/ Keeping up: Steps in the right direction

Keeping up: Steps in the right direction

This is the last in a four-part series on how project management is facing up to the challenges of the 21st century business environment.

I am noticing a shift towards working in a more 21st century way.  The focus for many recruiters is now on people who can demonstrate emotional intelligence (read more about that here) and not just technical competence.  PMI has set up a New Media Council to establish ways to better interact with members and non-members around the world.  The BCS has a Social Media Executive.  Soft skills are featuring in methods and frameworks like PMBOK and the APM Body of Knowledge.  TSO brought out a series of three ‘Focus on Skills’ books earlier this year.

All the ‘new ways of working tools’ I looked at last week are essentially communication tools.  The people we want working on our projects now need to have excellent communication skills, and an openness to business change, in the widest sense.

That appreciation of business change is key to establishing good working relationships with people who work in different ways to us.  Let me give you a concrete example of where stakeholders can be more forward-thinking in their adoption of new business practices.

I was talking to Hal Malcomber recently and he told me of an exchange with someone on his project team.  It’s a construction project, and he was talking to one of the people on the site.  The team member wanted to send task update messages using Twitter.  He’d complete a task, and then Twitter the status to the project manager.

It was a good idea: using a technique the team member was already familiar with and would be easy for him to use.  Easy for the team member meant easy for the project manager – no twisting of arms to try to get weekly status reports.  They looked at interfacing the feed from Twitter with the project software, to get the updates in automatically.  Unfortunately, it couldn’t be done, but there are tools out there that will accept Twitter updates – Basecamp, for example.

So people do want to use these new ways of working.  We should be adopting them too, and updating the way in which we do project management to bring it in line with how other people work, which will improve our results and our relationships.

Missed the previous articles?  Catch up here:

Part 1: Aligning project management to real business
Part 2: Responding to business challenges
Part 3: New ways of working

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