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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) or PMI® Global Summit, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Cameron McGaughy
Julie Ho
Heather McLarnon
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Erik Agudelo
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Kiron Bondale
Jamie Champagne
Esra Tepeli
Renaldi Gondosubroto
Mel Ross
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Kim Essendrup
Geetha Gopal
David Summers
Carol Martinez
Tai Cochran
Fabio Rigamonti
Archana Shetty
Geneviève Bouchard
Teresa Lawrence, PhD, PMP, CSM
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Kristy Tan Neckowicz
Moritz Sprenger
Mike Frenette
O. Chima Okereke
David Maynard
Nancie Celini
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Wael Ramadan
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Yasmina Khelifi
Erik Rueter
Joe Shi
Michel Thiry
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Barbara Trautlein
Steve Salisbury
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Carlos Javier Pampliega García
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Olivia Montgomery
Carlene Szostak
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Annmarie Curley
David Davis

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An Open Question During the 2015 PMI Congress

An Open Question During the 2015 PMI Congress

The Blank Chalk Board

During the 2015 PMI Congress in Orlando, the ProjectManagment.com Community Engagement folks wheeled out a blank blackboard.  NOT what I expected them to do!  Then, someone with a steadier hand than I have carefully drew the PMI logo (good job too!) and then the simple statement – “Why I became a Project Manager.”  Then…. They walked away leaving various pieces of colored chalk there.  I had a ringside seat in the “Ask an Expert” area so I just watched it.

Not a Well-Stated Problem to solve! 

My first thought was: “It’s not finished!”  There’s only one of the famous W’s up there!  What about: “Who? Where? What? When? and How?”  That’s CRAZY!  I didn’t do anything about my concerns -- I watched and was quiet.  But of course, the engagement folks are 100% more socially adept than I am, so I figured this must make sense somehow.  But it’s just a statement!  No guidance, no rules, no method of grading answers!  A chill crept into my engineering brain. 

WAIT!  Perhaps someone from PMI GOC would walk out and chalk in the answer based upon some expensive scientific study.  But, no, they left it blank.  No expensive answers.  Soon, some random Project Manager wandered by and boldly chalked up a response to the statement.  (Clearly, Project Managers aren’t shy.)  Within the two days of the congress, the board filled up and there was a very interesting collection of answers left on it.  Also, I didn’t see anyone erasing their answer.   Project managers, it seems - once they have an answer, have no need of an eraser.

Why I became a Project Manager

It took me a while, but I decided to study a photograph of the board (thank you Marjorie), to see if I could make sense of the complete randomness of the answers. To attempt that, I created categories and mind mapped it.

And the answers are…

NUMBER 1: IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! 

It seems that most of us probably didn’t plan to become a project manager, but fell into it, so to speak. You weren’t originally employed to do (or manage) project work, but with time you were asked to look after a couple of projects in addition to your regular responsibilities. You haven’t received much training—if any—and your company may not have a unified method for managing projects.  These people suddenly found they were responsible for managing a project but are unfamiliar with the “art and science” of project management.   It happened to me, and it seems it was the number one response to the chalkboard’s statement

NUMBER 2: TO FUTHER ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS

It’s not clear if these are “accidental” project managers that perceive the organizations goals and wanted to lend their skills to help achieve them, or if they were directly chosen to be a PM by the big bosses to forward the organization’s goals.   Notable in these answers is: “Change the world and me too.”  I like that!

  1. To make a bigger impact to the organization
  2. Change the world and me too*
  3. Produce results; drive strategy
  4. Link IT world to end-user’s world
  5. Make a difference
  6. Company needed someone who was organized

NUMBER 3: A FUNNY ANSWER (JOLLY JOKER!)

Project Managers are people with a good sense of humor!  I really like the first one: “I wanted to predict the future and figure out how to control it.”  If’ they’ve figured that out – they’re the world’s best PM!  I’d recommend they move to Las Vegas and start gambling!   “Work Release” is also very funny (I hope).    And, I’m just a tad worried about number 5 – I’m hoping I correctly put it in the “funny” category:  “I’d rather tell than be told.”  I’ve had managers like that, I’m sure we all have. 

  1. Because I wanted to predict the future and figure how to control it 
  2. Job security
  3. Work release*
  4. Retirement plan
  5. I’d rather tell than be told

 Schultz Jolly Joker

NUMBER 4: TO BE A LEADER

People want to be a leader in their organizations and saw Project Management as the way to achieve that goal.   Number 2 is my favorite: “It’s what I was born to do.”  And none of us could ignore number 4 – “Because I love the profession”

  1. I’m a leader
  2. It’s what I was born to do*
  3. I love the ongoing challenges and change faster!
  4. Because I love the profession

NUMBER 5: TO USE SOFT SKILLS

These are great!  People with soft-skill-ability decided to be a Project Manager to use their soft skills to help their organizations and themselves.  Perhaps number 4: “I think” isn’t really a soft skill but this seemed like a good place to put it. 

  1. Because people [is] are what matter*
  2. To use my soft-skills in high-tech
  3. Big picture thinker
  4. I think!

NUMBER 6: MONEY

  1. I need[ed] the money!
  2. $ (thanks Charles!)
  3. Because PMPs bank!*
  4. Good career path

A few of these are clear to me.  But, who is Charles?  Maybe the PMO manager?  The one that stopped me dead in my tracks was number 3.  When I closely looked it seemed to say "Because PMPs bark!”  I didn’t “grep” that.  Maybe it belonged in the “FUNNY” category?  Then it looked like it wasn’t really bark, but bank.  I put it in the money category, but was still clueless.  Maybe this was a financial PM?   

It bugged me enough that, I decided to rely on the (100% more socially adept) PMI engagement folks. My question to them was: “What does PMPs Bark mean?”   The answer (thanks Kristin!) was that’s “modern talk” for PMPs make money – it's not that they "BARK"  it's that they “BANK!”  Oooooh. 

NUMBER 7: PLANNING

We all plan.  These people became PMs because they LOVE planning.   I’m not sure I LOVE it, but I do a lot of it.  And I would probably fit into the first answer: “I think in plans.”

  1. I think in plans*
  2. I love planning
  3. Love launching new programs

NUMBER 8: THE WORLD IS A PROJECT

These seem like people that have been a PM a long time and probably are PMPs.  After a while EVERYTHING becomes a project.   Typing up this blog is a project.  Uploading it to ProjectManagement.com is a project.

  1. I’m a parent so I’m already a PM*
  2. Because we are managing projects everywhere, home, work, etc.

Non-Scientific Conclusion:  

People that have a good sense of humor and are concerned with their organization’s objectives are picked to become PMs and leaders. 

Posted by David Maynard on: January 29, 2017 05:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (14)
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