Impact of Artificial intelligence on Project Management

Have you been also thinking if project management sector is also ripe for disruption? I have been. Not that basic principles will change but how we do it. Today, we can say that three industrial revolutions hugely improved the living standard and changed the societies in unimaginable ways although it must have been tough at the time to adapt to. We enjoy many benefits of industrial revolutions such as access to energy, fast and reliable transportation, affordable goods due to mass-manufacturing and Internet. No doubt, benefits came with huge cost. Every revolution disrupted the society with changes in work practices, opening new frontiers, introducing uncertainties, at the same time rate of change has been increasing at break neck speed, social systems are struggling to keep up and anything that is couple of years old today seems to lose relevancy.

Technological advances, innovation, cheaper access to computational power and availability of data have made current situation ripe for next revolution. Root of this revolution is digitization as it has enabled us to create a virtual world where we can not only connect to our physical world but see future through predictions.

Fourth industrial revolutions is called by many industry experts as Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution.  It encompasses connected systems, automation of production line consuming  sensor data and intelligence to make decisions based on data. This has opened doors for predictive maintenance, inventory control, improved co-ordination between plant floor and management, and higher shareholder value to better decision making. Good thing is, all the improvements and lesson learned are part of feedback mechanism to gradually improve the results through self learning system that AI will bring changing the way industries produce, manufacture and deliver.

“How does this influence project / product management?”, is the obvious question you will be asking next.

In my opinion, two ways – first is directly in form of improved project management tools and second, indirectly in form of the sector we work in. Let me elaborate a little.

Project management tools incorporate many automation routines but availability of the Internet, access to big data and capabilities of AI offer a powerful combo. How we manage and control project management tasks are going to be influenced by this combo.  Project management tools of future will no longer be simply user driven, somewhat automated but would be connected systems, offering predictions, adding intelligence and always improving through interactions. Project plans would integrate with calendars, finance systems, procurement systems, risk and issue logs and other task management apps and keep intelligently updating plan and learning all along.  A Siri or Alexa kind of voice activated bot would quickly analyze and answer any question a stakeholder might have. Project planning will be more robust and stakeholders will learn quickly about roadblocks, informing about scheduling risks and prediction based on multiple scenarios with data driven confidence level instead of gut-feels. Project management tool  will be able to schedule meetings based on tasks, include relevant stakeholders, seek input and share updates.

Indirect influence of AI is coming sooner than later. As companies are finding value in data and insights it can provide, Internet of Things (IoT), sensor data and digital transformation of businesses make use of Machine Learning (ML), an essential step to survive Industry 4.0 wave. As AI/ML capable infrastructure and applications are being brought into organizations, these current and future projects would need new project management mind-set.

As teams are becoming agile in nature, project managers are assuming product manager role, organizing work breakdown structure and gathering business requirements would evolve from classic way to  framing the business problem, articulate the value proposition, data collection from data scientist’s point of view, orienting project around business models & algorithm strategy.

Since the discussion is completely altering how business problems could be solved, project manager would need to carefully analyze the problem by asking question, like, could the business problem be solved by other means that are faster and easier to build than AI, understanding the  data and sources, choice of algorithm(s), understanding of biases in the design and working with some new roles like Data Scientists, Statisticians, Domain Experts and Engineers.

In short, it is a new frontier for project managers when dealing with an AI project and project managers got to be more technical and domain aware.

Project management covers many domains and knowledge areas and a project manager is subject matter expert of integrating discipline with deliverables. Technology alone will not ensure success but certain attributes that a PM can offers such as project leadership, stakeholder management, negotiation skills, and empathy would keep him or her an indispensable for the business.

To summarize, my take is project managers will get a lot of assistance in way of better and improved project management tools, letting them focus on what is critical. Role will evolve from managing and controlling to collaborating and contributing while managing the stakeholder expectations.  Project managers who will succeed in Industry 4.0 revolution will likely be those who manage to embrace the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning aspects of the business needs, being technically savvy, and seeing how a solution can add value not only to business but also to the data engineering and data science teams.

25 Rules for Life

PRINCIPLES OF ADULT BEHAVIOR by John Perry Barlow

  1. Be patient. No matter what.
  2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, never blame.
    Say nothing behind another’s back you’d be unwilling to say, in exactly the same tone and language, to his face.
  3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
  4. Expand your sense of the poesible.
  5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
  6. Expect no more of anyone than you yourself can deliver.
  7. Tolerate ambiguity.
  8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
  9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than whom is right.
  10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
  11. Give up blood sports.
  12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. Md never endanger the life of another.
  13. Never lie to anyone for any reason.
  14. Learn the needs of those around you and reepect them.
  15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
  16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
  17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
  18. Never let your errors pass without admission.
  19. Become less suspicious of joy.
  20. Understand hmility.
  21. Forgive.
  22. Foster dignity.
  23. Live memorably.
  24. Love yourself.
  25. Endure.
John Perry Barlow was an American poet and essayist, a cattle rancher, and a cyberlibertarian political activist who had been associated with both the Democratic and Republican parties. Wikipedia
Died: February 7, 2018, San Francisco, CA

Quotes on Leadership from Twitter

Here is some of wisdom tweeted by my favorite people:

  1. Stay on track. Don’t give your critics the ammunition they expect. – Larry Weidel
  2. Your ability to build & lead team to solve complex problems will define you as a leader, deal maker and innovator. – Tim Sanders
  3. Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods. – Vala Afshar
  4. Impatience only makes you look week.  It is a principal impediment to power. – Robert Greene
  5. Learning is NOT NOT NOT a linear process!!!!!!! – Tom Peters
  6. Stop what you are doing and decide to do something of long term value! What can you do today, that will have an impact file years from now. – James Shepherd

How to Receive Constructive Feedback

20160224_165321-01 Receiving feedback in the workplace isn’t always easy. Sometimes it can be hard to take constructive (or negative) feedback and turn it into a positive response. If you have received feedback that was not up to your expectations, the last thing you want to do is cause an emotional outburst. Here are some top tips on how you can control yourself with negative feedback, avoid confrontation and utilize feedback to become a better employee.

  1. Let your boss express his or her ideas fully: always be sure to let your boss finish what she/he is saying and do your best to understand what is being said. Paraphrasing exactly what you are being told and making sure to let the other person finish is very important. This way you can demonstrate that you’ve heard their opinion and that they had full opportunity to express their opinion.
  2. Always evaluate feedback: Looking for particular reasons for a particular feedback you got is important. Be sure to look at the situation and examine some of the underlying aspects. If your boss has expressed feedback in an emotional outburst, for example, you may want to consider some of the other factors like he/she being under overwhelming pressure from management or poor conditions at home.
  3. Keep yourself in check: Responding to feedback with a negative response can put your job growth prospects in danger. Be sure to keep yourself in check with your nonverbal responses and with the emotion in your voice.
  4. Work to alter behavior: the only way that you can use negative feedback is to work at altering your behavior. Use feedback to find workplace goals and then avoid certain behaviors to become a more effective employee.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification: If you are unsure of the specifics of negative feedback be sure to ask a number of clarifying questions on how you can improve or specific actions that you are doing that could be causing inefficiency. A good boss will be able to identify a number of alternatives to your behavior or to your workplace practices.

Use these top tips when receiving feedback from your boss so that you can use it to the fullest extent.

Further reading:

You choose the title of this post

Reading a magazine’s very last page and very last item sounded very familiar to me in a different context. It quoted Emma-Jayne Winson, the first female jockey to win the Queen’s Plate, Canada’s oldest thoroghbred race, in 2007. Here it is from May 2015 issue of Canadian Business.

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Ask a jockey: Is it hard to build a relationship with a horse you’ve just met?

“When I took lessons, I remember complaining that I wanted to ride this horse every week, and I never got the same horse. I always got a differet one. But being on horses that maybe I didn’t get along with taught me to be a better rider and to communicate better with animals that weren’t necessarily on the same page. It’s amazing how you can assimilate something so simple into everyday life.”

Now relate this story to the times when you wanted certain key people in your team, but couldn’t; or had to operate with constraints that you felt were slowing you down. I believe every challenge shapes us to be bit more flexible, innovative, disciplined, collaborative and resilient.

One mantra helps instead of complaining or whining, it is change the mindset. Accept that it is not an ideal situation (rarely ideal conditions exist in any environment, be it business or social), but how can you make the best use of it and what way you are going to learn from it. Usually, all such circumstances become good stepping stones.

A picture is worth a thousand words

 Don’t get stuck on design without looking into user experience

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Don’t start refinement too early or else you may miss out best solution

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How random data can be interpreted depends upon experience and creativity

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Always remember, keep is succinct as much as possible

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Effective

Credit pictures – Internet. If any of the above shared image is owned by you, please send me complete info and source of image, I will gladly mention credit on this page.

5 Leadership Quotes

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It all comes down to the decisions a leader makes. I believe following 5 quotes will inspire you as well.

  1. Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford
  2. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Ben Franklin
  3. Diversity in counsel, unity in command. – Cyrus the Great
  4. Chance favors the prepared mind. – Louis Pasteur
  5. Deliberate often. Decide once. – Latin proverb