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Project Management 2019

Harness the hive mind for the modern business agile world


Peter Taylor

Project Speaker, Author, Coach and Consultant

‘Business agile’ demands faster decision-making in the modern business world. Organisations that don’t engage the masses will deliver less success.

Professor Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School has suggested that the world is entering something he calls “The Age of Agile.”

Organisations throughout history, Birkinshaw said in a speech at the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna Austria, were of three types: bureaucracies, meritocracies and adhocracies.

The age of bureaucracy was where power was through hierarchy and managed by rules, the age of meritocracy was where power was through knowledge and guided by logical argument.

But now we are in the age of adhocracy where it is about action, about getting things done, and done fast. Experimentation and outcome achievement are key.

We are, I believe, in the age of the ‘business agile’

Business agile is the approach of providing greater flexibility and faster decision-making in the modern business world.

Organisations that aren’t business agile will take longer to succeed and be less flexible in this modern, demanding business world. They will likely fail at a faster rate too.

But that brings about a challenge with regards to supporting this rapidly moving world of change driven through projects.

We are in a world of complexity and criticality. Projects range across the globe, resources are remotely and virtually engaged, and leaders of change are tasked with delivering the best for their organisations, while those very organisations spin ever faster on their strategic arc.

Simplicity is key for success

The answer, it seems, is not to meet complexity with complexity, but to meet it with simplicity.

One way to do this is to harness the power of the ‘hive mind’.

By harnessing the collective power, thoughts, experience, knowledge and wisdom of the many, rather than the few, then better decisions can be made. And, by utilising the many business social technological platforms, these more-inclusive decision making processes can be faster than the more traditional ‘meet/discuss/agree/act’ physical meetings of the past.

One example of the power of this can be found in a study by researchers at Unanimous AI and Oxford University. A human swarm (large group) was used to predict the outcome of all English Premier League games. Results showed that individuals achieved a 55% accuracy, but when they were acting as a collective, accuracy rose to 72%. Power is with the many.

Change leaders today need to embrace this more social, decentralised and collaborative world in order to succeed in the adhocracy age we are well and truly in, right now.

Reduce the processes, adjust the governance and believe, really believe, in the power of the people to deliver simple success in a time of complex demand.

Experimentation and outcome achievement are key.

The lazy project manager

Peter Taylor is a project and change expert who has built and led five global PMOs across several industries, and is also the author of the number one bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.
In the last few years, he has delivered over 350 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’.
More information can be found at

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