Project Management

The Project Economy as a Return to Cyclical Work

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

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
- John F. Kennedy

Jobs are getting shorter. It is now normal to be hired for a project and then let go when the project completes, even if you did excellent work. For the younger generation with their careers in front of them, this can seem exciting and adventurous. As someone over 50, it can seem fragmented and a perilous existence. Welcome to The Project Economy, the new world that can involve re-marketing and proving yourself every nine to 18 months.

That somewhat cynical introduction touches on the trend of treating strategic initiatives as projects—and hiring for these temporary endeavors. It may seem like a new style of operation, but it is just a natural step of leaving behind industrial thinking.

Before the Industrial Revolution, work was cyclical. Farmers planted and harvested yearly; barns, bridges and cathedrals were built over months or decades, but were then finished construction. Work had a cycle, and projects had a known completion, even if we undertook the same project (growing corn, for instance) next year.

Continuous Work Roles

"Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes." - Hugh Prather

The Industrial Revolution changed cyclical work patterns and brought people from the land into cities …

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People on dates shouldn't even be allowed out in public.

- Jerry Seinfeld