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

What We Liked

After getting past a confusing Preface discussed later, we are presented with a Table of Contents[6] that is specific to the Standard only, but which starts later with Chapter 1 on page A1.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter opens with:[7]

"The Standard for Project Management identifies project management principles that guide the behaviors and actions of project professionals and other stakeholders who work on or are engaged with projects,"

So this Book [A][8] is all about the behaviors of the project manager and project team being presented as a set of principles. This apparent change in focus compared to previous publications is subsequently referred to as a "progression of the profession". Then follows a list of ten terms and their respective definitions that are presented "to provide context for the content in this standard."[9]

I was pleased to see that by implication this list provides a clear picture of the full scope of project management.[10] For the record, the essential "Delivery Components" on the list are presented here: [11]

"Outcome; Portfolio; Product; Program; Project; Project management; Project manager; Project team: System for value delivery; and Value."

This list is followed by Audience for this standard[12] that describes an impressive list of people who, as stakeholders,[13] are expected to pay attention and who are involved in project work[14] one way or another.

Chapter 2: A System for Value Delivery

This chapter introduces five Sections, the first of which is 2.1 Creating Value. This section briefly describes how value for "organizations and their stakeholders" is created within various corporate organizational arrangements through the application of the larger scope of project management just discussed. What we have is a much larger vision of project management than hither-to-for. This larger project management scope is collectively referred to as the "delivery components". The section goes on to describe some various ways in which these delivery components may be arranged to enable "value delivery" as seen from the perspective of "Operations".[15]

It follows from this is that the idea of "a system for value delivery" is a reference to what is better known, amongst the project management population at large, as the "project life span". The authors go further by pointing out that this internal Value Delivery environment itself exists within a larger external environment, "which includes the economy, the competitive environment, legislative constraints, etc."[16] This is further elaborated in Section 2.4 — The Project Environment. I suspect that these explanations will provide many project managers with a much better understanding of their actual working environment, and the inevitable source of some of their frustrations in managing their projects.

It is probably worth noting that the delivery of value that we are talking about here is having a project deliver an outcome that has intrinsic value. In other words, most projects create a means to an end, and not an end in itself. Or even more specifically, if you are looking for the actual benefits, financial or otherwise, you have to use or apply the project's outcome or product to garner those benefits. The use of that product is the job of Operations and not the role of the project manager. It is true that some project managers go on to generate benefits from a project's outcome, but at that point they would be doing the job of an Operations Manager.

Why is this distinction important? Because the outlook, skill sets and temperaments required for the two types of work are quite different. Few people are suited to both. The former type soon get frustrated working in an operations environment while the latter get frustrated by the stress involved in managing a project — especially if it is fast moving and the actual work is changing all the time.

The Chapter concludes with some useful comments on "Product Management Considerations". Here, the authors state that:[17]

"The disciplines of portfolio, program, project and product management are becoming more interlinked. While portfolio, program, and product[18] management are beyond the scope of this standard, understanding each discipline and the relationships between them provides a useful context for projects whose deliverables are products."

Chapter 3: PM Principles

Quite some time ago,[19] I wrote a paper on First Principles of Project Management[20] in which I lamented the absence thereof in the project management literature. In that paper, I set about repairing that omission by presenting, after much discussion amongst PMI colleagues, a set of seven "First Principles". These principles are identified as "first" because we believe that they are foundational to the practice of effective and successful project management, and each are carefully justified in the associated text of the day. Here they are for reference:

  1. The Commitment Principle
  2. The Success Principle
  3. The Tetrad Trade-off Principle
  4. The Strategy Principle
  5. The Management Principle
  6. The Single-Point Responsibility Principle
  7. The Cultural Environment Principle.

So, with some excitement, I looked forward to reading Chapter 3, which is by far the largest chapter in the Book [A]. Regrettably, I was sadly disappointed.

Book [A] Structure  Book [A] Structure

6. Ibid, p A-xv.
7. Ibid, pA3.
8. Ibid, i.e. This Standard..
9. Ibid, All on pA4.
10. My emphasis.
11. Ibid, ppA4 & 5.
12. Ibid.
13. Ibid, The stakeholders listed are: Project practitioners, consultants, educators, students, sponsors, stakeholders, and vendors.
14. Ibid, This statement is followed by another list of nine categories ranging from those responsible or accountable for "delivering project outcomes" to anyone "involved in any aspect of the project value delivery chain" on pA5.
15. Ibid, "Operations" is sometimes referred to as "Business as Usual".
16. Ibid, p9.
17. Ibid, Section 2.5 on pA18.
18. Ibid, Note! The word is correct as "product" and NOT "project".
19. Ibid, in November 2003.
20. See***
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