Jun 21, 2011

Coming Soon: More Change and Uncertainty ... An Interview with Gartner Summit Attendee Barbara Preisz

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Culture & Change Management, Project & Program Management, Governance, Portfolio Management, Project Management Office (PMO) | 0 Comments

The Gartner Summit going on this week in San  Diego is apparently the place to be, and since I am not there, I thought our readers would appreciate an inside view of the proceedings from someone who is.

The Summit, with the subtitle "Embracing Uncertainty and Change: The Key to Driving Value in Turbulent Times," has drawn an unexpectedly large crowd of over 900 attendees - understandable perhaps given the fact that turbulence seems to be the new normal. We spoke with Barbara Preisz, who's attending the conference along with PM Solutions' Director of Client Relations Johanna Mickel, about their impressions of the event so far.

Q. Who's there?

A. "About 50% of the attendees seem to be representing a PMO (or related entity). And there are some terrific speakers. Gartner's Audrey Apfel opened the conference with a "what's hot and what's not" approach to trends in PPM and governance. And Greg Ramah from State Auto spoke about prioritization."

Q. Any sense what concerns brought folks out in such numbers?

A. "Attendees are looking for ideas, even though they know they probably won’t be able to implement what they want to do – there's lots of reorganization going on that is hampering advancement right now. One sentiment we heard from attendees was that it was comforting to know that other companies are facing the same issues they are; so they feel they are gaining camaraderie as much as knowledge from their participation.

"Then of course, we are hearing (not for the first time!) that senior management is not on board – that there still seems to be a disconnect between executive leadership and those practicing PPM. And there is still an executive perception that PM/PPM and the PMO are more tactical than strategic – PM leaders continue to say they can’t get the appreciation that they feel the PM function deserves. Greg Ramah mentioned in his session that, because everyone (that is, among the executives)  believes their projects are most important, organizations must have a value statement defined against which to weigh these priorities and keep them aligned to the strategy of the business."

Q: What are the "buzz words" making the rounds?

A. "Organizational change readiness is a key concept that Gartner has infused into their presentations. I think the "readiness" is the operative word. Recognizing that the times are turbulent, organizations can't rely on the old strategies. And, of course, demand management and resource management crop up often enough to earn the buzzword designation, even though at PM Solutions, we regard these more as core practices than mere concepts!"

Q. Any blockbuster predictions or trends so far?

A."Audrey Apfel made an opening prediction that by 2014, there will be a 30% reduction in traditional project management, with smart companies moving more in the direction of adaptive project management. PMOs, she said must be more about results, and less about compliance. And, I was interested to see that she listed the attribute of a Level 5 Maturity project management practice as a "Strategy Execution Office!"

Anyone else in our blog readership on hand at the conference? Share your views and take-aways by leaving a comment. I'll be particularly interested in hearing about Tom Peters' keynote tomorrow. In 1998, when I interviewed him for PM Network magazine, he was already predicting many of the trends now being highlighted by Gartner - which makes me wonder what his crystal ball is telling him about the upcoming decade.

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