5 reasons why robots will never manage projects

Author

Brad Egeland

July 8, 2016

With all the talk about advances made in robotics lately and how many jobs may soon be lost to robots, I thought it might be interesting to consider why – at least from my humble perspective – robots will never manage projects. There are some jobs, maybe even some tech positions, that could be performed by robots. But I don’t believe that the personal touch and interaction that is needed many times on project engagement will lend itself very well to being handled by the likes of robotics. If you have a strong opinion on this or are a robotics expert, please comment with your thoughts…could be an interesting discussion.

1. The customer needs the personal touch points. I haven’t managed a project yet where the customer didn’t need the personal touch from the project manager. It may be they need someone to complain to, someone to negotiate with, someone to praise, someone to reap praise on them, or just someone to hear them out. But they have always needed the personal touch.

2. Project decisions are rarely black and white – and not always logical. If you can’t make decisions that are straightforward, with no emotion or negotiation involved, then I don’t see how a robot could ever lead a project. I’d have to say that about 60-70% of project decisions I’ve had to make – the big ones anyway – are made with some logic tossed out the window, some emotion built into it and some other considerations that have to be based on logical or illogical assumptions that must be made by a human.

3. It’s all about communication. I’ve always said that communication is Job One for the project manager. There isn’t a client alive that will take comfort in the non-personal type of communication they will get from a robot versus a living, breathing, project manager. There is also the non-verbal communication aspect, but I suspect robotics can eventually handle that fairly well.

4. No matter how remote, you have to jump on a plane from time to time and be face-to-face with the client. If all project work was remote, then a robot could possibly handle a project and lead a project team. But the potential for travel and the personal face-to-face meeting needs that can come up to work through issues and conduct war room break/fix sessions prior to a go-live on a troubled technical project says to me that this will never happen. For this reason alone, I don’t see how it could ever be a reality.

5. If a robot CAN do it, there won’t be any need for someone to manage projects. I feel that if projects became so straightforward that a robot could lead it, then there really wouldn’t be any need for projects. Data and preferences would be loaded and the solution would come about quickly…in the form of a problem solved, not a real project. I think if it does come down to something robots can perform, then we aren’t really talking about project management anymore…it would be dead. So robots would be creating solutions, but not leading projects.

Summary / call for input

I could be completely wrong here…obviously. But I don’t think it’s possible for robotics to ever really take over the tasks involved with leading projects. They could assist, but not lead. For real project management, too much personal touch and involvement is needed.

What are your thoughts? Am I getting it all wrong here? Do you know something I don’t? If you feel or know differently, please share your thoughts and let’s discuss.

This article was written by Brad Egeland from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

There is 1 comment

  • Clive Hudson - 07/13/2016 23:24
    Many academics also confuse intelligence and robotics. The two are only very losely connected, but otherwise completely unrelated. While I agree with your opening statement, I do so only because as I hinted at above, robotics has little or nothing to do with intelligence, especially the kind of human-like skills required in a field such as project management. Instead, you may be interested to learn of superintelligent machines and when we expect they will become available under licence. A superintelligence can be designed to be capable of every cognitive skill a human is capable of - including social skills, project planning, change management, problem solving, dealing with people, etc. If you can think it, a superintelligent machine can do it. There will be few jobs that a human would do better at - I have yet to think of one. Robotics will for a while be the major bottleneck in preventing machines take over every job a human can do, and then do it better. Project management becomes moot when every member of the team is a superintelligent machine. Taking humans out of the equation creates an existential issue for today's employed. Corporations would naturally accelerate this transition because why would a company deliberately employ mentally challenged humans? I am working to a time frame of introducing superintelligent entities within 10 years - after recouping development costs on the stock market of course. Clive Hudson The Supercortical Project

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