[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 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.
[00:00:30.410] - PMO Joe
Welcome everyone to Project Management Office Hours. We're the number one live project management radio show in the United States, broadcasting to you from the Phoenix Business RadioX Studios in Tempe, Arizona. I'm your host, PMO Joe, and for the next hour or so, we'll be talking project management and PMOs with our special guest. Before we jump into the show, just a few announcements. I want to invite everyone to go out and register for The PMO Leader Global Community Annual Conference (https://www.thepmoleader.com/2022-annual-conference) That event will be taking place on October 18. It is free to attend thanks to our sponsors and partners. And next week we'll be making some special announcements about those sponsors and our speakers. And an interesting concept I think I haven't seen in any of our conferences within our industry. We're going to be live for about 17 hours or so with content. We're going to follow the sun. We're going to start live in Perth, Australia and work our way across the globe, finishing up with content in America. So we'll be doing content live from Australia and Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. And no matter where you are located, you'll be able to have live local content related to our industry.
[00:01:48.380] - PMO Joe
So that's going to be a fun conference for us. Lots of planning, and we're project managers, so that's what we like to do. So feel free to go out to the website which we're showing here on the bottom of the screen, and register for that event. I think you'll enjoy that and we're eager to get your feedback once it completes as well. Also, last night I finished entering my PDUs to recertify myself for the next cycle of my PMI PMP certification. So, a reminder to all of you that each of these shows are available to be used to capture a PDU. We go for about an hour. We have great conversations with fantastic leaders from around the world. And as you're in your recertification cycle, a fun way to be able to capture and gain PDUs and knowledge and experience from our guests is to be able to go back and listen to the old shows and make sure that you can recertify with your PDUs. We're recording this, of course, as we always do, but we are live, right? We are live on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Internet Radio, and we'd love to hear from you.
[00:02:57.320] - PMO Joe
So as you're joining us, please drop in a comment to let us know where you're joining from. We're really a global show. About two thirds of our audience comes from outside the United States, so we always enjoy getting that feedback from our listeners around the world. And with that, I'm very excited to announce our special guest today. Dr. Robert Joslin is joining us. Hello, Robert.
[00:03:19.380] - Robert Joslin
Hello, Joe. Thank you for inviting me to the show.
[00:03:22.310] - PMO Joe
My pleasure. Speaking of global and world listeners and travels, where are you joining us from today?
[00:03:30.010] - Robert Joslin
I'm actually joining from the Middle East, so from Saudi Arabia, in the top northeast part of Saudi Arabia.
[00:03:36.830] - PMO Joe
Fantastic. And home for you is located where?
[00:03:40.590] - Robert Joslin
In Switzerland. So I live on the Lake of Zurich, which is about 40 km long. So it's about 18 km from Zurich. So I live in the canton called Shritz, which actually is one of the first cantons, one of the first three that were actually formed over 100 years ago. And you actually know the flag of our canton is actually the Swiss Red Cross. That's our canton flag. So I actually live in the same village as Roger Federer. Martina Ingus. Belinda Bendig. So it seems all the tennis players like to live in the village which I'm living in.
[00:04:13.370] - PMO Joe
Well, if you could stop by and chat with Roger and invite him to the show, it would be great to have them come on and we could have a chat. That would be fun. If you could take a moment. Obviously we know where you're located and where you live, but if you can do an introduction to the audience as well, just to let them know a little bit more about you and your history and your background, that would be fantastic.
[00:04:32.480] - Robert Joslin
Of course. Yeah. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening, everybody. So I'm 60 years old, so I have many decades of experience. I'm Swiss and British, so I was born in England and then I grew up in that the other 30 years in Switzerland. I'm an engineer, charts engineer, electronics by background. I enjoy working across different industries, primarily in the project management, and I guess every project has a PMO part to it on the PMO side. And so I guess my first real formal experience with PMOs was back in two, actually, in the Swiss Stock Exchange, working with logica people and the Australian people. And I spent, say, the last 30 years in Switzerland, but also working in different countries, but based out of Switzerland.
[00:05:23.550] - PMO Joe
Fantastic. And we've gotten to chat a few times before the show started here, so I know a little bit more than the audience does, so we'll have some good conversation, I think, to pull some stories out from your experiences and also just knowledge you've gained within our profession over the past several decades. Starting with that one would be you're a founder of an association and I think impactful one within our industry. AIPMO, if you can share a little bit about that and how that all started.
[00:05:54.870] - Robert Joslin
AIPMO stands for the Association Of International Project Management Officers. So really the association should be about the individuals rather than the project management office itself. So the O could be officers or office, depending on how you use the term. And the reason I actually set up AIPMO back in 2015 was having worked on projects pretty much all my life and experienced projects, good ones, poor ones, you realize actually in the projects that are poorly run, how it actually impacts individuals. So I've seen people get gray hair, divorces, health problems. And in fact, one of the organizations I worked at, a very large one, the CEO and CFO, actually committed suicide because they didn't make the financial targets. The pressure was so great. And so I decided, having a lot of experience in that area, to try to do something about it. And that's when I actually left my position. I did a PhD at Schema in strategy, project management and program management. And then I started forming all the courses and all the content for the first set of materials for AIPMO. And the difference between, I guess what we do, AIPMO and the majority of the other associations is that rather than just write something like, for example, I've been on the core committee of PMI on the portfolio standard, also review the first draft of their program management standard.
[00:07:29.130] - Robert Joslin
I have PgMP. PFMP also PMP. My PhD was on Methodologies, so I know quite a lot about methodologies, actually writing them. So the difference of what we do is we actually create a framework, just like a skeleton. And we actually take research because I'm a professor as well, I have PhD students and I teach at the master and doctorate level. So we take the research findings that invert. It takes three years to create because you actually have about 300 or so people in interviews, or you have a quantitative study with similar numbers, you actually can take the findings of the best companies and put it into the framework. So what you're doing is putting all the pieces in. And then what we do is we actually tested in the teaching and then we write it into the books. The majority of organizations, associations don't do that because there's a lot of work to go and do. Instead, what you do is you get people together and then you have to decide what you want to write about. You actually write about it, then it gets reviewed, etc. But it goes through a process then to actually get published.
[00:08:38.430] - Robert Joslin
So there's a different approach between a research driven standard or set of guides versus one that is more of a lagging standard of what exists amongst a few groups of people, what they understand and put together.
[00:08:51.590] - PMO Joe
So, interesting concept here because you're targeting the individual by calling it right, Officers. And when we think individuals often within our industry, we think not within the PMO, but the practitioner, the project manager and PMI gives us the PMBOK for the project management body of knowledge for their certifications. So within AIPMO, is there a similar you mentioned framework, but is there a similar body of knowledge or any sort of book for these officers to be able to follow along with?
[00:09:24.910] - Robert Joslin
It is yeah, so one of the mistakes is to use a project management methodology for a PMO. And so it's actually quite different. Projects about repeatability PMO is about adjustability or flexibility. So what they do today could be different to what they do tomorrow. So it's a very different concept. And we just published a book, it was three years in the writing. It's actually called PMS services capabilities. It's 750 pages. It's actually quite expensive book. And the reason being is because the actual print price is actually all in color. So we had it all professionally laid out. It's actually like doing two PhDs in one initially publishing this book. The first part of the book actually has the lower half of the methodology of the framework actually within it. And then we actually be publishing other books. There's two actually on the way, which then complements this one because this is like an integrated book with concepts that link into the other books. So it's actually a multi year journey. It's probably going to take another three years or four years. But then what you get is a tested approach, not just something that you just write and throw out.
[00:10:34.160] - Robert Joslin
There something that's actually been tested in classes, but also tested where I'm working now, the book I just showed you, it was that book that actually won the contract. Where I'm actually working, we competed against some of the biggest companies in the world. So we're actually testing and improving. And that's where the second edition comes out, third edition, et cetera.
[00:10:54.090] - PMO Joe
Yeah. So this is all fun for me because this is all stuff that I live and breathe, right? I'm PMO Joe. This is what I'm supposed to be talking about, right? And one of the challenges we see within organizations and you made the distinction, the practitioner versus the adjustments of the PMO. The majority of PMO leaders that we work with used to be project managers and they didn't receive any training on how to become the leader of the PMO. And therefore they run their PMOs as if it were a project. And oftentimes they end up shutting down after a few years because they're different bodies, as you mentioned. What has been some of your experience with that? And how would you recommend for that new PM who gets promoted into a PMO leader position to be able to evolve properly so that they can be successful?
[00:11:47.700] - Robert Joslin
See, it's a very interesting point you raise and there's actually research that shows that. There's research that I compare this and reduce in the course against what makes people in the at and AT&T labs back in 1960s, the most successful. And then we compared it against the project manager program portfolio and also the PMO. And the thing with the project manager, they have very low emotional intelligence. They actually push really hard and actually shown that people with low emotional intelligence, but they don't need necessarily on the project side because they go in and need to do change. But when you try to put that project manager into a functional position, they invariably fail. And it's the same with the PMO side. PMO people need to have a high emotional intelligence, just like the functional manager. Functional managers are not as good at getting work done, but they're very good at actually keeping their positions and actually being networked in the organization. So in fact, a number of my colleagues, we haven't sort of researched this yet, but probably about one in ten project managers are actually suitable for the PMO. Just one in ten?
[00:12:52.350] - PMO Joe
Yeah. And we see that all the time. And we always wonder within other functions, is the same thing happening? Because that really smart leader, but not functional leader. They execute, they deliver. When it's time for the promotion, hey, we want to promote that person because they're great at what they do. And oftentimes you lose on two fronts. You lost the great practitioner and you created a bad leader. And because of that, the organization suffers twice, not just once. And the individual, of course, suffers because when they were excelling in their job, no longer are they doing that. And of course that's a negative for everybody involved.
[00:13:30.930] - Robert Joslin
You can also see that with Winston Churchill, for example, and Maggie Thatcher, they were great wartime leaders, they took decision action. They were very good in the wartime, came to peacetime, and it wasn't really very good. The Churchill got replaced, you may say, well, we didn't have a war with Maggie Thatcher, but actually, really at the time she took on the union. So it's an equivalent of that. Some people are very good in the project, in the change part, pushing through, but then you really need to look at the sort of the handover to somebody that's something better than actually more the status quo, getting on with people and taking the operational unit along with them. The PMO side actually has a very delicate line to actually walk between being too much of an operational culture and too much of a project culture. And in fact, because there are many different types of PMOs, each one actually we believe, and we don't know this yet, we believe there's different culture types. And the PMOs and I can talk a bit about it later because we've just got some new research out what's the link of culture and PMO success and the different types of culture traits in PMOs.
[00:14:41.340] - PMO Joe
One thing I like to do when someone's representing an association that comes out is kind of compare and contrast with some others in the industry that people are familiar with because they have some context for that, right? So if we think about PMO, Global Alliance or House of PMO or any of the other ones, I'm not trying to single them out, but what would be a distinguishing component to AI PMO that is a differentiator for you compared to some of the other name brands, if you want to call them, that are out there in our industry.
[00:15:12.750] - Robert Joslin
What's interesting is actually the origins. So I know Americ0 Pinto several years ago and actually we did sort of form a loose partnership between AIPMO, his organization, I don't know if it was called Global Alliance at that point, but then we're both busy and then sort of went a different way. So Americo actually sort of threw his art from his product and so he was actually looking at a product certification for us. We don't do products, so we want to be independent of that. And then with Lindsay and Eileen Roden, they came to us and actually were part of AIPMO, but then they looked at actually setting up their own the House of PMO. It's not association but organization. So they focus primarily on competencies. So the differentiator for us is I think that we spend probably a lot more time in the research and the building of our frameworks. And you have to have a framework. You can't actually build something without the framework. And that's why, for example, when you're looking at the top consulting companies, they will always build a framework, a structure to frame a problem and then actually find a way to actually resolve it.
[00:16:26.230] - Robert Joslin
So ours is actually based on objective research. But there is of course practitioner experience because when we put it into the training materials, we actually test it and see whether it resonates with them. Some pieces work, some pieces don't work. The other organizations, I think with both Merico I know he developed this model and then he created this thing called the Maturity Cube, which was based on Monica's 27 functions. And then he put his value ring, which is a very nice approach of actually doing it. But when we do, our courses are about 15 days, for example, going from the foundation, which is a team member. So we have PMO and project people. The practitioner is actually five days as well. And that's actually with the project manager and the PMO manager. And we also do an expert level and the expert level is really difficult to do. There's only one or two of us actually do this in the world. And we don't just look at one PMO, we actually look at multiple PMOs. We call them a topology of PMOs. What it really means is like a network topology is that if you want to work as a team, a team of PMOs, you don't have one centrally because it's too far from where the action is.
[00:17:42.520] - Robert Joslin
So you have departmental PMOs you may have. For example, I set this executive PMO for the CEO of this mega project that is very different to an initiative specific PMO which is actually building, for example, a particular building or an asset. So you actually need a team. And the expert, of course, looks at that and how we identify how we build this design, but also we actually build it into the whole of the Ppm environment as well. That's at the expert level. So there's a whole depth to it and which I don't think the others I know the others don't get into that depth.
[00:18:17.220] - PMO Joe
Yes. And this part of that differentiation and thank you for sharing all that. Right. Is kind of where we started up, the PMO leader community, because there's choice for people, and oftentimes it's like, how do I choose which one is right for me and for the PMO global community, we've tried to be agnostic. We don't have a preference for one association or methodology or framework over the other. But we want to be able to bring all of them together so that the users have a single destination to see which one fits for them. Because nothing in the world is one size fits all. And if we give them that choice, certainly they're able to go forward and make the one that is best for them. So I like your description, and I think it's a differentiator that's out there. And I think we need that within our industry because so much of our industry is focused on project managers, right. And not on the function of the organization within it. So thanks for sharing that a little bit with a IPMO and the vision that you have there. You've mentioned a couple of times the mega project that you're working on, and you're in Saudi Arabia, and we don't need to necessarily get into the project specifically, but how have you seen PMOs be different around the world?
[00:19:29.660] - PMO Joe
Right, again, we talk about each PMO is different within each company. But do you see variety and variation across geography as well in regions?
[00:19:39.300] - Robert Joslin
Yes, you do. A lot. And a lot of it comes down to the people that teach PMOs. So if you think you're being taught by a master, but you're not, and they just teach you for a certain level, you think that's it. But if you suddenly realize that there's actually a higher level, and then you learn that, then you realize there's actually a greater opportunity. And where I teach in the Middle East, but also in Europe as well, in different countries, is that the people in PMOs invariably all of have a degree, probably about 40% to 50% of a Master of Science and about 1213 percent of PhDs really highly educated. I actually call Saudi Arabia the Kingdom of PMOs because it has so many structured PMOs run by consulting companies like McKinsey, for example. PwC is big into PMOs. So really saudi Arabia has maybe surprising to some, it's extremely advanced in the way that PMOs they've actually developed. And what we're doing in this project I'm working on is that I'm in the standard group and PMOs are actually custodians for methodology. So we talked about the Pen book for example. So in construction I've only heard one person use the word agile and that was somebody just coming in from the outside because all agile really means is just efficiency.
[00:21:02.920] - Robert Joslin
We use a procedural methodology, it has all the checks and balances in it because you can't afford to make mistakes because it's people's lives. And out here, same with the on and gas industry or another building industry, anything where you're actually constructing things. So the PMOs here, you have a methodology, you have all the checks and balances. They actually play both sort of like a design review, but also they play compliance role as well in this. If I look at PMOs, for example in the UK, UK is many service orientated and from what I've seen is that they don't go to the depths that they do. For example, in the construction industry in the Middle East is full of construction, for example. So a lot comes down to the certifications you take the people that you mix with and also the emphasis is actually put onto PMOs within the organization or within the region.
[00:21:59.500] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that's an interesting perspective. And just thinking back the past two winners of the PMO Global Awards, PMO the Year contest, they do have both been from Dubai, right, in the Middle East. And it certainly speaks to the point of the Middle East just as doing it at a different level than everywhere else. And where I am here in the States, unfortunately it just hasn't hit that same depth right, we haven't achieved that same level of maturity and understanding as some of the other regions. I don't know if you've had an opportunity to do any of your research within the US and have a thought.
[00:22:35.240] - Robert Joslin
On any of that. The thing is in the Middle East is that they have the money to go on courses, so they see that. However, there's a lot of what I call a Mickey Mouse courses, courses that go to master class and things like this. And we give webinars and one of them was looking at courses what to watch out for. So really what you want is an accredited course. The ideal one is actually to go from accredited course. You do your degree, you do an MSC, but actually you do your chartership and that's probably the top one or there's maybe one above it. You talk about a PhD. So in Europe, Scandinavian countries and Switzerland for example, they pay for the Master of Science and they pay also for the PhD. So people I think take more into the education and a number of courses, like for example Swiss Business school, we have this doctoral program on strategy, project leadership, and PMO management. What I've seen with the US is that because of the employment rules and because people are concerned about positions, they will spend less time on courses unless they have to go and take it.
[00:23:45.420] - Robert Joslin
And so it's seen more is it just a necessity? And if it's not, then they probably won't take the time to go and do that. In Europe it's different. In the Middle East. It's definitely different. They like to invest. The government pays a lot of money for education into different areas, including project and PMO management.
[00:24:04.950] - PMO Joe
And that investment, of course, is one that one would hope would be a long term investment to pay off many times over. On the value of the projects and the excellent execution of those, I haven't heard as much this year, but maybe over the last year or two there was a lot of talk about PMOs evolving into SRO Strategy Realization Office or Value Management Office, in my view, is just how can I rebrand something so I don't have a bad connotation when I started up? What do you see in the Middle East with that? Is there much of a pull away from the term PMO into other terms?
[00:24:43.590] - Robert Joslin
Well, this is an interesting one because I'm actually working on terminology. We spent probably two years in AI PMO looking at, for example, tools and techniques. PMI talked about tools and techniques, but you couldn't actually work out what is a tool and was a technique. So in terms of using interchangeably, invariably there's a lack of clarity for that. So regarding actually the understanding of something, you really need to sort of go into depth to understand what it is and then how these actual things fit together. Can you just repeat the question that's.
[00:25:17.200] - PMO Joe
Okay, yeah, the SRO VRO naming, I've got it.
[00:25:23.670] - Robert Joslin
For example, PMI used to talk about three types of PMOs supportive, controlling, and directive. And the problem with associations, including with AI PMO is that when you write something down, people believe it. But the problem is that when you write it from a personal view, you just learn that guy's personal view. So we have never, ever managed to actually put a PMO into any one of those three categories of the sport of controlling and directive. So that was actually up to version six. And then what happened, I think Sunny, the old CEO, he's a European person, he changed the standard from a non principle based to a principle based standard. What's interesting is that PMI would talk about a gold standard, but then they throw that out and put something totally different in. And in fact, the new version, what they say is the standard is not the process part, but is actually the principal part, which is actually a total 180 degree change in doing it. And they describe in there a value management office. And I guess I'm rather sort of cynical because the reality is that the number of PMOs is really down to your ability to name these things in different ways.
[00:26:35.130] - Robert Joslin
So it's not just the three. In fact the three poor. We never say I'm a controlling PMO, it's authoritarian, I'm a directive PMO. You actually choose the actual name of PMO according to actually what it does or the combination of services. And this is the such thing we cover in the courses as well. And something else that's interesting is that we did a project for a very large international retail organization. We had to find the PMOs. They weren't called by PMO. So we actually sort of created like a filter saying what do you do? Actually you're actually a type of PMO. In fact the department I'm in now, which is engineering standards, they actually are a type of PMO. They never accordance of the PMO but what they do is they have a methodology that the masters of, that the custodian. They're actually we're looking at creating variants of this according to the asset that we're building, which is absolutely makes sense. But you should never have a generic methodology. It should actually be designed around the thing you're actually building. You have to find where these PMOs are. They won't necessarily be called that.
[00:27:35.820] - Robert Joslin
To your point about the value management office, everything creates value. So really people saw this in there and it's just somebody that shouted the loudest to get this thing in there. It's just the PMO is a generic term. You could actually say the finance department creates value or project rates value. And this is where people have tried to segregate it. So for example, PMI would talk about deliverables for the project, benefits for a program and then value for a portfolio. Reality is everything creates value, everything creates benefits. Okay, a project that deliverables. Yes. In England they would say it creates outputs, then they will say outcomes and that's equivalent to a benefit of the program. So really you just have to understand the use of English and understand that when people try to describe something or model something, it's really a sort of a simplistic view of their environment and you're going to see what actually makes sense in your environment and make sure whatever it does make sense, make sure those terms are used properly and consistently.
[00:28:36.190] - PMO Joe
I don't know, maybe I'm an outlier of my thinker and haven't bought into what I'm supposed to believe. Right? So we've PMOs bought, we've been principal based all along because when you're a consulting firm going out to work with clients, they want to have a result. It's what did your delivery out produce? So I've always struggled with calling something a project management office because the word project is used throughout an organization and not meaning a project like professionals mean it. So what we've always talked about with them is delivery. It doesn't matter if you're a PMO or an engineering department. Or an accounting department. You're producing deliverables in a structured format and if we help you do that in a structured way that you can do it consistently over time. To your point, we're creating value, right? We're removing waste and inconsistency. So I agree with you. I think we as an industry get caught up in these terms, any new terms to create common culture and all that. I get it. But if we live in different geographies with different cultural influences, terminology can mean different things to us.
[00:29:47.470] - Robert Joslin
It does. And this is where the problem we have with Agile. So I know this is a topic we want to go and discuss. So when you look at this terminology, when you actually, for example, look at stakeholder management, PMI would describe that as a total technique. The reality is a stakeholder management, it could be called a domain. We talk about service domain because PMO is great services. We take a service view if you look at in England and they talk about themes and then the PMI talks about knowledge area, for example, but then they changed their mind and called it performance domains. But the thing is there is actually no definition of performance domains. When I actually reviewed, when I was working in the committee, I looked at what a knowledge area consists of and what they called a performance domain reality. It's the same thing, just a different name to it. And that's it. Whatever you do use, or whatever is used is you need to make sure that it's well communicated and not something that you know and assume other people actually know.
[00:30:48.900] - PMO Joe
Yeah. So you mentioned Agile. I did a couple of talks earlier this year on Agile versus waterfall. The great debate and the outcome of that is there is no debate between them. They're really rooted from the same origins and they're both trying to solve a problem. It's just a different approach to solving a consistent problem. But now we start to see the Amo or at the Agile Management office forming because again, people have to create a new term for something. So what's your view on Agile and the PMO space? Can PMO be agile and if so, how?
[00:31:29.170] - Robert Joslin
For several years I was hearing about the Agile side thinking what is it? And then I saw videos and say well, what is it? There's nothing really in this Agile side. So all Agile means is efficiency. In fact the term Agile, I think it was in 1945 when Raythorn came out with a series of principles, agile principles. If you look at the deming process, it's really about efficiency. That's all that journalists is efficiency. And it comprises of a series of techniques. So techniques is the lowest building block. You combine them together into a method or a series of methods and you call it something. Whether you call it the sort of banana methodology or the Agile methodology, it doesn't really matter if you want to build a framework, you actually don't put redundant terms. And in fact what I did is I took the scaled frame or the safe framework and I removed all the adjectives in front and I actually showed the people on the webinar what is actually simpler to understand. And you go backwards and forwards and what you actually see is that the one without all the adjectives. So people then ask is the AIPO framework and agile framework.
[00:32:32.720] - Robert Joslin
So if you look at the framework, do you see the word agile on it? No you don't. You see two words continuous improvement. That means agile for efficiency. If I was to put agile and governance, I have to stick agile all over the whole framework and I would actually pollute it. And that's why, for example, the Half Double Institute, they don't use the term agile, even though they may call it an agile and sense of an efficient framework. We don't use the word agile either at all, anywhere in our frameworks. So to come back to your question, is it an agile PMO or an agile PMO? Is it actually producing its maximum potential benefit? And there's some new research that we've actually done. When you're looking at a PMO by itself, it actually only creates about a third of the impact it can actually create. And the reason being is because it actually has a domain of influence that can actually influence, but there's also other PMOs that it can influence. So this PMO supporting that one, then that one actually also supports this one. So what, you actually have three parts to the maximum potential benefit, what it creates itself and then what the other supports for it, and then there's also a third part to it as well.
[00:33:45.120] - Robert Joslin
So agile PMO, if it's efficient and it's actually creating its maximum potential benefit yeah, you can call it agile, but you would never say agile PMO. It's just an efficient PMO that's adapting to what is actually needed and what services are needed at that time. If it's not adapting, then it's not agile. But we don't use the term because it's redundant.
[00:34:05.800] - PMO Joe
Yes, and also if we go back to kind of the origins of it again, agile is about the approach to deliver the good or service, it's not about a function. The PMO is really a functional entity and it's a differentiator between project management and PMO. Right? Agile is really more of a now I guess you can split hairs and start talking about my organization and agile organization will be certainly hope. So to your point, it better be efficient. But if you have a PMO that's trying to do some of the agile mindset work and the rest of the organization doesn't, how can it exist? How can it fit into the organizational culture and structures?
[00:34:48.380] - Robert Joslin
So this is an interesting one. We have a project that actually uses Sprints to actually deliver something and the PMO is equivalent to a finance department or like a department equivalent, it should take much bigger picture. So if you get a project developing software packages every two weeks and it costs you $10,000 in two weeks to package a new delivery, you're going to find the whole process cost more than the whole project itself. And so you really have to make sure that you're using the methods that actually fit into the organization and not just something that some people have got an idea about. So the PMO takes a much bigger picture than the actual project itself. And to the question about people, see, PMOs is really important. This is quite important because in the past the PMOs used to be the place to get out of, to go into the project team. I see things quite differently now. The analogies, if you look at Henry Ford when he created a production line before the project was the car. And then that didn't become any important so much because you could build any type of car on the production line.
[00:36:02.020] - Robert Joslin
The PMO is the production line. It's the enabler of the organization. The only way it actually works is by all the PMOs working as a team. They like the different work points on the production line. And that's why we are focusing on the PMO management part. And it's PMO management is because when you create a standard or when you create books, you don't create it around the entity. The project is around project management the domain. Same with the PMO, it's the entity you created around the domain. So PMO management the domain, same with program management, portfolio management. And I think that's probably why that there never was really much progress into developing PMOs until the organizations that you mentioned before have actually sort of come about and actually raised your attention. And I think it's with them actually working and competing and presenting that's when you get better solutions coming out for the better of the industry, for the organization and for the individuals within PMO management.
[00:37:00.340] - PMO Joe
Yeah, that's as you're speaking, I started to think here that project management, relatively speaking, from a formal perspective, is a fairly immature profession compared to accounting. If we go back and just use PMI as maybe that benchmark of formality, it's 50 or so plus years, right? So PMOs are a subset of that. It's even less time within PMOs as a formality. Now, did delivery exist before PMI was around? Of course it did. The Great Pyramids were built with the delivery methodology, right, to be able to repeat the stone placement over and over again. But as an industry and a profession, you mentioned, it's these new organizations that are shining the light and creating awareness. Through awareness, we then start to get focused and we start doing research and we start to improve upon it. So we're really at the tip of the spear here with PMOs. Where are we headed what have we learned and where are we going based on what we've done so far?
[00:37:59.680] - Robert Joslin
Well, it's interesting about the term profession versus a trade. So there's a gentleman that actually did his PhD to understand his project management profession or a trade and he came up with 33 trades and then actually ascertain that project management was more of a trade than a profession. So what we did and we presented this at conference in London, the PMO conference and I think we did a second one as well, we actually looked at the PMO site and saying what are the elements of things that need to be in place so that PMO management can be a profession? And we believe that with this AI PMO or with an equivalent association, we probably got more of a chance to make PMO management profession and project management. So that may seem a bit strange, but if you just think that as you mentioned PMO being a function or an entity in the organization, it's equivalent for example, to finance or it's equivalent to the legal side, it does a particular thing, it's an organizational entity, the project isn't. And therefore just by seeing that there are accountants that have a profession, the finance guys have got professions, the legal guys in a profession, we have actually more of a chance in PMO management being professionals profession than project management has.
[00:39:13.200] - Robert Joslin
Which may sound surprising to the audience on the show.
[00:39:17.740] - PMO Joe
It's an interesting thought and again, I don't think anybody has the answer because we're probably paving the future as we're living these days. But how do we do that? How do we take that next step? Because the reason I bring that up is the challenge we have is through the past 20 years of poor performance organizationally, we now have a reputation that precedes us when we go into a PMO and we have to fight over this mindset of PMOs or overhead PMOs are wasted, PMOs don't provide value. So how do we break free from that perception to be able to then become, as you mentioned, more of a profession within the industry?
[00:40:02.090] - Robert Joslin
Well, this is part of my motivation for setting up a IPMO is that if you have an association, you have the ability to influence in a position of power, but you have to be very careful how you use that. And that's why we don't go out and use adjectives that promise things that we can't actually deliver on. So we're actually developing the content and we're testing it. For example, I'm in the middle of the desert, I would prefer to be home in Switzerland for example. So I'm actually practicing what we're preaching and testing it and actually improving it. Once you have the content and it's written down like for example in this book, it's 750 pages, it has probably the most comprehensive book I believe in the world with all the concepts in it and the people that have actually read it. Surprisingly to me, they actually have been reading it from cover to cover because there's so much in it. And I think it's really people's understanding and pushing themselves and learning a philosophy and hopefully a philosophy to choose the right philosophy for that particular organization because everything is contingent. This is contingency theory.
[00:41:08.890] - Robert Joslin
So don't just copy paste, but actually take these concepts and apply it with the framework. Then I think that we have a good chance of actually increasing the number of successful PMOs. But PMOs always have to show value. It's not just you've achieved a limit and then or a level, and then you sit. And they've always got to keep sort of pushing and adapting and showing value. And I think that's also a problem with the number of PMOs is getting comfortable in the organization. That's why I say this thin line between a project go getting culture and more of an operational culture, you'll be very careful where you are in the culture of the PMO.
[00:41:49.090] - PMO Joe
You've spoken a lot today so far about research. And we had Louise Wersley out of South Africa, who had presented four or five shows ago about some research within project management. And some of it, when you hear that, it's like, geez, I always thought that was the case. But then when there's data to support it, it's nice to have that confirmation. How is research really driven what you've done in helping to grow what you're doing? Because it's hard to argue with data, right? It's hard to argue with the research when you come up with that.
[00:42:21.210] - Robert Joslin
It is, yeah. So I took my PhD at 50, and it's quite late, but I actually found had more questions than answers. And the people that I was working with and there were smart people with clever people in Switzerland, they come from other countries, they bring their families. But they didn't have the time I was able to answer. And that's why I actually took my doctorate, to actually understand more. Research isn't about a magic ball coming up with things that are incredible. It's more about confirming something, providing the data, as you say. Joe and I think that's important. One of the weaknesses of research, and this is part of the reason why the Swiss Business School got the accreditation, it's the AAQ accreditation, is that business schools struggle in actually showing universities they can do original research, but it's more applied. But what I actually did when I presented to the dean of a number of universities is I actually said that the way we actually do it is a very structured approach. We build a framework which could take a month to build, and every line on that framework is a PhD where we get students to take each one of these pieces.
[00:43:23.050] - Robert Joslin
They individually, they work, but it all fits into it. And then you prove the framework. They accepted that. And I think that's how the research had the tick box to get the accreditation. So the secret really is the framework and the frameworks you actually build and then making sure you do focused research that you're able then to then take the results. Just like I mentioned, for example, we have actually two frameworks and then we got some frameworks from it. We have research that shows what's the link between PMO culture and success. Now we've added an extra piece on there because we got the findings for that. So bit by bit we're actually adding these things. And so when we talk about it to our students you asked me about what a differentiator is that we actually able to talk about the research. We have PhD students coming in during the courses. They come for 30 minutes. Or we also have a professional, one of the top people in the area, they come in and talk about what they go and do. So our courses are not typical cookie cutter. In fact, the five day courses at the Practitioner and Expert, we take a real problem of a PMO and we use the methodology to go and solve it.
[00:44:34.020] - Robert Joslin
And we actually do role plays where people on the course, the people who actually work for companies to solve it, they're the client. And they are the ones that don't have a problem or a consultant, or don't want to act as a client. They act as a consultant. So we actually look through the whole process and then we actually solve it. And that's why you see so many pictures from our courses. Not necessarily the virtual ones, but the physical ones. We all show the pictures of the work and the whole walls are just plastered with all the work that we actually do. So it's very intensive. And for the instructor, these guys always have an MSC. Most of them have got PhDs or studying them. And they're also top consultants. If you work with top consultants and you're in a course of 40 hours, you learn a hell of a lot. So that's probably one of the biggest differentiators for most of the other courses where the teachers are not necessarily confident and always want to come out with the same answer. There's a big difference between a cookie cutter one and one that actually solves real problems for the people on the courses.
[00:45:29.380] - PMO Joe
So as you were talking about that, this made me think I think the show was way back in my first season. Dr. Harold Kershner was on and I had asked him at one point, why don't more universities offer project management degree programs? And he had an interesting response to me. He said, who's going to teach them? Because we don't have enough good project managers who want to stop practicing to go teach. So we're going to teach our future project managers with poor project managers. And therefore universities haven't bought into that. We're seeing a little bit more of this, but it's taking time. So the question back to you on that was, as you were describing, that the masters and the PhD candidates is how do we take the theoretical of an academic situation and verify it with the practical of an organizational corporate setting to know that those two worlds can come together and produce successful outcomes. Right. Because one of the challenges I always get when I talk about theoretical things is that's a great theory, Joe, but in practice, that's not how it works out here in the real world. So how has that balance been met by what you guys are doing?
[00:46:39.100] - Robert Joslin
Well, it depends on the topics you're actually looking at. So you mentioned, Joe, that 50% of PMOs fell within two years. But this is an interesting one because I was giving a talk in London and Professor Ralph Muller was going to do the same. We were going to use that. And then we looked into it. We realized the person actually cited it was from a paper that Professor Monica wrote. When I read the paper, there was nothing about the PMOs they do to 15 PMOs for 18 PMOs across Sweden and Canada. So in fact, the person who interpreted it was actually very large American Insights Organization. They published 50% of PMOs failed within two years. This paper, they signed it. None of them failed. In fact, they all evolved. That was your word you used, evolved with the same as well in the research. And then PMI picked up on this and said 50% of PMOs fail, and then everybody else picked up on it. The thing is, you've got to be very careful about where this information comes from. So we actually changed our presentation and we gave these short ones about fake news.
[00:47:43.160] - Robert Joslin
What is truth, what is false? And in today's world, you hear a lot about it. So when you're looking at the information that's quoted on 50% of PMOs failed, we actually don't know if it's 50% because that was only on 18 PMOs. And you can't look at 18 PMOs the distribution for the whole world. So this is what really what research does is actually confirms or provides interesting insights. So my PhD, I looked at what was the relationship between methodologies and project success and how does governance influence that relationship, the strength of the relationship? What I found was that a comprehensive methodology on agile, if you just agile is more about principles, but a comprehensive methodology can influence success. But after 23%, the variation be accounted for, the methodology. In fact, NASA was one of the people that organizations that I interviewed in my qualitative study. What they do is that they have a conferencing methodology. The project manager goes to them and says, look, I don't need this element. This element, if they agree, you can take it out. So therefore they make sure the method is actually suits to a certain degree. The thing they're actually building.
[00:48:54.130] - Robert Joslin
So how does research actually show that? Well, in all the conversations that we have, if people start to say, okay, this and I can actually then explain from the research, actually that is the case, or that's not the case, then the other one is how does governance influence this relationship? What we see actually, that we couldn't determine if you have different types of governance, and there's four paradigms professor of mother uses, but what we could tell is that governance influences success by up to 7%, depending on how your project is actually governed. So these are sort of interesting facts, just like the one I mentioned about the Emission Intelligence, that only one in ten project managers are suitable for the PMO because the Emission Intelligence is too low. So we can give you facts and therefore we can actually help you put things together that you may feel is right, but you don't need to have the vocabulary, we don't have the official connections. And therefore you can talk with more confidence about this situation because you can actually refer to it. Never refer to research.
[00:49:52.200] - PMO Joe
Yeah, and I go back to the PMOs fail. I don't even know what that means. How would we know if a PMO failed? They changed the leader. Well, accounting departments change leaders all the time. CFO came on board a new presence of the organization. Does that mean the company failed? Where they changed their methodology, they brought in a different tool. So for me, that's why it's evolved, because organizational functions are never static. Failure to me is just a learning opportunity to do something better. Right? It goes back to purpose measure, optimize, measure it. We're not doing something, well, let's optimize and let's do it better. So that's always an interesting one. When we go back and look at what does failure mean with the PMO?
[00:50:37.240] - Robert Joslin
Well, this is the point. I think that this organization is a big US organization. People pay tens of thousands of dollars to get their research. Is that in Monica's paper she said that every two years there's a change. What she actually meant, and I spoke to her about it because it really bugged me, is the organizational change. It's not just a PMO change. And the people that read it thought the PMO changed and therefore they must fail. So exactly to your point, organization was changed, and in fact, there's about, I think, 17 drivers that could influence whether the PMO is terminated or not changed. This is called PMO drivers have changed. We have it on our course. It's from Monica on her research papers. So, for example, that you have internal drivers and external drivers. External drivers are like market economy, for example, political change, environmental factors, internals. When you have like a new CEO, a new PMO manager, a change of strategy. So you would expect that that's what she actually wrote about, but she wasn't clear whether it was just the PMO that was impacted every two years. And in fact, it was the organization and the PMO.
[00:51:40.570] - PMO Joe
And this is why we have conversations like this, so that we can go out there and we can talk about these things, because ultimately we're all trying to do the same thing. We're just taking different roads to get there. And that's to improve project performance around the world, either by making PMOs better or by making project managers better, or the PMO leaders better, or the projects and organizations, all of us, if we can keep shining that spotlight, if we can keep bringing choice to people in our industry, I think we are going to make improvement. And so that's why I think we can have these discussions so that we can understand that better.
[00:52:17.530] - Robert Joslin
Let me add to this. There's a very good framework from David Snowden called the Conniving Framework. And I apologize if I pronounced it wrong. He's actually Welsh. It's actually a decision making framework. And you actually have five quadrants where you've got the one in the middle, where you're not sure where you start. You got the simple, you got the complex, the complex, and you got chaos. And in the simple quadrant, this is where on a project or project portfolio, very few projects are that simple. This is where you have a procedural methodology. But when you actually go to complex so complicated, the next one complicated. There's many ways to solve something, just as you said that there are different ways we go, different approaches, and you never force somebody to do this just one way. So therefore consultant would say, look, I want to do it this way or can do it that way, they're probably going to be fine. So with a simple quadrant, you talk about best practice, but that's really just a very small part of what we do in project management. Very few things fit into it. The next one up is good practice.
[00:53:22.600] - Robert Joslin
So it's good practice, but there are many ways of doing it. Then you come into the next quadrant, which is actually complex, like complex adaptive systems. This is where you have a thing called emerging practice because everything is related. And if you actually do something, what you may find is that because it's related to actually a negative spiral, you've got to stop it, or it may be a positive spiral, then you reinforce it. The last quadrant is chaos. So for example, when we had COVID, we didn't know what to do in the country. So England did lockdown. Sweden was totally open. Switzerland didn't do any lockdown at all. Everyone did it different because we didn't have the data. We just didn't know what to go and do. So the chaos quadrant is when you're in a crisis or when you're doing research, you want to go and solve something. So with this one, you actually have novel practice. So good practice for simple stuff. And this is the problem with PMI's Pen Book Guide is that they talked about the 47 49 processes and what is the next thing you do? The thing is it just depends.
[00:54:21.310] - Robert Joslin
It's just contingent on the environment. And that's why they don't do process anymore. AIP mode doesn't do process. Process is actually organizational dependent. Then you say you have the next one, which is good practice. We have consultants and all different PMO approaches, that's fine. And then you have emerging practice, and then you've got novel practice. It's a really good framework. So we actually show the video in the course and we explain as well, don't talk about good practice or best practice. Don't talk about best practice because there's no absolute. In fact, Professor Aaron Shenha was one of the first researchers. We spent about 3 hours covering five slides. We actually using the term next practice. It's relevant to where you are the next practice rather than the other terms that went and used.
[00:55:05.440] - PMO Joe
Well, Robert, I think it feels as if we've just scratched the surface on what could be a multi hour long conversation. But unfortunately, our time is up today. And just back to your last point on that. Back in the PMO leader community, we started our own podcast and we call it Great Practices. Because to your point, who's to say what's the best practice? That means it's over. That means there isn't a better one. And so what we say is what we bring on folks who share their great practices, things that have worked for them over the years, that they want to share with the industry, because for them it's been a great outcome. So I'm with you. I'm reliant on that. And I want to thank you, obviously, for being on the show today. What's the best way for folks to get in touch with you? Or do you have any books or anything coming up that we should kind of be on the horizon, we should be looking out for?
[00:55:56.800] - Robert Joslin
Yes. So we're going to update this book every print, the PMO Principles. So we're just putting new graphics and all the terminology. We're going to have this. And then there's going to be a second edition of this, which is going to include service principles and domain principles and a number of other things and actually how you select principles. And there's a reason why they're behind in doing it. There's another book that's actually in the second draft. It should be for the PMO principles and that's corporate governance portfolio project and program principles. So those are the two books for this year or early next year. There's some others after that, but those are the immediate ones to contact me. It's best you can contact me on LinkedIn, for example, if you've got questions or if you want advice, or if you're interested in training courses, or actually how we go about building teams of PMOs. PMO Topologies, for example, Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.
[00:56:56.620] - PMO Joe
Fantastic. Well, thank you again for being on today. And also, of course, thank you to our listeners. If we don't have listeners, we really don't have a show, so we certainly appreciate them joining us. Be sure to go out and visit the PMO Squad website, select Office Hours up in the top menu to be able to capture all of our past shows. This is show number 109, I believe. So there's been 108 other fantastic conversations before this.
[00:57:23.000] - Robert Joslin
[00:57:24.010] - PMO Joe
Thank you. And then see our upcoming schedule. We have some great guests coming up, including Milan Dordovic will be joining us on our next show. Matte Sivira. We're going to be having a discussion on Citizen Developer with PMI and one of their partners, Track Via. We're going to be talking with the PMO Global Alliance Healthcare Strategic Group, where they're focusing on healthcare and project management and Sanjeev Augustine, as well as some others that we have planned for the year. So, lots of great conversations coming up and we look forward to having you join us for all of those. We are alive, of course, as we mentioned. But a reminder that these shows are recorded and we do release them as a podcast. So anywhere you can find your favorite podcast, please go out, subscribe, become a subscriber on Apple Podcast, I, Heart, Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, whatever. Your podcast platform of choices, of course. Thank you to our sponsors, the PMO Squad, one of the premier project management, PMO consulting firms in the United States, and the PMO leader global community, bringing our industry together, agnostic and thought, but sharing and open minded in exchange. And certainly welcome you all to go out and register for that second annual conference that's coming up in October.
[00:58:40.810] - 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.
[00:58:49.810] - Announcer
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