Thanks to my brother-in-law, I came across an interesting article written by Rachel Longhurst and Woojin Choi, both affiliated with Gartner, and published in the Harvard Business Review this month. The article discusses the evolving landscape of project management and the changing role of project managers.
Traditional project management skills, such as project governance and methodology, are no longer sufficient to meet the evolving needs of organizations. Gartner’s survey of 373 project management leaders highlights this transformation. Organizations are increasingly adopting agile development and product management models, which has led to traditional project management activities being delegated to autonomous delivery teams.
Recent technological advancements, including generative AI, have automated certain project manager tasks. Despite this shift, project managers are expected to have a growing role in project management offices (PMOs) in the next few years. To remain relevant, project managers need to acquire “next-generation” skills, including organizational awareness, data acumen, cross-functional collaboration, decision-making, and more.
Gartner identifies three critical roles for future project managers:
- the Teacher, who helps coach and motivate teams early in their digital journey;
- the Fixer, who resolves challenges and boosts delivery efficiency;
- and the Orchestrator, who manages high complexity and coordinates cross-functional efforts. These roles adapt to the unique needs of different organizations.
To succeed in this changing environment, organizations must invest in training and development initiatives that focus on these next-generation skills. The key differentiator for the next-generation project manager is their ability to make sound judgments in decision-making and to impact their teams and stakeholders through coaching and relationship building, going beyond routine tasks.