"Don't Hire Project Managers. They Don't Produce Anything!"

From the monkeywrench Blog
At the end of the day - project management processes need to be practical. Why do work if it isn't directly contributing to an outcome? That just makes sense. . . that's being 'street smart'.

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Categories: proj_mgt

I have to admit that I stubbed my eye when I ran across this point of view in a recent magazine article about a tech upstart Nir Zuk from Palo Alto Networks (PAN)

The comment came from a recent article which focused on Zuk and his management style.

The quote (in context) is:


August 2011 the board brought in Mark McLaughlin, an executive at security firm Verisign, to be its Wall Street-friendly CEO. Zuk, now chief technology officer, doesn’t manage anyone and acts as the firewall against bureaucracy. Even though the firm is adding 100 employees per quarter, Zuk refuses to hire project managers. “They don’t produce anything,” he says. “All they do is coordinate. The people who do the work should coordinate.” It’s nice to know that success hasn’t changed Zuk one bit

Now at first we can take offense to an incendiary statement like this - then we have to consider the source.

Most new California-based tech start-ups are running on pure creativity, imagination, and energy drinks. They probably don't have to manage limited resources too much because they are in a pure, euphoric growth mode.

I don't hold Nir Zuk's comments against him (nor take them too seriously). Just consider the source.

Project management is a vitally necessary skill that has built pyramids, bridges, buildings, and space shuttles and has grown by leaps and bounds as a discipline over the last several decades

Project management allows us to maximize the utility of limited resources.

So, it's nice to know success hasn't changed project management very much either!

Posted on: April 11, 2013 01:53 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Perhaps we could ignore Zuk, but that sentiment is expressed many times in many kinds of organizations. What are the real answers? Do we have any metrics showing that projects with project managers succeed more often? Or save money or time? I'd really like to see hard proof that I can wave in front of some of our clients.

I agree the system has helped a lot of PM's to acquire many project management certificates / titles, without much of practical project management experience. Hence, the profession and status assigned to it got diluted much, leading to articles / frustration like this.

While we cannot completely agree to the article, at the same time, we cannot ignore either.

I am glad that Zuk rightly understood what PM's deliver and best at - co-ordination ... If this is left to the team, who are supposed to be focusing on 'developing deliverable', I wonder if it will really help the cause. Many techies do not want to do any management overlay, but just concentrate on development and deliver.

Interesting article and thought provoking!

If the job of the project managers is just about coordination, then don''t hire them. Don''t waste time. However, in reality, this is not just what the project managers do. The R&R of PM is more than just coordinate.

In the comment by 'anonymous' he/she seeks proof of the value of project managers. The closest source I can recommend to obtain data is a research monograph entitled "Reseraching the Value of Project Management", 2008 PMI. In it Janice Thomas and Mark Mullaly document 3 years of fieldwork and cross-disciplinary analysis conducted between 2005 and 2008 by a team of 48 reserachers from around the globe.

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