How Do You Feel When An Article Mentions "The PMO Overlords"?

Today I was reading an article in the BAtimes titled "RIP BRD" and read it just to see if I could predict what it would say. In short, I imagined it to be another article that tries to take an imaginative swing at saying "Agile Rules and Waterfall Drools." 

I didn't really expect multiple paragraphs of PMO bashing but it does track that those that misunderstand Waterfall can often misunderstand the PMO value proposition. The second paragraph literally uses the following to describe project professionals worldwide, "corporate PMO overlords and template-police enforcers." 

Snapped this picture at our Fourth of July party and just wanted to share!

Snapped this picture at our Fourth of July party and just wanted to share!

The entire rest of the article is overly negative about what appears to be centered around years of bad experiences. It is quite evident to me this author has had to suffer trying to do quality work and he didn't get the type of support he needed. I've been there myself and it can really tear you down. I won't invest our time in a point / counter point narrative. However, I would like to make one general counter statement. 

In my experience, good to exceptional project management offices are rare and they don't come into being by accident. A good to great PMO requires exceptional people to run them and they often don't get them. It doesn't help matters when there are so many people trying to make their voices heard about frustrations they are feeling. Because many of these people are not highly skilled in crucial conversations, their frustrations can feel like they are trying to tear the PMO apart from the inside and the outside. 

When you are in a good PMO, the majority of the drama is about classic project problems involving making crucial decisions in a timely manner, supporting your executives and communicating effectively. 

For the record, I can pivot between Agile and Waterfall pretty well. I feel that I understand the strengths and weaknesses of both and can normally pivot my approaches to meet the need/goal. Neither method does exceptionally well when they are manned by individuals that don't know what they are doing, don't feel the need to change and have the authority to resist change. 

To me, I really cannot say which of the following demotivates me more, being forced to use bad templates or being forced to attend bad standup meetings. Which is worse, a bad waterfall change control process or the lack of a quality product owner (or any product owner at all) to manage the backlog? 

In summary, it isn't fair to say that PMOs worldwide are driven by overlords with a blind focus to documentation template adherence. Although, it could be quite fair to point at that one over there and make a statement like that. However, I would submit that the finger pointing approach has less value than investing the time to try and show that PMO that there are better ways to achieve success.

© 2017 Dwayne Wright