16 February 2018
Imagine living in a sleek, minimalist, zero-energy glass box thrumming with smart devices. Robert Moehler, Lecturer in the Master of Project Management at Monash University, dreams about such a home. And yet, not long ago, he found himself in a conventional 1920s brick terrace house in North East England. A place where, no matter how tightly he’d draw the curtains, a wintry draft would work its chill around a room. Eco-perfect this was not.
The contrast between fantasy and reality can be stark, and the chasm between what’s possible and just out of reach vast. The Concorde could take us from Melbourne to London in a mere eight hours, yet we still suffer through a 23-hour long haul. Electric cars have been around for decades, but haven’t managed to take off. What has gone wrong? Moehler points to the premise that new technology guarantees a project will make more mistakes than money.
Yes, we have the technological capabilities to do great things, but traditionally cost and time concerns have excluded what’s perceived as ‘R&D’ from the project life cycle. How do we get around this? Moehler makes the case that projects – not departments – should propel businesses. To meet client expectations, user requirements or market needs, project managers must go beyond performance to deliver desired outcomes.
Additionally, Moehler believes organisations make a big mistake when they outsource employees. The most efficient way to gain knowledge is to ask colleagues. And when experts eventually leave the network, they take their knowledge with them, and those left behind on a project lose track of that information. This same problem can occur even when someone simply moves to another project.
As always, we can do better. Through interdisciplinary education, project managers can gain the specialist tools and techniques to achieve successful outcomes across multiple sectors. And an understanding of existing management strategies will inevitably inspire new ones. We’ve got the technology. Let’s make it work for us.