Project Management

The Critical Path

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Welcome to The Critical Path--the home for community happenings and events on! This is where you'll find community news, updates, upcoming events, featured member posts and more. We'll also be showcasing hot topics in the project management arena and bringing you interviews with industry experts. The Critical Path is our primary way of getting news out to members, so be sure to check back for updates!

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Marjorie Anderson
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield
Heather McLarnon

Past Contributers:

Carrie Dunn
Danielle Ritter
Kenneth A. Asbury
Craig Dalrymple
Rebecca Braglio
Kristin Jones

Recent Posts

Register for our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything!" Webinar- featuring PMI Events!

The Latest Evolution of the PM Role, Part 2

PMI Virtual Experience Series Call for Proposals

The Latest Evolution of the PM Role, Part 1

June 2020 Community News You Can Use

Register for our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything!" Webinar- featuring PMI Events!

While we are disheartened about the reality of not meeting face to face during PMI live events this year, we want you to know that “where there’s a will, there’s a way!” With that said, have you heard the buzz about the new series of virtual events that PMI is developing? YES, new and exciting things are happening in the PMI Events World and we want you to be part of it!  How can you? Simply register for our next “Discover PMI - Ask Us Anything!” webinar, What’s All the Buzz about the Virtual Experience Series?, scheduled Wednesday, 22 July 2020 at 3:00PM EDT.

As you may know, the format of this series of webinars is executed through non-PDU bearing webinars, meant to encourage conversation with various PMI departments. Simply put, community members, like yourselves, having a one hour Q&A session with a particular PMI department. We are so thrilled to have Gina Alesse, Julie Ho and Michelle Brown from PMI Events, discuss the specifics of The Virtual Experience Series: Delivering Value, Creating Change & Advancing the World™ that will feature monthly virtual experiences from now through December 2020.

Register for FREE at  We certainly hope you will join us!

As always, our project is YOU. Your successes and setbacks, your passions and peeves—we want to hear about them all, and help you get to where you're going today and tomorrow. We hope these webinar series guide you in the right direction. As always, your feedback and ideas are most welcome!

Posted by Kimberly Whitby on: June 25, 2020 11:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

The Latest Evolution of the PM Role, Part 2

Categories: standards

by: Jesse Fewell, PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition Development Team member

In our previous post, The Latest Evolution of the PM Role, Part 1​, we explored how the project manager role has become vastly more sophisticated than when the profession first defined it decades ago. In particular, we revealed that the upcoming PMBOK® Guide –Seventh Edition will challenge project managers to leverage the broader project team in their practice, more than they ever have before.

In this post, we answer the next obvious question: Fair enough, but what does that look like, and what do I do? To find that answer, we begin by zooming out to a bigger perspective.

It’s official: Project Management is now a team sport.

In the 20th century, projects were closer to the post-industrial and information ages; they were more likely to be categorized into certain business functions, departments, and vendors. However, more recently the complexity of our projects are increasing. As such, project complexity has more frequently become larger than any single mind to capture and contain. To overcome these challenges, Project managers across the world are more and more leveraging project team members in the practice of project management activities. This allows project managers to scale their impact and effectiveness by expanding beyond the physical limits of their own personal capacity.

More than just a sub team. For years, we’ve discussed a similar idea with the concept of a Project Management Team, as “The members of the project team who are directly involved in project management activities.” However, the last two decades have gradually eroded the distinction between the overall Project Team and a more specialized inner circle “Project Management Team.”

In fact, the PMBOK® Guide has reflected this evolution. The document’s mention of the term “Project Management Team” has decreased from an average of 27% of the pages (3rd Edition), to 14% (4th Edition) to 9% (5th Edition) to 5% (6th Edition). Today, there is no longer a discernible distinction on most projects, most of the time, as to who does and does not perform project management skills and activities.

When you think about today’s workplace, it starts to make sense: A tech writer may be the one who coordinates interviews for a new user manual. A senior graphic artist may be collecting the estimates from junior colleagues. A junior chemist may be the one to record meeting minutes, since she’s the one who best understands what is signal versus what is noise.

So then, what does a project manager do uniquely and distinctly?

Functions, Not Roles. The draft of The Standard for Project Management now elaborates the project manager as “The person assigned by the performing organization to lead the project team that is responsible for achieving he project objectives.” That emphasis on leadership sounds to be a much more strategic description than the traditional expectation of being the one ultimately and singularly responsible for getting work done.

The draft Standard goes on to say that leadership is manifested by performing a variety of “functions.” The functions include things like Oversight & Coordination, Facilitate & Support, or Provide Resource & Direction. But it also says, “Functions related to the project can be fulfilled by one person, by a group of people, or combined into defined roles.”

That is, it doesn’t have to be you. Rather than limit a project managers’ potential impact to a single role description, the standard now reflects the sheer diversity of projects in the world today. The draft Standard goes on to say, “The needs of the project, organization, and environment influence which functions are used on a project and how those functions are carried out.”

Context is king. As long as you ensure good management is being performed, your context will determine what you alone, as the project manager, should do or not do.

The Bottom Line

So, what’s the bottom line here? Today’s project world is more complex and dynamic than ever before. That has led to a permanent change in the state of who does what in the world of project management. No longer can we say that a project manager does X on most projects, most of the time. Instead, you have the opportunity to have more impact on more people, by inviting them to the project management table.

Posted by Heather McLarnon on: June 23, 2020 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

PMI Virtual Experience Series Call for Proposals

Categories: communication, events

PMI Virtual Experience Series Call for Proposals

Do you have a great idea for a presentation? Consider submitting it and be a part of our inaugural Virtual Experience Series

  • 29 JULY: My Work, My Life, My World
  • 25 AUGUST: Together We Rise
  • 9 SEPTEMBER: Adaptability, Resilience and Learning: A Deep Dive in Organizational Agility
  • 20 OCTOBER: Our Global Impact
  • 12 NOVEMBER: Drawing a Map to the Future: A Deep Dive in Business Analysis
  • 9 DECEMBER: Forging Our Path Forward

Submit your proposal here:

Any questions? Please contact

Posted by Kimberly Whitby on: June 22, 2020 11:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

The Latest Evolution of the PM Role, Part 1

Categories: standards

by: Jesse Fewell, PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition Development Team member

Over the last few decades the world of work has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic was not a cause of this disruption, but a reflection of it. It revealed just how interconnected and fast changing we now find our global economies, societies, and, yes, our projects.

In response to these changes, project management has also evolved. Recently, members and staff of the Project Management Institute (PMI) traveled across the world asking project practitioners how they have responded to these new challenges. Those investigations are reflected in the upcoming PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition and include some interesting patterns of modern project management practice. This post digs into one of those recurring dynamics: The “Who” of project management.

The Project Manager role has become more sophisticated

First, we became established. As the 20th century came to a close, the discipline of project management was formalized as a noble profession, with the Project Manager as the archetypal practitioner of the profession. We had established our associations (e.g. PMI®, IPMA®), our standards (e.g. The Standard for Project Management, Prince2®, ISO21500:2012), and certifications of practice.

Indeed, our sense of ownership and professional pride are reflected in the 2004 definition of the Project Manager as “The person assigned by the performing organization to achieve the project objectives” (PMBOK® Guide–Third Edition glossary). We project managers were the center of gravity. We had our act together. We were becoming pivotal to any initiative’s success.

Then, we became more curious. In 2009, PMI launched its virtual communities program. This new technology platform helped streamline knowledge sharing among its members where webinars, blogs, articles, etc. were easily shared, especially across different industries from banking to healthcare. Moreover, the newly flexible community charter process allowed several formal groups to self-organize around project management topics like agile methods, social media, learning & development, and innovation. To overcome modern challenges, project managers were becoming even more continuous learners.

Soon, we became more versatile. In 2013, the newly published PMBOK® Guide–Fifth Edition formalized the expectation that “Effective project managers require a balance of ethical, interpersonal, and conceptual skills.” It also introduced a checklist of eleven such interpersonal skills. But the changes didn’t stop there. Just a couple of years later, PMI introduced the Talent Triangle, a framework that required PMI credential holders to grow in project management skills AND interpersonal skills AND strategic business skills. While the Guide formalized this emerging expectation, the Talent Triangle operationalized it: To overcome modern challenges, project managers had to become more than just calculators of critical path or coordinators of resources. We were becoming practitioners of diverse leadership skillsets.

Today, we have become role models. The upcoming PMBOK® Guide –Seventh Edition reflects a new trend in the project manager’s quest to overcome modern challenges: we are leveraging other people, departments, vendors, and stakeholders in the broader project ecosystem. This concept is captured as a “system for value delivery” in The Standard for Project Management. It challenges us to think of a project as more than just unilaterally getting work done; it is the interconnection of several pieces of a larger whole. Those vendors, stakeholders, executives, sponsors, line managers all need us to show them the way, without getting in the way. The new standard goes on to say, “Regardless of how projects are coordinated, the collective effort of the project team delivers the outcomes, benefits, and value.” That means we can be the ones to show how each stakeholder’s part fits within and contributes to the larger whole.

So, what do we do?

Hopefully you can see the trend: The role of project manager has become vastly more sophisticated than when the profession first defined it decades ago, and it still continues to evolve. But that leaves a key question: Okay, so if we are supposed to leverage the broader, extended Project Team, what does that look like? We’ll explore that in part 2, posted next week.

Posted by Heather McLarnon on: June 16, 2020 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

June 2020 Community News You Can Use

Can you believe we are almost halfway through 2020? It’s definitely a year that will reign in history, and we here in the community hope each and every one of you and your family are safe and secure. We hope this feature of Community News will provide some positive initiatives going on at PMI. So, sit back, relax and enjoy all the exciting happenings surrounding us!


PMI Talent & Technology Symposium 2020: Another successful virtual event is in the books!  If you are a PMI member and missed the live event or wish to view a session again, the on-demand is currently available until 8 September 2020.  As we move into the new normal, the leaders of tomorrow will be those with the capacity and openness for agility and tolerance for uncertainty. This Symposium seeks to prepare attendees for the technology, work and challenges of the project economy post-COVID. Access the on-demand HERE!

REMINDER: Discover PMI – Ask Us Anything Series:  TAKE 2!  We will provide an overview of’s new Community Ambassador Program. The community’s first Ambassadors, Emily Luijbregts and Andrew Craig, will be on hand to answer any questions. Whether you are new to the online community or are looking to become more involved, the Ambassadors can certainly help you to maximize your experience – Register now for the rescheduled webinar on 17 June!

Crisis Management Resource Center: The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live and work across the globe, and figures to drastically—and permanently—alter the way we live and work in the future. To help meet this pressing need, we have created a Crisis Management Resource Center to help surface valuable content on

Demand Diversity: The latest Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report from Project Management Institute—A Case for Diversity—is a timely one. It shows the value and benefits of inclusive project teams, shows where companies are currently in their attitudes versus actions, and offers a blueprint for making diversity a reality. All project professionals should read it, and make sure their executive leaders find a copy in their in-boxes as well.  Check out the latest post from Aaron Smith on the ProjectsAtWork blog!

Virtual Experience Series: Coming soon - the most engaging experience you’ll attend this year. Designed to help you turn ideas into reality.  Immerse yourself in premium content from the industry’s best and brightest, and be inspired by the next-level thinking of marquee speakers and celebrities.  Speakers and sessions will be announced soon. Sign up for the waitlist to receive the official announcement and access to special offers!

That’s all for now, and we encourage you to check back for future updates within the Critical Path blog. Thank you for all of your feedback and engagement, and keep up the good work!

Posted by Heather McLarnon on: June 11, 2020 05:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them."

- Mark Twain