Dubai is also rewarding innovation in project management
At DIPMF I found the panel discussions about renewable energy and logistics the most fascinating (Dubai is investing heavily in solar power) but the awards ceremony for innovation in project management was also noteworthy. The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Award offers 8 awards with the aim of encouraging and promoting an innovative culture in project management. I was pleasantly surprised that a fellow Dane, Christina Sejr Pedersen, landed a $200,000 award for Project Half Double – an innovative project methodology centred around three core elements of Impact, Flow and Leadership.
The conference made me think about how innovative I have personally been over the last couple of years, or not! When I first started out in my business six years ago I came up with new ideas and concepts that I captured in “The Power of Project Leadership”. And even my first book, “The Project Management Coaching Workbook”, which I wrote in 2012, contained innovative assessments and a unique coaching framework for project manages to reach excellence. But apart from my books, how innovative have I really been? Have I invented new models, new assessments and new ways for project managers to deliver better value, or have I just been very skilled at teaching, coaching and conveying existing knowledge? The intense focus on innovation at Dubai International Project Management Forum was a reminder that we all need to innovate in order stay afloat. The world is developing with such speed that unless we want to fall behind, we have to come up with innovative solutions to meet the needs of our clients and continuously improve the way we execute projects.
We need a culture where control and fear is absent
Project professionals have an important role to play in creating a culture of innovation and creativity by empowering team members to come up with new and better ways of doing things. But this may be easier said than done. Many project managers value control and compliance – attributes that are known to kill innovation. True idea generation will flourish in a culture where fear is absent and where there is an abundance of trust, openness and diversity. What this means is that managers and leaders need to make people feel psychologically safe to the extent where they are not holding back good ideas out of fear of being judged. They also have to create the time and space for unstructured thinking as ideas are unlikely to surface if people are constantly under pressure to deliver their other scheduled tasks.
Diversity of thought powers innovation
Another good way to create an innovative culture is to bring people together with different backgrounds and to stimulate their curiosity. Diversity of thought powers innovation, so mixing people up and inviting outsiders into the team can work wonders. People from different industries, who have different backgrounds, will bring a new perspective and generate a different set of options. Project professionals should also ask challenging questions in order to encourage team members to step forward and generate innovative solutions. Some of the questions they can experiment with are: What are we not seeing that is new or different? What have we not yet invested in that could make a big difference? What is working well for other teams that we can leverage? What if we had no constraints? What if we only had half the time? What if we could start all over? There needs to be a compelling challenge and a vision to work towards. Otherwise the risk of trying something new will seem too high.
Find the courage, energy and clear sight to innovate
As we enter into 2019 I will take time out to ask myself what I need to do to stay ahead of the curve, to innovate and to make a difference. I encourage you to do the same. Take a step back from your daily routine and observe your life and work from different angles. What is working well? What is not working well and what are the opportunities for making improvements and adding more value? It will always be easier to maintain the status quo than to question it and improve it. But as humans we are motivated by the desire to grow and develop so find the courage, energy and clear sight to do so. Who knows, perhaps you will be the next winner of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Award.
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