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Ensuring PMO and Change Sustainability

All too often, I see organizations try to create a PMO or change organization because someone got “something shiny syndrome,” and then it fizzles before the organization has really been given the chance to take off in a meaningful way. All of that time, money, and effort spent and now we are letting that work go to waste because the next something-shiny came along. It’s time to talk about an organization that lasts.

Alignment must continue. You must make sure that your portfolio stays relevant with the priorities of the C-suite. If the organizational direction is shifting, your priorities for your portfolio better shift with it. If your portfolio still has projects in it that leadership doesn’t care about anymore—why? It’s OK to shut things down. You must continue to be the strategy navigator and information gatekeeper on the right portfolio of projects that will drive your company forward. You must be OK with letting projects go. Kill them and kill them fast if they are not in alignment with where your leadership is headed or the ROI is no longer there. The slow-to-die project is one of the most painful and demotivating energies in the organization.

Create partnerships thoughtfully. Remember the stakeholder management section of these building blocks? Keep that stakeholder management strategy in place to engage the stakeholders in a meaningful way and know who you have to manage and how. Remember the three categories of people? Those that love you, those that hate you, and those that just don’t care. The process of engaging with people must continue long after your PMO is set up. Their needs will shift, and so will what you need from them. Keep the conversation going and figure out ways you can help them before asking how they can help you.

Those folks that are still in the just-don’t-care category need to be pulled into the fold. Go back to the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) exercise for each of them and determine how you can work with them to find a way to provide impact and value for them. The haters? They better all be in an advisory council working with you to tell you all of the reasons what you are doing won’t work, and then you arm them with the whiteboard and the marker and let them go to work telling you how to fix everything. Now they own the solution, and you have them on your side. 🙂 If you aren’t doing this, those two groups will ensure the extinction of your organization right in front of your eyes.

Keep your veterans, but bring in new people too. There’s a reason to keep around those people that have been there from the beginning. There are two really good ones, actually. First, they are the historians. They remember how you got there and what it took to get the PMO or change organization up and running in the first place. They can tell you what pitfalls to avoid, or they can help you with the next new change you need to create because they are your internal change agents that can help you drive the next change or evolution of your organization. They get it and they will help you. That’s valuable. Second, loyalty and those you can trust are priceless. Period.

You also want to bring in some new folks. They will ask questions you have long since stopped asking. They will challenge you. They bring diversity of thought and ideas. One of the best things I did for the PMDoS PMO I ran was to replace myself. The new guy is doing an awesome job and bringing new ideas to the table that I hadn’t even considered. This allowed me to move into the role of Executive Director and focus my energy externally on how we grow the cause and share our mission. New people create new opportunities for the veterans to stretch their wings and will bring new ideas to the table you hadn’t considered.

Focus on the mission. Always ask why. Every day with everything you do, ask yourself why you are doing it. Make sure it’s providing value and it’s in alignment with where your organization is going. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be doing it. Ask whether or not the template you are creating or the meeting you are setting up is going to directly move your change effort forward. If not, why are you doing it?

Marketing. Do it. Your brand is everything. You have to market yourself, your team, your organization, and your cause. It’s an ongoing storytelling process to highlight the reasons you are doing what you are doing and to get your name and value out there. Yes, even internally. Don’t assume people “get it.” Yes, we think what we are doing is so obvious and valuable that everyone should just understand. They don’t. They are busy, they don’t care, they are worried about the latest project they are on, or they are trying to figure out when they can sneak out early to get to a soccer game. That’s their focus. Not your PMO and why they need it. Look at who is representing you. Make sure you arm those you want talking about your PMO or change organization with the tools they need to tell your story in the right way. Help them make it personal. Teach them how to connect a big change your team is responsible for to the outcomes that people really care about. If you tell someone that the new system you are implementing will increase the company bottom line, you might get them to glance up from what they are doing. You tell them that that same system will make it so they can get to Bobby’s baseball games on time and now you will have their attention.

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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