Cracking the Excellence Code


The Connected Future Business Culture:

The Great Project Management Accelerator



By Dr. Harold Kerzner

Senior Executive for Project Management
The International Institute for Learning (IIL)
New York and Florida, USA


Dr. Al Zeitoun, PgMP, PMI Fellow

Global Future of Work Executive
Siemens DISW
Ohio and Maryland USA


Historically, most project management textbooks defined excellence as a continuous stream of successfully managed projects.  Many of the definitions of excellence focused more so on how the contractors used the tools and techniques of project and program management rather than the impact on the customers and stakeholders.  Articles have been written discussing how work breakdown structures, statements of work, and capturing best practices lead to excellence.

Today we realize that there are many components of excellence.  Excellence is now being defined in business as well as behavioral terms.  Behavioral excellence has become a much more critical component than in the past because of AI.  Excellence is not just in implementing the tools and techniques effectively, but also in understanding the true value of project management as seen by customers and stakeholders.

Excellence organizationally and personally is now a journey.  In the context of project management, going on that journey has been changing overtime and especially fast in the last few years.  The mega technology disruptions have contributed to the change and the recent potentially positive scaling with generative AI is no exception.

In this article we will tackle a few elements pertaining to the changing views and approaches to excellence in delivering the promises of projects and programs and question some of the traditional views of leading and driving teamwork in this digital age.  We would like to crack the code on how excellence has changed over time and what future leaders would need to equip themselves with as part of their new expanded toolbox.

Excellence in project delivery has usually been tied to consistency in utilization of certain practices and supporting behaviors time and again. This is not enough in the future as the patterns and the ways of working will continue to change at a fast pace and what might be a best practice today might be challenged as the project team goes to work in the morning.  This intense level of adaptability is empowered by technology and the merging of the virtual and real worlds has become the norm.  Technology is changing not only the content of the project management forms, guidelines, templates, and checklists we are using today, but how they will be used in the future.  Simply stated, technology is helping us understand the true value of excellence in project management.

The AI-Enabled Future

Even though, the hot topic of AI, based on large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, is gaining major attention, the concept of AI itself was first proposed by British mathematician, Alan Turing, in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”.  We reached a state where the educating of AI that we achieved, coupled with the massive amount and higher quality of data, got us to a point of impact creation on initiatives delivery that is meaningful and disruptive.

To support the future of project management and the new ways of achieving excellence, AI-enabled project work:

  • Creates efficiencies that were not possible previously
  • Levels the playing field where the basics of planning and executing projects can easily and quickly be covered
  • Expedites the onboarding of project teams to get them to performing faster and more smoothly


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Kerzner, H. and Zeitoun, A. (2023). Cracking the Excellence Code, The Great Project Management Accelerator, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/pmwj135-Nov2023-Kerzner-Zeitoun-cracking-the-excellence-code.pdf

About the Authors

Harold Kerzner, Ph.D., MS, M.B.A

Senior Executive Director for Project Management
International Institute of Learning
New York & Florida, USA


 Dr. Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director for Project Management for the International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University. He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers and has had published more than 60 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. Some of his books are (1) Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling; (2) Project Management Metrics, KPIs and Dashboards, (3) Project Management Case Studies, (4) Project Management Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence, (5) PM 2.0: The Future of Project Management, (6) Using the Project Management Maturity Model, and (7) Innovation Project Management.

He is a charter member of the Northeast Ohio PMI Chapter.

Dr. Kerzner has traveled around the world conducting project management lectures for PMI Chapters and companies in Japan, China, Russia, Brazil, Singapore, Korea, South Africa, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland, Croatia, Mexico, Trinidad, Barbados, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Venezuela, Columbia, United Arab Emirates, France, Italy, England, and Switzerland. He delivered a keynote speech at a PMI Global Congress on the future of project management.

His recognitions include:

  • The University of Illinois granted Dr. Kerzner a Distinguished Recent Alumni Award in 1981 for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • Utah State University provided Dr. Kerzner with the 1998 Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the field of project management.
  • The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute gives out the Kerzner Award once a year to one project manager in Northeast Ohio that has demonstrated excellence in project management. They also give out a second Kerzner Award for project of the year in Northeast Ohio.
  • The Project Management Institute (National Organization) in cooperation with IIL has initiated the Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award given to one project manager yearly anywhere in the world that demonstrated excellence in project management.
  • The Project Management Institute also gives out four scholarships each year in Dr. Kerzner’s name for graduate studies in project management.
  • Baldwin-Wallace University has instituted the Kerzner Distinguished Lecturer Series in project management.
  • The Italian Institute of Project Management presented Dr. Kerzner with the 2019 International ISIPM Award for his contributions to the field of project management.

Dr. Harold Kerzner can be contacted at hkerzner@hotmail.com


Dr. Al Zeitoun, PgMP, PMI Fellow

Global Future of Work Executive
Siemens DISW
Ohio & Maryland USA


Dr. Al Zeitoun is a Future of Work, business optimization, and operational performance excellence thought leader with global experiences in strategy execution. His experiences encompass leading organizations; delivering their Enterprise Digital and Business Transformation; guiding fitting frameworks implementations; and using his empathy, engineering insights, and collaboration strengths to successfully envision new business models and execute complex missions across diverse cultures globally.

In his current role with Siemens, he is a Senior Director of Strategy responsible for driving the global program management practices, Master Plan governance, and enabling the Strategy Transformation processes and priorities.

In his position, as the Executive Director for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Abu Dhabi, UAE, he was responsible for creating the strategy execution framework, achieving transformation benefits, governance excellence, and creating the data analytics discipline necessary for delivering on the $40B complex country energy mission roadmap.

At the McLean, USA HQ of Booz Allen Hamilton, Dr. Zeitoun strategically envisioned and customized digitally enabled EPMO advisory, mapped playbooks, and capability development for clients’ Billions of Dollars strategic initiatives. Furthermore, he led the firm’s Middle East North Africa Portfolio Management and Agile Governance Solutions.

With the International Institute of Learning, Dr. Zeitoun played a senior leader and global trainer and coach. He was instrumental in driving its global expansions, thought leadership, and operational excellence methodology to sense and shape dynamic ways of working across organizations worldwide. He speaks English, Arabic, and German and enjoys good food, travel, and volunteering. Dr. Al Zeitoun can be contacted at  zeitounstrategy@gmail.com