Interview with Darren Dalcher


Project Management will Continue to Grow

Interview with Prof Darren Dalcher

Founder and Director
National Centre for Project Management
Professor, Lancaster University Management School, UK

Interviewed by Yu Yanjuan
Journalist, Project Management Review: PMR (China)

Darren Dalcher is Professor of Project Management, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management. He works to foster interactive dialogue about the integration of successful practice with theoretical research in the management of projects.

He is an experienced academic with a successful track record of consulting and working with businesses, charities and governmental organisations. Passionate about solving real world problems, he has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the area of practice-based education and reflection in project management and information systems and has designed and developed the UK’s first professional doctorate in project management, alongside an extensive suite of executive and professional masters programmes and diplomas.

Darren is the Editor of two project management book series published by Routledge and Editor-in-Chief of a leading software engineering journal published by Wiley, reflecting his hybrid interest in the connection between technology and its successful management. He has amassed the world’s largest collection of failure stories, which he uses as a basis for refining the notion of sustainable success. His aim is to refresh and rejuvenate management and leadership practice through the breaking of silos, the sharing of transdisciplinary ideas and the co-creation of new innovations and insights. His research focuses on rethinking project success, reshaping the notion of agility and developing a longer term perspective on usage, benefits, and value in artefacts, systems and projects.

Prof Dalcher’s key interests: The improvement of project practice, project excellence, strategic initiatives, managing change, systems engineering, decision making, narratives of success and failure, continuous improvement and development, the future of information, agile methods and the evolution of life cycles.



Q1.      You’ve said that culture really matters. In the context of globalization, what are the keys to dealing with multi-cultural project environment?

Darren Dalcher (Dalcher):     Diversity is a tremendous asset for problem solving, for identifying options and for making decisions. Our strength is often in our differences, which can open new opportunities for innovation and renewal.

In a connected world, collaboration will continue to hold the key to our shared and enduring success. Globalization means the blending across cultures, perspectives, religions and experiences, offering the potential to benefit from other points of views. The keys to dealing with collaboration revolve around: trust, respect, fairness, transparency, sharing and open communication, and the recognition of differences in terms of values, norms and practices.

.      As founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management in UK, from your perspective, what’s the necessity and significance of building a nation-level project management organization?

Dalcher:          There are many conversations that are needed around projects and their impacts. Not least, is the ability to create a dialogue between informed practice and relevant research and reach across the various silos and perspectives. The management of projects holds the potential to link strategy, stakeholders, benefits, usage of assets, facilities and capabilities. Being able to have these conversations, share new insights and identify new problems and challenges is essential to the developing maturity of the discipline of project and programme management.

.      In the fast-paced society featured by digitalization, how can an enterprise manage change in the era of VUCA?

Dalcher:          Change management is where we start to consider people and their needs and the impacts that our projects can have. The success of most of our endeavours is measured by the rates of people using them, and/or the money and benefits that those uses bring to the organization or to society. Change management can leverage our change efforts and therefore merits attention to the people impacted by change. A fast-paced society would require new modes for dealing with large change.

People, and society at large, seem to be in constant state of searching for improvements. In every generation, people appear to have been part of an unprecedented march towards improving, adopting new technologies, industrialising and the like. So we shouldn’t be fazed by the impact and scale of changes around us.

We are operating in increasingly uncertain and unprecedented times. In order for change to be successful, we need to bring people with us and get them to change previous behaviour patterns and embrace new assets, technologies and ways of doing things. They need to learn to use them, often in new ways. We need a series of experiments in order to learn, but we need our change subjects to be part of the conversation and to take a lead in shaping these experiments, so that we are able to change behaviours and embrace change. We should learn quickly and make rapid adjustments. We should start with the end in mind and ask what steps could take us there, and ask lots of questions.


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Editor’s note: This interview was first published in PMR, Project Management Review magazine, China.  It is republished here with the permission of PMR. The PM World Journal maintains a cooperative relationship with PMR, periodically republishing works from each other’s publications. To see the original interview with Chinese introduction, visit PMR at http://www.pmreview.com.cn/english/

How to cite this interview: PMR (2018). Project management will continue to grow. Interview with Prof Darren Dalcher; Project Management Review; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VII, Issue X – October. Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/pmwj75-Oct2018-Yanjuan-Dalcher-Interview.pdf


About the Interviewer

Yu Yanjuan

Beijing, China




Yu Yanjuan, Bachelor’s Degree, graduated from the English Department of Beijing International Studies University (BISU) in China. She is now an English-language journalist and editor working for Project Management Review Magazine and website. In the past, she has worked as a journalist and editor for China Manned Space Agency website and Student English Times. She once worked part-time as English teacher in training centers. For work contact, she can be reached via email [email protected] or Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/yanjuan-yu-76b280151/.