PMI Talent & Technology Symposium 2019

The Project Management Institute (PMI) Talent & Technology Symposium is organized for the second year. Only recently I heard of its 12 June virtual event with on-demand access until September 2019, that explores the impact of rapidly changing technologies on the project management profession across industries.

Doug Powell – Design Thinking in the Digital Age

Doug Powell (Vice President of Design at IBM) aimed to get us to understand Design Thinking, showing evidence for its value and provide ideas to make Design Thinking work in projects. Doug’s known for his expertise in the field and spoke previously at O’Reilly and IBM venues. Design = experience. Each design meets the user’s requirements. Understanding people, empathy is crucial for the designer. Design Thinking is the collaborative and inclusive way for cross-disciplinary teams to address complex problems with a human focus. Lo-tech artifacts like sticky notes and flipcharts are the Design Thinking session tools, story-driven, human-centric, rapid prototyping as quick and cheap as possible the challenge.

Deep collaboration, teams that are fully aligned reduce risks, save costs and speed up significantly faster product cycles, Powell states, backing it up with e.g. Forrester research data.

How could you start? Use empathy maps. Such a user-centric map can be filled with notes on what this user says, thinks, does and feels. Inspecting the results after clustering and voting for focusing the team may spark problems and solutions very quickly. Even remotely working teams can use this technique, supported by online tools like Mural, Slack, Box, and Google Docs. Doug shared some of his favorite books on Design Thinking:

Where Agile frameworks can tell you how to build complex products, Design Thinking will tell you what to build.

Marie Nadia Vincent – Improving Employee Experience for Better Digital Transformation Results

Marie Nadia Vincent is a global IT Management Consultant with two decades of experience on the American and European continents with Fortune 500 companies. What’s the employee experience in the digital transformation: still having fun, backing up each other, excited about tomorrow’s transformative vision? Without a vision or focus, you’re just playing with tools. You could then argue what transformation the organization wants to achieve.

Maria Nadia highlighted the consequences of tool chaos, lack of collaboration, fuzzy contracts, and low level of leadership and accountability, as applied by organizations she consulted or investigated. Recommendations were given for each type of company.

Invest in individual transformation first.

Success is only possible when taking negotiation, leadership, business transformation, technology, and individual self-transformation skills seriously. Learn and practice regularly.

Amy Frampton – Digital Transformation with Collaborative Work Management

Amy Frampton, Vice President of Product Marketing at SmartSheet, a scalable collaboration tool, presented this software solution to enhance productivity. Sixty percent of current work is unstructured and dynamic, traditionally managed using email, documents, and spreadsheets. Enter SmartSheet that automates repetitive tasks with simple rules and works seamlessly with favorite enterprise tools and apps from Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, Atlassian, and many others.

Lenka Pincot – Navigating The Complexity of Strategic Internet of Things Opportunities

Lenka Pincot is a technology and business leader with over 17 years of multi-industry experience. Lenka recently joined Česká spořitelna, a Czech European bank to orchestrate the organization’s transition to an agile methodology and framework with the goal of transforming its approach to the customer journey.

Internet of Things (IoT) is just one of the Industry 4.0 trends, that were already emerging as connected machines in the 1960s. Still, when asked how likely IoT will be adopted by companies by 2022, the audience said roughly 50%. As a mother, Lenka would love to see the toothbrushes of her children being connected to her devices, so that she can be sure that they’re really using these.

Various technological trends have different value to the customer. Connectivity costs little time but has limited value to the customer too. As a project manager, you can advance your career by contributing to large impact strategic initiatives. Regardless of your current assignment, several skills may build your readiness when a new opportunity emerges:

  • understanding of the company strategic direction
  • ability to connect purpose with solution proposals
  • ability to see the Big Picture, think in perspectives
  • networking
  • agility, leading interacting teams rather than controlling a project
  • complex thinking, innovation, and problem-solving.

Payal Kondisetty – PMI Pulse of the Profession® – Project Management Technology Quotient

PMI’s 2019 Pulse of the Profession® as presented by market research specialist Payal Kondisetty, explores the major trends impacting project management professionals with a focus on the future of work. Only a fraction of disruptive technologies is already implemented in organizations. In the value delivery landscape project managers can bring value by being predictive, iterative, incremental, agile, etc. Workers

The PMI skillset triangle got enriched by Digital Skills for project management:

  • data science skills
  • innovation
  • security and privacy knowledge
  • legal and regulatory compliance knowledge
  • ability to make data-driven decisions, and
  • collaborative leadership skills.

Note, that PMI doesn’t talk about technology skills here. The so-called Technology Quotient, a person’s ability to adapt, manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organization or the project at hand, was added to project management with these characteristics:

  • always-on curiosity
  • all-inclusive leadership
  • and a futureproof talent pool.

Coupled with the changing nature of work from “job for life” to “portfolio of projects,” PMI sees an even greater demand for TQ combined with project management (PMTQ). Building a change-ready organization takes:

  • put technology front and center
  • build digital fluency across the enterprise
  • reimagine career journeys
  • think talent triangle.

Bart Gerardi – How Voice Interfaces Can Change Project Management

Bart Gerardi is an E-commerce software professional and has been in the industry for over 20 years. Recently, he managed the launch and growth of the audiobook experience on Amazon’s Alexa devices. If you say “Alexa, read my book” the follow-up was his team’s deliverable.

Voice user interfaces like Portal, Cortana, Siri, Alexa, and Google are soon ubiquitous: now already at home, in your car, on your smartphone, etc. How will this change project management? Remember lacking or insufficient communications is listed as #6 in the top 10 reasons for project failures, although poorly defined scope or improper stakeholder management essentially is about communication as well. Communication is hard. Intent (natural language understanding) and what’s said (natural language processing) is different.

Gerardi sees solutions that came out of these technologies and related linguistics sciences on gathering requirements, reporting. if this then that (IFTTT) and push notifications. Natural language understanding scales better than human intervention, yet chatbots or intelligent speakers will not replace project managers. Application of this language processing won’t be soon available, but sooner than you think. Currently, friction is too high for most communication. Project stakeholders need to get used to asking. Resist the urge to just replicate what you already have.

Gina Abudi – Project Manager as Change Manager: 4 Steps for Successful Change

Gina Abudi is President of Abudi Consulting Group, a woman-owned small business; an adjunct faculty at a number of colleges in New England; and a professional speaker and corporate trainer.

Projects are about change. A project manager needs to engage stakeholders in change, ensure participation in change, and deliver the change. The change manager is defined as an individual who is a champion of change, focused on the people side of change, engaging people in change, and enabling the adoption of change. The first communication is key! Think of a lot of ‘what is driving change?’, ‘what if the change doesn’t occur?’ or ‘how will roles and responsibilities look at the end?’ kind of questions. Then tailor communication to each type of stakeholder. Influential non-leaders are of great importance to change adopters.

The four steps are:

  1. create an environment that welcomes and embraces change
  2. create methods to engage the organization in change. That includes ways to recognize and address obstacles to change and applying a variety of meetings, communications, surveys, and so son.
  3. ensure participation in change and enable for feedback mechanisms
  4. develop plans to implement and sustain the change.

Consider the two sides to change, logic and emotions. You can’t neglect either side. Four stages of adopting change include the start, learn, engage, and end. Fear and grief of losing control, letting go of the old situation are there. Change management takes place prior to, during, and after implementation of the change.

Chris Cook – Back to the Future of Project Management

Chris Cook is the author of The Entrepreneurial Project Manager as well as the blog, EntrePMeur. He started off with emphasizing how important soft skills and interpersonal skills are for a project manager, despite the technological main theme of today. He expected the audience to know or recognize ‘back to the future project management’, which didn’t really wasn’t a smart move in the rather slow-paced and basic-level presentation. For Chris, the term refers to building relationships, where future parts of project management are about communication, leadership, attitude, and outlook.