The future of work

Leading the way with PMTQ




There's no super-secret formula to project success. PMI's Pulse of the Profession® data show what it takes: Engaged executive sponsors, projects aligned to organizational strategy, control over scope creep. And certainly organizations must value project management. They may call it by a different name, but they still recognize its power to turn ideas into reality.

Yet despite all the talk, project performance isn't getting any better.

Data from the new 2019 Pulse survey show organizations wasted almost 12 percent of their investment in project spend last year due to poor performance—a number that's barely budged over the past five years.

It's time to add a new ingredient to that old formula, especially given the fundamental shift in how work is getting done. Few jobs of the future will revolve around a bulleted list of static responsibilities. More and more, people in all roles will be hired to manage a portfolio of projects, and increasingly, those projects will be tied to technology.

Take artificial intelligence (AI): 85 percent of respondents in PwC's 2019 CEO survey say AI “will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years.” And close to two-thirds of global CEOs see it as a bigger disruptor than the internet has been. 1


Source: PwC

With so much at stake, it's time to ask project leaders:


What's that, you're wondering?

Project Management Technology Quotient, of course.

TQ, or technology quotient, is a person's ability to adapt, manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organization or the project at hand. Though the term has been used for a few years, it's taking on a new urgency as people and companies search for digital sustainability—the capacity to adapt to the constant whirl of change brought on by advances in technology. Coupled with the changing nature of work from “job for life” to “portfolio of projects,” we see an even greater demand for TQ combined with project management, or PMTQ.

For anyone charged with making strategy reality in a world constantly being remodeled by tech, PMTQ will be the must-have, make-or-break skill set.


1 Always-on curiosity:

You're always looking for what's next—trying out new project delivery approaches, new ideas, new perspectives, new technologies. Keeping an open mind, along with a healthy dollop of skepticism, means you know when to integrate emerging project delivery practices without chasing after every new digital trend.

> Case in point: Like nearly every other consumer products company out there, Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé is racing to push AI-powered voice-assistant projects to market. But given the pace of change, there's a lot of experimentation and education needed before best practices become standardized, says Josh Baillon, digital innovation manager at Nestlé's Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost, San Francisco, California, USA. Recognizing voice to be “the next paradigm shift in how humans and computers interact,” he says, the company used its initial projects as “experiments designed to help us understand what voice is like, shape a strategy and then get people moving along the learning curve as quickly as possible.” 2

2 All-inclusive leadership:

You're getting the best out of your team, no matter their age, level on the org chart, digital knowledge, skill set or location. You're not “just” managing people but also managing tech—and managing people who know how to manage tech. There might also be some robots on your team, too. You not only advocate for technology, you're creating a whole cadre of digital ambassadors who help make the case.

> Case in point: When four robots joined its shared services team to work on things like processing funds distribution or creating work packages for grant processing, NASA had to figure out how its new employees would be credentialed to work with sensitive material. The team arrived at a humane solution: Robots would be assigned an agency user ID and a government email account and gain system access just like any new user. “Basically we had to treat a digital employee just like we would a human employee,” says Pamela J. Wolfe, chief of the enterprise service division, shared services center, NASA, Stennis Space Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. From there, the team took an iterative approach, training the first robot to learn one task at a time. That process took two to six weeks, and the team learned it shouldn't assume a standard testing time, but rather develop a schedule aligned to stakeholder needs. “It's important to get the process owner involved in developing the schedule and committing resources to meet the plan,” says Ms. Wolfe. 3

3 A future-proof talent pool:

You're recruiting and retaining project professionals with the skills most needed for this digital era. They have the will, the disposition and the ability to keep up with trends and adapt their skills accordingly. And they help their teammates do the same. When DevOps gets a new complementary partner in DesOps, for example, they're on it. And while that might be cutting edge today, they know it will be a short-lived advantage.

> Case in point: As the era of hardware and landlines faded into the age of mobile phones and the cloud, global telecom titan AT&T discovered that while it had upgraded is offerings, its workforce was being left behind. Internal research showed only half of AT&T's 250,000 employees had the science, tech, engineering and math skills the company's projects required. Plus, more than 100,000 workers were in hardware-related jobs that probably wouldn't exist in the near future. Instead of hiring a bunch of new people, the company invested US$1 billion in a global program that aims to arm 100,000 employees with the technology and the skills required to run the business going forward. 4


No leader is oblivious to digital disruption. It's everywhere. And organizations are investing deeply, with global spending on the technologies and services that enable digital transformation expected to hit US$1.97 trillion by 2022, according to IT market intelligence firm International Data Corp. 5 At the same time, data from PMI and Forbes Insights’ The C-Suite Outlook show that while nearly 80 percent of organizations have undergone a significant transformation using disruptive technology, only about 25 percent of those initiatives have yielded tangible benefits realized against their original goals. 6

The lesson: Organizations need to couple all that shiny new tech with the right people, with the right skills working on the right projects. And that's where PMTQ comes in. One of the reasons so few companies achieve digital sustainability is the current disconnect between what leaders say they want—more agile and adaptable talent and technology—and what they're willing to do to get it. Companies keep pouring money into the latest bleeding-edge technologies, but Accenture reports only 3 percent of business leaders said they would invest significantly in training and reskilling programs through 2020.7

The future of work demands that organizations build the flexibility to accommodate whatever skills, capabilities and project delivery approaches are needed for specific work. Project leaders must leave behind the notion that they simply need a person who can “do x” (fill in the blank with the new digital buzzword of the day.)

The real opportunity lies in project leaders beginning the hard work of developing a PMTQ mindset throughout their organization. That means creating a culture that supports project management while embracing the twists and turns of technology. It's a culture driven by innovation, agility and critical thinking, reinforced with the right standards, tools and educational opportunities. The idea is that project leaders are armed to operate at multiple speeds using a mix of methodologies and technologies. The payoff is an organization that welcomes change instead of wincing at it—already building the next big thing before getting swallowed up by it.


Put technology front and center.

Even if you don't work at Google or Domino's (the pizza company that thinks it's a tech company), that doesn't mean you and your team can't harness digital solutions to gain a competitive edge. Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, for example, is tapping into tech to future-proof her company's brick-and-mortar venues. As part of a pilot project at three of her eponymous stores, she debuted interactive mirrors that let customers adjust lighting, select garments in additional sizes and colors (which a sales clerk delivers), and even save items to their online account for later consideration. “The interactive mirrors provide ease in interacting with the sales associate from inside our fitting rooms, and through the touch-screen interface they can receive intelligent feedback and styling tips,” says Ms. Minkoff, co-founder and creative director of the company in New York, New York, USA. She's not stopping there. The team is already looking at a feature that would allow customers to FaceTime their contacts through the smart mirrors.8


New York, NY, USA

Build digital fluency across the enterprise.

No organization can afford to have just one agile person or one machine-learning expert. As automation and robots take over routine tasks, organizations will turn into project centers—where each employee must simultaneously be a technician, mentor and project delivery expert. You'll need reskilling, upskilling, whatever it takes to build a team that can adapt to shifts in the value delivery landscape. Blockchain has big buzz, for example. But not everyone fully understands what it is and how it works, says Marcelo Creimer, Internet of Things and blockchain project manager at Ezly Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil. To bring staff members up to speed, he relies on a combination of training and mentoring designed to help them identify risks and deal with them proactively, he says. “Finding blockchain resources is a huge challenge,” Mr. Creimer says. “But if you train a few people internally, and they are good, they can train others.” 9

Reimagine career journeys.

Project leaders must partner with human resources teams, crafting robust career paths that meld project management expertise with leadership skills, plus a liberal dose of digital acumen. Once upon a time, an assistant project manager may have been content to patiently climb the ladder up to project management office director. No more for next-gen digital natives. The majority of Gen Z professionals don't think their job will exist in the same form 20 years from now, according to a 2018 LinkedIn survey. 10 It's no wonder then that three-quarters of Zers are looking to their organizations for on-the-job and other formal training, according Deloitte. 11 They want development opportunities that don't just prepare them for traditional career paths—but also position them for roles that may not yet exist.

Think Talent Triangle.

Project management and TQ should have an unbreakable bond—but you must still marry your PMTQ to EQ and IQ. As the PMI Talent Triangle® illustrates, the new professional reality demands a combination of technical and project management skills, leadership skills and strategic and business management skills—along with the ability to learn and keep pace with technology. To inspire stakeholders and motivate teams, leaders will not only need intellectual and technical prowess, they'll also have to tap into emotional intelligence qualities, like empathy, self-awareness and motivation. Data from PMI's The Project Manager of the Future revealed the top six digital-age skills, which included expected topics such as data science, security and privacy knowledge, legal and regulatory compliance, and the ability to make data-driven decisions. But that list also includes human skills such as an innovative mindset and collaborative leadership.12


PwC's Digital Accelerator program, for example, lets select employees leave their usual duties to take tech-forward courses in everything from robotics to machine learning. But those are then paired with human skills: design thinking, storytelling with data and an agile approach to project management. “For us, it was super important that we pair all of the tech training with the human skills that add insight and value to the technology,” says Sarah McEneaney, partner and digital talent leader, PwC, Chicago, Illinois, USA. 13


PwC, Chicago, Illinois, USA



So, borrow from the PMTQ Innovators, those companies that put a high priority on digital skills and knowledge but couple it with a commitment to a strong project management culture. Project professionals at these organizations can talk blockchain with the best of them—but don't skimp on the core project management skills.

Here are some of the process and project management capabilities that Pulse data show PMTQ Innovators rely on. It's quite a different path than the PMTQ Laggards:


PMTQ Innovators demonstrate a strong ability to shift their way of getting work done. Pulse data show they were also far more likely to report “always” or “often” using a variety of project management approaches:



Pulse data clearly show PMTQ Innovator organizations take the lead on project outcomes. This not only means PMTQ Innovators save money and improve stakeholder satisfaction rates, it means that the percentage of project investment wasted due to poor project performance is less than the PMTQ Laggards (8.5 percent versus 16.3 percent). Their projects are more likely to meet their original goals and be delivered on time and within budget while reducing scope creep and outright failure.


To achieve true digital sustainability in the new future of work, organizations will need a ready-for-anything team that knows their technology as well as their project management.

It's time to use your PMTQ.


1 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey: CEOs’ curbed confidence spells caution, PwC (2019)

2 “Voice Wars,” PM Network (2019)

3 “Bots Onboard,” PM Network (2018)

4 “Inner Strength,” PM Network (2019)

5 Worldwide Semiannual Digital Transformation Spending Guide, International Data Corp. (2018)

6 The C-Suite Outlook: How Disruptive Technologies Are Redefining the Role of Project Management, PMI Thought Leadership Series, PMI and Forbes Insights (2018)

7 Reworking the Revolution, Accenture (2018)

8 “AI Is the New Black,” PM Network (2019)

9 “Chain Reaction,” PM Network (2019)

10 Gen Z Is Shaping a New Era of Learning: Here's What you Should Know,” LinkedIn (2018)

11 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Millennials disappointed in business, unprepared for Industry 4.0, Deloitte (2018)

12 The Project Manager of the Future: Developing Digital-Age Project Management Skills to Thrive in Disruptive Times, PMI, 2018

13 “Inner Strength,” PM Network (2019)

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