The Crucial Key to Innovation in Project Management

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In the fast-paced world of project management, innovation is an indispensable element for survival and success. Jeff Tobbe, renowned author of “Coloring Outside the Lines,” presents an eye-opening concept that caught my attention during a PMI World Congress a few years ago: Business Professional Innovation Deficiency Syndrome (BPIDS).

BPIDS illustrates a shortfall in the innovative aspect of leadership. In our evolving business environment, with the emergence of unique business models, virtual teams, and escalating risks, embracing change and innovative thinking is pivotal.

Unlocking BPIDS: The Seven Symptoms

BPIDS manifests through seven distinctive symptoms, which, once identified, can guide leaders to tackle potential innovation voids in their organizations.

  1. Internal Myopia: Within the BPIDS framework, internal myopia signifies the narrow vision that binds leaders to the immediate present, thereby stunting foresight. It becomes critical for leaders to broaden their horizons, anticipate future changes and integrate varied perspectives about the organization’s direction.
  2. The Ostrich View: This metaphorical perspective, akin to burying one’s head in the sand, is the practice of ignoring emerging issues in the hopes they will resolve themselves. This approach is counterproductive, as it impedes external awareness and adaptability.
  3. Paralysis of the Past: This symptom is characterized by an inflexible approach stemming from ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mindset. As underlined by the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” past victories don’t guarantee future success. Leaders must be open to unlearning outdated strategies to make way for fresh ideas.
  4. My Way or No Way: This symptom surfaces when leaders insist on a top-down management style, unintentionally stifling innovation due to their reluctance to consider alternative perspectives.
  5. Feedback Walls: This predicament arises when leaders request input but neglect to provide reciprocal feedback. This unidirectional communication discourages contributors from offering their insights.
  6. The Experts in Charge: While expertise is a valuable asset, experts can inadvertently stymie innovation by adhering too rigidly to traditional methodologies. It’s crucial to cultivate an environment of continuous learning, knowledge expansion, and upskilling.
  7. Fear of Failure: This fear hinders progress. As project managers, it is our task to reframe failure, not as a setback, but as a stepping stone towards success.

Taking Risks: A Crucial Path to Innovation

To foster innovation, we need to appreciate the importance of taking calculated risks. Although failure may seem daunting, we should consider FAIL as “First Attempt In Learning.” This perspective encourages us to learn from our failures and move forward.

In risk-taking, there should always be a balance. While high risks may lead to high rewards, they could also cause severe losses. Therefore, each risk needs careful assessment to ensure it’s reasonable.

In conclusion, understanding and addressing BPIDS is a valuable asset for all project managers. As we engage with these insights, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Together, we can create a culture of innovation and learning that will drive us and our organizations toward greater success.

This article contains highlights from Frank Saladis’ webinar – The Importance of Learning How to “Lead Now” as a Project Manager – being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations, or there may be additions to expand on concepts. You may watch the on-demand recording of this webinar at your convenience.


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The Microsoft Project User Group (MPUG) is the world’s largest community of Microsoft Project users, with over 200,000 members in more than 170 countries. Founded in 1997, MPUG has been serving project management professionals for over 25 years, providing a platform for members to connect, share knowledge, and learn from one another. With a focus on using technology to improve project management processes, MPUG offers a variety of resources and services, including webinars, training courses, articles, and discussion forums. The organization is dedicated to helping members master Microsoft Project and related technologies, stay up-to-date with industry trends, and advance their careers. Whether you’re new to project management or a seasoned pro with decades of experience, MPUG is a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their skills and knowledge.

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