January 17, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Project Management: How to foster creativity in your team

By Linky van der Merwe

Advances in technologyWhen we look at the new all electric cars that are storming the market today, we see amazing speed (0-100km in 3 seconds), top speed of 250km per hour and a range of 250km – 295km. Clearly innovation is evolutionary, brought about by many incremental advances in technology and revolutionary because it’s often disruptive and new, like the electric cars.

This is according to James Hebbard, a Snaptech Trainer and consultant who presented at the Project Management South Africa Conference in November 2016. He said the death of innovation is BFH, an abbreviation for Big, Fat and Happy! Below are his recommendations to foster innovation think.

6 ways to foster creativity

#1 Inside Game

Although ideas, inspiration and innovation seem to come from outside you, they don’t – it always comes from inside, sometimes within small intimate teams.

#2 Obsession and Focus

Innovative thinkers were all obsessed and extremely focused.  Albert Einstein was obsessed with light, Steve Jobs was obsessed with design and product perfection and Elon Musk is obsessed with space flight and electric cars.

#3 Perseverence and Patience

Keep yourself in your chair and the break-through will come as this picture illustrates.


#4 Creating a culture of innovation

Culture is a mindset that is shared by a team. There are ways to create such a culture. People are afraid to make mistakes so you can start by creating an environment where it’s safe to fail. Create learning experiences, do brainstorming and problem solving facilitation, root cause analysis. Create space like 15% paid time to work on own creative projects. Look at the work environment.

#5 High performing teams

Know the strengths of team members, the level of the team maturity and their personalities as explained below.

  • Thinking styles: Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Input, Intellection, Analytical
  • Executing styles: Achiever, Arranger, Focus, Restorative, Responsibility
  • Relational styles: Achiever, Arranger, Focus, Restorative, Responsibility
  • Influencing styles: Activator, Communication, Maximizer, Significance, Self Assurance

This is what you need to know how to get the best out of your team.

#6 Identifying problems

Innovation is born from necessity. Without a pressing problem there is no need for a solution. Identify the problems around you because finding problems will help you solve them. How do you as a team identify problems?


innovation1 A few points to remember.

  • Innovation is often born out of necessity (AKA Problems).  Get to the root cause and see innovative ideas being born.
  • Humans are a product of their environment.
  • Teams are made of Individuals.

As a project manager, you need to know what their strengths are in order to get the best out of your team.

Here is an interesting article about virtual team management by Rob Rawson, co-founder and CEO of Time Doctor.


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8 Lessons in Innovation

By Linky van der Merwe

Power of innovationRecently I attended a Project Management Conference with the theme: “Harnessing the Power of Innovation”. As project managers we are in the position to create environments where people are creative and more innovative.

One of the speakers, Nneile Nkholise, the co-founder of Likoebe Group; a medical innovation company, spoke on the topic of moving away from an efficiency-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy, through innovation. The role of innovation has become explicitly important for any organisation with a vision to make an impact in the global market.

Nneile is one of 100 entrepreneurs out of the US who were selected to represent their countries at the Global Entrepreneurship summit, 2016. She shared 8 lessons to explain what innovation is.

Lesson 1: Journey

Learn about Jay Samit, an American digital media innovator, who pioneered advancements in music and video distribution, social media, and ecommerce. He is the author of the bestselling book, “Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation”. It is a fascinating story on the journey of innovation. You need to work on innovation every day and re-invent.

Lesson 2: Purpose

At Adidas they have the credo of “Impossible is nothing”. They believe you need to explore the power you have to change the world. Impossible is just temporary and it is potential.

Create purpose and find your passion, that is a sure path to innovation.

Lesson 3: Solve problems

By just focusing on everyday real-life problems, it will lead to much innovation and innovative products that provide solutions to difficult problems.

Think of Google Translate that provided a translator to 100 different languages.

Lesson 4: Bring new possibilities

Like the oldest television that came out, it brought about new possibilities. People were able to see news from all over the world and enjoy the creativity of entertainment at home.

Lesson 5: Learning opportunities

Things will change, but don’t let that scare you. Learn to learn and learn to learn fast. In today’s world there are many opportunities with technology and children learn to code from a very young age.

Lesson 6: Build Human networks

Innovation happens through Innovation Hubs. Innovation hubs are social communities, work spaces or research centers that provide subject-matter expertise on technology trends, knowledge and strategic innovation management, and industry-specific insights.

If there are three types of people: 1) Those who talk about it …. 2) Those who want it … 3) Those who make it happen ….  We need to decide who we want to be. As project managers we are in a position to be the type of people who make it happen.

Lesson 7: Global responsibility

Global goals for sustainable developmentIn September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Click here to find out more and to help share the Global Goals.

We need to keep the global goals for sustainable development in mind on all the projects we undertake.

Lesson 8: Embrace it

There is evidence of innovation in the products all around us. Support your local entrepreneurs and use their innovative products.

A few examples of innovative products are:

  • SaferMom is a social enterprise that addresses the high maternal and infant mortality crises in Nigeria. SaferMom delivers vital health information to new and expectant mothers using interactive, personalized low cost mobile technologies, including SMS and voice calls. The purpose is to help mothers have access to quick, affordable and hassle-free healthcare.
  • Mellowcabz – Mellowcabs manufactures, and operates new electric mini-cabs that provide an on-demand, flexible and affordable taxi/transport service in cities. These services can be provided through our mobile app, call-center or website. It has dual income sources, passenger fares and selling advertising space on, and in the vehicles. They are equipped with on-board tablet computers, which offer an interactive experience to the passenger.
  • PAN Test Kit for precision testing Malaria PAN/PF rapid test diagnostic test kit with a shelf life of 24 months.

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Innovation in Project Management

By Linky van der Merwe

Innovation in project managementAccording to Forbes.com innovation needs to be seen as a discipline of learning to use the right methods, tools and approaches at the right times, in other words: “learning to harness innovation”.

Harnessing the Power of Innovation was the theme of the latest Project Management South Africa (PMSA) National Conference that was held from 9-11 November in Johannesburg. The call is often for creativity and a shift in culture which will enable leaders and employees to optimize change. The question on how to achieve this was answered by a number of excellent speakers on the topic of Innovation!

PMSA Conference Nov 2016Project management often provides the ideal environment in which to harness innovation. It requires project managers’ skills sets to include the ability to encourage and develop creative thinking to achieve results.

The keynote speaker, Vasitha Pather, set out to demystify innovation by presenting a view of the bigger picture thinking required to integrate innovation into our projects. She helped project managers to think how we create an environment for innovation to take root and flourish.


According to Vasitha listening creates a safe space and increases trust. In the context of listening we enter in a psychological state where we are more receptive to be creative. A key ingredient of innovation is to slow down in order to move fast.

Find your flow

In sport they talk about getting into the zone, where they describe an altered state of consciousness, an increased mental state and even a heightened state of enjoyment.

We need to be in environments that are fun and innovative. As project managers and change managers we need to enable that through conversation, having fun and giving meaning to work. Let people engage all their senses, because we think with our whole body.  We’ll immerse ourselves in a state of productivity that can increase our productivity by up to 60%.

Social sensitivity

Diversity is a core aspect of innovation. It helps to have different perspectives, to care about each other and to have authentic leaders.

Vasitha also referred to the work of Peter Block, called Social Fabric which is centered around the need to belong. He believes in building a community that gives a sense of connectedness, where collaboration is a choice and people realise that they can create more together than on their own.

For project managers who value high-performing teams it’s good to encourage a culture of appreciation. Reward and acknowledge people by their name, give empathy that will increase the feeling of connectedness and will contribute to people feeling safe and connected.

Where projects often consist of self-organising teams, project managers need to build resilience in the system to handle the uncertainty. It’s important to remember that you cannot innovate without disruption. Where people play, insights and knowledge come out, because you give people a higher experience, while staying productive.
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Project Management: Harnessing the Power of Innovation

The speed of change is increasing exponentially. Organisations struggle to determine which change is applicable and how to manage it to their benefit.  There’s a call for creativity and a shift in culture which will enable leaders and employees to optimise change.  Many see “innovation” as the solution.

INNOVATION is a Discipline

According to forbes.com, innovation needs to be seen as a discipline – learning to use the right methods, tools and approaches at the right times. In other words: learning to harness innovation.

Creativity is about individuals coming up with ideas. Innovation is about “bringing ideas to life.” For example, we use creativity in our project teams to come up with the ideas. Then we use innovation to move these ideas from vision to reality.

Enabling Creative Thinking

Project management often provides the ideal environment in which to harness innovation. It requires project managers’ skills sets to include the ability and know-how to encourage and develop creative thinking to achieve results within the parameters set by the project. It’s about developing the ability to marry the traditionally structured, output-driven project management approach with “out-of-the-box thinking.

Innovation is a collaborative process; where people in many fields contribute to the implementation of new ideas. This occurs throughout the execution of a project.

Method and Practice

This means learning, practising and honing innovation skills including what the various methods are and how they are applied in different contexts, as well as measuring the methods and their results, determining what works and what doesn’t.

Creative Project Management

According to Business Improvement Architects (bia.ca) creative Project Management requires that the Project Manager will create a project team. This will begin the process of engagement and commitment. The team will collectively develop their team’s roles and responsibilities – so that everyone knows who’s involved in project success and what skills, knowledge and experience each of them adds to the overall team.

The project team will scope out the project to ensure there is a common understanding and agreement of scope. By engaging the entire team in the process it will be done faster, with more comprehension and complete team buy-in. The project team will then develop a detailed project plan. Research has shown that by creating the entire plan with the full team, teams will get a plan that has four (4) times the detail. And they will accomplish this in about one-quarter of the amount of time it takes compared to the project manager creating the plan on their own.

PMSA Conference 2016

Project Management South Africa National Conference

In South Africa, the PMSA is hosting the National 2016 Conference with the Theme: “Harnessing the Power of Innovation”.  The aim is to aid project managers in developing their own innovative skills which they can apply to their teams, as well as to intrinsically innovative projects that they have to manage.

The 2016 Conference Programme consist of keynote sessions, plenary sessions presented by experts and thought leaders, case studies, academic research presentations, master classes, an expo with interactive exhibits as well as plenty of networking opportunities.

For more information or to Register, visit project management.org.za

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