Getting Ready for Your Next Career Step
Organizations that predominantly operate using a project construct are undergoing a substantial shift to a product approach. In practice and theory, we more collectively refer to the flow of value through our organizations. This becomes a disruption driver in the digital reality unfolding before us.
As this happens, there are several pertinent shifts in the landscape of our organizations. Efficiency is not king at the moment because we should first be aware of our relative effectiveness. To be efficient without effectiveness is to waste resources faster. Those who are digitally inclined will be those who reconsider their value propositions as value streams and manage them appropriately.
This is apparent in several of our professional areas or domains-such as project managers, operations, technology, and even organizational structures-as we increasingly implement Agile, DevOps, or ITIL v4 in a cloud environment where essentially everything is available as a service (XaaS).
- Recognize Opportunity
Unfortunately, there may be fewer PMs in the future than we have today. The role is evolving to be closer to its roots as a means of developing and delivering a new product or capability, largely because of shifts in how work is defined and executed.
The next step for most is to move from a matrixed functional organization to a team-based, iterative, value-focused organization with virtuous cycles that we can sustain indefinitely. Organizations that have done this have consistently disrupted their markets. This will mean a significant reduction in the number of projects that are needed. Most of the kinds of work we projectize will become managed as a product where we have the consistency of team and eliminate the start-stop inefficiencies in favor of a pull-based flow of value.
Work item management shifts to teams and product owners via backlogs. Forecasting is replaced with projections and financial reporting is completely automated. Many project managers are perfect candidates for product owners.
- Look at the Big Picture
Product ownership is a leadership opportunity with an increasingly critical role as organizations grow and scale. Product owners are charged with understanding the current and future term needs of the consumers of their value and how we can best deliver that value in a mutually beneficial value exchange. PMs must have big-picture skills along with the ability to manage the details. Having experience and exposure in a wide range of domains is a strong indicator of the ability to manage the diverse demands in managing value streams. Look for product roles as increasingly occurring and in-demand opportunities for good PMs.
- Build Transformation Skills as a Core Competency
US Navy Seals say, "The only easy day was yesterday." Change is that way for everyone. The frequency and amplitude of change will only increase, with possible temporary plateaus. Understanding your resilience mechanisms and being prepared to adjust or evolve will be life-changing for the better. Like so many other things, awareness and maintaining situational awareness are key drivers. Keeping up to date professionally, especially from a technology perspective (DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering, Agile Product Owner, for example) will enable you to be proactive in recognizing the right role and opportunity.
- Take Control of Your Future
With the current COVID-19 crisis still in full swing, there is much doubt regarding what tomorrow may bring. Life will eventually go back to normal for some, but for many, the new normal will be a bumpy ride. What will prevail is impossible to know at this point.
Having current training and certifications makes you more competitive in the marketplace over those who are still operating under the old model. During this time of pause, where most work is being done remotely, do your research and consider the "what if" of becoming part of the gig economy.
"The best defense is a strong offense."
"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."