Project Management

Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
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Peter Tarhanidis
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Sree Rao
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Recent Posts

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Will the Future Project Manager Be More G.E.N.I.A.L.?

7 Steps to a Successful Project

Are You Too Humble as a Project Manager?

The Problem with Waterfall, Agile & ‘Other’

Viewing Posts by Peter Tarhanidis

Building Team Synergy and Resilience

By Peter Tarhanidis, PhD

As the pandemic stretches on, work-from-home programs continue to keep teams working virtually. During this time, we have performed courageously to deliver our strategic and business outcomes. Here I will share a select review of advice from industry experts as they explore how to build a post-pandemic response strategy.

According to McKinsey (2022), organizations have pivoted to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth toward building a better world. And Harvard Business Review (2020) notes that all types of companies have navigated the pandemic by pivoting their business models in the short term to survive—becoming more resilient in the long term.

Yet not all pivots generated an improved business outcome. Three trends in particular can help ensure a successful pivot:

  1. Align the pivot to a long-term trend driven by the pandemic
  2. Extend the firm’s existing capabilities, further solidifying the strategic plan
  3. Sustain profitability, which preserves and enhances the brand’s value to the customer

PWC’s Global Crisis Survey identified three key lessons that businesses can adopt for long-term resilience:

  1. Plan and prepare for inevitable disruption by establishing a crisis team
  2. Integrate teams and cross-company competencies to enable effective responses
  3. Build resilience governance into the organization’s culture

An opportunity, therefore, exists to consider how to prepare your team’s competence in driving synergy and resilience in order to lead post-pandemic growth strategies—and simultaneously pivot from those same strategies.

Here is a shortlist of what leaders can do to prepare for a post-pandemic recovery and support an organization:

  1. Develop mental agility to pivot among key strategies and deliver business outcomes as key shifts and business challenges arise
  2. Allow the process of learning to take effect across key leadership levels
  3. Integrate PMI and agile frameworks to ensure flexible planning activities
  4. Employ data analytics to support key insights in customer and marketplace forecasts
  5. Clarify the governance of key plans and what event would trigger a decisive strategic pivot
  6. Develop talent to migrate into new areas of company strategies and projects
  7. Gather teams in person in order to create synergy and move from “norm” to “perform”

In the end, the teams that are ready to execute and can pivot as necessary will be ready for the post-pandemic competitive environment.

Let me know if you have uncovered additional successful strategies—or any pitfalls to avoid—in building team synergy and resilience.

References

  1. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk-and-resilience/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business
  2. https://hbr.org/2020/07/how-businesses-have-successfully-pivoted-during-the-pandemic
  3. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/issues/crisis-solutions/covid-19.html
Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: April 27, 2022 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

AI To Disrupt Project Management

By Peter Tarhanidis, PhD

Technology has demonstrated tremendous benefits and efficiencies (many of them unstated) over time. The technology lifecyle enhancements that started with our initial computers, software programs and the internet of the past have given way to the modern-day cloud, Big Data and artificial intelligence.

Throughout this maturing landscape, technology has affected all industries—especially how we collaborate. According to Peng (2021), here are some key impacts to consider:

  • Digital transformations spending will exceed an estimated $2.39 trillion by 2024.
  • Collaborative tools and technologies increased operational efficiency by 131%.
  • Technology will displace an estimated 85 million jobs globally by 2025.
  • AI augmentation will increase global worker productivity hours to an estimated 6.2 billion hours.

Project management has benefitted from the overall technology lifecycle, either by implementing aspects of it or by being a user of its collaboration outputs. Yet project managers are at the doorstep of being part of the next wave of AI disruption.

What a PM organization must consider is the methods and concepts used in managing past programs and become proactive in shifting to an AI-enabled PM organization. There is no doubt that the role of PMs and our methodology will be augmented with AI-enabled assistance.

PwC identified five areas of AI disruption and decision making in project management:

  1. Business insights: Filter data to gain actionable perceptions
  2. Risk management: Develop the ability to run multiple risk scenarios and outcomes
  3. Human capital: Optimize teams and leverage staff skills or new areas of training
  4. Action-taker: Provide analysis and optimization of schedules and staffing needs
  5. Active assistant: Augment the collection process of information to generate progress reports

To prepare for these changes, project managers should:

  • Invest in data sciences and digital skill sets
  • Create a culture that adopts digital disruption
  • Enable the use of digital tools and approaches to limit manual efforts and drive value-added work.

In order for these changes to emerge, there are a few considerations that may hold one back from the changes—such as organizational readiness, employee skills assessments, and the state of technical tools.

PwC outlines a change approach to assist in the transition that relies on updating project management strategy, leveraging technology investments, integrating digital and AI, and a comprehensive communication plan to generate awareness through adoption by the future project management workforce.

What other approaches have you used—or should be considered—to manage AI disruption in project management?

Reference:

  1. https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/documents/virtual-partnership-artificial-ntelligence-disrupt-project-management-change-role-project-managers-final.pdf
  2. https://writersblocklive.com/blog/technology-in-the-workplace-statistics/
Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: January 07, 2022 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

What’s In Your Return-To-Work Contract?

During the long duration of the pandemic, each of us had to shift our work/life balance. We had to curate a new workday schedule, perhaps adding more flexibility to support multiple needs between work and family. A changing focus with customer and colleague engagement, repurposing commuting time, tending to family needs, caring for those affected by COVID-19, and supporting relief efforts are just some of the changes we had to adapt to. The pandemic forced each of us to make personal and conscious ethical decisions on the tradeoffs, but most have of us have set into a new work/life balance.

After almost 20 months, the world is deploying COVID-19 vaccines under health authorities like the U.S. FDA and Europe’s EMA, who have expanded access protocol for emergency use. The world is hopefully on a trajectory toward a post-pandemic world. Many organizations have established their return-to-work policies, criteria, and expectations of colleagues. One may observe a continuum of return-to-work guidelines built by organizations as a highly collaborative model focused on high-touch customer experience, an innovation-driven design model, or task-based transactional work. Each organization is calling to us to spend some time back in the office or in front of our stakeholders.

How does this affect us, and what do we do to prepare? Our choices can be to simply go back to a pre-pandemic “normal”; stay in the work-from-home pandemic style; or re-engage in a post-pandemic style. Regarding this last choice, we should consider how to maneuver ourselves into a post-pandemic style while still maintaining the agility of working from home. This disruption to our current way of working creates a sense of stress and anxiety as it asks us to re-engage. One must re-learn and adapt to new behaviors and approaches.

One opportunity to be better prepared may be to create a personal contract for the post-pandemic work world. The contract can be a statement or a list of priorities. Here are some tips that I will use to help make the transition better and reset myself:

  1. Revisit what you and your colleagues are professionally devoted toward, and why.
  2. Curate the difference of a workday at home versus in the office (or traveling).
  3. Coordinate specific dates and times for in-person versus virtual meetings.
  4. Make lunch plans with newly hired colleagues.
  5. Start a back-to-work focus group to help facilitate colleagues’ transition back.
  6. Be clear about your constraints on social distancing, work hours, and time off.
  7. Schedule healthy eating times, sleeping and exercise habits, family needs, etc.
  8. Identify your new peeves and triggers; be mindful of behavioral changes (from both you and your colleagues).
  9. Start a journal and chronicle your path and learnings.
  10. Remember: Everyone has a different path—but together we will get through it!

What would your list include to enable a post-pandemic transition back to work?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: July 20, 2021 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

4 Things to Do Right Now to be a Better Leader in the Future

Categories: AI, Careers, Innovation, Leadership

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:

  1. Making bold moves and aspiring to greater heights, redirecting resource capacity gained from working remotely toward these initiatives.
  2. Taking notice of—and recalibrating—how they and their leaders “show up” and engage staff.
  3. Shifting the main tenet of an organization’s purpose from the primacy of the shareholder to stakeholder capitalism.
  4. Leaning into the power of peer networks.

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:

  1. Build trust. Ensure your organizational culture leverages behaviors that motivate your colleagues and teams. Lead by example—show you can trust your team by letting junior staff members deliver a presentation to senior leadership, for example. 
  2. Support career and talent development opportunities. Adopt new technologies that leverage the future workforce of humans and machines. Allow team members to explore the feasibility of new ideas and the implementation of artificial intelligence initiatives.
  3. Learn to lead through complexity and ambiguity and bring others along in that journey as many continue to work remotely. Set a specific time of the day or week when you can be contacted to create the “virtual open door” policy
  4. Lead through influencing abilities to more quickly respond to changing business needs. Use your peers and partners to define accountabilities and consensus on activities that can clarify one’s role to empower action.  

What are you doing to be a more effective leader in the future?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: March 12, 2021 04:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

8 Tips for Avoiding Burnout and Finishing Strong

Categories: Careers, Disruption, Leadership

by Peter Tarhanidis, PhD

We are now in the final quarter of a pandemic year. With many of us still isolated and working remotely as a second wave of COVID-19 emerges, project teams and leaders alike must consider how to close out 2020. Finishing strong together in a pandemic year without burnout is the goal—and it’s a crucial one for our customers, colleagues, families and communities.

But how can we avoid the desire to crawl back into bed until we’re past the pandemic? Let’s take a moment and conduct a check to see if any of us, our colleagues or family exhibit signs of burnout. This may include feelings of being overwhelmed, a lack of passion, emotional exhaustion and falling behind on normal activities. These symptoms all lead to rising irritability, conflicts and visible struggles. 

To cope with the stress and anxiety, we must reverse this cycle. We should re-prioritize ourselves to ensure we take care of our physical, mental and financial health, proactively recognizing our pressures and setting time aside to restore our mindfulness and spend time with family. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find a strong support network. Taking action to create more balance is restorative and puts leaders in a position to be examples to others in doing the same.

As the end of year nears for me, I recognize finishing strong and limiting burnout involves adapting to pandemic tensions and refining my approach to leadership and project management

Do more:

  1. Coaching and mentoring to direct others and yourself to complete the goal
  2. Maintaining focus, flexibility and agility to adjust scope plans, milestones and project schedules by working with stakeholders and sponsors
  3. Collaborating with teams and staying interconnected while practicing transparency
  4. Celebrating and recognizing small and large milestones

Do less:

  1. Losing sight of the key priorities and getting caught up with issues of low importance
  2. Blaming colleagues for missed targets rather than gaining consensus on how to plan a way forward
  3. Taking for granted the effort colleagues have put into their work and not celebrating their efforts
  4. Slipping into disorganization instead of maintaining administrative oversight of critical project needs

Your turn: What are some of the best ways to avoid end-of-year burnout for you and your team?

Posted by Peter Tarhanidis on: December 14, 2020 01:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)
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