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Is project Management Changing Fast Enough? – #PMHangout20

Is project Management Changing Fast Enough? – #PMHangout20

“Is project Management Changing Fast Enough?” was the topic of the 20th hangout of the Sensible Project Manager Hangout Community. In this hangout Mark Phillipy was joined by Alan Dayley who suggested this topic and Peter from PEAKAS Consulting out of Denmark.  This topic was inspired by a Ted Talk by Eddie Obeng titled “Smart failure for a fast-changing world.  That video can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjSuaeVfE9I.

During the hangout we discussed how the speed of change that is occurring in the world today is impacting the way we manage projects.  Here are some examples of how quickly our world is changing today: 

  • Telephone Industry
    • 1876 – The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell
    • 1961 – Fixed line subscriptions reach 100 million (85 years after the invention of the telephone)
    • 1978 – The first commercial cellular mobile service was established
    • 2002 – Over 1 billion mobile subscriptions (mobile subscriptions surpassed fixed line users)
    • Today – Over 6 billion mobile subscriptions world wide
      • 75% of the world has access to mobile service
    • 2015? – anticipated mobile subscriptions will be more than the worlds population (7+ Billion)
  • Google Hangouts
    • With the advent of tools such as Google+ Hangouts and Skype we are now able to communicate virtually face to face with people around the world without having to travel to have those discussions.
  • Non-Technology Changes
    • In our world today the changes in economy seems to be changing quickly and often.
    • Throughout the world there are many other changes that are driven by the political landscape of different companies.  With such a worldwide economy, these changes seem to be occurring often.

Understanding that the speed in which the world around us is changing is driving companies to run their business differently.  We have noticed that business today has to be more agile in the way they run their business.  Those who are proactive in anticipating this change and modify their business are leading the way in the business landscape today.  Some of the ways these companies are changing are as follows:

  • Technology Innovations
    • Businesses are required to deliver projects quicker.
    • When a product is released it is almost out of date right away.
  • Business have to deliver to stockholders
    • The business model often has to change so that companies can be more agile.
  • Change how we communicate
    • Companies are changing the way they communicate within their organizations as well as their customers.

As a result of the changing business landscape, we as project managers are learning that we need to deliver our projects quicker and in a more agile way.  This does not mean we all have to run our projects using Scrum or some other agile way, rather it is important to be able to deliver what our customers want, when they want it.

Peter brought up the idea that as a result of such quickly moving technology, it is more important to rely  on the experts on our teams to keep up the high tech nature of the solutions we deliver.  Often project managers are expected to lead a team of highly technical people and pushing them to be innovative in their approach to solving project challenges.

Additionally, due to the rate of change, we are finding projects can become very complicated, thus causing challenges in which we have to manage projects.  Alan brought up The Cynefin framework as described by a Welsh scholar by the name of Dave Snowden.  In this framework it refers to five domains, Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic and Disorder.  A fuller discussion of this framework can be read in Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin.

Finally we speculated on the direction of project management in the future.  We all agreed that change will only continue to accelerate our world and therefore business and the way we manage projects.  We believe that the agile manifesto will continue to permeate companies and project management.  Alan also speculated that more companies will evolve in the way they run their business.  He referenced companies like Valve and Spotify, who have unique organizations to be more agile.

One more note, if you watch this hangout for nothing else, you have to see Peter’s model boat displayed in the background.  What a beautiful piece of art that was made by his grand uncle and is over 100 years old.

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