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PMO Building Block 6: Alignment with What Matters

I’m going to wrap up this series by going back to the beginning. Alignment with what matters means that you master both the art and the science of establishing a PMO. First, you have the right people, doing the right things, the right way. Then, once you have those fundamental building blocks in place, you must focus your energy on creating change and aligning your PMO with the needs of your business.

In the first article of this series, you learned how to ask the right questions to understand how to be the “go to” resource for your leadership to manage change. Once you figure out how to become relevant to your business leaders, you must figure out how to stay relevant if you want to be an invaluable solution to your organization. Keep talking, engaging, and asking questions. Continue to look for the places where changes need to be made. Continue to look at where the C-suite is spending their energy. Continue to improve your PMO capabilities to stay in touch with the needs of your stakeholders.

According to the Economist survey “Why Good Strategies Fail: Lessons for the C-Suite,” 61% of executives admit that their firms often struggle to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation. The C-suite sets organizational direction, which is realized through strategy implementation. The challenge is that many of those brilliant visionaries don’t know how to get the changes implemented. That’s where the PMO comes in. They need you even if they don’t know it! You must be the strategy navigator for your organization.

How does your PMO become the strategy navigator? It starts with earning your seat at the table during strategy definition. Don’t just assume that they will know to invite you in or that you have the right to be there. Bring a needed skill or value to the table. The PMO can be the facilitator of the strategy definition process. Offer to schedule the meetings, take the notes, and facilitate the process of getting the appropriate subject matter experts together to define the business strategy. Do whatever it takes to get you in the room. Once you are in the room, you are a part of the conversation. Once you are a part of the conversation, you now have a firsthand look at the challenges the company is facing and what they are doing to solve them. You will hear what really matters and the thinking behind getting to where they want to go. You are now in the know.

Once the strategies are defined, the PMO is the natural place for those changes to be managed. You have the experts, the tools, and the methodology that is necessary to deliver on the strategies. By earning your seat at the table during the strategy definition process, you are now also their trusted advisor and partner on executing the strategy implementation plan.

Finally, with the right portfolio management solution at your fingertips, you are the place that the executives will go to find out how their initiatives are doing. This makes you an invaluable resource to the leadership of the organization. When they need to know how things are going, they are coming to your PMO. That’s exactly where you want to be.

Now let’s focus, once again, on people. Where you have your people aligned says a great deal about what you, as a PMO leader, value. Make sure you are aligning your talent against the portfolio of initiatives according to their strengths, where relationships already exist, and where they have subject matter expertise. You must use the right person for the job. Just like every tool in the toolbox solves a different problem, each change initiative will need a change leader with different strengths. Don’t forget the article on PMO talent in this series. It is crucial to hire correctly so that you have a team of change leaders that can fit the various types of business changes you will need to manage.

The PMO is, and should be, a constantly evolving organization. You will learn new things every day about the organization, the people, the culture, and what it takes to be successful in meeting the stakeholder needs. Be aware, ask questions, and make sure your PMO remains agile so that you can respond as the needs shift. These techniques and an appetite for success are the key building blocks you need to build an effective and sustainable PMO.

About Laura Barnard

Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Coach & Trainer. Owner, Impact by Laura. Founder and CEO, PMO Strategies. Founder and President, Project Management for Change, 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Laura Barnard has spent more than 24 years helping business leaders in a broad range of organizations, from nonprofits to global financial institutions, get the results they crave. She shares her experience and stories in her blog titled, “I wish I had me when I was you... ™” Laura runs several training and coaching programs that help organizations and individuals deliver high-impact results on their projects and drive organizational change. Laura is best known as “the PMO lady” for her extensive experience in building and running PMOs that Get. It. Done. for the business and teaching others how to do the same. You can learn more about Laura at https://impactbylaura.com.

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