The project profession is at the forefront of change, but needs to continually develop skills to stay relevant
Association for Project Management (APM) has released the findings of its year-long conversation with the project profession in its latest Projecting the Future1 report, The Adaptive Project Professional.
The report, which draws on contributions from APM members, project professionals and external organisations, sets out a series of ideas and insights to help shape the future of project management. It also highlights that now is the time to focus on the ‘adaptive’ project professional.
The adaptive project professional must be able to adapt in an era of unprecedented technological, social and environmental change. As the project profession will be at the heart of creating and delivering such change, adaptability is key. Adaptive professionals are characterised as being responsive to the shifting contexts in which they work, having the right skills set, continually learning, able to utilise new technology, engage with stakeholders, highly proficient communicators, leaders and managers of their project teams.
The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how adaption is so important in keeping up with the pace of change, from the building of the NHS Nightingale hospitals, the Ventilator Challenge, the government’s furlough scheme, and the race to find a find a vaccine for Covid-19 – and project professionals have been at the heard of making these innovative changes happen. As the report also highlights, the project profession will need to respond and adapt quickly to the other major challenges facing the world including climate change and the transformation of the economy by new technological advance.
Tim Banfield, chair of the Projecting the Future group which oversaw the debate said: “Project management already plays a pivotal role in the changing world and contributes an estimated £156.6 billion2 of gross value added to the UK economy. Moving forwards, adaption will be vital, both in how we help organisations adapt, delivering successful projects, and in how we adapt ourselves, continually developing and evolving our skills and behaviours to keep pace.
“The report sets out eight ideas to support a more adaptive profession3, one which will be centre stage in the effort to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic and adapting to the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, climate change and increasing human longevity.”
Debbie Dore, chief executive of APM, added: “The ideas and recommendations presented in the report are a result of APM listening to our members, and conversations about some of the most profound changes under way in our economy and society. Although we continue to face very challenging circumstances, the project profession should face them with confidence. Projects are how change happens and have played a vital role in the crisis response and will be every bit as important in reshaping, reviving and rebuilding the economy.
“Adaptive skills are essential, and it’s important for today’s professionals to take learning and training seriously, right the way through their careers. As the chartered body for the profession, APM continues to offer a range of qualifications and training to support a successful career in project management.”
Other core ideas to emerge from the report range from a need to build the profession’s talent pipeline, from starter to chartered: providing new routes into the profession both for young entrants, and for more mature professionals and mid-career changers. Hand in hand with that, there is a need to strengthen the culture of professionalism through life, supported by employer commitment to training and an ambitious new policy framework that caters for learning at all stages of life.
The Projecting the Future debate also demonstrates the desire of project professionals to have a more influential role in shaping the strategy of projects. Projects are how change is delivered, and so they are critical to strategy, and need to be a bigger part of strategy development across all industry sectors.
Promoting the profession and building its impact is also highlighted in The Adaptive Professional report, continuing to champion the importance and influence of the profession as an agent of change across the economy and society.
The full The Adaptive Project Professional report can be found at www.apm.org.uk/projecting-the-future/
Read APM’s blog: Why it’s time for the adaptive professional