Published here August 2015.


Musings Index

A Wonderful Testimonial

From time to time, someone sends me a note of appreciation that sheds light on what I attempt to do. That is, to help people understand what project management is really all about, how to do it and do it better. Here is what Darryl Riggin had to say.

To Max Wideman
Re: Ottawa Early 1990s

"Good Morning Mr. Wideman;

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how you have impacted myself both personally and professionally from a very brief meeting at a Risk Management conference in Ottawa in the early 90s - I believe that it was sponsored by the Conference Board of Canada, Dr. Ed Hoffman of NASA was there as well.

I had the good fortune to have dinner at your table with you and your wife, we chatted about that somewhat nebulous (to me at that time) thing called "Project Management".

I had started my long career, 1974 to present, in the construction and capital modifications world of nuclear power facilities. Over time the construction arm moved from it's traditional role of "building" to more of a capital modifications of in-service facilities role. We were failing miserably. Having spent so many years in the very large very long-term project world that we could not respond in the new environment of shorter more intense outage type projects.

Things like Risk, Estimate Class, well defined Scopes, WBS, Earned Value, Change Management and automated project management software were new to us. A new project world was dawning. At this point in time I had been associated with AACE for a couple of years and was gathering knowledge in specific areas but did not see the holistic view required to piece everything together. That was where you came in.

Listening to you so effortlessly connect all the dots and throw open the door to the very structure and disciplined world of "PROJECT MANAGEMENT" started me down a path that would bring great joy and miserable failure, both being necessary to build strength and confidence in the roles we play moving the project management discipline forward. I have now spent over 40 years in the project world and I am constantly amazed by how much more there is to learn. I still reference your website and point others to it on a regular basis.

It has been very rewarding to me watching the light come on for the newcomers and watch the enthusiasm build as they progress down the path you started me on.

Thank you for opening that door.

Wishing you all the best,

Darryl Riggin"

To which I replied:

"Dear Darryl,

Thank you so much for taking the time to drop me a line of appreciation for our discussion so many years ago. That's a wonderful testimonial! I am glad that our exchange of views at that time has helped you in your career. It seems to me that on balance you have enjoyed yourself in the process.

Project management has certainly made considerable strides since that early conversation and one may wonder whether there is room for still more evolution. I would say that the answer is a resounding "Yes"! For example, I think there are considerable opportunities for advancement in the realms of managing the project life span, erroneously called the project life cycle. That is, from the perspective of managing a portfolio of corporate projects and establishing standards for associated information (data) and communications management.

Sorry about the failures, though. But then some projects are doomed to failure from the get-go, in spite of the best efforts of the project manager. In such cases, perhaps we could establish policies, procedures and practices that we could refer to for dealing with such situations, rather than letting the blame fall on the project manager as the scapegoat! To enable such potential will require looking at different types of project differently. And to do that it becomes necessary to recognize that managing the project (i.e. project management) is not the same thing as managing the evolution of the product (i.e. technology development management).

In short, there is still a lot we could learn. So I hope that you will continue to be "constantly amazed by how much there is to learn" and be rewarded by "watching the light come on for the new comers". That is, especially in those who are not predisposed to the biases of the last generation!

Once again, thank you for taking the time and trouble to share your thoughts. They are most welcome.

Best regards,

PS Is it OK with you for me to publish this exchange as one of my musings?"

"Mr. Wideman;

I am honored that you would consider posting it — please do.

And — YES — I am still enjoying the project life!

All the best;


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