Can Project Management Save the World?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Maybe. Just maybe it can.

A background note: This column has been rattling around in the back of my brain for several years now, waiting to come out. That's a fairly long gestation period for any article. It would appear that it has finally decided it is ready.

Saving the world is a heavy undertaking. It's certainly not one for the faint of heart. That's probably why many of us leave it to the superheroes of cartoon and screen to take on. Or the men and women of the armed forces, taking on the impossible while wearing blue berets. Whatever your preferred form of superhero, real or imagined, it probably isn't you.

Except. Except that you have some pretty impressive skills, talents and capabilities. Ones that the world needs more of. Being able to manage projects is a pretty awesome skill. Managing projects in a time of crisis is a hugely amazing skill. To Rudyard Kilpling's challenge, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…", then you have the chance to genuinely make a difference in the world.

A quick tour of recent humanitarian crises provides some insights into the potential power of project management, and what happens when coordination fails. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, the world was quick to respond; within hours, planes were in the air with disaster relief in the form of supplies…

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"Maybe this world is another planet's hell."

- Aldous Huxley

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