Going For It at the London PM Unconference 11th Sep 2012

Well, we did it, and we all lived:

The good bits:

A lot of people showed up!

I met a lot of them and I liked them all.  I made a few friends. I feel even better about working for TR.

There was a lot of noise and laughter.

We had invited external PMs to the event.  Most people liked this and thought it allowed us to learn, but also be reassured that others are in the same boat.

Draga Jojic (@drjojic) spoke to us about the value of agile methods in a project environment. We included this after seeing it emerge as a continued topic of interest among PMs throughout the year.  This session inspired one of our attendees to write his first blog.

Peter Taylor (@thelazypm) entertained us all while making serious point that, if you are smart, you can be productively lazy and more effective as a result. Its a good point, we often manage projects in a comprehensive way but miss the obvious.

We all got through our Pecha Kuchas in 6m40s, even if one person (ahem) had to do this by not breathing for the duration and impersonating an auctioneer in a livestock market.  I learned that you speak considerably faster in your head than out loud, which is of course blindingly obvious.  These things need practising out loud.  One of my colleagues described the whole experience as the corporate equivalent of an extreme sport. I accidentally sold three cows and a Louis XIV dressing table during mine.

The World Cafe connected us really well and yielded a lot of thinking. Our challenge now is turn the pleasure and passion of the day into purposeful action so we can better at project management. If we include some non TR people then so much the better.

For a flavour of the London PKs, see Doug Shaw’s blog http://stopdoingdumbthingstocustomers.com/engagement/six-minutes-and-forty-seconds/.  Doug facilitated the unconference beautifully. We all knew what we were doing and why but it remained an event run by and for PMs. Perfect.

The Twitter stream, #trpm12, buzzed well through the day with people joining such a stream often for the first time.  It is a bit ephemeral but has the advantage of helping us to stay connected after the event. Its like electronic small talk, the immediate value is not huge, it is entertaining, but the long term value infinite.

There were good, “So What?” and “What Next?”, questions at the end. I think we know the answers to those questions.

The beer was cold.

The bits that could have been better:

Tests should be as close to the real thing as possible. We rehearsed in the morning but we did it in our suits and not the dread t-shirts.  The microphones didn’t work well with t-shirts.  We had to find Brian Knights (@pedanticbear) a mic mid PK to resolve that one.  Meanwhile Brian Knights was fabulous anyway, as all Nokia 6310 fans are.

One of the World Cafe questions was too broad.  This was my fault. We will fix it.

We placed the graphic artists in a corner so they struggled to keep up with the conversation, but worse the rest of the gang didn’t get to go and consume it and join in as much as I know can happen. We fix this for New York.

The unexpected bits, or the bits I didn’t dare hope for:

We have been looking for someone to run master classes for PMs in the part of TR I work in. We have met this need as a result of the event. It has been suggested we invite a few PMs from the wider community.  We will do so.

Several PMs contacted us afterwards offering to get involved in helping TR to get better at Project Management.  This was through several channels, LinkedIn Twitter, email and Pinot Noir. It included some of our external guests. That could get very interesting.

We have received several one off blog posts reflecting  views on the event, the community and project management in general. These will appear here soon.  Chuffed doesn’t cover it for this one.  In total we have had 6 posts, 4 of whom were first time blogger.

Linda Doty (our most prolific blogger) caught the buzz from St Louis and offered (invited herself actually, editing the agenda herself somehow) to do a PK in New York.  Linda doing a time bound preso definitely counts as a dangerous sport.  I am going to sell tickets for that one using my new found auctioneering skills.

I enjoyed it greatly.  Thanks to all for coming and contributing.  Lets make sure we transfer the momentum to action.

The half life clock is ticking on the passion…

And so to New York where the next event is to be held on 27th Sep. Go for it!

Anthony

PS I wont be in NY, so you wont have to witness a man holding his breath for six minutes and forty seconds while talking continuously!

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