Kris Reynolds worked on the Nestlé Globe 2001 programme. That might seem like a long time ago, but it was a key initiative to make the company into a truly nimble, global organisation. The people on the programme team did not have job titles. It was a team effort to shape the vision of the company for the future. They found single processes, single IT systems and knowledge sharing core to developing their future capabilities. As a result, Reynolds said at the last PMI Global Congress North America in Dallas that Nestlé became the first company to operate in hundreds of countries as if they were operating in just one.

Reynolds presented at the Congress about two trends that he has seen in the project management profession, and what project managers can do to stay ahead of the game.


1. Sharing and collaboration

team work doing puzzles

As he experienced in the Nestlé Globe team, sharing and working together collaboratively is a big deal – more important now with global teams than perhaps it was even 10 years ago. It was also an overarching theme of the 2011 Congress. Reynolds talked about the massive growth in social media, the internet and mobile phones. Project managers needs to be consistent and speedy with their delivery. “Stay dynamic,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of new technology. Don’t let perfection be an excuse for not moving faster.”

Reynolds recommended that project managers focus on quality communication. This builds confidence and trust. He didn’t talk about tools, but project management software has a role to play in ensuring the messages to executive staff are appropriate and of good quality. Software like Seavus Project Viewer can make it easier for project managers to get their message across and display information in ways that stakeholders can easily understand.

joyous team dicussing business in office.
“As project managers, we really need to be thinking about the audience for our communication,” he said. Reynolds recommended focusing on the format, frequency and level of detail in executive reports and information distributed to project stakeholders. He had an interesting take on the project report: “No one is asking you to predict the future,” he said, although I imagine some project sponsors do expect this.




2. Workforce and culture

diverse work team culture
The second area that Reynolds presented on was the changes in the workforce and culture that we have seen over the last decade.

“The US Department of Labor estimates that today’s learners will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38,” he said. That’s a lot of jobs, and it reflects the fact that people are leaving education earlier as a university is no longer a guarantee of a ‘good’ job. It also reflects the fact that companies are taking on interns and people on short term contracts instead of investing in permanent workers. I imagine that it is also a symptom of the fact that young people can be choosy about the type of company they work for.

For project managers, this means that we will have to onboard new project team members more quickly. We will also have to record activity more closely, to ensure a smooth handover when staff leaves.
“Sixty percent of employees intend to leave their organisations as the economy improves,” he said, although this was a statistic from 2009 so I’m not sure whether that actually happened – or whether people still don’t have enough confidence to move on.

There was a show of hands from the audience: there were more people who had left work of their own volition than had been let go. As a result, this can be disruptive to a project team.

team working reviewing graphs pie charts
Reynolds suggested that the solution to staff leaving or being disgruntled and job hunting, if they hadn’t quite got up the courage to leave yet, was to ensure they were working on a high performing team. Train new starters, create orientation guides, have an onboarding strategy, he suggested.

He recommended a “collaborate and attack” leadership style instead of the traditional command and control style (is anyone still using this, outside of rank-led organisations?). “Just having corporate values is not enough,” he said. “Too often there are differences between what the company says they’ll do and how they act. This causes ambiguity.” In other words, do what you say you will and act with integrity.