Conference: Zero: Empowering teams

Ulrik presents in the virtual conference environment. Ulrik Moes (Project Director at Novo Nordisk), presented a fortnight back at Conference: Zero about his ideas for empowering project team members.
Ulrik has worked all around the globe and spent the last eight years managing IT projects. His talk was about tools for empowerment and managing virtual teams. He stated that to achieve a flawless project, especially in a global setting. These are the elements you need manage well: the people as well as the virtual aspect.
You can have all the structure and all the tools in the world, but without the people side, you won’t get anywhere. And you certainly won’t have a perfect project. You don’t need much structure if you have the right people.
He began by explaining his role in project management when he started out: the role of the lonely warrior. He was the one making all the decisions and working round-the-clock to make projects come together. It took some time to realize that this was not a productive way of working. He said, “By taking a step back and giving the sponsor and team more power, I get a much better project and better momentum.”
Project managers can feel uncomfortable. Ulrik stated that being a project manager can be a strange feeling. You can feel redundant when you have your sponsor and team working together and there are no fires to put out. This gives me the ability to look into the future and set goals. By moving from being a warrior to being a coach, he has become more efficient and is able to spend more time looking for opportunities for 1:1s with individuals to improve their skills on the project.
The attention gap
Ulrik spoke about the attention gap in his Conference: Zero presentation. (c) PentacleThe Virtual Business School and Eddie ObengUlrik described one of the concepts that he uses to manage projects. This is when stakeholders, clients, or users set expectations, handover the blueprint or requirements, and expect the project team back with a flawless product at the end. He said, “To be successful, you need to keep information flowing and to focus your attention on what is actually happening between the business case to the end product.”
This is because individuals and teams lose focus on what they want to achieve and how they can get there. Continuous engagement with stakeholders is also important.
The gap leap tool
Ulrik also described another tool he uses, which is the Gap Leap tool. (Created by Eddie Obeng and Pentacle The Virtual Business School). This is to establish the purpose of the project. He would typically hold a workshop over a few hours to discuss what happens if the gap does not close, what happens if it closes, where we are now, where we want to go, and why the problem is still not solved. This helps to clarify the purpose of the project as well as ensures a common understanding of the objectives and goals.
Ulrik suggested that you have a single project plan that you update regularly. This, along with the gap leap tool, and a RACI matrix are crucial for getting the team started. He said that these tools were not the most important on the project and that he preferred his weekly status updates meetings.
Communication and culture
Ulrik explained that communication is difficult. However, it becomes more difficult when there are different cultures or language barriers. He said, “When you have multiple teams involved, start a discussion and discuss the specifics of your culture and what each should be looking out for.” “As a project manager, look for strengths in the culture.”
To illustrate his point, he gave an example. Ulrik discovered that the Chinese were the most tense in a multi-national team.