There’s no question that the past couple years have been obscenely destabilizing for many careers, and digital project managers were no exception. But looking through a different lens, I would argue that these past years have also proven why the DPM skill set is about to become so important.
Here’s the thing: we are nimble problem solvers capable of rapidly pivoting in response to change. We are proactive risk managers who create cultures of foresight and readiness. We are hard-wired to harness chaos and disruption to create meaningful outcomes.
I’d go as far to say that we are the exact muscle group needed to bolster the digital transformations that are only being accelerated by our current reality and which are changing the future of work.
But before we get there, digital project management has an existential crossroads to face. (Always a catch!)
The Existential Crossroads Facing Digital Project Management
On the one hand, understanding how to deliver a digital project successfully is still very much in demand. On the other hand, many modern delivery models actually remove the role of a project manager in favor of scrum masters, product owners, or new hybrid roles that empower leaner, more self-managing teams.
Here’s a few examples of what I mean:
A friend of mine has found herself the last DPM standing at her organization. It was decided that not all projects need a project manager, only the complex ones. She thinks she should feel lucky, but to her, it feels more like the writing on the wall.
On the other hand, someone else in my network just hired three new hybrid delivery specialists to drive agile programs of strategic, enterprise-wide change. Interestingly, the words “digital project manager” are nowhere in the job title, and project management is a single bullet point in the job description.
So, while it’s possible that there is positive change ahead for digital project managers, the years ahead may well be preparation as our craft finds its footing in a changed reality.
Fine. But, how should we be evaluating our situation and hedging our bets for a possible massive industry shift in our favor?
How To Navigate Organizational Change?
Here are my tips for evaluating your situation and preparing accordingly, so that you can keep sight of the risks and stay one step ahead of change:
1. Follow The Trajectory Of Your Organization’s Transformation
If you plan to stay at your current job, keep an eye on the direction of change in your organization. If a flurry of small changes triggers your spidey sense, try to extrapolate where it’s going and what it means. Talk to people, get the insights, and assess the risk (if any!) to you doing what you love doing.
2. Build Your Skills Ahead Of The Curve
Knowing that DPM roles are becoming increasingly hybridized, start identifying the areas where you may need to upskill to situate yourself. Get some training, get practical experience, and surround yourself with people who are doing the same (joining a community like The Digital Project Manager is a good starting point).
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Reinvent Yourself
You are not your title, and what you’ve done in the past or in your current role doesn’t define what you are able to do in the future. Take the time to research industries that are growing, trends that are cresting, and new roles that are being created. Stop thinking vertically up a ladder, and start thinking horizontally across industries, employers, and roles.
Where To Go From Here
Spidey senses still tingling? Just know that you’re not alone. You can get career advice on your specific situation from peeps in our Membership community, get help finding a new job, or find others on your desired career path.
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