By Adrian Stalham

Where are they? I mean, they seem to have disappeared!

OK, I’m exaggerating a little- I may even know a few. But they seem to be slowly diminishing, like a rare species that we have neglected for years and suddenly find they are on the endangered list, close to extinction. Only to be replaced by an ‘invasive’ species – Prince 2 (or APM or PMI) certified automatons.

I have been in the world of project/ programme delivery for 30 years. I have some baggage in this area. Great Project Managers used to be more commonplace, but I struggle to identify the good ones now. These days I see lots of escalation, poor stakeholder skills, lack of ability to build or motivate a team and focus on the process rather than the value. I see custodians of linear methodologies in a non-linear world. What on earth happened?

I have some ill thought out theories:

Certification. Before certified PMs, we used to have people who were great at delivering projects. They had the soft skills, leadership and drive to make things happen. Let’s call them – Doers. Humour me. Then came Project Manager certification. The Doers were now ignored for new roles, irrespective of experience, in preference for new certified Project Managers. Certification confirms knowledge and ability, right? So we recruit for certification.

What have been some of the most recent trends from the group?

I’ve seen three major recurring themes recently:

  1. Company fatigue with the overused word ‘transformation’. The reality is that organisations should have an iterative approach to change, creating a culture of continuous improvement and learning. The current mindset leaves organisations lurching from one transformation to another, implying that it’s temporary in nature.
  2. A lot of people are approaching me about going Interim or looking at a variety of portfolio/gig-based engagements. People’s preferences are changing and they now want a different relationship with their career.
  3. I’ve also noticed a rise in senior leaders and Interims engaging online, so helping those individuals to be brave about sharing their knowledge and experiences with others, has become a much more common conversation in recent times.