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Topics: Benefits Realization, Organizational Project Management
Why people treat the PMBOK Guide like it is the PMBOK?
Network:779



Maybe first we should ask the reader if we know the difference between the PMBOK and the PMBOK Guide?

Second, the guide is only a guide. It is not the holy book.

So,

Why many PMP and PMI students feel like the answers to every question lies in the PMBOK Guide? What trigger this post is another post when we mentioned firing someone. The response was "it does not align with the PMBOK Guide". Although this is what triggered this post, there are many situations like this.

For example, before 6th edition, the guide did not talk about benefits management - so does that mean managing projects should not consider this topic?

Also before the latest edition, the guide did not talk about stage gates, does not mean we do not need gates on projects?

The guide does not offer a clear project life cycle, does it mean we do not need life cycles? Or it is ok to confuse the process groups as project phases and the project life cycle?
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Project management as a practice existed even before PMBOK, many old wicked project got managed successfully, with high performance and outcomes even without adopting any modern project governance framework.

Project management is a practice which has been formalized and compiled by PMBOK, PRINCE2 and few other similar bodies. PMBOK is a great compilation of best practices however it is not static this will keep on growing and manager needs to bring dynamism through their ledership style, capabilities, knowledge and environment....outcome could varies one individual to other.
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1 reply by Mounir Ajam
Dec 11, 2017 10:43 AM
Mounir Ajam
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Rajeev

1. There is no book called PMBOK - there a PMBOK Guide

2. The PMBOK Guide does not cover best practices. Best practices are possible within a domain and not in a generic guide like the PMBOK Guide. The definition of the guide clearly states that it is about "good practices"
Network:2030



Honestly, probably simply comes down to the 'most well-known', thus giving the perception as 'the definitive'. May not be the best analogy, but if you ask anyone to name a luxury vehicle they will say BMW or Jaguar, not Hyundai, though both brands have varying levels of luxury.

Education and highlighting the different guides is what will help expose the differences to the 'masses'

Perception is reality. Good post and topic of discussion Mounir.
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1 reply by Mounir Ajam
Dec 10, 2017 8:32 AM
Mounir Ajam
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Andrew

It is the well-known reference in the PMI (Not PM) community. I assure you, the majority of organizations I have worked with have never heard of the PMBOK Guide or even PMI but they know the PMP. Those who know it - some of them - they think it is the PM Book.

Now, those who refer to it for everything, it is clear (in my opinion) that they do not understand it or understand what it is and they do not realize it is not the PMBOK(r).

In term of which the most luxurious car, you say BMW, I say, Mercedes, others might say Lexus or Bently or Lamborghini. :)

Now do you think the guide is the gold standard for PM?

Hmmmm :) :)
Network:1680



As you know, in the new edition, you have both: the guide and the bok. The problem, in my opinion, is the same you find mainly when you work on software: people do not read. In the first page of the guide you have the definitions about what a guide is, what a bok is and so on. But it seems to me that people does not read. On the other side, there is a misunderstanding about what an standard is. When the bok becomes an standard some people believes that it does mean you have to follow it without debate as a receipt when you perform project management. Is the same when you work inside organizations and you have taking into account all related to rules, policies and culture.
Network:14719



I agree with Andrew, and in my view (and I suspect in almost every PM's mind) it's the best resource out there. I believe the quote "it does not align with the PMBOK Guide" you were referring to Mounir was in another post by another person, and I believe the author of the quote was really referring to there being conflict resolution techniques that can be used (ie. collaboration, compromise) and an investigation that can be performed before firing someone. To your point, the PMBOK isn't the 100% source of all project management knowledge, which is why they don't call it the PMCBOK ("C" being for "complete") ;-)
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2 replies by Mounir Ajam and Sergio Luis Conte
Dec 10, 2017 8:21 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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Go to the definitions and you will get the answer.The answer is inside the definitions.
Dec 10, 2017 8:39 AM
Mounir Ajam
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Sante

Agree, and this is why I said what triggered this post is the other discussion.

However, it is not an isolated situation. Just watch the various discussions we have here and you will find references to the guide for everything. As Sergio will concur - the 6th edition finally cleared many of the issues that were misunderstood in the guide and you cannot imagine the debates we have had on this topic.

We also see it in our classes, when people ask: what does the PMBOK say or what is PMI positions on this.
Network:1680



Dec 10, 2017 8:19 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
...
I agree with Andrew, and in my view (and I suspect in almost every PM's mind) it's the best resource out there. I believe the quote "it does not align with the PMBOK Guide" you were referring to Mounir was in another post by another person, and I believe the author of the quote was really referring to there being conflict resolution techniques that can be used (ie. collaboration, compromise) and an investigation that can be performed before firing someone. To your point, the PMBOK isn't the 100% source of all project management knowledge, which is why they don't call it the PMCBOK ("C" being for "complete") ;-)
Go to the definitions and you will get the answer.The answer is inside the definitions.
Network:779



Dec 10, 2017 7:58 AM
Replying to Andrew Craig
...
Honestly, probably simply comes down to the 'most well-known', thus giving the perception as 'the definitive'. May not be the best analogy, but if you ask anyone to name a luxury vehicle they will say BMW or Jaguar, not Hyundai, though both brands have varying levels of luxury.

Education and highlighting the different guides is what will help expose the differences to the 'masses'

Perception is reality. Good post and topic of discussion Mounir.
Andrew

It is the well-known reference in the PMI (Not PM) community. I assure you, the majority of organizations I have worked with have never heard of the PMBOK Guide or even PMI but they know the PMP. Those who know it - some of them - they think it is the PM Book.

Now, those who refer to it for everything, it is clear (in my opinion) that they do not understand it or understand what it is and they do not realize it is not the PMBOK(r).

In term of which the most luxurious car, you say BMW, I say, Mercedes, others might say Lexus or Bently or Lamborghini. :)

Now do you think the guide is the gold standard for PM?

Hmmmm :) :)
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2 replies by Andrew Craig and Sante Vergini
Dec 10, 2017 10:41 AM
Andrew Craig
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I love your response. This is why I love this community. Such a depth of experience, knowledge, and experiences. I learn so much here.

It is very interesting to hear how the PMI PMBOK is view around the globe. I need to expand my horizons. :)
Dec 10, 2017 3:48 PM
Sante Vergini
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Actually I do believe the PMBOK (Guide) is the gold standard in PM processes. It is not the be all and end all of PM practices, but it is the best known go-to-guide. The Prince2 methodology is another go to reference, and I am reluctant to call this the silver standard, as they really can't be compared, and my friends in the Prince2 will lynch me if I call it the silver standard. It is indeed the gold standard for PM methodology however.
Network:779



Sergio

You said "As you know, in the new edition, you have both: the guide and the bok."

I know that you know, this has always been the case since the third edition.
- In the 3rd & 4th editions the standard was Chapter 3 and the rest of the book the guide
- In the 5th, the standard was Annex 1
- In the 6th, the standard is still an annex but now they call it Part 2

So, with the 6th edition PMI finally answered (clearly) a common confusion that they help create that the guide is NOT a standard --- only the Annex (or Part 2) is the standard.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Dec 10, 2017 8:38 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
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Sure. The first source of confusion is the PMI itself, I agree with you. But returning to the point, I sustain: people do not read. What you stated as the trigger of this debate is answered into the first page. It is the same with any BOK. I have participated in several of them like BABOK, SEBOK, EABOK, SWBOK etc and the problem when people starting use them is the same.I have to meet Antonio Nieto Rodriguez, a person named himself "project manager world champion", and I have a discussion with him because when you hear to him there is a big collision between the roles the PMI is promoting today (PM and BA). At the end, I think that some people is putting their personal benefit creation instead the community benefit creation. And that jeopardizes to everybody work life.
Network:779



Sergio

Agree with you on everything you said - except the point that I just clarified :)
Network:1680



Dec 10, 2017 8:35 AM
Replying to Mounir Ajam
...
Sergio

You said "As you know, in the new edition, you have both: the guide and the bok."

I know that you know, this has always been the case since the third edition.
- In the 3rd & 4th editions the standard was Chapter 3 and the rest of the book the guide
- In the 5th, the standard was Annex 1
- In the 6th, the standard is still an annex but now they call it Part 2

So, with the 6th edition PMI finally answered (clearly) a common confusion that they help create that the guide is NOT a standard --- only the Annex (or Part 2) is the standard.
Sure. The first source of confusion is the PMI itself, I agree with you. But returning to the point, I sustain: people do not read. What you stated as the trigger of this debate is answered into the first page. It is the same with any BOK. I have participated in several of them like BABOK, SEBOK, EABOK, SWBOK etc and the problem when people starting use them is the same.I have to meet Antonio Nieto Rodriguez, a person named himself "project manager world champion", and I have a discussion with him because when you hear to him there is a big collision between the roles the PMI is promoting today (PM and BA). At the end, I think that some people is putting their personal benefit creation instead the community benefit creation. And that jeopardizes to everybody work life.
Network:779



Dec 10, 2017 8:19 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
...
I agree with Andrew, and in my view (and I suspect in almost every PM's mind) it's the best resource out there. I believe the quote "it does not align with the PMBOK Guide" you were referring to Mounir was in another post by another person, and I believe the author of the quote was really referring to there being conflict resolution techniques that can be used (ie. collaboration, compromise) and an investigation that can be performed before firing someone. To your point, the PMBOK isn't the 100% source of all project management knowledge, which is why they don't call it the PMCBOK ("C" being for "complete") ;-)
Sante

Agree, and this is why I said what triggered this post is the other discussion.

However, it is not an isolated situation. Just watch the various discussions we have here and you will find references to the guide for everything. As Sergio will concur - the 6th edition finally cleared many of the issues that were misunderstood in the guide and you cannot imagine the debates we have had on this topic.

We also see it in our classes, when people ask: what does the PMBOK say or what is PMI positions on this.
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