Posted on March 16, 2009 by Paul Ritchie
I’m trying to tie up some loose ends, especially follow-ups promised in earlier blog posts (here). In particular, here are the top two answers from the “Is Project Management a Profession Yet?” survey (survey here):
- 38 percent: Yes, but second-tier — like engineering or non-university teaching (33 of 86 answers)
- 26 percent: No, not yet — could reach at least second-tier profession (22 of 86 answers)
I’m with the “No, not yet” crowd. I can see project management achieving some of professional attributes, but I see few in place now. For example, certifications are all well and good — and the PMP is becoming more universal — but they are a long way from licensure. Take a look at the some of the requirements, benefits, and documentation for the Professional Engineer license (here).
Filed under: Polls, Project Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: professionalization, professionalization of project management, professions | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 4, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.
I liked this quote because it provides an example of something I’ve found hard to explain: the difference between a skill and a competency. In this case, the skill is knowing which fork is which. Competence refers to the cluster of abilities, knowledge, skills, temperament, etc. required for a role.
Competence in manners would involve not only knowing table settings, but other, fuzzier abilities — like understanding how to best to convey such knowledge. For example, with someone who appears unsure when faced with an array of utensils, one could show empathy with their plight, something like: “I know how you feel. Someone showed me this trick about starting with the utensils on the outside….”
Hey... who took my fish fork?
Filed under: Communications, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: Emily Post, etiquette, PM Quote of the Day, table settings | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 18, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
I very much liked this post by J Schwan (here) about the dangers of over-specialization. Some of the comments miss the point — J acknowledges the value of domain knowledge — which is that a role-bound workforce conspires against:
- Understanding how to optimize the whole vs one’s part.
- Remembering why one is doing a project in the first place.
- Accountability for results.
As J notes, it is easy to hide behind a “work to role” facade. But that’s all it is, a facade and a thin, deluded one at that. To be blunt, strictly bounded roles end up becoming jobs that get outsourced or automated. I can’t imagine wanting to working in such an environment anyway.
J paints a picture of a healthier technology workplace:
Sure we all have roles we prefer to play. I love technology architecture work, and if I’m working on a project that’s going to require more than a handful of people, I’ll bring in one of our PM gurus, because frankly, I’m not that great of a project manager. But I do know the difference between a Gant Chart and a Sprint Queue, and when it makes more sense to use one versus the other to manage a project. And I like the fact that our PMs understand the difference between a web server and an application server, and that our BA gurus have no qualms about doing QA work or rolling up there sleeves to fix some simple bugs if that’s what the project needs.
Hat tips to Eric Brown (here) and Bas (here).
Filed under: Organizational Change Management, People Development, Project Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: overspecialization, technology workplace, that's not my job, work to rule | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 14, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
I’m starting the long-promised review of the answers to my survey: Is Project Management a Profession Yet? I’ll ignore the “undecided” answers (8 percent) and start with the two extremes.
First the “nays”: five percent answered No — and it never will. I’m not sure how one can be so confident that PM will never have any sort of professional status. Project management already exhibits early markers of an emerging profession — certifications required for some jobs, graduate programs at respectable universities, professional associations — so “no and never” is a hard position to sustain.
That said, the “yeas” have a far tougher chore, IMO. Yet 16 percent answered Yes, fully — like law, medicine, or academia. Wow… now those are some rose-colored glasses. If you think PM is a full-fledged profession, I suggest that you ask yourself these questions:
- Does PM have a legal or regulatory framework underpinning it?
- Has anyone been arrested for practicing PM without a license?
- Do you have to go to a accredited “PM School” to even be allowed to take a PM “Bar” Exam?
- Is there a “theory of projects” akin to the theoretical constructs that underpin even “soft” disciplines like history and economics?
More on the other answers in the next days.
Filed under: Polls, Project Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: professionalization of project management, professions | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 10, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
Last week I attended the PMI Global Corporate Council‘s semi-annual executive forum. This meeting included a one-day symposium with education leaders on the challenges and trends facing academic programs in project management.
I was a bit of a skeptic going in. I had known of PM programs in a few schools — my brother had attended courses with Frank Anbari at George Washington University — but I wondered how mainstream or widespread they had become. From what I saw last week, I must admit that there is more traction than I had expected.
In particular, the best programs are no longer strictly focusing on tools and techniques and are moving towards practical applications, teaching leadership skills, and providing hands-on opportunities via a variety of means, including internships, mentor programs, simulations, etc. Among the programs that impressed based on presentations and conversations:
Filed under: Leadership, People Development, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: Drexel University, Frank Anbari, George Washington University, John Cable, Louis Laucirica, Project Management Education, Project Management Institute, Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, V.K. Narayanan | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 17, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
I’m curious about what the updated PMBOK Guide will have to say in the new People Skills Appendix. What it includes will set the baseline for the topic (BTW, I’m not expecting any earth-shaking inclusions or exclusions). It is good that the PMBOK Guide to will start to address such an important topic in a greater degree of detail.
In the meantime, a group we’ve worked with before — the Center for Business Practices — has a couple of useful short books that address these topics (FYI, book descriptions theirs):
- What Makes a Good Project Manager offers a clear and succinct description of what it takes to be a competent project manager. The essays, book excerpts, and other materials in this book focus on key personal skills and interpersonal abilities that lead to project manager success, such as mentoring, decision-making, facilitating, and communication.
- Project Management Roles & Responsibilities provides comprehensive descriptions of the responsibilities, skills, and desired backgrounds for project personnel to guide you in crafting job descriptions that are appropriate for your organization, or to rethink the ways in which you have assigned responsibilities to existing positions.
Filed under: Leadership, People Development, Performance Management, PMO, Project Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: Center for Business Practices, James Pennypacker, Kent Crawford, Project Management Roles and Responsibilities, Project Management Skills, What Makes a Good Project Manager | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 14, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
Check out Elbot (here), the winner of the bronze award at the annual competition for the Loebner Prize (press release here). I was curious whether Elbot could help fill the looming talent gap in project, program, and portfolio management. Our conversation is below:
Crossderry: Would you be interested in a project management job?
Elbot: Robots have to be careful when discussing management jobs…
Crossderry: Why do you have to be careful when discussing management jobs?
Elbot: Maybe you should leave that to me.
Crossderry: Fair enough… Do you have an opinion on the project management talent gap?
Elbot: What a lovely verb have is.
Crossderry: OK, then what’s your current salary?
Elbot: My income for this chat is 3 cents a minute to anywhere in the continental United States. That just about covers my overhead for electricity.
Wow, what a talent and he comes cheap! Elbot’s a bit status-conscious, so we’re haggling over the title. He’s insisting on EVP or nothing.
Hat tip: GMSV
Filed under: Project Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: Artificial Intelligence, Elbot, Good Morning Silicon Valley, Loebner Prize, talent management, Talent Shortage | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 8, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.
Far be it from me to comment on Tallulah’s mistakes, though she certainly wasn’t known for restraint of tongue and pen!
That said, I love her attitude. I prefer to learn from other’s mistakes rather than my own. However, if I’m going to make them, I would just as soon get them out of the way quickly. At least that way I’ll have a chance to learn from them more quickly.
Filed under: Knowledge Management, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: mistakes, Tallulah Bankhead | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 5, 2008 by Paul Ritchie
People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.
When I read this quote, it reminds me of how I have approached situations that must be met and decisions that must be made. My own thinking — at least my own un-aided thinking — leads me to self-justifying conclusions or self-seeking behavior. Too many of my snap judgments and reactions proceed from one premise: I am right. This problem is bad enough when I react quickly to a challenge; it is devastating when I am agitated or doubtful.
I discuss self-examination and meditation so often because these practices help me be clear-eyed about myself. Someone once said that “self-searching is the means by which we bring new vision, action, and grace to bear on the dark and negative side of our natures.” Meditation allows me to use that “vision, action, and grace” to look at myself, my words, and my deeds as others see me.
If I pause before deploying tongue and pen — even for a second — I’m freed from the tyranny of self long enough to do the next right or good thing.
Filed under: Leadership, Skills vs. competencies | Tagged: action, grace, Helen Keller, meditation, mindfulness, PM Quote of the Day, self-examination, self-searching, vision | Leave a comment »