PMI – Megatrends

PMI recently published a report on: “How to Incorporate 5 Global Megatrends into Long-Term Business Strategy“. This report which has the byline of: Healing Fractures, building bridges was one that intrigued me. I reached out to: Stephen Townsend, Network Engagement Facilitator, at PMI to ask his thoughts on the report and some of the main questions that I had on the topic.

One of the reasons that this report intrigued me was because I wanted to understand why PMI thought the last year was so unique and did they predict that there was more to come? I think there has been a real cultural and integral shift in not only our working lives but also the undercurrent of civil tensions that have come to the surface globally.

Emily: Does PMI think that this is an unusual event? or that we need to become accustomed to several years of upheaval, stress and change as a result of different socio/economic/worldwide events?

Stephen: Being prepared for anything is now more important than ever. The events of the past year aside, PMI believes communities, businesses, and individuals will constantly be facing challenges and change due to many different factors, including technology, weather, and culture. At PMI, we believe in the notion of a VUCA world, defined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. From a business standpoint, unanticipated changes result in organizations needing the skills to be able to quickly pivot and adapt. In order to be successful, they need to implement a more gymnastic response to all changes, whether they come from the market, competitor, or economy. Our Megatrends report specifically looked at some of the largest, most pressing challenges and changes impacting our world today, but change is constant, and individuals and organizations must always be willing to adapt. When the right people with the right power skills have the best tools to navigate this new way of working in a VUCA world, businesses will be able to operate in a more predictive manner.

Emily: How is PMI championing themes like: climate change, diversity within its own organization? What are they doing as “changemakers” for others to follow?

Stephen: At PMI, we are always striving for inclusion and to honor our diverse global community. Our role is to equip project managers and changemakers with the skills and tools they need to help tackle global challenges including climate change and civil and civic inequalities. Simultaneously, we make it a priority to celebrate project managers who are changing the world, including through our Future 50 program, which highlights the next generation of organizational leaders.

Recently, we have been able to team up with like-minded organizations to champion some of the themes discussed in the Megatrends report. We are a member of the United Nation’s Global Compact, a network of over 9,500 organizations in 160 countries that focuses on aligning corporate strategies with universal principles including human rights and anti-corruption. We’ve also partnered with TED to help amplify incredible project ideas that look to tackle the challenges associated with these Megatrends.

In addition, we have also put initiatives into place within our organization globally to ensure we are always improving and holding ourselves accountable. For example, our Social Good Initiative in support of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) brings together leaders within our organization to focus on inequalities within race, gender, and more. Its mission is to ensure that PMI continues to maintain a global culture recognizing the interests of our diverse workforce. This team executes internal projects and activities to engage our staff and larger community to support a positive environment, promote personal and professional development, and remove any barriers hindering progress. Our program has rotated leaders throughout its existence to ensure we are always taking new ideas and thinking into account. PMI is constantly looking for ways to improve as an organization and as a community, and we always welcome and encourage new changemakers within PMI to step up to help us continue to improve collectively.

Our larger community of volunteers and chapters are also actively engaged locally all over the world to teach project management as a life skill and mentor entrepreneurs and leaders. Our chapter members help local organizations, government agencies, and non-profits deliver greater impact in their communities.

Emily: Does PMI feel that their new certifications (e.g. citizen developer) are supporting the initiatives laid out in the report? 

Stephen: All of PMI’s certifications help project managers and changemakers strengthen their ability to solve problems, including those associated with the Megatrends outlined in our report. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the workplace was facing rapid and disruptive change that was reshaping the very nature of how we work. PMI’s certifications and offerings provide individuals with the tools needed to work smarter and refresh technical, leadership, and strategic skillsets in order to complete projects successfully, which will be key as the workforce looks to tackle the climate crisis, artificial intelligence, and more. Our Project Management Professional (PMP)® or PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certifications, for example, can provide strong foundations of the core skills needed to lead projects, allowing individuals the opportunity to explore more specialized training and earn micro-credentials and badges.

PMI’s Citizen Developer suite is a great example of this more specialized training, as it provides a framework for how individuals and organizations can adopt citizen development and no- and low-code platforms cross-functionally in a safe way. Doing so will speed up the completion of projects and, therefore, the solving of problems, as project teams will be able to customize technology to their needs. Citizen Developer helps organizations and changemakers by enabling anyone to drive business change requiring digital capabilities.

Another good example is our Basics of Disciplined Agile online course, which helps prepare individuals and teams on how to best utilize agile in the face of transformative change by leveraging hundreds of agile frameworks, practices, and techniques. We also recently released a free, 45-minute course and tool kit – Kickoff – which educates professionals on the best practices of project management who may be new to leading or supporting initiatives.

Emily: What is PMI doing on their own: megatrend multipliers? What events are PMI doing to champion social good/ rethinking their relationship with customers etc.

Stephen: Fostering partnerships and implementing social impact projects are very important to PMI through our offerings, events, and community. We aim to build a strong and innovative community of project management experts through virtual events, such as our upcoming Virtual Experience Series of online events, which also now includes the PMXPO in March. These events aim to help participants maximize their personal brands and implement new tools for success worldwide. PMI members also benefit from insights from a global network of individuals dedicated to strengthening the project management profession and making ideas reality.

In addition to our events, our volunteers are a big part of the PMI and larger project management community. Each year, our volunteers came together for the Global Celebration of Service, which leads to thousands of volunteer hours supporting local communities with no-cost project management expertise. Finally, our PMIEF fundraising and scholarships programs for 30 years have provided the changemakers of tomorrow the opportunity and inspiration to achieve their goals and make their personal dreams reality. At PMI, it is our mission to provide opportunities and education for young, diverse people so they can in turn use project management skills to change the world for the better.

Emily: Who is responsible for creating and maintaining an ecosystem of changemakers? Are we expecting project managers and leaders to do this from a grassroots perspective? Or organizations?

Stephen: Everyone plays a role in proactively shaping the future from their own unique perspective. Even a small change can make a big impact – all degrees of change can lead to relevant and important transformations. Changemakers are those who are always ready and able to drive change and transformational efforts for businesses, people, and society as a whole. PMI is committed to helping both individuals and organizations master the skills and capabilities necessary to continue changing the world and making ideas reality, and we strongly believe everyone must be ready to learn new skills, adapt to new situations and expand their horizons to help make the world a better place. We feel that everyone can be a changemaker and that it is the responsibility of all to maintain an ecosystem of changemakers, whether it is an individual learning a new skill or an organization investing in upskilling of people.

My thoughts on the Megatrend report:

I think that it’s really interesting to see how PMI has approached this report and what the general consensus is on the way that we will be moving forward as a global force and movement. This reminded me of the PMI Global Conference in 2018 where the focus was on “Being a champion of change”.

Back in 2018, there was the initial overview of what being a “Champion of Change” meant within your own career and as a Project Manager. I think that in 2021, we are approaching this on a wider scale and seeing the impact that this can have on a wider more global scale. I think that it’s really important that organisations such as PMI step up to the challenge that is currently presented and make that choice to develop and grow.

Whilst PMI is a single organisation trying to move towards a better, brighter future and trying to support every level of an individual’s career, what fascinates me is what is going to happen next. How will organisations react and adapt to the changing socio/economic conditions? What will volunteering look like in the near future? How will issues such as climate change and greater diversity and inclusion be addressed?


I’d really love to hear what you think about the Megatrends report. Have you read it? What was the key take away for you?

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