Project Management in the Networked Age

The networked age is here, and with it comes a number of changes that deeply affect society. Whether it’s the ubiquity of social media and the nearly instant removal of personal privacy, times are changing profoundly. 

As exciting as the times may be, don’t let yourself think the changes taking place are limited to the personal sphere of your life.

Recently, I came across an article which covered Tim Cook’s favorite book: Competing Against TimeIts lesson is that as times have changed over the past few decades, the best companies have evolved in their constant search to gain leverage. As we move into the networked age, the best companies are shifting to compete on a new competitive dimension: TimeCompeting on “time” means (a) discovering and (b) building things people want before anyone else is able to. The faster you move, the bigger your advantage.

Project management is where the war for faster output is won or lost. If your teams move nimbly and are able to sprint from task to task, you’ll thrive within the new competitive landscape. However, if your team struggles to hit deadlines or ship products, you won’t stand a chance. To keep up with the rapid changes in project management in the modern world, you’ll have to acquire a skill set that empowers you. 

At it’s core, the new skill set involves two things:

1. Versatile knowledge and skills

Most importantly, this means having an intimate understanding of what you’re building and how everything fits together. Without adequate competence in the relevant fields (design, programming, SEO, etc.) you’re hopelessly dependent on others to get things done in the fastest manner possible.

Unfortunately, this rarely happens. One of your primary jobs is to analyze the processes of your team and find ways to cut waste and speed up production. Many non-technical managers are extremely code-averse, just as many technical managers detest the idea of studying design. If you don’t understand how things work, your ability to move quickly will be crippled.

2. Fast-paced Management

“Well, duh…” you may say, however, this point warrants brief elaboration. It’s not enough to just commit yourself to “moving quickly” without realizing what actions will have the biggest impact on overall output. Instead of rushing to your team and demanding they “work faster”, figure out places where you personally create bottlenecks.

The #1 opportunity for this is usually with confirmation. If you can adjust your work-style so that your team waits minutes (or seconds) instead of hours before they get your OK to move on. After this, the top priority should be looking at any obstacles that your team faces and doing what you can to remove these from the path.

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