Published here, September, 2001.

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Finally, a Look into the Future [which is now]

Today, the pendulum of management thought has swung towards "participative management" which is the buzz word for corporate management's attempt to bridge this gap. We can already see this trend emerging in project work, and we can expect to see this trend continue. Indeed, the greater the number of stakeholders and constituents that are involved in the end results of a project, whether it be internal administrative or external infrastructure, the more important it is.

Unfortunately, these project constituents are rarely accountable for the project's time and cost, at least in the short term. Consequently, "participation" in the project process may become stalled and even reversed, exacting a terrible toll in terms of the project's core constraints.

As populations grow and the share of the world's resources diminish, we can confidently expect the rate of change to accelerate. Project management will continue to be the most powerful vehicle for handling these changes in an orderly manner. However, to do so there must be a progressive reconciliation or accommodation between the two view points of thinkers and feelers. This will be the challenge of the next decade and beyond.

In the longer term we can expect to see the pendulum swing back once more towards firmer leadership, an attribute desperately needed in today's world of population, environmental and political crises.

To do so, project management leadership concepts will change progressively in response to the external demands of a better informed and discerning public and an increasingly better educated work force. Internally, the change will encompass the electronic revolution; socio-technical systems (wherein the team itself shares responsibility with accountability for self-management in defining all steps, execution, and project deliverables); and shared power (distributed leadership or partnering). The skill sets needed for these different and changing environments will be identified and the means developed for transferring them to project-managers-in-the-making through education.

The rewards will be the survival of civilization — no less.

© 2001

Thinkers and Feelers  Thinkers and Feelers

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