A Planned and Creative Process, by Patrick Hendrickson

Posted in PM POV Podcast Blog / Project Management on April 30, 2015

Podcast BlogCreativity can be a struggle. I am constantly trying to find the right approach to discover original ideas. As a musically challenged person, I wanted to understand what an artistically creative process might look like and to learn how to integrate greater creativity into my everyday work. MPS President Kendall Lott examines creativity and project planning in his PMI Podcast, “The Creative Process, Music and Project Management.”

Lott tracks down Chris Wilson, creative music lecturer at the University of Derby, for insight on applying pragmatic thought processes to creative work. This obstacle seems to be common among many industries and across a variety of projects. To keep the project on track an artist must understand the processes’ steps. Wilson explains that creativity is essential for generating good music, but he emphasizes that the process of producing music and reaching listeners also requires a broader, holistic plan; a complex, beautifully-written, piece of music is only a small part of a musician’s delivery process. Lott points out that “…art, the outcome of the project, is the product of planned effort.” In art, just as in engineering, information technology or project management there are countless hours of preparation and expertise required before the outcome is of any quality. Wilson asserts the perceived differences between art and other fields lie in an inaccurate belief that most artistic talent and creativity is either innate or comes easily to the artist. Michael Jordan took thousands of shots and played for over a decade before setting foot on Chicago Stadium’s floor and the Beatles spent innumerable hours perfecting their music in Liverpool’s clubs before they became a twentieth century pop-cultural icon.

Inspiration can come from anywhere and Wilson highlights some effective ingredients for a good creative stew that can dramatically change outcomes. He mentions how disruptions like increased risk, entering a different genre and implementing new elements or partners are all proven methods for developing creativity. Taken a step further, it is your experience, when pushed into a new environment that spark the creative energy that often lead to serendipitous ideas. The businessman who runs for public office, the statistician that becomes a baseball scout and the chemist who opens a restaurant are examples of life experience augmented by a new atmosphere that ignite something extraordinary.

Steve Jobs famously cited a calligraphy class he audited as the impetus for the beautiful fonts in his early computers, which have since been standard features in word processing programs. The cross pollination of ideas and practices from seemingly disparate fields allows us to reexamine our daily assumptions from unfamiliar perspectives. From design to delivery, artistic approaches require creativity and carefully laid plans that are still flexible enough to allow for imaginativeness. The next time I struggle to find a creative push in my work and I pop in my headphones for a little inspiration, I will have deeper appreciation for the process behind the music in my ears.

Welcome, Tim Garvey!

Posted in Human Resources on April 22, 2015
Time Garvey

Tim Garvey

We are pleased to announce the addition of Tim Garvey to our team. Tim brings a variety of technical, analytical, and project management experience to M Powered Strategies.  He most recently worked as a consultant in the housing sector, supporting Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and operational development for innovative affordable homeownership organizations creating new equity models for homebuyers and communities around the country.  Prior to this, Tim worked on diversity, inclusion, and strategic planning initiatives at the Social Security Administration, where he authored a white paper on American Indian/Alaska Native hiring practices and their effects on programming.  He planned and developed the welfare management information system for the Cook Islands Division of Social Welfare.  Additionally, Tim has several years of project management experience. In the Peace Corps (Fiji), he focused on business development and expanding not-for-profit services. Before that, he managed projects for a printing company, delivering products for Anheuser-Busch, Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, the St. Louis Cardinals, and others.

An alumnus of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Carnegie Mellon University, and American University, Tim holds degrees in Philosophy and Public Policy and Management, with additional studies in econometrics and tribal affairs.  He has interests in operations research and data analysis.

Tim speaks Hindi, and is learning Kapampangan, a dialect of Tagalog. He loves to travel, and plans to visit Uganda later this year.

Veni, Vidi, Vino by Cliff Katz, PACE Cohort 7

Posted in PACE Program / PM POV Podcast Blog / PREP / Project Management on April 16, 2015

Podcast BlogMany of us have our wine preferences, but, most of what I like is based on trial and error and the off chance I remember what particular vintage I imbibed on a given occasion. However, MPS President Kendall Lott’s PMI podcast from the Keswick Winery, found here, further unmasks my already large naïveté of a nearly $100 billion global industry. For many, a glass of wine commences a special occasion, but I now realize that the moment I take my first sip actually concludes a carefully orchestrated balancing act of tuning a variety of unknowns. Ultimately, the glass of wine we consume is the product of a lengthy process that is “part science, part growing, part luck, part artistry.” Unfortunately, my knowledge of viticulture is limited to what is contained in this paragraph and Kendall’s podcast, but the hurdles and roadmap of creating an ideal wine are similar to a passion of mine and many others at MPS: travel.

I suffer from a chronic case of wanderlust. Even on my morning commute, I stare somewhat longingly at the airplanes blasting out of Reagan-National airport en route to a plethora of cities across the US and Canada. Literally and figuratively, I view the world above and below differently from 35,000 feet, and I can relax up there in ways I am not sure I can on the ground. When I travel, I get to know a small part of our world a little bit better, and I feel more connected with myself.

Like Stephen Barnard, the vintner profiled in Kendall’s podcast, any experienced traveler knows the best plans can be instantly rendered worthless. I’ve been held up at immigration repeatedly and have had accommodations go awry late at night in Rome on Easter weekend. I’ve lost an ATM card (recovered three days later) and misconnected baggage, and I’ve gotten sick at inopportune times. I’m sure a quick survey around MPS headquarters would unveil a lengthy list of similar anecdotes.

Like Stephen Barnard and his career with wine, I’ve learned how smart trip preparation gives me much more bandwidth in accommodating for the unexpected road bumps and illnesses that may occur. I can’t always prevent a lost bag or a brief, momentary lapse in judgment, or even how a meal will impact my stomach, but I know how to mitigate and adjust for those instances. Akin to inhaling the aromas from a freshly uncorked bottle of wine, the moment I arrive in a new place and my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and body are overwhelmed by everything around me is not merely an isolated circumstance but rather the product of a lengthy planning process combined with some carefully tuned improvisation. Like a surprise ingredient in a peculiar glass of wine, the surprising, even if unpleasant, moments and flavors on a trip often turn into the richest stories that are best shared over a bottle.

A (Baby) Booming New Exhibit at the Newseum by Sam Taylor, PACE Cohort 6

Posted in PACE Program / PM POV Podcast Blog on April 03, 2015

Podcast BlogIn October 2014, the Newseum of Washington, DC released its exhibit, “The Boomer List,” to celebrate the tail-end of the Baby-Boomer generation’s 50th birthdays. As MPS President Kendall Lott explains in his podcast on Project Management and Exhbitions, the Newseum has loaded one of its seven floors with iconic videos, photos, and artifacts that have defined this well-documented cohort of Americans. The exhibit, which will remain open to the public through July 5, is just one of several exhibits thousands of visitors from all over the world will see during a day’s visit.

Exhibits like “The Boomer List” were not dreamt up overnight. Like most of its thematic exhibits, “The Boomer List” idea was founded years ago and was treated like a project by Newseum management staff. Behind every magazine cover, news clip, and sports highlight was a carefully scrutinized process.

Rather appropriately, Senior Vice President of Exhibits and Programs Cathy Trost likens the Newseum’s exhibit planning environment to a newsroom. The project management of each exhibit’s release dates, content, and design is a team sport “full of life and vitality”. Often times, this is where the scope of the project begins to take shape. Deciding which ideas and artifacts to include, as well as project feasibility, requires input from several parties.

Despite its dynamic, high-speed management teams, the Newseum staff are not the only people who shape its exhibits. Stakeholder management is a key area where the staff can borrow from project management concepts.

Being one of the few museums in the city that charges for admission, the Newseum’s project managers have an additional element to consider: profit. Marketing and advertising are a huge part of the planning process, since without paying customers, the institution could not survive. Throughout the lifecycle of “The Boomer List” exhibit, Visitor Services and Business Development are constantly monitoring the volume of its customers, asking what drew them to the exhibit and uncovering what visitors enjoyed or felt needed improvement.

In addition to designing quality exhibits that attract tourists and DC natives to the turnstiles, the Newseum must answer to another important set of stakeholders: donors. Donors assist the Newseum financially with many of its exhibits. AARP donated $250,000 to help build “The Boomer List.” Gaining requirements and preference for the exhibit from AARP was a key consideration in even the earliest of project planning stages. Rather than providing the Newseum with a list of items to include or leave out of “The Boomer List” exhibit, however, AARP was very flexible with its requirements and instead let designers and other subject matter experts pitch AARP their ideas.

The next time you visit one of Washington’s world-renowned museums, perhaps the building’s project management skills will be just as moving as President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis address. After all, this exhibit was 50 years in the making.