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What Makes a PMO, a PMO?

Introducing the Wellingtone PMO Princicples - FuturePMO 2018

By Emma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton

Once upon a time someone told me that a good PMO is the conscience of the organisation; making sure that change that impacts the people is treated fairly and in the right spirit.

When designing the most recent addition to the Wellingtone suite of training; the newly APM Accredited Wellingtone PMO Practitioner course, we discussed ways to bring this concept to life and completed some research around what principles are versus the more commonly used values.

We all know the VMV; the Vision, Mission, Value statements that if done well, can pull a PMO through the good and the bad times. The VMV is a powerful tool in bringing a team together to truly understand who and what they are, and for the organisation to know what the PMO stands for.

But when you put values and principles together, they become so tricky that people get them mixed up. Your organisation has both – it might just not know it.

Stephen Covey said that “Values govern people’s behaviour, but principles govern the consequences of those actions”. Principles represent an objective reality that transcends cultures and individuals. For example, Covey cites various principles, including fairness, integrity, and honesty.

The Latin principium means “source, origin, beginning” and later that meaning became a primary truth that formed the basis for other beliefs and then to ethical conduct.

Values are different; rooted in the Latin word for “strength” and became a meaning of intrinsic worth and are relative, not universal and are often used to define behaviour that is accepted within our society. For Titanic passengers, ”women and children first” was a value, while among some aborigines, ”kill only what you need to eat” may have been a value.

The fact is values can change to reflect the needs of society, but principles cannot.

So, what makes a PMO a PMO? The values for your PMO will differ based on your organisation’s Project Management DNA, it’s environment, and the role of the PMO – and they can be changed as needed (although we don’t recommend too often as they lose (ironically), value!).

We focused on principles – trying to identify the universal truths of all PMOs out there, regardless of their organisation, environment, and values even. And this is what we agreed upon with our Pilots.

PMO Principle Definition

PMO PrincipleDefinition
Instrument of IntegrationPMOs are integrators. By being a communicating bridge between strategy planning and strategy execution, they bring together processes, practices, methods, knowledge, and people from all over the organisation through community, knowledge, and continuous improvement activities to enable a systemic and holistic view, ensuring that the various elements of the portfolio are properly coordinated and consistently delivered.
Single Source of TruthPMOs are trusted sources of truth. By acting as an independent, objective and unbiased entity, PMOs provide visibility and transparency to leadership teams, enabling confidence in delivery and informed decision-making.
Serving the CustomerPMOs are born to serve. They do not exist in a vacuum but rather invest time in understanding what the needs of their customers are and their perception of value is, and they align their functions and services to these.
Enabling CapabilityPMOs are enablers. As a natural knowledge hub, PMOs build PPM capabilities and assist in the formation and development of high-performance teams, enabling the fostering of talent and the successful delivery of organisational change.
Supporting a Learning OrganisationPMOs facilitate learning. They build on reflective practice and knowledge transfer activities to create individuals and collective opportunities for learning that allows continuous improvement and the ability to evolve the organisation to cope with changing conditions.

So, there you have them, Wellingtone’s natural laws for a successful PMO.

The principle of these PMO Principles (!) is that to be a true PMO you must be living all five. It doesn’t matter to what maturity level but, it does matter that you do them, and they are in part, your PMO focus.

Over the course of the next two months, we will be drilling down further into each of these PMO Principles with our friends and colleagues to find out what they really mean in your reality. Why not follow us on LinkedIn, or Twitter to make sure you get the first look?

Further reading:
PRINCE2, Axelos
Basic Business Principles by FCA; Nov 2017
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; Stephen R Covey

If you would like to discuss your PMO with a Wellingtone Consultant, please don’t hesitate to contact us.