Project Management

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Breaking barriers and building bridges to better manage projects and lead teams.

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Don’t Wait to Make Your AI Move

Help Influence Real AI Content

Let’s Talk About Burnout

Will AI Impact Your Job This Time?

Choose Wisely

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adversity, agile, agility, Artificial Intelligence, career, career development, change, communication, communications, culture, decision-making, execution, Innovation, Leadership, people, problem solving, process, risk, social good, strategy, team, virtual, Women in PM

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Don’t Wait to Make Your AI Move

A new report from PMI provides recommendations and strategies to help you start applying AI on your projects right now.

We know AI is going to have a transformative impact on how work gets done, and project professionals who stay at the forefront of the AI revolution will be ready to thrive in the future.

A new report from PMI — Shaping the Future of Project Management With AI — provides recommendations and strategies to help you start applying AI to your projects and processes. The report also shows how the PMI Talent Triangle® can help you build competencies in the areas of Ways of Working, Power Skills and Business Acumen that will equip you to make an impact in an AI-driven project management future.

I’m going to highlight one section of the report which explores the support that GenAI tools can provide project professionals on a day-to-day basis, following a continuum that ranges from automation to assistance to augmentation.

GenAI can automate tasks that are low complexity and require little human intervention such as generating reports, analyzing data-heavy documents, summarizing meeting notes and performing calculations. The “automating” approach allows you to create standard prompts that can be used across different projects and by other team members. It also frees up precious time for other activities that you can do better than AI like collaboration and intuitive problem solving.

At the assistance level, you can leverage GenAI to create a first draft of a cost-benefit analysis, perform a data analysis to be used on a scope change recommendation, or create scheduling plans, among many other examples.  However, the tool’s results cannot be considered complete without refinement, testing and complementary analysis, the report cautions, and the final version is likely to require moderate input from you or another experienced project professional to ensure it is complete and accurate.

The most complex level is augmentation, where you can enhance existing capabilities and develop new capabilities. This approach helps you perform more complex and strategic tasks specific to the organization or topic, such as creating outstanding business cases for projects, and supporting complex decision-making with many interdependencies and variables. 

“Ultimately, project professionals will still guide and perform most of the work, but they can leverage GenAI to gain insights and perform specific tasks using multiple interactions with the tool,” the report states.

Indeed, even as AI continues to rapidly advance and amaze us, it will still need a “human in the loop” — and that’s where you come in. But only if you’re eager and willing to learn about what AI can do — for your projects, your teams, and your project management career.

Shaping the Future of Project Management With AI is filled with insights and recommendations that you can apply right now, no matter where you are on your AI journey. Make your move!

Posted on: November 08, 2023 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Help Influence Real AI Content

How are you using AI on projects — and how’s it going?

We are developing a new series of short articles that will explore how organizations, teams and individuals are using AI in projects.

This “real-life” AI series will gather and explore the best practices, benefits, challenges and lessons learned that you have found on your AI journey to date. We’ll share these insights with the community here on ProjectManagement.com and on PMI.org. 

To help launch this exciting effort, we’ve created this Apply AI in Project Management form to gather some basic information from project professionals who can help us build a valuable resource of real-life examples and insights.

According to the 2023 PMI Annual Global Survey on Project Management, the top three ways project managers use AI are reporting (34%); decision support (33%); and communication (26%).

What about you and your teams and organizations? How are you using AI and what are you learning along the way? What have been the outcomes — and surprises?

We look forward to hearing your stories! Start here: Apply AI in Project Management form.

Posted on: October 11, 2023 12:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Let’s Talk About Burnout

Categories: adversity, people, change, culture

Burnout is everywhere in the work world, and it hurts morale, performance and ROI in both obvious and subtle ways. But burnout is a sensitive issue that can be tricky to discuss — and even harder to fix.

Many people are reluctant to admit that they are suffering from burnout, while others may not even realize it. They think the problem might be their own doing. Others know that burnout is affecting them, but they don’t see a way around it and feel trapped — until they quit, quietly or otherwise.

We recently polled the ProjectManagement.com community about burnout and its main causes, asking: If you’ve experienced burnout in the past year, what was the main cause?

More than 40 percent of almost 200 respondents said they were overwhelmed with too much work and too little time. About 20 percent are uninspired with no direction or sense of purpose. Another 20 percent feel unappreciated with little recognition or support. About 8 percent said they feel disconnected, lacking collaboration or a team bond. And a fortunate 12 percent said they had not experienced burnout in the past year.

It doesn’t help that far too many organizations and managers do not even acknowledge that burnout is an issue, so they don’t recognize (or simply ignore) its symptoms. As a result, they never actually reckon with the causes of burnout. But they certainly suffer the consequences, from turnover to turmoil that hinders execution and stifles innovation.

The latest episode of PMI’s Projectified podcast focuses on Overcoming Burnout and Change Fatigue, with guests Rose James, PMI-ACP, PMP, and Mary Tresa Gabriel, PMP, discussing how they are helping organizations and teams find healthier ways to deal with these issues. Project team leaders can benefit from their insights.

The first step in overcoming burnout is simply to talk about it. “This helps [team members] understand they are not alone in their journey. Everyone has gone through it,” Gabriel says. “Don’t treat is as a sign of weakness.”

And that kind of transparent communication can help to reduce burnout. “Because when our team members want to talk about burnout, it is more likely they are okay to show their vulnerable side, which comes only when they trust you and when they are open to share with you,” Gabriel says.

In addition to providing a safe, open environment to discuss burnout, project leaders have an ongoing responsibility to provide clear direction to team members. Without it, “they may feel lost, confused, and struggle to find the real meaning of what they are doing,” Gabriel says.

Likewise, project leaders need to protect their teams—and themselves—from excessive workload and unrealistic timelines, which was the leading cause of burnout, according to our PM.com poll.

“If they are constantly faced with unclear expectations and shifting priorities or lack of proper information about the changes, this itself can cause a lot of uncertainty within the team, which can cause burnout.”

Easier said than done, right? In the podcast, James highlights two interconnected “pieces” that project leaders should connect.

The mindset piece can be as straightforward as making sure to take frequent breaks from the work to help the mind relax and reduce stress. But just as important, James says, is “to reframe threats as challenges, because when you are in a burnout state, your mind tends to see challenges as threats, or little mishaps as huge threats. If you put too much pressure on the team to achieve the goal too fast or to implement the change too fast, or frequent changes, your team is going to crack.”

The behavior piece is even trickier, James says. It’s about teaching the team how to learn to say no’ tactfully. How do you do that? James says that project leaders and team members must make the case —in reasonable, rational language—that adding more to their current list of initiatives is going to diminish the quality of output.

And if that doesn’t work? Well, when delivering value isn’t valued more than just delivering … when the talk of mental wellbeing is just, you know, talk … then burnout will continue. And everyone will lose.

So, make your case or make your move.

Posted on: July 28, 2023 04:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Will AI Impact Your Job This Time?

Categories: career, Innovation

Artificial Intelligence is in the news every day — actually, it’s in our lives every day, from driving apps and email filters to the ways we shop, network and learn. Yes, smart machines and robots are already here, and yet it’s quite evident we’re only just getting to know them. That’s scary … exciting … and, for most of us, probably a combination of both.

I wrote the above paragraph in late May 2017, almost exactly six years ago — in my very first post here on the ProjectAtWork blog. It was in response to a Gartner report at the time that offered its latest analysis on the impact that AI will have on business strategy and human employment. It predicted that by 2022, “smart machines and robots may replace highly trained professionals in tasks within medicine, law and IT.”

At the time I said, “Really? Please go on…”

And the report did: "The economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by professionals today becoming low-cost utilities. AI's effects on different industries will force the enterprise to adjust its business strategy. Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metered service that the enterprise pays for, like electricity."

Well, 2022 has come and gone. And ChatGPT and other AI developments have arrived, making even bigger headlines than the ones we were reading six years ago. And while this time does feel different, I have to pose the same question I did back then in response to Gartner’s prediction: Apart from being conduits of (team) energy (and strategic effort), are project managers “like electricity”? And is project management a future low-cost “utility”?

The Gartner report did address the benefits of AI technology versus human interaction and decision-making — “while AI will hit employment numbers in some industries, many others will benefit as AI and automation handle routine and repetitive tasks, leaving more time for the existing workforce to … handle more challenging aspects of the role, and even ease stress levels in some high-pressure environments.”

That sounds like what we are (still) hearing today about the impact ChatGPT and other AI technology will have on the project management profession.

"Ultimately, AI and humans will differentiate themselves from each other. AI is most successful in addressing problems that are reasonably well-defined and narrow in scope, whereas humans excel at defining problems that need to be solved and at solving complex problems. They bring a wide range of knowledge and skill to bear and can work through problems in various ways. They can collaborate with one another, and when situations change significantly, humans can adjust."

Sounds like what project managers do! In 2017 and 2023. And, five or 10 years from now, it will still be what the successful ones do.

The Gartner report continued: CIOs should “develop a plan for achieving the right balance of AI and human skills. Too much AI-driven automation could leave the enterprise less flexible and less able to adjust to a changing competitive landscape. This approach will also help reassure employees about where and how AI will be used in the organization.”

So, six years and many dozens of posts later, I’ll conclude with the same call to action. Are these discussions happening in your organization? If you don’t know, you should probably start asking. If they are happening, you should start participating. Because you want to be part of an organization that doesn’t see project management as a utility, and that demonstrably values your very human role in its success — now, and in the scary, exciting future.

Posted on: May 26, 2023 05:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Choose Wisely

Get your emotional balance right before making a big decision—on your projects and in your life.

In fifteen minutes, a project leader or team member might make a dozen or more decisions. Some will be inconsequential, while others could have immediate or long-term impact on a project outcome. Yet, many of us are unaware of our decision-making process and how it shapes our work, relationships and lives.

Your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health influence every decision you make, according to performance psychologist Dr. Jim Loehr and behavioral geneticist Dr. Sheila Ohlsson, authors of a new book, Wise Decision (Wiley, December 8, 2022), which shines a light on the factors that influence decision-making.

In their book, Loehr and Ohlsson present a research-based method for making wiser choices called Your Own Decision Advisor or Y.O.D.A. – the inner voice that guides people’s choices. “When the stories crafted by your inner voice are faulty or ill-conceived, the advice or decisions that emanate from those faulty interpretations will likely be flawed as well,” they say. 

The good news is that people can build and strengthen their Y.O.D.A. skills, just like those of any other muscle. One key characteristic of good decision-making is to align it with core values and purpose. From a personal perspective that might involve ‘warm and fuzzy” guideposts like listening to your inner voice or trusting what your heart or gut feels. But in a project context, it also requires questions like, What are the indisputable facts surrounding this decision? And, How does data inform the choice I’m making?

A person’s inner voice controls their energy investment and that energy can be positive (joyful, motivated, peaceful) or negative (fearful, angry, depressed), Ohlsson and Loehr explain. “A state of negative energy can seriously compromise your decision-making process, while wise, timeless decisions are best made in a state of positive energy."

Thus, when facing a major decision take the time you need to think it through and get as much input as you can to clarify the risk-reward. Then make the decision when you are calm, rested and mentally prepared. In other words: Get the energy balance right before big choices are made.

Stay tuned for an exclusive article from Loehr and Ohlsson on ways we can all make wiser decisions.

Posted on: January 31, 2023 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)
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"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

- George Bernard Shaw

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