Welcome to The Project Economy

Transcript

NARRATOR

The future of project management is changing fast. On Projectified we’ll help you stay on top of the trends and see what’s really ahead for the profession—and your career.
 
For an easy way to stay up to date on Projectified, go to iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play music or PMI.org/podcast.

TEGAN JONES

Hello. I’m Tegan Jones, and this is Projectified. Today, we have a special episode for you from PMI’s Global Conference 2019. 

When I was in Philadelphia for the event in early October, I had the chance to chat with Sunil Prashara, PMI’s president and CEO. We talked about emerging trends impacting the project economy and how project and program managers can prepare themselves for the future. 

If you like this interview, you may also want to register for an upcoming virtual event where Sunil will be the keynote speaker. The International Project Management Day 2019 Online Conference, which is hosted by IIL, will feature several video presentations from project management thought leaders. 

Sunil’s keynote, which is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. on November 7, will discuss how PMI enables new ways of working. If you can’t make the live presentation, a recording will be available on demand until February 9, 2020. You can learn more about the event at www.iil.com

In general, Sunil is really tuned into things happening on a macro level, as well as how those shifts are impacting how projects are run. It’s always interesting to hear what he has to say, so let’s go to our conversation now.

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TEGAN JONES

This is Tegan Jones for Projectified, and I’m here with Sunil Prashara, the president and CEO of the Project Management Institute. Thanks so much for joining me this morning, Sunil.

SUNIL PRASHARA

Hi, it’s a real pleasure to be here. Thank you.

TEGAN JONES

I’ve heard a lot from PMI talking about the project economy.

SUNIL PRASHARA

That’s right.

TEGAN JONES

And I know that PMI produces an annual Signposts report that looks at the trends that are impacting the project economy. So let’s start by taking a look at the big picture. What are some of the global trends influencing how project work is being done?

SUNIL PRASHARA

You know, the population is expanding and growing at crazy rates. Technology is having more and more of an impact across the globe in enterprises, for governments, in academia. You know, the adoption of AI, robotics is changing the way work is done. There are other sort of governmental issues that are happening. For example, we’re becoming a lot more divisionalized as a globe, as countries start to focus more on themselves than they were previously, which was much more open. There’s divisionalization going on in all different parts of the world that’s impacting the way governments are operating. And the organizations within those countries are therefore responding to that because they need to stay relevant.
 
So there’s all these different macro trends that are happening. Another one is around natural resources. The world is moving more and more towards alternative energy sources, that’s causing organizations and countries to think through, oil producing countries, for example, to think through, well, what are they going to do once people start to move away from oil to different alternatives? What is going to be their relevance in the future? How are they going to trade if their main source of income as a country is going to change away from oil, let’s say, or gas to something completely different.
And the reason why they need to change is because they need to fuel their own economy. They need to stay relevant for the future. Their trading agreements will need to morph and change as a consequence of that—and that’s to maintain their own economy. And the way that they will do that is by change. And that change can be anything like in the Middle East there’s a proliferation of smart cities as technologies embrace and these Middle Eastern countries are saying, “Hey, you know what? We needed to become more than just oil producers. We want to get into other sectors like health, or we want to get into tourism, or we want to get into innovation and technology. So let’s create new environments for that.” These are all projects.
 
Another example is what’s happening in Africa. You know, the proliferation of humans in Africa, from 1.4 billion to 2.5 billion in the next 30 years means a colossal number of projects that need to be done to maintain all these new people that are going to be in Africa. They need to build 750 million homes over the next 30 years. That’s 65,000 homes a day, every single day for the next 30 years. Imagine the number of schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure that needs to be put in place into those countries. So that’s fueling more and more project work in Africa alone.

TEGAN JONES

This is all really fascinating stuff, but we’re talking right now at 30,000 feet. How do some of these big picture trends impact projects on a more tactical level? 

SUNIL PRASHARA

Well, we also believe that the world of work is going to change as a consequence of all of these changes happening at a macro level. I think the days of having roles that last for a lifetime is going away, and work is going to become a lot more bite-sized, much more project-orientated with a start, a middle and an end. And then you move on to the next project. And that’s going to happen in every single functional area. Whether you work in finance or you work in sales or you work in operations, you’re going to see that the workload that you do is becoming more bite-sized, more project-orientated. And why? Again, it’s to fuel development in those organizations, it’s to fuel the economy. That’s the tactical level of the project economy. And we see a proliferation of projects as a result of that across the globe.

TEGAN JONES

So these are massive trends that we’re seeing impact the business landscape, and they’re changing very rapidly how organizations need to operate. So what are some of the risks that organizations are facing as they’re trying to run projects in the shifting landscape?

SUNIL PRASHARA

Well, first of all, there’s a huge organizational change. There’s a shift in your mindset as organizations start to realize, actually the only way they can stay relevant is if they can get work done, if they can transform. And they have issues when it comes to their workforce who have to now think differently. The skill sets that they have, they need to think differently because of technology disrupting working practices, automating things which are repeatable and, therefore, meaning that skills that would typically call the hard skills required for a role are now becoming automated. And the softer skills like, for example, empathy, understanding, creativity, cultural diversity is becoming more and more and more important.
These used to be the add-ons to a job profile. Now they’re becoming the prerequisites. Professor Tabrizi who we worked with very closely from Stanford University calls them the power skills. And he mentioned it in the talk that we had here at the conference, so I think that that’s one of the key challenges, you know, the competencies and the skill sets of the individuals in organizations to get work done. I think a lot of organizations are very worried going forward how are they going to be able to manage those individuals.

TEGAN JONES

So the upside of risk is of course, that it creates new opportunities.

SUNIL PRASHARA

Indeed.

TEGAN JONES

So what are some of the opportunities that these new disruptive technologies are creating for organizations in the project environment? 

SUNIL PRASHARA

Well, the first one that springs to mind is the fact that some of the more mundane, repeatable tasks that project managers have to do are becoming automated, which then frees up mind capacity to be able to think through other ways of doing things. So that’s, again, another prerequisite now going forward of the type of skill sets that people will need in the future.
So automation of standardized processes, workflows, using AI to give you more insight as to how things get done, better access to best practices around the globe. This is something that PMI can provide to its community because we have a global distribution channel made up of memberships and volunteers that have got amazing insights about how to get stuff done that we can share.

TEGAN JONES

Let’s talk a little bit more about what this means for project managers. How is this going to change the way that they do work every single day?

SUNIL PRASHARA

I think that the first thing is they’ll be able to leverage all of these tool sets— and there are many of them. Secondly, there’ll be different ways of doing things. So you know about waterfall, you know about agile, and there’ll be even more—new technologies, new capabilities that will allow project managers to be able to focus more on getting things done a lot faster. You know, beyond agile there are new technologies like no-code, low-code, citizen developer. These are new ways of working in the future that the project managers will be able to leverage to help them have a bigger impact going forward.

TEGAN JONES

So what should project managers keep in mind as they work to prepare themselves for this future? You know, what’s your number one piece of advice for professionals that are trying to set themselves up for success?

SUNIL PRASHARA

They need to continue learning. They need to tap into great resources, great sources of information so that they can continue to learn and understand how the world is transforming and changing and how they can continue to make an impact. We can play a pivotal role in that. We can become the catalyst, the enzyme where they can go to to get that information. So it is a super exciting time. There’s so much going on, and we are at the forefront of all of that activity.

TEGAN JONES

I’m sure that you will be, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the good things that are yet to come. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. Sunil Prashara, you’ve been a wonderful guest.

SUNIL PRASHARA

Thank you very much. Cheers.

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TEGAN JONES

To hear more from Sunil, don’t forget to register for The International Project Management Day 2019 Online Conference hosted by IIL. As the keynote speaker, Sunil will discuss how PMI is preparing the world for new ways of working. His presentation is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. on November 7 and will be available on demand until February 9, 2020. Learn more about the event at www.iil.com

NARRATOR

Thank you for listening to Projectified. If you liked this episode, you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Play Music. We’d love your feedback, so please leave a rating or review.