Summary and Conclusions
When asked to weight the 22 attributes of a profession as defined by sociologic, legal, economic, and semantic criteria the respondents clearly identified and prioritized those elements which are the most important. First and foremost, is the need for a Code of Ethics. Secondly, practitioners (and those organizations that represent them) need to focus on building Trust. Third, having a body of Knowledge which is "secret, complicated, abstruse or esoteric" is probably the leading obstacle which will prevent project management from becoming a profession, combined with the fact that project management is effectively a life skill, embedded in all existing professions. At some point, it is quite possible that technical organizations (e.g. Civil Engineers claiming Construction Project Management) are going to lay claim to project management as it applies to "their" area of specialty.
In the work of Zwerman, Thomas et al, they concluded that: "It is highly questionable whether Project Management does now or ever will qualify as a "Profession". This survey, designed as a follow up to their research, clearly supports similar conclusions. It appears that, on average, Project Management practitioners perceive that what they do is "hands-on" execution of a processed based methodology or system. They do not evidently see project management either as a discipline within management or engineering, nor do they perceive project management as a profession.
Having made that point however briefly, there is a difference between an occupation being a profession, and doing work in a professional manner. As Project Managers we (and the organizations which we select to represent us) need to be focusing our efforts on doing what we do as professionally as possible, and thereby building trust, and worrying less about what we do as being seen as a profession.
Therefore, some recommendations that come out of this research include:
- Immediately stop referring to project management as a profession on the grounds that this is irresponsible at best and a misfeasance, bordering on fraud at worst.
- Start referring to project management as an emerging or evolving profession OR better yet, referring to what we do as a "practice".
- If project management is to move up the pecking order, practitioners (and those organizations which deem to represent them) need to be focusing all efforts on those non-traditional or Intrinsic attributes:
- Building the image of those who do project management as trustworthy individuals
- Focusing on our Fiduciary Responsibility to the consuming public, and
- Creating a methodology that will consistently deliver "successful" projects in excess of 80% of the time.
Only by focusing efforts in these areas can practitioners earn the right to move up the professionalism continuum.
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