Project Management

All Is Not the Same in the World of Project 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

There are days that the world seems like a pretty small place. Through the joys of air travel, you can be on the other side of the planet in less than 24 hours. And via the wonders of the internet, you can connect with virtually anyone, anywhere in the world, instantaneously. And while early social theory suggested that there were six degrees of separation between every person on earth, the actual answer seems to be something in the neighborhood of 3.5.

For all that the world feels small, it’s still an astonishingly large and varied place. Culture shock is an entirely real concept, as virtually anyone who has travelled broadly can attest. It’s also a concept that holds true in the world of project management.

You would think, at this point, that project management would be a pretty uniform concept. Through the development of standards and the promotion of certifications, there is an incredibly large pool of people who have a grounding in the same concepts. It would be easy to presume that actual practices would be converging to a relatively uniform and well accepted set of best practices. Except that you would be wrong.

What passes for project management continues to vary considerably. And it does so for several reasons. Part of this is rooted in the fact that while standards attempt to define and codify project management, they don’t actually …

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