All of the PMPs in the world can’t save us from ourselves. And, there are a lot of them. I should say, there a lot of us. I’m one.
Every professional today has exposure to and experience with projects. Projects are the way anything new is gets done. Need software implemented, big processes redesigned, or anything built from scratch? We create a project. Because we all work with and around projects every day, we also see progress stunted by confusion, miscommunication, and frustration. The challenges with getting anything important done in a coordinated fashion is widely understood. So when we talk about the need for more rigorous management processes, people nod.
The PMP was created by the Project Management Institute and its scores of members across the globe who agreed decades ago that project management work should be professionalized and, as such, gates should be constructed to ensure that practitioners met minimal (yet aspirational) standards for technical competence.
The PMP certification is heavily marketed and, yet, not hard to sell. Similar to the fat-free diet fads of the 1990s, “experts” connected the claim of a cause and effect that seems so obvious when said out loud. So, we believe them. Eat less fat, be less fat. Follow the project management guide, end at your destination-a completed project. We believe that if we just do the schedule, quality management plan, and organizational breakdown structure well enough (to name a few of the dozens of suggested artifacts) work will proceed according to the schedule, be high-quality, and everyone will know their role. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way.
Despite the massive increase in certified PMPs in the last 20 years, projects are no better off. In fact, they fail more often than they succeed. Inputs, outputs, and techniques- part of the organizing framework of the PMP- are, at best, interesting considerations. However, standard processes won’t fix a project doomed from the start with an oversized scope, an unclear goal, and dim or flickering leadership support. Couple these common problems with our standard approach to project staffing and we set ourselves up to fail.
And, how is that we staff projects? More on that in my next post…