IPMA International Project Management Association
5 August 2020 / 1:00

Projects as arena for self-organizing

How timely the topic of this year’s IPMA Research Conference has only become clear over the past months. The COVID19 pandemic has challenged conventional strategies, structures and forms of cooperation. Proven but in many organisations forgotten forms of work and organisation have become useful again, especially during the crisis, including above all self-initiative, self-organisation, community work and co-creative collaboration. Appropriate solutions were sought in the form of hackathons, entire symphony concerts were given via virtual media, and previously successful forms of neighbourhood help and self-sufficiency seem to have come back into fashion. Will this form of the organization continue to prevail after the current crisis?

The corona crisis is increasing the urgency of action, which we have been feeling for some time. Our environment is less and less predictable, short-term changes and multiple disruptions (technological, economic or even social) increase the pressure on us humans and the organisations. How can we deal with this pressure? How can we become more resilient? This requires a clear change of course. Away from central and less adaptable structures, towards more self-organisation. We humans should rely more on our intuition and adaptability again. Used with a clear intention to work together and using all available skills can literally “move mountains”. For organisation and executives, this means “letting go”, giving space for development and creativity, and still not losing sight of the big picture. Today, technologies make it possible to work from home offices with colleagues around the globe. Nevertheless, tools are not a panacea and must be used with common sense.

What do these developments mean for project management? This year’s IPMA Research Conference (September 09 through 11) focuses on the topic “Projects as arenas for self-organizing”. It addresses the increasing interest in the subject of self-organizing in and through projects. Agile approaches build on or value the willingness and the capabilities of individuals and teams to self-organize in projects. Projects are seen as the arena for self-organizing. It is often argued that millennials are increasingly interested in work autonomy and self-organizing through projects to fulfil their expectations in the workspace. However, what does that mean for organizational structures, processes, cultures and leadership? What is the motivation of individuals to perform activities, to engage with others and organizations in order to get things done? Which kind of leadership supports self-organizing in projects and how do we achieve the changes necessary from the traditional set-up towards new ways of leading? Is self-organizing in projects perceived as traditional work, or is it an individual ́s “Vita Activa”? What have disciplines like Natural Sciences, Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology and Management to offer in this respect? What are cultural limitations and potentials regarding self-organizing in projects and how do we deal with them? There are certainly more questions and aspects that will be dealt with during the Research Conference. The conference itself is a kind of endeavour, an arena for self-organizing, sense-making, strategizing and theorizing.

Due to COVID19, the IPMA Research Conference was flexibly turned into the virtual space, addressing key questions and allowing for self-organisation during the IPMA Hackdays (September 09 and 10). Participants will interact by using Slack. Cooperation is highly encouraged, even beyond the time limits of the 8th IPMA Research Conference. The Conference Programme continues with Keynote and Paper Presentations, a Panel and Insights into the results of the Hackdays as well as announcement of this year´s Best Paper Prize Winners. Registration is still open and affordable (Euro 75,–) for academics, practitioners and consultants from all over the world. Join this year´s special IPMA Research Conference. See you!

Read more: www.ipma-research-conference.world

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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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