Where Did All the Project Managers Go?

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

“Software is eating the world,” claimed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen in his 2011 Wall Street Journal article. Seven years on, the trend continues—and project managers are also on the menu. The next generation of PMs face new challenges—but also new opportunities—as organizations undergo a major transformation.

Software is becoming omnipresent. It is embedded in and integral to all industries—not just technology companies (like Google and Apple), but every sector is being disrupted by software including retail (Amazon), banking (PayPal, crypto currencies), transportation (Tesla, Uber) and travel (Airbnb).

As a project manager, you may say, “Great, just think of all those IT projects that will need project managers!” Well, that’s where things get interesting. First, today’s software teams don’t respond well to being “managed”; that’s old-school command-and-control thinking (along with Gantt charts and calling people “resources”). Instead, they are led, empowered and supported by servant leaders. Next, the idea of a “project” with a defined end point is dissolving, too.

As organizations realize their software systems provide competitive advantage, stopping development equates to an end to innovation or competing. When organizations become more software driven,…

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