4 Lessons I Learned at a Project Management Conference

Project management in tag cloudLast week I attended a leadership meeting of the Project Management Institute.  PMI is an international association that offers certification for project managers and seeks to advance the profession.  I’m the President of our local chapter and went to gather information and ideas to help improve our chapter.

A few quick points:

  • Yes, it was a gathering of over 1,000 detail-oriented; somewhat Type-A folks who love to organize everything.
  • No, this conference wasn’t at all like Catalyst (think business suits, not skinny jeans or scarves).
  • No, I wouldn’t want to be the lead PM to organize the event – talk about pressure!


So, what would a gathering of project managers have to do with church leaders?

Well, it turns out that there are several principles that apply to both groups:

 #1: We should celebrate achievements.

One evening of the event was an awards ceremony to honor chapters and individuals who had demonstrated over-the-top results.  Our chapter won an award, so I had the privilege of accepting it on behalf of our chapter.  Now, this ceremony was quite humble compared to the awards shows Hollywood puts on, but it was still nice to be recognized.  While our church staff and volunteers aren’t serving for acclaim, it’s encouraging to publicly recognize their efforts and show your appreciation.

#2: Don’t assume someone has the information they need to be successful (or that they remembered you sent it to them months ago).

I attended a few workshops in which the speakers mentioned PMI resources that I didn’t know existed.  These are templates and tools that could’ve made my role easier had I known they were available.  Now, to be fair to PMI, I searched my emails and located references to most of these resources.  I probably didn’t realize how useful those items were at the time I received the messages or was just too busy to take action on the information.

Regardless, my takeaway here is that we can’t assume that our teams have all the information they need.  We also can’t assume that they understood how to use the information or that they implemented it right away.

#3: Talking with leaders of other organizations can spark new ideas and help you resolve ongoing issues.

The conference organizers provided several opportunities between sessions for us to talk with other chapter leaders.  I learned how other chapters handled various events and programs, how they’ve dealt with challenges similar to what our chapter is going through, etc.

I encourage you to make the effort to contact other pastors or ministry leaders and ask for advice.  Go out to lunch with a few pastors in your area and share ideas.  Setup a monthly call with to discuss recent challenges and victories.  It’s encouraging to know that you’re not the only one dealing with an issue and it’s even better to hear how someone else got through it.

#4: A quality conference that attendees will value long after the event ends must include both inspiration and practical tools.

The opening and closing keynote speakers did an excellent job at providing inspiration.  These gentlemen aren’t project managers, but their messages on leadership and service to others were definitely motivating.  In-between, the various workshop presenters offered practical advice and tools that we can use to better lead our respective chapters.

So, there you have it – lessons gleaned from a project management event that apply well in ministry.

What do you think? Have you seen any of these concepts work well at your church?