Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mentors inspect, adapt Agile approach

"The Agile Mentor" introduced Project Management Institute Chicagoland Chapter members to the idea of using work teams as an opportunity for mentoring and growth.

The continuing-education session at DePaul University was part of a long-running chapter program to match project managers with students of the discipline. In this case, professionals adopted a scrum team's self-organizing principles to “lead without the title” and look for mentors in their own practice.

Corporate event planner Mark J. Carter opened the Saturday session. He said his contacts and clients all have mentors; people who've helped them solve problems.

"Everybody has some type of genius," Carter said. "You can learn from a 20 year old. People with no experience in project management may know someone with an answer."

Participants also shared their thoughts on mentoring. "What a great listener my mentor was," said Sana Mahmood. "It’s that level of attention we don’t get anymore."

Project management consultant Terry Tierney, PMP began the workshop by split the attendees into groups of six to put mentoring principals to work in an interactive and iterative development exercise.

Each team brainstormed an aviation system that could integrate college campuses and major cities. They had 90 minutes to identify a project manager, the venture's two biggest issues and their solutions, and connections to advise and support the enterprise.

Teams followed a lunch break with a round of "speed networking" with classmates. Then teams regrouped to face two disruptions: Two members were pulled from each group and moved to another team and all had to create contingency plans for an emergency flight ban.

The new members questioned the team's assumptions and brought new ideas to a project in flux. Finally, teams presented their projects, ranging from charter airlines to booking and ride-sharing apps to a skydiving club.

"The National Mentoring Month Workshop concept was to get people involved with one another and participate," said program lead Bettina Davey, PMP. "Mentoring is something you have to experience, when it works everyone benefits, mentoring builds better communities."

The Agile Mentor workshop drew about 60 project management professionals, building on an improvisation clinic that drew 37.

The attendees’ evaluations gave the program strongly positive marks. Attendees appreciated the networking opportunities and showed continued interest in mentoring, teamwork and Agile practices.

They also appreciated a low-cost professional-development opportunity. PMI members earned 6 professional development units. Some joined the chapter after the event, and their registration fee was applied to membership.

The Jan. 17 event supported the National Mentoring Month slogan: "Be someone who matters to someone who matters."

The session recruited volunteers for the PMI Chicagoland Chapter's mentoring program and two Chicago nonprofits serving young adults, Ladies of Virtue, i.c. stars and the PMI Educational Foundation.

"We wanted to go beyond mentoring in the corporate world and in organizations like PMI, to include an outreach to the community," Davey said. "Challenging attendees to mentorship, person by person we can create a huge impact in the community."

Every year the Chicagoland chapters mentoring program pairs about 20 mentors with students and early career professionals in a six-month formal program. They work one-on-one for two to four hours a month and craft a development plan, with group meetings at the start, midpoint and end of the program.

Participants who complete the requirements and are PMI credential holders receive 5 PDUs, and may claim more for contributions to the profession and self-directed learning.

The 2015 National Mentoring Month event team included Mark J Carter, Rosalyn Carlton, Bettina Davey, Haley Van Lahr, Ken Ropiak, Terry Tierney and Kristine Ward, with chapter sponsorship from Louisa J. Kim, vice president of membership.

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