Experiencing Newvember

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff, ProjectExperts CEO.
Typically, and especially in the USA, November is a slow month—the calm before the storm of December, with its end-of-year project deadlines, and fiscal close-out for non-governmental organizations. It is a bit of a relief from the intensity of September and October. This effect is accentuated in the USA by the Thanksgiving week late in the month, that disrupts any schedule for a two week period.

But not this year.

I traveled more this month (on behalf of professional organizations) than any period since May-June, with:

  • A keynote for a major University, with a discussion about establishing a truly relevant PM curriculum;
  • Participating in an excellent PMO Symposium in Orlando; and (finally) meeting Cornelius Fitchner;
  • Speaking of which, contributing to The PM Podcast’s celebratory event, celebrating Cornelius’ 200th offering;
  • Participating in an IPMA Executive Board meeting in Sarajevo with a very informative Government/Business Roundtable for the Bosnia-Herzegovina IPMA Member Association;
  • A keynote at the incredibly successful 2nd Annual Symposium for AMIP, Asociacion Mexicana de Ingenieria de Proyectos, IPMA-Mexico, in Saltillo, Mexico.

Whew! Wore me out just reading it!

The Newvember Theme
The month is named for the ninth month in the pre-Julian calendar, popular long before the Caesars renamed the  Summer months for themselves. When I learned Latin at a very young age, I wondered why the month names of Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. failed to match the numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10; later I learned why. Wikipedia cites January and February as the ones that were added to expand the calendar; July and August were originally named Quintilis and Sextilis, but were changed by Augustus. Regardless, project managers should be happy, because as a result, we have two extra months to get things done each year, right?

Well, not quite. As I recall, the year still contains the same number of days; the months are just of shorter duration. I knew there was a reason why all those things due at the end of the month are still missing! Before the calendar change, the early Romans really had it right; they used the last 12 or so days of the year to celebrate the year, rather than desperately trying to finish all their incomplete projects.

But all this background should inspire a new look at Newvember. I recall that for years as a consultant, I’ve booked most of November in Europe, Canada, or South America. Why? Because, aside from the first week, it was pretty much a wasted month in the USA, as billable time goes. Our great friend William Duncan applies the same approach still today. So, a few of us have understood the Newvember theme for a long time.

Newvember is the month when:

  • You have a hope of figuring out how to deliver this year’s promises (the theme of our IPMA-USA Symposium next March);
  • You can sign all the contracts that assure a more prosperous 2012, and plan for filling them;
  • You can begin to plan for the ways you will continue to differentiate from the masses in the new year;
  • You can review your recertification status, whether for a basic certification or one of IPMA’s advanced certifications;
  • You can begin planning to attend next year’s October 28-30 IPMA World Congress, in Crete. Airfares are often least expensive when they first become available, 10.5-11 months before the travel date.

So why am I traveling all around the World in November, instead of doing all the above?

Because part of the excitement of this Newvember was the exposure to different expertise, different cultures, different challenges, and different solutions. We are in an era where the classic answers are no longer the best answers. Each situation requires a considered response. Of course, that last factor has always been true. But today, there is a much wider range of responses available, requiring much deeper understanding of the situation. Otherwise, we will flaw by giving easy answers to difficult questions, rather than useful ones.

I rather like Newvember, because has always been a very intense learning experience for me. Even after coaching or consulting on thousands of major projects, ranging from IT systems that transformed companies, to improving the effectiveness of a pharma organization, to identifying the cost tracking inconsistencies in the Stealth Bomber project; serving as a Change Agent, under the auspices of IPMA-USA and IPMA, is tiresome, but inspirational.

Of course, we were so busy making news during Newvember, that we were not around to record and report the news. And that, dear friends, is why this is a combined November+December newsletter.

Enjoy, and I hope to see you at the IPMA-USA Symposium in Washington, DC March 5, 2012!

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