Are We Done Disrupting Yet?

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by Cyndee Miller

That digital disruption all the experts and thought leaders have been hyping for what seems like decades? It’s here.

For real.

I know, I know, dear readers. You’ve heard it before. From me. And I’m sure many of you would be content to never hear the D word again.

And yet…

There’s simply no disputing that disruptive technologies—the internet of things, 3D printing, robotics, artificial intelligence—are infiltrating our lives. And that means every project leader at every organization in every sector better brace themselves for some serious change. Attendees at PMO symposium seem quite aware of the situation.

JPMorgan Chase’s Noel Smyth said big data, cloud, blockchain and mobile technology are all changing project management at the financial services giant—all while it’s contending with a slew of fintech upstarts.

Even government agencies (not exactly known for their bleeding-edge habits) are no longer watching from the sidelines.

People demand the corporate crowd keep up with the latest social media platforms or cashless payment options—and expect the same from the public sector, said Joanie Newhart of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. And all too often, they’re disappointed.

One prime indicator project leaders are out to change their modus operandi comes from the U.S. Census Bureau. For the first time ever, the 2020 count will be conducted over the internet. Now that’s saying something, given the inaugural census was taken in 1790.

But the agency isn’t just tapping into digital delivery.

It’s digging deep into the data it collects about the country’s 300-million-plus residents. With that analysis, the Census Bureau can learn more about the people it serves, from their commuting patterns to the best ways to evacuate during an emergency, said the bureau’s Laura Furgione, PMP, during the PMO Symposium executive fireside chat.

To not just survive, but thrive, project leaders must have a curious mind—and be willing to think across projects and programs, said Linda Ott, PMP, of the U.S. Department of Energy. The public-sector project leaders of tomorrow need to stay wide open to what’s happening, even as they focus in on their particular mission.

Even with the best of efforts, though, some organizations are falling behind. And across various sessions, a consensus was building that PMO leaders should be the ones helping their organizations embrace the changes brought on by disruptive technology.

“[Organizations] are really not adapting and changing fast enough,” Melissa Eckers of Accenture Technology said in a panel discussion of the PMI 2018 Thought Leadership Series released at symposium. “There’s an issue with how effective we’re being with managing change.”

What’s the problem? Attiya Salik of Capgemini Government Solutions sees a trust gap between stakeholders and PMOs when it comes to change management. “Stakeholders see it as waste of time,” she said. “[We] have to educate stakeholders on what change management really is, what its impact is going to be and how it will facilitate the implementation process.”

PMOs themselves must also contend with their own change patterns: Sixty-six percent of the 529 PMO directors surveyed say disruptive technologies are affecting their PMO, according to Capgemini’s The Next Generation PMO, one of three reports in the series.

“The PMO of yesterday isn’t the PMO of today,” said Rebecca Sanchez of Accenture Technology during a panel dicsussion.

Has the disruptive revolution really begun? And how is all this cutting-edge technology changing how you manage your projects or your PMO?

Posted by Cyndee Miller on: November 14, 2018 11:39 AM | Permalink

Comments (13)

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Excellent thoughts! thanks for sharing.

I agree that change is becoming more rapid. I also think that it is becoming more important for stakeholders and PMOs to increase the quality of communication across the business. To me, lack of communication is a major reason organizational change is not where it needs to be. If leadership cannot communicate the vision, the individuals in the organization can't get behind them on the path.

Disruption is here to stay! and it is a good thing.

Thank you for the thought-provoking article, Cyndee.

Basically, if the stakeholders are not embracing it or see it as a waste of time, then the job of bringing about the required change in mindset isn’t being successfully accomplished. It should be incumbent upon any mature PMO to ensure that they have access to skilled practitioners of Organizational Change Management (OCM). These OCM professionals can assist and guide them through the process of effectively communicating and “selling” stakeholders on the necessity and importance of managing business change brought about by the availability and implementation of technology disruptors.

Interesting, thanks.

Very interesting, thanks for sharing

Great Cyndee. I do also see a significant need for a true partnership b/t the PMO, IT, and Business Groups to ensure alignment with technical and product roadmaps in conjunction with the organization's strategic roadmap.

I think the growth in the number of PM applications/tools that are deployed is a challenge for the PMO. If you had posted a question here 15 years ago about what PM tools were being used in your organisation, you probably would have got a short list. With SaaS and other developments, the list today is likely to be much longer. The challenge for the PMO is coordinating/managing/supporting these tools, particularly in large organisations.

Disruptive technologies happen. What is important is that project managers, PMOs, and stakeholders understand new and potentially technologies, and that there are people in key places who can explain them and their impacts. People in key positions need to keep up with technologies impacting their fields, and be open to change.

Nice article, it will be called disruption when you are not adopting and accommodating the change

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