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135 / The New PMO: Strategic Partner in Business Transformation, with Laura Barnard

Hosted by Paul Gebel & Chris Zirbel

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Laura Barnard

PMO Strategies

Laura Barnard has been a driving force behind the integration of PMOs and Project Management into organizational strategy for 25 years. Starting in 1999 with the creation of her first PMO, she spent 15 years as a PMO and strategy delivery leader, gaining invaluable experience in driving sustainable change within organizations. Over the past decade her company, PMO Strategies, has been helping organizations maximize ROI by unleashing the full potential of project management and PMOs.

 

In this episode of Product Momentum, Laura Barnard invites us to imagine the strong business outcomes our organizations can realize when we create space for strategy and execution to work in concert, instead of at odds. Founder of PMO Strategies and author of The Impact Engine (available Sept. 2024), Laura has been a driving force behind the integration of project management and organizational strategy, helping clients discover the mindset shift that improves how organizations execute strategies through projects.

Sharing the Mindset Shift

The power behind this approach is that the burden for the mindset shift is shared by both the project manager (or project management office (PMO)) and the business executive. As the PMO works to understand the business leader’s desired outcomes (and to speak their language), the business leader begins to see the PMO as a strategic partner in solving their challenges.

“There’s actually a world where product people, project people, and business leaders happily coexist because they’re all doing their part to achieve business goals,” Laura says. “If you’re wasting time and energy defending turf and protecting egos, your business leaders won’t take you seriously. “The only thing they care about is, ‘what are you doing to help us achieve our strategic goals,’ Laura adds.

Shifting Left

A few episodes back, cybersecurity specialist Paul Connaghan spoke about embedding a security mindset into your software as early in the development process as possible. This “shift left” approach works for project management too. Too often, eager executives begin to execute strategy before they have a project plan in place.

“If we set those projects up for success before they start, we’d have this positive ripple effect of benefit to the rest of the life cycle of strategy delivery, project execution, and strategy realization, where you get those better business outcomes,” Laura says.

Facilitating Complex Change

Effective change management is about helping people understand the reason for change, and then bringing them along with you through the process. The secret, Laura continues, is to make the change about the people we’re serving in a way that puts them in the driver’s seat instead of feeling like they’re being dragged behind the car. People want autonomy, freedom, a sense of control, and the ability to be a part of the solution, Laura adds. “People aren’t resistant to change; they’re resistant to having change done to them.”


Join Laura Barnard and PMOs around the world in celebrating International PMO Day, May 14, 2024! Learn more.

Paul Gebel [00:00:19] Hello and welcome to Product Momentum, where we hope to entertain, educate and celebrate the amazing product people who are helping to shape our community’s way ahead. My name is Paul Gebel, and I’m the Director of Product Innovation at it, along with my co-host Sean Flaherty and our amazing production team and occasional guest host. We record and release a conversation with a product, thought leader, writer, speaker, or maker who has something to share with the community every two weeks.

Hey Chris, welcome to this show and happy International PMO Day, sir.

Chris Zirbel [00:00:47] Thank you sir. I’m happy to be here and really excited to speak with Laura.

Paul Gebel [00:00:53] For those meeting Chris for the first time, Chris and I have been kind of joined at the hip for the better part of a decade. I was product owner when he was Scrum master, and we kind of came up through the ranks together. So it’s a real kind of double treat for me  to have Chris on the show today, digging in with Laura, there were a few moments that jumped out to me, especially probably around the idea of the taboo of product people getting too much into the project lane, and how that’s not actually as bad a thing as we might think it is on the surface. But I’m curious. Chris, what was your top takeaway from the conversation we just had with Laura?

Chris Zirbel [00:01:28] Yeah, I think for me it was the mindset shift for the project management professional to really speak the language of the executive, understand business problems and connect what we’re doing with serious business outcomes. Again, it’s something that is simple to say, but it’s not easy to do. So that was that was the one that hit home for me.

Paul Gebel [00:01:52] Yeah. Well it was a blast to have you aboard for this conversation. I’m looking forward to more in the future, but for now, let’s get after it.

Paul Gebel [00:02:01] Well, hello and welcome to the pod. Today we are delighted to be joined by Laura Barnard. For nearly three decades, Laura has spearheaded efforts to unleash the power of effective project management to help organizations rapidly achieve higher returns on their investment for their strategic goals. Her company’s groundbreaking Impact Engine System empowers organizations to drive transformational outcomes aligned to their vision with unprecedented speed and measurable business impact. Laura’s nonprofit, Project Management for Change, is on a mission to elevate the profile of project management profession while changing the world for the better, one project at a time. In 2021, Laura was named world PMO influencer of the year by the PMO Global Alliance, now part of the Project Management Institute. And she’s got a book coming out, which I’m sure we’re going to dive into a little bit, but we’ll get into that later. Laura, welcome to the show. So happy to have you.

Laura Barnard [00:02:52] Thank you so much for having me. I am thrilled to be here, honored to support your audience in any and every way I can. So, I am excited to dive into some fun stuff and some interesting conversation about project management and what it is and what it isn’t.

Paul Gebel [00:03:06] So grateful for your time, and let’s just jump right into it. Can you maybe start off by introducing a little bit about your background? For those folks who haven’t heard of you yet, what got you into project management in your background and kind of what drew you to that business transformation aspect of it?

Laura Barnard [00:03:23] So I actually have a computer science degree. I was one of four women in my graduating class , and, you know, wanted to go solve the world’s problems, looking at it from a technology perspective. And I really just fell into that because I wanted to do cool stuff. And, you know, this is back in the 90s. And so that’s where Cool Stuff was, right is in tech. And I was able to be a part of some really cool transformation early in my career and things like, you know, Y2K. I remember that well, some of some of your listeners do. And all the tech changes that were happening around Y2K and the company I was working for at the time I was getting exposed to – it was a financial services company. We have to change everything because nobody even thought about having a four-digit year, right? So, all of a sudden, the entire organization is having to transform how they do what they do.

But I also got to be involved in rules-based engines and artificial intelligence a long time before ChatGPT came out. And some really cool things that were at the leading and bleeding edge. And then in the later 90s, I got involved in all the .com stuff going on. So, I was working for a company that was building first time e-commerce solutions for brick and mortar stores, and that was really cool because none of us had any idea what we were doing, and we were all doing it for the first time, and it was so much fun. So, at that time, I was doing project management because I found out that if you really want to solve problems, you need to go get the people that will grab the whiteboard marker, go up to the whiteboard and say, how are we going to solve for this? And it turns out that those people put that work into plans and create project schedules and help people deliver on projects.

So, I fell in love with that because it was a way to get more people to do bigger things and make change happen. And then in 1999, I got asked to build my first PMO, but we didn’t call it that. But I was the person that had to go figure out how all of these e-commerce solutions, with all these people that had never done this before, and all these customers that had never done it before, need to hurry up and get their projects done. And they were all late and need to be done yesterday, and nobody knew how we were going to get there. So, I was building what I later learned was my first PMO, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. None at all. And you couldn’t just Google how to set up a PMO back then, if even there was, you know, Google was new, but you wouldn’t be able to find the information you can today. And now what I’ve discovered is the problem is you can Google how to set up a PMO and get 8 or 9 million results. And a lot of it’s going to send you down a rabbit hole of bad process and templates, tools, and process first approach that is going to get in the way of getting to the business outcomes you’re trying to drive.

So, you know, here I am now a lot of years later, and after spending 15 years inside organizations, building, and running business transformation groups, strategy delivery teams and transforming the way people got things done, and I just had so much fun with it. But a lot of the things I had to learn on the hard way, I decided I wanted to make it easier for the people that came after me. So about ten, 11 years ago now, I started PMO strategies to do just that, and then birthed this baby called the Impact Engine book over the last year so that I could get it in the hands – and ears of everybody in the world that needs help  so they don’t have to learn it and have all of the bumps and bruises and battle scars, like many of us have, that had to grow up without the benefit of all of that information.

Chris Zirbel [00:06:55] That’s awesome. Or what an incredible journey. That’s a great segue into you know, what I’m curious about here is what would you say was your biggest challenge in kind of starting off your first PMO and what you’ve seen since? And, how would you overcome those things?

Laura Barnard [00:07:13] Which of the battle scars do we want to get emotional about right now? So, I would say that there was some personal challenges, I would say, and then there was just the way. So, I’ll start with that. And one of those was frankly, a lot of people don’t believe this, and I thank my professional speaking coaches for this. I’m actually an introvert, and I get my energy from thinking, reflecting, going down and in. And I realized, though, that if I was going to help other people, I had to kind of go over that hurdle of thinking about not being so focused on me and, oh, I’m speaking, you know, in front of other people or what do I have to say? Or that imposter syndrome or, boy, we could talk about the first time I was on stage and how hard that was, but it was really about how can I serve other people?

And once I realized that that made a huge difference for me, and understanding it’s not about me at all. None of it is. Sure, I use my platform, but I use my platform to elevate the role of project management in PMOs and strategy delivery. For all of those that don’t have a platform and that can’t share that voice.  And so when you change your perspective, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. And that’s kind of how I look at it from a personal perspective, from a PMO perspective, a lot of it was just people don’t get what we do. And I had to learn that it wasn’t about selling anyone on what the PMO is or what it should do, and I needed to stop waiting for our business leaders to get what we do and stop talking about the value we drive and show them instead.

Paul Gebel [00:08:50] That’s fascinating. I think there’s a there’s a piece of change management there that  is a component of what you’re talking about that I want to maybe dig into a little bit more specifically because I think when organizations are first facing this problem, challenge, whatever you want to call it, I think there’s an idea that, you know, somebody has the perfect version of a PMO or a project plan or template or whatever. And  we have to conform ourselves to that ideal state. In my experience, at least, there is no sort of one size fits all, cookie cutter approach that works for every single organization, in every single type of work. When you’re trying to coach an organization through to developing these PMO practices, you know change management is always hard, regardless of the topic matter at hand. But something as far reaching as a PMO has got to be doubly so. What are some of the things that you find you’re working through most often when companies are trying to go through, this kind of agile transformation building a PMO for the first time? Are there any tips and tricks or most common hit-list items that you watch out for is red flags that you’re working through the first steps?

Laura Barnard [00:10:00] Yeah for sure. So, there’s two angles. We have to look at this.  From the PMO and project people doing the work and how the business leaders and executives perceive it. Because and I don’t know, I don’t know if I have it in me to write book number two, but if I do, since book number one is for the PMO and transformation leaders, book number two is going to be for the executives, which we can talk about later and all the things they’re doing to get in the way. And so because yes, there’s a lot of things are doing right. I know I’m a CEO and have been for ten years, and before that I was an executive, an officer level in the companies. And I knew I was part of the problem. And so there’s things we have to do there. But for PMO people when I’m telling them and transformation leaders and strategy delivery leaders, and by the way, I think it’s really important to say that whether you call it a PMO or by some other name, it’s the people that are responsible for elevating the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives with a higher return on investment much faster. That’s the job, right? So I don’t care what you call it.

And frankly, a lot of our clients, they hire us in the company name is PMO Strategies. But when we go in there and we actually talk to them about the business problems we’re solving, the real challenge is that everyone thinks it’s a project management problem and it rarely is. And so the executives are saying, we have this great strategy defined, and then we throw it over the fence. Problem number one, to the execution teams. And everything falls apart. And the problem is, is that then the project people or the PMO people are told to fix project management, and that’s not actually the problem, right? The problem is probably starting before the projects ever kick off. So, when project and PMO people are focused so much on fixing strategy execution and the start and finish of the project life cycle, they’re focused on more templates, more process, more stuff, right? We’ve got to throw the tools at it… When actually, if we set those projects up for success before, they ever started, we’d have this positive ripple effect of benefit to the rest of the life cycle of strategy delivery, including project execution, and on into actual strategy realization, where you get those better business outcomes.

So, the problems that we see is that these poor PMO and delivery people are told to go fix project management. But every time we’ve gone into an organization, I tell the people that are hiring us, if this was a project management problem, you would have solved it by now. You don’t need us. If templates, tools, and process are going to solve this problem, the challenge is that you need to set your projects up for success before they ever start. So how about we not make every project a number one priority, right? How about we actually create clarity and focus and make sure that everyone understands the strategy, right?

A Harvard Business Review says that 95% of the typical workforce does not understand their company strategy. 95%. So every executive that we talked to, I’m like, what do you think your people know about the strategy? And then we go talk to the people in the organization and they say, what strategy? Yeah. And I’m like, okay, so if they don’t know what the strategy is, how are they going to help you achieve it? So why don’t we speak some of those things first and then we’ll be able to we’ll see the positive ripple effect. How amazing is it that your project people actually know what to do to get the projects done, now that you’ve told them what you’re trying to achieve, right, and you’ve given them more than 1/16 of a critical resource to work on it. Amazing. So, I think that’s kind of how we look at it.

Chris Zirbel [00:13:40] Yeah. That’s incredible. So, how is that received I know I mean, what we’re leaning into here is a bit of change management, perception management with leadership teams.  Someone who’s been in the role, like everything you’re saying is just, you know, hitting and hitting home with me in every way. What’s the reaction when you have that conversation with executives, how do you manage through that resistance to change?

Laura Barnard [00:14:08] So the secret here’s the thing. And I want to I want to dispel this myth because this is super important for people to understand. People are not resistant to change. And every time we talk to people, I’ll go speak on stages. I’ll do keynote. Doesn’t matter what country it’s in. I say, “How many of you believe the people in your organization are resistant to change?”  And hands go out.  Like everywhere, everywhere around the world? Right. And then I say, okay, so put your hand down, if you’ve ever met anyone that got married or had children on purpose, or changed jobs, or started a hobby, or tried a different route to work, or maybe had a different meal every evening? People aren’t resistant to change, the resistant to having change done to them. People want autonomy, freedom, sense of control and ability to be a part of the solution. So if we can help the people that need to change, not see it as a push, but instead they’re pulling it because they want the outcomes you’re trying to offer for them, then it’s so much easier to do the change, right? So, it’s bringing people with you through the change process instead of having them feel like the change is being done to them. And the secret to that is you make it their idea, right?

So, the easy thing to do is to say, hey, what’s keeping you up at night? What are your pain points? What business problems are you trying to solve? And then and this is where project people really struggle, give them what they want instead of what you think they need, right? That’s the problem is so many people will say, oh, here’s the medicine I know you need to take. Instead of saying, okay, well, why don’t I just give them what they want? They want transparency. They want to know they need more information to make better decisions. Let me give them that.  And when you start with that, then you don’t get that resistance because it’s what they wanted. So, I think that’s the problem is that so many people are pushing from the project perspective and making it about the outputs and the deliverables and the process, instead of making it about the better business outcomes the business leaders are actually looking for.

Like when you shift your whole thinking about that and your mindset about what you know, and I don’t care if it’s programs, products, projects, you know, even if you just call it operational activities, it really doesn’t matter, because the common denominator there is the people and them having problems that they need you to help them solve, right.

Chris Zirbel [00:16:45] Now that’s a great perspective. You know, just in terms of, you know, the mindset shift in terms of how you view change, to you, but people are open to it otherwise.

Laura Barnard [00:16:54] Yeah, yeah. And I just finished recording the audio book, and I know that in the last chapters of the book I say it like 100 times, because remember, you’re not doing this to them, you’re doing it with them. Remember, you’re not doing this to them, you’re doing it with them. And that’s why it works, right? Because you’re making it about the people you’re serving and helping them achieve their better business outcomes in a way that puts them in the driver’s seat instead of feeling like they’re being dragged behind the car, you know?

Paul Gebel [00:17:21] Yeah, right. I have a quick follow up for that. While we’re on the topic. It’s a bit it’s a bit of a devil’s advocate question, but.

Laura Barnard [00:17:27] Bring it.

Paul Gebel [00:17:28] When you when you ask a question. That way when you ask the folks who need to change what you know, what do you want? And you give them what they want. What happens if what they what they think they want or what they think they need isn’t what they actually need.

Laura Barnard [00:17:45] Okay. So that’s a really I’m really glad you asked that because it gives me an opportunity to maybe clarify a little bit. You don’t let them tell you the solution. You keep them focused on the problem. So we have what we call the five step impact communication framework, which is the five steps in the process of bringing people through change from a communications perspective. And step one is what’s the pain or the business problem you’re solving: the challenge, the opportunity. You keep them living in that world long enough to see the tears. Like and you don’t really have to see the tears.

But if you actually take the time to talk to people about their frustration, you’ll feel it. You’ll see it. The problem is, is so many people go in saying, I already know the medicine you need to take, and they don’t take the time to actually build the stakeholder relationships to understand where that pain really is. Because if you if you really give people time to talk about not the solutions they think they need, but the problems they really have, then you do the work to solve…you figure out what that solution really needs to be, not based on the symptoms you see, but on the root cause. Then, and I can give you a really good example that I know will resonate with everybody that’s watching or listening to this.

But if you figure out what the root cause is, then you can put the right solution in place, show how it’s going to address the root cause of the pain they experience and the better outcome it will drive, the impact that will have on the organization and the way you’ll know it was successful, which is the metric, right? So it’s pain, solution, outcome, impact and then metric. And if you can give people those five things. But in that way, and by getting to the root cause and putting the right solution in place, you’ll nail it every time. And it  just starts with asking a simple question: would you like help with that?

Of course people want help with the problem they have, right? What you don’t want them to do ever is tell you what the solution is because they don’t actually know. They don’t know. They think they know, but they don’t know. They’re not the experts in the solutions. That’s the people that are listening to this, right? They know what the solution is to the problem, but they have to get to the root cause first. And I’ll give you a perfect example if you if you’d like.  They think we’ll really help. Is that alright?

Paul Gebel [00:19:56] Yeah.

Laura Barnard [00:19:57] So how many how many people have you ever heard say that they just don’t have enough resources to get projects done. Like every single person you talk to, right? Okay, so here’s the thing though. You have the resources you have. The problem is that you probably have business leaders that are trying to shove 10 pounds of projects in a 5-pound bag. You have business leaders that want to do all the things. They fire the starting gun on every single project, the day that everybody gets their budgets. And so, then you have 100 projects. Look at you. That’s make you uncomfortable.

Chris Zirbel [00:20:32] Never heard that before!

Laura Barnard [00:20:33] Never. Right? The problem is that the way that we the way that the executives are like “Great. We have the funding; start now, quick!” And everybody’s off to the races. But what happens is you now have all of these stuck points because you have project managers that are spread too thinly. You have project team members that are spread too thinly. You have subject matter experts, which you have fewer of in the organization, who are now spending all day task-switching. Based on this, the squeaky wheel thinking they’re multitasking, which we I hope all by now know that that’s a myth. And all you’re doing is task-switching. So it’s like you have to reboot your computer every time you need to switch between Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. And so they their brains are there wasting up to 40%. 40% of their capacity is being wasted on task-switching instead of getting actual work done.

So if you can instead have people focus on fewer things and stagger the work throughout the year, which my dear friend, Mike Cannon, who definitely you want to talk to you on this taught me that a decade or more ago and wrote a book about it, but it’s one of the many techniques to fix all of this, and we go in and teach organizations how to do this all the time, because what they’re doing is they’re actually just front loading everything. So everybody thinks that they’re busy, but no one’s actually productive. And so what we help organizations do, and I talk a little bit about this in the book, is what if you actually started the work out through the year, you actually did it when you had time and people and focus to do it, not just focus of your subject matter experts and project team members. But what about the decision makers who you’re trying to get to make 643 decisions in a week, and they can’t do it because they just they can’t handle it. But instead you could actually double or triple or we’ve seen up to five times your throughput in a year by just getting people focused and getting them doing the right work in the right order and then accelerating their ability to get to the business results. The problem is people don’t understand. So then you have project managers saying we need more resources. And so then the executives are like, I’m not giving you more resources, you’re not productive. And then the vicious cycle just keeps going and going and going where if you could actually get the business leaders to, I don’t know, prioritize the work that they want done and only start it when you actually have the people in place to do it and ready, available and focused to do it. You will get everything done much faster, but people aren’t thinking that way.

So there’s a typical problem where if you were a PMO leader, let’s say, and you were told we don’t have enough resources, you would spend a lot of time trying to prove that you don’t have enough resources. Let me go get some technology to put in place and spend months or years gathering this information just to prove I don’t have enough resources when that’s the wrong problem, right? That’s the symptom.

But if you got your business leaders to prioritize, create clear focus, tie all of your projects to the actual business problems you’re solving in the strategy and only start them when you have the people to do them. And on and on and on. You create this positive ripple effect that makes the resource problem go away. And so instead of playing whac-a-mole with a bunch of symptoms, you get to the root cause, you solve that and you don’t have to waste time on all the spending on things that don’t even really matter. Does that make sense? Like that’s what we do, like every day. So, we know it works. We do it with our clients. We say we help our students do it. That’s stuff we talk about in the book. And it’s all because if you just shift the way you think about solving the problems, you’re going to actually become incredibly valuable to your business leaders because you’re helping them get to the root cause and solve problems faster and actually get to the better business outcomes they’re looking for. Sorry. I get very excited about this stuff.

Chris Zirbel [00:24:20] This is fantastic stuff. It’s so interesting to me because I think what we’re talking about is also a mindset shift for the PMO professional as well. Who has come out of, you know, in many cases a project space, a project mindset. And now we need to truly understand the concerns and business problems of the business leaders and speak that language. And that’s probably something that you really get into a lot more with the Impact Engine System in the book, and the other services. But I think, you know, for the product or the project professional, I think are some things that they may have to work on in order to maybe position things a little bit differently, and things like that.

Laura Barnard [00:25:06] Oh yeah. For sure. So, we have what we call the Impact Driver Mindset, which is the shifts you need to think through in your mind and how you need to shift your thinking so that you can actually become that strategic business partner that your executive leaders need and think about how are you solving business problems, not project problems.  And if you can get to that front end and shift the way you think about your role, if you have ever wondered why you don’t have a seat at the table, it’s because your business leaders are thinking of you as the person that solves project problems, which isn’t their problem. But if you can really shift your focus to thinking about how can I get a seat at the table to help my business leaders actually achieve their business goals? It’s not going to be by trying to help them get project management and the PMO. It’s going to be about shifting the focus to say, how do I help my organization solve the business problem standing in the way of achieving their strategic goals, their bigger goals. And to me, I you know, I think there’s this false dilemma or argument going on between product and project people. I think that’s to me, I think that’s totally silly because the strategy, you know, the driving, the strategy, how are we going to achieve our mission and our vision and our goals creates then products that are changed or built through projects or programs, right. It’s deriving it all in the strategy.

And so and there’s a world where product people, project people, PMO people all live happily ever after because they’re all doing their part to achieve the same thing, which is the business goals, instead of focusing so much on: “But we do it this way and we do that way”. Who cares? Nobody cares. And if that’s the argument that you’re having, that’s why your business leaders aren’t taking you seriously, because you’re wasting time arguing over whether it should be agile or waterfall or water scrum fall or all of that kind of stuff. When it’s really none of that. Nobody cares. What they care about is, what are you doing to help us actually achieve our strategic goals. And every one of these groups should be working together to do that.

Chris Zirbel [00:27:12] Definitely, that is so true. And if I’m to to build on something you just said there, you know, I know there’s always a lot of talk about waterfall, agile or the impact of agile or all of those things.  It sounds like from your perspective they’re all tools in the toolbox, right. And if we’re solving business problems, that really shouldn’t matter.

Laura Barnard [00:27:34] And they’re right. And you use the right tool to achieve that goal. So for us, for example, with the Impact Engine System, it’s an iterative approach to continuous value delivery. We have 90-day cycles. We take people through to build a PMO or transformation group, etc. it’s an agile approach. And the reason for that is because and this is why this is some of the many benefits of agile is it’s about what have you done for me lately and having an answer to that question. And so for PMO people, they need to have a good answer to that question, which is not we just shoved ten more templates in their face, right?

Which, by the way, in my entire life I have never heard an executive say, “Hold on, wait, can you come back when you have five more templates for me to fill out?” Nobody thinks about the templates. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them, but it’s where you’re spending your time and energy and focus in your conversations with these executives. It’s the means, not the end. So it’s making that shift and understanding that. That I think makes the biggest difference for people. And it goes back to that mindset shift. But I’m a huge fan of agile. But you know what? Agile transformations fail for the same reasons any other kind of business transformation fails. It’s because you’re focus too much on the agile  mechanisms, as opposed to why you’re even doing it in the first place.

Paul Gebel [00:28:56] And it’s that is so well said. And all of this sounds, if I if I may be so bold, all this sounds simple. It’s just not easy. Like these concepts are for the most part, common sense. Before a minute ago, I was going to say, you know, it’s almost counterintuitive, the way that you’re describing these. But it’s not. It’s actually intuitive.

Laura Barnard [00:29:19] It is.

Paul Gebel [00:29:20]  It’s hard work to get people to talk to each other and sit down and agree on something and put agendas aside and egos aside. And I think that we know the way that you put this process together really, really brings things full circle. I’m sorry we don’t have another 45 minutes of questions that I want to ask you, but since we’re a little short on time to wrap things up, if folks are listening to this on the day it’s released, today is World PMO Day.

Laura Barnard [00:29:49] Yeah, it’s called International PMO Day. And you can find out more about it by going to InternationalPMOday.Com. And this is the second annual International PMO day. And it’s to celebrate – It’s not for any one organization or any one role really – It’s to help people that are in the PMO product/project space have a day that is about more than just projects. It’s about how do we elevate the impact in organizations around the world. And that’s why so many of us came together to put this event, this day together, to give people an opportunity to intentionally focus on celebrating the hard work that every one of these people do in their organizations every single day.

Paul Gebel [00:30:31] And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate World PMO day than to go to ImpactEngineBook.com and.

Paul Gebel [00:30:39] And just to close this out. I’m curious, where are you getting your inspiration from? You mentioned, a friend or colleague of yours who taught you lesson a decade or so ago. Where are you reading, watching, finding inspiration. To keep sharp in  your own trade.

Laura Barnard [00:30:56] So I find it all over the place. So, for example, something you said about, you know, this should be common sense. My best friend in the world since childhood. Her name is Bryanna. She used to always say it’s about turning common sense into common practice. And that if you can figure out how to do that, then you’re then you’re good, right? Like that’s the easy thing. So I find inspiration there.

I find inspiration from –  I have a mastermind called the Impact Accelerator Mastermind, which is PMO leaders, consultants, strategy, delivery people from all over the world. And they are my inspiration. They’re my favorite thing I get to do because I go spend time with them multiple times a month, just helping them solve real world problems every single day in their organizations. And it gives me a lot of inspiration for the things I talk about on the podcast, the stories I share in the book, and in listening to and watching podcasts like this and, you know, hearing what the challenges are, I use it both. You. Absolutely, I hear it. I use it as both and in this case to help inspire me.

And sometimes I’ll listen to things and I’ll say. I need to help make sure people understand why that’s not actually going to work for them. So sorry. Sometimes I’ll read a book about like, yeah, this is the right idea. However, they stopped short of how you actually going to make that a reality. And that’s I think, the biggest and that’s why my mastermind students are such an inspiration for me. It’s not about theory, it’s about actual real world applications. So my clients, my students, my peers, my friends, we all work together to solve these kinds of problems. I get to pull really cool influencers from all over the world that actually have real world experience, and to help my clients and support actually solving the real problems. So I think they are my inspiration and why I worked so hard to get this book out and our Impact Summit that we do for free every Fall, you know, which is Impact Summit Global, in case anyone was interested, but the reason for all of it is because the real inspiration comes from the people that are doing the hard work every day. And I wish I had me when I was in their shoes. And if I can help make their lives a little easier, that’s the real inspiration behind everything I do.

Paul Gebel [00:33:09] So well said.  I can’t put a better bow on that than you’ve already done. Laura, It’s been a blast talking to you. You’ve got the this rare gift of not just being able to take complex ideas and make them simple, but also go to the next step of taking that complex idea you’ve made simple. And then actually making it engaging like this is your conversation. I just want to keep picking your brain and talking about all  these ideas that you’re kind of spinning up.

Laura Barnard [00:33:35] Let’s do it again.

Paul Gebel [00:33:38] Thanks so much for taking the time.

Laura Barnard [00:33:40] Thank you so much. This has been absolutely wonderful and thank you to everyone watching and listening. We do the hard work so that you don’t have to. So thank you so much for your time.

Paul Gebel [00:33:49] Cheers.

Laura Barnard [00:33:50] All right.

Paul Gebel [00:33:53] Well that’s it for today. In line with our goals of transparency and listening, we really want to hear from you. Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get, so please leave a comment or a rating wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Not only does it help us continue to improve, but it also helps the show climb up the rankings so that we can help other listeners move, touch, and inspire the world just like you’re doing. Thanks everyone. We’ll see you next episode.

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