Agility in project management requires a fully functioning eye


Leading projects never has been easy. Its multidimensional aspects both encompass hard skills like planning, reporting, note taking and problem solving, as well as behavioral or soft skills like negotiating, team building and ethics. As third corner in the eye of competence there are contextual competencies like health and saftey, sustainability and legal matters. The International Project Management Association (IPMA)‘s approach to project management is broken down into 46 (!) competence elements.

The eye of competence integrates all elements of project management as seen through the eyes of the project manager when he or she evaluates a specific situation. The illustration also represents clarity and vision. Instead of freezing or fleeing uneasy situations, the project manager processes the available information and determines a good, better or best practice to proceed.

Managing projects on a daily basis, courses and education, meetings with fellow project managers and coaching or intervision help project managers learn and grow. The IPMA Competence Baseline, a set of specified certification levels associated with maturity levels on these 46 competencies, is the basis assessing candidates. Better project management practices and day-to-day decision making should be the fruits of all these efforts.

Agility then isn’t the next buzz word you’ll have to learn. Projects are never simple intellectual exercises. The homo economicus, only showing rational behaviour, as I learned studying economics at the university, doesn’t exist. And the project members are living human people, not resources like a pen or notepad.

Gut feeling or intuition without a solid basis in years of experience may damage more than you think. Your quick answers or conclusions may not benefit the organization, skip the listening part in conversations or neglect the blind spot in your professional eye. Integrity, honesty and treating people fair, remember Jesus’ view on hypocrisy: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to notice the beam in your own eye?”

Looking for other analogies you may think of an owl, seeing everything sharp. Well, actually, an owl has has 14 vertebrae, which he can turn around 240 degrees. Human traffic is its enemy. Flying too low hunting mouses, etc. the owl can be caught by your car or bus, which he didn’t see.

So, even with 14 vertebrae, 46 competence elements you don’t have a 100% success rate. But there’s a lot of improvement possible to get from the 30% successful projects, the Standish Group’s CHAOS report will tell you. As a first step I would recommend reading the underlying assumptions and definitions, which will help you to debunk that urban legend. Next, show leadership, as the International Competence Baseline considers leadership as necessary to practice all other 45 project management competences in a way that your team will see and accept them.