PMI Talent Triangle® Has Changed! The Complete Guide To Know How This Impacts You

PMP talent triangle has changed. Here's how.

First, the PMP Examination Content Outline (ECO doc) changed, then PMP exam changed, and now PMI Talent Triangle is changing.

I’m sure you have many questions, such as –

  • How does this impact my PMP preparation?
  • How does this change the way I report PDUs after attaining PMP?

We shall answer these questions in a bit.

First, let’s understand what’s going on.

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What is PMI Talent Triangle®?

The world is constantly changing. New industries, new types of projects, new methodologies, new approaches.

This means that the project managers need to constantly upgrade their skills to learn the newer ways of managing projects.

One of PMI’s goals for PMP certification is to keep it updated with the latest and evolving best practices of project management. So the PMP professionals have the knowledge to prepare themselves for the industry demand.

PMI understood that the industry demanded more from a project manager than just the ability to manage projects.

Hence, in December 2015, they introduced a new concept: PMI Talent Triangle.

Let’s call it PMI Talent Triangle® 1.0, now that we have a new version.

PMI Talent Triangle 1.0

PMI Talent Triangle 1.0 introduced in 2015

It shows the 3 key areas (Image courtesy PMI.org) where the project manager is expected to contribute to the organization, including areas beyond the strict boundary of project execution.

1. Technical Project Management

This represents the core competency of the project manager.

To be able to manage projects in terms of various knowledge areas, such as cost management, scheduling, procurement, risk management, and so on.

This is a critical skill set required to efficiently and effectively manage a project.

PMI defined the following skills & competencies from the project manager under Technical Project Management arm –

  • Agile practice
  • Data gathering and modeling
  • Earned value management
  • Governance
  • Lifecycle management
  • Performance management
  • Requirements management and traceability
  • Risk management
  • Schedule management
  • Scope management
  • Time, budget, cost estimation

2. Leadership

Gone are the days when the project manager would use command-and-control ways to manage projects.

Especially in domains where the work is done by people using their gray cells and not machinery.

Teams need to be led more than managed.

So the leadership skills are an essential part of project manager’s armament. The manager must be able to let the team see the vision of the project, motivate them to work towards the greater good.

Be an inspirer.

A coach.

3. Strategic and Business Management

This could be a tiny bit outside the core competency expected from the project manager.

The idea is that a project is connected to the organizational strategic and business goals. And thus, the project manager must be able to not only understand how the project contributes to the business, but also be able to contribute to the business.

Such understanding is essential in the fast-changing world, where projects might need to pivot quickly based on changing stakeholders needs, business needs, or even market conditions.

It is essential that a project manager be able to analyze factors such as the market conditions, legal and regulatory compliance, and so on.

PMI defined the following skills & competencies from the project manager under Strategic and Business Management arm –

  • Benefits management and realization
  • Business acumen
  • Competitive analysis
  • Customer relationship and satisfaction
  • Legal and regulatory compliance
  • Market awareness and conditions
  • Operational functions, such as finance, marketing

Why is PMI Talent Triangle® changing?

Let’s call the new one, PMI Talent Triangle® 2.0

The official answer for the reason for change is, “to help project professionals navigate this changing world of work and embrace smarter ways of working”.

Which is true, at the high level.

If you took a look at the new names, the reason comes to mind is: To Simplify and clarify.

There could be a difference as per dictionary meaning between the old and new names, but logically, it just make it so simple to understand. And in my view, the nomenclature change is to avoid confusion (I’ll explain in a moment), and to even correct the fitment expectations.

It just feels that the new nomenclature just ‘makes more sense’.

What’s changing?

PMI talent triangle evolution

Image courtesy: PMI.org

Just the names of 3 arms of the Talent Triangle.

And specific skills & competencies that go under each of them.

The arms of the PMI Talent Triangle are renamed as:

  • Ways of Working (formerly Technical Project Management),
  • Power Skills (formerly Leadership), and
  • Business Acumen (formerly Strategic and Business Management).

1. Ways of Working (old: Technical Project Management)

When I read ‘technical project management’ for the very first time, the thought that came into my mind (being from IT background) is the technology management *in addition* to project management.

Do you see the confusion the old nomenclature introduced there?

‘Way of working’ basically means this: More and more projects are using one or other forms of Agile approach, either stand-alone way or in combination with the traditional project management approach.

Which means that as a project manager, you have to be able to understand various aspects of managing projects (Design thinking, for instance). And also, be able to recommend and use specific approaches based on the needs of the project.

2. Power Skills (old: Leadership)

You can draw a clear line (in terms of definition) between a project manager and a leader. Thus, the word ‘leadership’ could indicate that you need to be more of a leader while being a project manager.

Which is sort of true.

However, replace that with ‘power skills’ and mull over how different a project manager with ‘power skills’ be over a project manager with ‘leadership skills’.

To me, power skills mean more of a hands-on approach, while leadership could be hands-off.

The new name ‘Power skills’ does make a lot more sense that way.

It could be just me.

Power skills, by PMI’s own definition, are basically interpersonal skills, just to make it easier to understand –

“These interpersonal skills include collaborative leadership, communication, an innovative mindset, for-purpose orientation, and empathy. Ensuring teams have these skills allows them to maintain influence with a variety of stakeholders – a critical component for making change.”

They could be servant leadership, open communication, mindset transformation, change management, empathy, collaborative leadership and so on.

These are all essential from the perspective of managing diversification, changes, and transformation.

3. Business Acumen (old: Strategic and Business Management)

Again, when I read ‘strategic and business management’ skill for the first time, I wasn’t clear what’s expected from a project manager on this part.

Is she expected to bring in new business, or get more business from existing clients?

Business Acumen, on the other hand, sounds like something that you don’t DO as a project manager, but BE.

What I mean by this becomes clear when you read PMI’s definition of Business Acumen:

“Professionals with business acumen understand the macro and micro influences in their organization and industry and have the function- or domain-specific knowledge – to make good decisions. Professionals at all levels need to be able to cultivate effective decision-making and understand how their projects align with the big picture of broader organizational strategy and global trends.”

Which skills & competencies are expected from the project manager under each of these?

The table here from PMI makes it clear. You can map some of these to the enablers in PMP Examination Content Outline document (download here).

skills and competencies from PMI updated talent triangle

Image courtesy: Talent triangle flier by PMI.org

Now the all important question,

How does this change impact my PMP preparation, or reporting PDUs under CCRS?

Great question,

Short answer: No impact.

For preparing for PMP exam, you just go ahead as you have been preparing till now (if you need help with that, check this out).

For reporting PDUs under the respective Talent Triangle arm,

  • If you are reporting based on a course taken from an organization, ask them the PDU distribution
  • If you are reporting based on your own activities such as creating content, giving a presentation etc., then map your activity under the skills & competency image shown in the previous paragraph and report accordingly.

I did not see any change in the nomenclature at the time of writing this article in the CCRS page, where you report PDUs.

It still reads as Technical, Leadership, and Strategic.

ccrs no change as per new talent triangle

Summary

In Summary, PMI Talent Triangle 2.0 is a good thing.

It makes the expectations from the project manager easier to understand, relate to, and even map with the skills & competencies required.

As the world undergoes tremendous changes, as new technologies (blockchain) and paradigms (crypto) emerge, the size and shape of the products and projects change too.

And PMI’s efforts to align PMP with the industry, keep it relevant, and help project managers get new skills continue as well.

Which, is again, a good thing.

People usually resist change. This one is a pleasant one that PMP aspirants should have no issues accepting.

Cheers!

Shiv Shenoy, PMP

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