The Learning Project Organization

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We live in a dynamic, ever-changing world where we can expect lots of changes. Project objectives, requirements and collaboration rules are subject to change, performance levels may fluctuate and even the vision may vary. Knowing this is one thing. Doing something about it is another thing. In order to cope with changes and lead our projects to success we have to be flexible and adjust our plans accordingly. However, a flexible project plan alone is not sufficient to master project dynamics. One of the prerequisites for project success is to actively create a culture of learning. It is an environment where team members are not punished when they make mistakes; making mistakes is normal. What we want to do is build project teams that are capable of learning from mistakes and mastering change. This cannot happen overnight. The key is that from the very first day we establish learning routines in our projects. Learning has to be part of our daily project routines. This holds true for individual projects as much as project organizations including programs and project management offices. This lecture sheds light on project organizations and how they can create a learning culture for all projects it coordinates.

The lecture starts out with explaining the need of a learning culture in project organizations and outlines how we can create this culture. One example is the definition of learning standards which address team synchronizations, project reviews and training. Other examples include facilitating knowledge sharing across projects and setting up innovation days. The lecture explains the critical success factors of learning in a project organization. It identifies common learning obstacles and shows how we can overcome them. The lecture closes with an illustration of the benefits of a project learning culture. Last but not least, it shows how a learning organization can nurture the ground for project success.

About the author, Thomas Juli:
Thomas Juli is an experienced, enthusiastic and results-driven manager. He provides leading-edge program, interim and operational management offering more than 13 years of progressive leadership and management experience in various functions including project and program management, management consulting, business analysis, professional training and academic teaching. He is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP)® and Certified Scrum Master (CSM®) by the Scrum Alliance.

He is managing director of Thomas Juli Empowerment Partners, a professional service organization for innovative empowerment, consulting and interim management. In 2011 he co-founded i-Sparks (www.i-sparks.com), the provider of a new open innovation platform that inspires people and organizations to grow their ideas into projects for success.

Prior to starting his own consulting business he worked for SAP and two leading management and IT consultancies, Sapient and Cambridge Technology Partners. He consulted for various

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The Learning Project Organization

  1. 1. The Learning Project Organization Session ISS 13Thomas Juli, Ph.D., PMP®, CSM®Thomas Juli Empowerment Partners & i-Sparks
  2. 2. Why Learn? © 2011 by Thomas Juli 2
  3. 3. © 2011 by by Thomas Juli © 2011 Thomas Juli Picture © Sabrina Gonstalla | Pixelio.de 3
  4. 4. Grow a Learning Culturein a Project Organization Farmers don‘t grow crops. They create the conditions for crops to grow. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Grace Winter | Pixelio.de 4
  5. 5. Prerequisite for Project SuccessActively create a culture of learning © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Michael Ottersbach| Pixelio.de 5
  6. 6. This Session We Will Look At © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © WRW | Pixelio.de 6
  7. 7. This Session We Will Look Ato Critical success factors for a learning project organizationo Tools to help cultivate learningo Innovation and learningo Learning challenges © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © WRW | Pixelio.de 7
  8. 8. Critical Success Factors (CSF)for a Learning Project Organization © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de
  9. 9. CSF 1 Build a common vision of and for your project organization. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Photo retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/39uvg8c 9
  10. 10. Motivation Statement What is your driver behind creating a project organization? Motivation Statement The issue(s) of … 2. Who 3. What are the impacts of 1. What are the issues your (individuals, groups, organiz these issues or risks onproject organization attempts ational units, etc.) is affected them? What happens if to resolve? Why? by these issues or risks and these issues could not be affect(s) … how? Why? resolved? Why? The impact(s) of which is (are) … © 2011 by Thomas Juli 10
  11. 11. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn © 2011 by Thomas Juli 11
  12. 12. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 12
  13. 13. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 13
  14. 14. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on2. Institutional arrogance: no capacity for sensing, reflection, and dialogue © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 14
  15. 15. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on2. Institutional arrogance: no capacity for sensing, reflection, and dialogue3. Institutional hubris: not knowing your authentic self; inflated self-image © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 15
  16. 16. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on2. Institutional arrogance: no capacity for sensing, reflection, and dialogue3. Institutional hubris: not knowing your authentic self; inflated self-image4. Institutional disinformation: not serving the whole; self-absorbed © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 16
  17. 17. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on2. Institutional arrogance: no capacity for sensing, reflection, and dialogue3. Institutional hubris: not knowing your authentic self; inflated self-image4. Institutional disinformation: not serving the whole; self-absorbed5. Institutional sclerosis: lack of experimentation and renewal capacity – strategic shifts and significant innovations unavailable © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 17
  18. 18. Organizational Pathology of Learning- or - What happens if you don‘t learn1. Institutional / organizational ignorance: not seeing what‘s going on2. Institutional arrogance: no capacity for sensing, reflection, and dialogue3. Institutional hubris: not knowing your authentic self; inflated self-image4. Institutional disinformation: not serving the whole; self-absorbed5. Institutional sclerosis: lack of experimentation and renewal capacity – strategic shifts and significant innovations unavailable6. Lack of infrastructure / corporate collapse: not focusing on real performance; destruction of structure © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 18
  19. 19. Vision StatementWhat do you envision for your project organization? Vision Statement The project organization 1. What would be the 2. What benefits can ideal resolution to the we expect from the 3. What do we need toidentified root problem improved situation do to achieve this? will (help) … addressed in the and who benefits from Why?Motivation Statement? it? Why? Why? It will benefit … In order to achieve the solution we have to … © 2011 by Thomas Juli 19
  20. 20. Learning Organizationsare organizations ...  where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire,  where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured,  where collective aspiration is set free, and  where people are continually learning to see the whole together. © 2011 by Thomas Juli 20
  21. 21. 2 Key Abilities of Learning Organizations 1. design the organization to match the intended or desired outcomes 2. recognize when the initial direction of the organization is different from the desired outcome and follow the necessary steps to correct this mismatch © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Thomas Max Müller | Pixelio.de 21
  22. 22. CSF 2Nurture collaboration in your project organization and your projects © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Stephanie Hofschlaeger | Pixelio.de 22
  23. 23. CSF 3Promote performance © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Karl-Heinz Laube | Pixelio.de 23
  24. 24. CSF 4 Cultivate learning on the individual, project and organizational level and be smarter:learn from other people‘s, projects‘ and organizations‘ mistakes 24
  25. 25. CSF 5Ensure ongoing results © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Harry256 | Pixelio.de 25
  26. 26. Build Vision NurtureEnsure Learning CollaborationResults Project Organization Cultivate Promote Learning Performance © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Stefan Schwarz | Pixelio.de 26
  27. 27. Tools to Grow a Learning Culture © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Matthias Balzer | Pixelio.de 27
  28. 28. Team Synchronization  Time-boxed to 15 minutes  Best when held first thing in the morning  All team members are required to attend  Primary objective: sync  Start on time Ask 3 simple questions What did you What will you What accomplish accomplish impediments are yesterday? today? in your way? © 2011 by Thomas Juli 28
  29. 29. Status Reporting as a Learning Tool © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Gerd Altmann | Pixelio.de 29
  30. 30. Internal Project Reviews
  31. 31. Internal Project Reviews
  32. 32. Internal Project Reviews 32
  33. 33. External Project Reviews
  34. 34. External Project Reviews
  35. 35. Review Session – Best PracticeThere are a few things to keep in mind when you plan,prepare, and conduct review sessions:• Regularity• Focused, results-driven lessons learned• Various locations
  36. 36. Training 36
  37. 37. Learning and Innovation © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Gerd Altmann | Pixelio.de 37
  38. 38. Emerging Futures „We have the need to sense our own emerging future in order to meet today‘s challenges. ... In this kind of ... environment, making decisions based on the habits of past experience is no longer optimal – or wise. ... You need to develop the capacity to avoid imposing old frameworks on new realities.“ Senge et al (2005), Presence, page 84 © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Andreas Trapp | Pixelio.de 38
  39. 39. Emerging Futures „We have the need to sense our own emerging future in order to meet today‘s challenges. ... In this kind of ... environment, making decisions based on the habits of past experience is no longer optimal – or wise. ... You need to develop the capacity to avoid imposing old frameworks on new realities.“ Senge et al (2005), Presence, page 84 39
  40. 40. Learning Challenges © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Kunstart | Pixelio.de 40
  41. 41. Project Environment Not Open to New Ideas © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Manfred Kepp | Pixelio.de 41
  42. 42. Project Environment Not Open to New Ideas-> Possible Mitigation  Take concerns seriously  Develop / revisit / adjust motivation and vision statements – together  Prioritize stakeholders and their needs. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Manfred Kepp | Pixelio.de 42
  43. 43. No Feedback or Learning Culture NO FEEDBACK © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Pambieni | Pixelio.de 43
  44. 44. No Feedback or Learning Culture-> Possible Mitigation  All feedback counts  1:1 meetings  Regular feedback sessions  Delta statements © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Pambieni | Pixelio.de 44
  45. 45. Lack of Time © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 45
  46. 46. Lack of Time-> Possible Mitigation  Find quiet times  Learning as part of scope  Combine feedback sessions with other events  Revisit project schedules © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 46
  47. 47. „What do you do as a leader in order to support afast paced innovation process?What is your leadership work?“A good reply:„My real leadership work is that I facilitate theopening process.“ © 2011 by Thomas Juli 47
  48. 48. © 2011 by Thomas Juli 48
  49. 49. Picture retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/5rjt8pa 49
  50. 50. © 2011 by Thomas Juli© 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Bernd Boscolo | Pixelio.de 50
  51. 51. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © ViewFotoCommunity-877619 51
  52. 52. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Stephanie Hofschläger | Pixelio.de 52
  53. 53. Picture © Stephanie Hofschläger | Pixelio.deThe Good and Evil of
  54. 54. Picture © Stephanie Hofschläger | Pixelio.deThe Good and Evil of
  55. 55. Promote Performance © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Karl-Heinz Laube | Pixelio.de 55
  56. 56. Promote Team Performance © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 56
  57. 57. And Have Fun! © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Rainer Sturm | Pixelio.de 57
  58. 58. Acknowledge and Celebrate Performance © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/2v632h6 58
  59. 59. Fail Early to Learn Quickly © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © iStock 14047443 59
  60. 60. Take small stepsEnsure Ongoing Results... one at a time © 2011 by Thomas Juli © NASA Picture 60
  61. 61. Grow a Learning Culturein a Project Organization Farmers don‘t grow crops. They create the conditions for crops to grow. © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Grace Winter | Pixelio.de 61
  62. 62. Prerequisite for Project SuccessActively create a culture of learning © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Michael Ottersbach| Pixelio.de 62
  63. 63. © 2011 by Thomas Juli 63
  64. 64. Ignite Sparks of Innovation Don‘t talk. – ACT! © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture © Gerd Altmann | Pixelio.de 64
  65. 65. References & Book RecommendationsSenge, P. M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the LearningOrganization (2006th ed.). New York: Currency Doubleday. Denning, S. (2010). The LeaderʼsGuide to RadicalSenge, P. M., Scharmer, C. O., Jaworski, J., & Flowers, B. S. (2005). Presence: Management: Re-inventing the Juli, T. (2010). LeadershipAn Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society. New Workplace for the 21st Century. Principles for Project Success.York: Crown Business. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. New York: CRC Press. (20% conference discount atScharmer, C. O. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges. San www.crcpress.com; use codeFrancisco: Berrett-Koehler. 813DA at checkout)
  66. 66. Thomas Juli, Ph.D., PMP®, CSM®Managing Director, Thomas Juli Empowerment PartnersCo-Founder, i-Sparks LLC Web: www.ThomasJuli.com www.TheProjectLeadershipPyramid.net www.i-Sparks.com Blog: www.thomasjuli.wordpress.com Email: tj@thomasjuli.com Twitter: thomasjuli, i_sparks LinkedIn Xing Phone: +49 (0)15 15 16 333 22 © 2011 by Thomas Juli Picture of sparks © Stefan Schwarz | Pixelio.de 66

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