Project Management

The Value of Building Diverse Skills

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.

We live in a world that values specialization. Deep and extensive expertise is often what is implicitly (and even explicitly) encouraged in education, in professional development programs and in position descriptions and job qualifications.

To a large extent, this is also a self-reinforcing emphasis for us as individuals. We tend to do the things we are good at and avoid those things that are a struggle. We study subjects that interest us in school. We pursue activities that give us pleasure. We tend to sidestep situations where we will feel incompetent, or outmatched, or where there is a risk of failure.

What that means is that our boundaries of focus get smaller and smaller. They constrain what we do in terms of work, what we study in terms of education, what we pursue in terms of interests and what we choose to read, explore and consume in terms of information. We define ourselves by what we are, what we do and what we know, and limit ourselves from engaging with anything that doesn’t fit within that box.

I am a generalist. At this point in my career, I’d say that I’m a very enthusiastic generalist. I don’t have any one specific area of specialization (unless you count project management). I don’t count project management as a specialization, as it is an incredibly vast domain of knowledge and skill and practice that itself borrows on …


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While hunting in Africa, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How an elephant got into my pajamas I'll never know.

- Groucho Marx

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