IPMA International Project Management Association
4 September 2017 / 12:09

Exploring the future of project-related work

Inspired by reading “Homo Deus” of Yuval Noah Harari and preparing my speech for the IPMA Global Young Crew Event at Astana I sketched a few thoughts on how the project-related work might develop… Many of the assumptions of “Homo Deus” are quite radical and it´s hard to image that this will happen. Or do you believe that in the future technological developments will threaten the continued ability of humans to give meaning to their lives? Harari prophesies the replacement of humankind with a super-man, or human god endowed with supernatural abilities such as eternal life… On this blog we have already elaborated on the potentials of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. To me, this is too much technology driven and I am lacking the human side of project-related work.

Already now, projects are more and more dedicated to improve our life. Social projects will also play an important role in future, helping to shape or improve communities, societies and their approaches to being governed. It´s very encouraging to see how people collaborate after natural disasters (e.g. recently in Northern Peru or Texas) to safe other peoples´ lives or help rebuilding homes. It was also encouraging to see the very positive attitude of many people in Germany dealing with the hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees flooding into Germany in 2015. Providing cloth, food and shelter, teaching them the German language as well as cultural habits. Other examples from the UK and Nepal were featured on this blog and together with the stories our finalists for the IPMA Achievement Awards 2017 it speaks a powerful language of what could be realized when making this happen through professional project management.

In essence, it means projects for the betterment of human kind, involving other people helping people with specific competences, energy and passion. It also means in projects people are acting out desires, giving meaning to their own life and they shape the world to become a better one. I believe, this will also redefine the business(es) in our world. Companies in my country (Germany) increasingly listen to the desires of their employees or those who might be interested to become an employee. We have 700.000 job vacancies, there is a real war for talents and companies need to be attractive to get the talents in. Exciting projects, flexible work arrangements, responsibilities and recognition of achievements are only a few of the aspects young people are interested in. This will significantly shape project-related work…

In the past, projects were mainly seen through the eyes of engineering doing projects for external clients (e.g. aircrafts, power stations, ERP Systems). A survey of GPM in Germany revealed that more than 80% of the projects are done with internal focus, in areas such as research, IT, organisational development and akin. It basically means that organisations are using projects to change, to make their strategy happen, to transform into a new setting. There is a shift in target audience and approach for project management. So it´s not the project manager anymore, working for an external customer, but a anybody in the organisation being responsible for implementing change projects for internal stakeholders and sponsors. It means that basically everybody in an organisation needs to be skilled in managing a (change) project or programme… Programmes and projects are being used to set change into practice [http://blog.ipma.world/interrelations-projects-programmes-change/] and disciplines overlap or even merge into one future competence.
Temporary organisational units for projects and programmes, self-organizing teams, flexibly (agile) adapting to the dynamic context they are operating in, collaboratively creating innovative products and services, across organisations, countries and cultures [http://blog.ipma.world/managing-collaboration-projects/]. So do we need a super hero or a “Homo Deus” for all that? No! We are capable using common sense and ingenuity to make things happen. Project management is not a method, a tool or practice, it´s an art and requires all capabilities of a human being. Less machines, robots or information overload. Instead we need to set free the human intuition, the creativity of small kids and the passion of getting things done.

Let´s redefine the role projects play for ourselves and the society. A project is not just getting a product out to a customer or “executing something”. It´s much more, it´s changing and improving the way we do things, it´s shaping our future and giving sense to what we do. And it has started already, be a part of it … www.become.pm

1 Comment

  • sushil sharma says:

    Thanks for sharing beautiful article.Ideeply believe in buddhism with its human aspects.If PM also thinks this way,we will have better future.

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.