In 2017 the PMI Norway Chapter arranges it´s first international conference on project management, with the thought provoking theme “Adapt or die”. We´ve had a conversation with chapter president Merete Munch Lange, senior consultant at Miles in Oslo, about trends in the project management community and the need for change.
“We can´t just go around doing things the same way we have done for so many years, not changing, because everything around us is changing. We really want to raise the awareness, the whole movement to more agile principles. We need to be prepared. There are maybe some misconceptions about PMI versus Prince2 or agile versus waterfall, which is sad as they actually don´t compete but complement each other. PMI has been perceived, and to some extent is, huge and quite bureaucratic. It´s hard to register to certify, with very strict rules. PMI is not quite up to the standard and speed online yet, but it´s happening. It´s a bit adapt or die in that sense as well for us in the Norwegian board – if we´re the same dusty board we´ve always been how can we attract new talent? Transparency is one of my mantras, I want people to see our activities, to buy in and wanting to be a part of this. We´re not completely there yet but change takes time.”
Globalisation and digitalization are drivers for change everywhere, as well as in Norway. With the oil crisis people need to find new ways to support themselves. Project management is one of the ways to do so. “The fossile industry needs to find new ways – and new kinds of projects might need new kinds of project managers with new skills. There is also a lot of talk about being more agile and to embrace digitalization. I´m not quite sure how to address it as a project manager but we need to adjust our mindsets to really be able to help our customers out. I love that the PMI talent triangle now connects to leadership, where you need to know the business perspective. That´s the way forward, I think. Understanding the core business is much more important today than a couple of years ago – because you need to develop the solutions together. You can´t order innovation, you create it together. For instance, IT-projects. I don´t think there are many IT projects – I think they´re organizational projects, and organizational change needs the support from IT. Understanding this symbiosis and the change management required is more important than ever. It´s a shift in mindset.”
Merete herself has worked in IT for twenty-something years and has had a variety of volunteer assignments in PMI. “I wanted to get involved after going to these fantastic conferences without really knowing what it was about. I met this wonderful network of people, it´s like an extended family. Professionally, when I went in to consultancy 4 years ago, I´m pretty sure being a PMP and volunteer helped me get there.”
To adapt to new circumstances can be challenging, not only for the individual project manager but for the global community of projects management as well. “I try to be a servant leader by heart. I feel that value-based leadership is appreciated. But it all boils down to trust– can you establish trust by being a servant leader? I think you can. But for somebody who is used to the project manager pointing direction, controlling and predicting, it takes time, there is a paradigm shift there. To more collaboration, shared responsibilities. You still need a project leader – but more the leader than the manager. I think that will be a good shift everywhere.”
The international conference takes place in Oslo September 25th and the call for paper has just been closed. The keynote speakers will be looking at the future and current trends – what do we think will come? What is happening right now and how should we adjust? For example, Bruno Kahne, Airbus Leadership University, will talk about what we can learn from the hearing impaired. “Because of the hearing loss they need to be specific and direct. Management at Airbus is obliged to take a course led by a person with hearing loss – it´s very interesting. They haven´t lost something, rather gained something they can learn other people. This is the first time we have an international conference; in addition to having many participants from Norway, I hope to have many sister chapters coming to visit.”
You can learn more about PMI Norway Chapter and the conference at http://pmi-no.org/arskonferansen