IPMA International Project Management Association
22 August 2016 / 9:09

Olympic Games for Project Management!?

Yesterday, the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro came to an end. It was a major international multi-sport event with more than 11.000 athletes from 207 National Olympic Committees attending 306 events in 28 sports. Top scorer were the USA, Great Britain, China, Russia and Germany, collecting more than 330 medals in Gold, Silver and Bronze. There were many concerns and controversies about the games in Rio, however the games were held successfully and IOC´s President Thomas Bach upbeat about “great” Rio Games.

What about Olympic Games for Project Management? Projects and project management are very popular and many countries are to a great extent “projectized”, thus they would be willing to participate and profit from the results.

Potential disciplines with various categories could be the following

  1. Research in the field of Project, Programme and Portfolio management
  2. Education in the field of Project, Programme and Portfolio management
  3. Project Excellence (Application of PM in a project together with the results)
  4. Organisational Competence in Project Management
  5. Individual Competence in Project Management
  6. Training in Project Management
  7. Consulting in Project Management
  8. Coaching in Project Management

What are the benefits for the participants? The participation in such an event would raise the awareness of PM in the country and the prestige of those representing their countries in the Games. Through the participation the country, the national association, the participating organisations and the individuals would learn about the status quo of PM, their gap to an international elite (“Benchmark”) and recommendations given through the evaluation on what to improve for the next Games. It would also create an international network that helps to spread good practices and support the exchange of experiences around the globe. Like the Olympic Games it could trigger a lot or press attention and thus recognition for PM.

How could this work in practice? It would require an international institution to organise the “Games” like the IOC  does in the world of sports. The national committees would organise the participation on the national level. In my opinion it would make sense to organise such an event every four years. How about the cost? This is quite challenging and most of the cost should be covered by national funding arrangements, e.g. support of the government. Organisations participating would need to sponsor their people. The facilities and other arrangements would need a local sponsoring arrangement, maybe in connection with a national PM event. An alternative to physical Olympic Games for Project Management could be a kind of virtual event. Nevertheless, this would raise questions regarding the evaluation and collection of evidences…

But there are still many questions open, e.g. how to balance participation between developed and developing countries? How to design the “Games”? They shouldn´t be perceived as “Competition” but as a beneficial learning experience for all helping the profession to develop over time. What do you think?

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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.

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