What does project management mean to me – a Project Manager’s Sermon

[This blog piece is part of the first ever PM Flash Blog – an idea by Shim Marom]

There is a well-known Project Management ‘joke’ that starts…

‘In the beginning there was the plan and the plan was good.

But then came the assumptions, and the assumptions were without form and the plan was completely without substance and the darkness was upon the faces of the employees’

It ends up explaining through a sequence of bad-communication why projects fail. It is amusing and I used it in my recent book on project management fun ‘The Project Manager Who Smiled’, but it is definitely not what I feel about project management.

As one of the generation of ‘Accidental Project Managers’ (that is I was just given ‘something to do’ one day and it turned out to be a project I learnt much later on) project management has come to mean a great deal to my personal and professional life and it is fantastic to be part of something that has, and will continue to, mature year after year. I was asked to write a short piece for a PM magazine recently on ‘legacy’ and I think this is very relevant to the question about what project management means to me.

After nearly 30 years in project management it is only natural, from time to time, to consider what legacy will I, and my fellow project managers, leave behind for the next generation of project managers? After all it has been the major part of my working life and a period of intense development of the ‘profession’.

Perhaps personally I can consider that my writings, including ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, can be one form of legacy, but in general how have the ‘Accidental Project Managers’ done?

Well I would argue ‘not bad’ should come back on the report; the growth in awareness of all things ‘project’ and the maturing of all of the professional communities, along with the focus on project skills and methods in most organisations is a pretty good place to be today. Plus there is a vibrant wealth of knowledge out there (books, websites, blogs, podcasts, communities of practice, magazines such as ‘Project’ and so on) that project managers today can tap in to.

Yes, of course, 100% of projects are still not successful (and probably never will be) but project health is so much better these days in general and much of this is to do with the investment in project managers (training, support, certification etc) – the days of the ‘Non-Accidental Project Manager’ are definitely with us.

And there is much left to be done naturally; raising the standard of executive sponsorship, connecting business strategy to project based activity, making project management a default step on the path to the top, the ‘C level’, of an organisation etc.

But all in all I think we should be proud of our achievements and be confident that the generation of ‘Intentional Project Managers’ entering the project management world today have a great legacy to build from.

So for me, project management is the future. There will be, of course, business as usual, and there will be projects to deliver significant change, and there will be a hybrid that I call ‘projects as usual’ – smaller change initiatives that managers and others with a basic project management skillset will manage as part of their day to day job. Because I believe that more and more people will enter the business world having gained such basic project management skills through schools, colleges, universities and other development routes.

So whilst the ‘joke’ might make us smile it isn’t true of the future:

In the beginning there was the plan and the plan was good.

But then came the assumptions, and the assumptions were without form and the plan was completely without substance and the darkness was upon the faces of the employees.

And they spake amongst themselves, saying ‘It is a crock of shit and it stinks!’

And so the employees went unto their supervisors, saying ‘It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odour thereof.’

Thereafter the supervisors went unto their division managers, saying ‘It is a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide its strength.’

And the division managers went unto their general manager, saying ‘It contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong.’

And soon the general manager went unto the Board, saying ‘It promotes growth and is very powerful’, adding ‘This new plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this organization.’

And so it came to pass that the Board looked upon the plan and saw that it was good and so the Plan became Policy.

This is how s**t happens!

Rather I think it will go…

In the beginning there was the plan and the plan was good.

And the project manager who takes charge of the plan was also good.

And this is how change happens.

I look forward to seeing my profession of project management in the hands of those who believe in project management in the future.

Amen to that.

Peter Taylor (The Lazy Project Manager) – 25th Sept 2013

www.thelazyprojectmanager.com

“P.S. This post is published as part of a first ever project management related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Over 70 bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labour is now (literally NOW) available all over the web. The complete list of all participating blogs is found here so please go and check them out!

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: