by Peter Tarhanidis, PhD
Pressing into 2021, all of us must consider the skills we each need to lead through the current COVID crisis—and into the future. We all witnessed this pandemic’s damage across our businesses. And in response, many organizations have changed their ambitions and goals.
According to McKinsey, this new era of uncertainty has prompted CEOs to shift their leadership in four ways:
While the executives at the top of an organization’s hierarchy quickly shift their mindsets, will leaders across the org chart keep up with business demands?
Here are four ways to be a more effective project leader in the future:
What are you doing to be a more effective leader in the future?
by Wanda L. Curlee, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, PMI-RMP
As artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and other new diruptive technologies enter the business mainstream, how will this impact project management? And how will it affect your job?
In any business, understanding data is essential. However, there’s so much of it that no one human being can review it all and truly understand the trends and what’s relevant to the project at hand. That means those project managers who embrace these technologies will be lightyears ahead of their peers. And those who do not use these tools will struggle to be of value to the organization.
Back to School
First and foremost, you need to understand these emerging technologies and how they can help you lead and deliver a successful project.
While the project management profession is lagging behind in adopting AI, IoT and other vital technologies, there are myriad ways to increase your knowledge.
Take all the classes your organization offers and find out who knows or leads the areas you want to learn about. Come prepared with questions and suggestions on how AI and other technologies could help projects for the company. Why is this important?
Sell It Through
Even after you become an expert on technologies the company has to help further the success rate of projects, your work isn’t done. This is now your project to move forward. You’ll need to share your learnings and new ideas with trusted individuals because their feedback is essential. At the appropriate time, create an executive white paper and present it to your supervisor and a project management office lead or project portfolio office lead.
Remember, you’re looking for sponsors. If you’re not good at selling your ideas, get help. Ask other leads who don’t have a stake in what you want to sell to help you understand the hot buttons for the various ideas involved with your potential project. If those issues are covered, then your idea becomes easier to follow.
Whether or not your organization buys into your idea, you are now a valued asset. If the idea was rejected, make sure you receive feedback as to why and update your proposal. Then present it again.
Will AI replace you? No. It will be an adjunct. It will help you with decision-making and doing mundane things like chasing individuals to enter their time for the project, updating the schedule, suggesting the best what-if scenario or doing your first draft of a presentation, among other things.
How have you leveraged the benefits of AI?
By Cyndee Miller
A wee bit desperate for some positive news? Well, I’ve got just the thing: Most Influential Projects is back!
No big shocker here that MIP 2020 is stacked with COVID-fueled innovations. With the coronavirus racing across the U.K., a team from the National Health Service transformed a London exhibit hall into a massive emergency medical facility—in just nine days. UNICEF, Microsoft, the University of Cambridge and Dubai Cares teamed up to transform a pilot project originally aimed at refugee children into a virtual learning platform for underprivileged students from Ukraine to Zimbabwe who’d been shut out of classrooms. Virgin Orbit shifted course to design and deliver emergency ventilators, while the organizers of Shanghai Fashion Week teamed up with Alibaba to produce history’s first purely digital fashion week.
Then there’s the project that tops the list, epitomizing a major theme of 2020: progress over perfection. The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator aims to identify, accelerate and scale seven of the most promising vaccine candidates by coordinating R&D efforts. Microsoft’s Bill Gates—a major financial backer of the initiative—acknowledged that the “few billion” U.S. dollars the project will waste will be more than worthwhile, considering the human lives it will save and the catastrophic effect the coronavirus has already had on the global economy.
The latest slate of Most Influential Projects goes way beyond COVID control, however. The Kangaroo Island Recovery project helped save one of Australia’s most iconic ecosystems from raging wildfires. Toyota is giving us its take on a fully autonomous world with Woven City, and Enel Green Power is helping Chile turn away from fossil fuels and bolster its unofficial role as Latin America’s clean energy leader with the Campos del Sol mega solar farm project.
And the excitement doesn’t stop there. This year’s adventures include 30 (!!) Top 10 lists broken out by sectors and geographic regions. (You can geek out over the data science list, gawk over the newly created wonders on the architecture list and smirk over Tiger King making the entertainment list.)
For me, one of the most interesting choices was Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons. For the record, I’ve never even played the game. What struck me was the backstory. Katsuya Eguchi has said his work on the original Animal Crossing was inspired by the heartache he felt after leaving family and friends to move from Chiba to Nintendo’s home city of Kyoto, Japan. Fast forward a couple decades and much of the world was experiencing that very same sense of isolation and loneliness. Then along came New Horizons, offering community and companionship—even during The Great Lockdown. The really weird part? The release date may have seemed like impeccable timing, but it was actually due in part to project delays. New Horizons was originally slated for a 2019 release, but when Nintendo execs realized hitting that target would require a grueling schedule for the team, they pushed the date back to March 2020. In a deliciously ironic plot twist, a decision to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance ended up producing windfall profits.
Your turn: Take a deep dive and let me know your MIP vote in the comments.