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:

Cameron McGaughy
Kimberly Whitby
Laura Schofield
Heather McLarnon
Tara Leparulo

Past Contributors:

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

Recent Posts

Final PMI Fact File - December 2023

November 2023 Fact File Stats

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August 2023 PMI Fact File Stats


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Viewing Posts by Heather McLarnon

September 2020 Community News You Can Use

PMI has partnered with TED, the non-profit dedicated to ideas worth spreading, to unlock institutional knowledge, identify thought-leaders, and showcase the best ideas within our community.

TED and PMI will bring inspiring ideas and powerful voices to the world of project management, empowering people to turn ideas into reality. This partnership is an immersive and impactful experience that has the power to create change, to shift perspectives and connect cultures across our diverse group of audiences.

Join us for FREE on 25 and 26 September 2020 for our virtual TED@PMI event.


Ask the Expert Webinar Series - Agile For Rest of Us - The Ask the Expert Webinar Series is an extension of the Ask the Expert Program offered at PMI® Global Conference. Each year, experts from the community offer one-on-one sessions to conference attendees, acting as mentors, coaches, and sounding boards for Project Managers at varying stages of their careers and across industries. Gain access to these leading project management and industry experts through the Ask the Expert Webinar Series – ask your most pressing Project Management questions, seek career advice, and gain insights into industry trends. Join us on 18 September at 12 PM EDT and be prepared to pose questions to the experts!


The new Virtual Experience Series is in full swing! If you attended any of the series since its inception in July, we would love you which session(s) were your favorites, and why? And if case you haven’t yet registered, please visit here to sign up!  As a bonus, the September & November sessions are free to PMI members, so there’s no excuse not to register and earn PDUs!


SeminarsWorld® Virtual – 5-8 October: Join our expert SeminarsWorld® instructors online to network and learn with your peers in small-group, topic-intensive seminars aligned with the PMI Talent Triangle® while you earn up to 28+ PDUs and 2.8+ Continuing Education Units. Build your career with these real-time online project management courses. Join us and benefit from tools, templates, and tactics you can use right away.  SeminarsWorld® in October runs from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. EDT, but you can sign on early at 10:00 a.m. EDT and power up with a one-hour course. Register here:

Did you know that graduates from GAC accredited programs now receive a major reduction in the experience requirement for all PMI certifications? The PMI Global Accreditation Center for Project Management Education Programs (GAC) is excited to announce that effective with the release of the new PMI certification application, graduates of a GAC accredited program are granted substantial credit toward the experience requirement when they complete an application for any PMI certification. This new benefit applies retroactively to the degree program’s initial accreditation date. Click here to see how this benefit applies to each PMI certification!


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: September 11, 2020 01:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Join Us for the PMIEF 30th Anniversary Celebration!

Categories: PMIEF


Welcome to the PMIEF 30th Anniversary Celebration! All day long on Tuesday the 4th of August, we are celebrating the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation (PMIEF) 30th anniversary by highlighting the Educational Foundation and how you can give back to your community through social good efforts.


We’re excited to open up our community today to all project professionals around the world to continue the conversation around making a difference through the use of project management. We have two LIVE webinars (open to all) and plenty of other content focused on how you—the PMI community of practitioners, PMI chapter volunteers, donors and more—have helped bring PMIEF’s mission and vision to life. Find out what content we have in store for you today by checking out the guide below! 


Content Type


Webinar (Live)

30 Years of PMIEF

Webinar (Live)

Tools for Teaching Career Readiness Skills in a Global Economy


The Impact of Giving Back Through PMIEF


Celebrating PMIEF's 30th Anniversary: How a Scholarship Helped an Infantry Officer Transfer to the Private Sector


PMIEF’s Partnerships Help Youth Build Life Skills


PMIEF by the Numbers


PMIEF Donor Spotlight: Teresa Burgess, PMP®


Find the Professional Development Opportunity That’s Right for You with PMIEF


A Q&A with Jim Snyder, Founding Member of PMI


PM4L, PMI Melbourne Chapter, and PMIEF: Shifting to Virtual Delivery During COVID19 


But wait...there's MORE!


TODAY ONLY: For those of you who read and comment on PMIEF’s content on 4 August 2020 here on, you’ll receive an exclusive badge!

Posted by Heather McLarnon on: August 04, 2020 07:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Shared Ownership in Projects. The Team Performance Domain.

Categories: standards

By Giampaolo Marucci – PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition Development Team Member

In some languages there is no direct translation of the English word “accountable.” For example, in Italy we translate it as “responsible.” That is, in Italy, we translate “accountable” and “responsible” with the same word: “responsible.” But we know, also in Italy, that “accountable” and “responsible” have different meanings.

In Italian, we interpret responsibility as the act of taking charge of the execution of work that someone asks for. Accountability is the awareness of paying someone for damage caused by wrong decisions or getting the reward for good decisions. Accountability requires that the accountable people respond to any of the activities delegated to responsible people. Responsibility does not include accountability, while accountability can include responsibility. In both cases, someone is responsible or accountable to someone else.

Historically, accountability for a project has been assigned to a single person inside a context. For example, a project manager is usually accountable to the Sponsor for the success (or lack of success) of the project. While the project manager may delegate responsibility to members of the project team, the project manager maintains accountability. But, looking at how some organizations have been structured during the last couple of decades, in some cases, accountability in a project, product, or service to customers or the public, has been assigned to more than one person. In the Team Performance Domain in the PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition we refer to this as shared ownership. That is, there are contexts in which the outcomes from the work are assigned to the more than one person, or the team as a whole.

This can be the case with a high performing team that is stable, empowered, and self-organized. Ownership for the outcomes from the project are shared by the team as a whole. Stable teams move from formation and grow into a high-performing team by passing through four stages: Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing. The length of time for the team to grow into the performing stage can vary based many variables. (You can refer the Tuckman “Team development model” for detail on this. The PMBOK® Guide refers to it in the section “Models, Methods, and Artifacts” of the PMBOK® Guide - Seventh Edition.) Following, you can see some of the characteristics that are usually present in high performing teams where ownership can be shared:

  • Stability: the team is stable with little turnover. Members of the team enjoy working inside that team.
  • Trust: each member of the team trusts each other.
  • Wholeness:  the team can commit themselves to the work to achieve the project’s vision. They do not need external support to do the required work and they are able to communicate with all the other stakeholders with transparency, giving and receiving frequent feedback to learn and improve their way of working.
  • Cross-functionality: if needed, each member of the team can do the work of other members of the team because, each member is a generalized specialist (someone says, each member of the team owns “T-Shaped” or “M-Shaped” competencies).
  • High experience: members of the team have great experience in their generalized specializations, and they all are also experienced in project management principles and performance domains.
  • Self-organization: they know several possible ways of working. They can choose their way of working based on the organization and external context. They can adapt their way of working to be effective inside the project and inside the organization. They are able, and they prefer, to self-assign the work to themselves. They know their rights and their responsibilities to the organization.
  • Small size: the team is relatively small. One of the variables that affects the complexity of a project is the team size. A project can be assigned to a team or several teams (in that case we could talk about a “Program”) but each team should be relatively small in size. A lot of theory has been written on this, for instance, in psychology you can refer to Miller’s Law (the magical number 7) and we need to consider that the number (N) of bi-directional communication channel between persons in a team is  N*(N-1)/2 — it grows exponentially.
  • Personal accountability: each member of the team is accountable to each other. That is each member of the team has the courage, respect for others, and transparency to own their actions and the impact of their actions on the other members of the team.

Having such a performing team, an organization can assign them a project and let them self-organize to decide their way of working, choose and evolve their processes and practices to adopt inside the project, and configure processes and practices based on the organization’s policy. The organization can give to the team, as a whole, rewards or penalties for success (or lack of success) of the project.

In other words, the organization can let the team not only be responsible for the work but also own the outcomes to the organization. High performing teams with shared ownership is described inside the Team Performance Domain in the PMBOK® Guide–Seventh Edition.

Posted by Heather McLarnon on: July 07, 2020 03:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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 (5)

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 (9)

"Never eat more than you can lift."

- Miss Piggy