For those who have otherwise been following progress on Twitter, Facebook, or prior to my little disaster on my Blog, you’ll have learned that I’ve recently sent my pride, joy, and first-born fictional novel off to publication. The Corrupt Republic is now available on Kindle, in the e-Store on the book’s Website, and soon to be on Amazon and other on-line retailers. So with that put to press, it leaves me only to finish my other work, which was my Project Management book that isn’t really a Project Management book.Yes, this requires a bit of explanation.
My book isn’t necessarily a friend to my own profession because it mostly gives a swift kicking to the notion of the traditional Project Management Office. This is not a new or novel concept, since there’s been a high sense of backlash over the seeming confusion in purpose to what a PMO is or “should be”. The great misconception is that a PMO is a one-size-fits-all proposition, or that most project managers or heads of project management offices feel as if there is only a single model for what one should look like.
I take that sort of thinking to task, along with a few other notions and misconceptions about project management, PMO’s, and the role and value of the profession as it’s been diminished in the eyes of so many. There’s more behind the story that I was careful not to state in the book, and I’ll clue into the backstory of that now. In order to publish the book, I had to seek three legal clearances from three different entities: Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI), The UK’s Office of Government Commerce (home for ITIL, PRINCE2, and APM), and our old beloved Project Management Institute (PMI).
You’ll be surprised at who hasn’t responded to the request for clearance. I got almost instant legal clearance from SEI. A couple of days was all it took for the United Kingdom’s Office of Government Commerce to provide the guidelines.
I’m still waiting for PMI to wake up.
Perhaps that’s the root of the problem. Now I don’t say this lightly because I’m both a practitioner and a PMP Certificate Holder, but when a government agency is more responsive than a professional association, that isn’t a positive sign. Sadly, that was the case, and probably says more about why the project management profession is often derided, and the value assigned by many corporations to project management diminished. This left me little choice.
I painstakingly took all of the references to PMI, PMBOK, and the like and wrote them out of the book. If they won’t see fit to respond and be meaningful to the profession, or treat its membership in furthering their cause seriously, then their members have every right to not pull any punches critically on how PMI itself hasn’t been a very transparent organization. Rather than criticize them in the book, I decided it would be better to remain largely silent on their existence.
So the book is being published. Amazingly, it will contain no reference to the leading project management certifying body in the world, and that we even need to recognize how convoluted that seems speaks volumes to why the profession is in the midst of turmoil. I should be able as a practitioner to make reference to the chapter and verse of its teachings and knowledge, since doing so directly benefits the charter and mission of their organization, just as my mention of CMMI and ITIL benefit their governing organizations.
However, considering some of the more recent changes and decisions, I perhaps shouldn’t be shocked. Consider the following:
In 2007, PMI created the PgMP credential for recognizing “Program Management” qualification. They created a process for membership that required several hurdles, a new exam, countless professional references, and the result is that almost 3 years past its creation there are less than 400 certified PgMP’s worldwide.
In 2005, PMI decided that the 3rd edition of the Project Management Book of Knowledge wasn’t enough of a change to a practice standard — it lengthened the 2nd Edition from 203 to 571 pages. PMI decided that it needed to again be longer and introduce more overhead, so on a four-year cycle, they produced the “Fourth Edition” of the Project Management Book of Knowledge. As a result, in 2009 all new certifications needed to be based on the fourth edition, not the prior editions. I was certified based on the 203 page standard. So far, I’m not seeing how much the new revisions are improving the profession.
Just to confuse things further, and in addition to the PMP and PgMP certifications, PMI created two new certifications: PMI-RP (for Risk Professional) and PMI-SP (for Scheduling Professional). Two things in which anyone in project management should be proficient, so it confuses the rationale on why someone would spend the energy in simply becoming an RP or SP when those are merely subsets of the PMP. Following me so far? Because I’m sure lost.
All of this would be terrific change if there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Say an improvement in overall project performance or project success rates, for example. Sadly enough, those haven’t changed from around a 32% success ratio. Ok, fair to suggest that not every failure is the result of project management incompetence, but also fair to suggest that all of the practices and trumpeting done on behalf of the profession as a standard-bearing organization have done little to improve outcomes.
Did I mention also that the passing grade for the PMP in the 3rd edition was somewhere around 61% or lower, and the number of first-time takers failing the exam increased from the 2nd edition? The passing grade for the second edition? 68.5%. It’s a bit difficult to not suggest that something’s amiss.
Am I intentionally deriding PMI? Not really. I’m challenging them to do better by their membership and the profession. It’s been very easy to be a fraternity focused inwardly on their profession without the appropriate level of visibility and outreach to industry. It’s been comfortable to focus more on process-centrism than outcomes and results, and that simply cannot continue and be viewed seriously before others begin to deride their charter and meaning. So I’m certainly giving them a friendly but swift kicking in that they’re not doing more than they are to advance the profession versus fueling confusion and chaos.
I’ve not given up. I’ll maintain my credential, and will continue to encourage that others obtain theirs because its meaningful to the profession (and despite being the brunt of comedy in many sectors, it’s still a credentialing litmus test for being taken seriously in the profession). But I’m slowly questioning whether my membership fees for 2010 shouldn’t be applied elsewhere as a wake-up call to suggest that PMI begin to take their own profession and their role within it as seriously as many of us do.
Oh, and the book? Watch for it in January. Without this section. And without any noteworthy mention of PMI other than the 3-letter credential after my name as an author. Perhaps I should also be crass enough to submit the published work for the 20 PDU’s I’m eligible to receive as a writer. Plus the 20 carried over, and 15 for practitioner status, leaves me with 5 to get before 2011? Hmmm….any chance I can get 15 for reading my own book?
Published with kind permission from the author. The original blog is here: http://www.suburbanites.com/