When I became involved with the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1999, project management as a professional really, did not exist. Of course people had been doing project management for centuries but the ‘profession’ was typically cloaked under other roles, even though the functions of project management were very similar.
The future of project management will still require human intervention. There I said it. We will leverage decision support solutions more heavily but the decision to allow a project manager who is also a mother to go home at 3pm to pick up her son from school, can’t be entered into a tool. That’s called good leadership and IBM Watson won’t help.
The future of project management and decisions required for success either depend on tactic knowledge or explicit knowledge. Decisions that are explicit are easy to transfer from one person to another by either verbalizing it or writing down the core information. An example of explicit knowledge would be determining a project’s status of red, yellow or green based on a predefined set of standard guidelines. However, tactic knowledge is not formal and is very difficult to transfer from one person to the next. An example of tactic knowledge is taken into account when evaluating the risks of a newly introduced market condition or understanding the trust a team has in its project leader to accelerate delivery and improve team dynamics by providing clear direction and vision. Michael Polanyi in his 1958 book, “Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy” covers the topic of tactic knowledge well. Polanyi states that, “Rules of art can be useful, but they do not determine the practice of an art; they are maxims which can serve as a guide to the art only if they can be integrated into the practical knowledge of the art. They cannot replace this knowledge.”
The Lesson: Bottom line, rules and tools don’t replace good leadership and good people.
PsyBlog. (2013). The Mental Benefits of Juggling (online image). Retrieved November 28, 2015, from http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/07/the-mental-benefits-of-useless-skills-like-juggling.php