Projects are used extensively in both the private and public sector for a wide range of outcomes; to achieve organisational change; to develop new products and services; to improve processes; and to implement technological change. Projects can be a flexible way of managing one-off activities on a temporary basis being particularly useful as vehicles for innovation and learning.
Within academia, recent research has suggested that projects are growing in quantity, complexity and variety reflecting the increased recognition of projects as an important but under-appreciated organisational form. Project management therefore represents a significant proportion of business activity across a range of sectors. However, from IT and software to construction, financial services to defence, we find high-profile examples of cost and budget overruns, delayed schedules and failure to deliver expected benefits.
This lecture examines this seeming paradox. Projects are all about imagining a future state and we are never short of ideas about how things might be but actually achieving that state is a far trickier endeavour full of uncertainty and unpredictability. Professor Brady imagines a future where projects and programmes are managed better and takes a backwards look into the history of project management to get some clues as to how this might be achieved.