Innovation & Project Management

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28 Mar 2016

Innovation & Project Management

Innovation and Project Management Are Old Friends

If you’ve turned on the TV in the last few months you’ll be well aware of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s fierce championing of innovation as the lifeblood of Australia’s economic future. 

In the federal government’s recent National Innovation and Science Agenda – which boasts the slogan “Welcome to the Ideas Boom” – Turnbull outlined how $1.1 billion would be spent over four years to promote science, increase innovation and encourage risk. The Prime Minister has been boasting that there’s never been a better time to be an Australian, or to be alive for that matter, but why is he encouraging us to take risks?

In fact, there is a delicate, reciprocal relationship between innovation and project management, where risk is a necessary component of success.

Said simply in the world of project management, innovation is the goal – and in the world of innovation, project management is the means.

Integrating Innovation into Your Projects

In any business or organisation, projects are generally driven by one underlying factor – the need for change. By definition this implies projects are at their heart more about risk than safety as they forge into unknown territory where both the chance of success and the risk of failure are real. To effectively deliver change in an evolving business landscape, innovation and adaptability must be  integrated into the project management approach as well as evidenced in the projects objectives and outcomes.

Using enhanced technology and new/upgraded project management tools are essential in this digital day where the pace of change is rapid and new communication channels continue to emerge. Dropbox is a prime example of this. The omnipresent storage solution has doubled its user base to 400 million by making clever partnership and acquisition decisions. It helps businesses and individuals to share virtual content more efficiently, affordably and securely than ever before.

Similarly the company Coinbase embraced innovate product development and leveraged the popularity of bitcoin, a secure digital currency designed for the internet era, and today they’re relied upon by many companies who have customers dealing in the unconventional currency.

These examples and more all rely on project managers who are willing to place risk and failure within the project’s parameters and accept an end goal that is shifting and dynamic. All of this is in the name of innovation.

Funneling Innovation through Project Management

While innovation is an essential thing for project managers to embrace, project management is also something that can create innovation.

This is achievable through an agile, dynamic, and collaborative approach.

Project managers must accept the dynamic process of each task, and know when to collaborate and when to encourage participation (and even failure).

By stepping away from a top-down management process and putting all assets and resources in one place, project managers can create a learning culture.

Many new cloud-based project management tools have been developed and are increasingly being utilised worldwide. However, importantly, innovation will always be more about the approach than the tools or software that underpins it.

The underlying connection between innovation and project management makes one thing clear, that evolution is a necessary constant. To properly harness innovation, project managers – new and old – must continue to learn.

At Elemental Projects, we recognise this need, and can provide tailored courses and in-house training to enhance your projects. Sign up for a course today or get in touch to learn more about project management in Sydney.