Project Management

The Critical Path

by , ,
Welcome to The Critical Path--the home for community happenings and events on ProjectManagement.com! 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

RSS

View Posts By:

Marjorie Anderson
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield

Past Contributers:

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

Recent Posts

4 Ways to Earn PDUs—and Reach Your 2020 Career Goals

Uncertainty. Really?

February Community News You Can Use

Measuring is Important for Project Work, but Beware of the Traps

Introducing the Ask the Expert Webinar Series!

4 Ways to Earn PDUs—and Reach Your 2020 Career Goals

Many project managers find themselves too caught up in deadlines to focus on their long-term careers and professional growth. But there are plenty of reasons why you should carve out time for your own professional development, no matter your industry or experience level.

For starters, professional development is key to gaining the skills and making the connections that advance your capabilities. Getting outside of your usual day-to-day—whether in-person or online—exposes you to innovative tools and best practices that broaden your understanding as a project manager. You can hone specific skills and acquire new ones that help you work more efficiently and solve problems more easily.

Professional development empowers you to increase your value to your organization—and ultimately your earning potential—by mastering the latest disruptive technologies, forecasting trends, and enhancing your leadership abilities. You can even bring clarity to your own career goals.  

At PMI, professional development units (PDUs) are an important part of your certification maintenance, but it’s not just a formality. PDUs show that you’ve actively pursued educational and philanthropic opportunities. In an increasingly competitive market, these factors can set you apart from your peers.

PMI offers four ways to earn PDUs based on your schedule and preferences:

  1. In-person events

Getting out of the office for in-person professional development exposes you to tools and tactics that you may not even know exist.

Offered in multiple locations, PMI SeminarsWorld offers unique professional development through small-group training courses. Choose from more than 60 seminars designed to meet personal and organizational needs, earning up to 28 PDUs in the process.

Other in-person events from PMI include EMEA Congress, Global Conference, and PMO Symposium®. These events feature diverse education opportunities, innovative keynotes, cutting-edge global perspectives, and networking with others who share your challenges and goals.

  1. Online courses

One of the most convenient ways to earn PDUs, PMI’s online courses cover hundreds of topics in every area of project and program management skill development, from basic to expert levels.

  1. Webinars and virtual events

Earn PDUs quickly—often at no cost—with webinars and virtual events offered through ProjectManagement.com. You can tune in live or listen to the recording when your schedule allows.

You’ll find thousands of options with a how-to for just about any subject, including stopping workplace bullying, approaching a tech-savvy board of directors, and designing more effective project management systems. Narrow your search according to industry, popularity, PMI certification, even language.

  1. Giving back

Help others while growing personally and professionally by earning Giving Back PDUs. These aren’t required for recertification but remain a great option for those with altruistic motivations. You can earn Giving Back PDUs by working as a practitioner, creating content, mentoring, or volunteering.

Make time to grow with PMI

Expand your capabilities and increase your value this year with PMI’s wide range of professional development opportunities. Earn PDUs with options designed to suit your individual objectives, schedule, and learning preferences.

Posted by Laura Schofield on: February 12, 2020 09:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

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)

Navigating Complexity in Project Management

by: Federico Vargas Uzaga, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

Much is being talked about Value Delivery nowadays. As a matter of fact, many would consider that this is THE major discussion today in the world of project management. If you think about it, value delivery is actually nothing new. Organizations have always embarked on projects to create products (outputs) that would allow them to achieve benefits (outcomes) and hence create value. However, the discussion and positions around the topic have created a division between those who believe a particular way of delivery is the right one and those who disagree as they believe a different approach is needed.

I personally believe that the conditions in which projects are being developed today, with higher levels of uncertainty and complexity, are the cause of such discussion, and that the same conditions require project leaders to make better strategic decisions within their projects to cope with and balance risk exposure in them.

As we know, the risks associated with a project depend, among other things, on the work that needs to be performed and uncertainty determined by the level of clarity or definition of the project’s output and the level of expertise that the project team has.

Taking those two aspects into account, the complexity of the work can be overwhelming and, if not navigated consciously, lead to poor or failed outcomes. The role of the project manager has certainly changed and transmuted requiring a more strategic focus to make better choices regarding delivery life cycles, organizational structure, and development methods. But the focus must remain on delivering outcomes that lead to value creation.

I believe that project management practitioners who survive, thrive, and transform the world are the ones that understand how strategic their role is. These project leaders will navigate through complexity while balancing risk exposure. I suggest that navigating complexity is a fundamental requirement of all projects to one degree or another and is, therefore, a core principle of project management.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: October 30, 2019 07:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

The Communication Net: Navigating Project Teams with an Active Listening Approach

by Maria Isabel Specht, PMBOK® Guide-Seventh Edition Development Team member

When I retired from the petroleum industry after 31 years as a researcher and project manager in Venezuela’s hyper-inflated economic conditions, it would have been easy for me to accept my son’s offer to support me and stay at home. Instead, I took on the new phase of my life with a curiosity that has left me continuing to develop as a project manager, an educator, and even a mom and a grandma. That journey, and the growth I’ve experienced, have inspired me to develop a new project management mantra: projects are led by people, done by people, and made for people.

I entered my retirement with an intellectual curiosity that led me to pursue education in neuro-linguistics programming (NLP). I realized that I could still improve the way that I communicate, even after a full career in a competitive industry. I learned to develop active listening skills that allowed me to do something I call “designing my conversations.” This means I work to listen and respond in my interactions, and to understand the unique circumstances of the people I communicate with. It also means I focus on achieving specific goals through my conversations. My colleagues at NLP School noticed my interest and recommended I consider additional training as an ontology coach. I began to have a realization: communication and project delivery are deeply related.

I began applying more of my communication tools in project environments. With the help of two philosopher mentors, I envisioned projects as a net of conversations. In these conversations, people are bringing their own backgrounds, their emotions, their fears and their personal goals. By understanding the people’s motivations, I am able to listen and understand better–and this has led me to better project outcomes. When project leaders view their projects as nets, they can coordinate efforts and understand impacts across the project. They become more effective.

On the other hand, when I looked into projects that showed no success, I considered that there must be something we were not considering. I asked myself, “What if we are not considering that a main focus of projects is people?” The success of projects is based on people–and people can be successful if they have empowering conversations.

As project leaders, we need to endorse our team members by actively listening to them and valuing them. We have an opportunity to create this environment on our teams, which will increase the team’s effectiveness and lead to better outcomes. Even though we are in a hostile economic environment in Venezuela, we are still having fun on our project teams because we have a sense of community, we are working in collaboration, and we deserve it.

I see messages about the communication processes – emitters and receivers, but what about the emotions? I propose that a fundamental principle of project management is to nurture a project environment that values individual commitment, collaboration, and communication.

Now, I work at the university level as a “divergent teacher”—I do not deliver a master class of lectures to my students. I teach my students, aspiring mechanical engineers, through projects. And as I teach them, I encourage them to apply active listening techniques and to design their conversations. Sometimes, they apply these skills on our in-class project teams. Other times, they take these skills into their personal lives and report out on communications with their others. I joke with my students that even my son is one of my stakeholders. The next generation of project leaders will be more impactful—and better off—if they are able to navigate in the complex web of project communications using active listening and designed conversations. This leads to the coordination of actions for making decisions, building relationships, evaluating new possibilities, and creating new realities.

Posted by Marjorie Anderson on: October 22, 2019 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)
ADVERTISEMENTS

"I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens."

- Woody Allen

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors