Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Project Management Lessons from Nelson Mandela

As we reflect on the life of former South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, we should take a moment to consider three powerful lessons from his leadership that are relevant for project managers today.

Leadership is behavioral, not positional. Even though he only served as South Africa’s president for five years, Mandela is an example of how one can lead without formal authority. Over the 27 years he was imprisoned, he exerted influence, and over his five-year presidency, he exerted influence. In the decade and a half following his retirement from politics, Mandela’s influence grew as a global humanitarian and philanthropist.

The capacity to integrate, motivate, and mobilize others to bring a common aspiration to life is what leadership is all about. This simple truth gives hope to the millennial generation that leadership isn’t an activity relegated to the distant c-suite; good can be done at every stage of one’s career. It can serve to reignite the passion of the mid-career professional – somebody is watching, learning from, and emulating your example, regardless of who recognizes or ignores your contributions.

Choose collaboration over retaliation. In the face of conflict, many leaders in organizations develop an instinctive default response – they choose to either collaborate or retaliate. Retaliating against one’s opponents can be a gratifying primal reaction, but in the networked global marketplace, it is a short-sighted, losing strategy. Retaliation deepens divides; collaboration heals them. Retaliation perpetuates ignorance; collaboration promotes learning and progress.

Mandela honed his collaborative instinct before becoming South Africa’s first black president, assembling a multiracial leadership team to combat apartheid as head of the African National Congress. He knew how to listen and leverage insights of others. He also understood the power of choosing to forgive those who have wronged you and seeking reconciliation with those you have wronged. Research and experience show that the collaboration instinct revolutionizes markets, enhances organizations, and enriches lives.

Never give up on seemingly impossible idea. Mandela is often quoted saying “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”  His perseverance in the face of inhumane persecution shows us that the impossible will remain impossible if men and women of purpose fail to summon the courage to do what’s right. Accomplishing anything worth talking about or remembering will involve opposition and setback, which is why big ideas die in organizations every day.

Cultivating an organization that stands for and embodies grand ideals is worth fighting for. Growing a team that does the right thing when nobody is watching is worth fighting for. If Mandela teaches us anything, it’s to commit our lives and our practice of leadership to pushing for the seemingly impossible.

About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big DesignCustomers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts, and a regular contributor to Front End of Innovation and The Market Research Event,. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at Follow her at @AmandaCicc. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts 2014 Call for Presenters Now Open

Papers are being accepted on a rolling basis, we suggest your proposal as early as possible. If this is something you're interested in considering, please let us know as sessions fill up quickly. Submit your proposal no later than Friday, December 20th to Romina Kunstadter, Conference Producer at or 646.895.7453.

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking corporate practitioners, authors and experienced facilitators to present at the 2014 ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts conference.

The event will take place in September 22-24, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

About this Unique Event
PW&WCBA is the industry's year round resource for gaining cutting-edge insights through C-Level case studies & corporate best practice presentations, exclusive Web Seminars, Learning Labs, and facilitated sharing sessions.  

Who & What We're Looking For
Leaders of high profile, complex projects to share their story in an open forum with industry peers. We are also inviting highly experienced, unbiased project managers, program managers, portfolio managers, PMO heads, system engineers and business analysts. We are particularly interested in experienced corporate practitioners, industry experts and qualified facilitators sharing innovative case studies, techniques, templates that attendees can implements as soon as they get back to the office.

Each presentation should demonstrate actionable tangible takeaways. We are looking for presentations that will demonstrate how something went from concept to reality (what were the decisions you had to make along the way, why did you choose that route, what did you learn from it, what if anything would you do differently, what can the audience learn, where do you go from here?).

Please note: Decisions will be based on the alignment of the content with the 2014 agenda content, feedback from the event advisors as well as on industry recognition and/or personal references. 

We Expect Our Speakers to Move Beyond the Fundamentals

2014 presentation topics include, but are not limited to:
Managing Stakeholder Expectations
Leveraging Portfolio Project Management Tools
Education & Training for New PM's- Passing down the knowledge
Integration PM
Setting up a Project Office
Communication Across Roles (Organization)
Using Agile to Implement Larger Multi Web Projects
Tools Used with Agile
Moving from BA to PM
Discovering What Metrics you Need
Lean Projects: A Case Study
PM & BA Collaboration
Risk Management
Program & Portfolio Management
Effective Teams: How to build them
Cyber Security
Big Data & Analytics
PMBOK Changes
Dealing with Stakeholders and Sponsors
Integrating Contracted People into an Ongoing Project
Creative Problem Solving
Collaborative Problem Solving
Honing Your PM Skills
Understanding The Business Ecosystem
The Move: Agile to Waterfall
Convan Vs Agile
Process Management
Developing BA Skills
Effective Data Modeling
State Modeling
BA's in A Global Environment
Capturing Non functional requirements
Shadow IT and how to make sure you remain a partner
Managing to scale
Tailor BA function in an onshore vs offshore environment
Systems Integration
What's New in Agile?
Agile, Tools and Metric Tracking
Cloud Risk: Managing the Risk and Rewards of Cloud Computing
Defining and Developing the Next Generation of PMs
Improving the Value of Your PMO
IT Portfolio Management
Soft Leadership Skills
Risk Management
Building Program Management Expertise
Motivating Teams and Increasing Team Performance
Creating a Center of Excellence (Both BA and/or PM)
Demonstrating the Current Value of Project Management and Business Analysis to Your Organization
Career Paths for the BA and PM - Where Do You Go After 5 Years?
Using Six Sigma and LEAN to Improve Project Management
Requirements Management and Communication
Leading Global Teams
Change Management
Reading Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
Virtual Engagement
Lightweight Project Management Tools vs. Heavyweight
Enterprise Analysis
Enterprise Architecture
Negotiation Skills for Dealing with Suppliers
Agile Project Management
A Systematic Approach to Increase Business Process Performance
Improving Service Levels with Your Stakeholders
Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
Developing a PM Toolkit: The Essentials
Implementing a Portfolio Management
Estimating and Identification of Requirements
Business Rules: An Important Technique to Capture and Discover What You Need
Green Practices for the PM and BA
Getting the Benefits of Consolidating, But Without Doing So
The Current and Future State of the BA
Agile: Governance and Decision-Making
Sustainable Portfolio Management Practices
Development Techniques that are Flexible and Responsive
SOA Governance
Integrating the Business Architecture with Human Performance

BONUS: In addition to the exposure and honor of being a speaker, speakers will also FREE admission to the conference, access to post-conference web seminar series as well as any pre-conference activities (a $3,000+ value).

How to Get Accepted
Priority will be given to presentations that highlight NEW case studies on pushing beyond the PMBOK and BABOK, presenting new skills, techniques and best practices for today's PM and BA worlds. ONLY corporate/client-side speaker will be considered. If you are a consultant, solution provider, technology provider, analyst or consultant, please see sponsorship/exhibit section below.

Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities

If you are a vendor or solution provider and are interested in showcasing your organization's expertise - Please contact Jon Saxe, Senior Business Development Manager at or 646.895.7467 for more information.

If you were not selected to present and are a vendor or solution provider, you may qualify for additional speaking opportunities available through sponsorship.

Submission Guidelines
Please submit the following to Romina Kunstadter, Conference Producer at no later than Friday, December 20, 2013.

For proper consideration, please include the following information with your proposal:

  • Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
  • Contact information including address, telephone and e-mail
  • Title and objective of presentation
  • Please indicate which topic you plan to address and please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
  • Summary of the talk
  • What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 key "take-aways")
  • NEW FOR THIS YEAR: Please submit a short video telling us why you want to speak at PW&WCBA 2014

If your submission is selected, portions of your bio and summary will be used to promote your participation. In an effort to ensure the utmost quality, all final presentations will be subject to review by our content review board one month prior to the event. 

Additional Details
  • Commercialism and self-promotion are NOT permitted or tolerated. If this happens, you will NOT be invited to return as a speaker.
  • Travel, lodging and other expenses are the responsibility of the speaker.

Interested in Becoming a Media Partner or Featured Event Blogger?
Contact Kacey Anderson, Marketing Manager at

Due to the high volume of response, we are unable to respond to each submission. All those selected to participate as speakers will be notified shortly after the deadline.

Thank you for your interest in ProjectWorld & World Congress for Business Analysts. We look forward to receiving your proposal!

The PW&WCBA Team
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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

5 Sci-Fi Project Management Lessons

As we navigate our crazy, busy lives, we tend to watch TV and movies to escape. We don’t necessarily think of movies as a way to get advice on how to succeed as project managers. But, maybe we should!  According to Intuit, here is some project  management advice from Sci-Fi movies you may have seen: 

Star Trek
In “Remember Me,” an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, crewmembers of the Enterprise are dropping. And as the crew’s complement dwindles down to one, only Dr. Beverly Crusher remembers them.  Rather than give in to the oblivion of a fugue state, she decides to apply logic: “If there’s nothing wrong with me, maybe there’s something wrong with the universe.” After asking the computer questions, Beverly pieces together the puzzle.

Thinking outside the box is a good way to spot problems in a project’s design. And sometimes the bigger the problem the harder it is to spot. It’s valuable to challenge your assumptions as your project progresses, especially while there’s time to make adjustments.

Policeman Alex Murphy was minding his own business when he was killed by a crazed cocaine dealer, and later served as the prototype for Robocop. Using Murphy’s memories, Robocop tracks down the man responsible for his murder who turns out to be OCP’s senior president Dick Jones. When Robocop reveals Dick’s involvement, Dick grabs OCP’s chairman hostage. He shouts, “Dick, you’re fired.” With that, Robocop became free to prejudice Dick with a Beretta 93R Auto 9.

Even if your first project goes down in flames, it doesn’t mean that a better project can’t be built out of its remains. It helps to think of any project as the prototype to come after. Also, agile thinking can save many a project in a crisis. If you’ve been challenging your assumptions, you can come up with flashes of insight when that awkward question comes up in the board presentation. Project managers have to think on their feet. Just don’t rely on quick thinking as a substitute for actually having a project plan.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy always worked the night shift, but in the episode “Doublemeat Palace,” she has to take on a day job. The only place that will hire someone with no visible skills? A fast food chain. Buffy is soon fired. When Buffy, asks for her job back, Buffy’s manager Lorraine rehires her and dishes out motivation. Pointing to her “5 years” button, Lorraine tells her, “I want you to be shooting for this from here on out.”

Motivating your team members is one of the most important things you can do. An interested contributor does better work, and that’s true whether she is your star performer or just working on the line.

Batman Begins
Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy, hasn’t had much time to spend at the office of Wayne Enterprises, or even in Gotham itself, what with all his training to become an ice ninja. When he returns, he sees how his father’s company has been run by CEO William Earle. Earle even fired Lucius Fox for questioning the disappearance of a microwave emitter. which implies that Earle knew more about the Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul’s psychotropic toxin than the movie admitted to. Bruce fires Earle and puts Fox in charge, where he’ll be doing double-duty as CEO and Batman’s version of Q.

Team building is harder than it looks because even the most talented people can mix like oil and fire if the chemistry is off. Don’t be afraid to reassign the best people to other projects if they’re not a good fit for the others on the team It’s nobody’s fault if a team-up doesn’t work.

Hot on the heels of realizing that ghosts do indeed exist, three scientists quickly lose their university funding, their laboratories, and, in Dr. Peter Venkman’s case, the chance to score with naive college girls. But Venkman’s plan is to go into business, “professional paranormal investigations and eliminations.”

That weird idea that nobody else in the organization believes in? Project managers don’t always direct the course of the company, but if you can identify an interesting project, you can bring it to the attention of people who do. 
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