PMI Atlanta Chapter - Forums Summaries

"Data Visualization Changes Your Business" presented by Ashley Swain Cohen: April 2023 Healthcare Forum Summary

Written by: Rishea Middlebrooks MSHI, CAPM

The famous adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is greatly attributed to many aspects of life, including data. How you visualize data determines how it is perceived to the intended audience and could make or break a decision process. Compare your techniques to the ten best practices below to see where you can take your data visualization capabilities to the next level!

Presentation Overview Cohen-Ashley

The volume of data we collect in our businesses is growing at rates that are hard even to quantify. As more information about your initiatives and projects is available, you can use these data to increase the efficacy of your projects. Ashley Cohen discussed the following concepts within the context of data visualization that have changed how we think about our world:

  • Definition of data visualization
  • Ten best practices
  • Five ways to understand and interrogate your data effectively


What is data visualization? The compilation of multiple data points to tell a story to the intended audience or to make a more informed decision. Data visualization is not an infographic or a table of data.

Ten best practices

  • Simplicity (Three/3)
    • Focus on the 3 things needed to make a decision.
  • Right graphs
    • Visualize change over time or data comparisons quantitatively (i.e., replacing pie graphs with bar graphs wherever possible). Line graphs, bar graphs and choropleth graphs are the most effective graphs in most settings.
  • Design
    • Data visualizations should be easily navigable, appropriate for the topic, consistent and well formatted. Don’t be afraid of white space. Use that to separate the degree variance of your data.
  • Color and shape
    • Color and shape schemes should be used to differentiate and compare differential values while also being friendly to color-deficient audiences (ex: shy away from red or green). Shapes should not be used to quantify data.
  • Context
    • Be sure to list titles, axis labels, data point labels and sources. Do not over label your visualization.
  • Relevance
    • Highlight impact points and visualize data latency where appropriate.
  • Audience
    • Take time to investigate your audience to better tailor your data visualization.
  • Story
    • Assess if the data you’re visualizing portrays the story you want to tell accurately.
  • Visual cues
    • Use visual cues where necessary to make data more impactful.
  • Accessibility
    • Design your data so that anyone can use and comprehend it.

Next Event

Join us at the next PMI Atlanta Chapter Healthcare forum on May 19, 2023

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"The Power of Diverse Teams in Project Management" presented by Lauren Gohde: March 2023 Healthcare Forum Summary

Written by: Gail Banzon, PMP

Greater diversity and inclusion make organizations better. According to Pulse of the Profession® research, 88 percent of project professionals say having diverse project teams increases value. Do you know that gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform on profit? Do you also know that ethnically diverse companies are also 33% more likely to outperform on profit?

Presentation Overview Lauren-Gohde

The presentation was about the power of diverse teams in project management. We now understand the impact of equality, diversity, and inclusiveness on performance, collaboration, and creativity through innovation in the workplace within project-based organizations. Research has shown that compared to a single decision-maker, a diverse team will make better decisions up to 87% of the time. If your team only consists of male members, the decisions will be better at 58% compared to a gender-mixed team at 73%—the more diverse, the better decisions and overall performance. Diverse teams excel in troubleshooting, creating novel ideas, and accounting for a larger number of variables in their planning.

Get a diverse team, and you will have high performance? Quite the opposite! You must demonstrate a high level of inclusion and manage a diverse team to harvest the benefits from it. They will need to be well managed and time to be formed and find the strength in their complementary competencies and perspectives. If there is inclusive and compassionate Leadership and an inclusive culture within such a team, they will soon start producing great work. Team members will experience how they complement each other and will be able to deliver high performance through teamwork.


Main points:

  • Create the organization to be the best place to work
  • Mindset on inclusion and diversity
    • Diversity without inclusion doesn’t work
    • Diversity is multi-dimensional
    • Inclusion requires intention
  • Business benefits of diverse teams
    • Increased creativity and innovation
    • Better problem-solving and decision-making
    • Higher employee engagement
    • Better reputations

Challenges faced: What prevents us from being inclusive?

  • Bias, lack of awareness can obscure the need
  • Logistical challenges with remote workforce
  • Inexperience with uncomfortable or sensitive topics
  • Fear of making mistakes or saying the wrong thing


  • Inclusive Leadership
    • The behaviors of leaders can account for up to 70% of the difference between the proportion of employees who feel included and the proportion of those who don’t
  • The Inclusion Continuum
    • Intolerance, tolerance, awareness, accepting, valuing
    • Individuals should reflect on where they are in the inclusion continuum

Goals of the EDI:

  • Inclusive leadership is a commitment to creating an environment in which employees:
    • Feel a sense of belonging to the group
    • Feel valued for their unique contributions
    • Are treated equitably
    • Have the support to reach their full potential
  • Create the organization to be the best place to work

Lessons Learned:

  • Be courageous to speak up when you observe inequities
  • Include and seek input from people across a wide variety of backgrounds
    • For example, blind hiring to take out the demographic bias by interviewing on the phone to eliminate face-to-face judgment
  • Practice psychological safety
  • Ensure all voices are heard
  • Acknowledge when you have committed a microaggression
  • Model humility and build trust with those who may feel like the other
  • Practice active listening

Next Event

Join us at the next PMI Atlanta Chapter Healthcare forum on April 19, 2023

Keynote Presentation: "Data Visualization Changes Your Business" by Ashley Swain Cohen, Director of Partner Solutions, Salesforce

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"There is Nothing Wrong with Being Agile or Everything is Wrong with Being Agile" by Varun Anand: March 2023 Agile Forum Summary

Written by: Alex Leonard, PMP

Presentation Overview Varun-Anand

On March 21, 2023, the Agile Forum of the PMI Atlanta Chapter hosted the “There is Nothing Wrong with Being Agile or Everything is Wrong with Being Agile” Special Interest Forum Event as presented by Varun Anand. As an instructor and practitioner in Agile methodologies, Varun utilized his knowledge and understanding of the Agile mindset to discuss when to use and when not to use Agile in practice.

Throughout the course of a 1-hour presentation, Varun emphasized many virtues of the Agile mindset. He explained the importance of embracing change, being flexible, and being adaptable. Failure to adapt to varying circumstances can be catastrophic for organizations because in many cases, when they resist change, they risk becoming obsolete.

On the other side, Varun discussed the world’s perception of what it means to be Agile. He explained how organizations say they are Agile, without truly knowing what that means in practice. They are essentially “fake” Agile.

Varun’s presentation culminated into the ultimate proclamation that while having an Agile mindset is especially important, there is a right time and a wrong time to be Agile. The important part is knowing when it’s the right time to be Agile.


Sometimes, Agile is not always the best approach. It is more important to have a good understanding of multiple methodologies so you can utilize the best fit for the specific phase or situation in a project. Other key points include:

  • Having an Agile mindset is essential for embracing change
  • An organization is not sustainable if they are not adaptable
  • Many organizations say they are Agile but do not truly maintain an Agile mindset

Next Event

Join us at the next PMI Atlanta Chapter Agile forum on April 18, 2023

Keynote Presentation: "Incorporating Agility into Your Waterfall Projects" by Amber Chandler, SOP Evolution LLC

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"Leveraging Self-Organizing Teams At Scale To Drive Flow" presented by Alex Lantukh: March 2023 Technology Forum Summary

Written by: Rishea Middlebrooks MHI, CAPM

In today's rapidly changing business environment, organizations need to be agile, innovative, and customer-centric to survive and thrive. However, traditional hierarchical structures and command-and-control approaches can be barriers to achieving these goals.

Take a look at Alex Lantukh’s presentation on to learn how identify, manage, and improve self-organizing teams and ultimately organizational performance!

Presentation Overview Lantukh-Alex

Self-organizing teams have emerged as a promising alternative to traditional hierarchical structures that hinder an organization’s ability to survive and thrive in business environments. These teams are allowing employees to collaborate and innovate in a more dynamic and adaptive manner. This presentation explores the benefits of and the strategies by which we might leverage self-organizing teams at scale to drive flow and improve organizational performance.


Optimizing Flow as a concept

  • How Flow has been used
    • Lean
    • Six Sigma
    • Kanban
    • SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)
  • Considering Flow at scale

What are self-organizaing teams?

  • Teams that are autonomously making decisions

What are the characteristics of a self-organizing team?

  • Collaborative
  • Autonomous
  • Innovative
  • Adaptive
  • Communicative
  • Responsible
  • Empowering
  • Accountable

Benefits of leveraging self-organizing teams at scale

  • Increase speed and efficiency of software development
  • Respond more quickly to changing market conditions
  • Improve product quality and customer satisfaction
  • Increase employee engagement and satisfaction

Challenges of leveraging self-organizing teams at scale

  • Ensuring alignment with the organization’s strategic coals
  • Maintaining consistency across multiple teams and products
  • Managing dependencies and coordination across teams

Best practices for steering self-organizing teams

  • Manage the inputs
    • Product vision
    • Technical runway
    • Provide guidance and direction
  • Steward the team(s)
    • Define responsibilities
    • Develop culture
    • Empower team members
    • Continuous improvement

Next Event

Join us at the next PMI Atlanta Chapter Technology forum on April 25, 2023

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"BioPharma PMO – How to Scale Up for A Growing Organization in the Clinical Research Industry” presented by NoriYah Yisrael: March 2023 Clinical Research Forum Summary

Written by: NoriYah Yisrael, MSM, PMP

Presentation Overview NoriYah-Yisrael

On March 9, 2023, the Clinical Research Forum of the PMI Atlanta Chapter hosted the “BioPharma PMO: How to Scale Up for A Growing Organization in the Clinical Research Industry” Special Industry Forum event as presented by NoriYah Yisrael. Mrs. Yisrael spoke to the audience and shared her vast knowledge of clinical trials in the healthcare industry, looking through a lens filled with 35 years of experience. Ms. Yisrael took the audience on a journey from the definition of drugs and devices through the discovery and commercialization of a product that survives it to the marketplace.

As the main topic, Ms. Yisrael engaged the audience and described how agility is, and could be further incorporated, at the Project Management Office (PMO) level to stay in alignment with biopharmaceutical companies as their pipeline grows. Gap Analyses and Maturity Assessments are only part of the solution. Leading the audience through the FDA’s adaptability during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how vaccine manufacturers pivoted to answer the desperate call of Americans for a timely solution, the story was painted clear about agility in the biopharmaceutical environment. Mrs. Yisrael provided statistics and data to inform how the rising costs of medicines may be offset if the industry further adapted their way of working, at both the project and enterprise levels. By introducing more agility in the way we do clinical trials, there is the potential to increase product speed to market and decrease the overall cost of biopharmaceutical research and development.


  • As biopharmaceutical companies grow their pipeline, PMOs can stay in alignment and upscale their delivery model in accordance with that growth.
  • Gap Analyses and PMO Maturity Assessments can be done to determine where the company is, and where the company endeavors to go, from a value-driven perspective. Together with an Agile mindset and an aptitude for change, PMOs have a roadmap wherewith to evolve strategically.
  • By introducing agility into their way of working, biopharmaceutical companies can potentially reduce research and development expenses, and increase the speed to market for their medicinal products.

Next Event

Join us at the next PMI Atlanta Chapter Clinical Research Forum on June 8, 2023

Register at 

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