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How to lead during the shift from project management to work management

Matthew Brada

The world of project management is changing, and it needs new leadership. From the rigid approaches of the Project Management Institute and hard-lined project management offices comes a new approach to managing projects and from the classically trained project manager, the new incidental project manager. Recently, all scrum masters were released from Equifax, and most likely project managers and program manager roles will not exist in their organization much longer. Wow! Traditional project management is giving way to the broader work management spectrum, so how do we understand these changes?

Effective project managers understand the importance of motivating a team through encouragement and collaboration. They know how to reduce conflict and negotiate wins across competing entities. They also understand that people don’t like to work for a drill instructor, always nervous when he/she comes around, afraid they are going to uncover something that hasn’t been done and berate them in a public meeting.

On the other hand, project management professionals who have vision, who motivate, and who provide objective perspective when times get tough on a project, are priceless. Good leadership seems to have at least one core skill in common – they know how to be a collaborative team builder.


Just as the approach of project managers has changed, so too have the organizations that hire them. A lot of people now work remotely. In the past, project teams were co-located and did everything together. Now that same team could be scattered across the country or beyond, but their collaborative needs are still the same.

Many PMOs don’t necessarily talk about projects anymore but instead talk about customer journeys and product road maps. Project leaders can break them down into projects, or sprints, or whatever, but the way that we are working is a lot less structured in today’s world of project management and new leaders need to operate in this new decentralized paradigm.

And that is where work management meets project management. Projects contain work, but work is a much broader concept. A unifying platform is needed that is fluid enough to adjust to changing methods – a platform that can still help you track your work, even when that work isn’t part of a budgeted, formalized “project.”

And while the nature of project management is changing, some fundamentals aren’t going to go away. You still need to identify your objectives, and you still need to measure your progress towards those objectives. You also still need to be less focused on attaining a certain title and more focused on what kind of work do you want to do.

You also need to be comfortable with change.

Matthew Brada is a process re-engineering work management expert and owns the alliance between Capgemini Group and Workfront.  You can contact him at or 214-263-9681.