Are you ready to fight the Brain Drain? The Future of Project Management Depends on it

29 March 2012
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In many ways the discipline of project management heavily focuses on best practices in improving and streamlining both soft and hard factors impacting a project’s outcome.  Whether it is the implementation of Earned Value Management (EVM) techniques or it’s adhering to Prince2 or the PMBOK, project management practitioners are constantly seeking for better ways to get it right.  Although these methodologies and techniques are helpful in developing a strategy for success, nothing can replace the acquired experience of a seasoned project manager who understands the nuances of the projects he or she serves that can turn at a moment’s notice.  Many of these rich experiences cannot be found in academic textbooks and the manner in which to address the common unforeseen challenges are typically learned on the job.  As the largest aging generation of modern times (the “Baby Boomers”) are beginning to exit the workforce, organizations are faced with the daunting reality that uncaptured knowledge may be exiting as well.

As an example, “Over the next 5 years, approximately 45% of engineers in the electric utilities industry will be leaving the workforce, creating a void of 7,000 power engineers.”  It is evident that a “Brain Drain” is on the horizon, especially for those with specialized skills and expertise.  Nonetheless, project management practitioners will face the same predicament.  To complicate matters more, seasoned project managers will exit their careers with little trace of their expertise and knowledge captured by the organizations they served.  As this is the case, fighting the “Brain Drain” in the project management world is more than just a “replacement” market for experienced professionals.

For the project management community there needs to be strategy in place to capture and transfer experiences, knowledge and best practices for its future leadership.  Luckily, as the workforce shrinks, technology continues to grow providing the tools and the infrastructure to efficiently capture strategic information potentially accessible to the entire workforce whenever needed.  The fact is, there is no better time to be an information worker than the present where knowledge capture is made easy and the sharing and transfer of that knowledge has become commonplace in our personal and professional lives.  Perhaps the “Brain Drain” is not that scary if we nip it in the bud and start leveraging the ubiquitous technologies already available at our fingertips.

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