Dave Prior and Bob Tarne have recently blogged about the so-called post-modern project management with a reference to Dr. Davidson Frame. Their idea is that there are lots of methodologies available, and that in real life, there can’t be just “one true way” for managing a project. Each project is unique, and each time we need to find a new way of managing and completing it, very often mixing several methods and techniques. This is the creative part of the project manager’s job. The project manager needs to be flexible and try to view his or her project from different angles to understand which methodology he or she should apply and how to use different methods together harmoniously. Here, the right tools will be a great help. Project management software should support a manager’s flexibility, giving him or her options to look at the same project from different perspectives. It’s hardly possible to have different project perspectives with traditional project management software. The reason is that this software utilizes rigid, one-to-many hierarchies of tasks that are usually designed by project managers at the very beginning of a project. Unlike traditional software, project management 2.0 tools employ many-to-many hierarchies. These tools let a project plan emerge from pieces, effectively enabling collaborative planning. They allow you to utilize a decentralized, pull-based model in planning. Many-to-many hierarchies in project management 2.0 tools also allow project managers to pick any reasonable sub-set of tasks, create a view with these tasks and share the view with someone who needs it. It is not like the all-or-nothing sharing of a file. At the end of the day, more people can collaborate and contribute to the project work. As the new tools allow team members to make changes to the initial structure simultaneously, more people can organize and reorganize their views, and more structures emerge. With project management 2.0 tools, you can start with one task, add fifteen more, organize them, add more tasks, reorganize them and repeat the process on a daily basis. When all team members walk through this process, you start to bring the power of many to work in your planning process. Many-to-many structures emerge with the help of team members’ collaboration.
When seven employees share their daily to-do lists with a team leader, the team leader gets a bigger picture. When five team leaders share their teams' plans with a project manager, the picture gets even bigger. When it goes through directors and vice presidents to the CEO, the whole structure evolves from what was one task into a big ecosystem that perfectly suits the organization. This agility helps to bring iterative and incremental improvements into the project plan without giving away the control. Project managers get an opportunity to find the best way to organize their teams’ work. The project manager’s job becomes more about coordination, guidance and leadership than routine manual updates. Project management 2.0 tools with many-to-many hierarchies help to truly unleash collective intelligence in the project planning. The team (and then the whole company) becomes highly responsive to dynamic external environments. As productivity increases and red-tape drops, employees become more motivated. These positive effects come from the synergy effect of two phenomena -- emergence and collective intelligence, empowered by the project management 2.0 software and practices. In my next post, I plan to speculate about the way human brain organizes information and how this is connected with many-to-many hierarchies. This will give another angle on the subject. Until next time.