Synergy 2011

Last Thursday was International Project Management Day. With 800 other project managers, I attended Synergy London.
We didn’t know what we were in for. It was not advertised as a conference and was held in the IndigO2, a part of the O2 arena which hosts concerts. Only one track had speakers. We were given theatre-style seating. It was nearly impossible to see anything that wasn’t on the theatre’s stage. It was almost like a nightclub, or an arthouse theatre.
We waited for hours in line to get a cup tea. We discovered that it was only P2.50. It was a long day. HRH Princess Royal was unable to attend. The closing acts were comedy acts Andi Osho (comedian), and David Armand (comedian).
It was an unexpected and strange day, but they were still trying to accomplish their goal. They completely rethought their idea of a conference about project management. Even traditional speaker slots had a different feeling — more energy, passion than a normal conference (with an exemption).
Emile Faurie, Equestrian Ambassador, spoke about building a team to prevent jumpy horses from being too jumpy to win races. A variety of speakers spoke in short bursts about how schools can improve their project management skills. Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone spoke out about the UK’s poor record in civil engineering projects.
Steve Carver, Cranfield University, demonstrated teamwork. He threw a ball into the crowd. The person who caught it threw the ball on until at least 11 people touched. This took 43 seconds. Steve asked them to repeat this process but faster. The entire sequence was repeated in about 20 seconds. He said that the same exercise was completed by a second group in less than two seconds. This is quite a challenge.
Everyone in the audience walked to the front and formed an order. They passed the ball down the line but couldn’t keep the ball moving for more that 4 seconds. They were able to touch the ball in 2 seconds. They improved their understanding of the rules and eliminated unnecessary lag time, such as when it was in the air.
R-L: Chris Field (PMI UK Chapter President), David Hillson, Ricardo Vargas. David Hillson was awarded the PMI Eric Jennet Project Manager Excellence Award in recognition for his contributions to project management and risk management over the years. His award was made of chocolate and looked a little like a wizard’s cap. I’m certain he’ll find a home for it.