Project Management

Deconstructing the Future of Project Management

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

Thinking about the future of any topic is always an interesting exercise. It is never truly a complete reimagining from a blank piece of paper. It builds on a foundation of what exists today and is shaped by what has already happened in the past. The question of the future is how that continuum will evolve going forward. What will change and what will stay the same?

We can make a number of predictions around that, based upon what is already known today. There are realities that are present now that you can project forward with reasonable confidence. Other factors remain open questions. The challenge is extending what is likely to occur, while exploring the consequence of the unknown and uncertain.

One of the interesting ways that you can see these forces intersect is in fiction. One of the measures of good speculative or science fiction is how plausible the envisioned future being described appears to be, and how coherently it operates. This is a product of taking much of what we find familiar and extending it forward—but shifting some fundamental rules in specific and concrete ways. In essence, it is a question of, “What would the world look like if this new thing were true, and what behaviors and realities would emerge as a consequence?”

Scenarios of the future essentially do the same thing. They expand from current reality, but also envision things…

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"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."

- George Bernard Shaw