Based on the extensive media coverage, YouTube videos, TED Talks, and books published, many might agree that 2023 has been hailed as the year of artificial intelligence, at least in terms of mindshare if not market dominance.
Throughout the past year, online project management communities have frequently discussed the potential impact of A.I. tools on the role of project managers. While concerns persist about potential negative effects, such as new project risks and potential job displacement, there’s also optimism. A.I. tools, when used appropriately, are seen as potential assistants in delivering projects more efficiently and effectively, akin to other professions.
However, let’s maintain perspective. Like previous project management tools—such as schedulers and knowledge management platforms—some aspects of our work won’t be affected by A.I. until projects can be entirely completed by machines without human involvement.
Certain challenges will persist:
- Commitments will still be made prematurely: A.I. might provide better reasoning for unattainable completion dates or funding amounts, but it’s unlikely to deter senior stakeholders from imposing unrealistic constraints.
- What you don’t know will still hurt more than what you do know: In the near term, we won’t have sufficiently advanced A.I. capabilities to identify all the possible risks which could impact our projects. And as complexity continues to increase, the likelihood remains that unknown-unknowns will affect our projects to a greater extent than the known-unknowns.
- Stakeholders will continue to surprise us: Provided sufficient context, A.I. tools might be able to improve our forecast of how stakeholders will respond to a given decision or project approach. However, if we’ve learned anything from The Matrix, even if humans are part of an A.I. system, they’ll still find ways to behave unexpectedly.
- More concurrent work than can be effectively delivered: A.I. tools might give us a better understanding of the capacity within our teams and our throughput potential, but with the exception of those who use product-centric delivery models or who embrace the flow guidance of Dr. Goldratt or Don Reinertsen, most will still welcome more work into their system than should be permitted, so multitasking, work overload and the inability to accurately forecast people’s availability will persist.
- The single biggest problem in communication: A.I. tools will eventually help us to bridge communication gaps with real-time context sensitive translation and guidance to make better choices about messaging tone, medium and other factors. Nevertheless, some gaps, as demonstrated in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’s’ episode ‘Darmok,’ may remain insurmountable.
So as the dawn of 2024 approaches, lets greet it with the confidence that while some things are likely change in project delivery, most won’t.
“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” – Alfred North Whitehead
(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).