Top 5 TED Talks For Project Professionals

David McAughtrie

Project professionals must be able to adapt—especially when it comes to how things are done. Digital transformation, for instance, influences the way we collaborate and how we manage tasks by changing the capabilities of the tools themselves. It’s a lot to adjust to. These TED Talks can help.

1. Patrick Forth: Technology Disruption Meets the Change Monster… Who Wins?

“We are in the midst of a major confrontation between an irresistible force and an immovable object. It‘s going to have a life-or-death impact on the world’s largest and best companies.”

Change is scary, but as this TED speaker reminds us, it is inevitable. Most of the companies in the Fortune 500 will be out of business, acquired, or knocked down a few pegs by 2020. In order to survive, companies need to find ways to use change to their respective advantages. This really is the crux of digital transformation. Project professionals in particular need to embrace these changes so that the product you spearhead and the projects you lead produce solutions that make sense in the current business reality.

2. Job Ito: Want to Innovate? Become a “Now-ist”

“So remember before the Internet?… Life was simple… People actually tried to predict the future, even the economists. And then the Internet happened, and… those Newtonian laws that we so dearly cherished turned out to be just local ordinances.”

This TED speaker talks about the importance of action. Too often, people try to fiddle with an idea, concept, or product until it is just perfect. The problem is that by then, the timing just doesn‘t work. He advocates for taking action on those concepts and refining the end product after introduction. Project professionals like you will be able to take his advice on how you decide that the result is “good enough.”

3. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does… The good news is that the scientists who‘ve been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It’s built much more around intrinsic motivation.”

The speaker in this TED Talk discusses motivation and how most managers do not motivate their employees in a way that is consistent with what social scientists know about motivation. He explains that traditional rewards are often not as rewarding as we would hope, and as a result not as effective. As a project professional, you might find new ways to motivate your team—or to stay motivated yourself.

4. Navi Radjou: Creative Problem-solving in the Face of Extreme Limits

“When external resources are scarce, you have to go within yourself to tap the most abundant resource, human ingenuity, and use that ingenuity to find clever ways to solve problems with limited resources.”

This TED speaker talks about the principle of “Jugaad,” a Hindi word for clever solution that comes out of adversity. These Jugaad solutions may not be perfect or as effective as they could be, but they are effective to a degree. They make things better. For project professionals, focusing on how to make things better, even if it isn‘t the perfect solution, is a good way to start on a project.

5. Barry Schwartz: The Way We Think About Work Is Broken

“The very shape of the institution within which people work creates people who are fitted to the demands of that institution and deprives people of the opportunity to derive the kinds of satisfactions from their work that we take for granted.”

Work provides both tangible and intangible benefits. This TED speaker argues that our understanding of this changes human nature. For a project professional, the worry may not be shifting human nature, but there is a human element in project collaboration that should be considered. By not allowing project workers to work to their full potential, it may make them less able over time to innovate and excel.

For more insight on effective leadership, see The Simple Secret To A High-Performing Team.


David McAughtrie

About David McAughtrie

Dave McAughtrie is content marketing expert for SAP S/4HANA Cloud.