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By John Clark, Corporate Faculty, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology

At the time of this writing, the pandemic has spanned all continents except Antarctica. Here in the US, almost a quarter of a million people have died from the virus. The virus has ushered in a complex, and at times, chaotic environment. Accelerated by COVID-19, many jobs, including the project manager, continue to change and evolve. I humbly argue that the project manager can be a part of leading through this pandemic.

Investigation into how to manage the pandemic remains is only beginning. The few available articles concerning leadership in times of a global medical emergency continue to reinforce themes involving distributed leadership, adaptability, and flexibility. These themes are highly applicable to the field of project management. The twenty-first century project manager needs to be skilled in sharing knowledge with an emphasis on collaboration and partnership. Facilitated by the project manager, the project can resemble a cybernetic system.

In my doctoral studies, an area of interest has been the organization behaving cybernetically. Possibly, the brain serves as a model for the modern project. For example, in stroke, patients the brain is capable of reintegrating functions to undamaged parts. Similarly, the twenty-first century project manager encourages partnerships and redistributes information to maximize team member potency when new challenges arise.

The pandemic exposed that we are all interlinked, both physically and socio-politically. As members of the project management community, The PMI code of ethics calls for us, as project managers, to treat others with respect and honesty. Together, I am confident that we will overcome this challenge as well as those yet to come. In the next blog, I plan to write about risk and uncertainty. Using only traditional risk management approaches, project managers are possibly inadequately prepared to face the challenges found in the twenty-first century project.

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