I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 PMI PMO Symposium in warm and sunny city of San Diego from 11/6/16 to 11/9/16.  The primary theme of this years event was focused on the 2016 PMI Thought Leadership series “Creating Lasting Value – Benefits Realization Management“.  I have had the opportunity to attend this event a couple of times previously, and find them to be a good value for the time and costs associated with attending.

General Observations


There was just over 700 people in attendance this year, aside from the normal expectations for networking and educational opportunities  there were some interesting observations I came away with.


  1. There were a lot of first time attendees this year.  In one session I attended, when that question was asked, over 80% of the people in the room said it was their first time attending a PMO Symposium, as well as their PMO was either just starting or was less than 1 year old.  I would say there was 60-80 people in the room for this session.  What that tells me, is that more companies are seeing the value and making the investment in creating and staffing a PMO.
  2. There was a new concept made available to attendees to this years event.  The Knowledge Hubs, which were a small group round table discussion group, were held multiple times throughout the event.  I took the opportunity to attend some of these and found them to be very engaging.  The concept was that an event speaker would lead this small group in a discussion on a specific topic, and the full group would engage and discuss their experiences around that topic.  It was interesting to engage and share with others in the more intimate setting.  I hope they continue this format at future events.
  3. As I am finding it to be normal for this event, the variety of opportunities to take educational sessions on a variety of topics, beyond the core theme, were available and valuable.  From personal development sessions such as “Emotional Intelligence” and “Managing High Performing Teams” to more specific sessions such as “How to Build a Global PMO of the Future” and Benefits Management in an Agile World”, you could find sessions that would meet your needs.


Key Note Speakers


The always engaging Keynote Speakers this year brought great messages to the attendees.  The opening Keynote speaker, Jim McNerney, Former President and CEO of The Boeing Company, brought a great message on “Leading Innovation”.  Speaking directly to the rewards and challenges of bring the Boeing Dreamliner project to life.  How the leadership of Boeing focused on PMO Leaders, Program and Project Managers to bring the vision of this program to life.


Dr. Jonah Berger, speaking on “Invisible Influence – The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior” spoke to the behavior that leaders can encourage and utilize to help their teams be more successful.  Who would have ever realized that a restaurant waiter who accurately repeats back your food order in the same tone and order in which it was given receives an average 70% larger tip because you believe that they have a more direct rapport with you.  I am going to have to watch that as I go out to eat for a while and if the wait staff knows that small behavior, and what it can do for their pocketbook!


On a personal note, I know I am still working on some of the concepts that I took away personally, and hope to continue to remember them going forward.  One of the most simple, and one I hope to remind myself of frequently came from the Emotional Intelligence session.  Its a simple equation.  “S + R = E”.  That stands for “Situation + Response = Experience”.  A simple reminder that I control the experience of any situation, by my response.  How I choose to respond to any situation, defines my experience, no the situation itself.  Think about that for a while and see if it settles in for you as it did for me.


Overall, the event was a great success.  No matter if you focused on networking, and relationship development, or you focused on expanding your knowledge and learning opportunities, there was a variety of ways for you to come away from this event with a feeling of success.  I know I am still working on some of the concepts that I took away personally, and hope to continue to remember them going forward.  One of the most simple, and one I hope to remind myself of frequently came from the Emotional Intelligence session.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Don Clarke

Don Clarke

Co-Founder: Project Management for Today

As a Co-Founder of the pmfortoday.com website, Don Clarke has over 20  years of experience in the Project Management / Program Management space.  Having worked for a variety of companies over the last 20 years, he brings a strong base of knowledge in the industry.  Establishing or helping redefine multiple PMO's during this time, there is a unique perspective to his approach to developing the value of a Project Management Office (PMO), as well as his approach to leadership development within the organization.  Having been privileged to have multiple career defining mentoring experiences, Don realizes the importance of sharing that experience and giving back to the organizations where he is engaged.


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