Presented by PMI

In a rapidly changing market driven by megatrends, from labor shortages and digital disruption to the climate crisis and global economic shifts, businesses need to find smarter strategies to get to market fast. The need for speed is the most frequently cited reason organizations are prioritizing innovation and growth, McKinsey found — and fast companies outperform in the market.

“Speed and efficiency have become new benchmarks — and organizations that are too slow, or too comfortable, could soon be left behind,” says Sierra Hampton-Simmons, Vice President of Products at Project Management Institute (PMI). “But gaining speed should not mean breaking the rules. It needs to be done strategically based on the needs of your customer.”

Sustainable, transparent and efficient ways to significantly slash time to market requires a few things, including revisiting policies to root out rigidity, and finding ways to boost strategic clarity.  PMI research shows businesses must also prioritize flexibility and agility, as well as encourage constant innovation for project professionals.

There are three movements in the business world that are helping organizations work smarter and more efficiently: a focus on the collaborative citizen developer; a turn toward more effective agile development; and an emphasis on innovative problem-solving to swiftly tackle challenges of every size.

Here’s a closer look at these three strategies which can help transform a company’s way of working, approach to innovation and speed to market without jeopardizing strategy.

1. Low-code and no-code and the citizen developer

The deficit of skilled software developers will hit 500,000 by 2024, IT departments are overworked and the overall tech talent shortage is painting a grim picture. That’s where the citizen developer comes in. Not only does an investment in citizen developers help bridge the tech talent gap, but it also supercharges internal collaboration and a company’s ability to deliver real value to customers and stakeholders, offering greater operational efficiency and productivity across the board.

Low-code and no-code solutions are the key. These platforms replace hand-coding with intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-coded workflows that can give anyone, regardless of tech expertise or prior coding experience, the ability to build complex interactions, transactions and processes that can be easily automated.

Citizen development eliminates the middleman, taking the pressure off IT, and putting the power to build solutions that solve pain points directly into the hands of the project professionals who are right there in the mix. They’re intimately familiar with the context of each problem they’re solving for, and have the expertise to conceive the practical, innovative solutions necessary. Further, they have the tools at hand to develop, test and iterate, fast and efficiently, to drive digital transformation as a strategic business partner.

An effective citizen developer strategy requires appropriate guardrails to keep these projects in line with the organization’s broader IT strategy and governance policies, from data privacy to security, costs and quality. The PMI® Citizen Developer suite of resources guides organizations in developing a secure, effective low-code and no-code technology strategy that optimizes the power of the citizen developer by overcoming challenges and pitfalls, leading to faster value delivery.

2. The transformative power of agility

Agile is a powerful tool for driving successful projects fast and efficiently. But many organizations look at agile as a one-size-fits-all approach, which limits the full benefits of the technique. Far from a cookie-cutter approach, agile offers a variety of methodologies and frameworks, including Scrum, Lean, Kanban and much more. Each approach is specially suited to help address a variety of project objectives — but locking your team into one specific framework limits innovation, and therefore limits team speed.

The best way of working is specific to every team, and agile frameworks are a good starting point — but a truly agile approach means borrowing the best thinking across the strategies available to you, from agile to lean and traditional sources. PMI’s hybrid tool kit harnesses hundreds of agile practices to guide you in the best way of working for your team or organization in a tailorable and scalable manner.

PMI’s tool kit is architected into four views and four layers. The “Mindset” layer builds on the foundations of agile and lean to address enterprise realities. “People” is about giving any person one or more roles to help create a truly adaptable team. “Flow” is a streamlined way to adopt process in a context-sensitive manner. And the “Practices” layer is about scaling, whether that’s at the team level (tactical agile) or at the organizational level (strategic agility).

PMI also offers both instructor-led and self-paced training, with interactive courses, micro-credentials and certifications that include simulations, activities and supplemental reading to reinforce the toolkit’s guidance. Those who master the toolkit will obtain the skills needed to tailor their way of working, leading to optimized organizational and team effectiveness and faster speed to market.

3. Solving complex problems with Wicked Problem Solving

Traditional problem-solving techniques are not standing up to the increasingly complex array of issues businesses face as economic, technological, environmental and political landscapes keep shifting. Problems of every size, from the major challenges that impact an organization’s future to smaller, everyday obstacles have become resistant to tried-and-true strategies.

For these “wicked problems,” PMI alongside TED speaker, entrepreneur and technology pioneer Tom Wujec has developed PMI Wicked Problem Solving, rooted in cognitive science, and incorporating elements of design thinking, and lean and agile practices. It is a shared operating system for solving problems and boosting greater collaboration, designed to enhance traditional or agile project management approaches.

Tasks are organized into a series of plays, the basic building block — time-bound periods in which a team clearly articulates the problem, creates a visual model of the issue and uses visualizations to make ideas concrete and engaging as the team works collaboratively to build a solution. It’s helpful not only for complex challenges, but for helping teams run more successful meetings and making conversations more productive.

There are many types of plays, from simple ones that apply to most situations to more sophisticated plays used to break down complex issues. More basic plays can be incorporated into a professional’s toolkit almost immediately and, once the system is mastered, any number of different plays can be assembled to break down and solve any issue. Finding innovative ways to diagnose problems and visualizing and identifying solutions more quickly can help teams bring value to customers faster and more consistently.

PMI and Wujec’s Wicked Problem Solving course and tool kit is integrated with Miro, an online whiteboard collaboration tool. The course consists of 20 core video lessons that outline the principles and practical techniques, a workbook, a playbook and three decks of Wicked Problem Solving Principle cards for configuring plays.

Upskilling for success

The foundation of all these strategies is an environment where employees have the mindset, skills, knowledge, tools and customer understanding they need to make their work more efficient and to realize positive organizational, environmental and societal impact. But the number-one barrier to developing those capabilities is a lack of strategic prioritization of learning and development (L&D).

“While businesses understand the necessity of L&D, it is important that executives do not offer trainings just for trainings’ sake,” Hampton-Simmons added. “Businesses need to strategically evaluate all options and consider which programs not only help your business improve, but also provide your team members with the skills that they value most. PMI can work with you to understand these needs and find a solution that is customized and impactful.”

Organizations that gain speed through strategic upskilling can better prepare their workforce to provide value to customers more quickly, adapt nimbly to new technology, and weather the storm of the next big event — without sacrificing quality.

Learn more about how PMI’s thought leadership, training and tools are helping companies equip their talent with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive.

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