Project Management

6 Future Uncertainties We Need to Navigate

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.

The future of project management has been a topic of exploration pretty much since project management has been around. In the grand scheme of things, this is not very long.

Modern project management as we know it is a recently emerged construct. The history of project management only reaches back to the late 1950s, with the advent of the Polaris nuclear submarine platform for the U.S. Department of Defense, and the efforts to address plant turnaround scheduling problems for Dupont.

These efforts gave rise to a number of innovations in how to think about managing temporary organizations with schedule-intensive and time-sensitive efforts. Most notably, PERT and CPM emerged wholesale from these efforts, and have remained relatively unchanged ever since.

To a large extent, it is important to recognize and understand these truths and what they mean as we examine the future of project management. First, in the history of management innovations, project management is relatively new. A few decades is a mere blip in the history of organizing. More importantly, after that period of relative innovation, project management—at least as defined and espoused—has not changed a great deal.

The underlying algorithms of most “industry standard” project management software have not evolved and still rely upon the principles of forward-and-backward path …


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