The views expressed in this article are strictly those of Max Wideman.
The contents of the book under review are the copyright property of the Project Management Institute.
Published here October 2021

Introduction | Book [A] Structure | What We Liked
Downside | Summary


This whole publication starts out with a Preface[21] that presents a couple of paragraphs dedicated to the Standard, followed by a lengthy commentary on the Guide.[22] It ends with a brief reference to the Standard in its Conclusion.[23] This states in part:[24]

"The Standard for Project Management and the PMBOK Guide — Seventh Edition responds to all four elements that stakeholders have emphasized in their feedback."

These four elements are presented as:[25]

  1. Maintain and enhance the credibility and relevance of the PMBOK Guide.
  2. Improve the readability and usefulness of the PMBOK Guide while avoiding overstuffing it with new content.
  3. Sense stakeholder information and content needs and provide vetted supplemental content supporting practical application.
  4. Recognize that there is continued value for some stakeholders in the structure and content of previous editions so that any shifts enhance without negating value.

From this we may conclude that only elements 3 and 4 are relevant to the Standard.

Under a Summary of Changes we learn that:[26]

"While effective in supporting good practice, process-based standards are prescriptive by their very nature. With project management evolving more rapidly than ever before, the process-based orientation of past editions cannot be maintained in a manner conducive to reflecting the full value delivery landscape. Therefore, this edition shifts to a principle-based standard to support effective project management and focus more on intended outcomes rather than deliverables."

This statement leaves me highly confused as to whether the writer is referring to the Standard as written or to the Guide, or perhaps to both.

Chapter 3: Project Management Principles

As noted on the previous page, none of the text in Chapter 3 comes anywhere close to my expectations of what a standard for the profession of project management should look like. In my view, a proper standard would reflect the essence of this profession that distinguishes it from any other profession. In fact, that was what the PMBOK was all about way back in the 1980s. I know because I invented the name "PMBOK".

And it was tough going because at the time other societies were trying to claim the same intellectual turf. But here in this Book [A]'s chapter clearly titled Project Management Principles, the reader is treated to a long homily on the proper behavioral aspects of managing a team. As a Standard for our project profession, this is the very sort of thing we were trying to steer clear of, a half century ago.

The real basics of our project management profession are set out in the original PMBOK document. This document lists the Performance Domains as: Scope, Quality, Time, Cost, Risk, Human Resources, and Communications. Each of these Performance Domains requires specific intellectual knowledge and project experience that is different from one another.

With the exception of Risk, none of these are described in Chapter 3: Project Management Principles.

What We Liked  What We Liked

21. Publication Preface p A-vii.
22. Ibid, under the heading Customer- and End-user-centered Design.
23. Ibid, p A-xiv.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid, p A-viii.
26. Ibid, p A-x.
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