Issue #9 - Even Big and Powerful Companies Kill Projects

It has been a long time since my last newsletter.

Recently, I was overwhelmed with moving homes and an intense workload. Much like my podcast, this newsletter is deeply personal and reflects my core thoughts and identity. 

And during this time, I did not have the “mental time” to stop and write. I am sorry about that.

I am now back in full force with my writing, and I hope this edition provides you with valuable insights.

In This Issue

  • What we can learn from Apple canceling its US$ 15 billion electric car project
  • New Online Course: Assessment and Recovery of Troubled Projects
  • AI-Driven PM Masterclass reaches its 5th edition
  • Will AI become able to understand, react, and mimic human emotions?
  • AI Venture Lab and AI Certification Program
  • Webinar series “Revolutionizing Projects”
  • Two personal milestones I would love to share with you

The Rise and Fall of Project Titan

Apple is big. Better yet, Apple is gigantic. They have the ability to assemble the finest minds, professionals, equipment, machinery, and everything necessary to ensure a flawlessly executed project.

And last month, they canceled their most ambitious project: Project Titan, a whopping 15 billion US dollar project aiming to create a new revolutionary electric car.

Started as the pinnacle of Apple’s Mobility concept, the project encountered numerous roadblocks over the years, including the 2021 departure of Apple car chief Doug Field.

In 2022, a report from The Information outlined how Apple struggled with staff turnover, constantly changing plans, and internal skepticism, clearly demonstrating the trouble ahead.

Despite their vast resources, the project faced so many challenges that ultimately led to its cancellation. There are hundreds of articles with speculations on what happened. Remember that Apple is so secretive that it never even confirmed the project's existence. Take a look at this New York Times article, which provides some more details.

Recognizing a project in crisis is a challenge in itself.

At its core, a project gets into trouble when the deviation between the acceptable and actual limits exceeds our tolerance, setting the project on a path that could inevitably lead to failure.

In such cases, it is necessary to be bold in making the decision not to proceed.

Troubled projects have always fascinated me. In fact, the first article I wrote on the subject back in 2007 remains my most celebrated article, having been translated into several languages. This month, I realized a long-held desire by launching my new course, "Assessment and Recovery of Troubled Projects."

I am delighted to have launched this course, especially since discussions about failure or crisis are often avoided. People tend to focus solely on success.

But, returning to Project Titan - there are always two sides to the same coin.

I am not sure if AI was one of the additional reasons for the cancelation of Titan or vice versa. What I know for sure is that this decision opened up even more resources for Apple to focus its energy on AI.

According to K. Venkatesh Prasad, the senior vice president and chief innovation officer at the Center for Automotive Research:

“This is not the end. This is just the beginning of the game. This is a very exciting reset in so many different ways.”

Shifting resources to AI might make a lot of sense for Apple.

Apple Intelligence, described as the personal intelligence system for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, promises to combine the power of generative models with personal context, resulting in an experience that is not only more "intelligent" but also more useful and relevant.

Suppose the Apple Intelligence Project delivers its expected results as many analysis say. In that case, it will be a perfect case study to showcase how the ability to know when to say "enough" and adapt to changing scenarios is crucial for success.

By ending a project that was on borrowed time and shifting focus to AI, they opened a great opportunity to make a turnaround of a “flat-footed position” in the generative AI race. This move could be Apple's chance to redefine the tech landscape one more time.

Let me emphasize once again:

Focus is crucial. In fact, focus is everything.

Without it, you won't be able to achieve your desired outcomes.

Ultimately, Apple's decision to pivot from Project Titan to AI could become a brilliant strategic move.

As they channel their immense resources into developing cutting-edge AI technologies, the innovation potential is limitless.

Apple’s journey is far from over. It is merely entering a new phase. One that could see them revolutionize the tech world once more.

One point is clear as we watch this unfold:

In innovation, endings are just new beginnings.

So why am I talking about AI in this context?

Product development cycles have become shorter and shorter. Technology is moving at a mind-blowing speed. With the onset of AI, newer tools are disrupting project management models in a number of ways. My dear friend Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez describes this perfectly in his recent Harvard Business Review article.

First, AI is being used to automate tasks that were previously done manually. This can, in theory, free up project managers to focus on more strategic tasks like social and team skills and responding to changes and potential crises.

Second, AI is being used to analyze and support decision-making. Recently, I delivered a talk at the PMI Symposium 2023 about disruptive uses of ChatGPT in Project Management, and the audience was shocked that it is possible to do Monte Carlo Analyses, Portfolio Management, and all sorts of data-driven decisions in a matter of seconds.

AI can analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns that would be difficult for humans to see. This can help project managers make better decisions about project scope, scheduling, and resources.

Third, AI is being used to streamline processes. AI can automate repetitive tasks, prepare reports, approve timesheets, payments, etc.

There is an endless set of possibilities, even more so in the VUCA world we are living in now.

While AI offers several benefits for project management, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed. One challenge is that AI systems can be complex and difficult to understand. This can make it difficult for project managers to trust the results of AI-powered decisions. Sometimes, it is incredibly hard for you to explain to others some of the analysis and decisions the tool provides, requiring you to have a deeper understanding of how machine learning algorithms work and produce outputs.

Another challenge is security. AI systems can be hacked. This means that project managers need to take steps to protect their data and systems from cyberattacks. Several actors in the business ecosystem want to get your data to leverage competitive advantage or even to get a ransom to decrypt your own project data.

Finally, there are biases, problems with data, legal and regulatory challenges, misinformation, scalability, and many other challenges we already discussed in previous editions.

If we want to use AI seriously, we must do it properly. The truth is that AI is disrupting both waterfall and agile project management models.

We have come a long way from the debate of which is best: Agile or Waterfall. Each approach has its own benefits and challenges, and there is no best or worst option. Each case is a different case. And on top of that, artificial intelligence can be applied in both cases and, at the same time, can completely disrupt both.

What Has Been on My Radar Recently?

Nvidia has become the world's most valuable company globally

NVIDIA has emerged as the most valuable company globally, a position traditionally held by Apple and Microsoft in recent years.

Its stock has soared as Wall Street recognizes its technology as the driving force behind the AI revolution, which continues to grow exponentially.

It's worth noting that NVIDIA was once known for producing graphics boards for gaming computers.

And for me, as a project manager, it is relatively easy to see what is coming when you combine brilliant people with a mountain of money: disruptive innovation will soar!

Generative AI Predicted to Boost U.S. Job Productivity by 80%

I recently reviewed new AI research by Google, which indicates that around 80% of jobs in the U.S. could see increased productivity with generative AI. This technology enhances task efficiency while maintaining quality.

This article is interesting because it presents almost the opposite view of other research on this topic, such as the ones by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and others.

“The Perfect Days”

I recently shared a social media post about a movie I watched that deeply resonated with me. It's called "The Perfect Days."

The main character, Hirayama, cleans public toilets in Tokyo and lives in simplicity and daily tranquility. With joy in simple things, Hirayama’s position towards life makes us think about what happiness and success truly are.

Koji Yakusho as Hirayama in “The Perfect Days.” Credit: Master Mind, Spoon and Wenders Images.

This Award-winning Japanese film reflects on humanity amidst all the chaos we face, especially with the insanely fast advancement of AI-related technologies.

You can watch the trailer here.

I really hope you like it as much as I did.

Quick Announcements

New Online Course: Assessment and Recovery of Troubled Projects

Since many years ago, one of my biggest desires was to pack some of my professional experiences at the United Nations and as a leader and advisor in very complex and troubled projects in a course that could be accessible to the public in general and not only to the organizations I work with.

Now, the course is ready, and you can enroll today.

I decided to offer 40% off the course and its bundles. This is an excellent opportunity to grasp the dynamic world of troubled projects with a special introductory offer.

Watch the trailer

You can access some of the free classes in this YouTube playlist on my channel.

For those who find it financially challenging, remember that I released the Scholarship Program, and you can apply to get this course for free or at a discounted rate. Since the program Scholarship and Financial Aid began, people from several countries have received scholarship grants totaling US$23,083.00.

In light of the recent climate disaster in southern Brazil, I am also extending the scholarship to those working directly with the tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul and other affected areas. To be considered, you just need to apply and explain your work in the region. This extension recognizes the critical importance of addressing climate change, which creates tragedies like this, highlighting the vital role of crisis management and project management in preserving human life.

Once again, this was made possible thanks to the contributions of paid students and attendees of the AI masterclass. I dedicate many of the financial proceeds from these initiatives to support those in need.

5th Edition of the AI-Driven Project Management Revolution Masterclass

The AI-Driven Project Management Revolution Masterclass concluded last Thursday and was a tremendous success!

Despite our busy schedules, Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez and I have decided to open one final session for 2024, scheduled for December 17th and 18th.

You can enroll now and secure a 20% discount with coupon code COHORT6 until August 15th at 11:59 PM PT.

The Masterclass is a unique opportunity to learn, discuss, and network with like-minded professionals and high-profile guest speakers. You'll explore trends, tools, legal aspects, and other related topics to drive positive change in projects through AI.

Will AI become able to understand, react, and mimic human emotions?

My dear friend André Barcaui and I recently released a new article at the London School of Economics Business Review called “Artificial emotional intelligence will have wide-ranging impacts on society.”

Artificial emotional intelligence promises to revolutionise the way companies do business. With it, robots will be able to understand, react to and mimic human emotions. Ricardo Viana Vargas and André Barcaui discuss how the technology will affect healthcare, the workplace and personal relationships.

LSE Business Review

The article explores the promises and challenges associated with the potential development of technologies that can understand, react to, and mimic human emotions.

It is a new, fantastic, and, at the same time, scary world we need to understand.

This month, Antonio and I were very excited to share two major announcements with you: the launch of our AI Venture Lab and the introduction of the AI Certification Program in partnership with APMG.

Our Venture Lab is designed to empower and elevate startups, embodying our commitment to revolutionizing project management through innovative AI solutions. You can learn more about the venture lab here.

Together with Antonio, we bring expertise, insights, and resources to support tech startups, project management consultancies, and established businesses looking to integrate AI into their operations.

Additionally, we're thrilled to introduce the AI-Driven Project Manager (AIPM) certification, developed in partnership with APMG International.

This certification, created by project managers for project managers, empowers professionals to optimize project outcomes, enhance decision-making processes, and drive efficiency using AI-driven strategies.

It marks a significant step forward in project management practices, embracing AI's transformative potential in today's industry landscape.

More information and the pilot release will be shared later this week.

Webinar Series Revolutionizing Projects: AI Meets Ricardo Vargas and Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

Another initiative related to AI created by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez and me is a new free webinar series, aiming to be an informal and friendly discussion that explores trends, tools, concerns, and everything shaping the future of AI in project management.

We're gearing up for our 3rd edition from 10 AM to 11 AM ET this Friday.

Our webinar is unscripted and takes place every first Friday of the month.

During the session, you can submit your questions and comments. While we may not have answers to everything, we'll strive to address as many as possible.

Participation is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can secure your spot by registering here.

Our last edition had over 2.000 participants on Zoom, with attendees also tuning in from LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. If you missed it, you can watch the recording here.

Two Personal Milestones I Would Love to Share with You

It's been a while since I've done a newsletter, and I wanted to share two significant milestones for me in 2024.

In February, I reached 100,000 subscribers on YouTube and shared this with all of you on social media. As of today, the channel has 108,000 subscribers.

This feat was only possible due to an incredible team of committed people dedicated many hours to planning, producing, and editing content for you. And I would like to use this opportunity to thank those behind the camera from the bottom of my heart! ❤️

The other milestone also revolves around the number 100,000. It's from my LinkedIn Generative AI course, which has 112,000 students to date with a 4.7/5 score.

You can attend the course here.

It's very gratifying for me to deliver valuable and relevant content. In this course, I show you how to incorporate generative AI into your project management work.

More things are coming

Your Voice Matters!

You can also read the previous issues here.

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