A Personal Approach To PM

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.

For this month’s article, we’re going to go in a different direction. Frequently, my writing has focussed on the development of organizational project management capabilities: the need for more consistency, increased maturity, more effective standards. There is a rationale for this, of course. Extensive consulting and research has shown that organizations that have a more consistent approach (up to a point) receive a number of fundamental and important advantages: they benefit from interchange-ability of staff, improved communications through a common understanding of terminology and greater predictability of results...all good and wonderful things that should make consistency a slam dunk.

At the same time, however, many of my articles take a more humanistic approach of looking behind the processes and organizations to the people that actually make them work. And my universally applicable answer to the vast majority of questions is, “It depends.” In other words, just because there are benefits to consistency and an organizational approach doesn’t mean that is the only--or even the most desirable--way to go in all circumstances.

An alternative view starts with two essential principles:

  1. Projects are all about people.
  2. People are different.

Here’s the fascinating thing behind those two simple and seemingly self-…

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