Looking Ahead: An Adaptive Model for the Future

As this book goes to press, the Project Management Institute is finalizing a new edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. This update will markedly' change the way we talk about the field of project management. In this book, we have presented an updated maturity' model that is aligned with the current edition of PMI’s standard, which will be superseded by a new version. So, it’s worth asking: what’s the future of project management maturity modeling? Will the next edition of the PMBOK* Guide render this book obsolete?

The short answer: no.

Principles inform the way we use processes ... and they always have. It isn’t that project management was devoid of principles up to now ... or that processes will be going the way of the dodo in the future. Rather than operating in an either/or situation, we feel that most practitioners understand that in the real world, project management is “both/and.”

It’s probably long overdue for the formal standard to back away from trying to explicitly describe the innards of a hypothetical project. Projects are today, and have been for at least a couple decades, dizzyingly diverse as to industry, size, complexity, impacts, human and technology elements. PMI’s laudable attempts to codify' the elements of project management practice in the standard have thus, in many ways, fallen short of the reality of that practice. Like the proverbial pendulum, the standard that has been process focused, is now performing an about-face to focus on underlying principles and the larger environment in which projects operate. But, as it always has, the reality lies somewhere in between, in the constantly shifting area where process and principle intersect.

The Adaptive Organization

In 2018, we began to see a trend among the clients of our consulting and training practices: more and more organizations were attempting, or asking about, the “agile transformation.” Many of them had the haziest of ideas exactly what they were shooting for: they knew, however, that the pace of organizational change had to speed up and they were betting that more agile or adaptive management strategies could help.

Our research study, The Adaptive Organization: A Benchmark of Changing Approaches to Project Management, was in part inspired by the release of PMI’s sixth edition of the PMBOK" Guide, which incorporated language about agile and adaptive approaches. In fact, we relied on the definitions in the standard to put all the survey respondents on the same page as they answered the survey questions. One thing that was clear from the results was that project management was in the midst of a a major shift in the way work is carried out on projects and in organizations. The majority of organizations in the study reported that they were experimenting with agile and adaptive approaches, rather than “transforming” to a full-on agile approach. They mixed hybrid approaches, based on the needs of the project and the maturity of their staff, PMOs, and processes.

Uris reality is now reflected in the exposure draft of the seventh edition of the PMBOK" Guide, which encourages project managers to focus first on successfid value delivery and, depending on the project characteristics, industry, and requirements of the stakeholders and organization, the approach best suited, whether predictive, agile, hybrid or waterfall. The standard does not favor one approach over another. It encourages practitioners to look at the big picture of value, benefits, and business outcomes.

In this way, nothing could be more responsive to the times than this updated maturity model. We look forward to using it with organizations at all stages in the process of moving towards a more adaptive approach. Without abandoning the knowledge areas and processes, we have described practices within each knowledge area that can add agility. We are pretty sure that this model will help organizations thrive within the zone of “both/and” and thus stand the test of time.

But stay tuned. Because nothing says agility like constantly improving and updating your tools; and our consultants in the field are doing that, as you read these words.

Appendix A: Self-Assessment Survey

This self-assessment survey is designed to help perform a simple, informal selfassessment of an organization’s project management maturity. More detailed information about assessments and how to use them is found in Chapters 1 and 13-

Follow the directions below to perform the organizational self-assessment. Remember that the primary purpose of a project management maturity assessment is to provide a path for your organization to move forward by improving its project management capabilities.

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