Mar 15, 2017

Innovation Is An Open-Ended Program

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin | 0 Comments

The Disruptive PMO will be a hub for change management, strategic thinking and innovation. Are you ready?

And now for something a little different ...

Often, in the world of project and program management, we are engaged in trying to nail down specifics: cost, schedule, requirements. And of course, when we know exactly what we are trying to acheive, doing this improves our chances of pulling it off in time, on budget, and at an acceptable -- even amazing -- level of quality.

But what about creating for the future? How do we nail down the details on the unforeseen, the uninvented, the as-yet-to-be-fully understood?

While writing my last post, about risk vs. uncertainty, I ran across a great article in Fast Company that pondered the effect of questions on the human brain. I intuitively felt that it was somehow related to the topic of figuring out how to manage in an environment of uncertainly. This isn't the first time I've been drawn to research on the power of asking questions, and it's not exactly a brand new insight for managers, either. But if, as Kent Crawford proposed in his presentation about "The Disruptive PMO" a few years ago, the project management function is going to have to serve as a hub for organizational change, strategy management, and innovation, project and program leaders are going to have to become more comfortable with open-ended questions and unpredictable answers.

The theme of the Fast Company piece, on the way that we zero in on answering any question posed to us, seems to have promise as a technique for more adaptive project management. I can think of many questions that might revolutionize our daily practice of management:

What is most important to achieve, today?

What is most important to decide, going forward?

What is preventing you from delivering more/better?

The flip side of spurring creativity and engagement by asking questions is, of course, that you have to be willing to hear honest answers. But that is another subject.

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