This year we organized an inspiration day around the topic of ‘Simplicity’ and how a project organization can benefit from simplifying measures to support its organization’s battle against the increasing complex environment. On top of that, PMO’s today are sometimes accused of creating more overhead than needed, resulting in even more complexity. We invited our PMO network to discuss the topic and inspire peers by sharing experiences, pitfalls and successes.

To create an inspirational atmosphere, we first shared some Threon best practices on what kind of challenges PMO’s experience today: how can they create added value, what should they focus on first or how can they anticipate on project management trends? We learned that, in order to tackle these challenges, we need to focus on simplifying measures. It became clear that one might need to implement something complex, at first sight, to simplify the environment. Just think about tooling, it might look complicated during test phase, but benefits will appear once you learn to work with it. Our guest speaker, Bram Vromans, testified that, within the company of Essent, he continuously focuses on simplifying the environment to reach more benefits instead of adding up more complexity. Then, we continued with Ten Laws of Simplicity, brought to this world by John Maeda. He speaks of 10 laws we can implement at all times. They claim to boost our capacity to simplify our environment, either private or professional:

 1. REDUCE - The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.

PMO context: advice project managers to pitch their business case in 5 min. using start-up techniques

2. ORGANIZE - Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

PMO context: create an easy to read & update dashboard for systematic reporting

3. TIME - Savings in time feel like simplicity.

PMO context: change a monthly meeting into a quarterly meeting

4. LEARN - Knowledge makes everything simpler.

PMO context: introduce Agile ‘retrospects’ on portfolio level: what did we do well, what went wrong and how can we improve?

5. DIFFERENCES - Simplicity and complexity need each other.

PMO context: create a habit dividing ‘Need to know’-info vs. ‘nice to know’-info when sharing best practices with your PM community

6. CONTEXT - What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral. Use context to make them understand.

PMO context: always indicate why certain projects are selected above others

7. EMOTION - More emotions are better than less. Sometimes we need the story behind it to understand it better.

PMO context: Use a theme and metaphors when you want to introduce changes within the organization

8. TRUST - In simplicity we trust. Use proven best practices to convince others.

PMO context: involve early adopters when introducing changes & share their success with others

9. FAILURE - Some things can never be made simple.

PMO context: Set criteria when to use agile methodologies and when not

10. THE ONE - Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful

PMO context: begin with an absolute minimum set of processes instead of trying to be exhaustive from the start

One to frame.

We concluded the morning session by stating that a Project Management Office (PMO) should strive to become: a Department of Simplicity. A department striving to provide answers to the complex environments we work in every day. 

No need to say, we felt inspired!

We would like to thank all the participants for their presence on our 2018 Inspiration Day and valuable contribution to its success. We enjoyed spending time with our PMO community and learned a lot about their specific challenges and successes.  We hope everyone felt inspired and is now eager to take first steps to optimize their PMO’s into a Department Simplicity.

We look forward seeing you next time in one of our events.   

Lauranne Coelst

Lauranne Coelst
Consultant at Threon

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