Interview With Recognized Expert By Project Management Institute, Bill Dow


Bill Dow is a PMO and Project management expert, and an esteemed author of 4 PMO and PM books to date. He is recognized by the Project management Institute (PMI) as he has established a plethora of project management offices. He currently works in the capacity of a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft.

He has given 13 years of his valuable insight and expertise to Microsoft. Being an inspiring orator, he has been a speaker at various project management conferences, as well as being an active trainer of project management. He has co-authored a wide array of books, including “Project Management Communication Tools”, “The Tactical Guide for Building a PMO” and “Project Management Communications Bible.”

TaskQue: To break the ice, we are really curious to know what really inspired you in choosing project management as a career?

BD: I started my PM career in 1990 and my main focus was to get out of work. I thought, I would be in charge of organizing things here, without having to be buried neck deep in work…

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong and quickly found out that Project Management was an extremely busy role and one that makes you work very hard.

My background was in development, so I started my career as a developer and really felt like the PMing and organizing was a better fit.

TaskQue: What obstacles have you faced pertaining to Project delivery in the span of your career? And what solutions do you suggest to novices?

BD: My biggest resistance has always come from the people. There is rarely a technical issue that can’t be resolved, but obstacles that PMs over the globe face the most are all along the lines of dealing with people.

My biggest solution, and what I tell people all the time, is that you have to be able to influence without imposing authority. You have to know how to communicate and build relationships with people in this role or consider yourself at a career dead end.

If you can’t get that developer to put in a couple extra hours after work on a Friday evening, then you are going to struggle to be successful in life. People who can get other people to “want” to work for them, do much better in this capacity.

TaskQue:  What do you think is the importance of implementing processes inside any organization? What has been your strategy regarding betterment of processes?

BD: Oh, they are critical to any organization. In the PMOs I have ran to the array of projects I have undertaken, processes are the only way to be repeatable and successful.

My strategy has always been focused around embracing processes, and looking for tweaks/updates/adjustments wherever necessary. I mean, I don’t want a process for the sake of having one, but I also realize that sometimes you need these processes to make it big.

Related: Business Process Management Tips

TaskQue:  What are your practices and recommendations when it comes to handling conflicts as a Leader? What are the common mistakes you have witnessed so far?

BD: I teach locally in the Seattle, WA area, and one of the things I teach and regularly practice is conflict resolution techniques, such as Forcing, Win-Win, Avoiding…etc.

Therefore, I am very familiar with these and use them on a regular basis. I also believe that leaders need these tools as well, but sadly what I see and experience is the fact that they are more default to their personality styles rather than using proven techniques that are infallible.

So if a leader is a fighter to the core, they will likely adapt the “forcing” approach, making everything go their way without room for negotiation. It happens all the time sadly, but when you take a leader aside and talk to them about it, they won’t budge just because that is how they are wired. It causes tons of ongoing problems and sadly render some environments toxic.

Related: 10 Leadership Qualities That Will  Make you a Good Leader

TaskQue: What obstacles does a PMO face these days? How to overcome these obstacles?

BD: I would say that Agile is becoming the latest and greatest obstacle for every PMO manager out there.

Since Agile is the hottest thing out there and executives are jumping all over it, PMO Managers are put into a position where they need to respond, and frankly if you don’t have that background, converting your current PMO into an Agile PMO is not a bed of roses.

Overcoming this particular hurdle means sitting down with your management layer and really comprehending what they want/mean when they say they want an Agile PMO.

TaskQue: You have been a speaker at various project management Conferences. Please share your experience. Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2018?

BD: I have, over the last several years. I have spoken at several PMO Symposiums and ProjectSummit world conferences across both Project Communications and PMOs. This year, I plan to attend and speak at:

1. PMO 2018 Conference in the London, England

2. PMO Symposium 2018 in Washington, DC

And locking now on some Project Summit World conferences

TaskQue: You have been working in the community for a long time. Please name a few individuals who have been your inspiration or who you admire a lot?

BD: There are several folks I admire in this industry, such as

Bruce Taylor – 50+ years of project management experience and my co-writer on two of my books

Dr. Harold Kerzner – The father of Project Management. I mean, we would not be where we are today without Harold.

Max Wideman P.Eng – An amazing project management expert with tons of hands on and practical experience.

TaskQue: Recreational activities help us retain our work life balance. What is your practice to keep yours?

BD: Tennis is my life… So, when we think recreational, I have to say tennis. I think the more you spend in your career, you realize that family and work life balance makes you who you are. So, I get out there and play tennis.

I get into work early, but by the end of the day, I need to unwind. I do that on the tennis court.

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