The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world

Change or Die

As a member of the PMI Leadership Institute Advisory Group I have the pleasure to have an active part in the PMI Leadership Institute meetings that precede the PMI Global Congresses. This year’s North America Congress was in Washington DC or more exactly Arlington, VA.

It was probable the best Leadership Institute meeting I have been to so far. Troy Hazard was the keynote speaker as well as the opening speaker on day two and the closing speaker. He shared some excellent business lessons with the audience that are very applicable to our project management world.

The reality is that history will repeat itself (just think about the number of financial crashes the world has gone through since the 1600s) so it is in our best interest to learn from our actions to make sure we are not falling in the same pitfalls. Troy asked us to investigate what our bad believes are that are stopping us from moving forward and improve ourselves. He shared to following key bad believes with us:

1. “I have no time”

This is the train wreck in motion. We are so stuck in the rat race we lose sight of what is really important. To clear the clutter that surrounds the “I have no time”, start every day for 30min answering the following questions

  • CAN – What can I influence TODAY?
  • HAVE – What have I influenced YESTERDAY?
  • CAN’T – What can I not influence TODAY? – stop thinking about things you cannot influence today

2. “It’s different for me”

It is NOT different for you. That is an escape mechanism. Basically every individual is looking for five basic things in any transaction. These five points are valid in ANY transaction.

a)    Service
b)    Quality
c)    Relationship
d)    Ease
e)    Value –  which is the result of the four points above

If you focus on these five points you will be able to create value for your organization, your clients and yourself. Relationship in this context is real contact either in person or over the phone. In today’s wired world we spend so much time behind the computer and texting that we forget to initiate REAL contact which is in the end what counts.
So what can you do this week to make sure there you provide value and do not think “it’s different for me”? Make a list of the people you are going to call and get back in contact with.

3.    “I will come across dumb if I ask questions”

Take it from a foreigner like myself, there are no dumb questions (not even asking “what does mlb stand?” for while your city’s team places itself for the World Series). Questions give you an opportunity to learn. Ask real questions; be vulnerable because that makes you valuable as a leader in your organization. Here are two questions to ask today to someone around you:

a)    What has been your greatest success and how can I learn?
b)    What has been your biggest challenge and how can I help?

4.    “I have no clear vision”

We get into the going going going mode that we end up not living our own success but the success of others. If you do not have a vision, you cannot lead yourself let alone others. Take time away from it all and answer the following questions:

a)    What is your personal vision and values? What is really important to you? What is your purpose in life?
b)    What is your life vision and plan? This includes things where you are significant to others and they for you.
c)    What is your business plan? It is crucial your business plan supports your findings in questions 1 and 2.
d)    What is your people plan? There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire. You only succeed WITH others. This means you have to invest time and effort in your relationship with others.

You have two options: you either change or your die. It might be a slow death: death by stagnation. To improve and especially to excel you will need to change. So what can YOU change TODAY that gets you closer to your goals?


About the Author

After working for key companies, like Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), Boeing and Baan, within different industries in both Europe and the USA, Nathalie Udo founded InDepth Strategies, LLC, a boutique business strategy consulting and executive coaching company. Nathalie has built a proven record of accomplishments with her ability to deliver. She loves inspiring people to achieve what they previously thought was impossible, and has been told that her enthusiasm is infectious. She has helped her clients realize their business objectives by using the right amount of personal coaching with program management discipline and process improvement. Nathalie has lead complex international projects for corporations like Alcatel-Lucent, Autodesk, Kaiser Permanente and Pacific Gas & Electric. She is a seasoned professional with extensive coaching, project management, cross cultural communication and leadership skills. She takes strong ownership and accountability for deliverables and drives positive results. Nathalie's clients compliment her for her expertise, strong work ethic, and most importantly, her ability to deliver. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and certified Scrum Master. She has a Masters Degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Maastricht, Netherlands. As author of several papers on the subject of project management and team interactions, Nathalie has been a guest speaker at several global conferences. She is also one of the co-authors of "Scrappy Women in Business: Living Proof that Bending the Rules Isn't Breaking the Law" and her new book "Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future" will be released by McGraw-Hill end of 2013. You can reach her at
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