North Venue Update

Posted by amc on 06/28/2017 1:55 pm  /   Program and Meetings

By Edwin Jabbour, PMI® Houston Chapter Venue Director, North Venue

Welcome to the PMI® Houston Chapter North Venue monthly meeting update!


In 2016, we had presentations from many great speakers covering all the PMI® Talent Triangle knowledge:  Technical *5; Leadership *9; Strategic *3.  While we had to cancel the November 14th meeting due to the Presidential election night, we topped it off with a great year-end meeting in a very nicely decorated festive sit-down dinner accompanied with attendees’ spouses, and significant others.

The presentation subjects were of great interest; from taking us to the moon with an Apollo 13 mission review to understanding the City of Houston’s projects, including the processes used and the value of project management in building and maintaining the streets and roadways in the city.   We also learned how to find FLOW in the projects, the right balance between anxiety and boredom, and getting a run-down on the latest cell phone applications to put into good use for daily operation.  All presentations were good examples of how project management techniques & tools are used in critical situations to accomplish goals in very dynamic environments. 

In the meantime, 2017 came roaring around with changes due to the continued energy sector’s economic dip and employment crunch.  It influenced the number of our monthly attendees to the PMI® Houston North Venue meetings, and we realized we needed to adjust our venue accordingly to maintain the economy of scale.  After extensive research by the team to find a location that fit our needs and budget, provided easy access to the members, and gained the PMI® Houston board approval, we got our mission accomplished. Starting May 9th, the PMI® Houston North Venue began to meet at our new location: Campioni Italian Restaurant,13850 Cutten Road, Houston, Texas 77069.

This location offers great flexibility to the PMI® Houston North Venue meeting.  Campioni offers multiple rooms matching our current needs and future expansion while maintaining an economical structure and easy access to drive to (especially at our scheduled meeting hour with the rush hour traffic). At the same time, we are receiving an expanded buffet style of two courses of great Italian cuisine which includes rotation of two different menu sets, offering a great choice selection to our attendees at each meeting.  As usual, should you have a special dietary need, please include those details during your registration on the portal. I take this opportunity to thank the team at Peli Peli that hosted us for the past 15 months; it was a great experience and a great venue. Thank you for all.

I and the PMI® Houston North Venue Meeting team volunteers thank you for your continued support.  We all look forward to a great year, and bringing a set of presentations that will increase your knowledge for your business and personal life!

Best regards

Edwin Jabbour, Venue Director, North Venue

Project Management Toastmasters Clubs - Tips and Discussions - July 2017

Posted by amc on 06/28/2017 1:52 pm  /   Program and Meetings

Tim McDearmon, Akin Oni, Harold Eaton, Juan Carlos; Booth at PMI Conference

Quote:"Those who tell the stories rule the world” – Native American Proverb

-  Toastmaster International's "90 Tips From 90 Years" 

16. Test your volume. Before your speech, ask a friend or colleague to listen to you from the back of the room to ensure you’re speaking at the right volume.

Clear communication is a result of clear thinking

  •   Focus on making your thinking (about whatever you want to explain) very clear. 

If you try and write down what you want to explain, you may well discover that your thinking is not clear. Use the best practices of business writing. Keep it short, to the point, and get to the core message/issue as quickly as possible.

  •  Once you have thinking clarity on a subject matter, explanation will flow naturally.
  •  Good communication rests on 4 pillars: clarity, brevity, levity, charity.

Another useful guideline/checklist for effective communication is: connection, narration, explanation, persuasion, and revelation.

While explaining, pay attention to the facial expressions of the person you are talking to. You will receive invaluable feedback on whether they are following or not. Use this feedback to modify your explaining. Don’t go on endlessly if you sense you have lost the listener.

  •  Anyone can do this. It is a learnable skill. You can do this.

-Excerpted from Rashid Kapadia’s blog (

You can learn more about telling your stories at a Project Management Toastmasters Club! Project Management Toastmasters clubs are open to all, but members are predominately professional project managers. Houston Area Project Management Toastmasters Clubs are sponsored by PMI® Houston and aligned with the goals of PMI® International.   Certified PMPs receive Professional Development Units (PDUs) for participation.  


Visit a meeting to discover the benefits of membership! All of the locations are listed on the PMI Houston website

Slaying Dragons

Posted by amc on 06/28/2017 1:47 pm  /   Professional Interest


By Thomas Goebel, PMI® Houston Chapter Volunteer Content Writer

Once Upon A Time, a discipline called Project Management was created to help sort out problems that arose during the conduct of projects.  All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men were relegated to putting the projects back together again.  All across the land, Project Management spread, and the people rejoiced.

But dragons lurked…

Trouble in the Kingdom

Sooner or later (mostly sooner), all project managers encounter rough patches in the road.  While we learn from each travail, the primary objective is to reduce their frequency and even avoid them – by learning from others, for instance.

Hiccups vary from person to person, and from project to project.  There are various lists out in cyberspace that enumerate the problems that project managers encounter.  Let’s talk about a few that really give you a case of heartburn.


Communication Breakdown

Almost all problems in a project can be traced back to inadequate communication, either direct or indirect.  “Undefined” goals are usually a problem stemming more from lack of articulation than actual lack of definition.  After all, the originator of the idea probably had a very clear idea of what he or she wanted to accomplish.  It’s crucial that the idea is clearly conveyed from originator to project manager and from project manager to the various stakeholders.  We use several forums for this, of course.  Meetings, especially the all-important kick-off meeting, formally codify deliverables by setting baselines and obtaining buy-in from participating stakeholders.

Informal communication can be just as critical.  Emails to affected stakeholders, water-cooler sessions, and old-fashioned phone calls help maintain connectivity and project flow, while fostering collaboration and preventing problem escalation.


Reining in Scope

Project scope usually starts at a nice walk which can easily develop into a trot that’s hard to control.  To prevent scope from breaking into a full runaway gallop, the project manager has to exercise resolve in evaluating each requested change and its effect on schedule, budget, and stakeholders.  Saying “No” can be a lonely and unpopular activity.  But it is often necessary in order to avoid falling into the trap of adding time and cost incrementally to the project.

The change management process is in place to prevent exactly these problems.  The smart project manager minimizes aggravation by acquainting himself or herself with this important tool at the start of the project.



One of the most misunderstood activities in project management is the assessment, quantification and management of risk.  Everyone is viscerally aware of what risk is.  The challenge is in actually writing down all the risks that can be identified (definitely a team effort!) and assigning time and cost values to them.  This is the first step toward “managing” risk. 

Most assume that risk is something to be avoided at all costs.  This isn’t always the case, though.  After tabulating all the associated risk costs, a project team may decide that a risk is worth absorbing.  This can be justified in the project plan and factored into the business case.  Transferring risk is another option.  The risk becomes a non-threat by virtue of its transfer to the customer or even third parties, when appropriate.  (Beware:  Risk transfer is a two-way street, and the project management team needs to watch for undesired/unexpected transfer of risk to their shoulders!)  Mitigation is another strategy.  Controls can be implemented to turn an unacceptable risk into one that won’t break the project.


The Slay

While addressing the issues discussed here won’t necessarily alleviate all of the project manager’s pain, it will go a long way toward ensuring a smoother ride for all stakeholders and a much better chance for a satisfactory realization of deliverables.  Slaying the big dragons early gives way to steady performance for the life of your project.