PMI, being in love means never having to say you are sorry

‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry’ is a famous phrase from the Erich Segal novel that was made in to the hugely successful film ‘Love Story’ starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. The line is spoken twice in the film: once in the middle of the film, by Jennifer Cavilleri (MacGraw’s character), when Oliver Barrett (O’Neal) is about to apologise to her for his anger; and as the last line of the film, by Oliver, when his father says sorry after learning of Jennifer’s death.

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You may have read my previous two blogs on my relationship with PMI:

Well I have received some ‘love’ from PMI through various contacts and I also met with Cindy Anderson, Vice President, Brand Management at the Project Management Institute, whilst we were both at the PMI EMEA Congress 2015 in London, to talk about my feelings and concerns.

Actually the whole ‘being in love means never having to say you are sorry’ was quoted by Cindy when we first spoke on the phone so all credit to her for that addition to my theme, and in having a good sense of humour.

In case you haven’t read the blogs yet then in summary I had some communication issues with PMI and this was echoed by many, many people who contacted me afterwards.

The challenges I experienced might well be through no fault of PMI, or at least no conscious failing. Ichak Adizes’[1] corporate life cycle model suggests this could be a common issue with organisations as they grow. His methodology describes a series of phases organisations go through:

  1. Courtship
    • This is the initial or formation stage, where the business model or proposition is defined
  2. Infancy
    • Founders’ focus turns from ideas and possibilities to the generation of concrete results
  3. Go-go
    • This is a fast-growth stage and sometimes chaotic
  4. Adolescence
    • The organisation is still growing but it adopts a new shape while it becomes more established and defined
  5. Prime
    • The business or organisation is at its fittest, healthiest and most competitive, popular and profitable
  6. Stability
    • Companies maintain their strength – still effective, popular and profitable – but they have lost the passion of the first stages
  7. Aristocracy
    • The organisation is strong by virtue of its market presence and the consolidated accumulated successes, but it is slow and unexciting
  8. Recrimination
    • At this stage of decadence, a virtual ‘witch hunt’ is carried out, trying to find who did things wrongly, instead of identifying flows and trying to work out the associated problems
  9. Bureaucracy
    • If the company has not perished during the previous stages, it will degenerate into cumbersome bureaucracy
  10. Death
    • …….

Now clearly PMI is well past phases 1 to 4, but the question is are they drifting on to the 6th phase of ‘Stability’ which offers some challenges if the passion is drifting away, or worse are they at phase 7, slow and unexciting with growth only from acquisition?

We might just have to get Dr Adizes in to comment on that but what is clear to me is that the individuals, whether they be chapter level or corporate level do offer the ‘love’ but collectively something is not as it was. Whether that is the passion or the bureaucracy creeping towards them something has changed as PMI grows.

Cindy was open about the challenges but assured me that PMI ‘loves’ all of their members and listens to all comments from members with a view to addressing their concerns, if they can, and making improvements to get better all the time.

Driven by popularity (and no doubt money) there was a sequel to ‘Love Story’ called ‘Oliver’s Story’, based again on an Erich Segal book. This film’s tagline was ‘It takes someone very special to help you forget someone very special’.

I just hope that PMI gets it right in the future and keeps aiming for not having to say it is ‘sorry’, and that we don’t get the situation where there is the need to go off and find a new ‘someone special’ to replace an organisation project managers have grown up with and still has a place in our hearts.

[1] Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes has developed a proprietary methodology that bears his name ‘The Adizes Methodology’ which enables complex organizations to achieve exceptional results and manage accelerated change without destructive conflicts. Leadership Excellence Journal named him one of the Top 30 Thought Leaders in the United States, and Executive Excellence Journal put him on their list of the Top 30 Consultants in America.

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