Challenging the project management status quo is a tricky business

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In April this year, a small group of us got together to talk about innovation in the way we manage projects. Were talking about big changes in approach here not little tweaks around the edges of processes.

Harvey Maylor kicked off the conversation with two apocryphal tales about organisations that just couldnt change, even though they desperately needed to innovate and improve their approaches to projects. The conversationalists came up with ideas to explain this. Have we squeezed innovation out of projects by insisting on compliance with processes? Are project managers short of ideas? Is it just that organisations dont think innovation in project management is important?

The event was the Knowledge SIGs third Courageous Conversation a small face-to-face event where people are encouraged to challenge accepted project management wisdom. The events are recorded, and the views expressed are used to create animated whiteboard videos with voiceovers. The videos are designed to encourage further discussion online with a wider audience.

Challenging the project management status quo is a tricky business. In our Courageous Conversation videos we use metaphors to illustrate the points made at the face-to-face events. The video for this event features cowboys, project police, sheep, islands and drilling holes in peoples heads to make them feel better. And, weeks before the Great British Bake Off #bingate scandal, a failed recipe is chucked into the bin. Spooky.

You can watch the video here: We really need to talk about the way we manage projects.

Do you have tales of failure to change, even when its blindingly obvious that change is needed? Maybe you have examples of successful innovation around projects. Maybe you think that innovation has no place in project management. 

Wed like to read your stories, your thoughts about the need for innovation in project management and your explanations for why things change (or not). What can we do to encourage innovation in project management? Or are we barking up the wrong tree, like the dog in the video?

Tell us what you think.


Judy Payne

Posted by Judy Payne on 14th Oct 2014

About the Author

Judy works as a management consultant and reluctant academic specialising in knowledge management, collaborative working and learning. Her work is positioned firmly on the boundaries between academia and practice. Not the most comfortable place to be, but there’s such a huge gap between the two that there’s a lot of bridging to be done.

Judy works with public, private and third sector organisations to improve their management of knowledge, with universities to develop and deliver online degree programmes and with master’s students to help them learn how to do management research. At APM, she co-founded the Knowledge SIG and is co-chair of the K SIG committee. She has contributed new knowledge management sections to the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide and to P3O® Best Management Practice, and represents the UK as an expert on an ISO Working Group developing a knowledge management standard. She is writing a book on KM in project environments.

Judy is also known for introducing collaborative working and social software to the Henley Knowledge Management Forum and for being a member of the #teatowelclub on Twitter.

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