This Guest paper was submitted for publication June 2009. It is copyright to Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo and John Suermondt © 2009 Under Creative Commons License, by <CCL> see

Introduction | Objective of the Study 
The Study Instrument and its Application | Study Observations | Conclusion

Objective of the Study

The objective of this segment of my original research was to establish a connection between a person's behavioral attributes and their success, and/or suitability as a project manager. To get going it was necessary to run a pilot study to establish the relevant attributes and their relative importance. A "successful project manager" in this case was specifically defined as one who met certain criteria needed for them to be included in this study. These criteria are described later.

As a starting point, I relied on previous research done by my good friend and mentor, R. Max Wideman. Max chose to use Myers Briggs, but his research[1] proved not to be sufficiently detailed for the work I had in mind. So my quest for something more granular finally turned up a Dr. Dan Harrison, and his Harrison Assessments (HA).[2] Unlike Myers Briggs[3] or Kiersey,[4] the HA Instrument measured some 155 different behavioral traits. Furthermore, HA has a feature that measures the consistency of the responses that provides an accurate measure of how truthful the respondent is being, or whether they are trying to game the system.[5]

Having found what I was looking for, I contact Dr. Harrison who suggested I contact his regional representative and Master Distributor, John Suermondt, in Indonesia. John, now living in Perth, Australia, has more than 19 years of global experience in behavioral assessment using Harrison Assessments. He is a really dynamic and interesting individual who proved to be just as excited to pilot this study as myself.

All of the participants in the pilot study came from people in the various in-house classes that I teach for our Fortune 500 clients. These classes included:

  • The Project Management Institute's ("PMI") Project Management Professional ("PMP") certification exam
  • The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering's ("AACE") Certified Cost Consultant/Certified Cost Engineer ("CCC/E") exam preparation course
  • My graduate level university classes at ESC Lille Masters of Science in Project Management
  • The University of Western Australia's Masters of Energy Systems, or
  • The Masters in Petrochemical Engineering degree.

A pilot group of 28 practitioners were selected who were deemed "successful" project managers. To be deemed "successful" these individuals had to pass three tests:

  1. They had to be active the position of "Project Manager" in their company
  2. They had to have demonstrated to me in the classroom environment that they had exceptional leadership skills (i.e. in the top 5% of the class) and
  3. They had to have at least 5 years of working experience as a Project Manager

This initial pilot study group of 28 consisted of:

  • Exactly half men, half women
  • 9/28 = 32%   Asian
  • 6/28 = 21%   North American
  • 5/28 = 18%   Australian/New Zealand
  • 5/28 = 18%   European (including Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and Turkey)
  • 3/28 =11%   Central or South America

Furthermore, the industries they represented were:

  • 9/28 = 32%   Oil, Gas or Mining
  • 9/28 = 32%   Telecommunications or IT
  • 5/28 = 18%   HR, Sales or Marketing
  • 3/28 = 11%   International Development
  • 2/28 = 07%   Finance
Introduction  Introduction

1. See
2. See accessed 9/4/09
3. See accessed 9/4/09
4. See accessed 9/4/09
5. "Gaming the System" simply means using the rules, policies and procedures of a system against itself for purposes beyond that for which the rules were intended. See accessed 9/4/09
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