[00:00:00.430] - Narrator
In this episode of Great Practices, I'm talking with Mark Burnett, owner of a ECONO Project EX, a firm that helps deliver complex projects with confidence. Hailing from Kingston, Jamaica. Listen in as the Son of the Caribbean talks about the the challenges of delivering projects across 19 countries. We discuss why all projects should be given the proper respect, how standardization is the key to successful project delivery, and how markets up to speed quickly in new situations. Plus, you'll find out which islands are the easiest and which ones are the most challenging. When it comes to project delivery, it's.
[00:00:39.030] - Mark
Hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with PMO and project management leaders who, through years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Chris Copp uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:01:08.510] - Chris
Well, we'd like to welcome you to this episode of Great Practices. And today we're going to be discussing the ability to deliver multiple projects across multiple locations. Because here's the thing. Most PMO leaders are going to work in one primary location. That's where all of the requirements are gathered. The planning takes place, the meetings occur. The results are typically delivered there. Now, it may spread across two to three regional offices. It may spread across multiple customers, and you have to go to a client site every now and then in order to get some of this information. But at the core, there's going to be a group of people that actually deliver on that project work. Now, the biggest challenge is that, like I said, there may be a little bit of travel that's involved, but the project delivery process is consistent and understood, and the results are predictable. That is, until we meet today's guest, who is Mark Burnett. And what Mark has done is he's made this a little bit more complicated.
[00:02:13.550] - Narrator
Because what would you do if you.
[00:02:15.440] - Chris
Needed to add nearly 20 different countries, languages, backgrounds, level of PMO and project management maturity and expectations into the mix, and you're still expected to deliver consistent results? Well, that's what our guest, Mark Burnett, will be discussing with us today, delivering projects large and small by getting back to the basics. Now, Mark is an independent project management consultant that owns econo projects from Jamaica, and we're excited to have mine today. So, Mark, we'd like to welcome you to great practices.
[00:02:52.550] - Mark
I'm happy to be here, Chris. Thanks for having me.
[00:02:56.220] - Chris
Now, can you tell us just a little bit further about who you are and what you do, a little bit more about your background?
[00:03:03.110] - Mark
Sure. So, Chris, I was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, and I also consider myself a son of the Caribbean because of my experiences traveling across over 19 plus countries for work for the past, I would say twelve years. So growing up, Chris, I've always been a sports fanatic. You know, a natural caliber, natural mentor. You could see me with friends hanging out, exchanging ideas and so forth. So fast forward. I studied electronics and physics at the university. I was very passionate about physics. I wanted to become electronics engineer growing up. So after leaving university, there was a big boom in the mobile infrastructure sector. But then we had what we call CDMA phones, those big phones that we used to make calls. We would go to the phone booth in the community to make calls. You have these long lines and so forth. So, I mean, when I left university, it was the boom for mobile communication. And so I got this opportunity to work as a wireless engineer and a project engineer. It was very pioneer engineering for me. So that's when I actually started in projects, and I would say digital transformation.
[00:04:49.370] - Mark
So it started there. I gradually move up in the wrong side. I became team lead. I started to manage projects, subcontractors teams. I started to travel across the Caribbean. And then after that, I worked for Ericsson, works across the Caribbean regions, you name them. The Caribbean. The French. The Dutch. And then my last assignment was a particular telecommunication vendor. So this was in 2019, leading up to 2020, the Pandemic. What happened? I was in the British Virgin Islands because at this time I was working on a critical restoration project. Hurricane Irma had destroyed this island totally. There was nothing there. And I was tasked as a project manager and a part of a special team to restore the network there. So that was a project that I was working on. I think it was a successful project. But what happened was that this particular vendor that we were working with, there was this disagreement between the vendor and the US. Government. And so we had to leave the BVI abruptly and over to the customer. Leave the BVI abruptly. And so that's how this appointment but after this, what really happened, Chris? I started to introspect and reflect, and I was saying, I just have a lot of experiences working across these islands, so how is it that I can impact the Caribbean region?
[00:06:25.740] - Mark
And that's how I became a project management consultant, and I stopped on projects.
[00:06:32.160] - Narrator
Okay, got it. So it just kind of sounds like you were just kind of drawn to this over the years, maybe a little bit of a natural inclination, and now that's what led into owning your own firm here, a cono project. So that's a good path that you've gone down there, for sure.
[00:06:48.830] - Narrator
Now, one of the things, Mark, that.
[00:06:50.580] - Narrator
We ask every guest, because every guest has a slightly different definition of this, is what is your definition of a PMO? When you hear the word PMO, what does that bring to your mind?
[00:07:03.390] - Mark
I think this is a great question, Chris. So I will share with you what my thoughts were before and after, pretty much. So while working across the region and working on these projects, my idea of the PMO was like a unit that pretty much is responsible and accountable for ensuring that projects runs well, has the best practices, the framework, all the resources and the organizational assets that are needed in order to make things happen for the projects and the business units. So that was my idea before, but I've evolved, Chris, because just after being interacting on different initiatives regionally and internationally and working with some of the best, I realized that the PMO should be more than that. It should be a center of excellence. It should be a value management office by that time mean it should be responsible for the business unit. It should be responsible for the market unit, the value generation. It should also be responsible for community building in terms of how it impacts the culture of the organization. So not only just to focus on projects, but just the overall culture of the organization, it should be responsible for the customer satisfaction index as well, which is always the bottom line.
[00:08:51.380] - Mark
And lastly, and very important, the innovation, it should drive innovation.
[00:08:59.910] - Narrator
Now, let me ask you this. You're saying before and after, right? What is the point that it shifted when you're saying, when did you realize that the definition was a little bit different?
[00:09:10.890] - Mark
Okay, I realized when the definition is a little bit different, when we had to abruptly leave the British Virgin Islands because of what took place. Okay, so then I started to explore project management, different methodologies and how the world is looking at project management versus how we were looking at project management. And I realized that project management office is really a center of excellence for the business.
[00:09:47.530] - Chris
I love what you said. It's about value management because you're going to end up in a situation like that where there is going to be maybe this disagreement or something's not going to go right. And if all you're doing is projects on time or in scope or within budget, there's not that value that is generating and not that connection to the business. So I think that's an important distinction that you're making there. You said you're a son of the Caribbean, right? So that's something I think many of us would be jealous about. But tell us a little bit more about the location that you work and maybe some of the challenges that this introduces. So when you're talking about how you're traveling around the Caribbean, what does that look like and what are the challenges that brings?
[00:10:34.310] - Mark
Yes, definitely, Chris. So I have had multiple conversations with persons from different continents, different countries. And one other thing that I realized, and even when we were doing these projects with these multinational firms, was that when they look at the map. Maybe in their mind, the Caribbean is this mainland. It's like one landscape. They don't realize how complex it is to deliver projects here because, yes, it's the Caribbean. It's just one name, but it's like a melting pot of different countries, person speaking different languages, different immigration laws and rules. In terms of, as I said before, the culture. When you're doing projects across all these different territories, I say to a lot of persons that even before the boss are on Hybrid and Agile Project management. I was doing that back in 2008, but at the time, I didn't know that there was a package name for a Hybrid project management or Agile. You have to be adaptive and you have to be flexible and you have to listen. So these are some of the things that I realized that I had to do working in these different regions because the expectations are different because of these variables.
[00:12:28.050] - Chris
So what you're saying is and again, we're in Atlanta in the United States, and we'll just go from different state to state or whatever, typically, right? And it's not that much of a difference. But what you're saying is that these different Caribbean countries, it's different languages, different laws, different regulations, different levels of maturity, all of these types of things that you've got to get in your head, right, as you go in to deliver projects in each one of those locations. So that's kind of what you're dealing with then, right?
[00:13:01.360] - Mark
Yes, and it makes it very difficult because just to give you a perfect example for the entire Caribbean and don't quote me on this, I think the last time I checked, we have a population of, I think, approximately 35 million plus. So just compare that with Atlanta, right. Within this 35 million plus many countries. So I worked in the Caribbean and Central America. It's like 33 plus countries.
[00:13:40.820] - Chris
So what are the project delivery challenges this creates for you? What are some of those obstacles you may need to overcome or that you can help with?
[00:13:51.190] - Mark
Okay, so the first one is to create a project management culture. And generally for a project management culture, it takes time to create. So these projects are so fast paced that maybe within three to six months. You have to create a project management culture. Meaning that you have to identify an appropriate methodology to use based on the resources that are available and based on the team that you're working with in terms of processes and framework. You have to identify and come up with framework within this time frame. Three to six months. And getting resources in and out of the countries in terms of their expertise level, these are some of the main challenges. And because we were doing like a digital transformation, so it was a network transformation, mobile telecommunication deployment, but it was digital transformation. So as you know, with digital transformation, it's new to that particular country. So you will face resistance. So can you imagine having to do all of this and you're facing resistance at the same time to deploy something new? So those were some of the challenges. And so what I realized in these projects, these projects were very hostile, a lot of conflicts and finger pointing and blame game.
[00:15:37.000] - Mark
And personally, I didn't like this because I'm a natural collaborator, as I said in my intro.
[00:15:44.340] - Chris
Yeah. So you're basically having to go in, you're having to explain to them, like, basically what the project management thought process and methodology is. You're having to get the project done, and you're having to do it in sometimes adversarial situations. Okay, all right. So that's kind of an interesting three things that you got going against you there. So you've come up with a couple of conclusions based upon this in order to get this done, because you figured out how to work through this. So what are some of the things that you've realized when it comes to delivering projects in this type of environment?
[00:16:24.230] - Mark
Yes. Great question here, Chris. So at this point, I realized that I was born as a project manager and a project delivery manager. So remember, I told you I wanted to become an engineer, but at that time, project management was so mature here in the region. So growing up, we didn't know a lot about it, but at this point, that's how I knew that I was a born leader, project delivery leader. Because one Jamaica is the largest English speaking Caribbean country. We have like 200 million plus persons. But you have other Caribbean countries that has like 60,000, 20,000, 30,000 persons.
[00:17:10.180] - Chris
[00:17:10.600] - Mark
So in Jamaica, what is considered a small project for us could be a big project for them because it's a smaller population, it's a smaller country. So what I realized was that because the headquarters or headquarter offices were either in Trinidad or Jamaica, which are the bigger countries, you know, a lot of times we take some of the projects for granted because in those smaller countries or islands, those projects were big projects for them. But in the PMO, they were seeing these projects and they were saying, oh, maybe these projects are not priority projects because they are smaller islands, so their projects are smaller. So what I realized that we had to treat these projects, some of these projects, there had to be some criteria how we look at these projects. And one of the things that I noticed is that I had to speak every time I entered the island. I had to have a kick off meeting with the CTO and the CEO and functional managers to understand what their expectations were and to get a better understanding how to manage these expectations. And from this, I always noticed that there was a misunderstanding leading small projects versus bigger projects, because when I was reporting back to the headquarters, some of the concerns in the island around their projects.
[00:18:57.770] - Mark
I mean, there was a different understanding from the headquarters because they see these projects as smaller projects within the market. These are big projects. So I realized that in terms of relationship building, it should be the same. We should manage this the same, like a large project. In terms of stakeholder expectation, it's the same thing.
[00:19:22.730] - Chris
And I'm reflecting what you're saying because I think we could kind of get into that trap easily because if you have run a PMO and you've run big projects and you've seen been there, done that, you know how the whole thing works. But you do that all the time. But to these people, that small project is their world. That's the big project that they're working on.
[00:19:42.890] - Chris
And I think we have to acknowledge.
[00:19:44.410] - Chris
That and give it the attention, give it the attention that it deserves. I mean, I think about you go see a doctor and that doctor, they've probably seen a million of whatever your problem is, but it is probably no big deal to him. But to you it's a big deal. So you want to be able to have that time and that attention and being able to ask those questions. And that's really I think that's a good fundamental piece that you realize from that is give these projects the respect they deserve, right, no matter how big they are.
[00:20:12.740] - Mark
Yes, definitely. And like a methodology in my mind, and I would share it with my project team, stakeholder management, expectation management, identify an appropriate methodology. Communication and relationship building is the best way to manage these projects and also to leverage the decisions that are made from the headquarters and by our key decision makers within the market.
[00:20:59.370] - Chris
So what you're saying is and I think you've got these fundamentals in place, right? And you said like the stakeholder expectation management, you've got to have a methodology in place and you've got to have communication and relationship building in place. And it sounds like when you go visit like you said, you're going to go visit with the CTO right out of the gate, you're going to go visit with the stakeholders right out of the gate and you're going to get those expectations set right from the very beginning. So that's great advice for any of us that are involved in projects. So what I'm hearing, the first revelation or the first conclusion you had is small projects need the same attention as big projects and make sure that you've got just the basic fundamentals in place. So that's great advice. What was the second revelation or the second realization that you came to?
[00:21:51.790] - Mark
So the second revelation is the PMO in project management, you can have a centralized and a decentralized environment. You could have makeup. But what I realized, the project management office, the PMO, played a very important role in centralizing expectations. Over time, it helps to build the business units over time and it helps us to make unified decisions over time. So that's the other thing. The PMO was very important to this digital transformation and to you managing the business expectations, the business goals, the business outcomes, and in terms of further development of the business, it helps with that as well, and it unifies decision making.
[00:23:04.630] - Chris
So it sounds like there's definitely an element of standardization that needs to be put in place, right? Yes. In order for you to speak the language and for people to understand what that means when it comes to project success through all of that.
[00:23:23.140] - Mark
Yes. And I think earlier I alluded to PMO. Journey. For me personally, I really appreciated this because the PMO, it was tough initially when we started implementing the PMO as a team. So, as I said, over time, we really appreciated the journey from the first steps that we had to take in order to come up with this system, in order to manage and centralize what we were trying to do across these 32 markets.
[00:24:01.890] - Chris
And it's kind of interesting to me because it sounds like you're doing this and you're putting a PMO in place without the people that you're working with even realizing what you're doing until you kind of look backwards and say, look at what we did. We've got the structure and this framework and we've got the standard process and we're treating your project with respect. And it just kind of happened. But you did that within that three to six month period, which is pretty quick to be able to pull it off.
[00:24:30.240] - Mark
Yes. And tell you what, Chris, even sometimes when we had the parts of the features of the PMOs in place, right, we weren't even getting the buying that we needed, even from the customer, because sometimes they needed to share some inputs with us or certain teams. But what happened, what I did was that my pitching point was when the project was about to say close, when I had to do like the five preliminary and the final acceptance and the handover, what I did was that all the things that I needed to pull that would create that handover package, I took all that from the PMO and showed this to the customer. And this was like a lessons learned that showed them how important the PMO is transitioning into their operations. And if it is that they want to do, they are going to do future projects. That's where they could source their blueprints or whatever thing that they needed to verify or they needed to have a look at.
[00:25:42.570] - Chris
Yeah, I bet they love that. It's all right there. It's easy to follow, easy to reference, easy to duplicate. So excellent. Now, Mark, something I'm always curious about from consultants that are able to just go from client to client to client to client, what are some of the methods or the ways that you come up to speed quickly on what clients need, on what they're working on since they can be so different. Do you have any tips for that about how to come up to speed quickly in a new situation?
[00:26:19.970] - Mark
Yes, definitely. And this is a great question. One other thing that critical and active listening. I know this skill because it is so soft, it is not talked about too often, but this is very important. When you're working in dynamic situations with clients, you have to listen to understand what is it that they expect. And sometimes even without a project roadmap, you have to understand because why, how are you going to identify what your key milestones are? How are you going to identify what's the best methodology to use with the resources that are available? Because maybe we are not able to exceed five resources to, say, execute a proof of concept that the clients need to learn from in order to grow their business or to drive the project forward. So you have to understand what their expectations are and tie that into what the resources, what the capabilities that exist? How is it that we're able to tie their expectation into the capabilities that we have around us and execute from there? So I think active listening and critical listening is very important.
[00:27:58.890] - Chris
Yeah, that's great advice, because I think it's easy to get into a situation and in your mind, you already think you know the answer and you already know the solution, but you haven't really heard what the problem is yet. And you really need to tune into that in order to come up with the best solution for them. All right, let's get geographic here. Let's get really specific. What is the easiest island to deliver projects on and why? So you've been to 19 plus islands. What's your experience about the easiest island to deliver projects on and why?
[00:28:34.230] - Mark
Okay, so I think in the region, Chris, I would say not the easiest, but the better island to projects on would be the bigger islands. Like, for example, Jamaica and Trinidad. You're looking at 2 million plus people. There are bigger countries, there are more developed. They might have more resources and capabilities available on island. So because of this, you are better able to deliver projects on these islands.
[00:29:14.190] - Chris
Okay, that makes sense. I'm going to ask the flip, the reverse question. What's the toughest island or islands and why is that the tougher islands?
[00:29:24.040] - Mark
I would say the smaller islands that are I would say the smaller islands that are because as I said before, like Jamaica and Trunidad, they are independent countries. So you have some smaller islands, like, for example, the Cayman Islands, which is still not considered a British territory, which means that their laws are like English British laws. For a Jamaican to go there or certain resources some other places, it's very difficult because you have to get a special visa and so forth. And then again, in terms of projects, because the island is smaller so they are exposed to less digital transformation projects of this type. So it means that it's difficult to enter. And when you do enter, you have to create a project management environment to deliver and sometimes you may not be able to have all the expertise that you need. So it means that you have to take like a hybrid or blended approach where you have to mix the expertise that are there with local expertise. Which means that you might have to train persons on the job to get the job done. So in terms of like your KPIs and so forth, some of these you might have to shift it, say for example, the quality of the sites or the quality of the coverage or the delivery time.
[00:30:55.010] - Mark
You have to shift your baseline around these things in alignment with the client because of this kind of restriction.
[00:31:02.990] - Chris
Got it now has the ability to do remote work. Has that helped with any of that and kind of getting the expertise over there or is it still really challenging?
[00:31:14.710] - Mark
Yes, definitely remote work helps because before the covet the client would always want somebody facing some key persons facing them. And even if you suggested to the client that it could be done remotely, there is no proof of concept to say that will work. But since the covet we have seen where we have to adjust and we have seen the outcomes. And so even though it has helped where the client will accept certain leadership meetings, certain meetings remote and that has become an arm and so this has definitely helped in the way how we do things. So some of the expertise that are generally required to get into the country and that will take some time to get the visa and all these other logistics, we're able to do that via Microsoft teams or Zoom. And from a technical standpoint, we are now seen where we're able to virtually do technical stuff at the sites or within the field, loading certain software engineers, talking to each other and these kind of things using these different kinds of remote tools.
[00:32:53.890] - Chris
It is amazing what that has done, hasn't it? Over the years with going through this whole covet experience, the things that you thought I know many examples of situations, it can never be done remotely, we've.
[00:33:05.830] - Chris
Got to be there in person, it.
[00:33:07.370] - Chris
Has to be on site. And guess what? When you couldn't do it that way, you figured it out because it still had to be done.
[00:33:15.740] - Mark
It had to be done. Yes.
[00:33:17.080] - Chris
So what it sounds like is the principle is if the island is pretty. If it's larger and it's self contained almost as far as resources and experience. That type of thing easier. If it's perhaps a little bit smaller. That's a little more challenging then obviously because not everything that you need is there and you really kind of need to bring it with you and that brings some challenges onto that. But it sounds like you've really resolved or worked through a lot of those and figured that out.
[00:33:42.740] - Mark
Yes. One more point, Chris. Just look at it. Even some of these islands might not even have a PMP certified. Maybe one, maybe two, right?
[00:33:52.750] - Chris
So just add that into the mix as well. And like you're saying, you're having to even just get everybody's thought process around what it's all about and the methodology around that. So anything else that you would like to add where you feel that PMO leaders could benefit from about what you've learned when it comes to delivering projects in the Caribbean?
[00:34:12.370] - Mark
Yes, definitely. Because as I said before, I was pretty much my career was going in the reverse because as I told you in 2009, 2010, I was taking a hybrid approach, an agile approach to projects before the buzz around Scrum and all these things, you know, the way how we were doing projects. But it wasn't formally documented. So as I said, continuous learning will just help you to appreciate how you adapt to people. Because people management is a key ingredient in project management. Adapt to people, active listening, critical listening and communication. Once you are able to set that up, all the elements of project management I think is first nature in terms of what tool are you going to use to build your roadmap and your daily scheduling and so forth. But I think continuous learning, active and critical listening, not just to listen on the first day when you did the kickoff meeting with the client and then you leave it there, you should always be listening to them because things can change.
[00:36:00.170] - Chris
So it seems like you have an emphasis or focus on the soft skills and then the hard skills and all the project management science of project management that can follow. But you've got to have that foundation of those relationships that's built, the trust that's built in working with people listening. All that kind of part comes into that. So great advice for us.
[00:36:22.130] - Mark
You could be used to a particular software and when you get on site, it's so fast paced that the client is used to one thing and you realize if you are going to reload, what is it that you know it's going to take some time. So you have to adapt to what they have and learn it and use it to just move forward. So that's why I think it's very important initially to have that kind of thing set up. Stakeholder expectation, management, communication, try to identify a methodology and the relationship building.
[00:36:54.200] - Chris
Great example. Now Mark, you've used the term digital transformations many times throughout our discussion. I know you've got kind of your own show around digital transformations. You want to kind of tell everybody what that's about, what you cover and where they could find that as well.
[00:37:12.950] - Mark
Yes, definitely. So the digital transformation webinar. Series. It's pretty much three of us that are presently hosting it. You have Jim Struct from the Boston area in the US. You have imanuel Papadakis from Greece. And the idea around this digital transformation show is just to highlight the importance of project management and PMO within the digital transformation space and vice versa. Because from my experience and the other guys experiences, I believe that digital transformation is not possible without project management and PMO. And in this current time, PMOs and project management is not possible without digital transformation because we're in a digital ecosystem, pretty much. And just to give you an example of this, we've done a webinar episode on cloud transformation. And very recently we did one on the critical role of business analysis in digital transformation. And we spoke about so many things. We even spoke about. Why is it that we're not hearing a lot about business analysts or business analysts being mentioned in the framework? Because you have the Scrum methodology with the product owner, the Scrum Master, the Dev team, but no exclusive mention of a business analyst. And a business analyst plays a very important role because I myself have been on projects where I heard the idea that there's a project.
[00:39:12.940] - Mark
And when I went there, there was nothing in place. And actually I had to work with a business analyst to create a project vision statement. So I personally know important this is to digital transformation. And business analyst is a project manager too. It's a part of project management. So this is what the show is about.
[00:39:35.260] - Chris
Well, I think it's in the name transformation. If you're going to go from one state replaced to another place, you're going to have to have project management in order to get you there. So you're focusing on that digital side of things. And this is how you get to it. And I will tell everybody how to get to it because you can go to thepmoleader.com you can click on content is where you can click on and then there's Webinar.
[00:40:05.980] - Mark
[00:40:06.660] - Chris
And then you're going to see digital transformations. It's the one with the palm trees on it and the sunset. Right. So you can't miss it because it stands out. It's nice and green and it looks so appealing. It's not like the ones we're typically seen of business backgrounds and everything like that. So I love it. So it's a real good place to visit. And you want to tune into this show for sure.
[00:40:33.170] - Mark
[00:40:34.030] - Chris
So, Mark, thank you very much for being on the show today. What is the best way for people to get in touch with you if they want to discuss any of these other topics or these suggestions or this insight further with you? What's the best way for people to reach you?
[00:40:47.040] - Mark
It's definitely they can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Mark Burnett and they can also reach out to me via email. M-R-K. [email protected]
[00:41:04.060] - Chris
Okay, excellent. Yeah, I think LinkedIn is always a great place to find each other and we will make sure that we've got that link in the show notes so that they'll be able to quickly get you there. Mark, we appreciate you being on the show today. Appreciate the insight that you provided us and some of the great practices that you've implemented and the challenges. Just kind of realizing that it's challenging to work across 20 different countries, but just going back to the fundamentals and coming up with the basics and the standards and the processes, all of those things tie into that and treat every project like it's a big project, because to somebody it is a big project. So we always want to remember that. So again, thank you for coming on the show today, Mark, and we will talk to you soon.
[00:41:48.790] - Mark
Thanks for having me, Chris. Really appreciate it.
[00:41:56.230] - Chris
Well, that was another great conversation on great practices today, and we certainly do appreciate Mark coming on the show today. So what were some of the great practices that we were able to get from today's show? Well, certainly appreciate the location and challenges that come with working in the Caribbean. We thought it was interesting. The Caribbean is one name and you got this idea that everything is the same and you can just pop from one island to the next with no big deal. But it's a melting pot of countries, different laws, different rules, different cultures that he has to work within and has to figure out and has to come up to speed quickly. So appreciated the fact that it needs to be adaptive flexible and listen. And that is kind of challenging because if you think about it, you get into a new situation and they may not have that level of expertise when it comes to project management. So you've got to not only manage the projects, but you've got to introduce the methodology, you've got to get the resources up to speed. You have to work within this new culture. You have to work with the experience that perhaps is on that island.
[00:43:04.870] - Chris
And so that brings in a lot of different challenges that we may not necessarily be used to when we have maybe a little more standardization when it comes to project delivery. But he's figured it out. And that's what I appreciate about Mark, is he's come up with a way in order to get these projects done, no matter what island or what circumstance he's finding himself in. So what were some of those great practices? Well, I thought this one was pretty good. He gives all projects their due respect, no matter how big or how small they are. We may feel like, oh, it's just a small project and it's not that big of a deal. But to the person that is having that project delivered for them, it is big to them. So you want to give it the proper respect that it deserves and the time and the attention. And that's one of the things he does, is he'll start a project off on the right foot, meet with the major stakeholders, get their expectations upfront. And did you notice you said there's always going to be some alignment that needs to happen or some realignment that needs to happen because their expectations are going to be different than perhaps what you're going to be able to deliver or what you were planning to deliver.
[00:44:16.170] - Chris
So it's good to start off on the right foot there. What else did he bring out that was important when it came to being able to deliver projects in these very unique and diverse situations? Well, standardization played a huge part in that in centralizing and consolidating the various teams to meet these expectations and to unify the decision making process. And so that's important really, literally to get everybody on the same page and set expectations there. And the gift that he would leave behind, I don't know if he caught that, but there's a repository of information where once that project was done, once it was complete, all of the materials that made up that project, he had a nice standardized, organized portfolio or location or repository where they could go and reference any of those documents. So I thought that was kind of a nice gift to leave behind. What about the question about how to get up to speed quickly? Now consultants are really good at that because they're going to be dropped into different companies, different countries, different cultures, different situations. And they do need to come up to speed quickly because they're expected to deliver value in a very rapid pace.
[00:45:36.450] - Chris
Did you catch what he said? Critical and active listening. That's really what he focused in on is he would go in and really make sure that he understood what they were expecting. What did they expect, what were the key milestones, what were the key performance indicators that were important to them, what methodologies were important for them to use? So he listened to those things and then he would adjust and adapt in order to make that successful when it came to delivering those projects. And what about the easiest and the hardest islands to deliver projects on bigger islands, Jamaica and Trinidad, he said those are easier and the smaller ones he said, were harder. And I guess that makes perfect sense when you look at it because the larger islands have more resources, more infrastructure, more ability to get things done without having to bring in a lot of resources from outside. In the smaller islands, you're going to have to do that. You may have to bring in some of these resources and talents and skills, even infrastructure from the outside in order to get that done.
[00:46:47.570] - Chris
[00:46:47.880] - Chris
I thought about that. Well, that could even apply to our companies and our PMOs because if we're self contained, we are going to have the ability to get these projects done that much quicker without necessarily having to bring in outside experts. So if there's a theme that's developing and you're always needing, I don't know, an architect or always needing a business analyst, and you're always needing to go outside somewhere in order to bring that talent in, that may be something that you want to consider bringing into the company itself in order to have them right there whenever you need them. And Mark really emphasized the importance of continuous learning. He was really zeroing in on those soft skills, being able to adapt to people again, that active and critical listening, communication, all of these things, this was the foundation of what was allowing him to deliver his project successfully. The methodology, the tools, the processes, those types of things are going to change from place to place and you're going to need to be able to adapt to that. But if you've got the ability to adapt to people and listen and communicate well, all of these other things will fall in place.
[00:48:02.110] - Chris
So certainly a lot of Great Practices on our show today and we'd like to thank Mark again for being on Great Practices and we've learned a lot from him. Now, do you have a great practice that you'd like to share? If you do go to the Pmoleader.com, click on Content Great Practices podcast and there's a form that's at the bottom of the screen. Go ahead and fill that out. Someone will get in touch with you shortly and you're going to want to make sure to subscribe to Great Practices on your favorite podcast platform so that you don't miss an episode. So we thanks again for listening to this episode and keep putting Great Practices in the practice.