Project Management

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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) and our inaugural PMI® Global Summit 2022, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Viewing Posts by Nesrin Aykac

Presentation Recap: Measuring the Maturity of Your Digital Transformation Efforts

By N. Christine Aykac, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP
Project Coach/Learning Strategist, Acuna Consulting

I presented at the PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 on 6-7 October 2021, a global event attracting more than 42,000 attendees. My presentation, “Measuring the Maturity of Your Digital Transformation Efforts,” focused on the key elements of transformational change and a simple way to measure the maturity of your organization’s digital transformation efforts. During the presentation, attendees submitted numerous questions, and I have chosen some of these questions to respond to here.


Question 1: What do you think the top 3 skills will be in 2022 for project managers to be successful?

I find it is easier to learn technical skills than interpersonal or power-skills because artificial intelligence cannot replicate power skills. My top three skills are critical thinking, problem-solving and communication. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs report 2020, skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. They also predict that critical thinking, as well as problem-solving, will be much more important. In addition, WEF lists other skills such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility. However, without learning how to communicate better with our teams, stakeholders, having other skills and being a subject matter expert will not be enough.


Question 2: Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about cybersecurity.

First, not just project managers but any professional should have basic cybersecurity knowledge. Cybersecurity knowledge will become must-have knowledge for project managers, especially those working within IT organizations. 


Question 3: How do you manage continuous improvement when the upper managers do not have the desire to move on?

Small steps; doing something is better than doing nothing or giving up. Sometimes, I don't even call it continuous improvement, but I add small activities into the project activities and ensure my team understands the concept and helps me to look at ways to achieve improvements, regardless of how small it is. Also, remember that continuous learning is part of continuous improvement activities. I always arrange lunch-and-learn sessions and invite project managers and experts willing to volunteer their time.  


Question 4: Can you please provide a case study of a company that did digital transformation?

There are companies out there that accomplished their transformation goals for a period of time, like implementing big data strategy and managing their customer data with the help of machine learning tools much better. However, I don't believe anyone of them can say that they completed a digital transformation. As I discussed during my session, digital transformation is a journey. As you reach a certain point, new ideas, innovations will emerge, and you have to adjust your course accordingly. 


Question 5: Would there be specific examples of how you would assess each of the 5 areas of your business?

I do not recommend asking too specific questions in the initial survey, but you can ask if they like to be contacted with the follow-up survey and/or are open to talking to the team. In this survey, I recommend asking the basic questions for each dimension, such as: Based on your knowledge and experience, what do you think is the level of each dimension?

Your result chart should be something like this:

Question 6: What are the differences in collective thinking, high-performing teams?

When we talk about high-performing teams, we look at the result - they completed all the assigned tasks, achieved their goals, etc. You can reach this point with standard team-building activities. Especially if you are working with seasoned professionals, you will reach a high-performing state in a shorter time. However, are you getting the best out of them? Are you able to use their expertise to achieve a better outcome? You may notice that even collaborators have quite different approaches. You need to bring them to a collective thinking state to ensure you get the best results out of them.

Collective thinking is a way of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of problems and issues and coming up with better ways to tackle them. Therefore, I see collective thinking as a tool to help us achieve transformational change for the current and sustainable future.

Collective thinking involves listening to multiple perspectives and embracing multiple points of view to develop a more sophisticated approach to problems. Keep in mind that complex issues require intelligence beyond that of any individual. Yet, in the face of complex, highly conflictual issues, teams typically break down, revert to their rigid positions, and cover up deeper views. The result is watered-down compromises. Collecting thinking, however, is a discipline of collective learning and inquiry. Thus, it can serve as a cornerstone for organizational learning by providing an environment where people can reflect together and transform the ground out of their thinking and acting.


Question 7: What are the tools to get to a collective wisdom state?

Tools, techniques and methods you use to create high-performing teams and solving problems will be quite helpful. Otherwise, it is a slow-moving process.

As I mentioned, it is important to set the principles upfront, such as establishing trust, respect and transparency. It starts with bringing them together because when any group of individuals comes together, each brings a wide range of unexpressed differences in perspectives.

If you have a problem that requires a root cause analysis to resolve, you can apply the steps introduced in the presentation.


Question 8: This maturity looks to me very similar to the Capability Maturity Model. Is this the case?

Yes, it is based on the capability maturity model (CMM); however, it is a simplified version because we want to get a high-level idea of how every user in the organization is feeling/thinking about the digital transformation. CMM is a quite complex model. If you apply the same complex model, you may not be able to measure your transformation efforts, especially from a people's perspective.


You may access this presentation on demand through 31 January 2022. Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2021 for further details on accessing this and other presentations.

Posted by Nesrin Aykac on: October 25, 2021 09:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Upcoming Presentation: Measuring the Maturity of Your Digital Transformation Efforts

By N. Christine Aykac, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP, PMP
Project Coach/Learning Strategist
Acuna Consulting

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), companies are pouring millions into “digital transformation” initiatives. However, a high percentage of those efforts fail to pay off.  According to HBR, that’s because companies are jumping on specific technology initiatives. In short, most organizations see digital transformation as a project with start and end dates, and they are working towards an end date. On the way, most of them are measuring the transformation efforts based on the output of a project, and their assessments are related to key activities within those projects.

As you may know, upgrading a system, implementing a new process, and setting up a new service are all projects. Within the transformation strategy, you will have projects to improve your systems, but the transformation is not a project, whether digital, agile, or business transformation. There is no end to any transformation efforts because continuous improvement is an ongoing, never-ending effort. Once you reach the optimal state, there would be innovations, the market will change, new needs will arise, and you will be continuing improvements, adapting new methods, and changing your processes. 

Experts call this era the fourth industrial revolution, or simply the “digital revolution.” Yes, I believe it is part of the industrial revolution series, but I’d like to bring your attention to one thing: Digital revaluation is not linear anymore, like the previous ones! The second industrial revolution followed the previous one about 100 years later, like electrical power following the steam power, improving how we produce products. On the other hand, the digital revolution impacts everything: our social lives, our culture and how we behave. That’s why I believe the transformation is a lifelong journey. That’s why we should look at transformation-related activities from a different angle. It is a maturity process that goes in cycles. 

Technology, systems, and applications will help you with your digital transformation efforts, but they are not the drivers of the digital transformation. A mindset of the organization and accepting the change is never-ending; it is a continuous key endeavor here. So, when assessing the digital transformation efforts, one needs to look at the multi-dimensional way. Similar to the digital revolution, digital transformation is not linear.

I identified a few dimensions for you to consider:

•    Systems: Available tools and infrastructure for employees, customers, partners.
•    Business Model: How value is delivered in the industry, i.e., traditional - bricks and mortar, or you are a startup, sailing on uncharted waters.
•    Organizational Culture: Current organizational mindsets, culture, and structure. Collaboration and business functions how are they working. 
•    Processes: Current organizational process, i.e., is decision-making hierarchal, lean and collaborative or a one-man show. How about your business ecosystems - holistic or descriptive? 
•    People: Available talent and their capabilities; how much are your people participating in the digital transformation activities? Are they aware that their organization is going through a digital transformation?

You may ask, “Is that all?” Not at all; however, I’d like to keep it short and simple. You might include or exclude other dimensions important for your businesses, such as the environment of your organizations’ functions. These dimensions are just to give you an idea on how to decide which dimensions should be included in your transformation’s efforts. 

Sometimes organizations focus solely on technology or processes. Failure to address all dimensions related to your business leaves significant value on the table. New technologies create substantial opportunities, but corporations that don’t recognize and pursue transformation in a multi-dimensional way may find themselves missing out on these opportunities. 

How can you measure the maturity of your transformation efforts? First, you should answer the “why.” Why should you measure the maturity of your transformation efforts? 

As you may know, maturity is related to the degree of formality and continuous optimization of processes. Thus, the maturity spans from ad-hoc practices to formally defined steps and actively optimizing processes, systems, operations, and so forth. Maturity assessments are not a one-time exercise; you should be running them periodically as an operational activity, not a project. It also helps to identify an organization’s maturity in a number of areas and points out the areas of improvement. Maturity models are valuable tools for benchmarking capability that give an incremental target for improvements. It provides a starting point for moving forward and reaching our goals.

As mentioned, digital transformation is not a project, and there are multiple dimensions to any transformation efforts. So, how can you reach an acceptable level of maturity within your organization? How can you bring your teams to a “collective thinking” state to improve the effectiveness of your efforts? Once you have a realistic answer, you should apply a very simple model to measure the maturity level.

Interested in learning more and furthering the dialogue? Join me on Wednesday, 6 October, at the PMI Virtual Experience Series event and attend Session 403: Measuring the Maturity of Your Digital Transformation Efforts.

Posted by Nesrin Aykac on: September 08, 2021 02:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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