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In the poll, the most common response from all segments was that it would be risky or problematic.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by this caution, especially given that few participants were likely to be of the millennial generation. All such innovations have been greeted with caution by society at first – many took a long time before they placed any value in Wikipedia for example. Again, the indicated action would be experimentation, perhaps first in a technologically open part of an organisation, so that issues could be addressed and confidence developed.

This part of the discussion highlighted a wider theme, that of culture. Like every other business activity, success depends on the cultural acceptance of its users, while leaders also have the option of using changes to signal how they wish a prevailing culture to change. PM is so universal and consequential that this cultural risk and opportunity is especially present. This also suggests that major changes should be accompanied by smart communication, training and support, and would benefit from active role modelling by senior leaders.

PM is not broken

All of the indicated recommendations from the discussion for both PM system owners and users can be summarised in a table. Nothing in the discussion suggests that existing approaches to PM are seriously flawed, but there are opportunities for incremental improvements that could transform how employees and managers view PM in a positive direction. Far from the focus being on radical innovation, improving execution seems to be the most promising channel.

Next steps

A simple, inexpensive dialogue of a small group of experienced managers enabled many strong insights, though it would be wise to test conclusions across a more segmented group in any organisation looking to review its PM, especially considering the impact of culture. Synthetron discussions invariably lead to rich insights; indeed where a session addresses a more immediate challenge with closely involved participants, the findings are generally even stronger. Where there is any element of change management to the topic, analysis of specific language used by participants also offers additional insight about specific aspects of change readiness of the group.


Graham Bobby, New York