On The Way Out Maybe?

Next Wave

Next Wave

It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new week, and I have a few days off between projects which I use to catch up / read the news / ponder trends. So it strikes me: Is Project Management still the buzz it was 10 years ago, or is it fast becoming just another management skill to be diifused into the corporate fabric?

The discipline of planning and scheduling is almost embedded in the Microsoft Office Suites, and almost anybody with no idea of management can be trained to point and click and produce something that looks like a graph of activities.

The skill of cost estimating and budgeting has narrowed its focus into the Cost Engineering fraternity where they shun anything that even looks like a project manager, opting instead to play with their calculations and spreadsheets.

The art of risk and change management has become a no-mans land, where only the most daring of individuals tread with their powerpoint presentations in hand. Companies have become so risk-averse in general and perhaps rightly so. Multi-billion dollar claims for personal injury or loss is not uncommon and class-action suits appear more regularly in the news.

So what is the next emerging management trend? If project management was riding the crest of the wave ten years ago, what is the new wave? Are we for example retracting into a “safe” world where the accountants smile and there are no identified risks (but no great rewards either)? Or are we sidestepping the really interesting new emerging technologies in favour of old established patterns? Either way I think your competition might spot a weakness in your armour to exploit, and then?

But that wasn’t the question. The question is: Who are the next generation of creators of wealth? Who are the guys that will plan, organise and execute on the brilliant ideas of the inventors and entrepreneurs? What are we going to call that discipline, and what tools are they going to use? Their tools will define them, because it appears to me that we have managed to generalise all the important tools (Excel, MS Project, PowerPoint, etc) to the point where you no longer need a specialist with a big laptop to operate them. The existing tools can do everything we want to do.

It is time for an inevitable change. The old is done, the new is waiting in the wings. But what does it look like? Do you want to take a guess? Comments are welcome!

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