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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The 4 P’s of Successful Modern PMs


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The 4 P’s of Successful Modern PMs

Dave Wakeman

November 2023

I recently wrote about the nature of artificial intelligence in project management, and I think people might have been confused that I’d put the highlight so heavily on the person managing the project.

My take has nothing to do with not believing that AI can be a powerful tool, if used well. Nor should my take imply that you should ignore AI.

As always, my take is about the people involved in managing a project. The things that only us humans can do.

With that in mind, I wanted to revisit some of the foundations of the human skills that we need to be successful PMs, no matter what kind of project we are working on.

1. Presence: You need to be there when you are working on a project. You need to listen to the stakeholders and team members you are talking with. You need to be aware of the situation you are involved in. You need to not try and juggle many things at once.

Great project managers are in the moment, working through the task at hand, even when there are tons of other tasks demanding their attention.

2. People Skills: People manage projects. People work on projects. Without people, there are no projects.

To be successful as a PM, you have to be successful in dealing with people. This doesn’t call for over-the-top extroversion, but it does require that you be able to build coalitions, negotiate and get people to take actions.

One of the challenges we all struggle with from time to time is our individual area of responsibility, but the best PMs recognize that everything is connected.

3. Perception: Another name for this is business acumen. I’ve written about business acumen in the past. I’ve even hinted at it in the point above. The key for PMs is that you need to know the context of your project and be able to actually take action on what’s going to deliver the most value for your organization and the stakeholders you serve.

Perception requires you to bring context to every encounter with team members, stakeholders and sponsors. It isn’t enough to look at the scope of work; to be truly successful, you have to go beyond the first level and look deeper to the core value that the project is creating in your world—and the world around the project.

4. Proficiency: You have to be able to deliver. As a PM, proficiency might come in the form of great negotiation skills. You might need the ability to get people to see their responsibilities and roles from a different situation, a more expansive POV.

Proficiency is also likely to change from moment to moment because one of the biggest skills we all need is managing change and uncertainty. Being proficient at that is likely the most important skill we can all develop, now and into the future.

Let me ask you: What are the core skills that you feel need to be in the tool kit of the modern PM?

Let me know in the comments below.

Posted by David Wakeman on: November 30, 2023 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.

- Arthur Conan Doyle