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To Create, Learn to Borrow — and Other Lessons from PMI® PMO Symposium

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The 2012 PMI® PMO Symposium closed with a wake-up call on innovation, delivered by author and speaker Fredrik Härén.

People significantly overestimate their ability to create and innovate, he said. So much of what passes for "an idea" isn't really anything new, but rather a combination of things that already exist. In his equation, ideas arise when people combine new knowledge with information they already have.

Mr. Härén cited an Estonian innovator who created a combination urinal and sink that saved time, water and space. "If something 2,000 years old like a urinal can be improved," he said, "what else can we improve on?"

Yet while most people agree creativity is important in their jobs, Mr. Härén mentioned that only a tiny fraction say their organizations do enough to encourage it, especially at that combination stage.

Mr. Härén argued that Asia will driving creativity in the future. "They are better positioned to innovate because they live where the change is happening," he said.

There may be some truth to the idea of innovation being based on "stealing," but he reiterated the notion that all creation comes from copying some part of something existing. Instead of worrying about "copyrights," he said, worry about "copying right."

The final day of the symposium also featured Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Greg Kenney discussing his organization's new plan for a principles-based, risk-sensitive, results-based management regime.

At the heart of the endeavor is an assessment designed to determine each department's project capacity and class. This, in turn, helps the Treasury Board determine the oversight level required on projects within each department.

By implementing these new assessments, the board can ensure resources are allocated with consideration to risk and strengthen the link between spending and results.
As in previous days, the symposium's last day included breakout sessions. In one, Carol Church, director of the PMO at CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, discussed how her organization used project management software to save US$29 million a year. She also reminded attendees that PMOs can gain visibility and support across the organization by pitching themselves as a partner looking to help people succeed.

Though this symposium is done, stay tuned for details on next year's event when PMI is slated to reveal the results of  a seminal study on PMOs.


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