Monday, December 24, 2007

Who makes a good Project Manager?

Project Manager has become a valuable title and as with all such things lots of people want that title whether they are qualified or not. Credentials are definitely one way to tell if a person is qualified to be a Project Manager. There are now degree programs at major universities and there is the Project Management Institute certification (PMP) that can help identify the committed professionals.

However you as I have known great Project Managers who don't have any of these credentials and we have perhaps run across a number of persons with the credentials who are ineffective project managers.

So what makes a project manager good?

One point of view is provided here: by Susan McClafferty.

What do you think?


Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo said...

Hi Satish,
I am in substantial agreement with you.

First, project management is, IMPO, a life skill...... Mankind has been initiating, planning, controlling and executing "projects" well before PMI or Microsoft project. Inventing the wheel, taming of fire, Borobudur, Great Wall of China etc etc all stand as ample evidence that project management is hard wired into the human psyche.

Secondly, having a credential based on a 200 question, multiple choice exam, which only requires 60.6% to pass is nothing more than marketing hype. In the end, the ONLY thing that counts is whether a person can or cannot "deliver the goods" and IMPO, PMI has done a lot of damage to the practice of project managememt by over-marketing the PMP to be more than what it really is or should be- nothing more than an entry level credential to see if people speak a common language.

Unfortunately, India and China in particular seem to have been sucked into PMI's marketing BS and have now made the PMP into a REQUIREMENT for some jobs?

As a life long project manager and globally recognized expert in this field, I honestly believe what PMI has created is laughable, and I believe most companies are starting to recognize the limitations of the PMP.

To close, Dr. Dan Harrison, Harrison Assessments and I have put together a behavioral profile of SUCCESSFUL project managers and if you email me, I will explain how to go about taking this very interesting profle and participating in our on going research on the topic.

Dr. Paul Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, from Boston.

Satish Nagarajan said...

Dr. Giammalvo:
I surfed over to your BLOG and to the website you mention. I agree with the sentiments that Project Management is very important in our society and we need to get better tools for developing and recognizing good PMs. I am very interested in continuing this conversation.


Anonymous said...

I am intrigued by Dr. Giammalvo's comments, and agree with the observations made.

However, let me respectfully play devil's advocate and ask the question; can you make a project manager out of a skillset that is not a "natural" so to speak? Yes it is a thinly veiled nature vs. nurture question, but I am interested in Dr. Giammalvo's opinion.

I think the bigger question becomes what role is the Project Management Professional (not to be confused with the PMP credential) supposed to play in Corporate America? On so many of the projects I have been a part of, the position has been perverted to be nothing more than a project coordinator with the director-level management as the actual decision maker.

As a project management resource, I have only recently become a PMP for the same reason as so many of us do - Corporate America is requiring it if we want access to the quality PM jobs. For the last 10 years however, I have rubbed elbows with PMP's and feel that by and large, they are not "Real" project managers as Dr. Giammalvo references, but rather those seeking some validation of their skillset external to experience.

While I see many flaws with the PMI approach, it does beg the question of how to put a standard to the practice of project management. Especially in light of the need that Corporate America has for some checkbox that they can reference in hiring, or rather a means of weeding out the un-qualified resumes in some easy to program method. As demonstrated time and again in our history; the winner is the economic player who could mass produce a product with quality that was above minimum consumer thresholds. In this case the PMI has conviced their constituency that the PMP fills this role.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is the worst form of credentialling ever, but nobody has yet come up with a better approach.

So there it is, some food for thought. I am interested in your comments and observations.

Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo said...

Dear Anonymous,
I have been working with Dr. Dan Harrison, Harrison Assessments for the past three years and we have developed a template which profiles the behaviors of "successful" project managers and we believe we have a validated instrument which is reasonably predictive of the success of a project manager.

Assuming you and others buy into this, while people who are naturally predisposed to being good project managers can be "trained" to be better project managers, people who do not have these successful attributes are unlikely to make good project managers.

Bottom line on this- I subscribe to the "nature" over "nurture" argument. Putting in common sense terms, I think we all know people who are simply "good" project managers. Whether they do or do not have their PMP is coincidental- nothing more, nothing less.

On the issue of alternatives, I would argue there are MANY:, despite a horribly inappropriate name, has MUCH better exam based credentials than does PMI.

For actual COMPETENCY based credentials, IPMA, AIPM and GAPPS all offer alternatives to PMI.

Bottom Line here- PMI is, IMPO, nothing more than an outstanding marketing organization, nothing more. Many of the early adopters of the PMP and supporters of PMI are fed up with the organization and are starting to explore alternatives.

Dr. PDG, heading back to Jakarta

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