M Powered Strategies is proud to have been selected as one of the winning candidates for an innovation award hosted by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), the American Council on Education (ACE), the Lumina Foundation, and Credly.com for Closing the Skills Gap with Digital Credentials. The solution proposed by M Powered Strategies was selected as one of the top three winners out of more than 200 submissions.
Digital credentials are a method for verifying an individual’s abilities and accomplishments through accessible and portable digitized certificates. They are similar to traditional certifications (such as PMP or CAE) but narrower and more responsive to evolving skill requirements in any industry. The concept behind these credentials was pioneered by the Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University in 2011, but the credentials have not gained much traction outside of the programming and computer science communities since then.
First, MPS identified four essential components of a successful digital credential:
- A credential must be applicable and provide meaningful information about an individual’s capability.
- A credential must by adopted by enough individuals who have demonstrated high performance to warrant acknowledgement by others in the field.
- A credential must be recognized as legitimate and valuable, and issued by a trusted authority.
- A credential must by portable between organizations,.
Secondly, we stipulated that all of these components need to be addressed simultaneously. Efforts spent addressing only one would be overwhelmed by deficiencies in the other three, which is what has frustrated efforts to develop digital credential programs in other fields.
We proposed to expand the reach and relevance of digital credentials via:
- A social extranet platform to encourage adoption, through active and continuous engagement, and immediate recognition of credentials.
- An accreditation system to encourage recognition.
- A system of federated digital authority to encourage portability, and community building to reinforce applicability.
To develop this solution, the MPS team synthesized our expertise in IT governance, performance management, certification program design, educational program development, and implementation of social extranet solutions. We look forward to developing innovative solutions to industry challenges as we continue to expand our services in the nonprofit sector.
For more information about how MPS can support your organization with creative solutions to challenging integration problems, contact our Account Manager for Association Consulting, Davin Hattaway, CAE.
For the second time this year, M Powered Strategies was called on to support Public Allies, a national nonprofit dedicated to leadership development, with core values focused on diversity and inclusion, integrity, collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation. In November, certified practitioners Jimmy Church and Patti McMullen facilitated a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) workshop for a group of 25 allies. The aim was three-fold: to acquaint these young up-and-coming leaders with MBTI theory; increase their awareness of individual preferences; and help them understand how people with disparate preferences interact with each other.
Both Jimmy and Patti were excited about the workshop and MPS’ continued partnership with Public Allies. According to Patti, “The participants brought positive energy and enthusiasm to the workshop. They were engaged and excited to apply the MBTI concepts to better understand themselves and their colleagues.”
If you would like to learn more about how your organization can benefit from M Powered Strategies’ pro bono services, please contact Kat McDonald.
Earlier this month, MPS employees Zully Barrientos, Paul Dolmon, Mariana Enriquez, Mary Flannery, Isaac Garon, Mara Goldberg, and Allison Primack volunteered at a local law firm for KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), a nonprofit that partners with attorneys and law firms to provide pro bono representation to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. We were there to conduct intake interviews with Central American children for their lawyers. KIND provided a brief training to familiarize us with the interview process, best practices in communicating with the children, and legal terminology that otherwise would have gone over our heads.
KIND paired up groups of two volunteers with one child and his or her caretaker, and we spent the morning interviewing them (in Spanish) about the child’s life in their home country, their journey to the U.S., and their current living situation. These children have experienced trauma and hardship, so it was important to gain their trust and make sure they felt understood. To this end, we engaged them in conversation about their interests and tried to lighten the mood when topics got too heavy. The final step was to write up a detailed memo, providing recommendations to the lawyers on how to move forward with the case.
Without volunteers to help out, the backlog of intakes would be overwhelming. Besides being genuinely impactful and important, the work further developed professional skills that we, as MPSers, are passionate about. We were able to use our experience conducting stakeholder interviews with government and pro bono clients. Also, some of us have previously worked on or feel connected to immigration issues in Latin America, so the interviews gave us an opportunity to use this knowledge along with our Spanish language skills. It was clear that we were needed and that we were making meaningful change in a few children’s lives. As author Clarissa Pinkola Estes said, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”
Boasting over ten thousand members, the DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC) is more than the largest PMI chapter, it is also one of the most active. Thanks to the support of local businesses and universities, along with a commitment to community outreach – exemplifying their newly coined core value of “High Impact Community Leaders” – PMIWDC is able to galvanize its membership with meaningful events that support the community and promote Project Management as a way to cause change and deliver real results.
Most recently, the second annual Volunteer Fair brought together one hundred chapter members, plus all twelve chapter board members, twenty-five Project Management students from nearby universities, and representatives from fourteen local nonprofits. Attendees were able to meet with nonprofits to sign up for skills-based or other volunteering opportunities. Students mingled with PMs, networking and learning about Project Management from experts. A delicious dinner was served. And to top it off, over 250 volunteer positions were filled – all in the course of precisely two hours.
“That’s what happens when PMs run an event,” said MPS President, Kendall Lott. “I have to commend VP of Programs Uma Hiremagalur and her Programs Team. This was not just a fun event that actually delivered some real outputs, but they built a PMO, took lessons learned from last year’s event, and developed a playbook to implement innovations to make the 2016 Volunteer Fair a resounding success. It’s what this chapter does at its best, piloting programs, then improving them for full implementation.”
We at MPS are proud to have been a key sponsor of the Volunteer Fair, donating the funds to offset the cost of attendance for all the nonprofits. We also sent a team of PMs from our staff to meet with the nonprofits as well as to recruit. As a recognized Employer of National Service, MPS is always looking for PMs who are community-focused and actively involved in making the world a better place.
PMIWDC Volunteer Fair 2016
The Washington, DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMIWDC) held its second annual Volunteer Fair on October 17, driving home its core value, promoting Project Managers as “High Impact Community Leaders.” PMs, local nonprofits, and the chapter leadership came together to recruit and place volunteers with organizations in need.
The event was designed and implemented by Uma Hiremagalur, VP of Programs, along with her program team at PMIWDC, to encourage local Project Managers to meet other professionals in the DC network and learn about ways to give back. One hundred PMs gathered in a learning and sharing environment, with fourteen nonprofits and all twelve of the Operational Areas of the chapter board. M Powered Strategies was proud to be the primary corporate sponsor, funding registration costs for all the nonprofits. Also sponsoring the event were several universities, which sent students of Project Management to expose them to a network and learning environment that is so important for enhancing PM skills.
For Project Managers at MPS, the opportunity to provide skills-based volunteering was a major attraction. Skills-based volunteerism is deeply embedded in the company’s Community Engagement practice, and our consultants and managers were excited to participate in the fair and sign up for opportunities to provide our particular competencies to organizations seeking help.
The Volunteer Fair was a tremendous success, thanks to the hard work of PMIWDC’s volunteer leads who worked tirelessly to make this a fun, engaging, and impactful evening. Those with the skills to help were out in full force, and we were proud to sponsor the event and meet so many other mission-oriented Project Managers and volunteers. We congratulate PMIWDC, its volunteers, and Uma for putting on an educational event, connecting professionals, and promoting service and leadership in our community and our chapter.
MPS Colors for Kids
At the end of a busy workday in late August, M Powered Strategies employees came together to wrap up packages of coloring books and colored pencils and crayons for patients at Children’s National Hospital. Getting into the spirit, they colored dozens of pictures themselves to adorn the recipients’ hospital room walls. Fifty packages will be distributed to children at Dr. Bear’s Closet, and the other fifty will be given directly to patients who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis by MPS’s own Allison Primack.
Allison is being honored this fall by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) as part of their Finest Program, which recognizes young professionals who actively give back to the community. We are proud of Allison’s dedication to CFF and are fortunate that the MPS Community Engagement Program can provide support. You can read more about Cystic Fibrosis and Allison’s fundraising goals here.
Public Allies is a national nonprofit on a mission to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Earlier this year, their DC chapter reached out to M Powered Strategies in search of qualified experts to deliver a high impact Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) group leadership workshop. MPS staffers Andrew MacDonald and Jimmy Church, both professionally certified MBTI practitioners, were quick to volunteer. In early May they conducted an intense four-hour workshop for nearly thirty aspiring leaders. The energy in the room was high and the participants were so engaged they skipped the regularly scheduled recess, choosing instead to hunker down with the material. The aim of MBTI workshops is to increase awareness about each individual’s personality type, as well as the full range and variety of types, which in turn fosters patience and understanding.
Public Allies’ Program Manager/Training Lead thrilled with the way the session went.
“The wonderful balance between content and process in your workshop design was engaging and effective. Your knowledge and competency pushed our understanding of ourselves and our group… There wasn’t a question that you were not prepared to answer. I wasn’t sure if our group this year would have an opportunity to participate in such a beneficial workshop. I am thankful [for] your willingness to volunteer your time for our group.”
Jimmy and Andrew were equally enthusiastic about the experience. According to Jimmy, the Public Allies participants were “smart, fun, capable and eager to bring about positive change.”
For more information about how your organization can benefit from M Powered Strategies’ pro bono services, contact Kat McDonald.
As part of M Powered Strategies’ Pro Bono Consulting Program, staff consultant Brian Wenzler is working with Points of Light ServiceWorks to lend his project management expertise in the planning and execution of boot camps, scheduled to take place in cities across the country this summer.
Run by volunteers from the AmeriCorps VISTA Program, along with local leaders, the boot camps provide a day of intense training for 16-24 year-olds. There are workshops and panels focused on critical workforce skills, such as effective communication, resume building, project management, and networking, along with a service project, where participants can put their skills to work for the benefit of the local community.
Brian is working closely with the ServiceWorks team as it prepares for the opening boot camp later this month, helping to develop adaptable project management tools, as well as a guide VISTA volunteers can use to organize and host additional boot camps. “This is a great cause and a great opportunity for me to apply my project management skills in a new context. I feel privileged to be able to help Points of Light ServiceWorks more effectively support underserved youth and young adults.”
Coach2Action Milestone Completion Rate
In June of last year, Points of Light (POL) approached M Powered Strategies about putting together a volunteer recruitment program that would connect nonprofit organizations across the nation with Project Management Professionals (PMPs). MPS President, Kendall Lott, along with fellow M Powered Strategies PMPs, Janet Schwartz, and Jessica Gilles, designed and implemented a pilot program, Coach2Action. They established a volunteer recruitment method with the Project Management Institute (PMI), designed a project management maturity framework, coordinated the training and engagement of the project coaches, and even provided Project Management training to POL staff so they could conduct the pilot.
Thirty nonprofits were paired with sixty Project Management coaches from the PMI community. All the coaches were trained in the project management maturity framework, and received guidance from MPS throughout the process. Each nonprofit received twenty hours of personalized two-on-one virtual (Skype) consulting.
To learn more, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0vo-lmYY2s.
Kendall Lott interviews 8th grader
Towards the end of every school year, the eighth-graders at Julius West School Middle School in Rockville, MD, start thinking about their futures. Under the supervision of Krista Fiabane, the International Baccalaureate/Middle Years Programme (IB/MYP) Coordinator, the students write their resumes and have an opportunity to meet with a real-life professional.
In early June M Powered Strategies President & CEO, Kendall Lott, had the pleasure of conducting one-on-one interviews with some of the students to talk about their interests and plans for the future. Not only was he struck by the maturity of the students, but what impressed him most was their grasp of teamwork and collaboration. “They really have a keen sense of their role in the larger group, and how to interact with others.” He also noted that those who were most comfortable in the interview setting were the ones who had done a dry run with their parents the night before. Never underestimate the value of parental involvement!