PMI Portland Chapter

2016 AC Session Spotlights

2016 Annual Conference Session Spotlights

This year’s Annual Conference was a full, two day, innovative event - the first of its kind in PMI Portland Chapter history! Jodi Weyrauch, Stephen Wilks, and Dale Crane offer three comprehensive session spotlights from this year’s lineup of fantastic speakers.

Looking for quick takeaways from other sessions? Go here to the #sessionsnapshots article.

Keynote Address: “Coloring Outside the Lines,” Jeff Tobe 

by Jodi Weyrauch

Tobe1“Put your watch or bracelet on the opposite arm, and after 21 days it will start to feel normal.” Kicking off this year’s Annual Conference, Jeff Tobe, M.Ed., CSP, awakened the morning crowd by springing into the room with infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy. For over an hour he challenged the crowd with engaging discussions on breaking habits, questioning the norm, and helping to bring out the creativity in all of us. When attendees were later asked about Jeff’s presentation, they overwhelmingly agreed he raised the bar high for the upcoming event sessions, and noted that he left a “lasting impression.”

Jeff is a Certified Speaking Professional and prides himself on presenting up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge material as it relates to designing the ideal customer EXPERIENCE by getting your people more ENGAGED at what they do every day. So it was not surprising he kept the crowd thoroughly engaged with his Miss A, Mr. B (through E) scenario and as the possibilities played out - made us question whether or not we are able to look at our role in the organization from a different perspective.


The core of Jeff’s message challenged us to redefine our perception of creativity:

  1. Why be creative? It’s more fun, inspires Innovation, allows us to solve problems
  2. If it ain’t broke – break it!
  3. Coloring outside the lines – checking the edge of the page
  4. Learn to see the invisible opportunities where others only see visible limitations
  5. In life you miss 100% of the shots you never take

Jeff’s inspiration for his popular book Coloring Outside the Lines, and his inspiration to help drive businesses forward by fostering innovation and creativity in their employees, came from the following poem shared by his father when Jeff was 10 years old:


Coloring outside the Lines is scary business.

Some days, I don’t have the courage for it at all.

On my big bold days though,

I like to let my red crayon just streak across the lines

Out there with my purple…

In perfect freedom,


Coloring outside the Lines is lonely too!

I’m the only one who doesn’t get a gold star on my paper.

The teacher frowns.

The kids call me weird or dumb or stupid.

Why don’t they see that I’m not behind them,

I’m actually out in front,


It would be nice to have a friend who would

Color outside the lines, sometimes, too.



“Primal Teams,” Jackie Barretta

by Stephen Wilks

BarrettaJackie worked as a CIO for at least one Fortune 500 company and has written books on team dynamics. Jackie’s presentation, called Primal Teams (Harnessing the Power of Emotion to Fuel Success), identifies 6 myths of business leadership that thwart beneficial emotions.

Myth #1 Business Relationships should be Professional. She lists several examples of how successful teams go beyond the professional relationship. I know from my own experience knowing my teammates’ outside interest have helped me to resolve team conflicts. By knowing what they enjoy we are able to incorporate the “likes” and understand the dislikes better. A team that plays together is more understanding of their teammates.

Myth #2 Always Stay Calm & Cool. If your teams are not allowed to show their fears and negativity, how honest is the communications? Jackie recommends getting in tune with the team’s fears and negativity. Recognize them so that team members can move past them.

Myth #3 Drive Efficiency & Expertise. When teams are only focused on performance, they will soon learn what is being measured and perform up to that standard and rarely beyond. So learn to master the stress rather than the performance. Tap the beginners mind. Too many times the experienced will not recognize that something has changed to allow for new options. Performing to a standard encourages in the box thinking and tends to discourage risk taking which is where most real gains are made. Jackie used an example of someone in the Blue man team. At first it was fun but as it became routine even the dream job became “just going through the motions”.

Myth #4 Run a Tight Ship. Jackie says, Lift the weight of rules. Believe that people want to do a good job and work with that “Expect People to do the Right Thing Without the Need for lots of Rules.”

Myth #5 Data Driven Decisions are Superior. Jackie pointed out that we need to “Sense Intuitive Signals” we know how it feels when the energy is good or bad, trust the feeling. Rather than relying strictly on data. Allow and encourage failure and the lessons failure bring.

Myth #6 Business is No Place for the Heart. When people have their human needs satisfied. They are more likely to “get on board” with the program. Listen to the heart with the 5 Whys.

In summary, Primal Teams build emotional bonds, confront fear and negativity. They promote mastery and trust. There is a balance of data with intuition that allows them to connect with heartfelt purpose.

So, do you want your team to be Apprehensive, Unappealing and Detached, or Creative, Attractive and Engaged?

I have had the opportunity to work with Jackie and know that these are not just words - she practices what she professes. It was a joy to be on teams she influenced and others wanted to be on those teams, simply because we had fun and were productive. Jackie, as always, impressed me with her communications skills and her ability to get to the root quickly. I just covered a sliver of what Jackie discussed and her Questions and Answers after the presentation were even more enlightening.

“Cultivate Virtual Collaboration,” Line Mørkbak

by Dale Crane

MorkbakMørkbak immediately engaged the audience by exploring how much distance between team members causes an impact on work and what the effects are. After the audience shared their experience and anecdotes, Line showed us that the effects have been studied and quantified as:

  • 90% Drop in Innovation
  • 83% Drop in Trust
  • 60% Drop in On-Time & On-Budget Performance

Since distributed teams are a fact of life for many companies, we must employ strategies to mitigate these effects.

First, the complexity of the distributed team must be assessed. Additionally, recognizing the factors that add to complexity can open up opportunities to address team structures that can be modified to reduce complexity.

Second, the team should work together to identify strategies that they can employ to build trust and foster open communication within the team.

Finally, the team implements the strategies and continues to look for opportunities for growth.

Mørkbak  laid out many strategies such as:

  • Create team agreements/ground rules
  • Utilize tools to schedule meetings
  • Rotate meeting times to "share the pain"
  • Have all participants join virtually if one person is virtual
  • Use video to improve amount of information shared
  • Make mutual commitment to be present

She also provided tips on building trust within a team any keys for engaging virtual meetings.

As a veteran of several multinational teams, I heard several unique and brilliant ideas that I could immediately put to use. Much of the core themes can be applied to co-located teams as well. Overall, I think all of us gained some great new strategies to apply.