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New World, New Project Management

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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  1. David Lynch
    David Lynch 13 July 2011, 05:35 PM

    What a challenge, "deliver more with less". In reallity is this possible? The triangle of Time, Cost and Quality has stood the test of many years and countless project managers and is still there. So, in practice what can we do?Maybe we need to work smarter (improve efficiency possibly through Lean methods) and hence reduce time and cost or maybe we should deliver to the quality actually needed and not as is sometimes the case to a higher quality. Perhaps, as part of this we even need to challenge risk appetites as they often can be very low and hence expensive in both time and cost.Anyhow, some thoughts that, whilst they might not change the TCQ triangle, just might reduce its area.

  2. Edward Wallington
    Edward Wallington 07 July 2011, 10:55 AM

    Hi Darren,I certainly agree with you that the world has moved on, and as you say we are being asked to deliver more for less.  I was having a conversation recently, where we ended up bounding around the ter, 'less with less' - i.e. are these pressures to deliver 'more with less' pushing too far and increasing levels of risk towards project compromise?Aligned to this, I certainly feel that all project managers/teams need to maintain CPD and self-development to ensure we have the latest skills, knowledge and passion to deliver in this new, and ever changing, world.Regards,Ed

  3. Darren Dalcher
    Darren Dalcher 15 July 2011, 02:06 PM

    Wonderful: Many thanks for sharing your thoughts.'More for less' ultimately leading to 'less with less' is an intriguing thought... Certainly in some modes of thinking (especially those that emphasise a precautionary principle school of thought) this might appear to be inevitable. Yet, embracing opportunities and seeing new possibilities through improved understanding of uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity may offer the potential to respond in new ways. It can certainly open up an intriguing dialogue...