7th Art of Projects Conference Budapest. Insights.


This year I have received the award for the best IT professional in Project Management in Ukraine. One of the prizes was a ticket to a project management conference hosted in one of my favorite cities. Of course, I bought tickets the very next day.

Firstly, I would like to share my notes about the organization of the conference. This part was also interesting for me to compare with Ukrainian conferences I have not been visiting for a couple of years. So, let’s see the following:

  • Pricing. The conference price was in a range of EUR200-EUR250 approximately.

  • Venue. Budapest Music Center in the middle of the city.

  • Agenda. There is one single stream with six talks in total, 45 minutes each. Opening and closing talks are also here. Two speakers joined one Q&A session, 15 minutes per session. To collect questions and facilitate Q&As, slido.com was used.

The most significant difference comparing with Ukrainian conferences is the agenda part. I do not know why there is an intention to have 30+ talks within 3+ streams if the quality is poor. AoP shows me that the hard work of the committee to find six lectures supports the sold-out for 300 people easily because it is always better to get the diamond, even if you need to filter tons of stones.

Now, check out my insights from the Art of Projects Conference below. Deliberately, I don’t mention speakers as I think this is not too important; instead, I would explain the main trends in the talks.

Trends:

  • At the moment, there are 66M people on the project management-related roles around the world. By 2027, the need will be 88M approximately;

  • But only 8M project managers think they can lead any projects. These people are the real change drivers and the core of the profession. “If you ask me if I can build the bridge — yes, I can. Never did it before, but a true project manager is about making changes happen”;

  • Before, project managers were considered as the delivery-responsible role only. It is not true anymore, and a project manager successfully influences the whole organization using organization skills, business skills;

  • Nowadays, 20% of the project budgets spent bring no value to the end product or service. It is our goal to decrease this number;

  • Statistically, only 31% of projects need Agile. At the same time, only 7% of projects can be managed using predictive approaches. Everything else requires proper stakeholder engagement and change management in place.

Toolkit:

  • Great project managers have shifted from “frameworks” to “whatever works.” Project success is the only measurement;

  • Forget about the “Alchemist approach” — best practices, one size fits them all. It is the time for situational management;

  • Three critical ingredients for successful projects — vision, concept, faith;

  • Analyze your GAPS — goals, abilities, perceptions, success factors;

  • Not every Achieving Style fits any project. Choose wisely and master strategies.

Leadership:

  • Top-2 books about the leadership — “5 dysfunctions of a team” and “The little big things”;

  • The leadership ladder consists of four stairs in the strict order — lead yourself, then people, then small groups, then organizations;

  • Management is about coping with complexity. Leadership is about dealing with changes;

  • If you have any symptoms of Business Professional’s Innovation Deficiency Syndrome, you need to think about your leadership style;

  • One of the leadership misconceptions is that entrepreneurs equal to leaders.

Approach:

  • A project manager should not be tech-competent. He should be tech-credible. The tech competency is the characteristics of the project team;

  • Be excited about what you do! You are not managing projects — you are leading the team, which creates a product to improve people’s lives;

  • A project manager must be optimistic! As any project requires much humor to survive in;

  • Nobody talks about the project as a profit center, only costs. Try to find immediate benefits;

  • Any project is like a glass of beer. All stakeholders decide for themselves whether it is half empty or half full;

  • Project Managers are usually unloved while they are doing magic. The brand matters.

Changes:

  • It is never possible to convince everyone;

  • When you put experienced people in the environment they are not experienced in, it creates frustration;

  • All people go through changes at a different pace. And somebody never moves;

  • To promote change, you should find both nonnegotiable and flexible parts of changes.

To sum up, I was positively surprised by the level and maturity of the talks. There were no talks about how cool PMI is or basic stuff — only trends, cases, and hot topics. I saw clearly that this community was more open and agile than a lot of ‘agile practitioners’ which throw shit at each other and other organizations. I would be happy to visit more conferences like this one next year. If you have anything in mind, do not hesitate to share!

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