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The future of the PM Hero

You don’t get harmony when everyone sings the same note.
Doug Floyd

Keywords: Stakeholder, Relationships, Communication, Soft Skills. 

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The future of the PM Hero   [P105]

The role of project managers within organisations is changing. In the 1960s and 70s most project managers were ‘accidental PMs’: their careers and qualifications were always in another discipline and the world was only starting to embrace the concept of ‘projects’.

From the 1980s through to the start of the 21st Century project management became better defined, understood and codified. The certification of project managers has became increasingly common and the ideal of delivering projects on time and on budget has been recognised. This era has seen the accidental PM change to the PM ‘hero’. A highly skilled practitioner who could almost singlehandedly create project success measured by the iron triangle of time, cost and scope.

In the second decade of the 21st century this will no longer be enough.  Good project management will probably be business as usual. The PM will display ‘5th Level Leadership’, attuned to the needs of the team as well as the power structures of the organisation. And, the organisation’s governance structures will incorporate effective Portfolio, Program and Project management supported by PMOs.

In this environment, project success will increasingly be measured in terms of the value realized by the organisation and by stakeholder satisfaction. Rather then the project being an end in itself, it will be seen as part of the organization’s strategic mission and the key element of success is how well the project’s outputs help the organisation achieve its desired outcomes.

This paper will briefly outline the evolving role of the PM over the last 50 years and focus on the emerging skills needed by successful PMs in the new decade as their role changes from a hero to business leader.

See also: The Accidental Project Manager – The Getting of Wisdom

Author: Lynda Bourne


Milan, Italy

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