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Project Manager : Project Manager Oct Nov 2013
DR KEITH SUTER A Senior Fellow of the Global Business Network Australia and Executive Director of National Goals and Directions, Dr Suter is a futurist who regularly speaks publicly about global issues. www.aipm.com.au Project Manager 11 CHANGE ISN'T NECESSARILY ALWAYS FOR the better. Firstly, in political terms, change can lead to something worse. For example, I was in Iran in 1973 and believe that while the Shah of Iran may not have been a good r uler, his removal in 1979 has not been an improvement either for Iranians or for neighbouring countries. Second, in philosophical terms, this phrase suggests that humans have some preordained destiny, with each change bringing humans a little closer towards that final end state. Many religions and communism have that outlook. In contemporary thinking, however, events are seen as just one thing after another, without them for ming any clear pattern. All one can say is that change happens -- and that it is occur ring at a faster rate. Humankind will not reach a plateau when we can take a breather and relax. In 1750, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, humankind embarked upon a jour ney to an unknow n destination, with the process of change accelerating upon itself. e tragedy is that most people are unaware of this challenge of change. Understanding change Understanding change is important, because it is how we sur vive as individuals, companies, countries and even as a species (as Dar win informed us). We live in a constantly changing environment (some of the change is created by ourselves), so we need to adapt to the change -- or die. Change also presents opportunities. In career terms, for example, we need to look for the opportunities to change and to make the most of them. Change is inevitable -- get used to it. Embracing change Project managers are change agents. ey are involved in projects that will change lives and companies. Project managers could not operate if they refused to embrace change -- that is their core business. Project managers are often faced with the problem that clients may be reluctant to embrace change. Two key skills are communications -- keeping everyone informed of the objective towards which they are working -- and being able to convey a clear vision of the desired goal. A good book on how to communicate technical subjects is by American Randy Olson, Don't be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style. Olson was a science academic who changed in mid-career and went to California to learn movie making (he now specialises in science and environmental movies). One of his drama lecturers told him not to be so rational and "not to be such a scientist". e harsh reprimand has stayed with him. Olson argues that there are four layers of communication, rather like a pyramid, with each layer loosely cor responding to human physicality and the layers getting broader -- that is, having a broader impact -- towards the base. At the top of the pyramid is the 'mind' -- which is where most scientists, for example, spend most of their time. ey communicate learnedly with each other in a careful, heavily footnoted style. Unfortunately, this style isolates them. e next layer down is the 'heart': the locus of love, loyalty and patriotism. e third layer is the 'gut': locus of fear. At the base of the pyramid are the 'reproductive organs', which is why so many people, companies and organisations use romance for marketing -- it is the easiest way to reach the broadest number of people, no matter what is being sold: cars, chocolate, clothes, shampoo. Olson recommends that communication be focused more on the heart and gut -- love and fear -- to better explain complicated subjects. ( The challenge of change THOUGHT LEADERS One of the central themes behind the AIPM National Conference is that 'change creates a better future'. With project managers -- as change agents -- having so much to learn about change from current world events, futurist and foreign affairs commentator Dr Keith Suter shares his understanding about embracing and achieving change.
Project Manager Aug Sept 2013
Project Manager Dec Jan 2014