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The Power of Human Emphasis

A Management Framework Disciplined

with Neuroscience Agility

Wanda Curlee

Abstract: Neuroscience is no longer considered s­ cience

fiction to those in business. Successful mapping of the
brain with functional MRIs (fMRI) proves that ­neural
pathways continue to develop throughout the ­ entire
human life cycle, discounting previous beliefs that
the brain does not evolve after a person reaches thirty
years of age. Three primary ways classify how a ­person
­reasonably ­addresses things: (1) o­ rganized (the r­ ockstar),
(2) ­holistically (the coach/playmaker), and (3) influen-
tially (the rainmaker). The PM POWERED ­management
framework is designed to ­empower the ­human ­emphasis
and pAcuity mechanisms influenced by neurosci-
ence segments that define the poise and conditioning
of ­effective leaders. Project management incorporates
many facets of business, including leadership, teams,
­finance, negotiations, communication, and several other
soft skills (PMI 2013a). By e­ mpowering human ­emphasis
into a project, program, or portfolio’s management, lead-
ers are better prepared with s­ cientific support they need
to deploy the proven methods necessary for successful
Dr. Wanda Curlee is a full-time effort control and advancement. The indirect ­advantages
associate professor at the American
Public University. Her business
of these methods may be ­ extrapolated to other busi-
career spans over 30 years in several ness areas and associated efforts. Studies suggest that
industries, including IT, government, ­empowering leaders with different disciplines of thinking
insurance, telecommunications and makes them more reasonable, s­ trategic, and/or creative.
consulting. Dr. Curlee is active with
When a leader identifies with an applicable ­discipline
the Project Management Institute
(PMI) by currently serving on its Ethics of thinking—the probability for success of a project,
Review Committee. She has served on program, and/or portfolio is c­onfidently ­ increased.
certification teams, standards teams, ­Increased success probabilities are directly relational to
and the Requirements Practice Guide human emphasis, powering the results that leaders at all
and Program Management Standard
(4th edition) core teams and was
levels expect. Leadership that adopts the PM POWERED
part of the team that developed the management framework disciplined with neuroscience
Portfolio Management Professional agility will e­ njoy benefits of increased r­ esults and better
(PfMP) certification. Dr. Curlee has control of effort delivery across its business landscapes.
published three books: two delve into
complexity theory and one is about
virtual PMOs. She has earned four Keywords: agility, coach, creative thinking, human
PMI credentials: PfMP, PgMP, PMP, and emphasis, integrated reasoning, leadership,
PMI-RMP. management framework, management triangle,

© Business Expert Press 978-1-63157-962-2 (2018) Expert Insights

The Power of Human Emphasis

neuroscience, pAcuity, playmaker, being the indirect mechanism for effort agil-
political rationality, program ity. To understand how the h ­ uman brings
management, project discipline, the power to the project, pAcuity must be
project management, project portfolio understood. The three sides of the trian-
management, rainmaker, rockstar, gle are finance, variables, and time. Time
strategic focus is constant and is the base of the triangle.
Time cannot be accelerated or slowed.
A new management framework (Figure 1) Finance and variables will change over
will be explained in sections of this article. As the project’s life cycle. They may change
an overview, the framework’s direct mech- for the positive or the negative. pAcuity
anism is human emphasis, with pAcuity empowers the project manager to balance

Figure 1: PM POWERED Management Framework

with Disciplined Neuroscience Agility

2 © Business Expert Press 978-1-63157-962-2 (2018) Expert Insights

The Power of Human Emphasis

finance and variables to ensure that they most commonly viewed as a triangle. The
maintain the power of the triangle. When triangle’s sides represent schedule, scope,
one or more sides fail, the project fails. and cost. Many models add quality within
One way in which pAcuity can assist is by the triangle to represent the overarching
­enabling the project manager to understand need to ensure the project is delivered
how the brain works. The brain drives how within the constraints and with the neces-
humans use their own human emphasis. sary quality.
First, the project manager needs to under- There are other frameworks and models,
stand the political reality through political but they have proven to be stagnant. Whereas
rationality. There is also a need to under- the PM POWERED management framework
stand the strategic focus of the constituents accommodates advances in technology, project
and the project. Integrated reasoning helps management, and ­pAcuity through ­human
the project manager create a more creative emphasis. Technology evolves daily and, in
and innovative team, which leads to a more turn, the ­importance of a manager’s human
creative solution. Integrated ­ reasoning is ­emphasis will become more s­ ignificant as
how a person processes information. Most the infusion of management practice with
individuals are either organized and detail neuroscience is embraced and a­ dopted. Neu-
oriented (the rockstar), holistic (the coach/ roscience provides the scientific ­approach,
playmaker, or influential and strategically ­classification, and alignment structure that
focused (the rainmaker). The framework managers need to infuse h ­ uman emphasis
brings management into focus through (­Schaufenbeul 2014).
neuroscience agility, which empowers Project management incorporates many
management professionals with the power facets of business including leadership,
of human emphasis. teams, finance, negotiations, communica-
Project management has been in ex- tion, and several other soft skills. By ­applying
istence since communities existed. The neuroscience via human emphasis to man-
Incas built an intricate road system. The agement, the project manager has scientific
Egyptians built vast monuments to their
­ backing for the methods used to advance the
dead, and King Solomon built a mighty project. Findings indicate that pushing indi-
temple. All these required planning, inte- viduals into different m ­ anners of thinking
gration, a loose schedule, and resources. makes them more i­nnovative and creative.
Budget was not an issue for the rich of Innovation and creativity increase the like-
these times. Money was not an object. lihood of a project which drives a program
Project management became more for- and portfolio to succeed.
malized in the 1960s with the introduction The human brain is an electrical o ­ rgan.
of major U.S. weapon systems. This was It is relatively complex. Neuroscientists
the introduction of the cost scheduling sys- are in demand for their insights into the
tem that integrated cost and schedule to brain. Business leaders and other man-
provide a more realistic understanding of agement professionals can take ­advantage
the project’s status. of scientific research in neuroscience on
The Project Management Institute (PMI) how the brain functions. By studying the
has added to the knowledge needed to brain, managers can be more effective at
­advance the profession of project knowl- their jobs. Stimulating the brain through
edge. One of the first standards created by positive behaviors can influence business
PMI was the Guide to the Project Manage- decisions, leadership, corporate gover-
ment Book of Knowledge, more commonly nance, risks, team building, and, as some
­referred to as the PMBOK. would say, even our gut feel.
Project management continued to prog- Project managers can be viewed as
ress with the advent of the triple constraints task leaders as defined by Boyatzis et  al.

© Business Expert Press 978-1-63157-962-2 (2018) Expert Insights