On January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Day, five DC Metro Area PMI chapters partnered with the Taproot Foundation to provide pro bono services with project management subject matter experts to nearly 100 charity and nonprofit organizations. The event was organized by Project Management for Change, which is also a nonprofit organization. When the Project Management Day of Service (PMDoS) launched on MLK Day in 2015, I signed up to participate, promptly caught a virus, and stayed home sick. This year, I forwarded the non-profit application to the Executive Director of Women in Film & Video, where I’m currently serving on the board of directors. A small organization with only two fulltime employees, WIFV often has more projects on their plate than they can finish. Like many nonprofits, unplanned work and limited resources create obstacles despite an army of inspired and committed supporters.
Women in Film & Video was approved for participation in this year’s PMDoS, and had a team of four project managers assigned for pro bono consulting. On MLK Day, I bundled up and drove to the University of Maryland to meet the Executive Director and our team of consultants. As I walked from the parking garage to the building in 10 degree weather, my hat blew off my head and went rolling down the street. I said a few choice words as I ran after it, missing the warmth of my home. Once inside, I registered and went straight for hot coffee after introducing myself to WIFV’s team of volunteer project managers. As the day began, I was impressed with both the number of project managers at the event, and the expertise my own team of project managers was bringing to the table. Over 350 project management volunteers worked in small teams with their assigned nonprofits to help them walk out of the room with a greater understanding of their toughest business challenge, a plan to solve it, and a timeline to make it happen.
The goal of the event, called a Scopeathon, was to identify “what hurts” for the charity or nonprofit, and work out a high-level action plan and timeline for implementing a solution. Taproot trained all of the volunteers in advance of the event, provided them with process templates, outlined an agenda for moving from one phase of scoping to the next to help everyone stay on schedule, and Microsoft, one of the sponsors, donated Surface Pros for every team to use. Included in our swag bag was a flash drive, which I used to copy a full set of the final materials for review in our next WIFV board meeting. We worked steadily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., with a short break for lunch. The event also featured inspiring speakers and a few door prizes throughout the day. I won the latest version of the PMBOK, which had a note on it saying “Excellent Plot! Action Packed!” (If you’ve ever cracked this book open, you’ll understand the joke.) A representative from the White House joined us at the end of the day to give an inspirational speech, and asked the nonprofit leaders in the room to stand and share their experiences.
The first nonprofit leader to stand and speak was a native African. Her organization is dedicated to helping young women in Africa get an education. Although I’ve heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” many times, the impact was very powerful when she used the metaphor to tell us how her action plan would help these young girls in another country. “Today,” she said, “you are my village.” A nonprofit leader from Haiti reminded everyone that you can only carry a burden if you bend your back. “Stand tall,” she said. Another testified about how his action plan would help his organization in their work with disabled elderly people. “They want to feel valued,” he said. I was both humbled and inspired by their stories. I’ve marked my calendar for next year.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has”. – Margaret Mead
About Project Management for Change:
Project Management for Change is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise the profile of the Project Management profession while creating positive impact in our community through pro bono project management service. Visit PMDoS.org to learn more.
#scopeforchange #projects #WIFVDC