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Synergy 2011

Last Thursday was International Project Management Day. I attended Synergy in London with 800 other project managers.
We didn’t know what to expect. It was not billed as a traditional conference, and it was held in the IndigO2, which is part of the O2 arena that hosts concerts. There was only one track with speakers. We were given theatre-style seating. It was almost impossible to see anything in the theatre that wasn’t on the stage. It was like a nightclub or an arthouse theater.
We waited in line for hours to get a cup of tea. Then we discovered that it was only PS2.50. The day was very long. HRH the Princess Royal was not able to attend. Comedy acts Andi Osho (comedian) and David Armand (comedian) were the closing acts.
It was a strange and unexpected day, but that’s what they were trying to accomplish. They turned the idea behind a project management conference upside down. Even the traditional speaker slots had a different feel — more energy, passion, than a normal conference (with an exception).
Emile Faurie, Equestrian Ambassador spoke about how to build a team to take jittery horses from being too jumpy for racing to winning events. In short bursts, a variety of people spoke about how schools can learn project management skills. Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, spoke out about the UK’s poor track record in civil engineering projects.
Steve Carver, Cranfield University, demonstrated teamwork. He threw the ball into the crowd. The person who caught the ball threw it on until at least 11 people touched it. This took 43 seconds. Steve asked them to repeat the process, but faster. The sequence was repeated in approximately 20 seconds. He stated that a second group had completed the same exercise in less than two seconds. That’s quite a challenge.
All the people in the audience walked out to the front and formed a line. They passed the ball down the line, but couldn’t keep it moving for more than 4 seconds. They managed to touch the ball in just 2 seconds when they stood in a circle, ready and waiting to touch it when it was their turn. They improved by understanding the rules and eliminating unnecessary lag times, such as when the ball was in the air.
R-L: Chris Field, PMI UK Chapter President, David Hillson, Ricardo Vargas. David Hillson received the PMI Eric Jennet Project Management Excellence Award in recognition of his contributions to project and risk management throughout the years. His award looked a bit like a wizard’s hat and was made of chocolate. He’ll surely find a home for it, I’m sure.