Addressing the legacy of generation “W” (wise), part 4
This blog article is part of series of interviews of persons that have shaped International Project Management Association during the past 50 years, by Amin Saidoun.
Interview withMr. Stacy Goff, Honorary Fellow of IPMA, former two-term Vice-President of Marketing & Events for IPMA, co-founder and past President of IPMA-USA, and CEO of Project Experts.
How long have you been working with/for IPMA in various forms?
Since 2001, after we founded asapm, American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (now IPMA-USA). We were convinced that IPMA’s emphasis upon competence, not just passive knowledge, was a key to project and program success.
What were the 5 biggest achievements you remember you contributed to IPMA in your various functions?
- As a Council of Delegates member, worked in the mid-2000’s with Morten Fangel and then-IPMA Chair Adesh Jain, to recommend that IPMA search for and hire an Executive Director. We pointed out that this action was key to IPMA’s further growth and higher levels of professionalism.
- Developed the Periodic Table of Competence Elements, containing a visual version of IPMA’s ICB. Instantly and intuitively obvious, it has had huge success in conveying IPMA’s complex framework for learning and certification. You can see a copy of a current version on my website: projectexperts.com/assets/PeriodicTable.jpg.
- Working in a stellar IPMA Governance group organized by Mary McKinley in 2008, we made many recommendations for improvements, including ways to reduce the cost of travel. For example, using web-conferencing for some meetings in place of traveling, and combining World Congresses with Council of Delegates meetings, to reduce IPMA board member and Council delegates global travel by 33% in Congress years.
- Rescued the IPMA website in 2010, when, as a new ExBo member, I found out that our hosting was to expire soon. We spent 1.5 years completely redeveloping it, with each IPMA Board curating their own content.
- Participated with the 2012-13 IPMA Executive Board to establish IPMA’s Vision Statement: “Promoting competence throughout society to enable a world in which all projects succeed.”
What was IPMA’s biggest challenge when you were on ExBo and what did you learn from it?
As Marketing VP, I worked with IPMA Boards to establish clear audiences and the value proposition for all IPMA products and services. What I learned was several things, including that while the concepts are clear, it is difficult to communicate something as abstract as Value to others. This is especially true for board members that passionately volunteer their time and efforts to IPMA’s suite of services. To them, the value is obvious!
How do you measure success and over what time frame? How are these metrics determined?
I will answer this in the context of projects and programs, because that is the set of practices that IPMA serves. I measure success in projects and programs by their achievement of the promises made at start-up, as modified with executive approvals at major milestones or stage-gates. Those promises may include the easy-to-measure factors such as timelines and budget. They ultimately also include intended business benefits—the primary purpose of the initiative. Clearly, many of the factors that determine success are outside the project or program manager’s control. Thus, Sponsors, Resource Managers, key Stakeholders and Executives—in addition to the team(s)—always have an essential role in success.
The time frame spans from inspiration (before the leadership team is assembled) through retirement of the resulting product or service. This is somewhat different than what most consultants, and most PPM standards specify. But this is the perspective that I have shared (as a consultant) with executives, program/project management offices, and program/project teams for over 37 years. The metrics are determined at inspiration (before start-up) as part of my portfolio management methods, tracked at milestones, at close-out, and post-initiative, at benefits realization time. Often, they are reviewed as part of lessons learned, even after benefits realization, and during the useful life of the business solution. The metrics include prioritization and tracking of a handful of key items: Plan versus Actual Time, Cost, Scope, Quality, Talent, and Benefit or Return on Investment.
If you could be doing anything right now about IPMA, what would it be? Why?
This may appear to be trivial, but I’d speed up the performance of the IPMA website. In its current form, the IPMA website is beautiful and informative, but the performance is very slow. Some functions, such as searching, currently time out before producing a result. This may be an outcome of a recent website problem. But a good rule of thumb is to always produce results within 2 seconds. Today, using a performance reporting site, it required 14.9 seconds. I targeted under 2 seconds when I completely rebuilt the IPMA website in 2010-2011—and succeeded. Why is this important? People leave with their interest dampened when it takes more than 2 seconds to get an answer.
If you had to choose only one goal for IPMA to achieve what would it be?
To engage all top executives, government officials, middle-managers, project and program sponsors, and resource managers in appropriate competences and actions that vastly increase initiative success. For years, my consulting competitive advantage has been to work with executives to assure that all these key stakeholders are performing their roles competently, and in a timely manner. No amount of excellent training or certification of project or program managers, or team members, will help, if the stakeholders they serve fail to perform effectively. The difference between enterprises that understand this fact and those that do not is a doubling to quadrupling of the costs—plus delay of delivery, for those who have not yet awakened.
What is the one thing that made you upset about IPMA?
Only that, with our brilliant approach to emphasizing competence, instead of just knowledge, that we have not yet achieved the goal I described in my response to question number 6.
What is your favourite movie/story? Why?
The Star Wars series of movies, because it is forward-looking, pits good versus evil, has not only beneficial outcomes, but follow-on opportunities. All factors are just like projects and programs.
What is on your list of personal values? Why?
Trust, ownership, integrity, communication, getting results, and fun. Why, because those are all essential ingredients in getting a team to create beneficial change. After all, that’s what we are all about, in projects and programs, isn’t it?
If money was not an issue, what would you do? Why?
Pretty much, what I’ve done. At one point, serving as a practitioner, I was bored with project and program management. So I raced sports cars for excitement. I was successful enough that I had the option of racing professionally. But instead, I turned my PPM experience into a consulting role. In my first year, I consulted in Monaco, and trained people in Brasil, UK, Germany, Italy and the USA. Since then, I’ve continued to learn new things, overcome new challenges, and made friends worldwide. My years serving professional associations such as IPMA have brought me great joy, satisfaction, and fulfilment.
What is the best lesson or moment of insight that you have received while being with IPMA?
Even though my consulting practice has covered five continents, my travels to IPMA World Congresses and special events in places I had not yet visited has helped me see how rich and diverse our World is today. Talking with people of all ages, I especially appreciate the innocent questions—and answers—of young people. For example, in Nepal, I asked I asked of a group, “what is project management?” One young lady proclaimed: “Changing things from the way they are… to the way they ought to be.” That pretty much boils it down, doesn’t it! Such insight!
What is one thing that you should do differently today? Why?
Slow down! Stop and smell the Roses (my wife Rose, has been very popular at IPMA Council meetings and World Congresses). Why? So I can get back to writing the books that I intended to produce when I instead started spending much of my time in association volunteer work. And why books? Because there are many secrets to success to share with others.
What is your list of important questions that you would like to find answers to? Why for each one?
- Why do so many people hate? Why this is important to understand: So we can cure them.
- Why are so many people poor? Why: So we can assist them.
- Why are we here? Why: So we will achieve our purposes.
What gets you the most excited in life? Why?
Working with others to achieve results in moving society forward. Why? Perhaps because of my Why are we here question earlier.
If there was one person that you could meet who would it be? Why?
My Father; to thank him again for all he taught me. He died after a severe fall; I flew cross-country, but was too late. My Mom is still alive, and I thank her often.
What moment in your life are you the most proud of? Why? How can you duplicate more of these moments?
Each time I won a sports-car race, I had a glimpse of self-actualization. I duplicate those moments each time I speak to a large gathering—especially in China, my favorite place to speak. Thank you, Yan and Fupei!
What is the one thing that you are most scared of doing? Is it because it is wrong or because it scares you to a high degree?
Speaking in front of large groups. That fear is an interesting counterpoint to my answer to your previous question, but “no risk, no reward” is in play here. A wise person once told me that it is OK to be scared to speak. She said, “that means you care!”
Are you more concerned with today or tomorrow? Why?
Today. Soon, tomorrow will be today. So while I plan for tomorrow, I must act today, because yesterday will be too late.
What is the most important question that IPMA needs to ask itself?
What is the greatest service we can perform for our stakeholders, and how will they embrace it?
What is your favourite quote?
Be Here Now.
What is the one fear that IPMA should work on overcoming this year? Why and how?
Fear of project and program failure, by executives, managers, and key stakeholders. Why? Because actions taken or not taken, based on that fear, are a prime cause in most failures. And how to overcome that fear? By acting on most of my longer replies earlier in this interview.
If you could give a lot of something, what would it be? Why?
Joy. Because many do not experience enough of it.
You said you had something else you wanted to add; what is it?
Thank you Amin, this interview, and for the significant contributions you have brought to IPMA! And yes, I’d like to thank the many other people I’ve gotten to know and work with in IPMA. Starting with Bill Duncan, Lew Ireland (deceased), Bob Youker, Les Squires, Joel Carboni, Ron Waller (deceased), and Gilles Caupin, who were instrumental in getting asapm (now IPMA-USA) started, and sustaining our successes.
Next, my thanks to those I worked with in the IPMA Council of Delegates, including Miles Shepherd, Mary McKinlay, Brigitte Schaden, Veikko Välilä, Adesh Jain, Ed Naughton, Tom Taylor, Hans Knöpfel, Morten Fangel, Yan Xue, Alexandr Tovb, Jouko Vaskimo, Samuli Karjalainen, and many others.
Last, thanks to the members of the IPMA Executive Board (ExBo) and all the other boards I worked with while serving IPMA ExBo for two terms. And, I’ll add a special thanks to current Chair Reinhard Wagner, who has done more to improve IPMA’s visibility than the past three Executive Boards combined! My thanks to all these volunteers, who dedicate huge amounts of time to moving projects, programs, and society forward.
Thank you Stacy Goff.