Project Management

Coping Strategies for the Always-On 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

Let’s face it. Project management is not a 9-to-5 job. It doesn’t fit into a nice, normal, predictable work week.

Of course, that’s why many of us are attracted to the role in the first place. We like the variety. We find the challenge appealing. The idea that every day is different is motivating, not disturbing. We like having a tangible impact. We like the adrenaline. Some of us thrive on the chaos that ensues from wrestling with uncertainty and wrangling change.

I came face-to-face with that phenomenon when I was co-lead of the Value of Project Management research project, sponsored in part by PMI. We were conducting a case study and conducting interviews in an organization that was two time zones and a four-and-a-half hour flight away. Preparation and planning were key. The organization was enthusiastic, and senior management was delighted that we had selected them as a research participant. They made available the time we needed, with one VP allowing a scheduled hour interview to extend well beyond two hours in total before we finally wrapped up.

Things were different with the project managers, however. While we had a significant commute to show up, we simply needed a project manager to appear in a meeting room in their office building. That was harder than you might think to accomplish. Interviews were cancelled. Every once in a while, someone …

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"Chaos is a friend of mine."

- Bob Dylan



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