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Project Management…in Cairo

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Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to participate in The Projects To The Point (P2P) conference in Cairo, Egypt. Over 400 professionals from the region came to network and learn about effective project management, and to high-end networking. PMI had a significant presence there, as well as over a dozen corporate sponsors.

P2P vargas

The conference was supported by no less than 4 PMI components (IT&Telecom SIG, the Middle East / North Africa chapter, the Arabian Gulf Chapter, and the PMI Agile Community of Practice).

PMI Big Wigs
Also featured were both last year’s PMI Chairman Philip Diab and this years PMI Chairman Ricardo Vargas. Vargas started off with his opening keynote where he emphasized the importance of good project management, saying “the only path from innovation to results is project execution”. He then made the provacative point that PMI’s strategic planning for 2010 will focus on Africa, and Egypt is positioned to be an economic gateway to Africa. Vargas also issued a podcast describing his overall impression of the conference.

Agile Government
The conference was held under the auspices of Egypt’s Minister of State of Administrative Development, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish and the Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Hatem El Gabaly. In his keynote, Darwish cited the direct relationship of project management to 2 of the government’s 6 mission values: efficiency and agility.

P2P delegates

Agile @ P2P
The P2P conference featured a dedicated track to Agile / Scrum techniques. The track featured 11 sessions from 5 speakers over the course of two days. Some of the more choice statements were:

  1. Dave Prior on his bad XP experience: “developers prioritizing stories and one person in each pair reading ESPN.com instead of helping”.
  2. Dave Prior on being the reluctant agilist: “To be effective, you can pick and choose from PMBOK, but with Scrum you have to use all of it. . The longer you’ve been doing traditional PM, the more skeptical you will be of Scrum, and more tempted to cut out parts of it”.
  3. Dave Prior on being the reluctant agilist: “transitioning to Agile does NOT mean abandoning everything you know as a traditional project manager”.
  4. Dave Prior on do-what-you-want-Agile: Custom Agile is like Jazz. No one every played as good as Coltraine after merely reading a book about it. You have to practice the basics before you can go off script.
  5. Thushara Wijewardena on adoption Agile PM in the real world: “It’s not a fairy tale.”
  6. Thushara Wijewardena coins a phrase for the endless reply messages on project teams: “mad email syndrome”
  7. Thushara Wijewardena gives a tip for rescuing offshore projects: invite the western client to your exotic location for a work session
  8. Thushara Wijewardena says the adage “what has not been written has not been said” goes away when you trust your team and sponsor

P2P presenting

Summary
I don’t even have the time or space to mention all the other great presenters from the other tracks. Brisk Consulting, PMI IT&Telecom, PMI MENA put on a truly high-quality event. For more insights, you can read what Bob Tarne and Dave Prior had to say. It was quite the experience.