Is the project management community receptive to new ideas?

Is the project management community receptive to new ideas? Maybe we should zoom in and ask: are professionals who subscribe to one professional association open to things from outside the association?

Will share a couple of stories.

Story 1

A few years ago, we were awarded a contract to deliver a workshop on program management for a leading organization in the oil and gas sector.

By the way, the author core experience is in the petroleum industry; 15 years working on projects in USA, SE Asia, and West Asia; including mega projects (programs).

The workshop outlines followed PMI’s program management standard (2nd edition at that time). About 50% of the content of the course was in line with it. We (my colleague Luc Bauwmans and I; Luc developed the course) did not think that the PMI standard was adequate for proper coverage of program management. Therefore we added the rest of the content (the other 50%) from our work and the work of other program management global thought-leaders. Also included various case studies.

We thought the workshop went extremely well, and the feedback in class was excellent. However, later the client representative objected that we added materials from outside PMI.

When we explained that, in our professional opinion, the PMI program management standard was not enough to present an excellent learning program; the client was not receptive and took our comment as a criticism of PMI.

Story 2

In another public event with close to 200 people in attendance, we were presenting various lectures (people from SUKAD and outside SUKAD).

One of the presentations was about project management methodology. During the presentation, the head of PMO in one organization raised an opposition and his comments were “why to rock the boat, we are comfortable with the PMBOK Guide“. The problems with what he said were (a) he was not receptive to any concepts he considered new or outside the PMBOK Guide and (2) he did not even realize that the PMBOK Guide mentioned the need for a methodology. In other words, what were presenting is in line with the intent of the guide and supplement it. 

Closing Comments

There are many stories like these. You can find them spread all over the project management groups on LinkedIn. We had written about some of them in the past. The challenge is that some view one book as THE STANDARD and it covers THE BEST PRACTICES, so why look elsewhere?

For the readers who think this way – we ask – please go back and read the notice page on the PMBOK Guide and the first three chapters. These guides, from PMI and others – are NOT THE BODY OF KNOWLEDGE!

What do you think?