Resurrecting the Project Manager Role
I stopped and blinked at a headline on a Linked In post and choked back a chuckle.
It was titled ‘The Death of The Project Manager’.
The provocative title (for project people, that is) did its work. I clicked in.
The author, a professor named Andre Barcaui, suggests that the increasing use of the Agile approach with a ‘flat’ team dynamic – ‘team leads’ swapped out for guiding ‘coaches’ – is part of the decline of the project manager’s role.
The second part is the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and its ability to crunch data sets and proffer logical outcomes and conclusions. Theoretically, this leads to one logical outcome.
He also suggests that decisions made from ‘instinct’ may be not just outdated but even harmful.
And there you have it: ‘The death of the project manager.’
To which I say, “Hold on Huxley, that’s a huge stretch”.
But first a caveat. Christina “CK” Kerley, a top technology futurist, suggests in her speeches and sessions that we want technology to take over tasks – those tasks that require lots of processing but little judgement.
I love having data crunched by tech. That allows me to do critical thinking, the creative problem-solving that is the sweet spot of any project manager or team. There are absolutely large data sets that I am happy to have crunched and parsed for me.
But that isn’t what the article suggests. It sees a world where leaders are replaced by a sort of group dynamic.
Nice try. Groups and teams are essential to the development and production of a project but there always needs to be one that takes the lead and ultimate responsibility for the process and end result.
In practical terms in the scenario by Barcaui, there would be a room full of well-meaning people on deadline day pointing fingers at each other for the failure to deliver. Blaming the AI will never get anyone very far.
The role of the project manager gone?
If you agree that the project manager’s leadership means more than creating massive archives of records, and you agree team dynamics, the culture of the team’s productivity and progress, are primary responsibilities of the leadership role of the project manager, I would suggest that the opposite is true.
Better tools mean the best project leaders will shine, and a project team will stay tightly focused on the process and deadline.
If you believe that how your people shine as project leaders counts, please sign up for KSP Academy where leadership driven project management respects people – and uses tools and methodologies.