Developing From Within: Building Project Managers

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Most of our organizations have come to the conclusion that project management is a critical function for organizational success. With this realization has also come the conclusion that project managers are pretty important. What my various consulting and research endeavours have gradually led me to realize, however, is an interesting irony regarding project managers: Many organizations don't spend a lot of time, money and effort developing them.
The very idea appears to be a non-starter--as I discussed in last month's column, a significant number of organizations want to hire project managers that are prepped, pre-packaged and ready-to-go.
What far fewer organizations have is any framework to support the development of internal staff; the concept of grooming employees to be able to step into a project management role is alien for most. This is unfortunate. Existing workers often have a strong understanding of the culture and environment of the organization. They know how things work, how to get them done and who to enlist to ensure the necessary support for change, but it is rare for these individuals to be selected for a project management role--at least for a significant project.
For smaller projects, whether they are departmentally focussed process improvement efforts or small-scale system enhancements, it is more likely that an internal resource may be tapped for the …

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"Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you."

- Charlie Parker

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