~ By Gil Junqueira
As project management continues to grow around the world and become increasingly commoditised, more specialisation will be necessary in order to secure the best opportunities. One of these areas of specialisation that will have increased demand in the future, I believe, is risk management.
World-class competition, lower costs and increased demands for scarce resources are pushing companies to operate in that frontier - the fine line between chaos and efficient use of tools, people and materials. The future operating style of in demand Project Managers will fall somewhere between a conservative money manager and a poker player.
Poker players have to constantly make good decisions with incomplete information, the goal being to maximise returns while minimising risks. They use the power of observation and deduction to make reasonable assumptions about their competitors, use calibrated estimates to calculate odds of winning and then choose the best course of action - all while keeping their own emotions in check. They are always prepared to change strategies, using a combination of both social skills and technical fundamentals. In this dynamic, ever changing environment, a poker player knows it is futile to think in terms of exact numbers, in a domain that belongs to probabilities.
Project Managers who desire to be seen as the best in their field will be required to employ these same tactics.
The link between strategy games and the business world is not new. Innumerous articles and books are available detailing how one can learn concepts of game theory and how they apply to business situations and even life in general. As the Project Manager moves from the deterministic domain to the probabilistic one, he will have to consider the risks associated with every given decision.
So what can world-class poker players teach managers?