Project Management

Does Your Project Management Make A Difference?

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.

Does your project management make a difference?

That’s a bit of a loaded question. It would be easy to take the wrong way. While I acknowledge it to be a challenging question, I also intend it to be constructive.

An interesting follow-on question to ask is: Who is project management meant to serve? Who is the audience for whom it has been designed? What are the desired outcomes, and are they being delivered? For those who it was not intended to serve, what are its consequences?

Where I’m going with all of this is that we tend to look at project management through the lens of process. It is work that purportedly needs to be performed because it is expected to deliver value. The challenge is that we often look at process as relatively fixed, relatively unchanging and requiring all of it to be done all of the time. What gets contained within that process tends to be the intersection of proclaimed best practice and an accumulation of “this is how we do things around here.” Both of those dimensions should be challenged.

The formative expectation of project management was to deliver a result, and preferably to produce that result on time, on budget and to specification. Later evolutions of this understanding started talking about quality as something important to consider (pretending it was in some way different from specifications). Progressively …


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"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."

- Groucho Marx