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True North PMO leadership

Bill George wrote a book in 2007 about leaders who have internal compasses that guides them to life success.

The book was called True North. True north leadership was described as a fixed point based on one’s values, passions, motivations and satisfaction. If one is detoured out of her true north for any reason, the internal compass puts her back on track. As leadership is about growing others, motivating them and making each team member go for one’s best, true north leadership can be very helpful.

As I have been leading Project Management Offices for quite some time, my catch is about true north and PMO clients. I keep asking every time I have a chance, what is really one of the most important success factors for a PMO to succeed?  Almost the majority of the answers I heard revolved around happy PMO clients. These clients maybe organization functions, customers, or sponsors who all have expectations. Now what we as PMO leaders, Subject Matter Experts, consultants or advisors, provide them with; are simply PM benefits that they need to use.  This is the reality they perceive, their happiness is simply the ratio between expectations and reality. In a previous post, I have written on LinkedIn about PMO tipping point, I have suggested that probably every PMO has a different and unique tipping point value, the point where you feel, know and can demonstrate that your PMO have gained enough momentum to get support from its clients. This is where your network is growing quicker, this is when you and your team are delivering.

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Satisfaction of PMO clients is however never fixed, it changes with projects outcomes, and relative to the organization culture and in regard to several other factors. Bottom line is we need to keep it going steady regardless of all that change where sometimes the rate of this change is impactful to shake our PMO’s. What really could work here is visualizing and creating true north profiles for our PMO clients, we need to find out how our PMO benefits are sustaining these clients wants and needs, specifically their motivation, satisfaction and happiness. In Other words we need dynamic PMO leadership. Easier said than done , we need to keep prioritizing the PMO functions that deliver those changing PM benefits , so we need to act based on the true north of these clients , simply because their perception of satisfaction is based on how aligned they are with our most recent PMO benefits .  Once they become aligned again and again with what our teams deliver, we then get the best out of them, simply put we get to see the “real them” more often. Yes this is demanding, but who said PMOs never fail. Managing the relationship smartly is what I may call true north PMO leadership. It is based on keen stakeholder management related to those changing PMO benefits that we need to deliver.  Each client will then speak, listen and act from her true north, this is not a dream, and it is simply working towards those outcomes in dynamic modes that considers nothing is constant. This not only saves time spent on arguments, conflict resolution or politics but boosts efficiency and effectiveness of a PMO.

As humans and In our race with computers and machines, that are equipped with Artificial Intelligence, and “Machines Learning” and other digital technologies, we need to acquire new PMO skills, fresh innovative ideas and team members who can go beyond and to the end, and maybe new tools but most importantly we need to rethink how we think about our clients! 

Yasar Ajlouni

Seasoned program management professional and engineering graduate since 1982 LIT USA •35 Plus years of experience, in several industries including Aviation, Military, Manufacturing, Utilities, Nuclear, and Real Estate •Retired Brigadier from the Royal Jordanian Air Force ( 1982-2006) •Masters Degree in Engineering from Kings College London 1993 •Have almost 10 Plus years in PMO experience in MENA, UAE, and KSA ( 2008-2020) •Serval Certifications including, PMP, MSP, PMOC, PMO VALUE RING CP, Certified Innovation Manager, Digital Business Transformation Management, Accredited Customer Experience Master, Foundational Certification in Agile Scrum. •Author of several PM articles •Speaker and a member of PMI Thought leadership Committee •Passionate Father for two engineers.

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