I saw a statement recently from J. LeRoy Ward, former Executive Vice President of project training company ESI International about the growing unease with the status quo of current project management practices.
He explained that: “Past failures to improve project efficiencies force the need to pull out all of the stops to deal with project complexity, implement new project management approaches and adopt alternative leadership styles to improve project success for greater competitive advantage. In-demand project managers and leaders seem ready to face the challenge.”
It struck me that this was ‘good news’ – that any profession (and let’s call project management a profession for the sake of argument here) progresses the fastest when it is under pressure to do so.
If all was well with the project world then presumably nothing would change – well nothing at any pace anyway.
But that is not where we are. We are doing some great work out there, but we are also under pressure to do it better from the following:
- There is a progression of project scale, complexity, virtuality, time pressures and connection to organisational strategic intent.
- Non-linear management techniques started some 30 years ago but in more recent years, the drive to adopt lean and agile methods and to be incrementally more efficient in what we do, or project manage, has risen significantly.
- The value of self-organising teams, rather than top down rigid delegation of tasks and activity is on the rise.
- Collaborative tools are becoming more the norm and are changing the way project managers and project teams communicate and share knowledge, as well as the speed at which such communication and decision making takes place.
- The importance of project management within organisations continues to rise with business as usual sharing the business focus with projects
J. LeRoy Ward describes these changes in more detail in ESI’s Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2014, with number 10 being ‘Project and programme managers will be asked to spend more time leading rather than managing their teams.’
Add to this the trend that is at number seven, that ‘servant leadership is the desired nature for project managers’ and we see that the changes are pertinent to each individual project manager, and also to the profession of project management as a whole:
“We see the difficulty in filling key, strategic project-focused roles, and what is expected of them once they’re hired,” declares Ward.
“Organisations are weary of projects that are over budget and late. So, they’re looking to their project leaders to make the changes needed to repeatedly meet project milestones and achieve expected outcomes.”
So, the times are definitely changing and this is good. At least I think it is good, and will bring about a new generation of project capability and competence.
Just remember: “Success cannot come from standstill men. Methods change and men must change with them”– James Cash Penney.
Peter Taylor is the author of The Lazy Winner and The Lazy Project Manager.
He also acts as an independent consultant working with some of the major organizations in the world coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers.