PMI Pulse of the ProfessionĀ® 2021 Report: Benefits of Organizational Agility During Times of Great Change
PMI South Asia

The premier global survey of project professionals takes a deep dive into how successful organizations have been able to nimbly shift during exponential disruption

In the past year, though organizations went through major disruption, the world of projects fared better than you would have anticipated. Our annual Pulse of the Profession® report shows that in spite of many projects being put on hold, organizations rose to the challenge and delivered on the promises they had made.

Of the projects that forged ahead, as many as 73 percent met their original goals and business intent, compared to 69 percent the previous year. A good number of them – 62 percent – were completed within budget, and 55 percent on time, compared to 59 percent and 53 percent, respectively, in our last year’s report. As a result, wasted investment due to poor project performance declined to 9.4 percent versus 11.4 percent in last year’s survey.

Respondents were asked to characterize their organization’s approach to ways of working, and nearly a third (32 percent) said that any and all possible methods were primarily or exclusively used to solve problems. This is a characteristic of a “gymnastic enterprise.” As outlined in the research, gymnastic enterprises are leading organizations that are able to thrive because they focus on outcomes rather than process, with a clear sense of how to balance structure and governance, while embracing change. They empower their people to make change happen by enabling them to master different ways of working, to become well-rounded professionals, and to elevate their power skills.

Conversely, 30 percent of respondents shared that their organizations primarily or exclusively consider using methods that have proven effective for them in the past. This is a characteristic of a traditional enterprise. The enduring problem that these traditional enterprises face today is that their structures and ways of working remain very rigid in midst of change.

“Our 2021 Pulse of the Profession research shows how gymnastic enterprises are thriving in The Project Economy by tailoring their ways of working and empowering their people to lead as changemakers,” said Mike DePrisco, chief operating officer of PMI. “By enabling employees to work smarter, elevating power skills, and building business acumen, gymnastic organizations are delivering financial and societal value regardless of the challenges placed before them.”

The report demonstrates how gymnastic enterprises reaped success and nimbly shifted when compared to traditional enterprises. For example, gymnastic enterprises were more likely to have high levels of organizational agility (48 percent versus 27 percent) combined with frequent use standardized risk management practices (68 percent versus 64 percent). They adapted faster to the pandemic, being far more likely to have undergone business change in 2020. And, they were much more likely to have seen increased productivity (71 percent versus 53 percent) and better project outcomes in 2020—in turn resulting in less wasted investment (9 percent versus 10.5 percent).

Gymnastic enterprises are also using technology to augment human skills and help their people continuously improve, prioritizing the enterprise-wide adoption of complex problem-solving techniques (47 percent versus 35 percent); AI-driven tools (39 percent versus 30 percent); on-demand, microlearning apps (39 percent versus 30 percent); and career assessment tools (37 percent versus 30 percent). With their focus on augmenting human skills, and on creative collaboration, it’s no surprise that gymnastic enterprises put the highest priority on power skills—especially collaborative leadership (54 percent versus 42 percent of traditional enterprises).

By enabling their people to become changemakers, gymnastic enterprises are better able to sense and respond to shocks, drive change, and face the future, knowing that they have the mindset, skills, and tools that it takes to win. These findings attest to just how important it is for organizations to adopt these approaches.

A total of 3,950 project professionals representing a range of industries and regions, including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, South Asia, Middle East/North Africa, and China were surveyed for the report. The survey was also supplemented by indepth interviews spanning a wide range of industries and regions.

To read more about how gymnastic enterprises are turning ideas into reality, view the full report at www.PMI.org/Pulse.