A critical question has emerged in the dynamic landscape of project and product management, sparking a vibrant conversation among professionals about the role of project management associations. This discourse is rooted in the evolving challenges and opportunities within the field. The situation led us to ask this critical question:
Are the project management associations in the midst of redefining their purpose and identity?

This question emerges from a critical look at the current state of project management practices and the role of project management associations in addressing these challenges.

The Leaky Roof Analogy

Our house roof is leaking.

The leaks are more than we can contain in a bucket.

The leaks are damaging our furniture and electronics.

However, we are worried about the paint on our neighbor’s fence.

We are also concerned with the lawn of another house across the street. In this case, the grass is not greener on the other side 😊.

Sure, the fence paint and not-so-green lawn might affect the neighborhood appearance, but which issue is the most critical for us, our family? Is it the paint and lawn or the leaking roof?

Relation to Project Management

In this case, the leaking roof is the project management state of practice and is in poor condition.

Why do we say that?

Considering the various (although inadequate) research on projects and project management success and failure, most references show that we have too many failures. This applies to many sectors, including technology, infrastructure, industrial, and capital projects.
Organizations treat project management as a second/third class or substandard function. In most organizations, we do not have project management as a formally recognized organizational function equal in recognition to the other divisions and departments.
There is too much ambiguity on critical topics such as project management methodology, the project life cycle, what a charter is, what scope is, and the recent post on product and project management.
There is endless debate on waterfall, agile, and hybrid and which PM methodology is better. The irony is that neither of these topics is a project management method.

As a result of the above and many other issues that we should have listed, our societies, companies, and economies are losing billions of dollars due to delays, cost overruns, and incompetence. So, let us blame VUCA or COVID.

The Project Management Reality

We must share one point before shifting to the other side of the analogy, the neighbors’ paint and lawn.

In response to the above problems, a few project management associations think that:

Selling more theoretical training (like “mastering hybrid project management” in this 3-day course) is one part of the answer.
Selling certifications. Yet, despite the millions of certificate holders over the decades, we have not seen any significant value or improvement in organizational success.
One previous CEO of one of these XYZs discussed the need for “gymnastics” in project management.

So, if these associations are not solving the problems, what are they doing?

The Paint and the Lawn

Worrying about the paint and lawn.

What do you mean, one might ask?

First, I must CLARIFY the paint and lawn might be important, and maybe they violate the community guidelines (or something like that), but is that our problem, or …? … sorry I needed a towel to dry my head from the water leak … or are not these the neighbors’ problems? I do not mind helping the neighbors, but after fixing my leaky roof.

What we have seen from some or most of these associations are things like:

Surveys on employee engagement,
Making No Code a core project management skill with the associated credentials,
Business agility,
Digital transformation,
Job Search Guidelines,
Agile transformation, and
So many other tangents.

Once again, all of these are important topics, but should we fix the roof before we worry about the neighborhood? Should we not fix our project management problems before we branch out?

Moving Forward

OK, let us move forward; what can we do about it?

There are two aspects:

The professional associations’ aspects: This area is outside my (our) control, so let me skip it.
We – the professionals and members of this community: We need to work in accord with our abilities and circles of influence. For example, personally, I share as much as I can through the UrukPM Outreach Channel (this blog site, and podcast/video channels). My team and are also building a digital solution, the Uruk Platform, to help organizations overcome many of the challenges that we listed.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

The post Are the project management associations searching for a new identity? appeared first on Applied Project Management Blog.