Does process eat innovation every time?

The year 1973 was auspicious for two reasons – firstly I arrived in the world (ok that was mostly just special for me), and secondly Motorola invented the first mobile phone heralding the digital age we now take for granted.

After graduation I began a 12 year career with Motorola, learning Project Management from true industry pioneers. Motorola prided itself on Project Management excellence as defined by process perfection, and had built a global fortune upon it. But at the height of its global success Motorola lost its leading edge. By failing to keep pace with more innovative competitors, Motorola eventually became little more than a technology footnote. Perhaps their quest for process driven Project Management excellence ultimately suffocated innovation. I wondered – does process eat innovation every time?

I had my answer recently when as a leader with the Project Management Institute (PMI) Netherlands, I attended the global PMI Leadership summit in Dublin. Far from being process dominated it was entirely innovation centered. In presentation after presentation, debate after debate, we heard how Project Management practice has transformed and is driving innovation by adapting, learning and disrupting.

Millennials are now leading the latest evolution of Project Management – and it is characterised by people focused innovation on demand. Agility, Digital Transformation, Diversity, and Human-Centred Design are guiding us away from purely process driven Project Management towards people-centred Project Leadership. Just like Agile, every great evolution deserves a manifesto. So from what I learned at the PMI summit, here’s my take on The Project Leadership Manifesto:

  • Engagement   over   Analysis
  • Question status quo   over   Proven ways
  • Knowledge   over   Qualifications
  • Empowerment   over   Authority
  • Risk taking   over   Prepared for all eventualities
  • Speed   over   Having it all
  • Diversity   over   Laissez faire
  • Omnichannel   over   Single Channel
  • Innovation   over   Perfection

So does process eat innovation every time? Unlike the example of Motorola, today’s smart project leaders realise that process driven Project Management might deliver output, but it is people-centred Project Leadership that will deliver the right outcome. Getting there though demands respect for both – and an obsession with neither.

Author:  Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan is the MD of Aspira Europe IT Consulting & Project Management Services

For all your PM Consulting needs, please contact www.aspira-europe.nl

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