Get Better at the PMO Role You Perform

Ever feel like you spend all your time carrying out your role in PMO and not enough time on focusing on getting better at what you do. We spend time “performing” and not enough time “learning” which ultimately affects our ability to getting better at what we do.

Eduardo Briceno, a learning expert from Mindset Works gave a TED talk called “How to get better at the things you care about” and the insights are a great reminder to all of us that just performing our work, day in and day out without time to reflect, try something new and ultimately learn new things means we fail to grow in our roles.

The key to getting better at what you do is about alternating between performing the role and learning. We must want to learn and get better at what we do. He calls this the growth mindset. You have to want to improve; believe that you can improve then know how to improve.

He talks about flawless execution cultures and how organisations today fostering this type of culture encourages people to stay in their comfort zones – just performing the role with minimal innovation and discouraging the opportunity to try new things. Failure or even just having the time to try out new things is not an environment most of us work in.

Yet when we’re in learning mode, we are in a low-stake environment. It’s OK to practice and to fail – we’re on a tightrope with a safety net. But what about the realities of working life – where we don’t often have time to take 5 days out of the office whilst we learn and practice and fail?

Briceno talks about creating low-stake islands in high-stake environments when it comes to learning within the role we perform. He’s talking about the times we can reflect on our performance or a task we have done and think about how we could do it better, soliciting feedback from others throughout the work we do or use mentors for ideas and conversations. Making time to read, take short courses, watch on-line videos, incorporating them into the working day.

He also talks about spending more time exploring, acting, listening, experimenting, reflecting, striving and becoming. And that we should all have something we’re looking to improve on. That improvements should be never-ending.

For people working in PMO today there are a number of different ideas this session inspires, for me these include;

  1. Consider bringing everyone together who works in the PMO and create a Community of Practice so new ideas and experiments can be tried out away from the ongoing operations of supporting programmes and projects.
  2. Make lessons learnt come alive within the PMO – make it an aim that once a month a lessons learnt (or retrospective) is held about a key PMO function or service.
  3. Bring in external speakers on topic areas that you want to improve on.
  4. Start up a mentor programme – not just within the PMO but across as many departments as you can enlist.
  5. Create little low-stake islands; sandpits for trying out new ideas; lunch and learns for sharing insights; short webinars or internal courses on key processes; find smart project managers who want to be the guinea pigs!

These are just a handful of ideas that popped into my head when I spent 11 minutes listening to Eduardo Briceno. So how about you? Does it inspire you to think about how you could get better at the PMO role you perform?

TED talk


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