Advances in Project Management: New Mindset for a New Age


By Philip Weiss 

Germany & UK

The fact we live in a changing world is beyond dispute.  The fact this change is unpredictable, driven by technology and unprecedented in scope and scale also goes mostly unchallenged.

The problem is that few people have much to say beyond the description of these challenges.  And as managers and executives we are hard wired to be uncomfortable with unpredictability and change.  We like to see trends and create systems and processes that can enable us to get predictable results.

In 1998 I stared a digital consultancy business.  The goal was to help clients ‘lean into’ the new world created by the web and leverage the opportunities it created.  It was early days and it was clearly a time of great opportunities.

At the same time, however, most organisations – especially large ones – were weary of these changes.  If individuals are not hard wired for change, companies are even less so.  They are created to replicate and support the status quo and – to this day – are still struggling with finding ways to incorporate innovation and creativity into their corporate culture.  Move back to the late 90s.  The dot com boom was in full swing and companies wanted to experiment with these new technologies.  But in the communication and marketing business, this was a real challenge.  Most of the time individual managers liked the idea of change, but didn’t really want to do anything different let alone learn about these new technologies personally in order to start rethinking their business.  Then the dot com bust came and many breathed a sigh of relief.  Maybe this was going to go away after all.  To some degree it enabled the more conservative individuals in business to say a glorious ‘I told you so’.

But of course it didn’t go away, in fact changes were still happening at a fast and furious pace but in a different way from the one described in the press.  A more subtle and organic change was under way.

In my business I found that many projects were unsuccessful if we were trying to replicate traditional processes and structures in a digital environment.  I also found that the projects that really worked were not determined by the amount of money invested (often it was the opposite – too much money led to bad decisions), or the resources at the client’s disposal or even the choice of software.  But by mindset.  The willingness to learn, to take risks, to experiment seemed to be critical to getting things off the ground and staying there.


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About the Author

flag-ukflag-germanypmwj18-jan2014-weiss-PHOTOPhilip Weiss

Advisor, Author, Hyperthinker

Author of ‘HyperThinking‘, Phil Weiss is an entrepreneur and strategic thinker who has been working with leading corporations for the past two decades. He speaks for corporate and business audiences around the world on a range of topics related to disruption, innovation and technology.

He founded ZN (www.zn.be) the leading digital agency working with companies, political institutions like the European Commission and Parliament, and organisations on how to use the Internet to integrate and transform business and communication. He works with such household names as Toyota, Microsoft, Sony, Sanofi Pasteur, UCB and various industry associations. His Hyperthinking model was developed to enable the ZN team and their clients manage rapid change and innovation to adapt their strategies and structures to the age of networks.

Whilst studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, Philip Weiss launched two college magazines, started the first student radio station on a full FM licence in the UK, and received the Young Achievers Award from HM the Queen.

In 2009, Philip helped co-found TEDxBrussels (tedxbrussels.eu). He was chairman of IABC Europe (International Association of Business Communicators: http://europe.iabc.com/) in 2012 and organised Eurocomm, the regional conference of the organisation in Brussels.

In 2012, he wrote the book ‘HyperThinking‘, defining the mindset needed to survive and thrive in the age of networks. Information on the book can be found at www.hyperthinking.net. He blogs at hyperthinker.com.

In 2013 he spoke at TEDxGateway in Mumbai, India.

Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK.  The articles are coordinated by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher also provides an introduction to the current month’s article, which you can see elsewhere in this month’s edition.”  Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.