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 Contributors:

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

Recent Posts

Shared Ownership in Projects. The Team Performance Domain.

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

Viewing Posts by Marjorie Anderson

Community Update: What's the Status?

Categories: community

Hello Community!

It's been a while since I wrote to you to mention the upcoming changes to the community. You're probably wondering "what's going on?" I don't blame you. I would be, too.

Here's the update. Right now we're still working through some initial design, planning, and resourcing so we can really begin the work of building an awesome community experience for you. So right now there isn't much to tell other than that. 

What I can tell you is that the community experience will be much more connected to your digital experience with PMI as a whole. I've seen the preliminary design work and, you guys, it's impressive (but I can't share it yet...sorry!). We're also exploring some new ways to recognize you for the things that you do within the online community that helps others connect to the information and resources that help make them more successful and we'll be expanding upon existing programs to deepen engagement. 

All that said, we're at the gate and are just waiting to take off. As soon as I can share more with you I will. Where I can be super transparent, you'll get the scoop directly from me. And where I can't, I'll let you know.

Creating a great community experience for you will take time and will not happen overnight. This will unfold over the course of the next few months (and beyond) and as we make significant progress to community and the experience I'll be sure to share it with you here.

Thanks for hanging in there with us and stay tuned. There's more to come!

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: May 27, 2020 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Managing Your Well-Being During a Crisis

These are surreal times that we are living in right now. The COVID-19 global health crisis is taking a toll on everyone. Some are personally affected by the virus. Some are on the front lines battling this pandemic. And many of us are charged with ensuring that work continues to move forward for our organizations and those that we serve.

Personally, it hasn’t been easy. I’m grateful that I am able to get work done and find ways to maintain some sense of psychological and emotional balance while ensuring that my team (and all of you!) still feel like someone is there for them. That is invaluable during this time. However, that’s not always the case for many.

Here are a few things to remember for yourself while you’re trying to get through.

Check-in with yourself

It’s ok to not be ok. And it’s easy to stuff those feelings down and tuck them away in order to make sure that others feel cared for. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not helping anyone if you don’t address your own feelings. If you’ve ever taken a plane ride anywhere, what’s the first thing the flight attendants tell you about the oxygen mask? Put the mask over your own face before trying to help your neighbor. If you need a break or help or someone to talk to, seek that help and give yourself room to breathe so you can be of help to others when they need it most.

Stay active and eat well

Taking care of our bodies is essential to supporting our own care. Studies have shown that regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet can have positive impacts on the brain and its chemistry, relieving stress, improving memory, and lending to a good night’s sleep. Even when we aren’t in times of crisis, physical well-being and mental well-being go hand in hand and are essential to ensuring that you feel some balance. And just because we’re social distancing right now doesn’t mean you have to skip out on physical activity and healthy diet. There are plenty of apps available that can help you get a 30-minute cardio session in or create a culinary masterpiece that will have your taste buds dancing!

Take a break

This is easier said than done if you have a team of people helping you move work forward. If you are a team of one, look for ways to get what you can done and set the expectation with stakeholders that you may be unavailable for a few days just to reset, if you have the luxury of doing so. It’s okay to unplug and not be connected for a period of time to allow yourself room to breathe. In fact, it’s almost a must. You can’t be any good to anyone else if you’re not allowing yourself a little breathing room (see the oxygen analogy under “Check-in with yourself”). I also think it’s extremely important to note here that if you have a team, you need to make sure they have the opportunity to take a break, as well. I cannot stress this enough. This isn't an easy time for any of us. Give them time outside of the weekends to recenter. Insist upon it. Let them take care of themselves, too.

Talk to someone

There are a thousand different ways that publications and journals will tell us to make sure we take care of ourselves during uncertain times. And there will be times when it seems like none of it is working. Reach out and talk to someone. That someone can be a counselor, a best friend, someone in your network, or a support group. If you’re having a hard time coping, acknowledge it and find someone you can safely express your concerns to. Don’t feel like you have to hold it in.

Continuing to operate "business as usual" isn't easy during a crisis. It’s even more difficult when we’re not sure how we’re going to get through it. But it can be done. Take care of yourselves – first and foremost. And then make sure others have what they need to keep moving forward. 

To all of those on the front lines and deemed essential during this pandemic - THANK YOU. Your work is not in vain and we're here to support you.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: April 13, 2020 08:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Changes Coming to the Online Community!

Change is in the air at PMI and within the online community!

Over the coming months will be undergoing a community transformation and we want to make sure you are up to date on the latest information while also giving you an opportunity to provide your feedback as we move through the process.

As part of this transformation we will be migrating our current community to a new community platform and making updates that ensure that we continue to deliver the experiences you love within the online community (active discussions, the ability to connect with like-minded individuals, access to resources and information), while using the feedback that you have offered us as input to enhancements that will make connecting with each other and the resources you need and want easier. And while there may be some interruption to your current experience as we get further along in the migration, we want you to be assured that any changes to that experience will be communicated in advance to the extent that we can, and that ultimately our goal is to support the features you currently use, while benefiting from new and exciting features that will be available to you as part of our new enhanced platform.

This is your community, so your input is important. We’ve already been speaking with a few of you to gain your insights on what will be meaningful to see in the future. And we want to make sure that we continue to hear from you. We are in the beginning stages of this work, but please stay tuned to this space for future updates and for ways that you may be able to get involved and lend your voice.

This is an exciting time for PMI’s online community and we hope you're as thrilled as we are about the possibilities of what's to come!

Stay tuned to The Critical Path blog for regular updates!

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: February 21, 2020 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

The Value of a Principle-based Standard for Project Management

by Dave Violette, PMP

Those engaged in the discipline of managing projects can attest to rapid changes in approaches, methods, and techniques being introduced. The global evolution of how project management (PM) is tackled has been significant, and the pace of change continues at a head-spinning rate. These changes have made it difficult to keep up with developments; and even more, challenges efforts to link existing PM standards to new approaches. No sooner is a standard updated than some new subsuming approach or technique is developed.

Standard setting organizations are now starting to embrace the concept of defining Principles to guide the fundamentals involved in the practice of managing projects and delivering outcomes. Unlike process or approach-centered standards, which lists a series of process recommendations to meet the challenges of effective PM, focusing on Principles provides broader and more adaptable delivery guidance.

My view of PM Principles is that they represent the fundamental essence or norms that guide behavior and thinking at all levels of managing projects. Adhering to Principles helps project managers deliver better outcomes. Principles provide guidance, without imposing uniform adherence to a set of prescriptive processes or approaches.

So, where does the value of following these Principles arise? A set of Principles are used for guidance, rather than dictating how decisions are made or appropriate approaches adopted. Principles remain solid, provide stability, and focus on adapting behavior and thinking in the rapidly changing world of PM. Principles capture and summarize concept(s), action(s), condition(s), or consideration(s) generally recognized as necessary for guiding or influencing PM delivery success.

An example of using a fundamental Principle could be around the proactive engagement with stakeholders. This type of Principle would guide the selection of the specific approach for effective identification of stakeholders—those who have significant influence on project delivery outcomes. It would also provide guidance for the selection of processes to allow for stakeholder interests, rights, and expectations to be understood at a level where stakeholders are effectively engaged. The approach or processes to use needs to be flexible and adaptable to the specific delivery/business environment, so as to effectively engage the stakeholders. Following a stakeholder engagement Principle versus being tied to specific processes, techniques, or tools outlined in process-centered standards would help to ensure effective stakeholder engagement happens. Principle-based decisions can allow for varying situational or environmental adjustments needed for that project.

A second example could be around a fundamental Principle of maintaining a focus on value. Realizing value is a key determinant for project delivery success, the organization either realizes intended value or it does not. An underlying tenet of this focus is continuous evaluation during project delivery considering both the benefits and the costs to realize them—this is Benefits Realization Management. Adhering to a value-focused principle helps the project team ensure alignment with the business objectives and intended outcomes rather than a specific deliverable or result. This sets up an approach where the outcomes help assure the expected benefits from the project work are realized and the intended value to the organization is achieved. In setting up the metrics for tracking project progress, the focus on the value principle requires a means to measure and evaluate whether the project remains on track to deliver the intended value. Each project is unique so no prescriptive metric or evaluation process can work in all cases. Following a value-focused principle though allows the project team to craft metrics and processes that work in their specific environment.

Principle-based standards offer greater flexibility within and adaptability to the project delivery environment. PM Principles guide the thinking and behavior of those engaged in the delivery of a project’s outcomes. Those involved in selecting and following an approach, method, or technique for delivering a specific type of project result can look at agnostic Principles to guide their thinking and behavior versus following a set of prescriptive approaches or processes that may not satisfy the unique challenges of a given project.

Appropriate Principles provide guidance without imposing uniform adherence to a set of prescriptive processes or approaches, whilst embracing differing organizational, cultural, and industrial environments. I firmly believe that standards based on Principles remain solid, provide stability, and focus on adapting behavior and thinking in the rapidly changing world of project management, and is the best approach for the future.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: January 08, 2020 08:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

A Story of Monks, Trees, and New Horizons for the Evolution of the PMBOK® Guide

By Maria Cristina Barbero, PMI Standards Member Advisory Group

The Black Monks, so called in reference to the color of their religious tunics, are monks of the monastic Catholic religious order who follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. This Rule provides some guidelines for monastic life where reading is one of the compulsory activities built into a monk’s very regimented schedule. In the 6th century one of them, Cassiodorus, pushed the practice of copying texts of all kinds over just reading them. Copying texts became an important part of life in monasteries.

So, in the Middle Ages monasteries and monks were hubs of culture. Monks were sharing a seat and desk with other monks in “scriptoria” (open spaces for writing activities) where they were dedicated to conserve the biblical knowledge over a world of wars, famine, and epidemics simply through copying texts. To be honest, it was not just about biblical texts but also grammar and later encyclopedias that constituted the body of knowledge these monks wanted to conserve with their work. And, again, it was not just copying. It was also about adding or integrating these texts with something new they could capture during other monks’ travels. The final aim was to transfer this knowledge to posterity as well as have a base for training young pupils, usually sons of princes, kings, and other nobles.

 Let’s focus on how the bodies of knowledge were growing,   transforming, and adapting to new discoveries. In medieval   Christianity all that was known was represented as a static   pyramid having few possibilities of evolution (for example, the   Great Chain of Being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and   life, derived from Plato and Aristotle, and thought to have been   decreed by God). Later, the most common representation of   knowledge changed to a tree—the pyramid had been rotated. The tree can expand and evolve. You can add branches and leaves. Seeds generate new trees.

Nowadays a body of knowledge is intended to be a complete set of concepts, terms, and activities that make up a professional practice, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association. These bodies of knowledge in general evolve in accordance with the “tree model.” The body of knowledge of project management (PMBOK® Guide) is defined by PMI “as a term that describes the knowledge within the profession of project management.” PMI recognizes that the body of knowledge of project management has no definable limits and that “no single book could contain the entire PMBOK.” Therefore, PMI developed and published the PMBOK® Guide which is intended to be a guide to this vast body of knowledge.

The PMBOK® Guide has been for years perceived and used by trainers, consultants, and project managers worldwide as a “golden box” where the knowledge of project management was maintained. Since 1996, like other bodies of knowledge, it is a tree that continuously evolves. More content is added periodically to the constellation of knowledge elements that a project manager should know and use (practices, tools, techniques, skills).

The “tree model” survived for centuries. It is just in the last thirty years that things dramatically accelerated the demand for a new model of representing knowledge and bodies of knowledge. Change enablers include the web, user media and devices, micro-computing, 3rd party platforms, Internet of Things, availability of large volumes of data, communications strengthening, and overall the willingness of humanity to share their own experiences and contribute directly to the growth of knowledge in most sectors and industries.

 Several new contents are available and today each   single body of knowledge potentially collides with other   bodies of knowledge and requires a representation that   is a web where new branches of the original tree draw   over branches of other trees.

Therefore, the evolution of the PMBOK® Guide had to be rethought and that’s what PMI and volunteers did over the last couple of years. My colleagues already introduced areas of change in the PMBOK® Guide and in The Standard for Project Management.

What I want to remark on here is my thoughts on the intrinsic why of this big shift that is not a whim but, more than ever, a need. PMI cannot evolve the body of knowledge following a “tree model” simply adding branches and leaves to the body of knowledge, but must open it to future evolutions in a modern multidisciplinary and digitized context. The structure has to support the evolution of knowledge while at the same time providing a framework that better represents the interaction of a system of systems that influences project performance.

I think this approach to the evolution of the PMBOK® Guide will enable the reasoned and appropriate maintenance of the evolving knowledge and practice of project management.


Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: November 08, 2019 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

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