Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success


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Project Management – Change Or Be Changed

After a significant period of research, both in theory and practice, today I’m publishing my new white paper entitled Project Delivery - What Next? A white paper on the future of project management and 5 recommendations on how you can change the way you get things delivered. 


What has become clear to me while writing this paper is that the profession of project management HAS to change or it will be changed for us.

Let’s be honest, it’s already happening.

One large organisation I reviewed when writing this paper has recently removed its project managers in favour of a DevOps (more information on that here) approach. Note that it hasn’t redeployed its project managers, it has removed them altogether.

If you understand the value that good people with great delivery skills can bring, then you might call this approach foolish, but ask yourself this, ‘how many good people with great delivery skills can you actually name?’ How many take the time to build great relationships? How many are role models for communication? How many utilise a range of skills to get to the detail required to provide certainty of delivery? How many are good at self-reflection and continual learning? How many of them are open to new ideas and take risks? And how many of them empower and trust a team of talented people to deliver?

1? 2? 3? I’ll bet it’s not many.

Now, how many can you name that have all the certificates and will tell you they’re a project manager?

10? 20?

Some organisations are complicit in this mismatch. They develop their people in the wrong way (technical over emotional skills); hire using the wrong criteria (‘have you got your agile/PRINCE2/PMP?’ over ‘how do you communicate to someone who isn’t you?’); and for implementing structures that kill creativity, rather than encourage it (‘if you follow the process, you’ll be successful’).

Enough is enough. It’s time for the profession to demand better of itself and change, before others do it for us. It has to stop listening to old fashioned views, implementing old fashioned structures and buying old fashioned approaches.

There’s so much to be learned from those that get it right, which is why I’ve written this paper.

I want those involved in project management around the world to use it as a call to action and to focus on the evolution of a great profession, rather than repeating the rhetoric of the past and see it laid to waste by those in favour of quick fix approaches. The profession needs to ditch the blame, arrogance and the endless process and to build a new set of values and skills that empower great teams to deliver.

At the heart of our profession should be good humans.

Self-aware individuals who take the time to create an emotional connection and to build empathy with those who they are working with. Who are able to stand up and speak with passion, listen intently and ask for feedback so they can improve further.

These people will naturally seek smarter and better ways to do things. They don’t need to be told to ‘go agile’; they’ll use a mix of techniques and approaches that suit the initiative to be delivered. They’ll bring clarity to complexity and humour to mundanity.

These people will grow a movement that seeks to make organisations endlessly better. To accentuate what works, learn from mistakes, share the knowledge they have, challenge the status quo and be at the heart of cultural evolution. They’ll bring stability to flexibility and lead the organisations of the future.

So what next for project delivery? It depends on the will of the people in the profession – how much they’re prepared to change and who they’re prepared to follow.

You can download the white paper from here and I’d urge you to please share it with others you might feel would benefit from these insights or recommendations.