Other Keynotes

Mark presents on a variety of topics related to his interests—including project management, strategy and decision making.

The following are an overview of the available presentations that Mark is able to deliver.

Project Management & Value Proposition Design: Reframing Who We Think About Projects

When it was published in November 2014, Value Proposition Design became an instant bestseller. Value Proposition Design is focussed on ensuring that innovators build value into the products and services they design. The framework has been developed to provide innovators, entrepreneurs and designers with a structure and framework to design solutions that directly meet customer needs.

While not a primary focus, Value Proposition Design also has a huge amount to offer to project managers. It offers a perspective that could fundamentally reframe how project managers collaborate with their stakeholders and sponsors. By adapting and applying the principles outlined in Value Proposition Design, project managers have the opportunity to completely rethink how they approach negotiating project requirements, and managing stakeholder expectations. Value Proposition Design provides a powerful framework to not just rethink product and service value, but also how project deliver value to customers, stakeholders and the organizations they serve.

Join Mark Mullaly as he unpacks the principles of the Value Proposition Design model and what it means to project managers. He presents the essentials of how Value Proposition Design works, and then explores how they can be adapted to the world of projects and project management. The result is a collaborative, highly visual way of thinking about stakeholders and requirements that provides a fact-based way of testing and verifying what your projects really need to deliver. This is a presentation that you won’t want to miss.

A Manifesto for Change: Managing Uncertainty & Our Need For Control

We are told that change is the new normal. That we need to embrace rapid shifts in technology, society, organizations and work. We learn that the leaders of the future will be those that embrace ambiguity and uncertainty. Those that can navigate numerous plausible—yet unpredictable—futures will thrive.

And yet we really, really, really like control. For many of us, control is what drives us. We strive to be on top of things. To be perfect. To never allow mistakes to be made on our watch. We feverishly anticipate risks, diligently make contingency plans, relentlessly explore “what if”, and drive our teams to pursue activity after activity to “cover off the bases” and ensure we have done our homework.

The proof is what happens when something does go wrong. We often take it all too personally, as a sign of failing. We second guess ourselves with “could have, should have, would have…” And we double down for next time. We ask “what happened?” And “what can we do to make sure this never happens again?” Under the guise of lessons learned and post-action reviews, we burden ourselves with more guilt, more work and even more control for the next time.

What we are doing, in a nutshell, is pitting uncertainty against control. And control is winning. If we are going to succeed in a time of rapid change, we are going to have to change ourselves. Genuinely embracing uncertainty is hard. It requires a different outlook, a different set of practices and a different set of skills. In this webinar, Mark Mullaly undertakes an exploration of what does enable change to occur. He explores what we already know about managing uncertainty effectively, as well as what we still need to learn. If you want to succeed in the future, and yet you feel uncomfortably out of control today, then we are certain you will want to join us. Unambiguously so.

Managing in a VUCA World: Are You Ready?

The world feels a little bit crazy right now. In fact, it has for a while. Our organizations feel like semi-organized chaos on good days, and on bad days-well-it’s just chaotic. Things seem no better in the economy, in politics or in every day life on the streets. We are unnerved by uncertainty, challenged by complexity, arm wrestle with ambiguity and are vexed with volatility.

Welcome to VUCA. ‘VUCA’ originated in the Army War College in the 1990s, in programs of strategic leadership. It is an acronym that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

The value of the term, however, is not that it provides us with a nice sexy label with which to compartmentalize and dismiss all the things that we can’t manage. Though it does sound a lot more rational and reasoned than “It’s total chaos out there, and I have no freaking idea what to do!”

VUCA describes four critically different natures of uncertainty and complexity. Each of which has very real strategies and approaches by which they can be reasonably and appropriately managed. VUCA isn’t just the name of a new spade with which to shovel your uncertainties back under the carpet. It is a conceptual framework designed to let you think about challenges, frame them intelligently and establish a reasoned and appropriate response.

This webinar explores what VUCA means, where it came from and what it helps to explain. It delves into the chaos of uncertainty and the challenges of ambiguity, and it comes out the other side with some effective strategies to manage going forward. Join Mark Mullaly as he endeavours to provide tools you can use and perspectives you can employ to address the chaos of your environment.

Because it’s a VUCA world, baby. It’s time to get ready for it.

If All The World’s A Stage… I Want Better Management

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world, while the unreasonable man endeavours to have the world to adapt to him. Therefore, all progress relies on the unreasonable man.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Work is work, and play is play. Or is it? What can work learn from the art of plays? Theatre is a business like any other, and every play is a project. Not only that, but in theatre projects are delivered with a nearly 100% on-time success rate. We’ve sold tickets that night, and there will be a show. The conditions in which projects are managed, creativity is tapped into and the impossible is made real are not only comprehensible, but they can be adapted and applied in a variety of other contexts.

There are a number of good lessons that the theatre industry has to offer its suited brethren in the business world about managing projects. This is fundamentally reflected in a central idea of commitment: to the process, to the vision, and to each other. Underlying much of the process of theatrical production are the essential tools of business: there are processes, roles, structures and accountabilities that are universally understood, and that have evolved of necessity in order to deliver an effective production. Equally relevant is the discipline and craft that those on the stage bring to the craft of shaping the essential story that will ultimately be viewed by audiences.

Prior to his current stint as a management consultant, Mark Mullaly had a short but intense career as a stage and production manager in the theatre industry. Since joining the ‘real world’ he has been on a mission to teach the lessons of theatre to organizations struggling to meet deadlines, work cohesively as teams and have fun. Mark presents some of the valuable lessons that theatre can offer to business (prima donna’s notwithstanding!)

Covert Processes & Overt Change: An Exploration

One of the most important things organizations need to do is change. One of the hardest things organizations seem to face is the ability to change.

On the face of it, change should be easy. Define the desired future state, explain why the current state is no longer sustainable, and get on with the business of getting on. Sadly, however, life just doesn’t work that way. As has already been eloquently pointed out many times, “you cannot change a company by memo.” Nor do wishful thinking or fervent hoping actually cut it as change management strategies, given all of the effort being applied and the forces being exercised to oppose change. Much of this opposition, however, can in fact be unwitting – and even unconscious.

In this presentation, Mark Mullaly explores the covert processes that operate in organizations, and the influences that they have on how things get done. Lifting up the carpet and sifting through what has been swept there, he identifies what those covert processes are, why they exist and how to coax them into the light where they can actually be addressed and responded to. For any student of organizations, or any one that is desperately trying to change one, this is a presentation you won’t want to miss. Unless, of course, you think you have something to hide.

Difficult Or Different? Effective Communication Strategies

We have all encountered people that, from the outset, we communicated with exceptionally well. There are also those who we clash with, consistently and repeatedly. Occasionally, a productive relationship can also get derailed. These situations all draw from fundamental truths about interpersonal communication that can be understood, anticipated and therefore managed.

Psychology has offered many insights into how we interact. Science is now providing further perspectives into how these principles work physiologically and neurologically. These influences shape how we express ourselves, how we make decisions and how we communicate with others. By understanding and having an appreciation for the differences in not just ourselves but in those we work with, support, and lead, can strongly influence how we communicate.

This presentation provides guidance in developing effective communication strategies, as well as essential cautions in identifying what is less likely to work. If you communicate in the workplace (and who doesn’t?) then you want to participate in this presentation as Mark Mullaly explores the communication challenges that we all face, and provides concrete strategies and structures by which we can improve our communication skills.

Keeping Our Cool: Stress & The Project Manager

Some of us thrive on stress. Others of us only seem to. For some, we seek to avoid it at all costs.

Stress in projects is inevitable. Many projects are inherently ambiguous and uncertain, and all projects have some level of risk – which means that things might go wrong. Added to this we have the complexities of dealing with politics, tight deadlines and trying to manage unreasonable expectations. These are the critical ingredients that contribute to us experiencing stress

For each of us, however, we experience stress in different ways. What we respond to as stress and how we respond to it is not consistent. For all of us, however, it does impact us – and we are often less aware of the impacts than we might like to think.

While we need to manage under stress, we need to make sure it doesn’t manage us. In this presentation, Mark Mullaly explores the subject of stress in a project environment, and how we can manage it more effectively.

The Human Side Of Issue Management

Managing issues is one of the essential components of a project manager’s role. Successful project management, after all, isn’t about whether or not we have issues arise on our project – it’s about how we respond to them when they occur.

Problems arise on projects, and they need to be addressed. Sadly, the way that issues are responded to is not always the most effective. We are hardwired to respond, but in ways that can make it harder rather than easier to resolve. Our team members, our sponsors and us as project managers all have tendencies and patterns of response. Understanding, anticipating and being able to shape these patterns is key to becoming a more successful project manager.

Join Mark Mullaly as he explores the human side of issue management. You’ll learn the negative patterns of behaviour that can undermine issue management, be able to recognize the patterns as they emerge and develop strategies to address them more proactively and positively. You won’t avoid issues on your projects, but you may not dread them quite as much either.

Finding Our Inner Leader: A Primer For PMs

So. This project management thing. You’ve got your templates, you’ve got your processes, you’ve got your PMP. So it’s all good, right? Well, that depends…

Truly managing a project means taking on a broader role: it involves managing the expectations of stakeholders, maintaining the focus of our team and keeping our sponsors and steering committees aligned. These are not management or administrative responsibilities: they are leadership ones. If project managers truly want to be effective in their role, they are going to have to take on the mantle of leadership.

Of course, what leadership is remains an elusive topic. There are thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of articles on the subject. Leadership models range from facilitative ones to those where we take on a command-and-control approach. Which of these is leadership, though? And what are we as project managers supposed to do when we realize that our tools and methodologies aren’t enough, and we need to find a way to grow our leadership abilities?

In this presentation, Mark Mullaly explores the leadership challenges that project managers face, and provides concrete strategies and structures by which we can evaluate the leadership style we need to adopt to be effective.