Saturday, 30 July 2011

What do you do when the Old World just won't let go?

It's a setback - the rebels are fighting each other and Qaddafi is delighted.

Fortunately I don't have many new world rebels to fight but fighting the Old World is tough enough.

In the UK in the 21st century we are planning to spend billions building a railway! - Would be much cheaper to install better broadband to rural areas.  And I suspect generate substantially less CO2 and be more sustainable but no, we reach back to Victorian ideas of "moving the people instead of the information".   I guess that they are imagining that in some Keynesian way it will stimulate the economy.  But in a global world I suspect that all the work will be done by migrant workers who will repatriate their wages and all the contracts will be won by non domiciled large corporations.  The model of the 1920's no longer works but that's no reason not to give it another try. 

The UK Chancellor (Finance minister) is being blamed for slow growth - Those mad economists, they really believe that we are all like rats in a cage - it is by setting conditions that countries and economies thrive - What a load of nonsense - it is by you, me, small businesses owners (after all they make up the bulk of the activity in most countries) waking up early, being brave, trying something different and new, travelling abroad to sell our ideas and wares.  That's what makes an economy and country work.  And I have to tell you If you don't think an idea will ever turn a profit no amount of tax incentives is going to make you start. 

All the dazzle noise and often investment goes into start-ups.  And yet we know that almost all start ups fail within three years - Why?  Because in Old World speak - "That's how it's done!"  But wouldn't it make much more sense to help the businesses already running? Give them a way to develop new ideas (like SlizedBredTM) , new tools, for instant business cases (like GapLeapTM) and the skills to execute (delivering Quest Projects)

But you can only influence policy, radio programme planning schedules and the like 18 months in advance of the event  so I guess tat there is not really that much can be achieved immediately when the Old World just won't let go.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Project managment is dead.... long live...

In the early 1990’s the internet existed. It was the name of the association and magazine for the INTERnational NETwork of project managers. Now we know the internet to be something completely different.

Then, a project was defined as something with a beginning a middle and an end. Analogously the approach was akin to painting-by-numbers once you knew what was to be done and how it was to be done then simply hand out the pots of paint each colour to a different role and voila! I famously split the audience and began a ‘bun-fight’ amongst the audience, half agreeing with me and the other half opposed, when, at a conference in Trondhiem, I announced that my research suggested that not all projects had a beginning, middle and end. And then I introduced them to new types such as going on a Quest (where the goal was clear but there was little clarity on methods) but it could still be executed, making a Movie which was the converse of that and being lost in the Fog, my favourite, where the goal and method (and sometimes event eh reason) couldn’t be clarified and yet something had to be done!

And the world has moved on. By the turn of the century in most industries and sectors (even the public sector) the pace and scale (usually global) of change were overtaking the ability of organisations to learn and change. There was a flourishing of my more open project types and yet the response was more painting-by-numbers Prince certification and the growth of the ‘risk industry’ as a way to square the circle of ambiguity. By the end of the noughties these approaches were being supplanted by lean, extreme and agile approaches with exciting brand names which promised to respond to the actual challenges of our real new world. But remember never to let a slogan, catchy title or phrase replace your critical thinking. The new breed still rely on the ‘Archimedean ‘Give me a place to stand I shall move the world’ and Cartesian, linear approach where the process and planning is more important the n the human emotion, engagement and leadership. But there is no place to stand! As the twentyteens take hold, clients morph into multiple stakeholders, projects into change programmes, the global challenges of; sustainability, financial stability and peace will only delivered through effective project and change management and yet still three quarters of projects don’t work or don’t work properly. The world cannot afford this level of waste. And we must ask why if our managers are so professional and our approaches correct there is this level of carnage – this would be intolerable for a surgeon or even the manufacture of a car.

I believe that the reason is that again the world has moved on. Project Management. You can only manage what is there to manage, people resources, plans. When people are affected by change the real story becomes more about the people and less about the things or software being created. In a new world which is complex fast changing and uncertain management has no significant role. Foresight wins. Leadership trumps. This means that the habits and intuition our professional project manager shave honed over the decades will be wrong. The language used in the community will be like talking about cars as horseless carriages a nod to a horse which is no longer relevant or required.

Four years ago a client of mine charged me to see if I could ensure 100% perfect projects. I laughed at the idea. My response was instinctive. Even for me, a well practiced ‘agent provocateur’ and slayer of sacred cows, the idea of “perfect projects” in today’s world seemed preposterous!. But he was right and nine months later I’d developed a set of behaviours, thinking, cultural changes which brought the goal much closer. Much more closely aligned to harnessing extra sensory perception or premonition, projecting into the future, but none of the concepts frame works behaviour or tools m had anything to do with management.

So project management is dead!  Long live...