Chapter 1: Do Nothing—the Story of Mr Opaque and his denial to change

Ulysses read the news this morning: Opaque (one of his clients) went crazy, and he never returned.

Opaque was a man of routine. He woke up at the same time every morning, ate the same breakfast, and took the same route to his office at Stability Co. He was content with the predictability of his life, and any deviation from his usual pattern made him uneasy.

Stability Co. was a business that thrived on stability and consistency. However, as time passed, new regulations were put in place, and the company was required to embrace change and adapt to new technologies and methods. But Opaque was reluctant to do so.

He didn’t see the point in changing something already working well. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he would say. He believed his way of doing things was the best, and he saw no reason to change it.

Opaque’s company fell behind as the world around him continued to evolve. Customers started to look elsewhere for more modern and innovative solutions, and the company’s profits began to suffer.

But Opaque remained stubborn, insisting on staying the course. He refused to acknowledge the changing times and continued running his business as always. His employees grew frustrated and restless, but he refused to listen to their ideas.

In the end, Opaque’s refusal to adapt proved to be his downfall. Stability Co. went bankrupt, forcing him to close its doors for good. As he looked back on his life, Opaque realised too late that his insistence on stability had led to his downfall. Sometimes, change is necessary for survival, and those who refuse to adapt will inevitably be left behind.

Opaque is a fictional character and persona created based on inspirations from James Joyce, Homer and Heraclitus.
More stories of Ulysses in the next Blog article.

(Picture: UKTV/Nick Hardcastle)
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

The journey of Ulysses in Project Management and the value of PM² methodology

Ulysses is a seasoned project manager with years of experience leading European projects. However, he often needed to work on dealing with inefficiencies and rising costs, which weighed heavily on the taxpayers’ money. Determined to find a solution, he delved into research and stumbled upon the PM² Project Management methodology developed by the European Commission.
Intrigued by its promises of efficiency and effectiveness, Ulysses decided to try it. He was pleasantly surprised by the methodology’s openness and lean-approach. It emphasized collaboration, transparency, and the inclusion of stakeholders from the project’s inception. Ulysses realized this fostered a sense of ownership and commitment among team members, leading to better outcomes.
One of the most significant benefits Ulysses experienced was the reduction in costs. The PM² methodology provided clear guidelines and templates, simplifying project management processes and eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy. This streamlined approach allowed Ulysses to optimize resources and make informed decisions promptly.
Furthermore, Ulysses appreciated the easy-to-use nature of the PM² methodology. It provided a structured framework that was adaptable to various project types and sizes, making it accessible to both experienced and novice project managers. The methodology’s comprehensive documentation and training materials further enhanced its user-friendliness.
As Ulysses implemented the PM² methodology in his projects, he witnessed a remarkable transformation. The projects became more streamlined, and the teams worked cohesively towards their goals. The benefits of the methodology were tangible: efficient project delivery, cost savings, and increased stakeholder satisfaction.
Ulysses became a staunch advocate for the PM² methodology, sharing his success stories with other European project managers. With its emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness, and cost reduction, PM² proved to be a game-changer in ensuring that taxpayers’ money was utilized optimally for the benefit of society.

Ulysses is a fictional character and persona created based on inspirations from James Joyce, Homer and Heraclitus.
More stories of Ulysses in the next Blog article.

Cartoon source: Cartoon of Joyce from Sam Slote’s animated lecture Why should you read James Joyce’s Ulysses

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Emotional intelligence in Agile project management…and one more thing!

Hello, fellow Project Managers! Today I will talk to you about the importance of emotional intelligence in Agile project management.

As a Project Manager coordinating large multidisciplinary projects, I’ve learned one thing: emotions matter.
Let me explain. You see, in Agile project management, the team is everything. Without the team, there is no project. And without emotional intelligence, there is no team.

First of all, as a Project Manager, I need to connect with my team members on a personal level. I need to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. I need to be able to communicate effectively and build trust. And most importantly, I need to be able to listen to them and understand their perspectives.
Secondly, conflicts and problems are inevitable in any project. It’s how we handle them that makes the difference. Emotional intelligence allows us to manage conflicts respectfully and productively. It enables us to find common ground and work towards a solution that benefits everyone.
Thirdly, Agile project management is all about providing value. Emotional intelligence allows us to understand the needs of our stakeholders and deliver value that meets their expectations. It allows us to be flexible, resilient, and effective in a constantly changing environment.

Let me give you an example. Imagine a hypothetical situation: I lead a multicultural IT project with team members from different countries and backgrounds. We’re on a tight deadline, and tensions are running high. Suddenly, a critical component of the project fails, and we’re faced with a significant setback.
In this situation, emotional intelligence is crucial. I need to be able to manage the emotions of my team members and keep them motivated. I need to communicate effectively across cultural barriers and find a solution that works for everyone. And most importantly, I need to stay calm under pressure and lead my team towards success.

So, my dear friends, remember this: emotions matter in Agile project management. As Project Managers, we must lead with empathy, understanding, and respect. Let’s sprint towards success together, one emotional step at a time!

“Emotional intelligence” | Painting by Adrian Sibley (at Saatchi Art).

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Taking ownership of our lives (aka everyone “walks” with his head)

My grandfather used to say in Greek, “ο καθένας με την κεφαλή του βαδίζει” or “Everyone walks with his head.”
This phrase encapsulates that we are each responsible for our decisions and actions. Our choices shape our lives, and we must take responsibility for those choices.

Taking ownership of our lives means recognising that we can shape our futures. It means understanding that we are not simply victims of circumstance but active agents. When we take ownership of our lives, we can better identify and work towards our goals. We are more resilient in the face of adversity because we know we can overcome it.
At the same time, taking ownership of our lives means accepting responsibility for our mistakes. It means acknowledging our poor choices and taking steps to correct them. This can be a complicated process, but learning from our mistakes and growing as individuals is essential.

In today’s world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressures of society. We are bombarded by messages telling us how to think, feel, and act. But as my grandfather quote reminds us, we are each unique individuals with strengths, weaknesses, and perspectives. We can tune out the noise and focus on our goals and aspirations by taking ownership of our lives.

So let us embrace this philosophy and walk confidently with our heads high.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Project Management adventures in cultural projects

Ah, the life of a Project Manager! I’ve spent many years managing various projects, but my heart is closer to the Cultural Projects that I performed back in Greece during the period between 2006 and 2016. It was a wild ride full of ups and downs, unexpected twists and turns, and plenty of lessons learned along the way.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a project manager was dealing with cultural differences. When working on a project with people worldwide, you quickly learn that only some approach things in the same way. For example, some cultures are direct and to the point, while others are more indirect and polite. Trying to navigate these different communication styles can be tricky, but keeping everyone on the same page is essential.
Another challenge I’ve faced is dealing with artists. Don’t get me wrong; I love working with creative types. They bring a certain energy and passion to a project that’s hard to match. But they can also be…unpredictable. I’ve had artists show up late to meetings, change their minds at the last minute, and even throw tantrums when things don’t go their way. But you learn to roll with the punches and appreciate their unique perspectives.
Of course, digitalisation projects come with their own set of challenges. Technology is constantly evolving, so you must stay on top of the latest trends and innovations. And then there’s the issue of security. I’ve spent many sleepless nights worrying about data breaches and cyber-attacks. When dealing with sensitive information, you need to ensure everything is locked down tight.
But despite all the challenges, there are also plenty of lessons learned. One of the most important is the value of communication. When everyone is on the same page, things go much smoother. And when there are misunderstandings, it’s crucial to address them head-on before they become more significant problems.
Another lesson I’ve learned is to be adaptable. In the world of project management, things can change at the drop of a hat. You need to be able to pivot quickly and develop new solutions on the fly. And sometimes, you have to roll with the punches and hope for the best.
And finally, I’ve learned that a sense of humour goes a long way. When you’re dealing with stressful situations and tight deadlines, sometimes all you can do is laugh. Whether making a silly joke to break the tension or poking fun at yourself for forgetting a crucial detail, some fun can make all the difference.
So there you have it, folks. Ten years of managing cultural, art, and digitalisation projects have taught me a lot. It’s been a wild ride of challenges, unique characteristics, and lessons learned. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, where else can you work with artists, navigate cultural differences, and stay on the cutting edge of technology simultaneously?

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

The power of kindness and positive action (in workplace)

It is often said that we should strive to impact the world positively, but many people feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. They think our society’s problems are too big, too complex, and entrenched for anyone to make a difference.
However, it is essential to remember that even small acts of kindness and generosity can profoundly impact the people around us. Helping even one person can make a significant difference in their life and create a ripple effect that spreads far and wide.
When we help someone in need, we demonstrate our compassion and empathy. We show them that they are not alone in their struggles and that we are willing to lend a hand. This can be a powerful message for someone going through a difficult time, as it can give them hope and strength to keep moving forward. Moreover, when we provide value to someone, we create a bond of trust and goodwill that can last a lifetime. People remember how we made them feel; if we made them feel valued and appreciated, they would likely reciprocate by helping others.
Another benefit of helping even one person is that it can be a way of discovering our sense of purpose and fulfilment.
When we give of ourselves to others, we tap into our inner resources of compassion, empathy, and generosity.
We discover that we have something valuable to offer the world and that our actions can impact the people around us. This can be a transformative experience, giving us a sense of meaning and purpose that we may have missed.
In addition, helping even one person can be a catalyst for positive change in our communities and beyond.
When we take action to help others, we inspire others to do the same. This can create a ripple effect that spreads far and wide as people begin to see the power of their actions to make a difference in the world.
Moreover, when we help others, we often learn more about their challenges and the systemic issues contributing to their difficulties. This can give us a deeper understanding of our society’s issues and motivate us to take action to create lasting change.

In conclusion, giving value and help to even one person cannot be overstated. When we help others, we demonstrate compassion and empathy, create bonds of trust and goodwill, discover our purpose and fulfilment, and inspire positive change in our communities and beyond. So, let us not be daunted by the enormity of our world’s problems but instead focus on making a difference, one person at a time. As the saying goes, “To the world, you may be one person, but to one person, you may be the world.”

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

What i recently learned from Heraclitus about decision making

Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher who lived in the 6th century BC and is known for his famous statement, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” This idea, known as the doctrine of flux, is at the core of Heraclitus’ philosophy and has important implications for decision-making.
Heraclitus believed that everything in the world is constantly changing and that change is the only constant. This means that nothing is ever fixed or static and that we must continuously adapt to new situations and circumstances. We must be flexible and open to further information and perspectives in decision-making.
One of the critical lessons I recently learned from Heraclitus’s study is the importance of embracing uncertainty. Because everything is in a state of flux, so there is always uncertainty in any situation. Rather than trying to eliminate uncertainty, we should learn to embrace it and use it to our advantage. This means being willing to take calculated risks and make decisions based on incomplete or imperfect information.
Another vital lesson from Heraclitus is that opposites are necessary for balance. He believed everything in the world is composed of opposites, such as hot and cold, light and dark, and good and evil. This means that we must consider our options’ positive and negative aspects when making decisions. Rather than viewing decisions as binary choices between good and bad, we should strive to find a balance that considers both sides of the equation.
Heraclitus also emphasized the importance of intuition and inner wisdom. He believed that our inner selves are connected to greater universal wisdom and that we can tap into this wisdom through introspection and contemplation. When making decisions, we should reflect on our wisdom and intuition and use this to guide our choices.
Finally, Heraclitus believed that change is inevitable and that we must learn to accept it. This means we should be open to the possibility that our decisions may not always lead to the outcomes we expect or desire. Rather than becoming attached to specific outcomes, we should focus on the decision-making process and trust that the universe will guide us in the right direction.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

Benefits realisation: a journey beyond the project success criteria

Organisations increasingly rely on IT projects to achieve their strategic objectives in today’s fast-paced business environment. 

However, the success of IT projects is about more than just completing the project on time and within budget. It’s also about realising the expected benefits and delivering value to the organisation. This is where benefit realisation and value stream delivery come into play.

Benefits realisation is the process of identifying, planning, and tracking the benefits of a project. It involves setting specific, measurable, achievable benefits that the project is expected to deliver based on a hypothesis during the scope definitions and then measuring the benefits achieved against those targets. The purpose of benefits realisation is to ensure that the project delivers the expected benefits and that those benefits are sustainable over the long term.

The value stream approach is about delivering value to the organisation by optimising the flow of work from idea to delivery. It involves identifying and removing waste and inefficiencies in the project delivery process and ensuring that the work is aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives. Value stream delivery ensures the organisation receives maximum value from its IT projects.

Together, benefit realisation and value stream delivery provide a framework for ensuring that IT projects deliver the expected benefits and value to the organisation. Here are some of the benefits of implementing these practices:

  1. Improved Return of Investment: By tracking and measuring the benefits of a project, organisations can ensure that they are getting a positive return on their investment. This is especially important for large, complex IT projects that require significant resources.
  2. Increased transparency: Benefits realisation and value stream delivery provide greater transparency into the project delivery process. This helps stakeholders understand the project’s progress, identify potential roadblocks, and make informed decisions about project priorities.
  3. Enhanced accountability: By setting specific benefits and value delivery targets, project teams are held accountable for delivering on their promises. This helps to ensure that project teams are focused on providing value to the organisation.
  4. Continuous improvement: Benefits realisation and value stream delivery provide a framework for continuous improvement. By measuring the actual benefits achieved and identifying areas for improvement in the project delivery process, organisations can continually improve the value they receive from their IT projects.
  5. Improved alignment with strategic objectives: By aligning the benefits of a project with the organisation’s strategic objectives, IT projects can deliver maximum value to the organisation. This ensures the organisation invests in projects aligned with its goals and objectives.

In conclusion, benefits realisation and value stream delivery are essential to successful IT project delivery. By focusing on delivering benefits and value, organisations can ensure that they get a positive return on their investment and that their IT projects align with their overall strategic objectives.


Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

The loneliness of the Project Manager

As a project manager, loneliness can be an unexpected and complex challenge. While you may be leading a team and interacting with many people regularly, it’s common to feel isolated and disconnected sometimes.

One reason for this is the high level of responsibility that comes with being a project manager. You are responsible for ensuring the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required level of quality. This can be a heavy burden to bear, and the weight of it can make you feel alone, even when surrounded by others.

Additionally, project managers often have to make difficult decisions, further contributing to feelings of loneliness. When you make tough choices that may not be popular with everyone, finding people to confide in or seek support from can be hard.

Another factor contributing to loneliness as a project manager is that you often mediate between different departments or teams. You must balance the needs and goals of various stakeholders, which can lead to isolation as you navigate these complex dynamics.

So, what can you do to combat loneliness as a project manager? Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Build relationships with your team members: While you may be their leader, fostering camaraderie with your team is essential. Take time to get to know each person individually, and make an effort to connect with them on a personal level.
  2. Seek out a mentor or advisor: Having someone you can turn to for advice and support can be incredibly helpful when feeling overwhelmed or isolated. Look for a mentor or advisor with project management experience who can offer guidance.
  3. Join a professional organisation: There are many professional organisations for project managers, and joining one can provide access to a network of peers going through similar experiences. Attend conferences or events to meet new people and expand your professional circle.
  4. Find a support group: If you’re feeling particularly isolated or overwhelmed, consider joining a support group for project managers. This can be a safe space to share your experiences and get advice from others who understand what you’re going through.
  5. Take care of yourself: Finally, ensure you’re taking care of your mental health and well-being. Make time for activities that bring you joy, and prioritise self-care practices like exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature.

Being a project manager can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it’s essential to recognise that loneliness can be challenging. By building relationships, seeking support, and prioritising self-care, you can overcome feelings of isolation and find greater fulfilment in your work.


Sources: Photo by Mathieu Bigard
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.

PM² Community of Practice and Awarding Ceremony

Participating as a guest speaker at the December Hybrid #PM² Community of Practice and Awarding Ceremony event was exciting.
I was honoured to be awarded the PM² Practitioner Certificate by Veronica Gaffey, Director General for Informatics (#DG #DIGIT)

I am looking forward to more creative challenges as a member of the PM² Community of Practice and leading now by example as a practitioner.
Many thanks to the whole team in the PM² Center of Excellence #CoEPM2 for this event and their support. Marc BerghmansElias Michelioudakis, Greg Whye.
#pm2 #methodology #europeancommission

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and not the views of my employer.