Project Management

Intelligent Deviation

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’s a very interesting thing that happens when organizations get to the point where they have a formal process to do something: They expect everyone to follow it.

Of course, that’s not terribly surprising. That’s probably why they created the process in the first place. We don’t want people creatively finding new ways to report their expenses, after all (that’s caused quite enough trouble in the past). In fact, the entire mantra of operations management (and yes, that’s a thing) is “consistency, repeatability and reduction of variation.”

Remember back when you were studying for your PMP®? When you struggled to get your head around the difference between “quality assurance” and “quality control”? When you couldn’t quite grasp when, if ever, you would use a control chart? Congratulations. You got a sneak peek into what operations management (at least statistically managed operations management) actually looks like.

The reality is that we don’t use control charts for project management (and I have no idea why they’re on the exam). But we do use them in statistical process control. Are you manufacturing widgets? Do you want to manufacture the same widget each and every time? Then control charts are your tool.

And therein lies the rub. Operations management is about doing …

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