2012-02-24 0 1109

NASA PM Challenge - Day 2

Day two starts with a room that is not as filled as yesterday. Might be the case that some attendees hat a longer night catching up with each other or because of the more or less disappointing key notes from day one.

How ever the keynotes have been better than yesterday and also used the time that was given instead of running short.


However, today two main speakers will take the stage.

1) Mark A. Langley, the CEO of PMI (Project Management Institute), tailing about Strategic Talent Management and the gap in talented Project Management people


2) Robert Lightfoot (his name is his principal), a Top Shot at NASA, that still has to paint room at home :-), talking about his leadership principals

What I have to mention again, both speakers start with a story and have plenty of stories in their pack to get across in their 30 min timeframe.

For the ones that are not as familiar with the storytelling concept, her it is in a nutshell:

  • Talk about the situation to set the scene
  • Mention the complication to get the problem across
  • Raise the question what should or could be done
  • Give the insights what you have done and what you have learned
  • but remember, always keep it simple and relevant

Both speakers are stars in their story telling capabilities, but lets focus on the topics and the key learnings

Mark Langley, Strategic Talent Management

Key Learnings:

  • Yes, there is war for talent
  • the economy grows and their is a huge demand for skilled and talented project managers
  • the staff is getting older (in the next 10 years, 60% of NASA staff is retiring) and need to be replaced
  • there is a shift in skills required to do the job
  • its no longer to be able to manage Time, Cost and Scope to deliver the quality expected
  • its about technical, leadership and strategic management skills - aha !
  • yes, there is a gap in people providing that skill
  • so get ready as a company to train your staff and acquire the required skills on the market to be ready
  • as a potential employee get ready and skill yourself in all there dimensions
  • bottom line: An organization is nothing more than their peoples capability in delivering value

Any news for you ?

Make sure you work with PMI as an organization to find the right strategy to be ready for what is coming.

Make sure you work with PMI as an individual to skill yourself and surround yourself with others to be identified as somebody filling the GAP.

Lets get into the next one.

Robert Lightfoot (his name is his principal), a Top Shot at NASA, that still has to paint room at home :-), talking about his leadership principals

Here again, story telling in perfection and very engaging. He is a leader, at least he is coming across like one.

Key learnings:

What makes a leader

  • Backbone (to make tough decisions)
  • Vision bone (to think into the future)
  • Funny bone (to add a little bit of humor)

Leadership tyrannies (don't let them suck the life out of you)

  • Messages classified as Important / urgent
  • To much information (80 page slide deck -> with remark: for your information)
  • Discussion either / or driven (if you hear an either / or put an 'and' instead)

Than he talked about his leadership principales:

  • positive attitude
  • you need to have passion
  • have a sense of humor
  • understand and admit your weaknesses
  • listen without the intend of responding (listen to understand not to reply)
  • control your emotions
  • share what you know to release the power
  • recognize the power of workforce diversity
  • use your common sense
  • demonstrate integrity and humanity
  • engage in continuous learnings (learn from your leaders, learn by being led, stay hungry)
  • have the courage to handle unjust criticism
  • understand communications
  • operate similar on all levels
  • admit and learn from mistakes
  • get out of your office, but don't be a drive-by leader
  • practice situational leadership
  • train your replacement
  • evaluate risk
  • leading change is hard (never, never, never give up)
  • keep it up and remember why you are doing this

So what am I taking out of day two

  • Story telling is key
  • Shitty slides do not support the speaker (to many shitty slides I have seen today)
  • NASA got PM toolkits that look like ours, fighting the same problems
  • Systems need to more than the sum of their subsystems
  • There were to many streams and not enough attendees (especially in the afternoon)
  • Listen to understand not to reply !

A great conference with additional impulses and to get a better feeling how organizations like NASA manage their projects. Unfortunately their is no event planned for next year.

So see you sometime.



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