Modern Business Management: The Skills You Need

by January 8, 2018

Modern business management is an evolution of how organizations deliver on strategy. It follows that the skills organizations need to deliver it must also evolve.

Let’s consider the skills an organization needs to deliver an effective approach to modern business management—from the top, the bottom and as an overall environment. There are three key roles that must change for MBM to be successful. Let’s start with the most critical of all: leaders.

The good news for organizational leadership is that the nature of the change they need to make is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Leaders are already more focused on understanding how their organization’s operating environment is changing and what the implications of those changes are. The skills development they must focus on is the ability to concisely and effectively communicate that understanding to the project teams executing the initiatives that are impacted. Leaders tend to focus on empowering teams to make change-related decisions rather than trying to control those decisions themselves, but this isn’t really a skill. Instead it is a degree of self-discipline that allows others to drive the change, and while difficult, it is not a skill that must be learned. On the other hand, if leaders are not effective communicators, teams will be unable to make the right changes, because they won’t have the necessary information and context.

Project managers will also find their skills evolving rather than revolutionizing. They are the recipients of the information and context from leaders, and they must focus on creating the empowered environment for their teams to drive decision making. This is an extension of the leadership skills they already have and should be fairly straightforward for most project managers. However, it will require patience and understanding, as team members will be experiencing more dramatic changes as they are asked to “own” the process of driving change and will need time to adjust. This increased focus on leadership skills will offset a decline in traditional task management skills, which will continue to decline in importance as project and portfolio management software automates much of the administration of a project.

There is one area within the project delivery groups where skills will need to change more radically, and that is with PMO leaders. PMOs are at the hub of the shift to modern business management, and they will experience change on multiple levels. PMO leaders will not only need to learn to drive portfolio management from idea generation to benefits realization and everything in between, they will also need to manage multiple priorities across all business areas. MBM will see a permanent shift in PMO leaders from project-based professionals to business professionals, an acknowledgement that portfolio management—a core part of a modern PMO’s function—is a business discipline rather than a project discipline. Many traditional PMO accountabilities will remain, but those will be secondary support functions. The PMO leader will succeed when the portfolio delivers the organization’s goals and objectives.

For organizations to be successful, they must experience the journey for themselves if they are going to compete and succeed in the increasingly competitive world they find themselves in. They will require the support of the right software infrastructure, integrated with all elements of their business information architecture, and they will need to commit to continuous evolution.