ECS: crisis management and governance issues

International affairs, Public policy, Communications & Project Management issues from an innovative perspective

The geopolitical scenario and global business world is changing so rapidly that the skills we so confidently showcase on our resumes may no longer be as relevant as we think.

What skills should we prioritize in an increasingly complex, fast-paced, and agile world that has been radically reshaped by COVID-19, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations, and a groundswell of demands for social justice?

We should actively manage cross-cutting issues to research, identify solutions and implement product enhancements / fixes while being up for an interesting challenge, so below it is a list of the top 10 skills, both ‘hard skills’ and ‘power skills’, also known as ‘soft skills’, that project professionals probably need to cultivate in the third decade of the 21st century. Caveat: The perennial “iron triangle” – budgeting, scoping, and scheduling – are a given, so they are not on this list.
Image credit: bcm. PMO & Its Role in IT Organizations
Image credit: bcm. PMO & Its Role in IT Organizations

1. Communication
Project / Programme Managers, External Affairs, and International Business Development professionals today are answerable to a wider range of internal and external stakeholders than ever before. This is particularly true on ESG initiatives or on projects where ESG considerations are a factor. Project leaders need strong multilingual written and verbal communication skills to effectively engage stakeholders and the political acumen to navigate a wide range of disparate and often conflicting interests.

2. Leadership
The old saying that “leaders are born, not made” simply is a fallacy. It is now clear that leadership skills can be learned and are essential for successful Project / Programme Management. And leadership is more than the ability to run meetings and generate good leads. Authentic leadership requires self-awareness, humility, empathy, and the ability to rally your team around a vision and a purpose.

3. Risk Management
Like everything else these days, risk management is changing. It is no longer just about weighing immediate project-related risks but assessing potential hazards in the broader enterprise and in society as a whole – think of the Pandemic process. A lot has been said about how we live in a VUCA world – full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Risk Management methodologies provide project leaders new tools for not only identifying and evaluating risks, but for mitigating and managing them.

4. Visualization (WPS methodology)
Did you know that 80 percent of our brain is dedicated to visualization? It is hardly surprising then that visualization is such a powerful tool for problem-solving. In fact, visualization is at the heart of the Wicked Problem Solving (WPS) methodology. In a world of growing complexity, visualization makes it easier to express and clarify ideas, organize information, and collaborate and communicate.

5. Data literacy
Data powers business these days. It underpins nearly all major decisions and is increasingly our most important asset. Project /Programme professionals must have at least a basic understanding of how to access and manipulate data. Even more important, they must be able to extract meaningful insights from data and communicate those insights confidently.

6. Intellectual curiosity
This may be a more surprising one because we do not always think about it as a skill that can be learned. But in a professional framework as fast-paced as ours, intellectual curiosity is a must-have. We not only need the ability to adapt, but the desire to understand how the cross-cutting teams we should be working with are in continuous change. ‘Millennials’ and ‘Gen Zers’ understand this intuitively. They have grown up in a world of rapid and constant technological change and exemplify what it means to be lifelong learners.

7. Crisis Management (seasoned with stress)
I understand of Crisis Management as a two-tier skill: we need to practice it in our own lives and project leaders need to foster it amongst their teams – especially in the wake of COVID-19, which added significantly to worker stress levels. The key is to learn how to de-stress while approaching a crisis management scenario, whether that is through a physical workout, meditation, or just downtime with family.

8. Objectivity
To see the world as others see it is perhaps the most difficult skill of all to master. Project leaders and other professionals must be open and receptive to feedback and especially diligent in gathering and understanding different points of view. Only then can we begin to form a more objective view of our work and how it will affect a diverse set of project / business stakeholders.

9. Flexibility and Adaptability
We knew its importance before, and COVID-19 reinforced it. We need to maintain this same nimbleness of mind and ability to pivot in our day-to-day world. A willingness to embrace new technologies, new methodologies and new ways of working will always leverage a strategic proposal to materialize into a successful project.

10. Corporate and IT transformation
I should end on a very specific skill, but one that I think is emblematic of the kind of change we will see and skills we are progressively. The citizen development movement – the ability of non-IT-professionals to use ‘low-code/no-code’ tools to develop apps and software to solve everyday problems – is a democratizing force in our world. It is empowering not just project professionals, but professionals of all kinds to accelerate change, drive business results and make their lives just a little bit easier. It does create challenges, of course, and the companies and organizations that are adopting this form of “hyper-agility” need to be ready for an enterprise-wide cultural transformation.