We just wrapped up our 4th edition of ProjectTalks Toronto and it was a great success.  Our events don’t have themes, but it does seem that most of these ‘mini events’ are taking on a similar unwritten theme each time we run: “It’s Different Now”.

Today we heard about the project manager’s role in innovation.  Really?  I thought innovation was something that another department looked after and something we heard about only when they needed to bring in the big guns to build it.  That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  We heard that project managers are needed both as voices at the table during the creative stage of innovation but, as well, in our own world as we are being asked to innovate the way we do our work.

Then we heard about strategy execution and the importance of a smooth transition from the strategic planning phase to the implementation phase, or the execution of the plan.  Project managers need to be more connected to the strategic plan, we were told, offering more to our stakeholders than just a report that says we completed the work as requested.  We need to step it up and add value to our roles as professionals in an ever changing and rapidly moving business environment.

And then we had a great session on thinking differently about the way we communicate throughout our projects – taking a page from the construction industry (although it was admitted that even they don’t have it right still).  Building a communications culture is critical, the 20-minute presentation suggested, from our innovators and thinkers through to the engine that will get it built AND through to the final end users.  And all of this on a regular basis throughout the life cycle of the project. 

Finally, we had a session on lessons learned and a word of warning that none of us are implementing this phase of the project as well as expected. As a result, we are missing the boat on process improvements, project management improvements and business efficiency.  

So, times are changing.  It is different now. It seems that these days we are looking for project professionals who are innovative, strategic thinking, great communicators across the whole enterprise and who know how to learn from their past.

How do you stack up?

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