The Future of Project Management Amidst a Digital Forest

When I became involved with the Project Management Institute (PMI) in 1999, project management as a professional really, did not exist.  Of course people had been doing project management for centuries but the ‘profession’ was typically cloaked under other roles, even though the functions of project management were very similar.

The future of project management will still require human intervention. There I said it. We will leverage decision support solutions more heavily but the decision to allow a project manager who is also a mother to go home at 3pm to pick up her son from school, can’t be entered into a tool. That’s called good leadership and IBM Watson won’t help.

The future of project management and decisions required for success either depend on tactic knowledge or explicit knowledge.  Decisions that are explicit are easy to transfer from one person to another by either verbalizing it or writing down the core information.  An example of explicit knowledge would be determining a project’s status of red, yellow or green based on a predefined set of standard guidelines.  However, tactic knowledge is not formal and is very difficult to transfer from one person to the next.  An example of tactic knowledge is taken into account when evaluating the risks of a newly introduced market condition or understanding the trust a team has in its project leader to accelerate delivery and improve team dynamics by providing clear direction and vision. Michael Polanyi in his 1958 book, “Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy” covers the topic of tactic knowledge well.  Polanyi states that, “Rules of art can be useful, but they do not determine the practice of an art; they are maxims which can serve as a guide to the art only if they can be integrated into the practical knowledge of the art. They cannot replace this knowledge.”

The Lesson: Bottom line, rules and tools don’t replace good leadership and good people.




PsyBlog. (2013). The Mental Benefits of Juggling (online image). Retrieved November 28, 2015, from



Peter Nichol, empowers organizations to think different for different results. You can follow Peter on Twitter or on his blog. Peter can be reached at pnichol [dot]

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Peter is a technology executive with 19 years of experience, dedicated to driving innovation, digital transformation, leadership, and data in business. He helps organizations connect strategy to execution to maximize company performance. He has been recognized for Digital Innovation by CIO 100, MIT Sloan, Computerworld, and the Project Management Institute. As Managing Director at OROCA Innovations, Peter leads the CXO advisory services practice, driving digital strategies. Peter was honored as an MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award Finalist in 2015 and is a regular contributor to on innovation. Peter has led businesses through complex changes, including the adoption of data-first approaches for portfolio management, lean six sigma for operational excellence, departmental transformations, process improvements, maximizing team performance, designing new IT operating models, digitizing platforms, leading large-scale mission-critical technology deployments, product management, agile methodologies, and building high-performance teams. As Chief Information Officer, Peter was responsible for Connecticut’s Health Insurance Exchange’s (HIX) industry-leading digital platform transforming consumerism and retail oriented services for the health insurance industry. Peter championed the Connecticut marketplace digital implementation with a transformational cloud-based SaaS platform and mobile application recognized as a 2014 PMI Project of the Year Award finalist, CIO 100, and awards for best digital services, API, and platform. He also received a lifetime achievement award for leadership and digital transformation, honored as a 2016 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader. Peter is the author of Learning Intelligence: Expand Thinking. Absorb Alternative. Unlock Possibilities (2017), which Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller Triggers, calls "a must-read for any leader wanting to compete in the innovation-powered landscape of today." Peter also authored The Power of Blockchain for Healthcare: How Blockchain Will Ignite The Future of Healthcare (2017), the first book to explore the vast opportunities for blockchain to transform the patient experience. Peter has a B.S. in C.I.S from Bentley University and an MBA from Quinnipiac University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He earned his PMP® in 2001 and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Masters in Business Relationship Management (MBRM) and Certified Scrum Master. As a Commercial Rated Aviation Pilot and Master Scuba Diver, Peter understands first hand, how to anticipate change and lead boldly.