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PM Essence
Disruptive Project Management

Balasubramaniam Vedagiri, PMP, Mphasis
The word disruptive means something that rudely shakes the current beliefs or practices and makes people think. When Copernicus declared that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way, it shook the very basis of knowledge of the earth that we possessed. The word “Disruptive innovation” became famous when inventors started looking for groundbreaking innovations in products and services.

Following the same line of thought, what can be “Disruptive” in Project Management? Like everything termed “Disruptive”, the Disruptive Project Management emerges from the need to adapt differently, bring in newer thoughts & ideas in managing the projects, pack more autonomy within team and raise productivity in delivering successful projects. It brings in creativity, innovative thought process and clear communication practices to unleash the best outcomes without taking untoward risks in today's highly competitive global market place.

Disruptive Project Management Strategies

Disruptive method of project management involves strategic thinking. Here are some ideas around which the Project Manager can evolve Disruptive Strategies:

1. Discard pre-conceived notions about typical project management methods, tools and techniques. Be open to newer ways of doing things. Here are some newer ideas that can be considered :

a. Consider “Social Media” as an alternative to emails and meetings for better communication and co-ordination among collocated or distributed teams.

b. Evaluate “Tools on Cloud” as against traditional owned environments for a quick start.

c. Make the team understand that the Project that they are involved in is aligned to the organization's “Business Processes” and “Strategic Initiatives” so that the decisions can be based on the value of the project.

d. Short of team! Are your team members playing multiple roles! Does the project require short assignments! Explore “Crowd Sourcing” within the organization as an alternative to traditional team assignments.

e. Adapt “Mobile Computing” for better agility, quicker communication, faster resolution of issues and efficient tracking.

2. Have a bigger box than thinking outside the box: “Inclusive Project Management” helps the project benefit from more heads. Consider burning in “Think Time” for each member to look at the work and explore better ways of doing things.

3. Learn from others: Study other projects and practices to change the way you manage this project.

4. Imbibe new working culture: Increasingly, Project Managers realize that the chances of taking informed decisions are more when the project manager plays the role of a “catalyst” or of a “coach” rather than that of a manager.

5. Be selective but still effective: By focusing on “the Important” without wasting energy on “the Urgent” the Project Manager can focus on delivering value. The ability of the project manager to distinguish the difference between important and urgent to maintain a balance is key.

Disruptive Project Management Techniques

Some of the popular techniques that are used in other fields or industry can be of immense benefit to the Disruptive Project Management.

Intelligent Disobedience: One of the important factors contributing to the Project failure is the Scope Creep. The Intelligent Disobedience technique empowers the project manager to push back when he/she believes that a proposed change will create undue risk to the organization or client.

Empowering Project Team: Too much management is counterproductive. When you manage, your people don't solve problems but do what you tell them to do.

Project Blowback: This is a term used forthe unexpected consequences of a project productivity attained by a project manager by utilizing some components developed at low cost that are re-used to the advantage of the client's project. Disruptive project blowback help better price performance levels for those developed in a low cost model to reap higher returns from a high maturity markets.

Reverse Brain Storming: Whenever faced with a project challenge, the Project Manager could use this technique which is both fun and enlightening. While in a typical brainstorming session, the actual problem statement is stated to arrive at a fish-bone diagram, the Reverse Brain storming is the opposite.

Project Analytics/Intelligence: Building a predictive Project Analytics or intelligence to identify and mitigate potential risk will help the project manager wade through the project life cycle seamlessly.

Orchestrated Immersion sessions: Though this concept is oriented towards brain based learning approach in a classroom, the same can be applied in a project environment.

Ambidextrous Decision Making : Disruptive Project Managers need to learn the art of developing ambidextrous decision making ability relying on data/analytics as well as gut feeling.

Implementing Disruptive Project Management techniques in a project requires support from key stakeholders:

• Senior Management support is required to handle stiff resistance from internal groups to change or align their support to the project needs.

• Customer Buy-in for disruptive techniques cannot be assumed. It would help if the Project Manager loops customers at every stage to help them evaluate the benefit of disruptive techniques with data pertaining the business benefits, project progress and relative impact on the project financials.