Key-note address to
A Conference under the Northern Lights
by R. Max Wideman, President of the Project Management Institute, in Reykjavik, Iceland, August 31st, 1987

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The Project Management Body of Knowledge

Clearly, the identification of a Unique Body of Knowledge provides the foundation for the remainder. Some would say that all we have done is to borrow heavily from what I would describe as corporate or traditional management. To some extent, that may be true but the big difference is the environment in which the project takes place.

This environment includes the whole business of establishing temporary organizations; identifying discrete goals and objectives; obtaining commitment to those goals, often short term and in conflict with other personal goals and objectives; allowance for "learning curves"; and then when the goals have been met, the problems of disbanding in an orderly fashion with benefits rather than damage to those involved. As all those of you in the project business well know, successful project management is heavily "people" oriented.

Terms and definitions are clearly an essential prerequisite to the development of a Body of Knowledge. After all, if we do not know what we mean, how can we communicate effectively, let alone codify and learn?

For example, the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or "PMBoK" as we call it, itself is defined as "All those topics, subject areas and intellectual processes which are involved in the application of sound management principles to the collective execution of any types of effort which qualify as projects."

So we have spent a long time trying to reach some sort of agreement on terminology, particularly in a generic sense. That is, terminology that should serve all areas of project application. It has not been easy.

In fact, the PMI has just published the results of this work as an insert to the latest issue of the Project Management Journal, including "Glossary of Project Management Terminology.

Now is this sort of thing really necessary? Isn't it all rather academic? I mean, everyone knows what project management is, at the very least, those who are in the business do, don't they? Unfortunately, far from it. I have come across some projects that are being managed like there is no tomorrow, and I am sure you have too. On the other hand, I have met people who have no idea that they have a project to manage, let alone how to manage it.

Again, there are those who try to impose project management techniques on traditional management on a fiscal basis. It is called Management by Objectives.

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