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IS THERE WIDE SPREAD CONSENSUS? – An appeal for a Second Public Exposure Draft
I believe the drafting committee who wrote the 7th Edition update to The Standard for Project Management made a good faith effort to bring the Standard in line with their vision of the state-of-the-profession. They obviously worked very hard and dedicated themselves to completing the document within the constraints of a volunteer team working in a virtual environment with sensitivity to schedule.
PMI Standards has always prided itself on developing consensus-based standards and guides that promote the practice of project management. To accomplish this, standards development committees seek open participation and multiple rounds of input. It is only through a robust effort to elicit and incorporate feedback can a true consensus view be obtained.
Unfortunately, in my professional opinion, (having contributed to the public exposure drafts of the third, fifth and seventh editions) the document as it stands today, does not reflect a consensus of the reviewers. The document suffers from flaws in the process of content development more than from the efforts of the drafting committee.
THIS POST RESPECTFULLY REQUESTS THE STANDARDS CONSENSUS COMMITTEE IN ITS JUNE MEETING TO VOTE AGAINST APPROVING THE DOCUMENT AS AN ANSI STANDARD FOR THE FOLLOWING FIVE REASONS.
Reason one: CONTENT DOES NOT REFLECT THE SPECIAL ASPECTS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT AS A SUBSET OF GENERAL ORGANIZATIONAL MANAGEMENT. The heart of the document focuses on twelve principles which can apply to any business without regard for the demands of projects producing changes in those organizations. There is no basis for those twelve principles identified, no discussion of market studies or literature reviews, or even a bibliography or an example of a study focused on principles of pm-practice. There is no justification made for defining these 12 principles as the Project Delivery Principles
A Google search of “PM Principles” yielded some surprising findings. From fifteen sources (not counting PMI) 29 principles were identified that do not correlate to the twelve principles in the Standard. Two observations:
First, of the twelve principles in the Standard, two did not occur a single time in those fifteen sources:
1. Recognize and respond to systems’ interactions
2. Build quality into processes and results
Second, five of the twelve principles in the Standard were mentioned between one and five times out of fifteen sources. THE ABOVE TWO OBSERVATIONS INDICATE TO ME, THAT THE TWELVE PRINCIPLES ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY RECOGNIZED (I.E., THERE IS A LACK OF CONSENSUS) IN A MAJORITY OF THE DIGITALLY AVAILABLE RESOURCES FOR THE PMI MEMBERSHIP.

Reason two: THE CONTENT DOES NOT INCLUDE A SINGLE REFERENCE TO THE PM BODY OF KNOWLEDGE, THE LIFE CYCLE / TEMPORARY NATURE OF PROJECTS AND CONFLATES PM-VOCABULARY INTO ALMOST MEANINGLESS AND CONFUSING DISCUSSIONS. For example, repeated uses the phrase “projects, programs and portfolios” as if they are equivalent value delivery systems. In my opinion, only projects deliver value, while programs and portfolios MANAGE projects to magnify the coordinated value of multiple projects.

Reason three: APPROXIMATELY 500 REVIEWERS SUBMITTED OVER 5,000 COMMENTS ON 1,492 LINES. I.E. 3.35 COMMENTS PER LINE! As to the process of establishing consensus, the feedback I received from my 87 suggestions for improvements or clarifications of content resulted in 77 (89%) “Accepted with Modification” which is actually a misnomer because the vast majority received this standard reply: “Our justification: SEVERAL COMMENTS WERE RECEIVED FOR THIS SEGMENT OF CONTENT. IN RESPONSE WE HAVE ELIMINATED THE SENTENCE.” That is not “accepting and modifying”; that is REJECTING suggestions for improvement or clarification. Only one of MY 77 comments was implemented and my comment pointed out that the original statement was not ‘true’, so it was rewritten!
Of the 87 responses to my input, I appealed 56 (64%) because I objected to the elimination of content that needed clarification of simple additions to make it appropriate to the PM environment. The response to my appeals was shocking to me: “SINCE THE DISPUTED TEXT WAS REMOVED FROM THE DOCUMENT, THE APPEAL IS REJECTED.” Why cannot a person appeal for the reinstatement of content that was originally deemed worthy of inclusion to be improved rather than omitted?

Reason Four: BOTTOM LINE of my participation: my original review covered 211 (14%) of the 1,492 lines. Based on the identified text tied to the ‘eliminated sentence’, APPROXIMATELY 20% OF THE TEXT WAS ELIMINATED INCLUDING A DISCUSSION OF THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE KEY PROJECT PARTICIPANTS AND ONLY ABOUT 10% WAS REWRITTEN, INCLUDING A NEW FIGURE, WITHOUT PUBLIC EXPOSURE. If one extrapolates the number of appeals based on my experience, the magnitude of objections does not indicate consensus because of the significantly changed document.

Reason five: THE DELETIONS AND UNPUBLISHED REPLACEMENTS CONSTITUTE A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE TO THE PUBLIC EXPOSURE DRAFT; A DOCUMENT ONLY THE DRAFTING COMMITTEE HAS SEEN. Without a broader review by the larger project management community, for additional feedback, I do not believe PMI can claim the document has a consensus of the membership / profession. Changes of this magnitude warrant a full public exposure of the revised draft to support any valid claim there is broad consensus for the content of the new document.
Thus, I feel the document needs a second public exposure to establish that the new Standard has the consensus of the membership who have devoted so much effort to help the drafting committee reach its goals of a current Standard that will serve the profession for the foreseeable future.

I welcome other views as to whether the proposed draft Standard for Project Management-Seventh Edition as it now stands is a true consensus-based standard and its content reflects the pm context.
Jim Branden, MBA, PMP
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Jim,

I fully concur with your assessment - the Seventh Edition update for The Standard for Project Management is NOT ready for publication as an ANSI standard. It MUST go through a full second exposure draft and receive broader input/perspective prior to be published.

And for that matter, the ENTIRE PMBOK7 needs to go through a public exposure draft as well. I served on Review Teams 1&2 for the PMBOK7 update, so I have therefore seen the entire PMBOK7 in all drafts that received reviews outside the Drafting Committee. With the significant changes in PMBOK7, the broader global PM community needs an opportunity to review and comment on this document. 70 SME reviewers do not constitute a broad consensus of the PM community. I respectfully request PMI allows the public PM community to voice their thoughts on the entire PMBOK7 update prior to final publication. Otherwise any claim to broad consensus is invalid.
I was part too. I am in agreement with you and I have expressed this to all people which are inside the Standards Committee. My opinion is: with the aim to "maintain the business" the PMI is "destroying the business" where the word business is not used in peyorative way. I saw the same when I was part of the organization that created and statrted all related to business analysis.
...
1 reply by Jim Branden
May 18, 2020 10:59 AM
Jim Branden
...
Thanks for the comments and your perspective.
May 18, 2020 9:50 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
I was part too. I am in agreement with you and I have expressed this to all people which are inside the Standards Committee. My opinion is: with the aim to "maintain the business" the PMI is "destroying the business" where the word business is not used in peyorative way. I saw the same when I was part of the organization that created and statrted all related to business analysis.
Thanks for the comments and your perspective.
I was pleased that most of my suggestions were incorporated. The one disappointment was when I was told they did not understand my justification, therefore they rejected my suggestion.

While I appreciate the opportunity to review and contribute to PMI documents, I understand that these reviews take time.
Dear Jim
Thank you for your reflection on the PMBOK Guide 7th Edition

My question is simple: Will a public publication change some of the conclusions reached, with particular reference to reasons one and two mentioned by you?
Thanks Jim, for writing down your concerns and the effort you invested in PMI and this review.

I concur with you all, and overall believe it would be good for the profession if such a profound change in its so far most relevant backbone would be based on input of the relevant representatives of the profession, not mainly from one section, even if it is vocal.
Jim and everyone,

I'm passionate about standards - been part of every PMBOK published this century, and of ISO standards since the activity started as well. Moreover, for us - the PMI members that are supposed to be driving what our association does - the PMBOK Guide is the cornerstone of everything PMI. After all, we are in PMI and not in another association because we believe in a certain approach to project management, as reflected in PMBOK.

This is why I cannot accept a Standard and an associated Guide that only minimally meet ANSI standards and disregard the spirit of PMBOK as a consensus of practitioners about what represents good practice, in most projects, most of the time.

PMBOK is not a collection of articles represented individual (or small group) perspectives. The Internet is full of articles representing personal opinions (I am guilty about a few myself), that may or may not have any value, or work for you or for the specific situation.

We trusted PMBOK (in the past) over articles because it is vetted by a large number of practitioners and confirmed as being good practice for all (or most) of them. How can we trust a PMBOK written by a handful of people and never vetted by the community prior to publication?

Without any research-based evidence that supports the change from processes to principles (as opposed to adding principles supporting and enabling the processes), without a second exposure of the Standard (over 5000 comments for 37 pages surely changed it dramatically) and a full exposure of the Guide, how can these documents claim any credibility?
...
2 replies by Luis Branco and Pedro Engrácia
May 20, 2020 12:54 PM
Pedro Engrácia
...
Hi All,
I tend to agree with Dave Violette and George Ducan ideas.

From my point of view, PMBOK should be a integrated document, and not an issue of PM Magazine, with different technical articles, stating different opinions.
Besides that, the alinement with ISO Standards is vital, not only for the credibility of the work done by PMI ( and it's huge!) but also because it will reflect at ANSI and PMI positions at PM ISO's Committee.
May 20, 2020 2:14 PM
Luis Branco
...
Dear Geroge
Honestly, I'm very sorry that this situation is happening ...
Or is it the sign of the times?
May 19, 2020 12:27 PM
Replying to George Jucan
...
Jim and everyone,

I'm passionate about standards - been part of every PMBOK published this century, and of ISO standards since the activity started as well. Moreover, for us - the PMI members that are supposed to be driving what our association does - the PMBOK Guide is the cornerstone of everything PMI. After all, we are in PMI and not in another association because we believe in a certain approach to project management, as reflected in PMBOK.

This is why I cannot accept a Standard and an associated Guide that only minimally meet ANSI standards and disregard the spirit of PMBOK as a consensus of practitioners about what represents good practice, in most projects, most of the time.

PMBOK is not a collection of articles represented individual (or small group) perspectives. The Internet is full of articles representing personal opinions (I am guilty about a few myself), that may or may not have any value, or work for you or for the specific situation.

We trusted PMBOK (in the past) over articles because it is vetted by a large number of practitioners and confirmed as being good practice for all (or most) of them. How can we trust a PMBOK written by a handful of people and never vetted by the community prior to publication?

Without any research-based evidence that supports the change from processes to principles (as opposed to adding principles supporting and enabling the processes), without a second exposure of the Standard (over 5000 comments for 37 pages surely changed it dramatically) and a full exposure of the Guide, how can these documents claim any credibility?
Hi All,
I tend to agree with Dave Violette and George Ducan ideas.

From my point of view, PMBOK should be a integrated document, and not an issue of PM Magazine, with different technical articles, stating different opinions.
Besides that, the alinement with ISO Standards is vital, not only for the credibility of the work done by PMI ( and it's huge!) but also because it will reflect at ANSI and PMI positions at PM ISO's Committee.
...
1 reply by Dave Violette
May 22, 2020 2:42 PM
Dave Violette
...
Pedro,

I agree wholeheartedly there should be alignment of the PMI Standard for Project Management (which if it is affirmed will be the ANSI Standard) and the ISO Project Management Standard.

When I chaired the update for PMBOK5, one activity we undertook was a review of ISO 21500 and the PMBOK5 update. At that time the 2 documents were closely aligned.

I'm afraid one cannot make that claim about this latest update with PMBOK7. The soon to be released ISO 21502 standard (the updated version of the ISO Standard for Project Management) has little to no correlation with the revised ANSI standard being put forth with PMBOK7.

I fear this will create confusion within the project management community.
May 19, 2020 12:27 PM
Replying to George Jucan
...
Jim and everyone,

I'm passionate about standards - been part of every PMBOK published this century, and of ISO standards since the activity started as well. Moreover, for us - the PMI members that are supposed to be driving what our association does - the PMBOK Guide is the cornerstone of everything PMI. After all, we are in PMI and not in another association because we believe in a certain approach to project management, as reflected in PMBOK.

This is why I cannot accept a Standard and an associated Guide that only minimally meet ANSI standards and disregard the spirit of PMBOK as a consensus of practitioners about what represents good practice, in most projects, most of the time.

PMBOK is not a collection of articles represented individual (or small group) perspectives. The Internet is full of articles representing personal opinions (I am guilty about a few myself), that may or may not have any value, or work for you or for the specific situation.

We trusted PMBOK (in the past) over articles because it is vetted by a large number of practitioners and confirmed as being good practice for all (or most) of them. How can we trust a PMBOK written by a handful of people and never vetted by the community prior to publication?

Without any research-based evidence that supports the change from processes to principles (as opposed to adding principles supporting and enabling the processes), without a second exposure of the Standard (over 5000 comments for 37 pages surely changed it dramatically) and a full exposure of the Guide, how can these documents claim any credibility?
Dear Geroge
Honestly, I'm very sorry that this situation is happening ...
Or is it the sign of the times?
Jim I wholeheartedly concur with your argument and conclusions. It would appear that this “half-baked pie” needs to go “back into the oven”. Anything less could counter our global stance of being recognized as the leader in Project Management excellence and good practice.
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