E02 - JP Stewart Consulting
October 21, 2021
Host, Gabriela Papp speaks with Jim Stewart Founder of JP Stewart Consulting. Watch to learn about JP Stewart Consulting and how Jim supports customers with project delivery solutions, training, coaching and PMO services. Gabriela uses a series of creative questions to gain insight and understanding about JP Stewart Consulting and how they support clients.
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Good morning, everyone, and welcome back to The Spotlight on Driving Services. In case you don't know, this is actually a monthly series where my co host Julianne Holtz and I shine spotlight every month on a new service organization so that you can learn a little bit about them and what they have to offer. But before we dive in in today's session, I just wanted to ask if anybody had a chance to catch up last month's episode on The Spotlight with Joe from the PMO Squad. If not, we really encourage you to go to the website and check it out.
So with that being said, I would like to tell you what you can expect from today's session. We'll just start up with a short overview of today's guest and its organization. Then from there, we can dive in into some questions about leadership challenges, problem solving, collaboration and why not sustainability. We have chosen a set of interesting questions which we believe will keep us all entertained until the end. And I'm sure Jim will give us all his experience and those questions. If any questions from the audience, we will have a follow up quick wrap question answer at the end of the session.
So any questions, please hold them to the end and type them in the chat box. And then I will just give you an insight of the next month's spots on Driving Services.
For now, I would tell everybody to grab a cup of coffee or your preferred beverage. Relax and enjoy this hour where we want to shine the spotlight onto JP Stewart Consulting. It's a US based project management firm that specializes in agile, waterfall, project management and PMO solutions. Obviously, they are an excellent strategic partner for everyone that will want to succeed, and they will help you bridge your organization and demystify any complex subject and set you up for success. This being said today, we are representing JP Stewart Consulting by founder and President Jim Stewart.
He comes with very large experience in project management with over 25 years as well as he serves on the advisory board of a training organization called MindEdge Incorporated, as well as he's the co author of the book Facilitating Project Planning Meetings, a practical guide to ensuring Project Success. So welcome, Jim. We are so happy to have you here today, so I would open and let you take us on a ride into J. P. Stewart Consulting, who is J. P. Stewart Consulting?
Well, first of all, thank you, Gabrielle and Joe for inviting me. It's great to be inviting someplace. So I have some history with Joe because the book you mentioned about the meetings, I forgot how it came to me. Maybe my partner, Rich Monksman, knew Joe. Joe interviewed a while back about that book, and that particular thing is about communications and running big meetings right here to talk about that. But I just want to say that I have some history with that for me. How this all came to be is for those of you who don't know.
I'm in the Boston area just north of Boston and I've had a pretty good career as a project manager. I actually started as a network engineer. So my background is it high tech. I did it for a number of years and I can either continue in that vein and probably run an it shop or go into project management. It was sort of a natural divergence. And quite frankly, in 2001, in the midst of the dot com implosion, I got laid off and not expecting that. And then 911 happened and there were not a lot of jobs happening for quite some time.
After a while I said to myself or to my wife as well. I said, Why don't I try to do something independently because I want to anyway, I've been independent before contract work. So I thought, how can I get started? In one day University sent me a card in the mail and it said, Would you like to get class on project management? Call them up. I said, how about if I teach it? So I did so a little bit of initiative in doing that from there.
I just started doing because I've been doing training before in computers. From there I just started to build my business. I started training. I got very lucky. I found a Project management Institute job on their job board is 2003, and it was a woman running a company and she was all life Sciences, pharmaceutical, hospitals, medical, all these things. And she said and I didn't have that background. She said, yeah, but I need somebody like you to help me go into these companies and start projects. So we went around the world with that for years with her.
She's a Finnish woman and she still has the company. But she since moved to California. So I did all those projects and that was part of what led to that book, those planning sessions and some that Richard done as part of Telecom. So to make a long story short from there, I just started building on my skill set, obviously know how to do traditional waterfall projects. Interestingly. I got my PMP in 2001, the very same year the Azure Manifesto was created, but I never heard of it.
Most of us haven't. So at the same time as I was building my career on the waterfall traditional waterfall side, as I was happening, I was reading about it but not quite dipping into it. So I see myself as a generalist. I run projects in Waterfall. I've been doing Agile now since 2013, so I can do either side. It can work on hybrid. I don't turn things down. I don't set things if I don't think I can do that. If somebody comes and says, Can you do XYZ project?
I'll say I haven't done one before and they might say we'll take a chance on you and they might say, okay, that's fine. So running projects, writing articles, teaching. I've taught at the University level, written that book, pharmaceutical work, financial work. It work, couple of stance, Fidelity, things like that. And then one day to get to our topic about PMOs, I just wanted to do a PMO. It sounded interesting. And a colleague of mine. Well, actually, I'll go back a step. I had approached him because he was teaching at Brandeis University, and once again, I said.
Can I teach with you?
So he and I co wrote a course from program management. I woke up taking over a course of a colleague who's still there. She's been there for 24 years, taking over her course as she moved on. And he was doing PMOs. I said, Can I learn PMOs? He said, sure, the open guy. And we met and talked about it, and he gave me some templates. He used confidential ideas. He done. And I went up doing my first PMO. I got hired to do other kinds of work, but I got hired at one company to do PMO.
This is about five years ago, and I set that up since I've done, I think four or five. I don't do them constantly. I go from PMO to running projects to not doing other things. So that's sort of a very quick nutshell of what I've done and do. I'm really a one man shop. And I used to call myself Jburg Associates, and I still have it out there because I can team up with people who are colleagues of mine and make myself a bigger organization. So, for example, if I do an agile transformation one day, then I might call on a partner or my friend of mine who's a change management expert, or she sometimes calls me to do things.
I have other colleaguesfriends who I called and put together kind of a Tiger team and do that. So it's really all things project management. And just this year, my most recent two projects were, well, three setting up a PMO down in DC, which I can talk about a little bit later for you if you'd like, all the PMO's are different, all different. They're all challenging. I just came off of two projects. One was an entrepreneur woman who wanted an Apple based application. So I played square master, sort of project manager coach for that, because the manager coach as well.
And what I just finished for a large financial firm. I can't tell you their name, but they were rolling out Salesforce, which allows them to obviously sell. It was very complicated. A lot more complicated, you would think. And I was played sort of a sub project manager when I came in. It was a program manager already, and I came in and I played sort of helping them with deliverables, like an escalation tree for support, helping with socks compliance, things like that. So I just finished that one up now, and I'm looking at one tomorrow that will bring me into another.
What's the cool thing about being independent? It's always something new now. I have an organization, a consultant from me to come in, and they do data science. They do data analytics, big data, which I worked on before. They may want me to manage projects, working with data scientists. It's always something new and something cool. So I hope that gives you a flavor of it, of what I do for the past, well, 25 years. But 18 independent.
Wonderful wonder journey. A lot of times, bad things happen, but always something good comes out of it. And my dad used to say that the most beautiful roses blew from underneath the rocks.
It can be up to a battle. It's not all sweetness and light. Sometimes you want the situations that aren't good before you get into them. Some training situations, some consulting situations where the car just stacked against you before you walk in the door because one person wants what you wanted, but every Department doesn't want it. So as the song says, the one to hold them, when to fold them. Sometimes I say, you know what? Maybe this isn't working out. I'll move on so I can find somebody reelected.
Stick with it. And if not, I just say they don't seem to be open to the particular thing I'm offering and move on. You can't stick around if it's not something. If a company tells you they're committed to change and that's a verbal thing that they say, but their actions don't follow. There's no point in being there. I've seen too many companies like that. Yes, we want to change as soon as you recommend anything. It's always no, I don't mind a challenge, but I don't like being on death March if you follow me.
But most of them are pretty good. Most of them work out pretty well. The people open to what you want to do within an hour window of what they want to do.
Yes, definitely. I agree. I went through similar challenges where companies saying yes, we want to change. But it was all words truly came to seeing the change and trying to implement some of the good things that could come out of that. There was always resistance and change is not easy for anyone.
If we don't embrace change, our life is not a continuous change and roller coaster all the time. We're not in same spot every minute. So very good journey. And it looks like you have a lot of experience gained from this journey that you were on as a President.
I'll say one more thing. I bet. I think words in Joe's mouth whenever he comes back on. But I have experiences when you go to a company more just to make a PMO and you tell them it will take two, three, four months, whatever the part of that is because they can't meet with you every day. They can meet with you sporadically to do things. And invariably I find at the end of that time they're just tired of it. They don't say that, but they stopped showing up for meetings or it becomes outdoor to do this again or whatever.
So I have to get into a certain window and do it before they lose interest in everything they had before. They're willing to change. But they find that we don't have this anymore. Just the last company I did, the PMO at the beginning said we want training. I was going to create templates, create processes. We want training. So after you establish a PMO, I started to meet with owners. This is shortly after we had established everything and ready to do training. And then they were starting to slack me saying, we can't move this fast.
I'm thinking this is your idea. We agreed in the contract that we would do trading around this time.
Now you're saying we can't move?
I don't know what this fast name. They weren't upset with me. It was just sort of like they just made me thought they were ready to trade before they really were. They had proposals to answer. So I think people are euphoric when they hire you about what you can get. Dialogue longer goes on. I'll make four months is a long time at all to do what we are doing. And it wasn't by any means every day. But they get impatient and want to move on to other things you had asked.
I think we're talking or emailing a challenge. We will bring up a PMO staying with it. I think the person establishing it stays with it because that's his or her job. But the people for whom you're doing, it's hard to keep the records. It's hard to keep them engaged because they feel like this is some part time thing for them. That's a big challenge of establishing PMOs, if you ask me, is keeping people engaged. I can't force them to be engaged. And there's one point at the end of that engagement where I couldn't get anybody's attention.
So it's four people and they're all too busy. It wasn't because they like they were just too busy. Occupational hazard, that's all. That's right.
It's their loss, right. We all know the importance and how you coordinate your business, having a BMO and the advantages of it. Yes, it comes with a ticket, but obviously it's a good thing. But anyway, thank you so much for this introduction.
What your company does and what you can do for any of the clients. And I do encourage everyone to go out there and buy this book and read it. And I'm sure we're going to find a lot of good other ideas and insights to it.
You presented this. I would like to challenge you with a couple of questions. Hopefully you find them good and you can shed a little bit of light on which superhero or role model would you call on to face the biggest challenge for PMOs today? And why is that?
It's funny. I can't think of a role model because I don't have one in this business, but honestly, I mean, there are people like Howard Kirsten. I've written books and read them. Okay. He and Joe for what he does, winning awards all over the place for PMOs stuff. Those are good role models. But as far as a superhero, for me, if I were a superhero doing this claim every superpowers, I would like the superhero that doesn't have superpowers. And I think of Iron Man, and I think of Iron Man because he only has super powers when he puts on this metal cage that he's in.
Otherwise, he's kind of a normal guy. When he puts this thing on, he can battle every kind of challenge that comes along. He's got armor, he can deflect the bullets or whatever you want to call it, he's got strength. So it's not a super power you need, because there's two parts to your question with superhero. What's the biggest challenge? The biggest challenge for PMOs, I think today is to justify their existence because there tends to be cost centers, not profit centers to face the negative reaction of some people in the organization thinking, Why do we need it?
Several challenges, and also the incorporation of agile. Where is agile fitting? Because PMOs are seen as being somewhat process heavy, whether that's true or not. And whereas agile is lightweight, so in order to combat those challenges and then keep the PMO going to combat those, my superhero power would be Iron Man would be that superhero ordinary guy walks in, puts on his armor and has all kinds of powers, can fight the negative stakeholders, if you will, and knock away the bullets that approach them. There's a lot of bullets that come your way when you put yourself in a position or can be unless you have strong sponsor support.
And I think for any project of any sort, especially a PMO, you strong sponsor with that one, you need a lot of you need to be both Iron Man and Superman at that point. But I'll settle for Ironman if I have a good sponsor.
Very interesting. The right tools at the right time for the right application.
That's interesting. Yes, for sure. So our next question here is, what's your problem solving tagline?
This is interesting because let me answer that in two ways, sort of boring business way in a more fun way. Now, there is a thing called a value proposition. You're probably familiar with. Value proposition says in one line, what value does my company provide now? I've worked this before with some friends of mine who we went through consulting groups and talked about. I it had a long wordy one, but I did some research and a value proposition. I came up with one line before I get to that business one.
My problem solving one I test drove this one. The consulting group I was in was my problem solving tagline. Is I'm the project doctor. So as the project doctor, I come in and fix whatever else. Right. So if it's a PMO that's dysfunctional, I can fix that. If it's a project that's in trouble, I can help recover that. So my problem solving tagline is I'm the project doctor, and I can fix what fails you. So that's the fun one. The sort of business one is this.
This is my value proposition. I'm going to read it because I only just wrote it. I dramatically improve project management capabilities, enabling strategic objectives to be met and exceeded more rapidly. So that isn't necessarily problem solving per se, but that encapsulates what it is. I think I do. There's a strategy level to it. We project managers, as you know, can no longer just be project managers. We're expecting to be strategic. I teach PMP and PMI talks a lot about and has for years. Increasingly, I've taught PMP since I've been independent since 2003 and back then, it was more about the project manager managing projects as now it's more about him or her being strategic and solving strategic problems, which I do.
You do? I know Joe does, and probably your listeners as well. Or at least we are involved in the strategy of the company. So two levels in that one, the project doctor, the fun one people relate to and say, I know what that means. And the other one that talks about working strategically to enable companies to meet their objectives. Second, one is less problem solving, but it's more value proposition.
So we need your expertise in solving Kobe problem too.
Well, it's interesting because.
Of course, I know nothing about solving something like that. But the project I worked on, it wasn't coded, but the PMO I helped on in DC was for what they call social determinants of health. It's a public project, and it's about why does somebody in affluent neighborhood have better health than somebody in an urban neighborhood? I think we know why, but they study things like that. So I'm interested in those type of things. When I worked on health problems or projects, I worked on diabetes projects, medical device projects.
They're doing good work. Those people, people that do this type of work. Nobody has asked me to manage, although what I would like to see in code in 19. Quite honestly, lessons learned. I hope that somebody somewhere, whether it's Voucher or somebody else, is heading up a lessons learned, a session or sessions. So we know how to survive this time, because worldwide not a single anyone, but worldwide, we didn't really tax those effectively, as we might have. We're prepared as prepared for the thing that many of us knew would eventually happen again.
So I think it will probably happen again. Hopefully, it's not 100 years from now, but I would think that we would have a better United solution to it. I think project managers can help in that respect. We don't walk on water, but we can short pull together people in a collective way, get them to do things.
Yes, I do agree some instances putting up my project management head as well. How was everything ruled out? And I would like to see those lessons learned as well. And I'm sure a lot of people would want to.
Put them in place. Number one, probably the other projects. And I see this over and over again. They do a lessons learn session. I have people admit this to my face who are like my students who told me this recently. Yeah, we do lessons learn sessions and nothing ever happens. We said, shouldn't you make it happen or let's say we do retrospectives and nothing ever happens. You can't take one idea and make it happen. So I recommend that people listening and I do it myself. If you're going to do a lessons learned, then implement the lessons you've learned.
If you don't, I don't know what the point is other than a checkbox saying you do a lessons learned, does it make any sense? That's right.
Yeah. And there might be companies out there that just do exactly that. They just fire them away part of the paperwork and don't go back to those. So yeah. Big mistake. We only learn from our lessons.
So I would like to dive into our next question if you are making a movie on what it takes to lead.
This is interesting. I'm going to take a book I read and then sort of turn into my own book movie. So I have a Kindle reader. I still read books, paperback or hardback, but I like my Kindle sometimes because you can travel and have 100 books on there. So one day they gave me a free book. It's called Lost in Shangrila. Lost in Shangrila is a true story. I forget the island that it was on. But during World War II with the Philippines or born, I can't remember now there was people stationed there.
Army, baby, whatever. And they used to take on the down days. They would take a plane. The pilots would take a plane and take people on joyrides. And they were on a joy ride in the jungle. And then one day one of the planes went down and it went missing for a long time. Nobody knew where it was. They knew they had taken it, but they couldn't find it because it went down to a wooded covered jungle and no natives living there. So these people were there for I forget how long months living there.
So they finally got everybody out. But I started thinking a few people died in the crash, but it's really a heck of a story lost in Shanghai. And it talks about what it took to survive in that environment. I thought, Well, what if you turn that into a movie? Maybe there is one. Maybe I missed it. What if you turn that into a movie and said, you had a person there who was shy and withdrawn and not a leader. And you had a leader in this situation, and he or she probably he back then in the 40s got sick.
It had to be carried around on some kind of a hammock or something. And mine will be will be about the secondary person who's shy. That doesn't show leadership taking over and becoming a leader. And so what do they take the lead? So let's say she in this case. And everybody says, we don't know what to do. So she sits there and says, Well, somebody's got to decide what we need to do. So she says, Follow me. I'm not sure where we're going, but follow me and they do.
And maybe she takes out a few blind alleys. But then she figures out where to go. So my movie just makes it interesting because movies are dull. If there isn't a challenge, right? I've written before and you throw locks at your protagonist, the lock that gets the protagonist here. The main guy is sick and he can't lead. There's a woman she's going to step up and lead. She gets a lot of challenges along the way. The men fight her, the neighbors fight her, the bugs bite or whatever it might be.
But she steps up and says, I think the first thing happens when it takes to leave is stepping up and you step up and you get over whatever it is to hold you back from leading. In this case, she steps up, try something. Not everything works. But then when people challenge, she says, yeah, well, I stepped up and leave from there. I just thought that would be an interesting plot that shows, yeah, I could make one a movie that would just show this guy leading this.
So what? But the interesting movie is the leader gets shot down in some way. Somebody else sets up. The lead goes through all the challenges, and at the end, everybody respects her. I remember that reminding me of that movie hidden Figures. I think it's called Where are these Women? I think of these black women who were at NASA who were very important in helping Rocketry in years past. And the woman is not she's disrespected by the men. They don't want to talk to her. This is 60s, whatever it is.
And by the end of the movie, I forget the time hang. Somebody walks by. And after she's done this place that puts a cup of coffee on her desk and walks away. It's almost as quiet show respect for what she did. So by the end of my movie, we had the Hollywood strings swelling everybody's happy, whether it's a cup of coffee or he's hugging each other. At least we found that the person looks at them and says, yeah, you really can't leave in one way. Either shows it or does it.
That's a movie. I would maybe injure Corny, it's cliche. Probably. Maybe it's old fashioned, but maybe I'm old fashioned. I like a movie like that. So people who what it takes to lead are people who are willing to step up and then actually do it. Walk the talk, if you will. Yes.
Very nice. Very interesting. I can say that a lot of people working on projects working in PMOs, you see those type of shy people and they're not necessarily wanting to come out once in a while. You see this bright light coming from these type of people and actually with great ideas.
And you'd be drawn out a little bit before I taught anything I was working. Don't be impressed. I was working at Harvard University when I was a clerk, very much a clerk early in my career and at the law school, as a matter of fact, and I had a great boss. I accidentally passed the computer system playing with it, and anybody else would have fired me. She says, you seem interested. Why don't you go to school for it? Okay. So I went to school for it. She paid for it, and I learned how to do that.
Then she caught me talking to one of the lawyers explaining something. You have an actor explaining what you teach. Okay. So it's kind of interesting that sometimes people pull you out and see something you don't see in yourself. And that teaching both those things. I got into computers at a heck of a career there. The career led to teaching, and it led to my being able to segue into it project management, which I've been doing. So I would say she's entirely responsible for my career. But, boy, she helped a lot.
She saw things to me. I think I spent the rest of my life as a clerk, but I wasn't quite sure what to do. And so she sort of pushed me in the right direction. So sometimes maybe a plot twist in my movie says, you can do it. Somebody's airplane of harmonic and saying, you can do it. So anyway, I think that maybe that too, what you have inside yourself. And every once in a while, someone to make you realize what they see in you that you don't see in yourself.
Yeah, that's really critical and important. That the right person seems the right strength. They can pull you into the right direction.
You don't even have a blind spot and don't see it at all. I never would have thought I would teach. I was an introvert and shy. I've spent more time staying in front of people in the last 30 years, like public speaking. Teaching don't bother me at all. Partially.
To her, throwing me out there saying, Just get up there and do it. That's right. Okay.
So I would move forward into our next one. So I know you go out to the book, but if you would have to write a new book on promoting and sustaining collaboration, what would be the title?
This will sound kind of boring.
But it's to the point. I say something like working together a recipe for success, because it's right to the point. It is a long title. It just gets to the point of working together. And because I do believe, especially since I've been involved in Agile, which is all about collaboration. So working together is a recipe for success. The cliche is there's? No, I in team. I'm pretty much a sole practitioner, but I never almost never not work in a team. I write questions as well. I do course wear it's kind of a sole thing.
But sometimes I have to collaborate. My friend Rich and I again, we got to know each other because we started writing questions together. For that woman, we would collaborate. I sent him a question. He sent me a question, et cetera. So working together recipe for successes. Maybe I will, because they're not working together, not collaborating. If you're in a team, it's the opposite. I think now would that promote and sustain it? I would spend most of the book explaining what I mean by working together wise recipes for success and promoting it and sustaining it.
Keep it going. I think collaboration is self sustaining. I think that if you have wins. I've seen this agile, especially if people start working together and they go through the various stages of norming forming storming and performing. If they go through those various stages and they start to see results because we're all very results driven. We're all instant gratification. I never thought about that before. Brain flash. There's a certain amount of instant gratification you don't get with waterfall. At the end of a sprint, you're done with something, some increment.
And during the sprint, you can see moving things across the task board from to do doing done. So there's sort of an instant gratification there and any of your velocity. So now at the end of a sprint, I'm pushing this sort of back to agile. You have velocity of ten stories, you have a lot of 15 stories, and you see the end result of state of collaborative. Not to say it's not true on the waterfall side at all, because it is. I don't promote agile versus workflow dependent situation, but I think I would write that book, and I would tell people that working together gives results.
And I'm fond of saying, collaboration or teamwork. It's nice if we all like each other better. That's great. Fantastic. But primarily for the project. If I go to my boss and he says, Are you collaborating? I was like, yeah, we all really like each other.
You would say, I don't care if you like each other.
Are you getting results? I'm happy you like each other. So it's about that and maybe about both some team building stuff. I'm going on about that. But that would be the title. It would be a lot about team building, collaboration, sharing of things. I think it would be about that. And I've become a real proponent of that. Like I said, even though I'm a sole practitioner, I still like to work with people and collaborate with people. You get the best results that way. I think there's even a principle around that again, going back to Agile about the best architectures and things coming from software design team, which is a little bit higher than just collaboration.
So that's my title. That's my book. I'll make a note to write that.
I will be the first one to read it because I would say collaboration and communication and people liking each other. It's sometimes easier said than done.
It's a Joe's question. He asked where we get on my book. It's called how to Facilitate Productive Project Planning Meetings. It's up on Amazon. Jeff Stewart. Richmoltsman. Thanks, Joe. Yeah, it is easier said than done, but it's worth the challenge, isn't it? Everything is easier said than done. We do the hard things and to do the hard things. Sometimes it's people are the hard thing we've got to work with. So that's why we do coaching. That's why I do coaching, because when the person says I can't do this, it's my job to try to figure out what is preventing you from.
I'm mentoring somebody. Starting tomorrow. There's a woman who approached me and she is a scientist, and she has asked me to coach her to a certain extent. So I'm going to do that and work with her and help with her collaboration and project management skills, et cetera. So that will help her collaborate better. And that's coaching and mentoring.
That's wonderful. I might be interested. I'm taking you on that as well.
There you go. Let's see how it works out with her first. Right.
I'm sure it will be excellent. All right. So next question that I have is if receiving an award, how would your customers thank you for influencing their sustainability?
Well, on this one, I'm going to go back to my friend Rich again. He's here more than I am. Right. Rich wrote a book on green project manager sustainability. Now we're talking about this. He defines sustainability as not necessarily being green, although there is that if you look at the pin box, he's influenced that book quite a bit far. He talks about it as being influencing beyond the end of the project. And having people think beyond an example he and I were talking about is, for example, if you're working with Keurig in the early days or somebody who is knowledgeable sustainable work with Keirig, they might have said, you know those coffee pods you're putting out there, they're going to become landfilled.
Now what they do with that information is up to them. Maybe some companies might say that's not your job to worry about that. But I think this project managers, in addition to being strategic, it is our job to worry about not only the outcome of the project, but if we know anything that might affect society or the world or the market beyond the end of the project, don't just think of sustainability as being don't know. They should print less because it's greener. True. But think about the after effects of the end of the project.
And what is that like if there's some social malfunction at the end of it? If you will? Like I said, it would be my job to a certain extent, our job to think beyond the end of the project houses. What does it affect beyond that? Not just begin with the end of mine as cover used to say, but think beyond the end of mine. And so I don't know that they would give me an award. Maybe they would at least if they gave me an award, it would only be because I helped them think about it.
I can't think of a specific example where somebody would come back and say that I did do that. Maybe I did. I can't think of it because I'm thinking in a different fashion. One of the problems we have as consultants and Rich and I were talking about this. They bring you in to do a specific thing, and they like to keep you within a box. So I'm forever approached by on LinkedIn, mostly by people who want me to go into companies and sell a tool that they have.
I say, you know what, not sell, but recommend. I say I like the tool that you have, but I'm going to almost guarantee you are going to go in and they're going to say we didn't bring you in here to use that tool. And by the way, we already have Excel, which does everything. Excel is a project manager. It's a scheduler. It's a can opener. It does everything we want. Okay, we don't need any other tool. So after a while, I just stop unless they ask that.
So the problem with this is they'll put me in a box and say, Run this project. That's all we want. Stay within that scope. So my eyes are open to influence the sustainability. But I don't know that I've got the point yet where I would receive an award. I know what to do, but I'm not the place yet where somebody would say, Well, you really affected. I guess the only thing I have done, I can say for sure, especially with the PMO. I've affected their way of thinking about how they run projects.
There's a certain amount of stainability there, but I like to do a little bit more than that. They'll probably give me an award to think if they want to at all. And most of the rewards consultants, they just pay us and maybe ask us to come back if they gave me an award at all, because I helped them think outside the box a little bit. But I still needed more thinking for myself about how I can influence customers and what the effect of their product is in the market and making sure that even if they disregard my advice, let me see.
Here I am all for sustainability and within my realm, I'm trying to do the same. Think beyond think after the project, think the project life after putting that last file away. What does that do to all this environment?
Full landfills of plastics bags that we're fishing out, even from our oceans, right?
Yeah. There's just tons of plastic out there. It may not be anything that dire, but at least if you have the ability to it's our professional obligation to tell the customer we can't make them do anything. We can't force the customer to do anything, but we can at least make them aware of particular things. I find, though truthfully, I'm usually so focused on bringing the project in on time. I may be not thinking of the after game, so I have to make myself think about that more.
It's a lesson for me. Even seeing your questions.
We always have to train ourselves to think in a certain direction, that's for sure. All right. So I would like to kind of move on to the next topic because we still have a couple of them and we're starting to run out of time. So you are hosting an event to celebrate culture integration with a partner organization. What is the team?
Simple. Celebrate our cultures so literally for that, the beauty part is, it doesn't say you're hosting an event to get together and know each other. Celebrate culture integration, where a better chance? I live in north of Boston, and we have every year anybody who's around should come to it. In July, we have the Lowell Folk Festival and the Folk Festival. Spoke music around the country, Fiddlers, bluegrass, Blues, old American music before their electric instruments. Although there are some of those as well. And when you go there not only do you have that from all over, but they have a food court, Ethiopian food, Korean food, that whole thing.
So I thought it was when I saw this and I thought, Well, you agree with a partner organization as a culture. Maybe I'm here in the States, and they're in, say, Germany, and maybe there's somebody in Asia or whatever. Well, celebrate your culture. Tell us something about it. Show us something about it. We are closed that reflect that if you want, because one of the problems we have sometimes, especially in America, we're so isolated sometimes seems like all we know is Canada and Mexico and barely even that.
Right. So it would be good to really open ourselves up to the other cultures, because not only is it a fun thing to do to hear about other cultures, but also make us work better together. I have a book I read periodically. It's called When Cultures Collide. It's a guy named Richard Lewis who's a Brit. Everybody should read it because he talks about he's the kind of guy you go to. If you say I'm going to work in Saudi Arabia for six months, he's the kind of you go to to learn how to acclimate to that culture.
I did work overseas or at least with the Middle East last year remotely. So not only will a culture that be fun for everybody and accepting of different cultures that will make it pave the way for working across those cultures. I think even if the culture is from north to south, from here, Massachusetts, down to Texas or whatever or from here to England, we know each other really well, or just the cultures of different States or cities or even the culture of the company, because different companies have different cultures.
Right. So that's what why don't we just be exactly what you're saying? Let's celebrate our cultures. Yes. Absolutely.
And I was fortunate working in companies that have a global presence. So I am dealing and learning a lot of things and favorite foods from every country.
Absolutely. Number one. My Finnish friend, the Finnish woman, she and I were in Paris, and she introduced me to pizza with an Eglan top. So there's that and then Finland sounds like an extraordinary, exact place to have to get to someday. They got all kinds of different cultural things that are very interesting. So one day I'll get there.
Yes, definitely. We must. All right. So next one, we have what would be your signature song for what it takes to build a community.
This makes me think of it old. Maybe it was a 60s or 70s song called United. We stand so United, we stand and buy that. We fall like an RnB song. It would be that I think it's that if you're really building a community, we stand and we fall together. Of course, you understand. We stand again, cliche. But what better way if I'm saying that to myself, it's like a really building a community and doing that and we're on it together. So that would be a nice song.
It's a catchy song.
My favorite song of all time. It's not a bad song. You find yourself singing along with it be here on the radio. So in a nutshell, they might think of some other ones. But when I first saw this, the first one that comes to mind, I think that song is about being in love with her, but it can be easily transferable to putting a community together. So I think that would be the one I think a lot of people would like it to. It's sort of a middle of the road song.
It's not a heavy rock. It's not something too sappy, so it would be nice to do that. I like the idea of having a song to build a community, although I will take that back a little bit. I can never get two people to agree on. You never get two people in the room to agree on what constitutes a good song, but it's pretty good song for what it is. And I think it speaks to the theme pretty well.
Since we were talking about global cultures and foods, our next question would be if your company were a food, what would it be and why?
Okay, hopefully, I know, Joe, I'm getting tired of the end of your talk, Joe, so hopefully you haven't used this one, but this one comes right to my smorgasbord. It's not any particular one particular food at a smorgasbord, there's a variety of food. You can get meat, you can get pasta, you can get what my son likes. He's not quite a vegetarian, but he likes a lot of health stuff. So my company is a smorgasport of food, and it is because I do a variety of things.
I do PMOs, but I don't just do PMOs. I run projects, but not just that. I write questions. I write courseware I do agile. I do wonderful. I do hybrid. I consult to people at a strategic level, just giving them advice. I mentor people. I coach people all those things. And the one thing I want to add that I haven't done yet. Two things. Well, one thing I haven't done yet is an agile transformation. That will be the one thing I want to add to my skill set.
I believe I could do one, but I haven't done one yet, so I can't pretend that I have. So for me, it'll be a smorgasbord because of a variety of things I can do. If somebody says, Well, I came to your smorgasp, and I don't see this particular dish, and that dish is the added transformation. I say, I'm sorry we don't have that. We want to add some menu, but we're not quite there yet. And if they were to say to me, Well, could you add it on my behalf?
And I say something like, well, if you will to give it a try. I haven't cooked it before. I'm going to Cook it for you. I will give you a shot. So I see it like the smorgasbord of offerings within a specific set. And within that set to bring it back to what I do is within project management. Mostly it some pharmaceutical, some financial. But I don't do construction just for one example or Aeronautics. I never been in those places, and it's likely I won't mind it.
But I know enough to know that people in construction grow up in construction. So it's a specific set of foods that I offer. I'll probably be offering more over the course of the next year or so as I'm drawn into them. And I think it's a pretty satisfying sport of food, everything everybody wants. But I think it's sufficient for me to do a variety of things.
I have a question here.
Can I answer this? Somebody in terms of training, have I seen a rise and request? Can I answer this, or do you want to ask another question? No. Definitely
Okay. In terms of training, have you seen the rise and request an algebra environment with distributed teams? Yeah. Well, there's two things around that the training has been. Let's stick with the training for a second. I've done some in person training. I'm doing Agile ACP in person in Boston in December, which is the actual certified practitioner. And so it's been like 80 20 virtual people don't want to still want to go places. The question was, how do I sustain an agile environment with distributed teams? Here's the interesting thing.
Not really. I'm going to tell you why the Agiles already have been doing that. It's the Agiles. I've been using Zoom since a year or more before the pandemic, because of the Agile list. I've been using Slack because of the Angels. I've been using Mural and somewhat mural because of the Agiles. If you go to any kind of an Agile session just for a webinar, they use a lot of those tools. So answer to Julie's question somewhat. Yes, but it seems to me and I could be maybe just my data point.
I already seen that the Agile fell into doing distributed teams naturally, because they were kind of doing them already. Agile teams tend to lean younger, little more experimental, and they were doing a lot of those things. So, Julie, the answer is yes, but not as dramatically as you might think, because it was sort of like they were already there. That's my observation. Yes.
Great insight. Thank you so much for answering that question.
I'm also writing a blog post. I can send it to you later. It's about doing retrospectives rotor, and if that's something you sent out to your group, I was asked to write it. So once it's available shortly, I can share it with you and share with you folks if you'd like.
Of course, we're hungry for information. So anything that you can send to us, and I'm sure our audience will be appreciative of that as well. Thank you. So this kind of brought us to the last of our questions, and I'm not seeing too many questions popping up at this point. Just maybe real quick before our closure. Could you give us in one or two sentences? What is your opinion that makes a PMO successful?
Good question. I think it's leadership sponsorship number one, and it's leadership, and I think it has to have a clear mission, has to have a good, strong sponsor and has to sustain itself in some way. It has to show value to the organization and then continue as value. It can't show it's got sponsorship, it's got leadership. It shows value. It can't show value today and then not show value in January because people will quickly Zoom this interest. People will say the PMO doesn't know what I want, so it has to move with your organization.
We have business agility today. Organizations are moving fast. Pmo has to shift with it or it will not be of any value organization. I've seen them just go down, just succumb to that. So I would say sponsorship, leadership and moving with your organization would be my three things great.
Thank you so much, Jim. I would like to thank you for your time today and providing us really with great insights about you and about JP Stewart's Consulting. If people are interested in learning or tapping more into, I have your contact in here displayed for the audience or it's your right phone.
Everything's good there. If people want to send me questions, I don't start a clock or anything, right? So they have questions they can write to me is my email address they're probably using for some reason. That's funny of all things. Not to be there. So I'm at JStewart at jpsteworkconsulting. Com.
Okay, so we will correct that and let the audience know. But anyway, thanks again. I think you brought us a lot of good information today and for all of the audience here, I would like to let you know that this concludes our spotlight on JP Stewart LLC today. I would like to encourage and be sure that you join us for our next episode during November, where my cohost Julianne will be highlighting another great service organization. So please follow the detail will be coming out soon on the Pmore site and in the social media as well.
So I would like to thank you again. Jim, I would like to thank our host.
I wish you a good day. A good rest of the weekend week. Take care, stay safe and see you next month.
All right. Thanks a lot.
Thank you. Bye.