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Project manager 2.0: what it means and why it matters

Man's arm and hand holding pen over paper on clipboard next to section of laptop and more papers

The discipline of project management is evolving rapidly, but what does this mean for the project manager? Lisa Hodges, principal consultant at Cornerstone Service Management, explains why the future belongs to project manager 2.0.

Lisa HodgesAt a recent conference one of my fellow speakers, Dr Harold Kerzner, explained how project management needs to grow and evolve into “project management 2.0” and beyond. His observations have implications for the role of project manager.

In today’s environment of fast-paced change, where technology supports everything we do, project managers need to ask themselves: “Am I prepared for project management 2.0 and, indeed, project management 3.0?’’.
This fundamental shift is already visible. Just consider project cycle times: in almost all industry sectors timeframes have reduced dramatically over recent years; the once common two or three years has been replaced with six to twelve months – and a 6-week project is now not unusual.

So what does a PM 2.0 look like?

A bigger toolbox

Specializing in just one discipline, framework, or methodology is no longer enough. For a PRINCE2 practitioner, for example, this means being equally comfortable with Agile and Scrum. And it also entails mastering all of them to the same high standard.

Why? Because every project, team and working environment is different. So a project manager armed with a deep knowledge of every framework can architect a tailored solution and be much better placed to ensure successful project delivery.

Bridge the gap

The project manager 2.0 does not operate in isolation. Given that every business decision, from farming to finance is underpinned by technology, the project manager must work much more closely with the technical services management team to ensure smooth interactions at key points in a project’s lifecycle. 
Only by understanding the broader picture can you ensure the project swims safely through the lanes of IT service management.

Softer approach

One of the greatest cultural shifts that project managers need to embrace is developing soft skills. It’s a radical concept for traditional practitioners who prioritize processes and tools. We have lost sight of the fact that delivering a project is not all about plans and frameworks but the people who make it happen.

In fact, project managers can learn a lot from the Agile Manifesto. Its guiding principles focus on empowering the team to make decisions, rather than one authoritative figure. How the project is delivered matters just as much as the output. Collaboration, for example, is valued more than contract negotiation.

Those familiar with the Scrum Guide should also start to see PM 2.0 in the context of Scrum Master, who is described as “servant leader to the team.”

This is fundamental to the evolution of the project manager who is no longer “large and in charge” and focused solely on the output. Project managers should instead be positioning themselves as “servant leader to the project”, helping the team to succeed rather than simply berating missed deadlines. Project Manager 1.0 is a great communicator, but Project Manager 2.0 must be an outstanding collaborator.

Such skills can help you to create a high-performing team. True leadership is about motivating and protecting the team, encouraging engagement and facilitating – rather than controlling – access to the right people in the customer team.

Realize the business benefits

In this new working environment, benefits realization will be the responsibility of the project manager. A point also covered by Dr. Kerzner in a webinar for AXELOS. In fact, this should be the guiding light for project managers rather than a rigid adherence to the tools.

It may be completely at odds with the traditional view that a project manager’s remit ends with the completion of the project, but the rationale is compelling. Remember, PRINCE2 states that the business case is the lifeblood of a project, so it makes perfect sense to make the project manager accountable beyond its immediate delivery.

Future-proof project manager

Change requires investment of time and resources and it needs to happen now for project managers to transition beyond project management 1.0.

So, take advantage of all the available books, webinars and seminars to immerse yourself in a new way of thinking. Assess your current skillset – both hard and soft – and take the necessary action to fill any gaps.

Most important of all is a willingness to let go: not of structure or the valuable experience you have already gained, but of the traditional view of project management. Recognizing the need to move quickly and take risks that might initially make you uncomfortable is the first positive step towards making the change.

Read previous AXELOS Blog Posts by Lisa Hodges

Five ways for project managers to start realizing benefits

How to be ready: the need for speed in ITSM 2018

Enterprise service management: deploying ITSM without the IT

Bi-modal/two-speed IT: the chaos with traditional and agile projects

PMBOK and PRINCE2®: how Project Managers can survive in an agile world

Current rating: 4.6 (7 ratings)


13 Aug 2018 Akash
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Good article talks about evolution of project management in line with agile methodologies. PRINCE2 Agile exactly prepares you for this and changes the perspective of seeing things as a PM
16 Aug 2018 Juan Pablo Paz Grau, Ph D, PMP
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I liked the emphasis the article puts in that the next trend will be on managing people and teams, rather than getting deeper knowledge on processes and tools. I think it goes straight into the basics to build an Agile mindset.
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