I’ve just finished reading The Revenge of Analog and The Future is Analog by David Sax . In both of these books, he provides compelling arguments supported by a number of case studies taken from different domains to show that while some might envision the future as becoming more and more digital, we will continue to cherish and yearn for analog experiences. The latter of the two books was written during the COVID-19 pandemic where most of us underwent a rapid acceleration into a digital future and in most cases, didn’t like what we experienced.
So what does this have to do with project management, you ask?
Ever since ChatGPT hit mainstream consciousness in November 2022, a frequent topic of discussion in most project management online communities has been what progressive improvements in A.I. capabilities will mean for the profession.
As with any other disruptive change, there are some practitioners who go all in on the future for A.I. technologies whereas others marginalize their potential.
My opinion hasn’t changed.
So long as the scope of projects is delivered by human beings, I find it unlikely that we will abdicate leadership responsibilities to a machine. As unique endeavors, projects require team members to be creative, innovative and able to react in a timely manner to surprises. I don’t see automation being able to inspire the level of engagement and follow through required to deliver even moderately complex projects.
What I do expect is that A.I. advances will provide much richer decision support than is currently possible. Whereas there are specific use cases for such technology today such as estimation and forecasting within specific industries, I feel the scope of such support will increase as A.I. tools are able to proactively harvest relevant data sets, process those in real time, and provide probability-based forecasts on the relative merits of different options.
I also am confident that A.I. will be able to substantially (if not fully) eliminate rote, administrative work from the role. As the tools learn how a given project manager works, the quality of auto-generated reports and responses will improve. Similarly, A.I. will help to keep teams safe by providing guidance, evidence gathering and documentation capabilities for compliance and governance purposes.
And I view this as a good thing as it means project managers will find themselves with much more time to focus on analog activities such as engaging effectively with their key stakeholders, building high performing teams, and keeping their eyes on the road ahead rather than spending half or more of their time looking in the rear view mirror.
And that will make the profession that much more rewarding to its practitioners.
(If you liked this article, why not read my book Easy in Theory, Difficult in Practice which contains 100 other lessons on project leadership? It’s available on Amazon.com and on Amazon.ca as well as a number of other online book stores).