PMI, do you still love me?

Now look, it is really important to put this in some real context. I have been a member of PMI for 10 years now, and will continue to be a member. I am a project manager in ‘good standing’ with my PMP secured many years ago and regularly updated through the CCR process.

I am currently leading a project management community of around 200 PMs around the world and they are supported in membership of PMI through my company and many are either PMP certified or on a path to certification through our training partners. PMI representatives spoke at a recent conference for these same project managers.

Personally I have presented at 77 different PMI events throughout the world in the last 5 years, from the UK to USA to Australia, through conferences and congresses, local chapter meetings, and webinars. Yes, in the spirit of full disclosure 28 of these were paid for ‘gigs’ but that is my job after all and last year alone I did 12 such events without charge as a way of giving back, and because I enjoy it of course. And I will continue to do this; as I write this I have two further local chapter presentations lined up already.

And so I hope you can tell that I am not a ‘PMI hater’, quite the contrary, but I am feeling somewhat unloved right now.


Let me give you three examples.

Congress: The EMEA Congress is in London this year, and I will be there, but I submitted two papers for potential presentation and neither were accepted. Well I say neither were accepted as I don’t officially know one way or the other. PMI hasn’t told me. I assume it is a ‘no’ since I am not on the agenda that has been published and I have spoken to several others in my network who are presenting and have, obviously, heard from PMI. The official response to my submissions was ‘Notifications to accepted applicants will be sent by December 19th, 2014’ and I have heard nothing so I am not in but, and here is my gripe, why haven’t I heard something? I mean I, and presumably many others, put the effort in to submit a paper and potentially prepare a presentation so why can’t PMI be bothered to even send a ‘sorry you have not been successful this time around but we really appreciate your interest and investment of your time…’? It is another conversation about how some people seem to get to speak, through the blind selection process, at congress after congress around the world, they clearly have a knack of pitching a subject better than me these days it seems, but that is not the source of my concern in this case, it is the lack of communication back to the PMI member.

I did follow up on this with an email to the congress contact and guess what… nothing, no response at all. PMI – I am feeling unloved.

Book: I have now written 15 project management books and some while ago I thought it would great to have one title published by PMI. Great kudos after all I will admit. If you go online you can see the PMI Book Publishing Program and look at the book submission document that needs to be completed if you like.

I do have books, two at present, that are for sale on the PMI Marketplace so I presume it safe to say that I haven’t upset anyone in PMI by telling everybody that they need to be ‘lazy’ project managers.

Anyway the advice on that form is that if you do submit a book proposal, and I did, then ‘You will be contacted by the Manager, Publications approximately 6 weeks from receipt of your proposal regarding our decision’ – guess what… I wasn’t contacted, ever, nothing at all. The book concept was brought to fruition but by another publisher. Rejection is fine, it happens in life and it certainly happens in publishing (a lot) but rejection by default of no response is not acceptable I would say. PMI – I am feeling unloved.

Complaint: As I mentioned earlier I do speak a lot for free at PMI events and one such event was a webinar for one of the Communities of Practice and it was a very popular presentation, based on my Lazy Project Manager book. However one person made a complaint to myself, the CEO of PMI and the head of the Community of Practice. The complaint itself was, I feel very confident in saying this, completely foolish. The person complained that to include ‘lazy’ and ‘project manager’ in anything was an insult to the profession. But ‘no’ he had not read the book, one of the best-selling project management books ever I am proud to say, and ‘no’ he had not even attended the actual webinar, he was complaining from a point of principal. Silly really. I responded, copying everyone on the original complaint email, and politely put my counter-argument and explained the concept of ‘productive laziness’, my experience in project management, and invited the complainant to listen to the recorded webinar and, if he was still unhappy, to get back in touch with me for a further conversation. That was the last I heard from them. But you know throughout this process I heard nothing from PMI at all. Someone had complained to the very top of the organisation and I, the member and volunteer speaker, was doing all of the situation handling. PMI – I am feeling unloved.

As I said, I am no ‘PMI hater’ (yes I know there are such people out there) but I am a member of the PMI family and I would have expected a lot more in the way of communication and interest. I feel, based on my involvement and contribution to PMI and the project profession as a whole that this is a reasonable and considered challenge to PMI to try a bit harder. At chapter level I have had no issue at all but at corporate I think perhaps the whole ‘we are there for the members and not our selves’ might have been forgotten by some.

When it is time to renew my membership PMI loves me. When it is time to re-certify my PMP then PMI loves me (a lot).

‘Good things happen when you get involved with PMI’ – so the PMI website declares and that is without a doubt true. I have enjoyed my years of working with and through PMI but there is still that whole ‘love’ thing that just appears to me to be missing.

And so I ask the question: PMI, do you still love me? I hope you do…


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15 Responses to “PMI, do you still love me?”

  1. Projectmgmt Says:

    Hi Peter
    I think your experiences totally mirror what is happening across project management – apathy rules! If the prof bodies can’t be bothered to communicate to their membership, why should project practitioners be bothered to get involved in their profession.

  2. Penny Says:

    Hi Peter,

    I was one of those who did receive a ‘You’ve been selected’ e-mail this time for the Global Congress in May, which came as a bit of a surprise. Now I’m in the sausage-machine process – paper by x day in Jan, presentation by 6th March…

    I hope that PMI sit up and listen to you and use this information to improve their processes, and to realise that there is much more to all of this than just processes. 🙂

  3. Andrew Buck Says:

    Peter, the love from PMI has not run true for years, and it’s resulted in my limiting my involvement to what can I do for project managers irrespective of what PMI thinks of it (as well as maintaining my credential, and they’ve made that even more convoluted of late).

    And your experience with your book mirrored my own: Mine was waiting for PMI to respond to learn that any reference to them would be ‘charged by the word’, just for the ‘privilege’ of giving back to the profession and helping promote PMI awareness. It took quite some time for their response. I promptly redacted any reference to PMI terms and language.

    Nice business model, but good things did not happen when I got involved with PMI. The answer of whether PMI loves me?

    They love my money. But I don’t see them loving or supporting their practitioners as they should. If that makes me a “PMI hater”, so be it, but PMI should be more engaged with their practitioners to understand why.

  4. Mudanças do PMI que impactarão sua carreira (se você for certificado) | e-Projects | Smart Project Management Says:

    […] UPDATE ÀS 11:30h: Eu acabei de ler o blog do Peter Taylor e estou com o mesmo sentimento, apesar de não ter um centésimo da participação dele, me senti da mesma forma. Se quiser ler o post dele em inglês, acesse AQUI!. […]

  5. A. Matt Piazza Says:

    Peter, I find the lack of professional communication ironic since the key success factor of our profession is communication! I agree that we professions gain from our relationship and participation with PMI. Unfortunately, we apparently must pay money and tolerate a lower quality of life to do so.

    As a 30+ year member, I remember when PMI executive leaders were all practitioners and not professional association executives. We met each year with our spouses attending and shared (communicated) the contributions to society of our profession and to our quality of life. Our focus was on our profession and not on the size of our group. In the 90’s we saw a shift in that focus to membership and PMP growth numbers. We stopped having a spouse program at the annual event. PMI’s objective was volume!

    We early members gave a lot of our personal time to build PMI in the 80’s and some made personal sacrifices. Some say that to play in the game, size matters so money and membership numbers are all that matters. I disagree. I believe the quality of life matters more than wealth (money) and size (1 million members). Communication is a form of respect and a measurement of the quality of life.

    PMI has millions of dollars today and can afford a staff that ensures 100% communication with members submitting papers and / or books. I suggest we see on our PMI website an executive performance dashboard that shows the percentage of communication for PMI staff overall and drill down to each event.

  6. Cesar Says:

    Peter, I find that PMI has done a great job at scaling their process as they deal with skyrocketing membership numbers. I also believe that some of this scaling means automation in many processes which removes the personal touch.

    I don’t think PMI is not loving you as an organization… They’re just not able to love anyone in particular. It’s a bit of a monster, run mostly by volunteers.

    I do believe that if anyone deserves a spot at the congress and a PMI published book it is you. In the end it is their loss, yet I would try not to take it personally 🙂

    Keep up with your fantastic work… I think your body of work and the value you provide stand on their own – with or without PMI’s stamp.

  7. timo2b Says:

    I’ve been wondering if PMI is slipping. I started wondering this when I realized the USA Federal Government has started using the ‘Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers(FAC-P/PM)’ as a replacement certification instead of the PMI certification for Project Managers. This was not originally the case when the FAC started in 2006, but in 2015 this appears to be the case. One example is that a PMI project management certification will only get a person a level 2 FAC P/PM rating, while a level 3 FAC P/PM certification is required to be the PM of a ‘Major Investment’

  8. Brian Cohn Says:

    First and foremost, Peter, thank you for doing a webinar for the INPD CoP a little more than a year ago. I hope that the complaint you describe was not from our webinar.

    I agree with the sentiments that PMI is becoming less responsive to its members. It seems that it is evolving from a volunteer run organization to a corporate entity (at the HQ level) that sometimes appears more interested in its own survival than truly being of benefit to the members.

    As a CoP leader, it has often been challenging to get information out of PMI on the shut down of what I consider a valuable program providing benefit to the members. Yet, when I talk to people from PMI, they feel like they are communicating well.

    I also understand Cesar’s point that PMI has so many members that it can be challenging to be personal. On the other hand, I find it hard to believe that they get so many proposals to present at Congress that they cannot inform everyone whether their proposal was accepted.

    Please, continue to keep up the good work. You are an incredible Project Management thought leader and I hope you continue sharing your thoughts whether PMI is a conduit for them or not.

  9. Nikolay Shvedchikov Says:

    Hello, Peter
    I completely support Mr. Cesar Abeid opinion: please continue your fantastic work with or without PMI stamp – it is not so important for the people around you (I am an example). I LOVE what you do, I love your books and I wish you the best future in project management and in your personal life. Let us keep in touch. SIncerely, Nikolay.

  10. Kenneth Asbury, PMI Virtual Communities Administrator II Says:

    Hi Peter, of course we still love you!

    Let me count the ways:
    – You were a wonderful and highly praised speaker at two of our virtual events in 2014.
    – As Brian Cohn has already declared, our community members and leaders highly valued your contributions as a webinar presenter.
    – As a speaker and author, you have given back to the profession through your insights and your experience.

    And I’m glad to see by the responses in your comments, that it’s not
    only PMI that loves you, but all of the members that have had the chance to interact with you.

    But (unlike the catch phrase from Love Story) sometimes love means saying you’re sorry.

    I am sorry that this has been your experience and I’m looking forward to working with you to restore the love.

    (I provided more detail in the email that I sent to you yesterday)

  11. Ricardo Triana, PMP Says:

    Peter… I am copying the same response I gave you in LinkedIn just because I didn’t realize in that moment that you had posted it in two different sites.

    Peter, I am so glad to find your post and also to see that somehow someone in PMI has started to address some of the issues directly with you. I sincerely believe that is not about love but just simple etiquette rules that sometimes get lost when you start growing; sometimes (and that happens in every organization I know varying from a local restaurant to a multinational company) and then lack of communication (as in both of your cases) happens.

    As mentioned in some of the replies, It was great some years ago when we were an operational board and organization but with all the growth it would be impossible to maintain that kind of communication and not falling in some minor mistakes every once in a while. I would love to say that any other association could be different but I also have my complaints at IPMA, AMA and NACD, so I wouldn’t generalize just to unnecessary light a fire by comparing them when it’s just not fair.

    It’s also true that there are too many great speakers and authors around the world, I know is difficult to accommodate everyone for every congress or event, but as a minimum you deserve respect not because you are a member of PMI, just as a human being (professional or not, member of an association or not) you deserve a better service and not responding assuming you understood the message is not perceived at an adequate level of service.

    In any case, taking advantage that there is a process called Board Communication and this is my last year in the Board, I would like to ask our staff to double-check what happened, where the communication was lost, what the process is and ensure somehow is improved, if needed.

    About the complaint about the “lazy” part, that’s a different story and I know because I personally dealt with a lot of communications; if the complaint would have been requesting information from PMI or about strategy you could be sure anyone at the management team or the Board would have been directly involved, however the complaint was about your personal work and for that reason, I wouldn’t expect PMI to take the lead in your conversation (first because I agree it’s foolish but most important because it’s a personal issue not a representation of the institute strategy) and if that person was feeling really strong about the lazy word (I really though there were bigger issues in the world to waste our energy but that’s the matter of another conversation) maybe could have proceed with an ethics report, but I guess you made your point.

    Sent you an email to show you that just like too many others in this post, I do love you :). At the end PMI doesn’t exist as an “entity”, PMI is every one of us…

    Have a great weekend! Un abrazo

  12. thelazyprojectmanager Says:

    Ricardo I really appreciate your interest, support and action.

    I think, whilst I am happy for PMI to check through all the processes there is a higher and simpler outcome I would like to see from this debate. And it is good to see contributions and comments from so many people (including APM checking if there were ways that they could improve…) – I have also received emails, tweets and texts in support sharing similar experiences and offering encouragement. All of which is amazing – thank you.

    And so back to the one outcome I would love to see from PMI (and all other project organisations) and it is this – that no matter how large you get passive communication is unacceptable.

    The ‘if you haven’t heard from us by … then you haven’t been successful/we aren’t interested’ approach is completely unacceptable.

    I totally get the automated response workflow approach – that is fine – I am not even asking to communicate with a real person – but I am asking for closed loop communication with a defined response whether that is a yes or a no.

    PMI (and others) get that right 100% of the time and you are nearly there – add in personal and responsive (in terms of time and quality) for the exceptional circumstances and then all of your members will feel the love.


  13. S. Reilly, PMP Says:

    Hi Peter,

    Your sentiments reflect how I also feel about “what is not” going on with PMI today. I have been a member since I was intorduced to the organization by my mentor in 2006. His background like mine was in construction project management, a sector that PMI has completely been ignoring for the past decade, by and large. I always find this hilarious as the feature article 8 out of 10 times, in the PMI magazines is about a very large construction project.

    By ignoring this sector they have abandonded their presence in that industry and the project managers in that industry.

    As a recovering project manager, I have chosen another career path. while I am still a member of PMI and I will keep my certifications up to date, (I have two), PMI is no longer the first place I go for information or for guidence or the tools to develop and manage work place programs.

  14. Ce carti am mai citit in ultima vreme Says:

    […] trecuta am citit un articol de-al lui Peter intitulat “PMI, do you still love me?” si mi-am adus aminte cu placere de cartea […]

  15. PMI, being in love means never having to say you are sorry | The Lazy Project Manager's Blog Says:

    […] PMI Do you still love me? The Lazy PM Blog 2nd March 2015 […]

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