Project Management

Facing Emerging Futures: Foresight for Project Managers

PMI Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter +1

After spending his early career in project management and corporate strategy, Dr. Gregory Dunn has worked in several institutions over the past several years as an educational consultant, faculty member and business school dean based in Central Asia. He also helped launch a future studies institute in Kazakhstan. He is currently working as a consultant with Bilimkana Foundation.

Governments, organizations, project teams and private individuals alike are coming to terms with a new reality as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our lives. These new circumstances carry tremendous societal, economic and human consequences for “business as usual.”

How can project managers and individual team members successfully navigate crises beyond their immediate control? Textbook project management skills work great under everyday circumstances, but what happens when broader environmental changes threaten the viability of a project and create high levels of uncertainty for PMs and their team members?

While conventional strategic planning is not typically associated with the PM role, neglecting the value of this broad thinking would have a large impact. The use of foresight is just as critical for PMs as for C-suite executives, a fact that becomes abundantly clear during a crisis.

It was not necessary, however, to wait for a crisis to appreciate the value of foresight for PM teams. Developing such a mindset has significant benefits for individuals at all levels in organizations navigating uncertain times and a fast-changing environment. A 2018 study by Rohrbeck and Kum found that firm-level use of future preparedness leads to much greater profitability and firm growth. Given organizational susceptibility to internal and external shocks, the …

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