There is no doubt that project management is a successful methodology. It was developed to cope with difficult tasks. It is so useful that it is extensively applied in almost all companies today. There are even DIN and ISO standards for project management. Today, project managers are well trained and many even certified specialists.
Good things prevail – one would think. Ok, with certain exceptions. Although project management writes its own success story, many projects do not achieve their goals. And the ones blamed are usually the project managers [Flyvbjerg].
But these set-backs do not stop the rise of the project management. Project management is currently changing its role from a methodology into a leadership concept of business Management.
What are we talking about?
Companies must develop themselves at a rapid pace
Companies are in a global competition characterised by increasingly high dynamics and by evermore disruptive changes [KPMG]. This demands a new core competence: development capacity – with an unprecedented pace.
Management theories provide some suggestions how to establish the abovementioned core competency. Their names are speaking for themselves: For instance “Dynamic Capabilities”, “Evolutionary Corporate Development”, “Fluid Organizations”.
In order to implement these approaches, certain organisational structures are required which can address these new challenges in a self-organised mode. This sounds like the job description of a project.
Using project management to facilitate strategic corporate development makes projects the “nucleus of strategic corporate development”. This promises a higher and faster development capacity [Scheurer, S.12].
Sounds cool. But how does that work in reality?
In order to use projects as the nucleus for the strategic corporate development, the responsibility for corporate development must partly be transferred from the top management to the project organisation. Targets, tasks and the methodology of project management must be directly linked to corporate development. This is why project managers are loaded with an increasing entrepreneurial and strategic responsibility.
From change to rapid change
A company intending to pace up its development capacity by means of higher project orientation must adapt the entire corporate system: organisational structures, responsibilities, leadership styles, culture and not least human beings.
These are no easy, minor reorganisations. It is all about fundamental structural changes and about the organization of how human beings cooperate. Hierarchic structures give way to networks, responsibilities are shared within the network and a culture of trust is needed.
These kinds of changes need role models. At this point, management has to step in. In the past, decision makers often did not know which role they should play with regard to project management. Now they know it. Managers must exemplify the changes. They must change their behaviour credibly and authentically. Changing their leadership style. Delegating responsibilities. Giving trust. Accepting greater uncertainty.
Managers can establish the foundations for fundamental organizational and cultural changes of their companies towards the direction of a project-oriented and thus more competitive enterprise. Therefore, they have to take consistent action and act in a way transparent for all those affected by the changes. This is how they find the turbo boost for their own corporate development.
Sounds good, somehow – the new job description of project Management.
Flyvbjerg: „Die meisten Projektmanager sind Dummköpfe oder Lügner“ KPMG: „Global Automotive Executive Survey 2016“ Bea/Scheurer/Hesselmann: Projektmanagement, 2.A., Konstanz, 2011