✪ The Future is project-driven – by the adaptive project professional! – And the Future is NOW … ✪

In our changing world, project professionals must be more nimble and resourceful than ever to keep pace and create impact.

By Markus

May 8, 2022 -   minutes read

May 8


As new industries, practices, and technologies emerge, project professionals and their teams are challenged to pivot quickly and work even more efficiently - all so they can deliver value in our changing world.

Well, some experts in project management are convinced that in the not too distant future, practically everything - at least concerning the business world - will be "projectified"! 

And therefore, we all are - or must become - project managers or - like I prefer to name it: (adaptive) project professionals.

I am convinced that the expertise related to project and change management is already crucial today and is becoming more critical with every passing day. 

But no, we do not ALL have to become project managers/leaders (as some people propagate); that would even be somewhat counterproductive, in my opinion. 

BUT, we all - or at least most of us - need to acquire specific skills and (basic) abilities related to project and change management.

And ... the demand for (adaptive) project management professionals is not only big today (just have a look at the job market); the demand will increase SIGNIFICANTLY in the coming years and at least until 2030 (and probably beyond). 

The future of work is project-based!

You don't have to believe me, of course, but you might consider the world's largest and most recognized project management organization - the Project Management Institute - "PMI"! 

Surveys and studies by the Project Management Institute, the Harvard Business Review, and others indicate that

"projects will continue to be the means of choice for virtually all organizations to implement change and generate business value."

PMI reports with its 2021 “Talen Gap Report” that an additional 25 Million project work-related employees are needed till 2030.

That is 2.3 Million PM-related Job openings … per year!

Given the rapid pace of social, environmental, economic, and technological change, it is essential to consider how these changes will affect organizations!

How will they set up and implement projects and ultimately achieve desired outcomes?

I am convinced that the future of project & change management lies in ADAPTABILITY to successfully manage continuous change. 

Especially the need for adaptive project professionals, as I like to call it, but not only me

And this is despite, or even because of the automation and thus the elimination of many tasks through disruptive technologies such as DS/AI, ML, or RPA. 

In the course of this series of articles, we will go into all those topics and try to clarify questions such as: 

  • What does "Project Economy" mean?
  • What does "adaptive project professional" mean?
  • How do I become - and stay - relevant as an adaptive project professional?
  • What do technologies like DS/AI or Blockchain mean for future project management, and how can I use them for myself as an adaptive project pro? 
  • What is the "Comb-shaped knowledge Model" and why is it important?
  • What are "Models, Methods & Artifacts" and why do they count to the adaptive Project Pro?

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PrepCast 4

So, what is that "Project Economy"?

"Project-based work is the engine that drives change and progress. Projects generate the major accomplishments of our civilization. They stimulate society to advance beyond what things are and how they are done and even to surpass long-established scientific and cultural limits."

That was stated by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, one of the most recognized and respected thinkers in project management in our times.

And I do strongly agree with him.

Therefore, one of the most recent and most impressive examples of our time is the development and release of a highly effective vaccine against the Covid-19 Virus in record time and how that accomplishment has been realized through the cooperation of Pfizer and BioNTech.

You will read about this example and the project behind it more often throughout this series.

"I believe that anyone can learn to be a project leader ... "

is another statement by Antonio ... well, this time - with all my respect - I have to disagree, sorry Antonio.

Let me explain that a bit more.

I would agree by saying (that almost) everyone might be able to learn the theoretical fundaments of project management.

But, becoming an excellent project professional needs a lot more than that. 

It might be necessary for all stakeholders and participants in the business world to gain some sort of project-oriented mindset and a fundamental understanding of projects and project management. But there are so many different types of roles needed in the future project economy that it would be even counterproductive if anyone wants to become a project manager or - how I do prefer to name it - an adaptive project professional.

And for those people who want to lead the initiatives, which are turning ideas into reality, I hope to provide a source of guidance that helps you excel in your career development and progress in your project management career.

But what is this ominous "project economy" now, Iyou keep talking about? 

The emergence of projects as the economic engine of our times is quiet but incredibly disruptive and powerful.

In 2017, Antonio coined this phenomenon the "Project Economy" to highlight the unprecedented transformation with profound organizational and cultural consequences. According to recent research, the value of project-oriented economic activity worldwide will grow from $12 trillion (in 2013) to $20 trillion (forecast 2027). Add on top of that the trillions spent on Covid-19 pandemic recovery projects. 

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To learn more about the "Project Economy," you might refer to the Harvard Business Review article: "The Project Economy has arrived." 

Or the book "Project Revolution" by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez. This book is a must-read for the reasons mentioned here, and I strongly recommend it to you.

PMI (and others) have also recognized that revolution and adopted it. In fact, they have even registered the slogan "Powering the Project Economy" as a Trademark.

In the Project Economy, project-based work becomes the primary unit of work; and operations need less and fewer resources to be carried out. To succeed in the Project Economy, we need to reinvent projects and project management. Refresh our methods, adapt them to the current and future needs, simplify our tools, and significantly increase project success.

And that is, where the "adaptive project professional" hits the center stage!

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PrepCast 4

Let me introduce to you the "adaptive project professional"!

Given the rapid pace of social, environmental, economic, and technological change, it is essential to consider how these changes will affect organizations?

How will they set up and implement projects and ultimately achieve desired outcomes?

All individuals acting in the "Project Economy" need to consider what they can do proactively to be prepared for and benefit from the changes being addressed.

"In an era of unprecedented technological, social, and environmental change, the project management profession will be the center of creating value and implementing change. "

I am convinced that, to successfully manage continuous change, the future of project management lies in adaptability.

Adaptable project professionals must be able to respond to the ever-changing contexts in which they work.

They need to be continuous learners.

They need strong meta-competencies - such as resilience, anticipating and shaping change, and the ability to build and lead diverse, high-performing teams.

Increasingly crucial skills include using and implementing new technologies and more people-focused leadership skills like communication, collaboration, and managing increasingly complex stakeholder relationships.

In a project-driven business world, the demand for solid project management and implementation skills is rapidly increasing.

And the trend continues unabated.

As we said, at least 25 million new project professionals will be needed by 2030, according to PMI, and there's no end in sight ...

There are already many open positions, and more and more job descriptions define sound project management and -implementation skills and experience as a requirement.

When I started project management more than 20 years ago, it was common to appoint the best expert in a team as the project manager.

Therefore, the development is moving away from pure expertise (so-called I-Shaped Knowledge) via the T- and Pi-Shaped Model to the so-called "Comb-Shaped Model."

That means that the project professional of the future will have to build up a broad skill set to be successful in the project economy.

It might have been sufficient to be an expert in traditional (waterfall) project management for many years. For the last 20 years - at least in some industries - you could also be very successful if you were "only" a specialist in agile methods such as SCRUM.

I am sure these times are over.

The adaptive project pro needs the broadest possible toolbox of methods, models, artifacts, and practices that he can master. Only in this way can they apply the best - or better, the most promising - method or technique in the individual situation. 

In the following article, we will delve deeper into this topic and examine in more detail the skillsets required from today's perspective and that the adaptive project pro should master to thrive in the digital era.

Please share your opinion and personal experiences. Whether you agree or disagree, it is through exchanges that the best ideas and concepts are developed. And if there is any particular topic you want me to cover or a fantastic project you are aware of we should discuss, let me know through the comments.

Thank you so much,


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