People Outweigh Methods and Tools

Interview with Reinhard Wagner

Chairman of Executive Council
International Project Management Association
Honorary Chair, German Project Management Association

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


Journalist’s notes

For more than three decades he has been dancing with projects and walking in pace with project management. Having participated in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, he always stands in the frontier of project management and follows the footsteps of change. His footprints spread across diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. Who is he? Yes, he is Chairman of the IPMA Council and Past President of IPMA. Talking about project management, he has many “gold sentences”.

Introduction to Reinhard Wagner

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.



Q1. As 2018 Chairman of the IPMA Council, would you please tell us what measures IPMA will take to promote the development of project management in China?

Reinhard Wagner: IPMA´s vision is “promoting competence throughout society to enable a world in which all projects succeed”, which we will continue to set into practice in China through our member association Project Management Research Council (PMRC). PMRC is networking in China through many associated regional PM Associations and Universities, providing education and training, offering certification, performing research and — what is most important to us — spreading the idea of good practices through our Young Crew (YC) to young professionals in China. This year, PMRC will conduct a joint research project with IPMA, analyzing the degree to which China is project-oriented. In Germany for example, more than one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was created through projects. Trends show further increases in Germany. What about China? We could assume that the project-orientation is the same, but we need facts and figures for comparison. Thus, IPMA helps to benchmark and develop the project management in its member associations.

Q2. As John Chapman writes, “Projects can be a battle at times. There are finite resources available, multiple projects running at the same time with varying priorities, and business as usual constraints…”, the life of project managers is hard. Do you agree with that? In your opinion, how can project managers deal with challenges?

Reinhard Wagner: I agree with the statement of John, but isn´t this exactly why we are doing projects? If a task were easy, just repetition and thus boring, we would not be satisfied, right? A short survey revealed what project managers are looking for: a challenging task is the No. 1 reason for people to take responsibility of a project. A project manager needs to be a certain type of personality, someone that is striving for the extra mile, looking for challenges and maybe also the adventure… It´s certainly nothing for people with an attitude of a 9 to 5 job. We need to carefully balance the challenges, not to overdo it with the project, but use them to learn, to grow and make our way forward on our journey…

Q3. Having worked in the field of project management for over three decades, what changes have you observed


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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/