10 Genius Project Management Trends You Haven’t Heard of

TODAY’S BUSINESSES are witnessing a tremendous growth and rapid development. There’s now more competition than ever, and a project manager who wants to stand out would have to utilize all the resources at their disposal to deliver quality results at a faster pace.

Project management trends and buzzwords like ‘scrum’, ‘agile’, and ‘lean’ are now in the dictionary of every modern manager. But have you heard about People Analytics, the Monte Carlo Simulation, or taken advantage of project automation?

If you want to be on top of your game, and efficiently manage the activities that will result in the successful delivery of your project – get your pen and paper ready!

1. Networks of Teams ?

In his book Team of Teams, General Stanley McChrystal showed how the US military struggled during the early stages of the Iraq war watching the Al-Qaeda disrupt his army – running circles around them – winning battles.

His solution? Decentralizing authority and creating highly specialized, incredibly well-trained teams. Next, he created an operations group to centralize information, giving all teams access to real-time data about war activities across multiple areas.

Network of teams

Forward-thinking project managers have started to build new structures where traditional hierarchies have been replaced with networks of teams. These units are designed to be decentralized in order to foster innovation and empower the modern workforce.

In networks of teams, people are divided into customer-, marketing-, product-, and mission-focused teams. They’re led by team leaders who are experts themselves.

Networked teams…

  • are autonomous. They set their own goals and make their own decisions, working within an overall strategy or project plan.
  • teach other teams. They hold mini-conferences, meetups, hackathons and similar events to teach and share information with others, creating a learning organization.
  • share talent. Teammates can switch teams on an as-needed basis.

Amazon uses small, focused teams with authority over specific initiatives. This approach is one of Amazon’s organizational strategies to avoid “group think”.

According to a recent report, The new organization: Different by Design, networks of teams have a high degree of empowerment, strong communication skills, and rapid information exchange.

These groups are smaller and comprised of cross-functional members who are all focused on addressing specific project duties. They tap into one of the most valuable assets of the organization: the skills, talent, and strengths of employees.

Read on: [INFOGRAPHIC] Why Your Teamwork Isn’t Working

Networks of teams are paving the way for another project management movement…

…the Holacracy ?

Started in 2009 by Brian Robertson, this movement replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a “peer-to-peer” operating system that increases accountability, transparency, and organizational agility.

The movement’s vision is to distribute authority over its team to empower all employees to take leadership roles and make meaningful decisions.

Read on: Stop Making These Project Management Mistakes


  • Promotes flexible organizational structure by replacing static jobs with dynamic roles.
  • Advocates for meeting formats geared toward action eliminating over-analysis.
  • Removes bureaucracy from decision-making.

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2. The Monte Carlo Method ?

Risk analysis should be a part of every decision we make. When it comes to projects, we are constantly faced with variability, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Even though we have remarkable data in our hands, we can’t accurately predict the future.

Monte Carlo Method (also known as the Monte Carlo Simulation) lets you see every possible outcome of your decision and assess the impact of risk – allowing for better decision-making.

Fun fact: Project managers who find that projects always seem to run late, wrong cost estimates are all too common, and actual results not even close to projections may sometimes feel like they’re dealing with an atomic bomb. The Monte Carlo Method was first used by scientists working on the actual atomic bomb and named the tactic after Monaco’s resort known for its casinos.

This smart method gives the project manager or decision-maker a range of possible outcomes and their probabilities. It shows the extreme and most conservative of possibilities, along with all possible consequences for middle-of-the-road decisions.

Read on: How to Root Out Bias from Your Decision-making Process

How does it work?

The simulation builds examples of possible results by replacing any factor that has fundamental uncertainty with various values. It then recalculates the results over and over again, using a different set of random values each time.

Depending on the number of queries and the ranges, the simulation could involve thousands or tens of thousands of recalculations before it’s complete.

Monte Carlo SimulationImage source

3. People Analytics ?‍?

Imagine knowing:

  • Which team member is more likely to exceed project expectations?
  • What’s the exact moment your project is about to fall apart?
  • Why certain people on your teams quit?
  • Which initiative will be the most successful?

That’s the work of People Analytics. People Analytics got its start in the human resources (HR) department but soon evolved beyond that. It applies statistics, technology, and expertise to large sets of talent data. By doing that, project managers can use the information about you, what you do and why you do it, to shape, guide and inform their decisions.

There is a considerable shift taking place in the market for People Analytics. After years of talking about the opportunity to apply data to people decisions, companies are now stepping up and making the investment.

Josh Bersin, the founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a leading research and advisory services firm, recalls a moment: “I was in a meeting several weeks ago in San Francisco, and we had eight Ph.D. statisticians, engineers, and computer scientists together, all working on People Analytics for their companies. These are serious mathematicians and data scientists trying to apply data science to the people side of their businesses.”

Read on: The Geeks Arrive In HR: People Analytics Is Here by Josh Bersin via Forbes

4. Joint Application Development (JAD) ⛓

JAD is a method originally used for designing a computer-based system, originating from the mid-1970s New York Telephone Co’s development center. Following a series of remarkably successful implementations of this methodology, the pioneer Dan Gielan lectured extensively on the method, its benefits and best practices.

The idea is simple: your project team and your client have a joint development process by involving the client from the very early stages. This allows the client to contribute ideas to the project and also give feedback on how things are progressing. Joint application development relies on the client contribution and holding sessions with team members throughout the entire lifecycle of the project.

Joint Application Development (JAD)

Joint Application Development helps to deliver the best possible project by bringing different parties together giving them a chance to share their views, understand the views of others, and develop the sense of project ownership.

 Read on: Myth-busting Productivity Experiments That Will Change Your Habits Forever

5. Project Management Automation ⚙️

Project management is as much science as it is an art. With a reported 49 percent of companies (and an astonishing 55 percent of B2B companies) using automation in their projects, it sure sounds like automation has finally taken off.

The scope of automation spreads across many disciplines and layers of the project architecture.

Fortune 500 executives spend a fair amount of time thinking how automation is changing the nature of the business, but they rarely wonder how technology will have an impact much closer to home: on their own jobs.

Devin Fidler, the head of Workable Futures Initiative, tackled that question by practice. He developed a prototype informally dubbed iCEO. As the name suggests, iCEO is a virtual management system that automates complex work by dividing it into small individual tasks. It then assigns these micro-tasks to workers using multiple software platforms, such as Uber, oDesk, and email.

But could iCEO manage actual projects? They programmed the automation system to oversee the preparation of a 124-page research report for a prestigious client (a Fortune 50 company). They spent a few hours plugging in the parameters of the project, i.e. structuring the flow of tasks, and then hit play.

iCEO rotated tasks across 23 people from around the world, including the creation of 60 images and graphs, followed by preparation and formatting.

Fidler and his team were amazed by the quality of the result, and the speed at which it was produced. Creating the full report through a traditional management-employee structure would have probably required months to complete, while iCEO did it in a couple of weeks.

However, there’s a growing gap between high-performing companies who are 67 per cent more likely to use a business automation platform – compared to many businesses with 20 or more employees, only 4% of whom are using automation software.

The modern project management is on the verge of transformation, and just like the others, executives face the dilemma of helping to onboard automation solutions – or watch as their roles are automated out of existence.

6. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) ?

PERT charts were developed in the 1950s to help manage the creation of weapons and defense projects for the US Navy. The private sector simultaneously adopted the technique for project management and started to use it to calculate the amount of time it will take to realistically finish any project.

Before the initiation of any project, it is important that your team has an idea of how long it will take to execute it. This is essential because it verifies that the project manager knows exactly how long it would take to get the project completed. It is also an important component on deciding on a budget for the project.

The Pert Technique is a statistical way of representing project milestones. It predicts project completion times, taking into consideration the risk of uncertainty.

PERT predicts project completion times according to these three factors:

  • The most optimistic time (O) – the situation where everything is expected to go right
  • The most pessimistic time (P) – the situation where everything goes wrong
  • The most probable time (M) – the situation where everything happens as expected

The formula for the weighted average is given as:

E = (O + 4M + P)/6

PERT is helpful to project managers as it not only keeps them organized but also estimates the project duration and helps them identify critical components of the project. This gives the project manager a clear picture of where the project is at any given time.

7. Event Chain Methodology ?

A project plan is necessary for efficient project management. However, in the initial stages of a project, complex processes and the many risks involved make it impossible to create an accurate framework.

What’s the solution? Event Chain Methodology. It’s an improbable modeling and schedule network analysis technique that is used to manage events and event chains that influence project schedules.

Event Chain Methodology helps to answer the question: What happens to the project plan when a risk or event occurs?

Event Chain Methodology is based on six main principles:

  • Moment of Risk and State of Activity

The time or moment when an event occurs is a paramount component of the event. Factors that influence tasks are external events that push tasks or activities from one position to another.

  • Event Chains

Event chains are created by external events that can lead to another event and so forth. These event chains have a significant impact on the course of a project.

  • Monte Carlo Simulations

Monte Carlo Simulation is utilized to quantify the collective consequences of the events.

  • Critical Event Chains

Critical chains of events have the potential to impinge on a project the most. By identifying such events at the very beginning, it is possible to diminish the negative effect they have on projects.

  • Performance Tracking With Event Chains

It is important for managers to track the activities in real-time.

  • Event Chain Diagrams

Event Chain Diagrams depict the relationships between external events and tasks, and how the two affect each other.

Event Chain Methology

By identifying these event chains, project managers can:

  • Simplify schedule network analysis models
  • Meet deadlines
  • Create an error-free project schedule
  • Visualize the chain of events that are disturbing the project outcomes

In essence, event chain methodology helps project managers identify and avoid project delays, revenue losses, and overall project failures.

8. Crystal Method ?

The Crystal Method is one of the most lightweight, adaptable approaches to project management. It was developed by Alistair Cockburn whose focus was on the people, community, interaction, talents, skills, and communications – with the belief that these are what have the first-order effect on performance. He says that the Process is important but secondary.

This project management method is often used among businesses with creative talents within their organization. By focusing on the skill sets and traits of your team members, projects are more flexible and far more unique.

The word “crystal” refers to the various facets of a gemstone – each a different face on an underlying core. The underlying core represents principles and values, while each side represents a particular set of elements such as roles, techniques, tools, and standards.

Crystal addresses the realization that each project may require a slightly tailored set of policies, practices, and processes to meet the project’s unique characteristics.

There are seven prevailing characteristic properties defined by the Crystal Method. Cockburn found that an increasing number of these properties in projects made them more likely to succeed. The seven properties of the Crystal Method:

The seven properties of the Crystal Method:

1. Frequent delivery

By having frequent updates, stakeholders will be able to spot problems earlier in the project phase, which helps to avoid a lot of run-ins later on.

2. Reflective improvement

The reflective improvement involves your team taking a break from regular management and trying to find ways to better their processes.

3. Close or osmotic communication

This involves the team being together in a room and getting information to flow quickly throughout the team. Questions can be rapidly answered, and all the team members know what is going on.

4. Personal safety

People in the team must be able to trust each other and feel free to speak up about issues that arise.

5. Focus

Crystal defines two rules for issues that interrupt focus:

  • Set a two-hour period where the team is to have no interruptions.
  • Assign a team member to a project for at least two days before switching to another project.

The ‘focus’ in Crystal expresses both focusing on an individual task and the direction in which the project is heading.

6. Easy access to expert users

Your team should work alongside a person of expertise in the project area who can provide answers to any questions or solutions to rising problems.

7. Technical environment

This involves automated tests, frequent integration, and configuration management. This way, if any changes are made, the errors or breakages can easily be spotted, and problems are less likely to grow.

9. Six Sigma 6️⃣

Six Sigma is a method that provides the project team with the tools to improve the capability of their processes. This leads to fewer defects, improvement in employee morale and profits, and the quality of products or services.

The pioneer of the Six Sigma project management method was Motorola. Their goal was to reduce waste, improve their project processes, and increase profits.

It’s a data-driven method with three essential components:

  • DMAIC – define, measure, analyze, improve, control
  • DMADV – define, measure, analyze, design, and verify
  • DFSS – design for Six Sigma, which can include the other processes mentioned

This three-step project management method is designed to take your project from the planning stage to completion with the idea that a team can solve any seemingly unsolvable problem.

Six sigma graph

First, your team defines a faulty process on which to focus, decided through an analysis of company goals and requirements. This outlines the problem, aims, and deliverables for the project.

Second, the team measures the initial performance of the process.

Third, the team analyzes the process by isolating each input, or potential reason for failure.

Through analysis, your team identifies the reason for process error. This gives them a base to improve system performance, adding the control to the process to ensure that it won’t become ineffective again.

10. Gamification ?

One of the biggest challenges enterprise companies face in project management is encouraging internal collaboration.

Rachel Burger of Capterra, a firm that connects companies with gamification programs, explains that gamification takes the fun of success in video games and brings it to the office – instead of defeating giant orcs, teams come together to defeat a different kind of beast: projects.

The idea is pretty simple: use a game as the model to build rewards around productivity and goals. Your team members can earn levels or badges based on output. In short, work starts to feel more like a game.

Props to you, if you’re a project manager incorporating gamification to increase productivity and communication. Talking of that – there’s a project management tool fittingly called Props To You. The software helps to keep track of tasks and assigns points and badges for completed items. This changes the way employees perceive work or specific activities.

Named the Cool Vendor by Gartner’s project management report, the Research Vice President of Gartner Technical Research says, “… anyone looking for innovative ways to drive better performance on projects or within resource pools should consider Props to You – especially when increased productivity is required.”

Read on: Business Management Trends You Should Quit In 2017

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Are you ready for these project management trends?

Shaking up the world of project management as you know it may sound scary, but with the rapid acceleration in the business sector, the old ways just don’t cut it anymore. Maybe it’s time to try something new – if not entirely, then there’s definitely some tricks and methods to learn from these new trends.