We love the idea of a PMO summer school!
Traditionally summer schools are run by educational establishments when regular school hours are over for the summer. Learners often use them to ‘continue learning, explore new subjects, catch up on missed coursework, or gain additional academic credits’. They often have various programmes and sessions – some more formal education, others like workshops and discussion groups. Summer schools can last several weeks or just a few days.
Summer feels like a great time to perhaps catch up on some of the things we’ve missed whilst working through the winter months and hunkering down on dark nights. We perhaps have time to read a short article whilst sitting in the sun at lunchtime or schedules at work means a couple of days are available for a new training course.
We got thinking about learning over the summer months – and whilst you can opt for formal virtual courses, like those from PMO Learning, PMO practitioners can explore something else.
Summer schools all sound a bit like communities of practices – something we see a lot of in organisations today that are keen to ensure employees are knowledge-sharing and learning from each other. With communities of practice, there are several different approaches, just like with summer schools and the aims are essentially the same – to keep learning!
Communities of practice can take different forms, here are a few which might appeal to PMO practitioners this summer and maybe now is the time to start thinking about kick-starting communities of practice in your organisation.
These are virtual CoPs that exist on digital platforms such as discussion forums, social media groups, or dedicated online platforms. Participants connect and interact virtually, sharing knowledge, resources, and engaging in discussions about a specific domain or interest.
We see a lot of PMO practitioners taking advantage of the technology of Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint and Zoom.
Did you know that PMO Learning can offer your virtual / online PMO communities some support? We can provide short training sessions for the whole team or create and run facilitated sessions on key topics the whole PMO team is keen to learn about. One of the things we’re particularly good at is getting people engaged for learning, especially when it’s online!
Within organisations, communities of practice can emerge naturally or be intentionally created. Employees who share a common role, expertise, or interest come together to exchange knowledge, solve problems, and improve their work practices. These communities can be organised through regular meetings, project teams, or online platforms.
We have seen a rapid increase in the number of PMOs who are creating and running their own CoPs. Part of this increase is related to the pandemic and change in how people work – working remotely more often has left many people feeling disconnected from their work colleagues and team members. Bringing people together – onsite, in the office or at away-days is helping PMOs to keep connected, allow new colleagues to meet others, and crucially learn whilst having a little fun. Could this be a good time to launch your own CoP through the summer months?
At PMO Learning, we are used to running sessions for PMO teams, so if your community of practice needs something new, perhaps an external perspective of PMOs – or a facilitated session like a World Cafe, we’re on hand to help with the learning.
Workplace communities are also about bringing together people from different roles across the organisation too. PMOs often have the remit to improve capability across the wider delivery organisation – that includes delivery managers such as Project Managers, technical resources in project teams, sponsors and other senior management with a vested interest in seeing the maturity levels of delivery increase.
The PMO are often responsible for pulling together the event/s – formulating the agenda, and devising sessions which promote interaction and learning. It can be a fun activity for the PMO to get involved in – and sometimes daunting if you haven’t organised an event like this before.
Remember, at PMO Learning, we also offer facilitation training – it’s one of those skills that have several uses – including running workshops, planning meetings and retrospectives.
Workplace Learning Networks
Organisations can also establish learning networks as communities of practice. These networks tend to focus more on learning specific topics, and participants can enhance their understanding through discussions, seminars, and joint projects.
For PMO CoPs with learning as a main objective – a learning network brings practitioners together to focus on closing skills gaps, upskilling in new areas, undertaking formal studies together.
At PMO Learning, we have seen a number of learning networks where PMO practitioners come together to learn and study – they have chosen PMO Learning courses to be delivered in full over a number of days. Interestingly some of our customers have opted for slicing and dicing of our courses for example, carrying out P3O Foundation overviews in a half-day session. eLearning has also been used together too – each practitioner in the PMO team completes the modules individually but come together for team briefings and revision time throughout.
Informal communities of practice can form spontaneously among individuals with shared interests. These communities can exist within local neighbourhoods, hobbyist groups, or online communities where individuals come together to exchange knowledge, skills, and experiences.
In the PMO (Project Management Office) world, even simple initiatives can contribute to forming communities of practice. For example, creating a lunchtime group or a book club where colleagues can learn together fosters a sense of community. “Show and tell” sessions, where each person shares their work challenges or successes, allow for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Individuals can take turns running sessions to share new processes, techniques, or tools they have recently learned. The key to these informal gatherings is to allocate dedicated time and schedule them in advance.
However, maintaining vibrant and engaging communities of practice requires continuous energy and commitment. It is essential to keep the sessions interesting, relevant, and inspiring regularly. Encouraging active participation, fostering a supportive environment, and staying open to new ideas are crucial factors for the success of these communities. By investing in developing and nurturing communities of practice, PMOs can create a culture of continuous learning, collaboration, and innovation within the organisation.
Get in touch with PMO Learning if you’re looking for some learning inspiration this summer and kick off your community of practice – or summer school!