PPM: Project Propaganda Management?

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.

In the history of organizations trying to implement and get some value from project management, there has been a string of buzzwords that have captured the hearts, minds and budget approvals of senior executives. First was “project management” itself, as executives recognized that a lot of the changes that they were unleashing on their organizations were projects--and that maybe managing them as such might wreak less havoc. Then came the “project management office”, along with the hope and the promise that if someone were looking after all of the projects, then perhaps the projects might wreak less havoc.

Now we have “portfolio management”. The latest candidate for a square in buzzword bingo, portfolio management seems to hold the promise that if we think hard about what projects we want to do, then perhaps the projects might wreak less havoc on the organization. Smart readers will no doubt be sensing a pattern by now. Truly insightful ones will probably be feeling dread and foreboding about where all this might be going.

Of course, one of the most significant challenges of buzzwords is that so very often executives say “get me some of that” without really having a clue what “that” is or how it might actually help them. We also have numerous consultants and associations who have recognized that the further …

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