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Inspired! A Few Observations from the PMI Congress

Posted by Deborah Bigelow Crawford

Deborah Bigelow Crawford has more than 20 years of experience in business management and handles the operational and administrative functions of PM Solutions. Ms. Bigelow Crawford also serves as Co-CEO of the PM College®, PM Solutions' training division, where she is responsible for the fiscal management and quality assurance of all training and professional development programs. Prior to joining PM Solutions, she served as the Executive Director of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and was instrumental in providing the foundation and infrastructure for the exponential growth that the Institute has maintained over the last 10 years. In addition, she served as the Executive Director of the PMI Educational Foundation. Over the last decade, she has authored numerous articles in PM Network, Chief Project Officer, and Optimize magazines. Ms. Bigelow Crawford is also co-author of the book Project Management Essentials. She has presented a variety of papers as a speaker at international symposia and conferences, and is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and the Project Management Institute.

Malcolm Gladwell's keynote presentation at the PMI Congress encourages us to make the most of lean times by recycling ... ideas, that is.

After leaving the Keynote presentation on Sunday night, my head was spinning with new ideas!  I think that’s what’s supposed to happen when you have a motivational speaker, and Malcolm Gladwell, author of What the Dog Saw, Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point, really honed in on something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while: that “successful” organizations are generally followers and borrowers … not necessarily leaders and innovators!

He emphasized how borrowing and following can be incredibly valuable. You have the chance to see and understand a new technology before you actually make a commitment to it, and to learn from others' mistakes.  Gladwell also demonstrated one of the drivers of borrowing and following: desperation! When companies are “hungry,” they learn to improvise and will figure out how best to implement what has already been developed by others.

It sounds easy … but there is art and genius in being able to know WHAT you can borrow and HOW you can implement to benefit your company. 

This is one of the strengths of project management practice, I think, and a reason why so many companies turn to it in difficult economic times: the practice of capturing lessons learned and plowing them back into the organization to improve future effectiveness is a key benefit of our discipline.

This was great food for thought and one I will be thinking about over the next few budgets as we ponder new strategic ideas.

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