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Starting your journey into 2017 – thinking it from the end

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The year 2016 has ended and 2017 has just begun. After a few days of rest, relaxation and reflection we are going to start our journey. Typically, we commence the new year by looking backwards, reflecting what happened in the past and try to establish a “wish list” for 2017, e.g. losing weight, spending more time with the family or saving money for the next car. Does this work? Not really. The way forward is in haze and the far end is not in sight, we start muddling through… Peter Taylor was citing research findings in a post on LinkedIn “New Year´s Eve” telling that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the participants were confident of success at the beginning.

Maybe that has something to do with looking backwards. Was 2016 a good or a bad year? Following the media our impression might be that 2016 was turbulent, violent, destructive and increasingly uncertain. Isn´t it frightening travelling, watching all the news of terrorism? Better stay at home and care of your garden? A panic reaction and certainly counter-productive. Another source for failure is “simply doing things” without a clear goal, a strategy or long-term plan. Due to many disturbances we´d lose track, are distracted and lack confidence in what we do. We need a long-term orientation and clearly defined goals before starting the journey, otherwise every path is right (or wrong). It may be an optimism-bias (or the opposite of it) that distracts us on our journey, we are struggling and may change day by day our direction, not knowing where it finally will bring us. Or we plan too rigid and get stuck in the details in order to confirm our own existing beliefs. A great overview of potential biases is shown in the Cognitive Bias Codex. Another reason for reluctance and failure can be found in our emotions, feeling like riding a roller-coaster through life.

Better start your journey into 2017 from the end. Think of what you want to have achieved reaching the end of 2017. A good starting point may be your long-term plan or strategy, your list of priorities and a real impact you want to achieve. Never start with activities (“lose weight”) or short-term goals (“lose 3 kilograms in 4 weeks”). Try to answer the “why” first. What is the impact or outcome you want to achieve (“improve health” and “feel more attractive”) through the activities and goals you set yourself. It gives you a different perspective. This is comparable to projects, where we are not oriented towards “just doing things” but “reaching the desired results through doing the right things right”. In projects we also start thinking from the end, the impact and the goals we want to achieve towards the activities we perform on a daily basis. This approach gives orientation, helps to stay focused during turbulent times and distraction, it allows for interesting insights during the journey and a Happy End despite all odds (and media buzz). The journey can also be used to collect new perspectives and adapt the journey as it may be appropriate.

2016 was another successful year for IPMA. Despite all odds and turbulences on the globe we continued to grow our network and accepted four new Member Associations: Algeria, Japan, Korea and Singapore. In 2017, the GROWTH will continue. During the next Council of Delegates Meeting in Lisbon we´ll welcome the next candidates and thus come closer to the set goals of our Strategy 2020 and having more impact on a global level. However, growth is only one dimension of our Strategy 2020. Another, and increasingly important perspective is the BENEFITS our Member Associations get from being part of IPMA. One tangible benefit is the exclusive access to the  IPMA Global Standards, available for download electronically and delivery as hard copy via webshop In 2017, IPMA and its new Vice President for Products & Services, Martin Sedlmayer, will continue expanding the offerings for the benefits of our Member Associations (and the profession at large). A remarkable benefit in 2016 was the increasing number of events, on national, regional and global level. ExBo members supported in 2016 more than 60 events in 42 countries, levering international experiences and making it available for the members of our Member Associations. It´s all about experience exchange, networking and delivery of project-related know-how. Some of the highlights were the Inaugural Regional Event in Sydney in October, organised by the Australian Institute for Project Management, the 2016 IPMA Research Conference in Iceland and the Awards Gala in Warsaw, organised by IPMA Poland. In 2017, the most important highlights will be the 30th IPMA World Congress in Astana  the 1st Diversity in Project Management Conference and the 2017 IPMA Research Conference. We will keep you updated on events through our website and the IPMA Blog. An important step forward in 2016 was our Call to Action from Sydney. The IPMA Member Associations issued a joint call to action for government and industry around the world to explicitly pledge advocacy and support of the project management profession. This year we will continue the advocacy activities in order to reach out to the leaders of the world to actively support projects and the project management profession as key tool for sustainable transformation and success.

In regards to CHANGE and transformation, 2016 was a busy year for IPMA. In order to fulfill the long-term goals of our Strategy 2020, we started a discussion of our future organisational structure, prepared Governance changes and renewed the Executive Board. Besides the above mentioned Vice President “Products & Services” we established a new Vice President “Projects”, Ivars Rungis, who will govern all project and change activities of IPMA. We could label this role as “Chief Project Officer (CPO)” and will certainly communicate more about this function as a role model for all project-oriented organisations. Another area of change is the IPMA 4-Level Certification System. With the new IPMA Individual Competence Baseline (IPMA ICB®) and the new regulations, all Certification Bodies need to renew their national regulations and processes. Our new Vice President for Certification and Validation, Joop Schefferli, and the team of the Certification and Validation Management Board (CVMB) will support the transition from the old to the new system. There is more change awaiting us in 2017, e.g. a new standard (Competence Baseline for Consulting, Coaching and Training) will be published, a new service (Coaching4Development) will be piloted and new opportunities for growth will be explored this year.

Starting into the new year is also a good moment to say THANK YOU to our volunteers, staff, contractors and all people being actively engaged in IPMA. We are humbled by all the work we´ve done together and can only imagine what incredible things the future holds. As we´ve travelled through many countries, we´ve been inspired by many examples, e.g. the Chartered Status our colleagues of the APM were granted in 2016, the extraordinary work that has been done in Nepal for social good as well as the incredible work that has been done in Latin America to establish a strong network of Member Associations and the huge impact, our regional network is having on the profession and the people in these countries. We have been encouraged to see an increasing interest in many countries, to experience a renewed commitment from professionals to donate their skills and time to IPMA and to progress on our journey “promoting competence throughout society to enable a world in which all projects succeed”. There is so much we can do together, let´s do it… and let´s check at the end of the year what has been achieved 🙂

Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year.

- Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defence, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is President of IPMA, past President and Honorary Fellow of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, Germany´s No. 1 PM Full Service Provider.

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5 responses to “Starting your journey into 2017 – thinking it from the end

  1. I thank you very much for this valuable contribution dear Président
    I wish to you and your family all the best and hope that this new year 2017 will bring to IPMA and to all its MAs many successes and more happiness.

  2. As a veteran IPMA PEA assessor I was really moved by Mr. Wagner’s inspiring message for the new year. In return, I would like to wish his goodness and all of my dear IPMA friends and colleagues a more prosperous and joyful year.

    I hope 2017 proves itself as a year with highest quality achievements for IPMA organization worldwide.

  3. Thank you for your words of encouragement and a fresh perspective heading into 2017. Best wishes for success!

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