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!
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.
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”
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.
NUMBER 6: MONEY
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.”
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.
People that have a good sense of humor and are concerned with their organization’s objectives are picked to become PMs and leaders.