From the Ancient Pyramids to Behavioral Mastery: Tracing the Metamorphosis of Project Portfolio Management

Investment has always been a driving force behind humanity’s biggest achievements, from conquering new lands to building thriving empires. Consider Christopher Columbus, who sought investment from all corners of Europe in his quest to find new trade routes to Asia. Despite being rejected by most investors, he eventually secured funding from the Spanish crown and went on to change the course of history. Fast forward to the 1600s, when the Dutch became the dominant players in world trade, financing their wars and solidifying their power through credit and timely repayment of loans, backed by a robust legal system that protected investors.

The father of capitalism, Adam Smith, believed in the power of reinvesting profits to improve a business. This idea caught on during the industrial revolution, as investments were made in a wide range of technologies, from textile mills to telegraphs and steam engines. Governments and municipalities also made investments that would generate future income, such as building infrastructure and providing education. The key to success in these investments was a focus on yield, the delivery of promises, and rational behavior ensured by a strong system.

Fig. 1 A Visual Journey Through the Technological Evolution”

The industrial revolution was fueled by advancements in fields such as mechanical engineering, chemistry, and energy. It allowed for mass production of mechanical power and efficient management of labor through precision and uniformity. This led to the creation of project management models, such as Gantt Charts and Critical Path techniques, by the pioneering thinkers Frederick Taylor and Henry Gantt.

In the information age, automation and digitization have revolutionized tasks ranging from communication to interfaces. Intelligence and cognitive tasks are now being digitized as well.

However, despite all these technological advancements, investment management remains largely unchanged. The four key stages of investment management are still creation, selection, planning, and management. What has changed is the recognition of the role human behavior plays in investment decisions. Herbert Simon and Daniel Kahneman, two prominent psychologists and behavioral economists, shed light on the importance of considering human behavior in investment decisions. Simon’s theories on bounded rationality, which suggests that humans make decisions based on limited information and Kahneman’s concept of cognitive biases, have helped us understand that irrational beliefs and emotions can greatly influence investment decisions.

Investment is not just about maximizing profits, but also about vision and the desire to be at the forefront of progress. Companies invest in new technologies not just because they believe it will increase profits, but also because they have a vision for the future.

In conclusion, the future of investment management will require a provocative combination of rational thinking and the consideration of all available information, taking into account the insights of Simon and Kahneman on human behavior, and combining this with technological advancements. Only then can we make informed investment decisions that balance the risk and reward of innovation and progress.

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