Why Equally Mature Companies Can Have Unequal Capabilities

What is maturity? Can an organization be considered mature if it does the wrong things well? What if it does the right things in the wrong way? In the late ’90s, I led a team on behalf of the Project Management Institute to create a business standard (OPM3) that helps organizations to become more mature and capable in project management, program management and portfolio management. Thousands of people were involved in development of the standard, and today everyone from technology companies that are household names to government institutions spanning dozens of countries hire consultants to use the standard to assess their organizations’ capabilities. But misperceptions still exist about what “maturity” means. This issue is not explained in the standard itself and has never been written about by anyone, so what better place to do so than in the gantthead community where we have over 500,000 registered members, the largest online community of project managers in the world?

Consider these remarks from someone in the PMI OPM3 SIG on LinkedIn (a sister community I manage):

“While an organization could be very mature, it doesn’t mean they are doing it right. I mean they could have a standardized process to develop a project management plan, which they measure, and say they even control and are continuously improving it. That would mean …

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