We Need to Expand Our Mindset and Skillset

An interview with Managementpro.com founder, Terry Schmidt 

by Sherry Morisch, Director of Content Distribution, PMI Portland Chapter 

schmidt terryThis year marked the first Open Space event held by our PMI Portland Chapter during their Annual Conference. The event provided an opportunity for speakers and participants to share their expertise, ask thoughtful questions, and enlighten each other with new perspectives. While attending this event, I sat down with Managementpro.com founder, Terry Schmidt, to learn more about his breakthrough Logical Framework Approach (LFA) to strategic project management. During our discussion I learned why his training is sought after internationally. Terry’s approach gives leaders at all levels an expanded mindset and a fresh skillset to plan complex projects faster and reduce problems in advance.

Terry brings 35 years of knowledge and experience working with hundreds of project teams in 38 countries. He has introduced the LFA to organizations including Timex, Apple, Boeing, Blizzard Entertainment, Symantec, and the US Department of EnergyDuring his career, Terry has refined an up-front planning process which integrates best practices from strategic planning, project management, and the scientific method, processes described in his book, “Strategic Project Management Made Simple” (Wiley, 2009). Terry explained how the common language, simple concepts, and systematic approach in this book enable teams to reduce project design time by up to 80% and avoid the “activity trap.”

Foundations built in the Logical Framework Approach (LFA)

The LFA offers an interactive matrix which helps design projects by answering four fundamental questions: 

  1. What are we trying to accomplish and why? 
  2. How will we measure success?
  3. What other conditions must exist?
  4. How do we get there?

FLA diagramThis framework recognizes that all projects have four levels of distinct objectives (inputs, outcomes, purpose and goal) and that these can be organized into a logical hierarchy, using causal if-then logic. (Question #1) Objectives at each level are further clarified using success measures and means of verifying them, which enables monitoring (Question #1). Identifying crucial assumptions (Question #3) takes into account external and environmental factors that might otherwise be missed, and is a jumping off point to risk analysis. With this framework in place, teams can more confidently develop the work plan (Question #4).

The LFA offers project leaders at all levels a common language, gets key players on board, sets up clear success measures, builds unified teams, reduces problems in advance, and turns good project ideas into action faster and smoother than conventional methods. The question-driven approach invites deeper thinking of the environmental context, relationship to other projects, and what is needed to make the project succeed.

We also discussed how project managers must expand their mindset to become more strategic in this fast-change world. To thrive, they must equip themselves with skills that offer greater strategic agility and readily transfer across different domains. The LFA does just that, and his book is a must read for the proactive leaders and teams. Resources:

Strategic PM bookcover“Strategic Project Management Made Simple”  Find your copy at Amazon.com or at bit.ly/strategicbook.

Terry has created a series of free content-rich videos designed to increase your strategic project IQ, register at bit.ly/Terry-172.

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