From the Dan Le Batard show, via the High Noon (9 am Pacific) podcast, I learned that Tom Cruise is five years older today (56) than Wilford Brimley (51) was in 1985 when Cocoon was released. The IMDB description of Cocoon reads "When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigor."
I don't think it's true, but maybe 51 years old qualified as a senior in 1985. One thing is certain, however, the new installment of Mission Impossible is just one example that proves that we don't think of 50 the same way we did 30 years ago.
The same is true about project management.
My first experience with a project was probably 90% administrative work: scheduling meetings, taking notes, and keeping plans and registers. Over the years I've heard organizations say that they don't have time for project managers. That they hire people who actually do things.
Today, a good project manager is focused on people instead of artifacts. Relationships rather than registers. Soft skills and leadership are, and will continue to be, crucial skills for a project manager. The great ones aren't just updating their sponsors and stakeholders. They have a seat at the table and a real opportunity to influence them. And by extension, the business.
At this very moment, I'm guilty of Cocoon thinking. My resume, refreshed when I started my current job, says my role is to "establish a controlling Project Management Office to manage projects across the enterprise."
Controlling is a 1985 word. Along with supporting or directing. We're also not waterfall, agile, or scrum. We're leaders of teams who adapt to the task at hand and find the best way to get it done.
The truth is a project manager must:
Lead wherever needed.
Consult wherever wanted.
Teach wherever warranted.
Engage wherever possible.
Do all of that, and find yourself swimming in a pool that energizes with professional vigor.