Project Management

Does PM Have a Future? And What is It?

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

For the most part, the human race has a pretty poor track record of predicting the future, largely because it hasn't happened yet. And so, efforts to foretell the future will be reliably thwarted by untold events that we simply can't anticipate going in, no matter how obvious they might seem in retrospect.

An alternative view was voiced by computer wunderkind Alan Kay, who suggested, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Bold, yes. And exactly the sort of hubris that great entrepreneurs require in order to get out of bed in the morning and do something incredible and impressive. But it's not overly helpful, in that there are many that have attempted to invent the future and have failed; as few succeed in inventing it as they do predicting it.

Given that reality, attempting to question the future of project management might seem more than a little foolhardy. And yet, if we approach it in the right spirit, there are some important insights to be gained. The key is not being so foolhardy as to try to predict with certainty exactly what will happen. Instead, it helps to frame the possibilities of what might happen, and work from there.

In my view, project management is at an interesting place in its development. For the most part, project management as we know it has only been around for a comparatively short period of time. Most…

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