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Simply 'doing' project management is outdated: what we need for a digital transformation

The digital transformation has long ceased to be a theory and is once again very much in the focus of public discussion in the wake of the federal election. Artificial intelligence, cloud computing, connected devices, autonomous mobility, and other digital technologies are already changing the telecommunications industry. The age of digital networking is not only generating new business models, however. It also requires a new type of project management that relies on agile, cross-divisional teams and calls for consultant personalities with skills surpassing mere process management. They bring deep professional knowledge to their teams and inspire. The Center Strategic Projects – CSP for short – trains the leaders of tomorrow by developing the appropriate skills to shape digital transformation successfully. 

The traditional tasks of project managers used to be knowing and utilizing a company's processes, planning projects according to the waterfall model, and controlling a project with traffic light reports. However, in a world characterized by rapid technological leaps and disruptions, such process-based management is no longer sufficient to focus on direct customer benefits.

standing man holding his tie

Nowadays, the traditional, process-oriented project manager needs to bring more knowledge-driven impulses to the table. © Article_Reiner Prozessmanager_hunters-race-MYbhN8KaaEc-unsplash - Copy © Hunters Race/Unsplash

This shift has fundamentally changed the way projects are run. Today, teams work in an agile manner, saying goodbye to rigid requirement specifications and reacting flexibly to changing requirements during the project. They are cross-functional depending on the project goal, with the right experts forming the required team. These teams usually have very different backgrounds, use diverse working methods, and bring a lot of creative ideas. 

From a mere process manager to a servant & inspirational leader

How does this change affect the role of Project Managers? The relevance of their administrative position managing processes is lost. Instead, a leader's role is redefined by the knowledge-driven contributions that each project participant makes. Therefore, professional expertise is indispensable. Leadership qualities are still in demand, of course; but in less of a purely process-related quality.

A contemporary, digitally-influenced mindset combines professional know-how with the ability to form and lead heterogeneous teams. In day-to-day business, project managers consistently focus on customer benefits and empower their team to contribute the maximum value in terms of content. They are not classic superiors who exercise control through a rigid hierarchy but supporters who build a stage for their employees to succeed, motivators, and creative inspirers. That sounds like a big, all-encompassing task – and it is. Yet with a new mindset, such transformation can be achieved step-by-step.

The role of the CSP

seated man, who is holding a tablet displaying diagrams

At the CSP, we place value on training content leadership. © Article_Rolle_CSP_adeolu-eletu-unRkg2jH1j0-unsplash.jpg ©Adeolu Eletu/Unsplash

As a trusted advisor within the corporation, the CSP has a unique role to play: our aspiration is no less than to drive forward the digital transformation in Germany with Deutsche Telekom. Our main task is the development of personalities who have the right skills to lead our company into the future as inspirational leaders. To achieve this, we rely on three modules:

Strategic and technical expertise

Knowledge is the basis for success – more so in the digital age. And the deeper this knowledge is, the better. Therefore, the development of knowledge clusters is just as important to us as the targeted recruiting of strategists, visionaries, and experts. Their knowledge, thoughts, and experience are valuable for others and set innovations in motion. Thus, in addition to the classic strategy consultant profiles, we also recruit bright minds in a newly founded Digital Team who deviate from the classic consultant profile but carry technical expertise. At the CSP, we offer them the opportunity to shape the topics they are passionate about, enabling them to drive forward the digital transformation in the company as thought leaders.

Data-driven consulting

Data volumes are growing, and they are more valuable than ever as a basis for new technological development and as a cutting-edge foundation for strategic decisions. Yet to draw business-relevant insights from data, two things are needed: access to the data and the expertise of analyzing and interpreting it.

Therefore, we see it as our task to ensure access to essential data sources, to introduce new tools such as Microsoft PowerBI, and support with accompanying training offers on analysis techniques. Additionally, we organize hackathons and competitions to promote application-based learning in groups and to commonly advance into new subject areas. To make data-driven consulting a part of everyday life, we are building a data analytics community that connects all relevant initiatives and brings them out from behind the scenes.

As a result, Project Managers are becoming more and more 'data literate' and empowered to understand their clients’ business in detail while recognizing new and future developments earlier on and introducing well-founded, data-based impulses into projects.

Servant & inspirational leadership

Project managers and teams need a new and collective mind shift to use expertise and data to develop their own approaches and opinions and to inspire. Fancy presentations, hierarchy levels, and approval processes should play a subordinate role. Professional competence, time for discussion, freedom for bold ideas, flexible working methods, and a culture that allows mistakes are more important. Furthermore, next to the inspiring role of project managers, they are tasked with creating a working environment that enables maximum productivity. Being agile starts as a mindset.

We are already in the middle of the digital transformation of our company and society as a whole. What makes it even more exciting for us, as CSP, is to help shape it and to drive innovation forward. Because professional competencies and an agile mindset are more in demand than ever before so that the digital transformation takes shape in a practical way.