Building the Future of Project Management

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
This week (October 12, 2009) marks the introduction of a new book, Project Management Circa 2025, published by PMI®. Dr. David Cleland worked with Dr. Bopaya Bidanda to recruit chapter authors and to edit this major achievement.

They asked 28+ PM practitioners to expound on intriguing aspects of PM practice for the next 16+ years. Chapter topics include national, international, sector-specific, and government entities.

Many of the chapter authors are from USA; we have been preparing our readers and customers for the future for many years. Authors whose names you’ll recognize include Lew Ireland, David Pells, Tim Jaques, Jonathan Weinstein, Stacy Goff, and others.

Of special interest in this particular book is the perspective: Get a variety of practice leaders to envision the future of PM from different perspectives, and you harness some great visionary thinking. The implications are boundless; here is one example: Knowledge becomes a commodity, as does experience. They can be replaced with a “Wisdom Tooth” implant. The implications for practitioners, our organizations, Executives, and society, are most-important take-aways.

We identify, in our Chapter 9, Visions for the PM Software Industry, a variety of trajectory and discontinuity scenarios. These scenarios focus on key insights: For example, that your interpersonal skills will continue to be your greatest strength–but still, keep your technical skills current. We also predict that PM Competence, and PM Performance will be your greatest strengths for the next 40 years.

Retrospective

To prepare for our chapter, we looked back at the 1960’s, a 40+ year retrospective. After all, you can’t predict the future if you don’t understand the past. Key scenarios from that era provide a practitioner’s view of 40 years of advancements in Project and Program Management.

We were not idle spectators during that period; instead we were actively engaged in forwarding PM Practice. We left self-promotion to the chapter footnotes as we trace the accomplishments of others. There were many others who made key improvements in the practice and tool support for competent Project Management.

Trajectories and Discontinuities

In looking ahead, we set 2050 as a prediction target, then backed up to a 2025 milestone to be “on track” for the future. We researched others’ inspirations and predictions for that 2050 vision. Of great interest in our research were books by Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines), and Davidow (The Virtual Corporation).

Then we traced a handful of Trajectory Scenarios for the next 16 years. We focused on currently-available technologies that will have huge impact between now and 2025. For example, we will see Portfolio Management processes that integrate projects and operations–so you better-manage your resources across both.

We also looked out at what we call Discontinuity Scenarios. Where trajectories tend to come from inside our practice, discontinuities come from outside it. And, they have even more impact than the trajectories. An example of the Discontinuities: Our above-mentioned “Wisdom Tooth” scenario, where you will implant a chip in your upper-jaw wisdom tooth gap. This chip contains the knowledge and experience of 1,000 expert Project and Program Managers in the PM Application Area of your choice. Have no experience in a particular project area? Swap in a Wisdom Tooth, to instill the experience (and wisdom) of 1,000 expert project and program managers!

Implications

The implications of the Wisdom Tooth and other visions are important take-aways from just one chapter of this landmark book. We will speak more about this book, and our chapter, in future posts, and at conferences. Future topics include the “behind the scenes” efforts in researching the book. I enjoyed re-connecting with the gracious innovators from some of today’s most-important PM Software. Most of us had worked together during that previous 40 year period. I appreciate their contribution of time and insights, as they served as an advisory panel for my chapter.

The book, Project Management Circa 2025, is available on the PMI website with a member discount. It is also available at Amazon (last we looked, it was available for a discounted price of $24.95, and used copies for as little as $7.61).

If you have interest in the future of PM, buy this book! And, a disclaimer: This is not a self-serving announcement; chapter authors receive a copy of the book as “payment” for our efforts. But we suggest that you buy it for your own analysis of the possible futures you have in the practice of Project and Program Management.

Speaking About PM 2025

We are speaking at a variety of PMI conferences, and other events about this book, our chapter, and its implications. We presented on just that topic, the Implications of PM 2025, in Dallas in August 2009, and in the Milwaukee area in late October, 2009. And, you can see a copy of our book chapter (posted with permission) of the book PM Circa 2025 here on our website. All in the interests of improving Competence as a PM.

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