Project management is imitation, not innovation - from PMI Congress in Rome

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Categories: EMEA


I've lost my keys in the garden and I look for them in the livingroom because it's dark outside

Today, I've attended Mike Fernette and Majeed Hosseiney presentation in Rome at the PMI EMEA Congress. They started with the following short story. Majeed had lost his keys. He was looking for them where the light was. But the keys were in a shadow place. So he couldn't see them. Mike found the keys.

The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Award

I thought this allegory was good to illustrate what I felt when attending the Hamdan Bin Mohammed presentation a few minutes before. The initiative is amazing and, as a project manager, you should look for more information about it by following the link because you could win one of the prizes in a pool of $550,000!

Project management relies on imitation not on innovation

I believe the Hamdan Bin Mohammed initiative is great to get micro-innovation (incremental innovation) in the project management profession. The reason why I believe that is because they talk to the project management profession. People who consider themselves as professional PM already meet each other so they talk about what they do and share their best ideas. The project management profession relies on mimetism (or imitation if you prefer this word): we learn from each other by copying each other. PMI was founded and exists so that people who do project management can meet each other and share their problems and the solutions: that's imitation, copying, mimetism... The core value of project management is imitation, not innovation.

Radical innovation will come from outside the profession

I believe that radical innovation in project management will come from outside of the project management profession, from people who don't know they do project management. Those people have developed specific solutions to their problem. They don't call it innovation because they don't know it is different to what others do. And they don't know that what they do could be applied in other contexts.

What do you think?

Posted by Yves Cavarec on: May 02, 2017 09:14 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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If you want to innovate in Project Management, you might have to be willing to step away from the PMBOK Guide. I know, this is heresy, but bear with me. I'm not saying don't follow it. I'm saying don't treat it like a proscriptive tome that guides every minute of your day.

At a former employer, I worked with another PM who would see what I was doing and say, "But that's not in the PMBOK!" My response was usually, "But it's the right thing to do," or "It's what needs to be done."

At the same time, I have to ask the question, when it comes to project management, what are you trying to innovate, and why? Businesses innovate in order to grow, compete, and outperform their competition. I'm not saying we don't need an innovative spirit in project management, but what is the driving force behind the need? What is the goal of innovating project management? I ask this for the sake of discussion, not to downplay the need.

We need to keep on innovating, testing new way improving on our knowledge.
Aaron, you need to use PMBOK , but it is never a complete document, new version coming every few years! So yes improve on it.

I agree, that radical innovation will come from outside the profession.
If you have a PM standard in mind, it is hard to think in a radical other way.
I agree that incremental innovations may come out of the profession and may also be valueable.

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