New World, New Project Management

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We seem to live in a faster and more demanding world, characterised by rising levels of uncertainty and ambiguity. Indeed, project management is increasingly called upon to deliver in a world that is connected in complex new ways; where the so called unknown unknowns determine our context. Eddie Obeng defines the new world as a world that can change faster than you can learn. As we engage with an ever-growing portion of this world, it becomes more difficult to satisfy all stakeholders whilst delivering value and benefits in a new and unfamiliar context.

Following the APM Project Management Conference 2010 Delivering the Future in Partnership, the APM Project Management Conference 2011 aims to issue a call to action and address the challenges of a new world by defining a new kind of project management.

New world, new project management looks at how the profession will rise to the challenges of the new world - climate change, technological advances, globalisation, social networks, public health, security and economic regeneration and growth. The challenges require fundamentally new ways of making sense and shaping a world we neither control, nor fully understand.

Evidence of the emergence of new project management is everywhere; through the Mercedes Benz Biome project which aims to grow a car that emits pure oxygen, the Bloodhound Project redefining the boundaries of engineering to inspire future generations by building the first 1000 mph car, or the Olympic Games regenerating East London and inspiring young people to take up sport thus fighting an obesity epidemic. Projects, programmes and portfolios create these wonderful new capabilities and enable new ways of engaging with people, change and environment.

Project professionals have moved beyond delivering incremental improvements to generating deep and lasting benefits meeting the challenge of a changing world. Yet at the same time we are being asked to deliver more with less more value, more benefits, more stakeholders, extended life cycle and greater sustainability to be delivered in less time, less cost, and with fewer mistakes. The challenge of creating the new capabilities in an unknown environment is only matched by the need to become more inventive in delivering the solutions; generating improvements in the way projects and programmes are managed, risks are handled, subcontractors are overseen and increasingly diverse stakeholder groups contribute and participate.

Ours is a world which demands what appears to be the impossible; New world, new project management aims to drive the debate as to how the profession can think and act in this demanding new world.

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Posted by Professor Darren Dalcher on 6th Jul 2011

About the Author
Darren is Professor of Project Management at the University of Hertfordshire, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management. He works to foster interactive dialogue about the integration of successful practice with theoretical research in the management of projects. He is the editor of two book series featuring Advances in Project Management, and a number of journals and has chaired the APM Project Management Conference for five years.

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