you. And that's part of emotional intelligence. If you think about what you might link that to, this is part of that resilience characteristics that we get described in things like emotional intelligence. The number one skill by far, every time we've done this work has been communication. What I think is interesting is in the early days when we did this work, working primarily in an It environment, is that the concern was that It people couldn't talk upwards to their stakeholders. They kind of flipped on their ties. We have ties in those days, too.
[00:33:35.810] - Louise Worsley
And so the concern was how do you get It people to speak business language? Nowadays when we look at it, we still get communication coming out, but it's about how you communicate and negotiate an influence across our organizations because our organizations are much flatter now and the real big barriers aren't trying to talk up to them. It's trying to get this group over here to come along with you or this group of interfaces to your project to be prepared to discuss how you can do that interface. So it continues. Every time we've done this work, that communication comes out really highly. But those influencing skills are becoming more and more important for projects. As I said, my Masters students are quite senior in their organizations, and I will ask them how many of them have been on a negotiation or influencing course? And the answer is usually none of them.
[00:34:29.140] - PMO Joe
[00:34:30.830] - Louise Worsley
I think that's the worst of our question asking of ourselves is what have we done in order to further our skills in those areas? And clearly experience is one of those things that experiential learning is incredibly important. But there are other things we can do. There are other pick up if you want to start with anything. Good book to start with is The Psychology of Influence C or Dini. I always recommend my students to start with that one and think about what does it mean to persuade people because persuasion is an important part of influence. Coming back to your question. So yes, we did find these people skills coming out so strongly in these successful project managers. The last one I always find interesting, we looked at where these project managers were spending their time and what skills was important, and we always considered that planning would be number one and it was really high at the top. But the most important thing they spent their time on was monitoring. And that kind of makes sense to me now because it's the execution of the plan that we're interested in. A successful project managers aren't in a back room busy planning all the time.
[00:35:45.280] - Louise Worsley
What they're doing is that they'll create that understanding and that framework so people can know what direction people need to go in. But then they're constantly going out there. They're constantly rechecking. They're constantly seeing how do I release the energy in the team, how do I recheck? The stakeholders are still aligned with what I thought they were aligned with, so they're constantly out there. And generally, I think the time in terms of percentages varied from it depends on the stage of life cycle. But anything between 30% and 60% of their time was on those kind of monitoring activities.
[00:36:18.470] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that's interesting. And again, going back to yesterday's discussion on agile versus waterfall. Right. The agile mindset of people over process, the monitoring side of it being more of the people side, how are we performing versus the planning side of the process? How are we going to go execute this? It's interesting to see that going back to CSE, Ironically, one of my roles in my career was I worked for an organization that we had outsourced our It services to CSE. And my role as the PMO director of the organization was to hold CSC accountable for project performance. And we had contractual relationships with them that there were certain gives and takes on billing based on project performance. And we always did well because CSE project performance was always poor. So it's interesting to be able to see that. And it wasn't because they weren't talented. Right. They were talented project managers, but they didn't understand our company culture. They didn't fit in well with our business. That people side of project management, they couldn't get it figured out. Changing servers and networks, that's easy, right. For the technical folks out there. Sorry, I just called that easy.
[00:37:35.210] - PMO Joe
But it doesn't involve the people side of it. Right. It's the technical component.
[00:37:40.370] - Louise Worsley
Yes. And related to that, it's an interesting problem for companies. My CSE were known for their It technical role. I also work with again, I can mention this company I worked with Rolls Royce in the UK many years back now. And we were looking at they had kept having project phases. One of the things that came out and they actually identified it is that people don't join Rolls Royce to do project management. They join it because they love engines. So the people that they would get coming force was a real all the top graduates wanted to go to Rolls Royce, but the top engineering graduates wanted to go to Rolls Royce. So they tended to attract very good engineers. But very good engineers don't always make very good managers. And that was a problem for them. And they tried an experiment in which in one particular year, they took half of their graduate intake from social Sciences, no engineering background at all. And the cultural impact was really quite significant. And I suspect that places like CSE also perhaps suffer from that problem. They tend to attract out now it well, they did. I know it's different in those days.
[00:38:58.510] - Louise Worsley
Yeah. They tended to attract it and engineering companies tend to attract engineering people, and there's nothing wrong with that. But as I said, sometimes you need that mix up. And Rolls always tried that. I don't know the end result of it because it will take several years for them to have gone through that. But their initial first two years was gosh. I think this has had an impact. Police started to change their culture to value project management more.
[00:39:24.710] - PMO Joe
Yeah. We had a client locally here in Arizona that was using their electrical engineers to run their projects. They were a semiconductor company. And we went in and we took over project management activities for them. They were having problems with retaining customers. Customers were dissatisfied with their project performance. And when we came in and put project managers in charge of projects who didn't know anything about semiconductors or electrical engineering, their customer retention rate skyrocketed and they were getting repeat business, not because we understood the business, but because we understood relationships and we understood project delivery and we understood how to connect. And I think that's a similar thing that you're talking to, right? Same as when we get a new client in any industry that we may not have worked before, they always say, but you haven't worked in our industry. How are you going to be able to support our projects? And I say, well, because we're project professionals, we're not trying to understand your industry. We're trying to help you deliver your projects better. And that's the connection, right. When you can find that secret formula, that's when project management becomes a value generation part of your organization and not an overhead function which many people consider it to be.
[00:40:41.780] - Louise Worsley
Absolutely, yes. And of course, we've got to get the value in our senior stakeholders and organizations. And there are a lot of reasons why project management is not valid. I mean, this was a strange one. This was again some years back now, and I was working with the bank of England and they had disaster, big bang days and they had a major project failure. And we went in to look at what the cause of the problem was. And this was an incredibly important project. It affected the streams and feeds to all the banks. And because it was an incredibly important project, they put a really important person on it. So one down from the person who signs the bank checks. And he was a very senior person. He had the brain of a planet when it came to economics. He knew nothing about project management. I think you would see that in the back of England today. But in those days, just getting companies to value why project wasn't just normal management. You needed the skills of project management to make these projects successful was a challenge that we had to go through. And I think we have started to get that.
[00:41:53.100] - Louise Worsley
It sometimes worries me with agile. I mean, I sometimes feel that agile is conveyed. We don't need project managers anymore. And I think that would be a shame if we start to communicate that. What's your feeling about that? You've been there yesterday. What's your feeling?
[00:42:07.150] - PMO Joe
Yeah. Agile started, of course, as a software development improvement initiative. Agile Manifesto was written by 17 individuals who formed collectively the Agile Alliance. And people tell me all the time, Agile isn't project management. And I say hogwash because the Agile Alliance, the people who wrote the Agile Manifesto, partnered with PMI to write the Agile Practice Guide for project Management. Yes, the mindset of agile has grown beyond software development into other areas of business, such as project management. So we can take project management skills and competencies, but do it in a way that puts people over process, that has self governing teams, that has retrospective throughout the life cycle of the project. We can take the twelve principles of agile and utilize them in project management. It's not software development only anymore. So I'm of the belief in yesterday's debate, the winner was Drumroll. It was neither Agile or Waterfall. It was all of us because we have two great competencies we can fall back on, right. We have two different tools we can use. One isn't better than the other. It's not an or discussion, it's an and discussion and use the right approach and framework methodology for the appropriate situation.
[00:43:32.400] - PMO Joe
So yeah, I'm of the belief of agile project management does exist. It is successful, but it's still based on performance and people and driving all of that work.
[00:43:44.210] - Louise Worsley
Yes, I think there's a link to some of the work that I'm doing at the moment, having done all this work, on research, on what makes project manager successful. I got involved with literally profiling project managers. I've been doing that for many years now, literally profile over 1000 project managers, which is why profiling, I mean kind of it's like a case study interview, interview. People get to do questionnaires. It's like an assessment center in the UK. I did it with a number of different companies here in South Africa. One of them I work with is Marion's company. And what's fascinating with that is I've been doing it with them for now, ten years. So I actually have got to see project managers growing. I've actually profiled some of them two or three times. And one of the discussions that we had with Marion is that we were all of the belief that project manager was a project manager and as you got into more complex projects you had these core set of skills. But we also knew that there were certain project managers who appeared to be good at certain types of projects and not necessarily good at other types of projects.
[00:44:49.730] - Louise Worsley
And in the end for looking at and this is primarily an It area. We divided our project managers into three groups. One was AppDev project managers and that's where you add your type project managers with it. One was business project managers and one was technical project managers. And some of the most senior project managers, they could fit in any of these, but some of the ones in the middle, they tended to be better in one or another. And we did workshops where we'd look at role models and say, Steve, he's a great technical project manager, why what's different about him? And one of the things that came out, for example, we had one project manager. How he was described is that it didn't matter. He could be phoning up the CEO of the company at Papa, five, six in the evening and the CEO would take his call. Now that's a skill, that's a skill and that's that relationship skill. You see in these business project managers, you see very much that ability to be able to create relationships across a very broad group of stakeholders. Whereas some of the technical project managers, they were fantastic.
[00:46:00.020] - Louise Worsley
They could talk to any technical architects in the organization, and the architects would trust them, they would work with them, and they had a different kind of focus. They understood architectures, they understood about integrating different architectures, but they wouldn't get the CEO to talk to the hub at six in the evening.
[00:46:22.590] - PMO Joe
[00:46:23.080] - Louise Worsley
They didn't have those same skills. App def. Interesting. What it appeared to be in our role model at their project manager is that, yes, they were more focused inwards on the team than they were focused outwards on the stakeholder groups were fantastic at issue resolution, internal issue resolution, but they weren't necessarily so focused on external strategic issue resolution. And they were also extremely good at that monitoring processes that we were talking about. In fact, they tended to put more emphasis on that, doing the reviews and the rest of it and doing what you might call more formal planning. So the plans were often cyclostyled because they could be kind of pulled out and made to work, whereas you go into the business or particularly technical project managers, they tend to have very good understanding of more formal project planning skills. So I think that was interesting. And to this day, in fact, I've just been interviewing today for a role in this company for an app. There's project manager, and you can hear they talk differently. There's no doubt they talk differently. And I think we're only beginning to kind of scrape at the surface of that.
[00:47:40.200] - Louise Worsley
My feeling is that as you get more and more senior than your most senior project managers will be able to have an understanding of each of these different areas. But some project managers get typecasts into those areas and they're going to be technical project managers or they're going to be out there or they're going to be business, and they're going to stay in those areas. And it's important that the PMO understands these different types of skills and where people can be successful, because it's a really awful thing to take a project manager who's incredibly successful in one environment and then push them into another environment, which they can't be successful in. And I think that's where the PMI has a big role to play in making sure that the right product managers are matched into the right areas.
[00:48:27.770] - PMO Joe
Where were you when I was running my PMOs? So this profiling and this research is fascinating. Are the findings public or those for the organizations only? Is there a way to be able to go see what these results are? Yeah.
[00:48:45.640] - Louise Worsley
I mean, some of the original work was published because I was still in mainstream academia then, and a lot of it was around what was called case modeling. So case stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, and experience, which is the profiling device that we use. In fact, the idea of case is I can't tell you whether that project manager is good or not. What I can tell you is this is what they look like. Now what you need to worry about is if they look like that, what kind of project should they be most like to be successful? Because profile, I get to meet project managers for 2 hours, I'm not going to be able to tell you anything you don't really know about whether this project manager is good or not. But what I might be able to do is help you understand what areas there most strengths lie in. So that's the idea behind profiling of the case model. What was interesting when we published these results and it still remains true today is that of knowledge, attitude, skills and experience. The biggest predictor of overall performance is experience. Interesting and the lowest predictor is knowledge.
[00:49:55.770] - Louise Worsley
So if you think about some of the qualifications that we put people through where there is a knowledge focus, don't get me wrong, we know it's very important that project managers have knowledge, but it's not a great predictor of performance. So what we found is that high performing project managers always have reasonable knowledge levels, but just because somebody has a high knowledge level won't necessarily mean they're a good project manager. So experience turns out seems to be the highest Corolla with success. And it's the variety of experiences. So somebody having the same experience for 15 years isn't likely to be as effective as somebody who's had different experiences over the 15 years. And attitudes and attitudes and behaviors comes out time and time again and we see those different attitudes and behaviors between the three different types of project managers I was talking about, by the way, because the app Dev project managers tend to be more troubleshooting, focused, issue resolution, active type things. And your business technical project managers tend to be a little bit more framework builders, build structures, they can see projects and they can describe them in different ways.
[00:51:15.510] - PMO Joe
Very interesting. And Bruno, hey, thanks for joining. Then throwing a comment out there, Bruno, former guest on the show coming on and listening. It's great to hear this. So we often hear about accidental project managers, people who haven't been trained but are continuously asked to lead projects because they have probably the innate project management gene in them and their experience allows them to be successful, even though they probably can't define the WBS or critical path or any of the knowledge areas that you would get from kind of standard project management training. So I guess those results don't surprise me, but it's great to have validation of what you think. And that's where research really can be helpful.
[00:52:01.890] - Louise Worsley
Yes. When we look at how project managers develop, we seem to develop through three levels. The first from which you're doing that, Joe, I call it the intuitive. Some people just I don't know about you. I was an organizer I drove everybody around the bank when I was a student. They did organize things, and that's very common in successful project managers. They have the intuitive understanding. They can do five things at once, which is why women are so good at project management. By the way, that intuitive understanding. But it also turns out that that works until you do this gets too big, and then you need to put these procedural things on top of it, and you need to apply judgment. So you kind of build upon intuitive. If you don't have the intuitive, you're going to struggle to be a project manager.
[00:52:48.370] - PMO Joe
Yeah. People ask me, how long have you been a project manager? And I turned 54 last month, and I said, what about 54 years? I was just born that way. Right. I'm not a singer. I'm not an athlete. People have skills they're born with. And I was just born with that project management piece. Right. It's intuitive for me to be able to go do that. And it comes out in other parts of life. Right. In high school sports, I was the catcher on the baseball team because I was organizing the players and calling the pitches and directing where we'd go. I was just drawn to that position. So I agree. When we interview candidates, I can tell within usually 30 seconds if they're a born project manager or they've become a trained project manager. It's very obvious, those people.
[00:53:34.960] - Louise Worsley
[00:53:36.690] - PMO Joe
Well, we are coming up on time, right? I say this every episode, and I don't joke when I say it. It's like, where does the time fly? Right. I mean, it goes by so fast. And certainly I want to thank you, Louise, for joining us, obviously, from South Africa and sharing all of this information. I think it feels as if we've just tapped the surface of all of the insights that you've collected over the years. So certainly, maybe who knows, maybe we'll have you back some day to be able to go one layer deeper and dig into this even further. Is there anything you'd like to share with everybody that you have coming up or any books or where they can connect with you? How can folks learn more about what you're doing and the work that you've done?
[00:54:20.770] - Louise Worsley
I think that the thing that has excited me for the last few years is stakeholder engagement. And I wrote a book which was actually edited by Professor Tim Plottenburg, who was at one of the universities in America, which I should remember, and I can't remember which one it is Xavier. He's at Xavier University. He's done some great stuff. So look out for their book series. I've actually got three books in that series, and I think one which relates to what we've been talking about today is adaptive project planning, which I believe in. It comes out so much when we look at successful project managers is how we must adapt our approaches to the particular demands of our projects. So that's the one I think that came out of this kind of thinking, but otherwise, just thank you, Joe. It's a very pleasure to be here. Thank you very much for what you're doing.
[00:55:09.590] - PMO Joe
My pleasure. I feel as if each of these sessions for me is a mentoring session. It's my opportunity to talk to some of the most impactful leaders in our industry from around the world and get a one on one conversation with them that I normally wouldn't have an opportunity to do if it wasn't for this platform and for this show. So I thank you and every guest that we've had on before for mentoring me and helping me understand a little bit more about what I need to do and my team needs to do to help us be successful. So thank you so much for that, Louise. Obviously, thank you to all of our listeners as well. Great. Without listeners, we don't have a show and that is very important, of course. So be sure to visit our website, PMO Squad.com podcast and check out all of our past shows. You'll also be able to see a list of upcoming guests, which includes Ricardo Martine, Sanjiv Augustine, Melissa McDonald, Constantine Ribel and Robert Bruce will be joining from Germany, Mate Sivira Track Via, which is working with PMI and the Citizen Developer program. They'll be joining us once again, Suzanne Davenport.
[00:56:19.200] - PMO Joe
We'll have folks from Keyden will be joining us as well and possibly on June 16. Maria Abdelina from Ukraine. Obviously she has other priorities in her life right now. We have our scheduled for the 16th. We may or may not be able to have her with us. So we'll tune in on the 16th and see what we have going on that day. We are live, of course, but we do record these shows so they are available for playback. So please subscribe to Project Management Office Hours podcast on Apple Podcast. Iheartradio Spotify, Spreaker, Google, whatever your platform of choice is. And of course, thank you to our sponsors, the PMO Squad and the PMO leader. Without them, none of this would be possible. So certainly thank you to both those organizations. 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.
[00:57:12.990] - Announcer
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