Project Management

Great Expectations

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

Much has been written about the principles and process of requirements definition; of the need to identify stakeholders, learn their perspectives and interests; and enumerate those things about a project that they consider mandatory, desirable or nice to have. We discuss the need to determine where misaligned expectations may exist, and identify methods of ensuring that we negotiate agreement on what the project ultimately needs to accomplish. Traceability of requirements and strategies for translating requirements into scope and deliverables all get considerable attention and discussion.
Sadly, despite all of this understanding--and all of the work that is implied--projects can still fail and project managers that believe they are rigorously applying process will still be labeled ineffective at best (and incompetent at worst). No matter what techniques and process may be employed, no matter how much rigor and discipline may be applied, what is delivered will in many instances fall considerably short of the mark. Of greater concern is that many project managers won’t even see it coming.
Whether you call it farce or call it tragedy, this performance is playing out in organizations all around us (it’s probably playing out in yours). The situation has nothing to do with the processes employed and little to do with the capabilities that are tested for in …

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