Project Management

Does the Next Generation Even Do Projects?

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

Let’s try a thought experiment, shall we?

What I’d like you to do is extrapolate out how project management has evolved in organizations until now and project it about 20 years into the future. What do you see? What are the tools? What are the processes? How are we thinking about projects? How are we organizing our teams? How are we getting work done?

Now, granted, that’s a long way out. But there are any number of indicators that we can draw on to give us some guidance. It also doesn’t hurt to look into the past to see what has transitioned over the same time period.

So, what did project management look like in 1998, and how has it evolved in the intervening years? Back then, many of us were still using the 1995 version of Microsoft Project. The idea of project files on a server was still a pipe dream; Project Central (remember that?) was two years out, and the first version of Project Server wouldn’t be released until 2002. The first version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) was only two years old (although admittedly, the original Project Management Body of Knowledge was published in 1987, giving us nine years before people started calling it a guide). Organizations were immersed in Y2K projects, making sure that servers wouldn’t fail because they stored a year in two digits rather than four…

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