Does process eat innovation every time?

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

Can Artificial Intelligence put people in the heart of Project Management?

 

Data input, collation, scheduling, delegation, escalation….these and other responsibilities are now under the control of my new AI Project Manager.  It’s the year 2025, and Artificial Intelligence helps run most of my programme. My human Project Managers don’t get down ‘in the weeds’ anymore, because the landscape of Project Management has changed utterly.

If projects were run by Artificial Intelligence, would that be our future utopian dream or apocalyptic nightmare? I say it’s the dream, because AI can help deliver people-centered Project Management in the following four ways.

PROJECT SETUP

Today our PMs are tasked with bottom-up creation of plans and systems to operate projects. With the AI project manager in place to do that, our Project Manager becomes a Master of Methodologies no longer fixed to one approach like Prince2 or Agile, but tailoring ‘best of breed’ approaches to the needs of the project and its people.

PROJECT OVERSIGHT

Project Managers are being drowned in more and more data every day causing information overload. By handing over data input, collation and analysis to the AI Project Manager, our human Project Manager gains the space and oversight to use their very human talents to identify and mitigate risks quickly.

PROJECT TEAMS

Project Managers and their teams are often bounded and defined by fixed structures and hierarchy. With the support of AI, our Project Teams of the future will be far more fluid. They will engage virtually more often, and people will join the project from different directions for engagements that could last only hours or days, rather than on a fixed weekly schedule. This would support a nimble dynamic and people responsive project environment.

And finally..

PROJECT STAKEHOLDERS

Project Managers are increasingly aware of the primacy of people in the project change journey, but are bogged down in the technical side of managing projects. With AI on board, our PMs become true PLs – Project Leaders focussed on the psychology of change, using approaches like Proscis ADKAR and Kotter’s 8 step model to lead people along the change journey.

PROJECT UTOPIA

In the future with Artificial Intelligence working as a sort of ‘auto pilot’ for projects, our human Project Managers can focus on outcome over output. It would free Project Managers to use their very human skills and talents to manage project complexities and unknowns, guiding and influencing transformative change for truly people-centred project management. I say the future can’t come fast enough.

Author:  Peter Ryan, Managing Director, Aspira Europe IT Consulting & Project Management Services

For all your PM Consulting needs, please contact us

+31-20 808 3513

contact@aspira-europe.nl

 

The four ways your leadership is killing your project, and how to change it.

Growing up, my favourite Star Trek Next Generation character was Commander Will Riker. And I’ll admit it, I may have modelled my own beard on Number One’s impressive facial hair. But apart from the trendy beard, here is why Commander Riker should make you rethink how your leadership style is affecting the projects you sponsor.

‘Command and Control’ style leadership is something many of us grew up watching on television and in movies, and it’s still the approach many of us encounter and expect today in our organisations. But in a modern dynamic digital world, ‘Command and Control’ leadership is killing projects.

Statistically 32% of projects fail to meet expectations, and the leaders sponsoring those projects are the number one issue. So here are the four ways your leadership is killing project success, and how you can change it:

First, you are only human and like all humans you have insecurities. So although being a project sponsor demands a different approach, it’s common to default to your ‘business as usual’ way of working because you are afraid to fail. But the leadership approach that works so well in your day job as Sales Director, Account Manager, CEO etc. doesn’t transpose to the project world. In that world as a project sponsor you must be the team’s champion, not their captain. It is your job to set out the vision, and get the team fired up about bringing it to life. Your biggest achievement is not getting started, it is binding together as a project team to work through issues together as they arise. Plan for some setbacks, accept the team’s support, and persevere for success.

Second, avoid the HIPPO effect. The Highest Paid Person in the Office is the one people usually defer to, rather than listening to the most capable person in the office. Your project team have special skills and responsibilities in their roles, different from their ‘business as usual’ functions. Just because you have more stripes on your shoulder doesn’t mean you have the right answers. Unnecessary hierarchy constrains innovation and project delivery success. So if you run into one of the project team in the corridor and are tempted to over-reach your sponsorship role by acting as the high commander, remember that dictatorial decision making is almost always counter productive.

Third, embrace the fact that projects can often be seen as a disruptive and loss making entity at the start. This can be very confronting and stressful for an executive leader used to running a profit making unit, especially when this costly project is changing core business. I have seen leaders lose sight of the overarching vision amidst all this change, and interfere with the project plan causing chaos. Stay focussed on the vision and benefits of the project, and facilitate the unlocking of your project team’s immense skills so they can deliver successfully.

Fourth, be willing to release control and take a ‘belly of the beast’ approach. Support self managing teams because they will be more innovative, more empowered and will deliver change faster. Traditional top down ‘command and control’ is disproportionate, time consuming and less effective. I have supported leaders to release control, and those project teams having failed to deliver their KPIs initially, went on to exceed them. There is no situation where control becomes irrelevant however. Instead it’s about the boundaries to that control and how those are interpreted. Good governance, agreed responsibilities, and inclusive ways of working are the key to productive dynamic project teams.

Follow my four recommendations to relinquish your ‘Command and Control’ leadership style, and make the move to a more people-centred project approach. You may not satisfy all of your requirements, but your organisation will evolve to become more nimble and more innovative, and better able to respond to rapid technological change.

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