Much has been said about the value that project management provides but for the last 15 years at least, there has been little improvement in the project success statistics, stories and experiences.
We continue to make the same mistakes. Not only that, most employees are losing hope that it can ever achieve what it gleefully sold us, post Year 2000 (Y2K).
Prior to Y2K, project management relied on the skills of individuals who’d largely learned their trade by following the examples of others.
These were people who used influence, personality and humour to get things done. People who knew how to build teams that worked together and played together.
However, not long after Y2K, there was an influx of people keen to seek their trade in pastures new. These people were new to project management, but had a certificate of entry.
The certificate of entry quickly became the most acceptable way to get a job and partly as a result of this, the profession suffered. It lost its personality, influence and its sense of identity. Crucially, it lost its ability to deliver to stakeholder satisfaction.
In the face of this decline some organisations want out and are looking for a project management exit (Prexit). Which is understandable in some instances given what they’ve seen.
They’ve seen an influx in paperwork, bureaucracy and rules from those not qualified to enforce them.
They’ve seen good people leave their organisation as a result of not being able to create something that they want to be part of. They’ve seen time and money wasted in the hands of those who don’t know what it means to deliver a plan against a strategy. And they’ve seen a rise of arrogance and lying.
Worst of all, they’re not getting either the returns that they expected or seen their organisation progress in the way that they hoped. So they’ve started to look elsewhere.
They’ve turned to change management as a way of dealing with people and also to ensure that outcomes are achieved. They’ve turned to agile software development as a method for getting things done quicker.
But here’s the thing. The only things required to make project management work and to avoid a costly and unnecessary Prexit is more leadership and better cultures.
People are sick of being lied to. Sick of being told something is good when it isn’t. Sick of seeing individuals elevate themselves above all others, rather than creating an environment where everyone is equal.
And they’re tired. Tired of listening to the same old project management rhetoric about what works and what doesn’t. Tired of being told to skip the things that add value. Tired of doing less with less and tired of investing energy into things that were never going to add value.
These fractions, these divisions, these unhealthy and unnecessary tensions can be resolved with a determination to do what’s right.
Bring back people we can trust. Bring back people who have integrity.
Bring back people we can hold up as role models. Bring back people who try different things and hold their hands up when they get things wrong. Bring back people who challenge the status quo and call out when things aren’t right.
Then let these people build teams that understand what it means to treat each other in the right way. Teams that don’t wait to be told what needs to be done. Teams that are invested in the future of the organisation. Teams that find the fastest way to do something really well and aren’t held back by what’s considered to be ‘best’ or ‘the way we’ve always done it’.
These leaders and teams exist. They exist in organisations that listen, change and challenge their people to be great at what they do.
We don’t need Prexit, we need more authentic leadership and better project cultures. History will then take care of itself.
Disclaimer: This article in no way represents my view on Brexit.
Colin Ellis is the author of The Conscious Project Leader and works with organisations to evolve their project management cultures. You can find out more about Colin by visiting his website at www.colindellis.com.
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