In today’s complex project arena, managing the
triple constraint without identifying innovative ideas
or ways to deliver projects is no longer good enough.
Practitioners need to be comfortable coming up with
fresh ideas, even if they’re not working in a highly
creative and collaborative project environment.
Here are a few ways project managers can innovate
regardless of their organizational culture.
1. Look for Inspiration Everywhere
Your project problem register is a good place to
spark innovative ideas. It’s likely you’ve encountered
many problems related to existing policies and procedures, especially when it comes to getting approvals, prolonged procurement cycles and legal contract
reviews. You may be inspired to give inefficient procedures a facelift so projects are delivered faster.
Also keep an eye on project risk registers, which
could contain positive risks (e.g., opportunities). A
project opportunity may inspire a new product or
instigate a service overhaul, which might be your
organization’s next breakthrough. Finally, a lessons-learned workshop is an indispensable tool, because
it helps you and your team contemplate the issues
encountered during the project and review your
organizational project management methodology.
2. Gain a Cutting Edge
Follow technology trends to identify relevant use
cases to implement within your organization. Technology can solve many of your business problems
by moving project processes from outdated methods to a brand-new perspective.
Consider using new collaborative tools that provide chat, tracking of action items, timesheets, etc.,
so you can focus on new business ideas instead of
just getting things done.
3. Stop Wasting Time
Efficiency is a core goal in most organizations
MAKING CHANGE YOUR WAY
Kareem Shaker, PMI-RMP, PMP, is a senior manager, projects and enterprise risk at Dubai World,
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Follow him on Twitter at @kareemshaker.
and government entities. Most organizations are
always striving to continuously improve their
operations, develop a product or provide a service that is faster and cheaper. But the need for
quality is never ending, and it’s only attainable
once internal processes have been optimized.
The “ 8 Wastes” of Lean Six Sigma can be of
great use to identify the root causes of issues
and brainstorm potential solutions. The wastes
are defects, overproduction, waiting time, nonutilized resources, transportation, inventory,
motion and overprocessing. Try assessing your
business problem against these wastes to identify potential areas of improvements.
4. Swim in the “Blue Ocean”
In their book Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create
Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition
Irrelevant, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
detail how to create a one-of-a-kind service or
product that generates its own demand. In their
overarching metaphor, a “blue ocean”—an open,
relatively untapped market—is more conducive to
innovation than a “red ocean”—the bloody, cutthroat, crowded marketplace full of sharks and
By focusing on blue ocean possibilities, project
leaders look to introduce ideas to a new market
space or find territory that no other competitor
has explored. The Blue Ocean Strategy authors give
the good example of Cirque du Soleil, which mixes
opera and ballet with the circus, that created an
entirely new kind of live entertainment.
As U.S. entrepreneur Seth Goden says, “Don’t
find customers for your products, find products for
your customers.” PM
Project practitioners must do more than just execute
plans—they need to constantly search for innovations.
BY KAREEM SHAKER, PMI-RMP, PMP