Our house is not a beach-loving one. We are more of a city-loving couple and love to travel to new cities. This often leads to ‘discussions’ about where you should go. Often, our destinations are determined by where my local airport flies (Leeds Bradford).
We tried to book half-term vacations but couldn’t find any inspiration online so I suggested that we contact a travel agent. My 8-year-old son asked me immediately “What’s a travel agent?”
I will admit that I haven’t been to a Travel Agent since 2005, whereas my parents go to one every year. This got me thinking about how customer requirements have changed over time and how people have adapted to these changes. I also wonder if the adaptation is a generational behavior. This includes project managers.
I was particularly interested in the following questions: How has project management changed as a profession? Are the project management skills that I learned in the 1990s still relevant today
What skills are necessary to be a project manager in 21st century? How is the project management skill set I have in the 1990s different from the skills I had in the 1970s and 1980s?
I like to think that I am progressive in my project managing thinking. I am open to learning new skills and can adapt as necessary – the project management equivalent to ‘online booking’ if I so choose. But how often will I need to reskill given the rapid changes in organisations? I feel like a project manager chameleon.
What does a 21st-century project manager look like? What skills are they required to have that didn’t exist a generation back?
There will always be a need for core skills like planning, risk management, quality, leadership and teamwork. But I’m not talking here about these. I’m talking competencies such as customer service, consultancy and entrepreneurship, digital literacy as well as sales and emotional intelligence.
These are just as important, if not more, than being able understand the purpose and how to use the critical path or create a quality management strategy. Do you agree?
All of this is based on my experience working with many different organizations across many industries. Digital is the biggest disruptor that didn’t exist when I started in the 1990s. Mind you, digital wasn’t even around ten years ago.
What digital skills are required to be a 21st-century project manager? We live in a data-driven world. It is essential to be able to use, analyse, and interpret data to make informed decision. Not just for project managers but for everyone.
Are digital and data literacy skills something you look for when you are looking to recruit or develop project managers? These skills are more important than traditional project management skills.
Although it could be said that it depends on the project I disagree. Every project will have a data element, so these skills need to be developed more ‘when’ than ‘if’.
In my previous article, “Project managers: Is it all about the ego?” I discussed how I felt that project managers need to have an entrepreneurial side. This is my stance. Clients often ask me if they have unlimited money. The answer is always no.
In this case, they will need to make trade-offs about which projects they spend their limited cash on (we call this portfolio management). This is where an entrepreneurial perspective can be helpful: “Treat the project as if it were your own business” may change your perception of it.
Would you change your mind if it were your money and livelihood?
As a project management trainer and consultant, I am well-versed in the popular co