IPMA International Project Management Association
26 July 2019 / 3:50

Addressing the legacy of generation “W” (wise)

This blog article is part of a series of interviews with persons that have shaped the life of the International Project Management Association during the past 50 years.
Interview with Dr Morten Fangel, Honorary Fellow of IPMA, former IPMA President and former President of the Danish Project Management Association, Copenhagen 20.07.2019 (by Amin Saidoun)

How long have you been working with/for IPMA in various forms?
I worked for IPMA since the IPMA World Congress 1976 in Birmingham until June 2019.

What were the 5 biggest achievements you remember you contributed to IPMA in your various functions?
The first achievement I remember is the initiation and organisation of the IPMA Committee of Projects. It started in 1982 and lasted until 1990. The outcome of that achievement was the “IPMA Handbook of Project Start-up” which was published in 1988.

The second achievement was the initiation of having an annual Member Association Workshop from 1986 till some 2012 – in the first period related to the World Congresses and facilitation network development. The preliminary aim was the exchange of experiences between the MA directly such as website content, marketing material, etc. One of the outcomes of the workshops was also the development of the IPMA Song Book. It was recently re-used in March 2019 at the occasion of the Council of Delegates meeting in Copenhagen with 70 member associations at the family dinner. The singing contest was well-attended and some hidden singing talents were discovered.

The third was the initiation and organisation of the IPMA Advanced Courses in Project Management from 1988 till 2018. The purpose of these courses was also to facilitate professional cooperation between trainers from different countries and between key-persons of the member associations.

The fourth achievement was the initiation and organisation of the open IPMA Registration of Courses & Programs in project management from 2006 to 2019 – using the IPMA competence model as a frame of reference. The objective of this initiative was and is to promote transparency and quality in the education market and stimulate the development of project management training.

The fifth achievement was as a co-founder to initiate and operate the NORDNET, the cooperation network between the five Nordic IPMA Associations (Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) between 1981 and 2015. This model of regional co-operation seems to have inspired regional co-operation between other MAs around the world.

What was IPMA’s biggest challenge when you were President and what did you learn from it?
The first challenge was the lack of perspectives and an overview of IPMA activities despite a clear purpose. This was partly solved by implementing annual plans and later bi-annual plans – which seems to have been working since.

The second biggest challenge was the lack of transparency on the spending of IPMA finance. By that time, the majority of costs was allocated just one secretariat account. This was solved by implementing a work breakdown structure as a basis for budgeting and accounting practice.

The third challenge was that most of the IPMA activities were centralised in Switzerland: secretariat, board meetings and expert seminars. The secretariat was moved to an education company in Copenhagen from 1992 to 1995, later to the UK and then to the Netherlands.

The last challenge to be mentioned was the change of the name INTERNET. This name was challenged by the upcoming Internet era. After some considerations, we decided to change to IPMA, International Project Management Association.

How do you measure success and over what time frame? How are these metrics determined?
For me, success from IPMA point of view means the active involvement of the member associations, both its volunteers and employed staff to stimulate the activities of the MAs. We never determined any metrics but this can be done. Example: development of a number of events, projects, working groups, revenues, number of certifications etc.

If you could be doing anything right now about IPMA, what would it be? Why?
Make sure that the transition from the current to a new IPMA Registration of Courses and Programs is done smoothly as still many offerings are registered under the current system.

If you had to choose only one goal for IPMA to achieve what would it be?
IPMA should aim for being known for situational and reflective approaches to project management. and less for standardisation. Project management is about common sense, the challenge is to make it common practice. Further, it is not an individual kind of sport. It is a team sport where partners and participants take part also in management activities. This calls for the situational and reflective approach.

What is the one thing that made you upset about IPMA?
The way the ICB4 development was handled by EXBO, and the roles of some MAs who were only interested in selling their national products using their IPMA platform/network.

What is your favourite movie/story? Why?
The Viking approach to Project Management which was first told in 1987 in Reykjavik. Later I published an article in the International Journal of Project Management in May 1988. The background was that I from a historian about the management principles of the Vikings raids to conquer the World. Next, I compared the way Viking approach with input from the Nordic IPMA Associations on the way projects in the Nordic region are conducted. It was a great experience and discovery I wanted to share.

What is on your list of personal values? Why?
I will just quote one of them: Create occasions and venues for facilitating cultural interaction. Because this creates the “star” moments we always remember and can share with other people.

If money was not an issue, what would you do? Why?
Further, restore and maintain my family Merchant House Museum and Holyday facilities. See www.kobmandsgarden.dk.

What is the best lesson or moment of insight that you have received while being with IPMA?
The Family Spirit and many song competitions.

What is one thing that you should do differently today? Why?
Spent more time with my family – they have been suffering from all the time I spent for IPMA.

What is your list of important questions that you would like to find answers to? Why for each one?
How IPMA can lower the ambitions to be in balance with the resources available and make sure the key persons are still having fun.

What gets you the most excited in life? Why?
Experience how the participants in my project management education programs grow their competencies via new mind-sets of recognising that project management is a team sport, that you as a project manager also need to be at good facilitator, that you also situational have to plan the project management itself etc. Want to know more, you can join my free, bi-monthly webinars on proactive Project Management.

If there was one person that you could meet who would it be? Why?
Roland Gutsch, the co-founder of IPMA because he was a clever and entertaining guy.

What moment in your life are you the proudest of? Why? How can you duplicate more of these moments?
Bring together groups of people (family; friends; customers) at our unique Merchant House Facilities.

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?
To say goodbye forever without completing outstanding professional and social assignments.

Are you more concerned with today or tomorrow? Why?
Of today because of the outstanding assignments.

What is the most important question that IPMA needs to ask itself?
The question it should raise is: “Is IPMA promoting a standard or facilitating intelligent and reflective competences development?”

What are five things that you know that IPMA should be doing now?
First, IPMA should lower its ambitions and make sure it can do things with the scarce resources it has. Second, after a period of expansion and increase of the number of member associations over the past years, it should make sure that everything now grows together and consolidate results from this past growth. Third, I question if annual world congresses can be afforded by IPMA and if this does not put too much pressure on IPMA and its member associations. Lastly, advocacy should become the focus even further as it is important to make Project Management more visible in society in general and make IPMA more visible in particular.

What is your favourite quote?
A good beginning is half completed – the reason for investing in good project start-up processes.

What is the one fear that IPMA should work on overcoming this year? Why and how?
To balance the level of ambitions with the available resources, people and finances.

If you could give a lot of something, what would it be? Why?
Wish you really good luck – you really need it.

Thank you Morten Fangel!


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Amin Saidoun

Author of this post

Amin Saidoun is Executive Director of International Project Management Association, an international federation of project management associations around the world. Amin Saidoun, is an economist and graduate from London School of Economics and Political Sciences. He is a project manager who gained his 20 years of experience in international projects both in medium sized and multinational organisations in auditing, consulting and the logistics domain. As Executive Director of IPMA, he is in charge of the area Finance and Administration, Business Development of IPMA activities in Africa and the Middle-East and involved is various internal development projects and governance. He is author and co-author on various project management and business administration related articles. Among his areas of interest: intercultural project management