Death by Cubicle: Is project management still too obsessed with old economy ideas?
It was with some vindication during my regular reading “The Economist”, when I happened on an article in the August 8th article by Buttonwood titled, “Advancing, not retreating: Forecasts of the decline of capitalism are premature”, where my eyes narrowed to a particular section of the article that got my heart racing:
Another new-economy effect is that the old idea of lifetime employment is fading. More people will follow “portfolio careers”, switching from one employer, or even industry, to another as the economy changes. This will require them not just to learn new skills as they age, but to monitor the economy for new opportunities.
Many more people are likely to be self-employed, offering services to a wide range of customers. In a sense, they will be artisans, not employees. Activities such as sales, marketing and accounting—matters that salaried employees leave in the hands of specialist colleagues—will become the responsibility of the individual. Such workers will have to be more, not less, sensitive to the market economy than the typical office drone.
It was akin to feeling like a mad scientist proclaiming that a meteor is about to collide with the earth for a long time and having no one believe you, then having it officially broadcasted and confirmed by NASA!
More importantly, it reiterates the ideas that I have written about, namely, that half or more of us will become independent professionals whether by choice or not and that the differentiator will be how you craft novel solutions like an artisan. Furthermore, it is not just whether you “fit” a job description, but rather how you package and market your services like a real business.
The dilemma is that the field is still by and large focused on old-economy ideas like its inclination and focus on the organization, rather than the individual, and working your way up the career ladder, rather than building your own career ladder. It is puzzling to me given that a project, according the PMBOK® is defined as “temporary and unique endeavor to build a new product, service or result.” Yet there is not much discussion on how to pursue and build the most important project, namely your own temporary and unique career!
As they say, “out with the old, and in with the new”, the field of project management needs to shift its focus to be aligned with new economy dynamics… or die a slow cubicle death!