This Guest paper was submitted for publication January 2010. It is copyright to Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo under the Creative Commons License 3.0 BY, NC, ND

PART 1 | Scoring Model Illustrated | Results | Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers"
Anomalies or Observed Discrepancies in the Model
Limitations to this Research and Opportunities for Future Research
Conclusions and Recommendations

Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers"

There is an additional factor that is worth introducing as part of this research. In Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers",[13] he asserts pretty convincingly that it takes 10,000 hours of honest, dedicated effort to become a "top ranked professional" at anything. (Sports heroes, musicians, such as the Beatles, artists, computer programmers, such as Bill Gates and Bill Joy and, one would hope, Project Managers!)

Consistent with Gladwell's "10,000 hour" baseline, we have drawn a line across Figure 1 (see previous page) to show which credentials meet or exceed that criteria and which ones do not.

As can be seen, the IPMA C and the AIPM CPPM both just meet Gladwell's 10,000-hour cut off, but perhaps more importantly, PMI's PMP, as being the most ubiquitous, just misses meeting this "superior performer" threshold. While all three are close, it would behoove all organizations, especially OGC/APM, but also PMI, to reconsider their certification requirements in light of Gladwell's research. Perhaps these certification programs should be reconfigured to be more challenging?

Also noteworthy is that PMI's PgMP does meet the 10,000-hour baseline. This would, at least according to Gladwell, qualify it to be a credential appropriate for "superior" practitioners to strive for, of course along with the even higher scoring INCOSE, IPMA A Level, AIPM's CPPD and AACE's CFCC and C3PM.

Some other observations worth exploring in more detail

It is interesting to see the clustering between the AACE family of certifications and those of INCOSE, since engineers heavily influence both organizations. Follow on research might uncover what differences in engineering perspective, if any, bring to the process of creating professional level credentials. Keeping in mind that Engineering is recognized as a profession, while project management is not, at least according to published research by Zwerman, Thomas et al and this author.

Also worth noting is that the top ranked credentials are not coming from PMI, which is without question the largest and most influential of the professional organizations purporting to represent practitioners of project management. Rather, they are dominated by the much less well known organizations: AACE's Certified Portfolio, Program and Project Manager (C3PM) and Certified Forensic Claims Consultant (CFCC); followed by AIPM's Certified Project Director (CPPD); asapm's Project Director Level and Portfolio Manager. Worth keeping in mind is that IPMA A level, represented by the asapm-AD, -AF and -AG remain under development at this time, and the evaluation criteria used in ranking them was preliminary and subject to change.

That the largest organization representing the practice of project management appears not to produce the top ranked credentials has or should have important implications for those individuals considering their qualifications. Similarly, this applies to those companies interested in specifying which credentials are equivalent for purposes of transportability or mutual recognition, or are required for a particular job specification. (See recommendations for more on this topic)

Results  Results

13. Gladwell, Malcolm, "Outliers", 2008, Penguin Press, Chapter 2, pages 38-76
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