Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known…

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

Before I became a project manager, I wish I had known more about corporate politics ... and the nature of fear and irrationality ... and the value in asking questions instead of needing to be seen as an expert in every situation. I also would have worried less about technical solutions and more about business principles. What about you?

I was asked a great question a few weeks back in an email I received from someone I’ve never met. Firstly, I owe an apology, because it was such a good question that I never replied. I didn’t want to do it the disservice of an “off the top of my head” response, so I left it until I had time to provide a reasoned and considered reply. It’s amazing how many weeks go by without providing that space. So, to the writer: my apologies for not responding directly to you. In a small effort at compensation, here’s my answer in public.
The question was, “What do I wish I had known prior to becoming a project manager, and is there something I would have studied more of, less of, or differently?”
Part of the challenge in answering the question is a difficulty in ascertaining what “prior” refers to. Not that I don’t know when I started managing projects — I can nail that down to the week. Less clear is when I knew that I was actually a project manager. That didn&…

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"In the real world, the right thing never happens in the right place and the right time. It is the job of journalists and historians to make it appear that it has."

- Mark Twain