PMNC 2017 : Keynotes : Developing Project Leaders
PMNC 2017

Taking a cue from Charles Darwin, Mark Dickson said it is not the strongest of species that survives nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change. He made a fervent plea to project managers to make continuous learning a central pillar of professional development, since it is learning alone that will help them to adapt to change and advance their careers.

Every year, 2.2 million new project management should strive to have a continuous series of innovation, he said. Businesses should start out with incremental innovations that add value to an existing product or process, and then aim to create disruptive innovations that create new markets.

Mr. Khandelwal’s advice is for companies to center innovation on the end-consumer rather than the industry. “Now we are involving the end-consumer in product development. This is an economy driven by consumers, thanks to the wealth of data available, and digital technologies,” he said.

But, for this to happen, companies need to build a culture of innovation. Mr. Khandelwal, who heads SAP Lab’s development center in India that is the second largest R&D center for the company globally, recommends the following measures to create that culture: start with a clear purpose; give space to people by giving them access to a platform and allow them to come together to create new ideas; deconstruct boundaries where technology and people intersect; and place the customer in the middle of the innovation agenda. On a concluding note, he said that innovation should not be the job of just the top management. Innovation takes place when employees are allowed to think, create, give suggestions, and are included in the innovation process.

roles are opening up around the world. In India, the number is 700,000. However, organizations are struggling to find talent with the relevant skills for these jobs. “Project management is not a single skill but a system of competencies. PMI calls it the Talent Triangle – technical project management, leadership, and strategic and business management skills,” said Mr. Dickson. With projects becoming multi-phased and multi-national, project managers need more than technical skills to succeed. Leadership skills such as problem-solving, adaptability, communication, innovation, and emotional intelligence are highly ranked in this project environment. “It is equally important for project managers to understand the business benefits of a project and how it contributes to the strategy. Project managers need to speak the language of business. Project management needs to evolve from a backroom function to a mainstream, business function,” added Mr. Dickson.

For project managers to develop into project leaders, they need to invest in developing these skills over time. “Follow the 70:20:10 rule for your learning – with maximum investment into workplace learning, followed by social learning such as informal coaching and mentoring, and structured learning such as resources provided by PMI,” he added. PMI research shows that practitioners with Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification in India earn 36 percent more than those without it, he added.