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Anatomy of a 21st-century project: A quick autopsy

Chapter in book
Authors Mirek Dymitrow
Karin Ingelhag
Published in In: Dymitrow, M. and Ingelhag, K. (eds.), Anatomy of a 21st-century sustainability project: The untold stories
Pages in production
ISBN 978-91-984166-3-3
Publisher Mistra Urban Futures
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Mistra Urban Futures
Pages in production
Language en
Keywords projects, projectification, 21st-century, autoethnography, sustainability
Subject categories Human Geography, Ethnography, Technology and social change, Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Work Sciences

Abstract

We all are accustomed to projects. Projects are everywhere, and everything is basically a project. We have learnt how to deal with projects, for better or worse. Some of us love them, some of us are fed up with them. But projects are here to stay. Projects are far from a new invention, what has changed is the fine-tuning. It has changed to the point that projects of today are virtually unrecognisable from those from days of yore. All projects of today ‘must’ be green. They must have social relevance. They must be innovative, and must leave footprints (not ecological, hopefully). Projects of today are ideally transdisciplinary; wearing blinkers is a thing of the past. Inclusive projects, bottom-up projects, future-minded projects… who would even challenge that? Projects are no longer targeted, planned, structured endeavours; that description no longer suffices. To be able to do projects today, we are trained in project management, project leadership, spreadsheets, GANT charts, swimlanes, Kanban, Scrum, Waterfall, sprints, deliverables, bandwidths, roadblocks, backlogs, agile methodologies and the like. Have you noticed a pattern yet? On the other hand, projects of today are full of pitfalls. Lack of resources, scope creep, poor project handling, unrealistic deadlines, lack of interest from stakeholders or simply not paying attention to warning signs are just some of the most oft-cited reasons why projects fail. With this book, we want to halt this chthonic gallop, and just pause for a while. We want to open the lid to the black box of project-making and let it stay aslant for the time it takes to read this book, so we can peek into what goes on – on the inside.

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