Project Management Insights from NCPMI 2014

It was a wonderful opportunity to attend this year’s North Carolina Project Management Institute (NCPMI) Annual Conference in the Raleigh Convention Center in lovely downtown. With ~ 800 of my dear fellow Project Managers, I attended multiple presentations by leaders in the Project Management field.

Karen Tate (twitter handle @GriffinTate_Inc) of the GriffinTate Group was one of the morning speakers. With her years of service to PMI at the national and even global levels, it was a special treat to have her present in person to this North Carolina crowd.

And I was delighted to learn she is one of the authors of the Project Management Memory Jogger – which was a required text in the Western Carolina University Masters of Project Management (MPM) program. The Memory Jogger is exactly that and a great resource to pinpoint processes and tools for a given Project Management challenge.


There was a ton of great information in Karen’s hour long presentation, but I’ll share some of the key points that I think are helpful no matter the type of project you are managing:

Characteristics of a great project manager

  • Hands on attitude
  • Embrace Risk
  • Politely Assertive
  • Takes Initiative

How to be a great project manager:

  • Own Your Own Project
  • Lead Team with Your Heart
  • Make it Happen attitude
  • Practice Project Intelligence
  • Adopt S.M.A.R.T. (Specific- Measurable-Achievable-Realistic-Tangible) goals

“Language of Management”

Karen also spoke to the topic of dealing with management, especially in today’s world of big data. Often managers want data but the data itself doesn’t tell the full story. A Project Manager needs to speak the “language of management” and bridge that potential gap between time, money, quality, and data. The data should be explained in terms of business impact. In other words, use data to explain the impact on time, money and quality. Rather than just say, “well, it will take longer” be able to use data to show how much longer, and the resulting impact on budget.

“Don’t Be a Data Dumper”

The “language of management” tied into a later comment from Karen. She advised her follow project managers: “don’t be a data dumper, but be a message mechanic”. This is a critical piece of advice that can be applied to project managers and other team members alike. It is important to not just “dump” data onto your project stakeholders or management or clients and walk away with a “well, there’s the data, deal with it” attitude. Rather, use the data to explain or support the key message or requested action. Also make sure that the data you are presenting aligns with the needs of your target audience. As the Project Manager, it is important to target your communications to your different project audiences.

“Effectively Execute”

And throughout your project, the Project Manager needs to have the pulse of the project. Karen provided 3 great phrases to summarize an ideal Project Manager during the execute phase:

  • Know “what’s going on?”
  • Be Brilliant, Be Brief, Be Gone
  • Communicate The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

In other words, the project manager needs to know the project status without getting in the team’s way and be able to communicate both good and bad news to keep needed information flowing.

A big thanks to Karen for being part of the NC PMI Annual Conference 2014! Her advice and insight is a great resource for all Project Managers. And to demonstrate the “Be Brilliant, Be Brief, Be Gone” advice….

The End.