Be sure to re-evaluate your perspectives (or way of looking at the world) occasionally to make sure you are doing the right activities, for the right reasons, for the right people.
Note I didn’t write “the right way”… the reason is because I feel any way of doing something is the “right” way as long as the results are achieved.
Now if you want to understand my thinking and what I suggest the PMO to do then read on…
Broadening my perspective
Every workday, between 0700 and 0900, I go through a list of selected blogs, articles and forums. These resources are purposely selected to keep my perspective on work-related topics as inspiring and broad as possible.
I try to completely get through this list everyday, but without fail, I usually end-up on some tangent topic far from where I started.
As an ex-developer who likes to experiment occasionally on iOS development, I like listening to David Smith‘s podcast called Developing Perspectives. One of his recent podcasts is titled “Insulated Perspectives” and deals with the importance of keeping an open mind and looking for inspiration outside your usual circle of influence. The show notes are:
“…the importance of stepping back from the day to day inputs that can so easily mold or distort your views on things. The world is a varied and complex place and likely very different than the people and perspectives you interact with on a daily basis.” David Smith
I’ve lived this philosophy for some time now and have successfully applied it to my projects – especially during requirements gathering – and is a point I try to encourage when advising PMO organisations when defining (and monitoring) their success criteria. Getting out of your insulated environment to get other, not obvious input helps you understand your stakeholders better.
Feeling Smarter and not frustrated
David used an example of an iPhone owner who used an app – 2048. The 2048 app is (apparently) heavily inspired from another app and which was easier to score points than the original. Instead of a somewhat complicated approach to scoring points like the original, the 2048 app was easy to use and made the user feel like he was smart by making it easy to win.
This was an light bulb moment for David as it caused him to reconsider if he was focusing on the right aspects in his own apps. Instead of David focusing on typography or graphics, maybe he should focus on the user experience and what works for him, the user, instead of what David, the developer, thought would be cool.
I believe much of what the others in David’s circle of influence tended to discussed making the apps profitable, technical aspects, AppStore politics
Where else could the PMO could look to get inspired?
So keeping in mind that the PMO is a service for the rest of the organization, the question the manager should be asking is, “What can the PMO do to make sure the organization regards us as valuable?” or “What can the PMO do to make our stakeholders (Executives, PMs, Finance Department, etc) easier?”.
Maybe it’s not the pretty graphics but up-to-date data aggregated daily. Maybe it’s not another template the PM needs to fill in, but helping them on the one they already have.
Chasing PMs from the water cooler
Consider that you are a member of the PMO and that you have a portfolio report you need to maintain which takes individual PM reports as input. You may be tempted to only focus on the PMs submitting reports on a regular basis and chase them from the water cooler when they don’t.
But what if you tried focusing on facilitating and assisting the PMs to gather the information they need for their reports? By making their life easier you end-up making it easier for them to submit their reports.
I read an excellent book several years ago about how different industries learned from each other. For example, how the airline industry learned a few tricks from NASCAR about getting a fast turn around while in the pit – a plane is only making money if it’s in the air.
So maybe as the PMO, you should look to another service like the reception area or the canteen. Are they doing anything special which allows them to provide a unique (valuable) service? How does publishing the weekly menu create a positive impact… if any?
At one company I worked for, the receptionist delivered the (snail) mail which created a good, personal relationship between them and the rest of us. Can implementing some personal – in person – service from the PMO create more value to the PMs?
So stop, take a look around and ask yourself: “Am I doing the right things, for the right reasons, for the right people?”
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