By Cyndee Miller
We’ve all done it, made a call based on some bias we might not even be aware of. And no, you are not some magical unicorn exception. We’ve all fallen victim to those pesky cognitive assumptions that can influence the way we approach our work, not to mention the end result of that work.
Take groupthink. You know the drill: Some person—typically someone with an especially commanding air—speaks up first, with conviction, and suddenly the rest of the team is sinking in their chairs.
So how do you break the spell? Make it a point to encourage every team member to raise their considerations “so you don’t have one or two people creating the whole project narrative,” says Manuel Salero Coca, managing director, PIN Technologies, Mexico City, Mexico.
Groupthink isn’t the only trouble spot. You’ve also got success bias, attribution bias, confirmation bias. It’s a lot. So we went to the experts and compiled loads of tips for building the best bias defense in the November issue of PM Network®.
You’ll also get the inside scoop on the 2019 Project of the Year Award winner. Driven by a mission to aim higher, Brazil’s Embraer did something drastic: It disrupted itself. With its new E190-E2 line, Embraer designed, developed and delivered a family of next-gen commercial jets—faster than any aviation company before it.
I went on-site to interview some of the project leaders at Embraer HQ in São José dos Campos, Brazil. And I must say this is impressive stuff. So if you appreciate stellar project management, you might want to check it out. But maybe I’m biased…
Let me know what you think—what’s the top tip you picked up from this issue?
By Cyndee Miller
Bob Geldof was not happy. It was 1985. It was Live Aid. And he was trying to raise money to fight famine in Africa. So in between glorious sets by the likes of Queen and David Bowie, the Boomtown Rats frontman would come on pleading for money.
It worked. Using one of the largest satellite setups of all time, the U.K./U.S. megaconcert ultimately raised US$127 million—and changed everything we knew about global philanthropy. Perhaps Sir Geldof should have pursued his Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification? It’s impressive nonetheless—and definitely worthy of its status as one of PMI’s 50 most influential projects of the past 50 years.
What else made the list? See for yourself, in a special October edition of PM Network®.
And then come back here and tell us what you think of the picks.
There’s a whole lot of data out there. That’s all well and good, but it does leave us with one small problem: There’s not enough brainpower to turn all that information into sound decisions.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and all that other disruptive tech we hear so much about could be the antidote to the data deluge. But that’s been the mantra for an awfully long time. So PM Network® asked three project leaders to weigh in on where AI really stands… and where it could go.
It’s not about robots helping us choose what to wear or what to order from the market (although that is pretty cool). For project teams, it’s more about the potential to process loads of data to reveal relationships, identify risks and predict outcomes.
“AI can then derive patterns … that we can use to make better-educated estimates, like whether you’ll finish a project on time,” says Audrius Zujus, founder and CEO of Aresi Labs.
AI can also help plug the holes left by human nature, says Geetha Gopal, PMP, assistant manager, product owner, bot services and projects at Daimler South East Asia. “Ultimately, data-driven decision making will help project managers to look beyond common intuitive biases.”
AI has its limits, however.
“People misuse the terms ‘AI’ or ‘machine learning’ as if they’re magic that can do anything we want,” says Bruno Rafael de Carvalho Santos, CAPM, PMP, project manager at the Sedimentary Geology Laboratory and Coppetec Foundation. Spoiler alert: They can’t. Not yet.
Still, things are moving pretty fast. Over the next three years, project leaders expect the share of projects they manage using AI will increase from 23 percent to 37 percent, according to PMI’s 2019 AI Innovators: Cracking the Code on Project Performance report.
What does that mean for careers? Will AI will replace human project managers? Not likely—although it may change their role. “Machine learning tools and automation will free people from tedious, repetitive activities so they can focus on strategic activities,” says Ms. Gopal.
It’s admittedly easy to get caught up in the swirl of negative news about technology. Some of this stuff is legitimately scary. But harnessed in the right way, tech can also help project managers achieve amazing things. Case in point: The same issue of PM Network covers how next-gen tech is helping teams map plans to restore the nearly destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral. A 3D laser scan of the historic structure has generated documentation that can tell teams the precise curves of a flying buttress or the original thickness of support beams that might need to be replaced.
That’s how we should be using tech. But are we?
Fast. Digital pioneer. Hyper-efficient. Customer-friendly. Not necessarily the first things that come to mind when someone mentions government.
“In general, governmental organizations have long been behind the private sector in technology,” says Horacio Barbier, PMP, director of modernization and digital government for the City of Vicente López in Argentina.
He’s not wrong. While companies around the world are launching projects around AI, blockchain, drones and the like, governments have been relatively slow on the up-take. Only 17 percent of government CIOs plan to increase their investment in digital business initiatives, versus 34 percent of CIOs in the private sector, according to a Gartner survey from earlier this year.
It’s not to say governments aren’t trying. The latest issue of PM Network® has the intel on how some innovative public-sector project teams are challenging the digital status quo.
Estonia, for one, has been an e-government trailblazer for years. The former Soviet republic was the first nation to offer virtual residency to anyone in the world wanting to conduct digital business in Estonia. Since the program was launched in 2014, 50,000 people have become e-residents and 6,000 e-businesses have been established.
In the United States, the governor of Vermont signed an executive order in 2017 establishing a secretary of digital services. One of the first projects? A pilot that uses AI to help the U.S. state’s transportation agency predict road and bridge degradation.
Cool—and useful. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Done right, technology just means government will do what it’s meant to do: serve the public.
What are you seeing in your own governments?
by Cyndee Miller
As a newbie, it can be tough to push back, even if you know deep down you’re right. What’s a project manager to do—without sabotaging their career?
Back when he was just starting out, Justin Fraser, PMP, was working with a team member insistent on doing work that would have pushed the project out of scope. When Mr. Fraser pointed that out, he was dismissed. So he called in backup from a more senior team member, who endorsed Mr. Fraser’s point and convinced the stubborn team member to drop the work.
“I was able to keep the project in scope by using someone with more credibility,” says Mr. Fraser, now project manager and founder of 88 Real Estate Capital, Milltown, New Jersey, USA.
Being the new kid on the block is tough in any career. But project and program managers have the extra-daunting task of commanding respect and fueling collaboration up and down the org chart from day one.
Fear not. For the latest issue of PM Network®, we recruited project professionals of all backgrounds and levels of experience to weigh in on what every rookie should know. (Even you grizzled veterans might learn a thing or two.)
It’s good timing. With talk of an impending global recession looming, project management is looking like a pretty darn futureproofed career option. By 2027, employers will need some 88 million individuals working in project management-oriented roles, according to PMI’s research.
Still skeptical? Understood. But consider this from Thabang Molefe, CAPM, project manager at SHL, Johannesburg, South Africa. “To be honest I wasn’t really sold at first, from my research on what project managers do. It took working on a project firsthand for my love of the profession to take root, and I haven’t looked back since,” she tells PM Network. “On the first big project where I reported to a project manager, I watched this lady work her magic and move mountains every day, and I thought, “This is what I want to do. I want to make things happen.”
Ready to work some magic and make things happen? The PM Network Project Manager’s Starter Kit has everything you need.