Advantages and Risks for PMs in the Gig Economy

PM ChangeAgent Commentary by Stacy Goff.
The first 20 years of the 21st century has seen increased interest in ‘The Gig economy’. This has been estimated to be in full force by 2020 or 2025. Because we are now less than a year away from the first of those targets, let’s imagine we have perfected all the actions needed to make PPM successful in the Gig Economy, and explore what it is like! (PPM = Program/Project Manager). Status Check: We are in the Gig Economy when…

A. The most successful enterprises accomplish much of their project and program work through contracts.
B. A high percentage of the best Gig PPMs successfully bid on well-planned contracts.
C. Project teams are staffed in the same way; they bid on projects or programs as team members.
D. Most meetings are virtual, using three-dimensional augmented reality immersion.
E. Of course, all communication is supported by 5G (Fifth Generation) wireless systems.

What are the advantages of this brave new world?

A. Enterprises that engage proven ‘Gig PPMs’ consistently get superior results, faster, and at lower cost.
B. Those project and program professionals who have mastered all needed competences thrive.
C. Executives who contract with them trust them more than their internal staff, an unfortunate situation.
D. Gig Agents, operating like movie star agents, match professionals with open gigs—for a fee.
E. Enterprises can access ‘Gig Reviews,’ much like on Amazon, to see performance reviews of candidates.
F. The best contract PPMs earn GIGantic fees, based in part on project/program performance rewards.

What are the risks/threats in this Gig Economy?

A. If your PPM candidate has merely passed a knowledge-based exam, and has little relevant experience, then he or she will consistently fail. Demonstrated competence and performance, against advanced and complete baselines, are required to manage both contractor and enterprise risks.

B. If your leadership & interpersonal skills, and strategic thinking & business savvy are not exceptionally high, then you will consistently fail in the Gig economy.

C. If relevant application area experience (e.g. Aerospace, or “Big Oil”), and experience with the initiative’s national languages and cultures are low, then you are a risk! Savvy executives will avoid you as a PPM candidate.

D. If Gig PPMs succeed by burning out their teams, then they will have difficulty collecting an effective team in future projects or programs.

E. If a PPM spends all their time in gigs, then she/he will fail to do the marketing and bidding needed to get more gigs. And the converse: marketing and bidding brings in no direct revenue. Reputation, or an alliance with a Gig Agent, are smart risk mitigations.

F. If your PPM candidates are not engaged in continuous learning, then their job will be lost to Artificial Intelligence—or to candidates who demonstrate their continuous learning, by sharing their freshest insights with others.

The Gig Economy can be risky, or it can be a market differentiator for the smartest enterprises. And it can be especially useful for project and program managers, and the organizations that employ them. This is because our practitioners are the smart secret to well-managed organizational change, and to high business benefit. The Gig Economy will, as it matures (and as decision-makers mature in its use), highlight the talents of the smartest Executives and Managers, and the best project and program managers.

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