Barcamps without frustration

2 min.

Summary

If I was dissatisfied with Barcamps in the past, it was mostly because the session planning did not lead to full transparency for me. So I went to different sessions, which were a surprise for me regarding the format. I think it is important that it is very transparent for all participants, which format and which session has been planned. Sometimes the format develops differently during the session – that’s the great thing about barcamps – but the type of session makes it more secure to choose the “right” session.

How to make the session format transparent for everyone

That is why face2face barcamps should show these session types (and more) on every session card with abbreviations or even on a prepared card with checkbox option.

In the virtual barcamp this categorization should also be selectable on the virtual session card. For the 4th Barcamp “Führung im Projekt” 2021 this is how it will be:

Session-Card

with following categories:

  • Workshop = max. 10-minute presentation and subsequent joint elaboration, e.g. on the electronic Microsoft whiteboard or another jointly available electronic document stored in the Team SharePoint.
  • Problem definition = collegial consultation. I have a situation that I would like to reflect on and would like to receive input.
  • Impulse presentation = maximum 15 minutes of impulse presentation and then discussion.
  • Serious Game = Exercise / learning game with the aim of providing information and education. An authentic and credible, but also entertaining learning experience is the focus of interest.

The participants for the virtual Barcamp “Guided tour in the project” will use an online form before the Barcamp and also at the beginning of the Barcamp before the planning of the session to submit their session suggestions, which are then already categorized accordingly.
To ensure the documentation of the sessions, the integration of external tools (e.g. additional electronic whiteboards besides MS Whiteboard in the session) is not desired and not allowed due to data protection reasons.


Have fun at the next barcamp and choose the right sessions!

My crisis with the corona virus and the positive change in program management

7 min.

Summary

The article examines how working in programs has changed due to the exclusively virtual way of working. Special attention is paid to the changes in governance, working methods and perception of hierarchy in the company. This contribution is accompanied by a survey on some hypotheses on the future of leadership especially under the aspect of distributed work in order to support or reject these hypotheses. Nevertheless, I will try to formulate some future prognoses on this subject already now. The article wants to give some hints which experiences we should in any case take with us into the “new normality” and thus firmly anchor them in our way of working. People and companies who do not learn and adapt from this crisis and only want to return to a supposed old normality will fail in the future.

Flashback

On March 2nd I did not go to North Rhine-Westphalia like every week before, because I had cold symptoms and since a few weeks the corona virus was on everyone’s lips, also in our program. So I thought it would be appropriate not to endanger my colleagues in the project and planned one week of remote work. Thought, done. Being one of the few “local” colleagues not to be on site, as expected, led to a lot of more time being spent for work, as now much had to be done via team video call. And this in planned meetings, which was perhaps previously easily clarified across the desk. In the course of that week, my company decided to stop all non-essential business trips and let me work exclusively from my home office. What can I say, the next few weeks were pure stress, because all the meetings, which were previously held locally and often hybrid, were now virtualized, which led to many additional hours of work. Despite my 5+ years of experience in pure home office (globally virtual distributed programs or project portfolios) in my 20+ years of experience in project and program management, virtual work during Corona was another dimension. I would like to go into this in the course.

This personal (including capacity-) crisis has, as often, also led to something better. What exactly has changed?

Changes in governance et al.

When it comes to governance, many people think first of meetings and the committee structure. This is fundamentally correct, but it is not complete. My calendar was overloaded the first 3-4 weeks of purely virtual work, because now a meeting was often set up virtually for many “little things” and then 30 minutes with colleagues was the lower limit. Thanks to Outlook. I immediately remembered the 22-minute meetings. The goal is to have meetings in

  • 22 minute slots,
  • to have a clear agenda,
  • ideally, distribute written reading material on the topic of the meeting in advance and in good time,
  • start the meeting on time and have a clear focus.

I have configured my Outlook so that meetings last either 25 minutes or 50 minutes by default. Here the settings in Outlook help to ensure this. My experience in the virtual environment is that meetings last until the planned end. On site meetings last until someone has to leave because they are changing rooms. Moving from one room to another demand time. In the virtual environment this is usually not granted. Often there is not even time for bio breaks. Unbelievable!

In order to avoid the overcrowded calendar, a daily stand-up meeting of the teams should also be planned in the virtual environment. Here it is important that appropriate video conferencing and collaboration tools are used. I use Planner from Microsoft or Trello in my volunteer work to support backlog, spintplanning and standups. With both boards, the daily stand-up meeting with a core team of a program or, as with me currently, the project portfolio management team of typical up to 7 direct reports can be supported very well. Sprint planning and retroperspectives are of course also included.

Another proven meeting sequence is to schedule escalation and decision meetings ideally several times a week and, in the best case, cancel them if nothing needs to be decided or addressed. These fixed regular dates allow for quick decisions, even in times when the calendars of our senior management are full. Should the need arise to be more than once or twice a week, the role descriptions, RACIs etc. must be checked carefully. Then, in my experience, there is not enough information and decision-making authority at the right level. Basically, my remarks on governance and escalations apply here, of course.

Due to the complete virtualization of all meetings, I have noticed a democratization of these meetings. Anyone can switch on the webcam and be present in a prominent position, unlike in hybrid meetings. Anyone can use the “raise hand” function in the collaboration tool. Everyone can see what is being drawn on the virtual whiteboard and not somewhere on a locally available flipchart. Everybody – and not just the local senior management at the table – can be seen equally in the gallery view of the video software. Quietly and secretly, this changes the style of the meetings and, above all, the greater participation of formerly “never-in-meeting room attendees”, because they are, for example, offshore.

Overall, an asynchronous working of the team is to be enabled, e.g. by check-ins in the morning (these can also be created manually in Microsoft Teams). For teams that work on different topics and only interfaces are relevant or where for whatever reason the daily stand-ups are not possible, the check-in approach is recommended in any case. An active exchange on the check-ins should take place via the comment function. Otherwise there is no added value. If a person asks the check-in question manually, no automatisms have to be established via additional tools. In my team we had solved this manually in MS Teams in which a colleague set the daily question at the start of work.

Due to the higher concentration/stringency of virtual meetings, team members quickly notice exhaustion due to the high sequence of meetings. The one or the other coffee talk can then be made possible virtually.

For me, the more intensive cooperation – intensive because of the even higher level of structuring – has confirmed that the team composition is particularly relevant as already described in 2019. For me, in the intensive virtual cooperation I noticed a weaker expression of the intercultural differences. Perhaps this is related to the democratization described above. Here it would be interesting to know what your experiences are about this. Please put them in the comments. Furthermore I have put up a few hypotheses on which I would like to hear your opinion:

Your more advanced hypotheses are welcome in the comments below.

Does Corona bring long-term changes?

This almost philosophical question was already intensively discussed in the media months ago and many authors came to the conclusion that the corona pandemic will change many things positively in the long term. More regionality, less travel, more … I believe realistically, many positive aspects will be forgotten, despite the long duration of the restrictive measures.

Even when the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, many had predicted that air traffic would be reduced in the long term. Immediately after the volcanic ash had blown away, air traffic was back at a very similar level.

Maybe some things will change due to the fact that nobody else could work the same way as before during the Corona ban and some things have hardened due to convenience or because companies have taken measures to avoid further shocks. Everyone, including sales representatives, conducted virtual customer conversations and were forced to work with “the unimaginable”. Let’s see.

Ultimately, the further development of the technology will anchor one or the other change in the long term, because ultimately cost-benefit considerations are always applied by individuals and companies. So we can hope that my forecast of changes as described in the article Project Manager in 2030 will come true. Perhaps our ethical and moral approaches have changed so much during Corona, which will directly lead to a change in our common future.

Which changes should be “cemented”?

The crisis described at the beginning leads to transformation. How the transformation develops and solidifies cannot be guessed in advance. Nevertheless one should of course try to “build in” as many positive aspects as possible.

Due to the asynchronous mode of operation in virtually distributed teams, early intermediate work results should be shared in any case – in line with WOL. In the office on site, the interim status review is often provided by informal coffee break conversations, which allows the maturing “product” to receive continuous feedback. In the virtual world, as much as possible of the semi-finished product should be shared in a structured way.

It is also useful to check whether your own self-organization tools are still the right ones, even when working remotely.

What I have firmly decided to do is that even if everyone else around me falls back into the “post-volcanic eruption-back-to-normal” effect, I will work virtually in a team in my programs at least every third week in order to constantly put the program into remote operation. Otherwise many positive effects will be lost.

We should also avoid hybrid meetings in the future. If parts of the team are remote, then everyone should go to virtual meetings because of the “democratization” described above and the higher effectiveness.

The definition of the communication principles in the project gain more importance due to the necessary home office work, because a formalization with more asynchronous work is absolutely essential.

There is one more thing we should maintain: The care for each other and the often heard, in my opinion, serious statement: “Stay healthy!” In this sense… Stay healthy.

Your hypotheses?

Virtual Coffee Breaks

3 min.

Summary

In times of corona (in virtual projects anyway always) communication within the team and also across close team boundaries (entire project environment) is essential for project success, but difficult to ensure. Telephone conferences can cover planned topics, but cannot bring up the spontaneous ideas that would otherwise arise in the coffee kitchen. We are all in more web conferences than ever before, but the coffee conversations are irreplaceable and therefore a few hints how to use them in virtual space.

How to do it

Just send out an calendar invite with webconference details and remove the ticks under Response Options for “Request Responses” and “Allow New Time Proposals” so that you are not bothered by replies. But leave “Allow Forwarding” ticked. But send it only to a random sample of team members and non team members ofter the wider project enviornment. Ideally initially to ~ 10 team members. Further will be receiving the invite by others. See sample text below.

With following text suggestion for the invite:

I currently have many more telephone calls than I do have meetings on site in London and I don’t get “real work” started until the evening. This is certainly not only the case with me. Nevertheless, I notice that we have far fewer contacts across provider boundaries and also across tower boundaries. That’s why I think we need more conversations that just happen to occur by chance. So please get involved in the following.
 
We just meet at the coffee machine in building C1 6th floor by chance and have a little chat. See rules and hints below.

  • Rules
    • You must join with your web cam turned on.
    • You need to have a coffee or tea prepared for yourself before joining.
    • You may forward this invite only to one further member of the Apollo program after you have participated yourself in the “coffee break.”
    • The first topic of conversation after you join the videoconference must not be business (instead, for example, homeschooling, weather in your home town).
    • The 10th or each additional participant leaves the coffee kitchen (the call) due to overcrowding and arrives a little earlier for the next appointment.
  • Notes:
    • I myself will probably not be around very often, but you can meet yourselves. When I’m there, I’m not going to host. Everyone should enforce the rules themselves.
    • You can run away from the coffee machine with everyone and chat in a small circle in the hallway (by making your own phone call).
    • I have set up 3 similar appointments. As it is known that these are distributed naturally, I am curious which of the colleagues has all 3 appointments in his calendar first. If you have all 3 coffee appointments of me in your calendar, take a screenshot of each of them and send it to me. The 10th entry receives a bottle of wine from my personal wine cabinet.
    • If somebody finds this idea stupid –> delete appointment in your calendar, but do not complain.

Your experiences

I would be interested in your experiences with such or different kind of virtual non-organized sessions. Please comment below.

Transformations and project culture or leadership towards change

3 min.

Summary

Transformation is not a change process, but a small crisis. 80% of people prefer stability to change. Change is a necessary evil for this type of person to move from one stable state to another. The change agent or project manager must therefore change old rules, which allow the no longer desired action strategies. In order to change a project culture, the patterns of thought and behavior of all participants must be changed. Project culture is the sum of all thought and behavior patterns of all people in the system. It is a misconception that managers or project managers should give fewer rules and instructions so that the team can and will become innovative.

Transformation is a crisis

Transformation is not a change process, but a small crisis. Therefore, a change agent does not have to admonish that certain actions are no longer desired or that others are desired. On the other hand, he should consciously take old patterns of thinking / possibilities of action as the basis for application through other rules. The “Change Agent” does not carry out change, but limits or expands room for maneuver. And he coaches consciously, but does not monitor. He must ensure that the old strands of action are not used for 90 days in order to make a new pattern of action possible for the colleagues involved. In this period new patterns of thinking are sought, old habits are thrown overboard and the new patterns of thinking are finally applied without effort.

So much for the ideal world.

Stability is the dream of most people

80% of people prefer stability to change. The reason for this is that people want to use as little energy as possible to achieve something. A change needs more energy and is therefore unwanted. Changes are a necessary evil for this type of person to move from one stable state to another. This is also seen by these people as a criticism of their previous attitudes, actions or whatever is to be changed. In today’s complex world, in which stable states – if at all – arise only very briefly, constant change is rather the normal state. I assume that today’s environments therefore perceive people as more stressful.

Project managers or “change agents” should change something over which you have no influence: Thinking patterns and attitudes of participants. As I said, the agent must therefore change old rules that allow for strategies that are no longer desired. With the new rules each participant in the transformation will then acquire new patterns of behavior and thinking.

If I want to change something, I must consciously plunge myself and my organization into a crisis in order to bring about a change.

Changing the project culture

In order to change a project culture, I have to change the patterns of thought and behavior of all participants, because they shape the project culture. Project culture is therefore not a centrally defined guideline, but a sum of all thought and behavior patterns of all people in the system.

The well-known leadership models and project organizations are often based on very old models such as military and church structures. These models create stability, but no change. This is because the limits for patterns of thought and behaviour are set. In leadership it becomes more and more important to forget the existing (patterns of thinking or behaviour) in order to make innovations possible.

The misbelief as a leader should be given fewer rules today

It is therefore a misconception that managers or project managers should give fewer rules and instructions so that the team can and will become innovative. In order to enable innovation, the project manager has to set different / new rules so that the team changes from the “comfort zone” (old thinking patterns and actions) to a new state and can create something new.

Resources – what ugly word?!

3 min.

Summary

You know Germans have more words to say something similar but different. There is always a “sound” connected to similar words. An “Einsatzmittel” as an earlier DIN term and a synonym for the current term “resources” for the project. Resources in project management are personnel and material resources that are needed to carry out processes, work packages and projects. Many people say that to describe personnel or project staff as “Einsatzmittel” or even resources is not adequate. As already noted in my article “Six Interdependencies” resources / resources are limited available for a project.

Resource planning

In the planning phase of the project, the resources are displayed on the timeline in which they are available to the project. The aim is to anchor the resources in the project as briefly, evenly and as little as possible. Because the use of resources causes costs and above all also as with “Six Interdependencies” noted deficits in the line organization or in other projects.

Qualification for personnel and specification for material resources are the decisive characteristics of resource characteristics in resource management and the determination of demand.

The relation to agility

In agile project management, resource planning is just as relevant as in classical project management. Even if, for example, SCRUM teams are usually available full-time for the entire sprint length, they still represent a critical factor, since their capacity is to be used just as “optimally” as in classic PM by selecting the relevant user stories. Even in agile projects, factual resources such as available mainframe time slots are regarded as critical resources with the same dedication.

Resources and their sound

The introduction of the term resources and resource management has met with much criticism in the German speaking project manager community in connection with sounding lack of appreciation of the employees in the project and its qualification. The qualification required for project employees is subject to constant change and is certainly viewed differently today than it was when DIN was amended in 2009. The orientation towards employees has also changed considerably since then. Nevertheless, it can be stated that if the term “resource” is seen in connection with “one time usage”, this is inhumane and in any case cannot be seen as good. It would be careless and degrading. On the positive side, since it is regarded as inevitably lost, the term “resources” on natural resources such as crude oil or nature as such has had a positive impact in recent years on the term resource in German language. This also gives rise to hopes that a pure view of resources as labour/worker will increasingly lose ground. For the awareness that it can represent lost lifetime for any human, as long as it sees no sense behind the given task. What makes sense for the individual person, but also for society as a whole, will become an essential factor in resource management in project management, because even today, personnel for many tasks can simply no longer be found on the “market”.

Leading without shoulder epaulets but with emotional bond to the project

3 min.

– Bridge between old and new forms of project organization –

Summary

The central skill of our time: lateral leading, i.e. leading without authority to give instructions, will require more attention. While the classic project organizations are based on technical authority to issue directives or even disciplinary authority to issue directives, the lateral leadership and the (new) project organization, which has not yet been named, is based primarily on trust and understanding through the creation of a common thought construct in order to emotionally connect the possible divergent interests of the participants, at least for the duration of the project.

A former project of the author cannot be typified according to any of the classical forms of project organization such as pure (autonomous), matrix or staff organization. A mixed form of staff and matrix organisation is most likely to be identified, where clear delivery items are agreed, but only partially clearly assigned project members are integrated in the team. In principle, however, all project participants contribute their contribution to the delivery items, even those who do not report to them – not always in a technical sense.

Surely one could say that such a project should never be accepted as a project leader or will never be successful.

How can an emotional connection to the project be established here in such a non-binding project organisation?

Formal power relations are no guarantee for a stable emotional bond. Project team members must feel comfortable and supported in their project environment in order to feel committed. Every employee looks for fixed points of attachment that are decisive for the development of a sense of belonging. The good relationship with the project manager without authority to issue instructions, the friendly relationship with colleagues or the activity itself can be a fixed point of attachment for well-being and participation. Because those who see themselves as part of the project show more commitment and loyalty.

Team members are only strong if they have attractive and challenging project tasks. Furthermore, a sense of purpose and a comprehensible project goal are important for the project team member.

For project team members, motivation is determined by the fact that their opinion counts in the project and that they have the opportunity to help shape it. The mood and attitude of colleagues within a team can affect the motivation of the entire project team. Working together with motivated and committed colleagues is often stimulating and also creates a bond through integration into a community.

How do you take this lead when it matters?

The recognition received for the work performed has the greatest influence on the commitment of a project employee. Praise from the project manager creates satisfaction.

But the central skill of our time as a connecting element: lateral leading, i.e. leading without authority to instruct, will require more attention.

When and how do you let others guide you? Which rules apply in this interplay of forces? This can only be achieved through emotional bonding.

How do you exercise leadership in this scenario? How do you set goals correctly? How do you delegate tasks correctly? What motivates and what demotivates?

While the classical project organisations are based on technical authority or even disciplinary authority, the lateral leadership and the (new) project organisation not yet named with it is based mainly on trust and understanding through the creation of a common thought construct in order to connect the possible divergent interests of the participants at least for the duration of the project.

The power to issue disciplinary directives as a source of power no longer exists. Other sources of power such as expertise or information control are often tapped and internal power games are deliberately used. Here, however, it is necessary to find out whether this leads to success. Here the practical experiences from the author’s project can be reflected upon and lead to new insights into how emotional attachment can be achieved even beyond loose project organisation.

Lateral leadership in cross-departmental or cross-organisational situations always holds a certain potential for conflict. Conflicts of objectives and interests of the organizational units involved, but also different ways of thinking and behaving of the persons involved cannot be excluded. Here it is to be discussed whether more conflicts are to be determined than in a classical project organization.

GPM Barcamp „Leadership in projects“

3 min.

Summary

On 27.09.2019 the third GPM Barcamp “Leading in the project” will take place in Fulda. This unconference has established itself, where each participant can actively suggest topics to benefit as much as possible from the ideas and knowledge of our participants, who have very different functions and come from very different companies.

What’s a barcamp?

Since many participants can come to a bar camp, large group methods can also be used for moderation. Usually the open space method is used. Participants advertise their own topics on the Barcamp and create one group each. In this group possible topics are prepared or knowledge and experiences are exchanged. The results will be reflected at the end of the Barcamp. The Open Space method can produce a large variety of concrete measures in one day. And spread a lot of knowledge and generate motivation.

On a barcamp, little is done with PowerPoint but much with pens, packing paper, adhesive tape and flipcharts. Also the collection and distribution of the results needs a good structure.

At each Barcamp we have held a vernissage at the end of the day, which presented the results briefly and concisely. This was done with the help of pin boards, where the audience passed by in small groups and had details explained to them.

Principles of the Barcamp

  1. Whoever comes, these are the right people: Whether one or 20 people follow your invitation to a session/working group does not matter. Everyone is important and motivated.
  2. Whatever happens, it is the only thing that could happen – the unplanned and unexpected is often creative and useful. Free yourself from expectations as to what should be.
  3. It starts when the time is ripe – energy (not punctuality) is important.
  4. Past is past: Sometimes a topic is quickly through. Don’t artificially prolong it just so that time goes by. Use the time to go to another group or do something else you enjoy.
  5. And not over is not-over: Sometimes a topic only really gets going at the end. Find a free space and write down on the timetable where others can find you.

The two laws

“Freedom of choice and self-responsibility.”

The law of the two feet is an expression of freedom of choice and self-responsibility: the only binding point. You go to the sessions (topics) that interest you most – and you stay in a group only as long as you think it makes sense. So as long as you can learn or contribute. If you can’t learn or contribute anything, leave it. The application of the law is easy: you don’t have to justify or apologize.

“Of bumblebees and butterflies.”„

When people apply the law of two feet, they sometimes show behaviors that could be metaphorically expressed by the terms “bumblebee” and “butterfly”.

“Bumblebees” buzz from group to group and form a bridge between the themes through group changes. The “butterflies” flutter and pause after contributing to the small group. They follow what they feel like at the moment and are just there.

What will be worked out?

All topics which are of interest to you in the context of leadership in the project or which you can give active input on.

Führung im Projekt

How do I register?

The Barcamp will be held in German language. Registration here. For GPM members 50€ and for non-members 100€. A free cancellation of participation is only possible until 13.09.2019.

Agile vortex?!

3 min.

Summary

Agile work or delivery is only possible if necessary decisions can always be called up. It also does not work without appropriate governance. There is huge similarity in turnaround situations of classical projects with the approach of agile projects. The focus here is on short iterations and close coordination with the customer. The introduction of agile principles should be based on this observation. Agile principles will continue to spread differently in different industries. But whoever thinks of agility about method or technology is wrong! Early results in the project and close coordination with the real customer are not method or tool results.

Agile project management does not work without appropriate governance

Agile work or delivery is only possible if necessary decisions can always be called up. In my article “Communication Principles in a Project” it is easy to see that the short time until a decision is made is extremely important. This is often slowed down or even blocked by the middle layers of management in a company. This so-called permafrost cannot comprehend the need for agility often sensibly identified by top management. Likewise, decisions necessary in the course of the project cannot be made by the senior management themselves, as are not be placed correctly with them.

Agile project management is very similar to the approach of classic projects in turnaround situations

In both cases, the focus is on short iterations and close coordination with the customer. The introduction of agile principles should be based on this observation. The classic project plan is then usually only a reference for contract-relevant delivery items. The chain of failure in projects is the customer relationship and thus the governance structure, then the tools and processes and at the latest the employee frustration. When introducing agile principles, the sequence is exactly the other way around. In my experience, the team atmosphere in project organizations can indicate a wide variety of problems at any time, and not only that “something” is wrong, but also in which project management domains (see my article SmileyPoints). It would also be interesting to use this method when introducing agile project management.

How will the agile vortex spread now?

As can be deduced from my article “Project Manager in 2030“, the agile principles will continue to spread differently in different industries. What this “agility” will look like, whether pure SCRUM, SRUM of SRCUM, Kanban, scaled agile, SAFe, LeSS, Spotify will be shaped by the customer and company environment (i.e. products, services, industry, size, etc.). Is “classic project management” dead? Certainly not, because there are certain complex (very large programs) and complicated (repetitive projects) for which classical project management will be the better alternative. Nevertheless, it makes sense for the classic project manager to make tool picking out of the agile box. But whoever associates agility with method or technology is wrong! Early results in the project and close coordination with the real customer are not method or tool results. Concepts and planning are required in both approaches. Approaches such as scaled agile approaches e.g. SAFe take this aspect particularly into account.

The challenges for product owners or project managers

The challenge for the drivers of ventures, whether product owner, project manager or program manager, will now be that they should play different instruments in different environments. Because the dogmatic orientation “we only do agile single projects” can only take place in companies that have no need for diverse interfaces and environments. The exclusive product owner or program manager will therefore rather remain the rare species. A stigmatization of the two approaches is therefore certainly not meaningful, but the combined application or simply said the agile classical project is the future. Early and constant results and close end customer coordination are the success factor in all projects.

Project Manager in the year 2030

6 min.

Summary:

Does the project manager still exist in 2030 – as we know him today? The answer in a nutshell: No. The tasks of the project managers will change in the areas of leadership, organization and project implementation.

I was tempted to take part in the German Projektmagazin’s blog parade. Because on the one hand we are talking here about a term “project manager” that has come under intense discussion (especially in the German speaking project manager community using terms project managers and project leaders slightly differentiated) and on the other hand about a period of time that is very long even for futurologists. The researchers do not believe to be capable to define changes in this time dimension.

The project manager as a term

Both parts of the word project manager are currently in great discussion as to whether they are meaningful or even contemporary. Projects as such like in BI unit of Otto are no longer seen as necessary. The (project) leader or project manager is not intended in the pure agile set. Here, leadership will be given an even more important focus than it already is today. Managers in the sense of controlling and directing will become less and less relevant due to the already visible developments.

It is problematic to give a future statement about the project manager in 2030, if already today the term as such no longer has the anchoring, as perhaps in the preceding decades. Let us dare an attempt.

Time as a yardstick

It’s 12 years till 2030. Appears long. If you think about what the world looked like 12 years ago, backwards from today 2018: There was no iPhone, no Android, no app stores, no Youtube, no Spotify, no Kindle, no Tablet, no digital full format sensor in a serial camera (to put my hobby into context). One recognizes it happens more in 10 or 12 years than one assumes. That’s why futurologists don’t calculate in years, but in weeks in order to emphasize the short-term nature and to evaluate future models and statements faster and make them more comparable. The futurologist assumes 50 weeks per year. How many weeks have passed since New Year’s Eve? Three. So less than 50 weeks to New Year. In these three weeks not many things happened according to the human feeling. In the best case, you have planned three weeks and reflected them three times. But the “cross-week” tactical themes don’t seem significant. Nevertheless, project managers, Scrum Masters or one-man companies are working on the revolutionary aspects of the future. In the next 597 weeks until the year 2030.

What will the project environment look like in 500 weeks?

What will the world look like in 500 weeks? It seems pretty certain that in 500 weeks I and 70% of the German population will no longer own a car. In 500 weeks we won’t have any smartphones anymore. In 500 weeks we will no longer be using a supermarket. In 500 weeks we will produce more electricity in our households than we consume. In 500 weeks we will eat meat bred in laboratories. In 500 weeks we will receive ears for people from the 3D printer as medical spare parts. In 500 weeks robots will support the care of elderly people. In 500 weeks, 40% of the German population will have intelligent non-medical implants. In 500 weeks …

All these endeavors – let’s call them projects here for simplicity’s sake – are accompanied by people. This is not about generating ideas, but about implementing them. The fact that the creation, definition and implementation of ideas should be close to each other in terms of personnel is supported by some and criticized by others.

Requirements for today’s project managers in 2030

What impact does this have on me and all the other project managers from 2018? The visionary project manager who drives this one idea will no longer exist. We can already see today how complex the world of work and the world as such has become. This can no longer be united by one person. So it will have to be more and more a team effort. Which is good. This naturally has an effect on the aspect of leadership. We recognize trends already in agile beginnings which do not represent however yet the end of the road. The following generations have and demand a different attitude to work. I have experienced this many times myself and already talk like my grandfathers (“The young people today”). But also this change is good, because …

“No change, no development.”
Birgit Ramlow (*1948), employee and hobby aphorist

Transformation vs. Revolution

And now a much criticized term from the business economics: Transformation. When I think in weeks and design endeavors in a manageable time frame, there are transformation aspects. It is revolutionary when we experience a complete technological or paradigm shift. The smartphone was not a revolution, but a courageous and creative combination of available technologies. The push came somewhat delayed by the apps. But even these are not a classic revolution, but a further development on another platform and therefore used by more users. Why was the smartphone ultimately perceived as revolutionary and has this outward appearance? Well, my thesis is that managers of competitors like Nokia and Siemens weren’t brave enough and didn’t listen to the market. Imagination and creativity were not lacking. Because carmakers are also being predicted the whole development today and the reactions to it are, in my opinion, too hesitant. In development periods of 4 years per real model change, i.e. 200 weeks, you can no longer act today. So what can we deduce from this for the project manager?

He will work a lot in transformation projects and will contribute to the revolution by quickly placing new projects with courageous and fast acting managers.

Company management or committees in 2030

The biggest changes will certainly be one level higher in the hierarchy (if you want to talk about it at all – today at least one level higher) required at the portfolio board, at the product owners or however a company implements strategic decision making for itself. At Otto in the product area, in the agile environment by the product owner – as a representative for the management or the portfolio board in classical project management. These committees will certainly have to meet the defined requirements even more than in my article, written in 2016, in order to enable the timing between the transformations to revolutions. And let’s be honest, in the ~ 60 weeks since this article was written, the claim is still not fulfilled. So there is a need for action.

Different demands on the project managers

Will the development depend on the type of project?

There will no longer be a project manager who can manage projects universally in all industries and project types. At least today’s challenging attitude will be less and less correct.

In the area of software development, agile approaches and hybrid mix forms will develop for large programs. A design of these hybrid forms is material for another blog post.

Investment projects will continue to be similarly organized as today. And thus also the role and tasks of the project manager. Even if today’s examples, such as Berlin Airport, are not promising.

The young project manager in 2030

But what about the young project manager who will manage projects for the first time in 2030? He starts with a handicap. Because he himself, but also his IT architects and other colleagues, will not have experienced any more “journeyman years” here in Germany, since all “journeyman activities” were already relocated from the last century nearshore or offshore in the 1990s. It will no longer be so easy to start a career as a project manager, however shaped it may be. This can be observed today in environments that have changed for some time, such as the textile industry. Here in Germany today there are often problems to find qualified seamstresses for the sample collection. For this reason, companies themselves have to relocate business-critical areas such as design and sample collection abroad. This will also be the case with the project managers of the future. In the virtual world, with the supporting technologies, it will always be easy to carry out projects here in Germany. But also the proximity to the customer is less and less important due to the virtual support technologies. This means that in 2030 it will also be possible to carry out projects completely from a remote location (including project managers) without missing customer proximity in Germany.

Working Out Loud

3 min.

Summary

Working Out Loud is particularly suitable for working in projects. It is not a classical method, but claims to be an attitude to life – with associated practical techniques. The elements are: Making work visible and improving it, making contributions, building social networks and working together purposefully.

Introduction to WOL

Working Out Loud is an approach from the USA, which is particularly suitable for employees in projects. The initial father of the idea was Bryce Williams. John Stepper skillfully generated a movement out of it. It is currently sloshing across the ocean and gaining new users in Germany. This attitude to life also leads to lived values which are not everyday in this combination. Austin Kleon also presents similar approaches in Show Your Work.

The five core elements of Working Out Loud are (as originally listed on workingoutloud.de):

  • Make work visible – publish intermediate results,
  • improve work – cross-connections and feedback help to continuously
  • improve your results, make generous contributions – offer help instead of self-portrayal,
  • build social networks – this is how broad interdisciplinary relationships emerge that advance,
  • work together purposefully – to exploit the full potential of the community.

The application in a company like T-Systems with parallel application of classical project management is presented.

Content are practical examples of the application, the success criteria of the approach and its hurdles in a project organization before.

Working Out Loud in a project management organization

How does an application work in a group like T-Systems using classic project management approaches? Isn’t that contradictory? Employees at ThyssenKrupp, Robert Bosch and T-Systems practice these attitudes and techniques.

„Working Out Loud“ means „publishing“ one’s own work, reporting progress, problems and mistakes and exchanging information with other colleagues so that everyone can benefit from what has been learned. So nothing new you think spontaneously?! A combined application of the core elements of the Working Out Loud approach requires discipline, openness and consistency.

How does this happen in practice in the project?

The exchange in „one’s own juice“, i.e. in one’s own project, is not enough. A first basic requirement is to approach central departments such as those responsible for tools or processes, or in the best case also other projects. Even with positions that are often not very popular, such as central quality management units, project management handbook managers or tool owners, is necessary. An intensive exchange about objectives, application and solution of the upcoming challenge is a must. I have lived this consistently for my current project in which we had to develop a degree of progress and forecast process and tool that did not correspond to the company standard due to special circumstances. Even the sharing of micro results with project colleagues who are not (directly) affected raises undreamt-of potentials. The integration of stakeholders such as clients, users and policymakers is common practice, but only partially increases the potential. Networking also outside the Group for the exchange of ideas is essential. Otherwise, the efficiency and effectiveness of every project will suffer. The process, the specification, the tool, the training and the rollout took an unprecedented three weeks. Just two months after the introduction, what had been created was then presented to the annual group-wide worldwide project manager community and defined as good practice in the sense of „making contributions to the community“. A degree never achieved before in this time span. Strictly speaking, it is not only the speed that is unusual, but also the „overall“ (apart from standard processes and tools). Working Out Loud opens new horizons and brings a fresh vitality and interactivity into and around the projects.

Even in large corporations, this „combined approach“ Working Out Loud is applicable from already known approaches and bears fruit beyond the individual project.

The author presents further practical examples of the application, the success criteria of the Working Out Loud approach and also its hurdles in a project management organization.

Active participation in „WOL with Group Security and NDA“ working group

If you would like to actively participate in a working group on „Working Out Loud with Corporate Security and NDAs“, please contact me.

Presentation

In the spirit of the WOL I have released the presentation of the PM-Forum Version 3.0 again for commenting. Thank you very much for all previous hints about Version 1.0 and 2.0!