Interview with Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez


Projects are the Economic Engine of Our Times

Interview with Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

Author, International Executive, Thought Leader
Former Chair, PMI Board of Directors

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)
International Correspondent, PM World Journal

Introduction to the interviewee

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez (antonionietorodriguez.com), a thought leader, author, practitioner and professor. He is the creator of concepts such as the Hierarchy of Purpose, featured by Harvard Business Review, or the Project Manifesto, which argues that projects are the lingua franca of the business and personal worlds from the C-suite to managing your career or relationships.

He is the author of “The Project Revolution” (LID, 2019). “Lead Successful Projects” (Penguin, 2019) and “The Focused Organization” (Taylor & Francis, 2014). His research and global impact in modern management been recognized by Thinkers50 with the prestigious award “Ideas into Practice“.

Antonio was the Chairman of the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 2016, where he co-founded the Brightline Initiative. He has recently launched the Strategy Implementation Institute. Antonio has held leadership positions in PricewaterhouseCoopers, BNP Paribas Fortis, and GlaxoSmithKline. He is a visiting Professor of Duke Corporate Education, IE Business School, and other prestigious business schools.

Antonio is also a much-in-demand speaker at events worldwide. Over the past 15 years, he has presented at more than 160 conferences around the world.  Born in Madrid, Spain, and educated in Germany, Mexico, Italy and the United States, Antonio is an Economist with an MBA from the London Business School and Insead’s International Director Program. He is fluent in five languages.



Definition of “Project Revolution”

Q1.      You’ve written a book titled “Project Revolution”. What does “Project Revolution” mean?

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez (Nieto-Rodriguez):           Over the past decades, organizations have made their operations extremely efficient, reaching levels where finding additional efficiency improvements is no longer possible. At the same time, the number of projects in organizations, the amount of resources dedicated to them and the size of projects have all increased year after year.

Projects are on the march and established organizational and management models are under threat as never before.

Yet, according to my latest research, more is to come. Disruptive technologies will accelerate this trend. Robots and artificial intelligence will take over almost all the traditional administrative activities and operational work. Some of these roles have already disappeared or been completely reshaped. Organizations will shift their focus more than ever to projects and project-based work. Projects are the new norm for creating value and, indeed, for staying in business – leading to what I describe as the Project Revolution.


Influences of “Project Revolution”

Q2.      What changes or influences will “Project Revolution” have on organizations and individuals?

Nieto-Rodriguez:        The emergence of projects as the economic engine of our times is silent but incredibly disruptive and powerful. And this massive disruption is not only impacting the way organizations are managed. Every aspect of our lives is becoming a set of projects. The main implications are as follows:

  • Education: For centuries, learning was achieved by memorizing hefty books and mountains of written material. Today, the leading educational systems, starting from early ages, apply the concept of teaching projects. Applying theories and experimenting through projects has proven to be a much better learning method, and soon it will become the norm.
  • Careers: Not so long ago, professional careers were made in only one organization. Throughout the 20th century, most people worked for a single company. Today we are likely to work for several companies, and at some point we will most probably become self-employed, working primarily on projects. This sort of career is best approached as a set of projects in which we apply the lessons we have learned from previous jobs, companies and industries while developing ourselves for our next career move, often not known in advance.
  • Corporate governance: Boards play a critical role in value creation and long-term organizational success. In the current turbulent times, providing direction and prioritizing initiatives have become essential competencies for boards. When organizations execute too many strategic projects without clear prioritization from the top, they will be spread too thinly: teams will fight for resources, commitments to contribute to certain projects will not be respected, and most projects will fail to meet their initial cost, time and benefit estimates.


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Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: PM Review (2020). Projects are the Economic Engine of Our Times; Interview with Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/pmwj95-Jul2020-Yanjuan-Interview-with-Antonio-Nieto-Rodriguez.pdf



About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China



Yu Yanjuan (English name: Spring), Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review (PMR) Magazine and website. She has interviewed over sixty top experts in the field of project management. Before joining PMR, she once worked as a journalist and editor for other media platforms in China. She has also worked part-time as an English teacher in training centers in Beijing. Beginning in January 2020, Spring also serves as an international correspondent for the PM World Journal.

For work contact, she can be

reached via email yuyanjuan2005@163.com  or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuanyu-76b280151/.

To view other works by Spring, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/yu-yanjuan/