Project Management is Dead

Bryan BarrowThis guest post is by Bryan Barrow.
After many years, we seem to have finally gotten over our obsession with zombies. Again.
It’s not the first and it won’t the last time that zombie movies are made, each time bringing new generations into its clutches.
Every time we have a discussion about project leadership versus project management, I am reminded of the movie “Zombieland”.
I am not referring to the mental state or the outcome of an argument. Rather, it refers to the fact that even though you think the argument is over, it returns to life.
You know that the best way to kill a zombie, is to smash it on the head. Here’s my attempt to end the debate.
Project management is a branch of management that deals with the process of transformation. It involves the orchestration and coordination of people and resources through a series activities, tasks, and processes to bring about change from one state to another.
We are open to all industries, regardless of their industry.
Projects can be temporary, regardless of how long it takes.
People can come and go throughout the life of a project. However, the project is not meant to last forever.

Leadership is a branch of management that deals with the development, nurturing, and use of influence to motivate others towards a goal or end.
Leadership can be described in many ways, but it is most commonly associated with power, influence and campaigning.
The manager is responsible for guiding people towards the vision of the leader.
The leader may describe a future state; the manager organizes resources and teams to achieve that state.
Managers work to ensure that people follow the new direction if the leader announces it.
The leader may outline a strategy and the manager will ensure that it is implemented successfully.

These are three reasons why project management and project leadership debates will never die.
1. Failure to execute strategy can be viewed as a problem in project management
First, businesses face a major problem with how to implement strategies. This is the number one challenge for business leaders. It’s easy for them to create a strategy, but much more difficult to execute it.
Somewhere, there is something wrong between vision and execution. Many see it as a failure of project management to deliver strategy.
I disagree. It’s not the project management that is lacking, it’s how the environment is being run that needs to be improved.
2. Leadership potential must be developed, not systems and tools.
Second, project managers must be able to lead. Project managers must be skilled leaders if they are to influence and motivate people. They cannot just be successful administrators.
Too much of the discussion about project management skills is still rooted within hard skills and techniques: scheduling, risk management, budgeting, planning.
Instead, it should focus on the skills that are essential for leadership: visioning, goal-setting and listening, speaking, collaboration, supporting and reinforcing, coaching, mentoring and coaching.
3. Vision and direction are more important than speedy delivery.
Third, project team members need to be able to lead themselves at an individual level.
It is gone days when you could only work for one company your entire working life. The structures and support that once provided a career and car for a lifetime have been lost.