Strategic Project Management

Picture of Andrew
Today project work became a fundamental part of doing work. As the world becomes more and more uncertain and unstable, designing repeated processes [1] become less and less beneficial. In the industrial era, businesses could afford to break down complex tasks into their parts and make every process standardized. [2] Combining repetitive work with top-down management allowed organizations to deliver the same product in a consistent manner. [3] However, consistency has its downsides in a highly volatile environment. When conditions outside of the organization’s control change suddenly, businesses can't afford to have highly standardized, rigid work processes. By creating economies of scale we often sacrifice agility and adaptiveness to change. [4] Management expert Tom Peters argues the way we do work changed completely. [5] Businesses should accommodate the uncertainty involved in every business situation. We need to make highly flexible processes that are able to deal with the uniqueness of every challenge we might encounter. As the environment grows more and more unstable we need to take an increasingly agile approach to work. [6] As today's business cycles shrink to smaller and smaller sizes businesses need to be more flexible than ever.

In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries argues many of the leading business thinkers expressed their concerns about top-down, rigid and highly limited management systems. 7 Many businesses are using management processes that are no longer the best fit for today’s economic environment. Standardizing processes and making them highly repetitive in a constantly changing world can be a waste of business resources.8 Businesses often end up making products customers don’t want or are not willing to pay for.9 This “standardized” thinking was the underlying reason behind many business failures since the middle of the 20th century.10 Executives thought if management is the problem, then chaos is the answer.11 But approaching business problems from a “chaos” perspective is not the best way of managing either. Eric Ries argues, entrepreneurship is management.12 We need a different, more flexible management system than a hundred years ago. But we definitely cannot build a successful business without it.

Project management can address the highly uncertain and volatile nature of today’s business environment. At the same time, we can put rigorous management systems in place that can help consistently deliver results. Perhaps that is the reason why projects become a central part of doing work today. Project management is a particularly important skill of today’s managers as the number of projects is growing continuously since the early 1990s.13


A project by definition is “a temporary endeavour undertaken to accomplish a unique product or service”.14 This temporary nature of projects allows us to take one situation and business opportunity at a time and address it more flexibly.

Access the Full Content

This content is for members only. Become a member and access all of our tools and resources.

Already a member? LOG IN to continue…