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Socialising the PMO - Chair Overview

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Posted by APM on 23rd Nov 2015

Our Socialising the PMO conference focused on PMO as an enabler to building and supporting Portfolio, Programme, and Project environments in business. It was designed to look back over the years and inspire delegates to think about the future of their PMO.

In the current world we live; and that which we are swiftly moving towards, there is no such thing as waiting for information, analysis, or points of view. The instantaneous nature of social media (in all its' forms – love or hate it) is fundamentally changing the way the PMOs operate. And if it isn’t for you, it should be!

Delegates were invited to a brand new, never before used, beautiful venue; Holborn Bars in central London. The venue was indeed stunning – would we use it again? Yes, but for smaller events.

The conference was a victim of its own success – and whilst oversubscribed is great in our minds, the venue was not able to comfortably accommodate us in terms of space, sound, and food that catered for all tastes.

The interactive nature of the day – again caused us issues when coupled with the unfamiliar venue. This meant a lack of flow for you when arriving and a tight squeeze for both our partners of the day; and the workshops we wanted you to be a part of.

The ambience and general feel on the day however was tantamount to a truly creative space where people were seen and heard to be debating the issues of the day. The evening reception celebrating the PMO SIGs 15th Birthday was also a breeding ground for lively debates and discussions about 'what's next'.

The way I saw it our speakers and partners were phenomenal. They all dealt with technological and logistic issues perfectly and appeared for the most part unphased (which is more that can be said for me having arrived almost literally off an extended period away from the hussle and bussle of organising the final pieces of the jigsaw!).

Peter Taylor (The Lazy Project Manager) was not able to join us on the day but provided some insightful views on the topic via video cast; which coincidentally mirrored the release of his new book "The Social Project Manager".

Carole Osterweil (OMQ) gave everyone food for thought in the subject of brain science – not a topic normally associated with PMO, and yet we deal with change and how people react to it every single day. A follow on event is being organised with Carole for delegates (and others) to delve even deeper into the psyche!

Our real PMO story came from the Civil Service this year – another insightful journey that was well received and well delivered.

Andy Blatchford provided us with an overview of how Microsoft will enable social working in the future. I always reflect on the fact that whenever a software provider stands up at a conference it is deemed a 'sales pitch'. For me, Andy (thanks to Wellingtone Project Management) did a great job finding the balance between what Microsoft can do for us now and what it is planning to bring to the table in the coming years. Albeit I get that people don’t necessarily want to be told about technology; I feel passionately that it would be irresponsible of us to ignore it exists entirely – especially when talking about this topic!

Jonnie Jensen (Live and Social) was asked to give PMO people a real world view of social media and how it can help or hinder businesses from successfully going social. A very insightful talk that any PMO manager should have taken away to their own small enterprise. Just because Jonnie talked about wider business, does not mean you cannot apply it to your PMO.

We finally gave Jonathan Norman a chance to speak at a PMO SIG conference! Jonathan and Gower Publishing have been a huge supporter of us over the years, and we finally picked a topic that they could really help us to understand a little better. The Gower GPmFirst collaboration platform was provided to delegates free of charge for an agreed amount of time so that delegates could understand more about social learning and how powerful it can be.

Last but by no means least, Professor Eddie Obeng (Pentacle). Marmite? Yes. Energising? Absolutely! Interesting? Definitely! Exhausting to watch? OMG yes! Eddie performed his bag of tricks so to speak (which included standing on a chair) and gave his view on why virtual working, learning, and even living can help PMOs achieve the social working accolades they (should) now seek. I truly hope we see Eddie again soon.

Our partners on the day were really faultless – Biggerplate in particular made themselves a true part of the day, mindmapping and talking to delegates about how the technique can really bring people together. You can view the mindmaps from the day below.


Session title



Gower and social learning

Jonathan Norman, Gower
Audio recording


Social brain science

Carole Osterweil, OMQ Consulting
Audio recording


Live or Die: the reality of going social

Jonnie Jensen, Live+Social
Audio recording


Social tooling

Andy Blatchford, Microsoft


Social learning & networking

Various: futures, methods and communities


Virtual working and organisation - using Qube and papershow

Eddie Obeng, Pentacle Business School
Audio recording

Four audio podcast recordings from the day are availbale for listening to below and are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.
The 'Social brain science' podcast by Carole Osterweils is licensed by OMQ Consulting Ltd under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

We know that some of you had trouble getting your headshots completed due to time crunch – unfortunately for us, the photographer was unwell. We apologise unreservedly if you queued to no avail.

Throughout the day we asked you to provide us with a little bit of PMO Wisdom so that we could create a yearbook as a keepsake. My favourite encompasses a lot of what we were trying to achieve "If people are sceptical about a PMO you need to go on the offensive and give those people a really good listening to!".

Lastly, our workshops. Were full! So full that people were crammed in the library to get involved. We said at the beginning of the day we would rather delegates went to the workshops that would add value rather than have to fill gaps elsewhere. So, cosy indeed it was. But boy did we get some excellent insights which we will take directly to the next set of events we host. 

In the end 8 out of 10 delegates would recommend the event so that gives me and the team both scope for improvement and empowerment to continue down the path that we have started on this year!
Thank you.

Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton

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