I genuinely want to share my experiences developing several Program Management Offices (PMO) and an IT Project Office with others who may be facing the same issues and similar situations.  I believe that I have valuable insights about the behavior of project teams, project managers, stakeholders and project organizations that are worthy of sharing with others.   The comments that I have received on my posts from the “project community” have supported my belief.

What do I mean by the word “community” and the phrase “project community”? 

In my mind, a “community” is a loosely connected group of people who have common interests in a field or discipline.  They are all interested in the growth and well-being of that field or discipline. 

A “community” need not be all in the same organization or in the same geographical area.  It does, however, need some framework for sharing information and collaboration.  Such a framework allows the community to benefit from the work of its members, from the input of outsiders whose ideas impinge on the community environment, from academics, and other researchers. 

Social Media and Social Technology facilitate such a community environment.

Rich Maltzman, who writes “Scope Crepe“, first alerted me to the importance of a “project community.”   We were talking about the evolution of PMOs–from strictly IT PMOs, or Shared Services PMOs with a particular “mindset,” to Enterprise PMOs (EPMO), and to PMOs designed to serve specific targeted project goals and objectives or requirements (such as Smart Grid with some utilities). 

Rich said that regardless of how many PMOs there were in an organization, it was important to maintain a sense of “project community” across the PMOs.  “Communities” contribute to the well being and ongoing growth of the members of the community.

In her book Open Leadership, Charlene Li presents an excellent model of “engagement” that could apply to either an organization or an individual engaging a community.  The hierarchy of increasing engagement proceeds as follows:

1.  Watching

2.  Sharing

3.  Commenting

4.  Producing

5.  Curating

The evolution of this blog has followed this model. 

First, I watched as the “project community” embraced the PMBOK, and the literature surrounding the progress of projects in a corporation from early simple executions to large scale executions of tremendous strategic importance to the corporation.  At this point, the PMI and its chapters engaged with the “project community” via publications, on-line web sites, and periodic meetings throughout the world. 

As I progressed through the stages of Sharing and Commenting, I was reacting to the written and spoken words of others in the “project community” who were contributing to the processes, standards, and methods by which good Project Management Practice was being spread throughout the community. 

Now with the stage of Producing, I am contributing to the literature and culture of the “project community” with my own unique observations, analysis and insights.  

I feel that the Curating stage lies ahead because I am still a “youngster” when it comes to “contributing.”  Social mediums, such as blogging, have certainly furthered this journey–and, yes, it is a “journey” of growth and awakening and finding out how much I don’t know about things I should know.

I also write this blog because it has restored some sense of “identity” to me.  When my manager at Exterran Corporation informed me in October 2009 that my company position or job had been eliminated in a budget cut, that my services were no longer required, and that I should clean out my desk and leave the building, I was amazed by my own loss of “identity.”  Like many other people, I largely associated myself, my work life, and my accomplishments with a “Corporation.” 

If you have seen the movie “Up in the Air“, this experience was very much like sitting across the desk from George Clooney and listening to him say, in his monotone voice:

“You are being terminated from the Company and I will need your access badge.  Please be prepared to leave the building as soon as possible with your personal belongings in this box.  And don’t worry.  All  your questions will be answered if you read what’s in this small packet.”

Authoring this blog has renewed my sense that I have something worth saying, something worth contributing, something worth reading and assimilating into the day-to-day “project environment” that the “project community” lives every day. 

The “Journey” has not been without its setbacks though.

Recently I sat across the desk from a manager at a major energy company who said to me  “You know what your problem is?  You have no ‘brand.’  You come to me with no ‘brand’ that you can identify yourself with.  That means you are really unknown.” 

How untrue.  My brand–and my mission–is to give the “Project Community” the substance that it needs when it most needs it.

The head of a major executive search firm recently said to me “You know what your problem is?  You are like so many other people out there right now with too much time on your hands.   So you write this junk and think others will care about it.” 

The project community does care about these issues.  The proof lies in the comments to this blog and the constant positive feedback that I have received.

What I have to say is directly related to events in our world today.  The BP crisis in the Gulf points to the fact that we really have not learned our lessons from previous mishaps.  Someone needs to keep reminding us.

The Social Media revolution is an event that we cannot deny.  People are relying on other people–through social media–to satisfy their wants and needs; needs they once satisfied by going to established stores, banks, or other institutions.   Charlene Li referred to this phenomenon as a “groundswell“–a social trend whereby people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions such as corporations.

So, why do I write this blog?  To “connect” to the “project community” and hopefully, to give that community back as much as it has given me over the past twenty or thirty years. 

If everyone were to approach their interactions in a similar manner, they could find the “self direction,” “mastery,” and “Purpose” that Daniel Pink writes about in Drive.

I urge you to consider how you can contribute and give to the “project community.”  What skills, experience, ideas, innovations and specifics can you contribute to everyone who wants to grow and nurture the project discipline in the same manner?  What project lessons can you share with another project manager who is facing a similar situation or scenario?  What project analysis did you perform which led to successful completion of some very difficult phase of a project that you could share with your “project community?”

If you are watching, sharing and commenting to the work of others in some fashion, I urge you to consider “Contributing” through your writing, observations and insights about projects and programs.  Your reward in returns of new information, insights and knowledge will be amazing.

As usual, your comments are welcome.  Thank you for your readership.

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