A Role for PMICanada: Two Master Strokes
Perhaps the first master stroke for PMICanada is to recognize that there
are two very fundamentally different types of project. The distinguishing feature
results in a very different approach to the project management process itself
and, I suggest, a very different approach to project management education. This
broad division transcends the purely technical aspects of a project, its industry
category, or an individual's job description.
The issue is whether the product of the project is physical in nature (such
as a new facility, or tangible product) or intellectual (such as in new information
processing systems, research projects, or customer service) These are as distinct
as hardware versus software.
The former group are much more amenable to logical planning,
scheduling and estimating, the traditional techniques of project management.
This is not true of intellectual projects. Intellectual projects are much less
structured, too little is known, network logic is fuzzy and, of necessity, they
must be managed from phase to phase. Each succeeding phase cannot be planned
until the results of the prior phase are at hand. Interestingly, for this type
of project, Robert Waterman, the widely respected co-author of "In Search
of Excellence", has coined the phrase "Adhocracy".
Adhocracy is an environment in which it is necessary to lend a semblance of
structure to the apparently unknown. It is still necessary to break the project
up into bite-sized chunks (Work Breakdown Structure) but the chunks are based
on phase sequence rather than on deliverables. Only the first in the sequence
is planned in any detail. Subsequent phases are planned only in the very loosest
sense. In fact, more detailed planning would only get in the way of progressing
to the most satisfactory project conclusion.
In this environment and until the final phase, the "people" aspect,
and communication between them during the course of the project, is paramount
over focus on producing the final product.
Building a New Platform
The second master stroke for PMICanada
is to recognize that it is unrealistic to expect a single generic qualification
to represent any serious degree of competence in managing all types of project.
To recognize, in fact, that the present Project Management Professional (PMP)
designation and its qualification process is, at best, a universal entry level
Interestingly, the European organization,
INTERNET, have devised their qualification based on a new concept of competency
standards. This appears to take the opposite tack of peer review rather than
our US-based multiple choice examination. Most likely what is needed is some
compromise between these two extremes. However, what is first needed is a more
open Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) structure that recognizes all
the factors discussed earlier.
Here, I see excellent opportunities for
PMICanada to chart a new course in setting criteria for the contents of a Canadian
PMBOK as well as setting standards for qualification. Not reinventing the wheel,
but building on the work of others towards a new, more advanced project management
R H Adhocracy, The Power to Change, W W Norton & Co., NY, 1992, p16 &