Friday, November 4, 2011

International Project Management Day and non-Project Managers

The International Project Management Day (IPM Day) takes place every first Thursday of November and this year it took place yesterday, November 3. As far as I could find out on the International Project Management Day website, the responsible for this is Frank Saladis.
If you ask me, this is a great idea. Celebrating ones profession has a very positive connotation associated with it. It ranges from plain having fun to the sense of belonging (one of the top motivators) as you can say “Hey, I’m a Project Manager, it’s my day!”. Thank you Frank!

There were several initiatives to celebrate yesterday's IPM Day, but I’m gonna focus the attention on the International Institute for Learning’s (IIL) “Power of the Professional” for the following reasons:
  • A top selection of speakers
  • A variety of topics ranging from emotional intelligence to Sharepoint
  • 12 PDUs (useful for keeping your Project Management Professional credential, irrelevant otherwise)
  • And it was all for free!
What more could you want? It was really great and I do hope IIL repeats again next IPM Day. I planned to assist all the presentations but something came up at work (sounds familiar?) and I couldn't. Even so I was abble to assist to 6 video presentations and it was time well spent, even the Sharepoint presentation was useful as it showed a way to deploy software almost for free to assist you with the planning, collaboration and communication within Project Management - if you're now working in Portugal like I do (or Greece, or maybe even Ireland or Spain) you would appreciate this a lot more, I’m sure. The presentations I was able to assist were:
  • "The need for metrics: Measuring the Ongoing Value of a Project" by Dr. Harold Kerzner
  • "Looking Ahead in Turbulent Times" by Mark Langley
  • "The Value-Driven Project Manager" by Frank Saladis
  • "Behind the Frontlines: Building Emotional Intelligence in Kabul" by Christa Kirby
  • "Leadership - Latest Research on How Best to Influence people" by Lynne Hambleton
  • "Using Sharepoint for Project and Portfolio Management" by Eamonn McGuinness 
All these presentations were relevant, some were fantastic from the communication point of view and it was time well spent. I downloaded the slides for all presentations anyway so I could check them later. It's not the same thing as watching the video presentations but hopefully IIL will share them also.

How to get a better IPM Day next year
This IPM Day initiative is great but as it is directed to Project Managers it also separates us from those who are not into the profession. I think this is something that is really missing in the profession and it would be great to take this day to show what we do to others. I mean, how do you recognize a Project Manager? Because of one’s title on a business card? It would be easier if Project Managers had some uniform like a Fireman, a Doctor or a Policeman does - but Project Managers don’t have a uniform. And even worse, in certain industries like Construction (where Project Management plays a critical role) it’s pretty difficult to explain why they need Project Management (I really could never understand this one!). This is my experience in Portugal, I don’t really know how much you can extrapolate from it as I do meet a lot of people working in Construction on the PMI Congresses - go figure it. But at least in my part of the world, people in Construction take everything they do, Project Management included, as a single package and somehow refuse to see what others are doing with the discipline, on its own, in other industries.
Now some people are working very hard to spread the Project Management discipline to everyone - especially those that don’t work in the field. One example is the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) who have made available some resources for non-project managers, including a kind of light weight Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) for kids on Elementary School. Wouldn’t it be great if they were associated to next year’s IPM Day? This is my wish for next year’s IPM Day: that we can have some events directed to people not into Project Management.
Bottom line is we still have a long way to go. It looks to me, now, that when we recognize a Project Manager as easily as Fireman, we’ve done the harder part of the path. But I’m sure we’ll have other challenges then.

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