Thoughts of the President of the IAPM at the turn of the year

Thoughts of the President of the IAPM at the turn of the year 23.01.2020 - The request was: "We are a company in the advertising industry, we urgently need training in agility, not just Scrum, but perhaps something more agile, such as Design Thinking or Lean Startup".  The initial consultation with the client then revealed that the training should include a mix of these agile methods. But what was the end of the story? Classic project management and an excursion to Scrum! The knowledge and application of a detailed project structure plan, which was not available at all, and a Gantt chart based on it were a great help. However, later it also became obvious that teaching Scrum artifacts in training and subsequent coaching was helpful. Here the participants learned, for example, that even in non-software-oriented projects one can write good user stories and emphasize customer requirements!

A lot is changing these days, not only because of the climate debate, but also in project management. Mostly it is about the question of agility, the desire for more speed or better adaptability to the challenges in the market. For example, trainings in traditional project management based on the waterfall model, excursions into agility are increasingly in demand. On the other hand, in agile trainings it regularly turns out that the focus is not on software development at all, but on completely different topics, such as mechanical engineering, automotive, insurance issues, banking topics or issues in municipal projects, to name just a few examples. According to my observation, no industry and no project is excluded from this!
Thus, an increasingly requested topic is the "hybrid project management". Here, there are often only vague ideas about what this should actually be. People want to become more agile and most importantly faster. In the trainings, however, it often turns out that even simple basics in classical project management are not or only little known, and there are already good possibilities for improvement. Which also turns out to be true: Hybrid project management per se does not exist in this way; instead, one must find out exactly what causes the desire for more agility or hybridity in each individual case. So for me, the mix is somewhere between classic project management and framework of Scrum, often supplemented by Kanban or Design Thinking.

However, a complete renunciation of classical elements, a sudden change of companies to an agile or swarm organization is usually not possible. Therefore, each solution approach must be developed specifically in relation to the respective problem. The white paper "Hybrid Project Management", which, like all IAPM publications, is available for free download, offers good advice and possible solutions.

In the end the fundamental question is to what extent the company, i.e. the line organisation, allows agility at all. It is not enough to train agile mindset on the working level, but then encounter the well-known limitations of department heads or steering committees. An essential characteristic of agility is that responsibility, self-organization and decision-making authority are transferred to the teams. So here it depends on the corporate culture whether agility is admitted. In his book "Reinventing Organizations", P. Laloux distinguishes between various forms of organisation ranging from "red" (purely hierarchical) to "blue-green" (living system, distributed decision-making powers). The most common form is "orange", a type of organisation which on the one hand has a hierarchical line, but on the other hand delegates responsibility in various forms and is also prepared to relinquish decision-making powers. This provides the opportunity for impulses of change from the projects - both horizontally (on the working level) and vertically upwards to the management level. This could be a goal and task description for a project management office to accompany this process or to actively shape it. Thus, my vision is that a future task of project management is to participate in the development of the organisation towards more agile models and to accompany the transformation process. My observation is that this change is already taking place in many companies, but in very different ways. The IAPM supports project managers here in all questions, like it was done in the past.

Finally, in in the New Year I would like to express my sincere thanks to all those who work for IAPM and to whom we owe our success. First and foremost, there is the IAPM team, to which the IAPM owes its appearance on the internet. This includes the many requests for certificates, topics concerning project management in day-to-day business, questions about data security and much more. Our Council of Experts plays an outstanding role in this. Here, it’s not only moved with time of project management, but our experts actively shape changes through research and implementation in companies.  I would also like to express my special thanks to the Ambassadors and Network Officials who represent the IAPM worldwide, who are responsible for IAPM events in the region and who are available as contact persons for organisational issues. Finally, I would also like to express my gratitude to our training partners, who, through highly qualified training worldwide, ensure that the certification examinations are passed with excellent results in the many countries.

I wish us all a successful, healthy and inspiring New Year 2020!
Dr. Hans Stromeyer

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