This unpublished paper was first written in February 1996 and has since been revised several times and is now updated for web presentation.

Note: The Project Management Institute, USA, has adopted the acronyms "PMI", "PMBOK", "PMP" as their registered marks.
Published here July 2003.

PART 2 | A Proposal - Introduction | How a PMrBoK might be Defined and Used
On the Content of Plane C | Thoughts on Language, Content and Referencing
 Final Thoughts

Thoughts on Language, Content and Referencing

Before closing this discussion, I would like to cover three other related topics that I believe are a source of some vexation for many project management practitioners.

First: I believe that developments of PMrBoKs need to consider and uniformly address the question of language usage, particularly the use of tenses, verbs and pronouns. The nature of project management is that of a positive, vibrant field where people want to get things done and get on with it. In addition, the practice has traditionally placed responsibility for action, movement and progress at the lowest feasible level. Consequently, the language used must be action-toned and positive to insure that no participant in a position to act is left uncertain and waiting. Therefore, terms describing progress and status (past tense), activity or action (present tense), and forecast, future plan, work or activity (future tense) all need particular attention. Therefore, there would be great benefit from including a brief discussion on the choice of style, language, tone, tense, verb, etc. in the documentation of communication. Some of my thinking on the content was described in Part 2 of this paper.

Second: There is potential for conflict and confusion over the work breakdown structure (WBS) language currently used on many projects. Unfortunately, the language used while intended to reflect the product of project activities is entered as the activities themselves and is either confused with a PMrBoK structure, or looks like an easy substitute. A sharp distinction should be made between the two. The WBS is a very effective PM technique for defining unequivocally either the product elements and the delivery system, or the execution plan for the project. Because the WBS technique is so powerful, but only when applied to a specific project, it cannot really be used to structure an entire PMrBoK.

Third: There is a wealth of project management literature available, but there is no effective relationship between the best or most appropriate readings and any particular PMrBoK. While any reference listing can never be entirely authoritative, complete, current and useful to all application areas, nonetheless some sort of sourcing guidance would be invaluable. An indication of what is needed can be found in the site plan on Max Wideman's web site at

<a href="background.htm">On the Content of Plane C</a>  On the Content of Plane C

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