Unlearning PM: Play Ball!

David Schmaltz is a project manager in Takoma Park, Maryland.

We set out to learn the project management body of knowledge before learning that our projects’ communities are more knowledgeable and capable of guiding us than our earlier indoctrination acknowledged. And that our notions of what it means to play the project management game need some situated experience and a lot of unlearning before they do us much good. Then we start inventing games that work better for us than following the old rules ever did.

In part one of this series, I presented findings outlined in The Underlying Theory of Project Management Is Obsolete, a PMI-published paper by Lauri Koskela and Gregory Howell, who identified key theories underlying the PMBOK that inhibit project performance: The Transformational View; Management By Planning and Thermostatic Control. The paper claimed that these three tacit theories in action create “self-inflicted problems” and I proposed that they require unlearning. Part two — “Seeing Different” — considered some inherent limitations of The Transformational View: that while useful for analysis, this perspective trivializes situated work and is difficult to see beyond. Part three, “Don’t Task, Don’t Tell,” evaluated Management By Planning, citing situations where management succeeded by other means. Part four examined the limitations of using Thermostatic Control to …

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"Bad artists always admire each other's work."

- Oscar Wilde

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