I was only able to attend the morning sessions today, so I hope that the final keynote will be available online.
Millennial Project Managers: Getting Results without Formal Authority
Attended this session by Justin Fraser to hear perspectives for millennial project managers, and I can always use tactics on how to have influence without formal authority.
He shared his story about how the clients he works with using have 20-25 years on the job, so when they see him, “the kid,” he needed to find strategies on how to build a connection with them so that they could work together. He gave the stat that 20% of project managers are millennials, I was surprised it was that high.
He emphasized the importance of focusing on a person’s preferred communication style and incorporating that into interactions to build a bond.
He said that as millennials, they have to prove themselves even more because of their age and avoid the “parent/child” relationship with older generations. When trying to hold someone accountable, it’s a weird dynamic if that’s coming from the “child” in the relationship.
He shared that this led to insecurities within himself and needed to find a way to “get over it.” He boiled it down to:
He shared his strategies:
- Connect – he invites everyone on the team to a 1:1 meeting to understand their professional goals, frustrations, past experiences with project management and what they do. He also gets the team out of the office to help people open up via happy hours, team building (escape the room) and other types of events.
- Understand – he stresses that it’s important to be deliberate about conversations and be aware of surroundings. Get to know what they want.
- Get Stuff Done – Add value – go above and beyond to help someone out; use Borrowed Authority by reaching out to someone more senior to help out a team member.
The conversation then opened up across the room, and it was a really good one with multiple generations talking to each other and learning from each other.
Is the Future of Project Management #noprojects
I was most excited about this session today because I remember the journey I went through as a project manager about seven years ago when we moved from project-based teams to product-based teams, and I was curious to see the reaction of project managers as the content was delivered.
In this session, Evan Leybourn did a really great job giving a “hands-on” intro to agile with the Pass the Pen game to introduce how a team works together to iterate over time.
Then we got into the meat of the presentation. I won’t cover a lot of topics here because I write about this topic quite a bit, and I want to share this exchange that happened about mid-way through the content.
When we were discussing that value delivered/outcomes are not included in the assessment of a project. A project manager in the audience asked, “but isn’t the definition of the project ‘something that does not provide value.'” Evan: “Yes, and that’s the point and the problem.” PM: “I can get my bonus, be rewarded even though the project delivered sh*t.” Evan: “Yes, and that’s a problem.”
It was this realization that I had years ago because my “success” was based on how well I managed a project – “yay, it’s on time, on budget and delivered the defined scope.” Very rarely did we look to see if any value was delivered, and if value was delivered, was it delivered when it was desired.
The other point I took away from Evan’s presentation was that it’s not about making money; when a company is only focusing on that vs. what their mission is and what they set out to do, then that’s a warning indicator.
He shared a simple template on how to describe outcomes that I plan to share with my team later this week.
Sadly, I missed the end of the presentation and will reach out to Evan to also get his thoughts on program management.
Other General Thoughts on the Conference
- Very well run – what else would you expect from a bunch of project managers?
- Lots of communication
- McCormick Place was a great venue to host it
- The exhibition hall had a number of fun events – Caterpillar equipment, Escape the Room, Ask the Expert, etc to create engagement.
I’m on the fence whether I’ll attend next year. It’ll likely come down to what the program is shaping up to be and the speakers it draws. I enjoyed all the learning I had over the two and a half days, however, and I’m bringing back some good reminders on the fundamentals for the team.