The views expressed in this article are those of the contributors.
Published here February 2020

Bryan McConachy: Bryan's Pitch
Max: Response | Scope of Proposed Climate Change | Justification | The No-project Option
Helen Cooke: Helen Cooke's Perspective

Helen Cooke's Perspective

Fellows, thank you for putting your heads together regarding how the unique and distinguished talent and wisdom of the individual fellows can be leveraged to make the world a better place.

I joined PMI Chicagoland in 1984 after having already spent ten years managing major government projects. It was like 'coming home' to discover others who (a) thought like me and (b) valued collective efforts to tackle the largest problems of our age. I was committed to improving management effectiveness, specifically project managers (who are team and results oriented, and rely on leadership and wisdom rather than directive action, as many operations managers do).

The Body of Knowledge[6] is critical for any manager to have in order to make wise decisions. Project Managers require it! So, I was shocked to hear that PMI members doing revisions are considering getting rid of the nine knowledge areas in favor of an encyclopedia of tactics and principles of operation. No manager consults an encyclopedia before taking action: they tap that body of knowledge and what they know to achieve success in the world.

Many of the suggestions (in comments below) recommend "getting involved". I have already done that, initiating many of the parts of PMI we use today. Like Frank and David and Paul, we are usually years ahead of the mainstream in what we get involved in. I helped found the PMIEF[7] by being its first volunteer with Max Wideman's initiative in the late 80s, spending 10 years building its vision and mission and support with Max, Paul Dinsmore, Jim Snyder, Walt Bowman and others. I was the first elected officer with Jim Snyder in 2001. Jim, thank you for flipping a coin to see which of us was to be President: it was a most generous act, and you became the first elected President of PMIEF in 2000 (I framed the quarter!)

The PMIEF global initiatives we initiated were ready to "hand over to operations". Some of the PMIEF global initiatives came from our PMI Ambassador trip to South Africa in 1996‑7. This also generated the concept for the first Executive Council in 2005 to provide a space for executives to explore their budding knowledge of project management, without touting their ignorance in public in front of their staff. Our Chicagoland Executive Council, founded in 2005 with Gregory Balestrero as our first speaker, now has 40 regularly attending executives from almost as many companies, high tech, insurance, pharmaceuticals, universities, financial institutions and health care. After 12 years it too was ready to "hand over to operations".

The Executive Council (followed by PMI HQ's Corporate Council) stepped up to the need to serve huge corporations struggling with improving their management and direction of Projects and Project Management across country lines. In 1996, I also proposed to the Board funding for OPM3 before stepping off the board to go to South Africa (heading the McDonalds PM Center of Excellence).

PMI and Climate Change

The Climate Change issue was addressed by us in 1994 in Vancouver, with David Pells, myself, Bruce Rodrigues of South Africa and Brian Fletcher of Toronto as the impetus for creating a body to address global issues. Our basement meeting resulted in David's editorship of the "Project Earth" newsletter and several PMI conferences to address climate change issue in the mid‑1990s. We affected 12,000 people before our Environmental Management SIG was shut down. FYI — The date we were shooting for to head off climate change damage was 2004.

I also created the Leadership Institute meeting in 1989, as president of Chicagoland Chapter, because I was asked by Frank Jenes of LA Chapter to chair the group of Chapter Presidents while the board was meeting. We created a Council for those presidents, and a pre-board meeting for chapter leaders so they would know more about the Board when they stepped into it, instead of learning on the job while serving. The "Learning and Sharing" duality was contributed by my partner Kathy Sharman of LA Chapter and still exists today. It has evolved into a huge development initiative for PMI's future leaders before our global conference.

The point I am making is that some of us Fellows are visionaries, and our contribution — way ahead of the curve — ARE our contribution to many of these initiatives. It is not enough to simply implement yesterday's programs. We are ready to look ahead to other cutting edge initiatives in project management, and it would be nice if we could do it as PMI global leaders instead of through other organizations. Many of us have been treated very poorly as individuals by PMI staff, and feel like our contribution days in PMI are fading fast.

My Conclusion

We are visionaries, leading edge contributors, and promoters of the leadership and success of project managers and project management to change the project economy for the better. We are opinion leaders, editors, website and webinar sponsors, and liaisons with other organizations. I am already beginning to seek other organizations that value my ideas, just to keep busy. I write for project managers and executives (not just team leads) on a global website which we started in 2001 after 9/11. It has 20,000 followers. Many of them may not be involved in PMI at all.

I would welcome another opportunity to change the world for the better. Count me in.

Helen Cooke

The No-project Option  The No-project Option

6. Specifically, PMI's PMBOK.
7. The Project Management Institute's Education Foundation
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