Interview with Darren Dalcher


Becoming responsible:

Rethinking projects for our modern age

Interview with Darren Dalcher

Author, Professor, Series Editor
Director, National Centre for Project Management
Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster, UK

Introduction to the interviewee

Darren Dalcher, Ph.D., AKC, HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI, SMIEEE, SFHEA, MINCOSE is Professor in Strategic Project Management at Lancaster University, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.

Professor Dalcher has written over 300 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, a leading international software engineering journal. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Routledge and of the companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as a leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies.

Darren is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), the British Academy of Management and the International Council on Systems Engineering. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner and an Associate of King’s College London. He sits on numerous senior research and professional boards, including The BCS Fellows Technical Advisory Group, the PMI Curriculum Committee, The British Standards Institute Technical Committee on Project Management, and the APM Group’s Ethics and Standards Governance Board, as well as the British Library’s Management Book of the Year Panel.

He is the Academic Advisor, author and co-Editor of the highly influential 7th edition of the APM Body of Knowledge. His books, all published by Routledge, include Leading the Project Revolution: Reframing the Human Dynamics of Successful Projects (December 2018);  Managing Projects in a World of People, Strategy and Change (August 2018) ; The Evolution of Project Management Practice: From Programmes and Contracts to Benefits and Change (September 2017); Further Advances in Project Management: Guided Exploration in Unfamiliar Landscapes (December 2016); and Advances in Project Management: Narrated Journeys in Uncharted Territory (August 2016). His newest book titled “Rethinking Project Management for a Dynamic and Digital World” was published by Routledge in 2022.

Prof Dalcher is also an academic advisor for and a frequent contributor to the PM World Journal. He can be contacted at d.dalcher@lancaster.ac.uk.

Interview with Professor Darren Dalcher drawing on his book: Rethinking project management for a dynamic and digital world

Q1.    In the VUCA era, what kind of project perspective should we take? To deal with VUCA, what skills should project professionals equip themselves with?

Darren Dalcher (Dalcher):   We live in interesting times, but one could argue that historically most times have been interesting, challenging and unprecedented. In 1970 Alvin Toffler wrote a best seller Future Shock, contending that society was undergoing an enormous structural change which overpowers people. Future shocks can be broadly explained as too much change in too short a period of time. They have persisted ever since the industrial revolution. We seem to clamour for certainty, for knowledge that can be confirmed and secure; yet, reality, especially when we seek to innovate and change, is far from certain. One of the biggest casualties is the breakdown of systems and ideas that we used to take for granted. There is a lot that we need to learn and unlearn in order to prosper and thrive in a turbulent reality.

The book is therefore positioned around the need to rethink and reimagine some of the ideas applied to projects, innovation and growth. For example, there needs to be a greater emphasis on purpose and intent, rather than on overly prescriptive plans. Moreover, we need to remember that people make projects succeed or fail, and hence we increasingly rely on individuals, stakeholders, communities and society to shape and influence projects. Innovation and experimentation become even more essential when we do not fully understand the territory around us or the overarching conditions under which we operate – in a fast-changing world they are essential to grasping opportunities and responding to emergent conditions as we make sense of them. We also need to refocus on new forms of leadership and empowerment that can support greater achievement through project work.

Q2.     Stewardship is about leadership style, right? The PMBOK Guide (7th edition) also recognizes “stewardship” as one of the 12 principles of project management. Would you please explain the definition and importance of “stewardship” to readers?


To read entire interview, click here

Editor’s note: This virtual interview was conducted in 2022 by a former correspondent who could not complete it for unspecified reasons. It is being published here with Darren Dalcher’s permission.

How to cite this interview: PM World Journal (2023). Becoming responsible: Rethinking projects for our modern age, Interview with Prof Darren Dalcher; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue II, February. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/pmwj126-Feb2023-Interview-with-Darren-Dalcher.pdf