Episode 79 – PM Designed Volunteering

Episode #079
Original Air Date: 04.12.2019

34 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: J.Kendall Lott & Selena Buchanan

Have you considered volunteering your professional services? Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community while expanding your network and enhancing your skills.

In this podcast brought to you by Velociteach, we talk with J. Kendall Lott and Selena Buchanan about PM4Change, an organization that supports non-profits in the planning and execution of their initiatives. The conversations focus on the Project Management Day of Service® (PMDOS), a one-day community service event where project management professionals provide PM services to assist non-profit organizations.

Having served as a Presidential Management Fellow and as a career civil servant at the Departments of Agriculture and Justice, Kendall is now the CEO/President of M Powered Strategies, Inc, in Washington DC. He has volunteered with PMI Washington DC, is the Executive Director of the PMDOS, the Chairman of the Board of the PM4Change organization, and the host and producer of the PM Point of View® podcast.

Selena Buchanan, MBA is an executive board member of the PMI Atlanta Chapter. She has a Graduate Certificate in Project Management, in addition to project management certification, and is a professor at Ohio Christian University. Selena was the principle driver of the 2018 Atlanta PM Day of Service and is leading the 2019 event. She gives us a look into how PMDOS works, how it helps non-profits, and why she is motivated to give her time to this event.

Listen in to hear their volunteering stories and be inspired to offer your PM services in your local community.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

“We have skills. The skills are needed. The talents are useful. But talents don’t count. You can’t let them be fallow. You have to use them.”

- J. Kendall Lott

“…we needed a nonprofit that could really drive the unbounded potential of project management to have positive impact in our communities because we saw …….. a gap between the supply and demand for project management discipline, project management skills and value.”

- J. Kendall Lott

“it’s skills-based volunteering. Project managers can bring their power directly to a nonprofit organization.”

- J. Kendall Lott

“…it allows the students to get their volunteer hours … in order to take their PMP and they also get to work at the table with a nonprofit and the senior project managers to get that hands-on experience.”

- Selena Buchanan

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Table of Contents

01:06 … Meet Kendall
03:27 … PM4Change
04:31 … Finding the Gap
08:05 … PMDOS Event Procedure
11:39 … Organization Support
12:19 … Benefits to the PM
14:48 … Networking
17:33 … Meet Selena
18:16 … Local Launch PMDOS
21:34 … Student Mentoring
24:05 … PMI Atlanta Chapter PMDOS
24:54 … Lessons Learned
28:25 … Success Story
30:32 … PM Point of View Podcast
31:53 … Closing

KENDALL LOTT:  We have skills.  The skills are needed.  The talents are useful, but talents don’t count, you can’t let them be fallow.  You have to use them.

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  Every two weeks we meet to discuss what really matters to you as a professional project manager.  It’s a time we set aside to offer some expertise and advice from some of our fellow professionals in the field.  We let them tell their stories in the hopes that you’ll be encouraged and challenged in your own sphere of influence.

I’m your host, Nick Walker, and with me is our chief influencer, Bill Yates,  and Bill, I’m looking forward to hearing what our guests have to say about a subject that’s become increasingly on my radar, and that is volunteering.  Which, as you and I have talked about, addresses a common problem.

BILL YATES:  Right.  The common problem, not-for-profits often have a compelling vision but those leaders need help planning and executing.  So I’m really interested to see what our guests have to say about that.

Meet Kendall

NICK WALKER:  So we have two guests to help us in the studio today who are going to talk about an organization that provides opportunities for project management professionals to participate in community volunteering. Our first guest is J. Kendall Lott.  Kendall is the CEO/President of M Powered Strategies, Inc. A change management consulting firm in Washington, DC. Supporting organizations in public service.  He’s the executive director of the Project Management Day of Service, the Chairman of the Board of the PM for Change nonprofit organization. And the host and producer of the PM Point of View podcast.  Kendall, thanks so much for joining us here on Manage This today.

KENDALL LOTT:  Glad to be here.

NICK WALKER: So tell us a little bit about yourself to get us started here. And why volunteering is such a passion for you.

KENDALL LOTT:  Huh.  That is a super good question, I think what brought me here that’s related to that is I am a returned Peace Corps volunteer, back in the ‘80s. So I got started in public service through the graces of the federal government. I greatly appreciate the taxpayers that make that program possible, I think it’s good for the country, and it’s good for me.  It was a chance to get kind of involved, and I really enjoyed it.

One of my other pieces later was when I wanted to become a project manager and realized there was a whole institute around it, with chapters, I needed to kind of get out and get to meet people. But I did it for a very personal reason, I think that’s where we get a lot of volunteers, you’ve got to have your own hook for something right, and I realized I needed to meet people. So I showed up at the Washington, DC Chapter, PMIWDC, my home chapter, and they had, frankly, they had a disaster at their registration desk.  So me being Kendall, I showed up and said, what, this is like the biggest chapter, and this is all these project managers, and they can’t run a registration desk?  And I raised my voice.

So we know what happened then, they’re like, congratulations, you just volunteered to solve that, and I got to participate and learn to keep my mouth shut.  No, I learned to help out, and I really enjoyed engaging with other professionals.  So that was a bit of a twist on the volunteer environment right, and I volunteered for the chapter for about 15 years and ended up on the board and eventually became the vice chair, or the COO for a year, and then eventually the CEO, and that’s how I kind of got started in engaging with professionals in a context of volunteerism.


NICK WALKER:  PM for Change.  What is that?

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah.  So that’s a nonprofit, all volunteer, founded by three of us. Laura Barnard and Mike Hannan and myself. After we had done a major event, a PM Day of Service, a PMDoS, as we call them, and we founded this nonprofit because we realized we wanted to have the event that we had worked on, and probably can talk a little bit about, in DC. And we thought other chapters and other communities might want to engage with the particular take we had on service and volunteerism.

Thus we needed a nonprofit that could really drive the unbounded potential of project management to have positive impact in our communities. Because we saw – basically we’re market makers, we saw a gap between the supply and demand for project management discipline, project management skills and value. 

So that’s why we founded it, as a way to of connecting and helping to get other local communities started on their own days of service. And their own interaction connecting project managers to nonprofits in their community. 

Finding the Gap

BILL YATES:  Kendall, one of the things that is interesting to me with this is something I’ve experienced, I think probably all of us in the room have, many times a leader of a not-for-profit  has a real passion and real vision but they need help planning and executing. So is that what really led into you finding that gap where project managers can fit in and provide that planning and executing?

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah.  What actually happened, it was literally on the road, and it was a “Road to Damascus,” in this case it was a “Commute to DC” moment. And I had to pull over because I realized what I was trying to do. I was actually the president of the chapter, the chapter chair, and I was trying to figure out how to get people to be stickier with the chapter, better membership.

So it got me thinking, what do project managers want, and then what do project managers do, and as I started toying with what do they do – they bring order out of chaos, they start working, they do things on behalf of others; right?  So there’s an executive, they’re producing value and output for other people. As I kind of just plotted through that in my head, I realized they manage scarcity, that’s what the iron triangle’s about. They manage scarcity, and then, boom, so who deals with scarcity? Thus nonprofits live in this constant state of not-enoughness.


KENDALL LOTT:  Not enough skills, not enough staff, not enough money, and they need that organized. So you’ve got a group of managers, nonprofit managers, who live in this world of insufficiency. So nonprofit managers know what their mission is, right, and how to deliver to it. But project managers bring a professional, trained approach – an ethical approach, even – to managing scarcity, right? And getting things done on time with not a lot, and so it was, to me, it was chocolate and peanut butter, two great flavors, one great candy, right?  I mean, it was like, put these two people together in a room, and so we launched our first thing for that reason.

So the other part to that that was interesting, which you just said about planning and execution, is the role that project managers play as volunteers. What struck me as more important for creating member engagement was that it’s the skills. It’s skills-based volunteering, which I thought I’d invented. I found out it was a movement that had happened two years before. It’s skills-based volunteering. Project managers can bring their power directly to a nonprofit organization.

BILL YATES:  So talk more about that, that’s what’s different in this, and there’s the twist is you’re really tapping into the special skills of a project manager. This isn’t just show up with a hammer and your gloves for a day. You’re going to get a T-shirt and feel good about helping out with something, but you’re going to use what you do on a daily basis to help other organizations.

KENDALL LOTT:  The biggest splash that we get, so the way we’ve run them, and they vary – and we’ll get into some of how they have varied. I think Selena will be able to speak to how Atlanta’s has been different, which is part of what we’re trying to do is allow a lot of variation, right?  But the aspect that we saw, and we see it at the end of every one of them.  So currently PM for Change is helping to sponsor and brand PM Days of Service, which are one-day, single-day, done-in-a-day events. We would like to see continuous value delivery over time, but that takes a lot of volunteer effort.  But in those one-day things, for the day, project managers are called to come and share scoping. And sometimes strategy and sometimes some risk discussions.


KENDALL LOTT:  And it’s so powerful.  So when they’re done, we get the nonprofits, literally people with tears in their eyes, saying, “I had no idea there were professionals in this space, like people trained for this.”  And then the project managers come over and shake my hand. And they’re like, “I had no idea people wanted this. I know my company pays me for it. But the animal shelter, the county library, the various different foundations and nonprofits, they’re desperate for this.  I had no idea this was so valuable.”  And we’re just so happy when that happens, right?

PMDOS Event Procedure

BILL YATES:  Oh, yeah, yeah.  So walk me through some of the specifics for if the project manager signs up and says, yeah, I want to help out with this Project Management Day of Service. What would be – let’s say I check the box, I respond to the email, whatever, and then what expectation do I have for that day?  Is it I’m going to be introduced to the organization that day? I’m going to help scope and do some planning? And then I walk, you know, I shake hands, walk away, and that’s it?  Or what’s the commitment?

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah, that’s what we found happens and we would like to have more sustained interaction over time. But frankly that would be a different program. We have developed that program working with Points of Light. Which is a great foundation for engaging volunteers with other nonprofits to build their capacity. But they basically come, and we put about three project managers, it can be up to five, around one nonprofit manager, and we have like a facilitator timekeeper and all.

But they’re all facilitating with the nonprofit to help them think through, so what is it you think you’re doing? You know, it’s scope; right?  What’s in?  What’s out?  What are the milestones?  Oh, so this means when this will really happen, well, we have to get it done by August. Well, based on what you just told me, that’s not going to happen; right. And there’s that moment of, oh, there’s math behind this. You know, it’s simple in a way. But it’s also complicated; right?

So typically now, for all of those of you that are PMP certified, what we’re also saying is there’s about six PDUs involved with this, which is always happiness; right, for ours, but they tend to run about five hours. You know, there’s some speechifying that goes on a little bit. And ours, as is Selena’s, is housed at a university. So ours is with University of Maryland at the Clark School of Engineering with John Cable.

BILL YATES:  So you have a facility, you have a facility with them.

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah, we have one, the Project Management Center for Excellence.

BILL YATES:  Do they give you coffee?

KENDALL LOTT:  Well, they don’t give coffee, but they do give space.

BILL YATES:  You can buy coffee.

KENDALL LOTT:  We have to get sponsors.  So the magic mix for us in the DC environment is getting someone – you create a core team. The PMDoS has to have a core team of dedicated volunteers themselves, right, and they’re running a project, they start from now, and they go through the event time; right? So what they’re doing is they’ve got to find the nonprofits, and you have to make sure that they have some sense of a project they could bring to bear, you have to find the project managers.  We do try and align them to make sure there’s a mix of senior and junior. Also if people have an interest, for example, in veterans, like if there’s a veterans nonprofit we can connect them.

So you have to line up your project managers, for us about a three-to-one ratio. You often – it’s an opportunity to have sponsors, people that want to have things to sell or show to nonprofits or to recruit. Like a local chapter, to recruit project managers, and companies that want to be seen. They may want to bring, in our case, they may want to bring 10 of their own employees. So they want to be seen showing their community support. And so you’ve got to get the venue.

  So it’s basically venue, nonprofits, project managers, and sponsors have to be brought together under someone like Selena, who can help drive all of that. And I will say, in terms of where these have happened, in DC we’ve had them five years in a row, our very first one, the Secretary of Commerce came and gave the keynote because we put 500 project managers in a room with 100 nonprofits.

BILL YATES:  That’s fantastic.

KENDALL LOTT:  We’ve since figured out that that’s not the best way to go. Smaller and more manageable is good. But we’ve had them in New York, Hampton Roads, St. Louis, San Francisco, Atlanta.  About to have Atlanta Part 2.  Poland, Australia, England.  And I’ve, just in the last couple of weeks, been encouraged to see them coming up in Keystone Chapter. In Pennsylvania, Toronto. Bermuda has called me, and New York has called back.  So we’re around.

Organization Support

BILL YATES:  That’s fantastic.  So what support does your organization provide, templates, guidelines, here’s your – open the box and everything’s included?  How do you guys support that?

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah, the dreams are bigger than the reality on that, but we do have a reality there. We have the brand, we have the logo and we have the 501(c)(3) status maintained in the Commonwealth of Virginia. So we offer a playbook. The licensing interaction. A kind of a guide, about how to get started.  Some templates have to be modified, as Selena just found out, for your local one, because I maintain a standard set of – we have a standard group- of volunteers that are communications and outreach that we’re trying to maintain at the PM for Change level to provide that to chapters.

Benefits to the PM

BILL YATES:  Okay.  All right.  I want to pull back and ask the question from the perspective of a project manager, again, so here I am, I’m checking my email, and I get something, let’s say it’s from my local chapter, it could be from someone who’s reached out and said, hey, there’s a Project Management Day of Service. Before, again, before I respond I want to know, okay, what’s in it for me, and then – so what are the benefits to the individual, plus what is the commitment?  Because here’s what is in the back of my evil head, you know, I bet they’re really trying to get me to latch on to a not-for-profit and kind of become their servant for the next six, nine, 12 months, giving them free project management service.  So dispel those myths.

KENDALL LOTT:  In part we would like to create that – a continuous value delivery. But to be clear, and our events are done in a day. It’s absolutely not that.  What we have found in reality on the WIIFM, what’s in it for me, right, we’re always after that.  PDUs.  Did I mention PDUs?  Yeah.

BILL YATES:  Oh, yeah.  We need 60 every three years.

KENDALL LOTT:  So here’s what actually happens, what we said is when you think pro bono, you need to think project management, we think about lawyers; right?  We think as project managers there’s almost a second-class citizen, we feel sometimes, right, the executive layer’s up there, and then there’s other people doing work. We’re managers, but we’re not at the executive layer, we’re not supposed to be, we handle the hard things. We are between the rock and the hard place, that’s what we do, so we manage scarcity on behalf of others to produce outputs for others, that screams service.

It turns out so many project managers would love to do service, they come to an association to participate. We all want to help our communities, but no one’s ever asked them to use their brains, their scope. Okay, not no one, but it is uncommon to be asked, I just want you for your brains.


KENDALL LOTT:  So I want you in here today thinking about how to help someone very specific, and it’s easy to say “help your community.”  What we’re doing, what Selena’s doing, is connecting specific organizations that are already dedicated to the community, right, to the project managers. Therefore our tagline at the time was we serve those who serve others, we’re delivering what project management can be.  We’re only about the project management; right? So you come in, and that little dab will do you, that little bit of project management goes a long way to get started.  Yes, we would like to do more.  Yes.

I’m talking to PM for Change people, I say, “Our theme is CEO – cheap, easy, and often” but we’ve got to get away from the DC model. Selena has a better model, San Francisco has a better model, St Louis does, but there’s variations in your community.  But the key is project managers, what they get out of it is, is a sense of service, volunteerism, that is applicable directly to the skills that they spent all this time learning and training in. Right?  And it’s so hard, it works sometimes, but here you see joy.


BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah, and you can see the benefits, I’m thinking also there’s probably the benefit of just the networking aspect. If I’m a project manager, and I’m going to give my time to this effort, I’m probably meeting other people in the community that I’ve not met otherwise who have a similar passion, either for service or for using the skill set they have somewhere outside of work, and so I imagine the networking is beneficial.

KENDALL LOTT:  Yes, and you’re hitting on the broader issue that I also like to really try and convey to people, there’s a value in volunteering to you as a person in and of yourself, besides a concept of some moral issue or some relationship to community. It is a chance for you to exercise a skill that maybe you don’t get paid for at work, maybe you’re the risk manager, but you know a lot about project management, and you know of course you can do scope in your sleep, right?  So you have a chance to flex your own professional skill and adaptation, adaptability in other ways, that’s one.

And, two, you do meet other people, the bottom line is we all have to network, and we think of network as showing up, white wine in one hand and business card in the other one.  No, networking is doing podcasts,  networking is meeting professionals who are dedicated to the same types of issues that you’re interested in, but who are different kinds of people; right?  That you meet people that are different than you.

So I think this is so powerful when you can put, I mean, Selena, you’re looking at putting, well, we’re going to let her speak to it, but a hundred or more people in a room. You know, we’ve had between, if you figure 40 nonprofits and 150 project managers, so we always have at least around 200 people in the room, up to the one year we had six or 700.  You’re putting lots of people with a chance to meet people they don’t normally meet, or, particularly if you’re junior, a more senior person, I mean, there’s networking that happens.  There’s jobs that can happen.

And so we had a really great one this year, we had a person come back and testify, witness. She had joined a nonprofit the year before, right before they came to our event, she walked into a room actually looking for a different nonprofit. Walked onto a floor, and when she got there she was kind of lost.  So this other person from the Asia Foundation pulled her over and said, oh, you’re looking to volunteer? Come and join me, and also, by the way, I’m going to this event with these project managers, I don’t know what that’s all about, in a week, or something like that, right? So she brings her here, and they enjoy doing their project, et cetera, et cetera.  So this woman had described herself as “new to the country,” had been fairly new, and was a professional.

A year later, she’s back testifying here, telling us about it, and in that time she got so turned on by project management, she went and got her PMP, now has this huge job doing wonderful things, of course still very connected to her nonprofit and the leader of the nonprofit. So there’s literally a chance to learn and grow that we see, you have to go back and back and back. You have to keep going back at it, but there is a personal reason to volunteer that’s about your own development as a professional, through networking, through skills, through flexibility, and through your own personal sense of value and outcomes that you can help drive.

Meet Selena

NICK WALKER:  All right, we’ve been referencing the fact that there is another person in the room.

KENDALL LOTT:  We’ve got to get her in here.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, yeah.

KENDALL LOTT:  She’s rockin’ it.

NICK WALKER:  Selena Buchanan.  So let’s meet Selena, Selena Buchanan, MBA, is an executive board member of the PMI Atlanta Chapter.  She has a graduate certificate in project management, in addition to project management certification.  Selena is a professor at Ohio Christian University, where she focuses on general business administration education in areas such as marketing and management, global business environment. And Selena was the principal driver of the 2018 Atlanta Project Management Day of Service and is driving the 2019 event, as well.


Local Launch PMDOS

NICK WALKER:  So Selena, tell us a little bit about launching this PM Day of Service here locally. What was your motivation to be a part of this?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Actually, I worked in the business community grassroots since about the age of 12. So there was no – it was easy for me to want to do the concept, but also, as a proprietor, I was struggling with having staff members to actually finish out a particular project. So I happened to be talking to Mr Robinson about the problems that I was enduring and he said, “listen, let me introduce you to this gentleman here.” “You two may be able to work together.”  Then he introduced me to Mr Mike Hannan and after speaking with Mike he just told me the information about the Project Management Day of Service, which I was interested in.

But what I had to do was figure out what type of concept I could use from what he was giving me and present it to the board. So as I sat back, being a member of the PMI Atlanta Chapter, which was also one of the first questions I asked at the time I became a volunteer:  “What are you doing for the community?”  And people would say, “Well, we’ve talked about it, we’ve discussed it.” I said, okay, so I asked again to another person, and he said, “Well, Selena, what are you planning on doing?”

BILL YATES:  Sounds like, Kendall, you found yourself a job.


KENDALL LOTT:  Hers is more interesting, though.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  So he allowed me to – I presented the information to him and told him how we could take this particular concept and not only use our study groups, we could use the mentor/mentee programs.  We were already a special interest chapter, so therefore the project manager is based on our forms could be tied with the nonprofit organizations, what their needs are. So he said, “Okay, okay, I got that”, so we took it to the board, and the board said okay and that’s how we launched the 2018.

Now, to begin with we started with about – we said we were going to keep it small, they wanted to do a test, and they gave me a small budget of $3,500, and we were going to do 20 nonprofit organizations.  Again, we were dealing with staffing, which is common because, when you are a volunteer, you already volunteer in a particular area, and then to ask the volunteers from the chapter to also volunteer on a special project is difficult, and it’s hard.

So as it came – as we were moving along, it was Melody and I pretty much putting the project together, but we went on ahead and persevered and pushed through. So, the Day of Service, everybody from the chapter showed up to show support, which was very enlightening, very happy, and we were truly excited, we had different project managers come in and say, “Listen, I know I wasn’t allowed to register,” which is one of the downsides.  Everybody who’s a project manager cannot participate.  Of course we’re doing 70 nonprofit organizations, but still, that leaves us with about 140, maybe 200 project managers, but you have about 5,000 who want to participate.  You can, yeah, the project managers are really, really interested.

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah.  You can line them up.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  You can line them up.  So that was kind of difficult, and she would say, “But listen, I brought my lunch.”  It was Deborah. She says, “I brought my lunch.  Can I just stay?”  I said, “Deborah, by all means, you can stay, this is the atrium, here’s a place that you be and just network everybody.”  Well, guess what?  We had a project manager who could not make it, which is a juggling act always to the end.

BILL YATES:  That happens.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  So I said, “Listen, bring your lunch, put it to the table.”  So that particular event turned out just awesome, just totally awesome, the tone was set.  The chapter was excited.  They understood.  And we were at Georgia Tech. 

Student Mentoring

So a Georgia State student came to me, Rahela Anghel, and she said, “Selena, why are you doing all the work?”  She said, “We are the students.  We need to be doing the work.”  I said, “This is the whole point.  It’s for the students.”  I said, “So the fact that if you’re going to help, then yes, we can do this again next year.”

So as an honor student for Georgia State University, she went and got about 10 different other students to help, so not only are we increasing membership with the Georgia State students, they’re also now trying to get their PMP.  There are also people affiliated with the mentor/mentee program, with the study group, so now it’s been every facet that we were trying to target is actually coming to full circle.

BILL YATES:  Selena, the mentor/mentee program, so are you guys taking students, in this case from Georgia State University, and pairing them up with project managers from the chapter that are helping?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Well, actually, to begin with, we were taking volunteers or chapter members who wanted to be a project  manager and matching them up.  Just so happened that was already in place, now we’re adding the Georgia State students into it.


SELENA BUCHANAN:  And we’re also considering doing a membership directly from Georgia State, so that’s also under discussion now.

KENDALL LOTT:  So this is one of the cool things we’re seeing from a PM for Change perspective, Selena now has joined our organization as an Impact Director, that means she’s in charge of Atlanta, the Atlanta footprint.

BILL YATES:  She’s the local rep.

KENDALL LOTT:  She’s the local rep with me on my leadership team now; right?  And so, but the key is the variation, communities, you meet people where they are, communities, the nonprofits themselves service communities differently, and then how project managers need to interact with their community and their chapter can be very different. You just hit another chapter benefit, for all you board members out there, engagement, stickiness is what I was after.  You’re after the fact that the programs that you have could be connected to potential students who actually become chapter members and are integrated; right?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Exactly, yes.

KENDALL LOTT:  And then you’ve got them doing the work there. So it can vary by every community how corporations are involved, how universities are involved, and how the chapter is involved and you’ve nailed just a great model here.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Exactly.  And it allows the students to get their volunteer hours in that they need in order to take their PMP, thus they also get to work at the table with a nonprofit and the senior project managers to get that hands-on experience right along with them.

BILL YATES:  Okay.  So they’re there, they’re in the action and they’re seeing that happen.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Mm-hmm.  Oh, yes.  Once we start, they’re allowed to go sit at the table with their choice of nonprofit and actually be a part of that team and they bring so much value to the table, oh, so much value.

Next Atlanta Chapter PMDOS

BILL YATES:  Nick, I was just thinking, you should ask Selena when the next event’s going to be for the PMI Atlanta Chapter.

NICK WALKER:  I’m glad you asked me that question.  It’s coming up; isn’t it.


NICK WALKER:  It’s going to be soon, yeah.


NICK WALKER:  When is that going to be?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  For the Project Manager Day of Service, that’s going to be on May 4th at Georgia State University, 55 Gilmor Street, this coming year, May 4th.

KENDALL LOTT:  How do they sign up?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  They can go to the PMIAtlanta.org/pm-day-of-service-2019 and register there.  They can also go to the PMI Atlanta Chapter and go under Events. 


KENDALL LOTT:  So to connect with us, we have PM4Change.org – PM4Change, the number four, dot org and there’s a chance to send a note in for the global email address, or you can get to me, kendall.lott there.  We can also connect back there.

Lessons Learned

BILL YATES: So one of the things that we love talking about are lessons learned and Kaizen and here we are with both ends of this, it’s like, okay, now with Selena we have someone who’s executed in a local, through a local chapter. But tell me about the feedback that you guys have and I know you guys are tight, you know, I can see the friendship, and there’s a deep relationship there in terms of the communication that you have on the aspects.  How does that work, and how are you guys taking those lessons learned and improving the process going forward?

KENDALL LOTT:  That’s something that I owe from the leadership perspective of PM for Change, working with that team to try and bring some – we’ve been so focused on the events, we’ve had trouble in some sense.  We are slower in pulling the institution together.  However, we have started on this, and what Selena has actually brought to the table is the interaction with the college in not just a venue setting, but the students being engaged in the execution of the project itself as part of her core team, and I think that’s a huge lesson to everyone out in the space. 

So I think we’ve done some “run of the day” lessons, as well, what was the flow of the day going to look like?  You and I were actually just on the phone and LinkedIn recently, yesterday or the day before, about how do you handle speakers?  One of the things we found, for example, in DC, it being DC, lots of speakers, stacked up speakers.

BILL YATES:  Oh, sure.



KENDALL LOTT:  So we had commerce, and then we had the major corporate donors speak, and then we had the venue point, and the project managers were a little antsy; but the nonprofits were like, we’re here to get things done.  Get rid of all these.  So slowly we – five years later we still have one, but we mostly have them speaking about themselves at the end, we have them kind of telling what they got out of the day at the end.


KENDALL LOTT:  So I pass that along, be careful with the speakers.  We love people in suits and ties up talking, but the participants don’t.  I don’t know what you experience.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Well, actually, that was one of our same experiences.  So this particular year what we are doing is actually just having a panel of speakers, rather than doing a big speaker in the beginning. We’re just going to do a simple welcome.  And then from there we’ll go into instruction of what you’re going to be doing and what to expect that day. Then we’ll go ahead and get started into the scope. Then we’ll come back. And then actually have a panel of speakers answer questions based on whatever information may have come up. 

KENDALL LOTT:  And to answer your question a little more directly, as well. So at PM for Change, that’s the part we can offer is I want to connect all of my impact directors around frequently asked questions.

BILL YATES:  Perfect.

KENDALL LOTT:  And also, now that I have a couple of them have experienced it one or more times as we move into ‘19 and ‘20, will be for them to share that directly.  But the key is what did you experience and how, and how can somebody else do that?  So if somebody wants to connect, you get your chapter on-board if you can, get a core team because you don’t have a core team in your case with students.


KENDALL LOTT:  Get in contact with us. And what we can help you with is the playbook on how to get started.  In addition, the brand, the website that shows the videos of the past and the pictures from the past, and we get them from all our different local chapters that are doing this, local event drivers.  But I’m going to connect them to other impact directors so that they can answer questions about the reality of their situation.

We can help you get started.  Because what I found for myself is we have skills, the skills are needed, the talents are useful, but talents don’t count. You can’t let them be fallow, you have to use them.  And my decision, I mean, I announced mine standing up on a bar at a chapter.  And I said, “I will not pass this way without providing my talents to my community”.  There’s no way I cannot do this.  You must do something to provide value.

Success Story

BILL YATES:  I can hear that passion.  That’s great.  Can you guys share a success story or a testimony from the nonprofit’s perspective?  Or even from the PM’s perspective who helped out?

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Okay. So from the nonprofit perspective, there was Tiffany Morman. Actually, she brought a team, about five different of her staff members to the organization. And she actually had three different projects.  For one, one of her projects, they were buying a VFW building  and they wanted to take that building and restructure it and get it ready for service. So they had bought a building. Also they had a book called “The Triple Nickles” book they wanted to turn into a movie.  So that allowed me to go get the entertainment forum, which is a part of the special interest team, and help them plan a strategic plan to actually take that book into a movie.  So that was one set.

Then in addition they had another set of project managers working with that same team, getting the VFW into perspective. So what feedback I’ve received from them is, some of the project managers were willing to keep in touch with them afterwards, just to see how things went.  So that’s a choice, it’s a personal choice and a lot of times the project managers were so interested, you know, let me know. Let’s keep in touch.  Let me know how it turns out, so that was a benefit.

KENDALL LOTT:  Yeah, I mean, from our perspective, just adding up over the five years, as Velociteach you’ll know this, SEATS training.  Like it may be the same person over and over again.  So we’ve done about 1,300 SEATS project management; right, out of DC. And if I look across the other nine or so that have happened now around the world, we’re up over 2,000 times; 2,000 project managers, although it may be the same person, have done this. 

So we get a lot of return nonprofits, and we get a lot of return project managers. And then they go and they speak about it somewhere else and people do it. Project managers, as you say, get to choose to follow one if they want. But mostly they come in, and they feel that they got it done. Sometimes there’s getting it – only a done-in-a-day thing is not enough, and I get it. But we want to do more.  But on the other hand, one of the powers of project management is it is a unique product or service on time and so they get it. You said it. They get it done in the day.  There’s actually value to that.


PM Point of View Podcast

NICK WALKER:  Kendall, we mentioned that you have your own podcast.  Tell us a little bit about that.

KENDALL LOTT:  Well, in the relationship to, again, being a chapter member, a chapter leader and the chapter chair, trying to figure out ways to help increase stickiness. I realized that we needed to do podcasts back in 2014 when I was doing all this.  It was common, but not so common in the project management space at that time.  So I launched out of the chapter, and continue to maintain it as an REP now with the chapter’s sponsorship on it, is PM Point of View.  PM Point of View.  It’s on all your podcatchers.  You’ll find it on all the podcatchers.  And it’s on the ProjectManagement.com portal with PMI, as well.

So it’s a chance to look at both. It’s not a training podcast, it’s similar to yours with guests to discuss topics in project management. Or topics not in project management, but there’s a project management point of view. So, for example, a vintner, I went out to a wine area and talked about how that’s a project. A wedding planner, for example. But also in security and intelligence and talking in various topics that people might want to see a project management point of view. It comes out monthly, and it’s free. It’s one-hour long because you get a PDU at the end of it.  Did I mention the PDUs

BILL YATES:  Yes, yes.

KENDALL LOTT:  Because that’s the coin in trade for us, isn’t it.

NICK WALKER:  Absolutely.



NICK WALKER:  We just thank you so much, Selena and Kendall, for being with us here and sharing all of this.  One more time, just want to be able to direct folks to more information.  It’s PM4Change.org.  Is that…


NICK WALKER:  PM, the number four, the word change, dot org.


NICK WALKER:  All right.  Lastly we have a gift for you, these Manage This coffee mugs sitting right here in front of you.

SELENA BUCHANAN:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

NICK WALKER:  That is our thanks to you for being here with us.  We just appreciate your time so much.

KENDALL LOTT:  I came for the mug.  I’ve been listening to your podcasts.  I’ll take the mug.

NICK WALKER:  Bill, volunteering is something close to the heart of us here at Velociteach.

BILL YATES:  Absolutely.  Community service is actually one of five core values that we have, and we give 5 percent of our pay time back to community service.  I remember, you’ll recall a prior conversation that we’ve had with Roger Duke.  Roger was a chapter leader for the Augusta Chapter.  And we talked with him about Project Gratitude.  That was the project where they were taking the volunteers from that PMI chapter in Augusta and reaching out to those transitioning military veterans and really supporting them in a special way, so this is a topic that we just love to talk about.

NICK WALKER:  And obviously this was a great way to do this today, bringing in this organization.

A special message now for our listeners.  A reminder that, by listening to this podcast, you did just earn some PDUs, Professional Development Units, toward renewing your project management certifications.  To claim them, go to Velociteach.com and choose Manage This Podcast from the top of the page.  Click the button that says Claim PDUs and click through the steps.

That’s it for us here on Manage This but we hope you’ll tune back in on May 7th for our next podcast.  In the meantime, we’d love to have you visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact  us, and you can always tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions about our podcasts or about project management certifications.

That’s all for this episode.  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

7 responses to “Episode 79 – PM Designed Volunteering”

  1. Dawn Poczynek says:

    Really enjoyed this. I am planning on volunteering to claim up to 8 pdu’s! Thanks for your service.

  2. Benjamin Amadi says:

    Thanks for the podcast. Liked the connection between a PM and Non-Profit Organization. Nice to see efforts on how volunteering opportunities are created in Chapters across the US but can similar opportunities be created in Chapters in the developing countries in Africa? could it be an issue of level of development, economics/poverty, political/social? etc. This also applies to Mentor/Mentee programs.

    In all, nice presentation and encouraging.

    • Wendy Grounds says:

      Thank you for your comment. From a PMI/chapter perspective — PM’s anywhere can set up a PMDoS event or a continuous value delivery program with existing programs and organizations in need of PMs, the consideration would be how non profits work in the countries you are referring to. Perhaps on an individual level, the nonprofits providing development aid could also use local project management support. Contact Kendall if you have questions about getting started.

  3. Cheryl Anderson says:

    What a great podcast! Loved the concept of the PMDOS and will be taking it back to my chapter. Terrific opportunity to introduce PMIEF to the non-profits, also. Thank you.

  4. Kendall Lott says:

    Cheryl, what chapter are you with? I’m happy to provide some thoughts to board members to get them thinking about it or to chat with you about what you think you could do.

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