This paper is the first of a four-part series in which an attempt has been made to capture the collective wisdom of the leading participants in an extended LinkedIn discussion over the first six months of 2014. The actual original texts have been edited for grammar and spelling to make for easier reading online. The observations quoted are the opinions and property of the contributors as noted.

Published here August 2014.

Editor's Note | PMBOK Definition Woefully Deficient | PMBOK Definition Not Deficient
Project and Product Management Not the Same | PMBOK Fine So Far as it Goes
Useful References | What Wikipedia Has to Say | Success Has Multiple Dimensions | PART 2

Max Wideman:[13] Success Has Multiple Dimensions

This discussion thread has raised some passionate arguments. For what it is worth, I agree with Bill Duncan's first post and premise — that "success" in project work has multiple dimensions. Certainly, project success and product success are not the same thing and any project manager who worries only about project success as defined by PMI and cares not for the potential product success is only doing half a job and is a poor project manager indeed.

However, in practice, product success is more difficult to measure as much of the success in this area is only seen some time after the product has been deployed. That's because success is subject to a number of variables such as market variables, public perception, to say nothing of how well the product is deployed. And by that time, of course, the outcome is well beyond the project manager's control.

[Added afterthought]

Take for example a project to build a hotel. The client selects from architectural drawings of what the building could look like. The architect, assisted by other design professionals, designs and produces working drawings. The building is built under competitive contract to specifications provided by the designers, and on time and within budget. The project manager coordinates all of this activity.

However, the hotel does not enjoy the 80% average occupancy required for financial success. There could be a variety of factors: Location, sufficient traffic, variable demand lower than projected, uninviting staff, décor, etc., competition from other hotels in the vicinity, and so on. Bankruptcy forces the hotel to close. In these terms the "project", in the larger sense, is definitely not a success.

Can a project manager really be held accountable for the "failure" of this project? Indeed, can a project manager really foresee in the concept/planning phase (even assuming being invited to participate) that this will happen? I think not. It is not his area of expertise.

In PART 2, this discussion focuses more on seeking clarity.

What Wikipedia Has to Say  What Wikipedia Has to Say

13. Max Wideman: Well-known Project Management Consultant
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page