Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Project Grinch by Carl Pritchard

PMlessonsLearned.com members:
You all may remember that Carl Pritchard spoke on our call for Episode#41 back on 2008-07-17 on the topic of "Risk Language and Getting Specific"

Well, he recently wrote this witty post titled "The Project Grinch" and it made me laugh. So, I asked him if I could share it with you all.  If you know Carl, of course he obliged. It probably would have been better had I found this closer to Christmas, but I think you'll all enjoy it just the same. Read it with similar cadence as the story of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (by Dr. Seuss) to get the full effect.

The Project Grinch…

Every good PMP likes their project a lot.

But somewhere in management’s a Grinch who does not.

They hate project process, they hate all the forms, they hate all the Gantt charts, the risk plans, the norms. It’s tough to know why they don’t want to conform.

It could be they don’t like to pin down their plans. It could be they don’t want the blood on their hands.

But I think the most likely reason of all is that for all the projects they won’t take the fall.

Whatever the reason, the plans it may be, they look at the projects and blame you, PMP.

Poring over your charter with a deep, Grinchy frown, they don’t like the way the details you’ve pinned down.

It’s all SMART and all signed by the sponsor and blessed. It’s got details that put any questions to rest. And it references subplans like HR and risk. They look at the pages disgusted…”tsk tsk”

“They might get this done!” is how they all said it. “They might get this done and I won’t get the credit!”

They then grouse with executive sighing and moaning. “I’ll call in some changes and get PMs groaning.”

“If they should succeed that just won’t do at all. They’ll want to hold parties and meetings and balls.

Oh they’ll do lessons learned and they’ll archive their stuff. They’ll track their successes and claim it was tough.

And then they’ll all ask for it…their voices they’ll raise.

They’ll want all the credit and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!”

The more that Grinch thought, I can stop this…I KNOW. I must stop success from arriving and so…

Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea. I know just what I’ll do,” and he called to his aide. “I’ll join all their meetings, that’ll just make the grade”.

So he went to their meetings and bogged them all down. Suggestions for rework, in studies they’d drown. He’d slither on in and add items ad hoc. He’d tell lots of war stories—run out the clock. He’d talk of past failures and crises, disasters. He’d tell of the good days of yore with good masters. He would chat on and on while the team members sighed, and he knew in a few weeks the team would have fried.

As the meeting was ending, the PM called out. “You’ve got other things pending, but I’m seeing some doubt. I know that you don’t want this project to fail, but my team members feel like they’re starting to flail. I have just the thing for the changes you want, and I’ve filled out this change form (in Times Roman font). I just need a signature so we’ll succeed. It’s all that you’ve asked for, it’s all that you need.”

And the Grinch began realizing to his chagrin, that the PM had meant it. They wanted to win. The team was sincere in its efforts to finish. Despite his best efforts, they hadn’t diminished. They were using the Gantt charts and subplans and charter. And for all of his efforts, they had worked even harder. They were destined to follow the process without him. And despite his intrusion, they weren’t out to doubt him. They thought that he had their best interests at heart. They gave him the credit he wanted to thwart.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t thought through…

“Maybe projects succeed with the process pursued”

“Perhaps it’s not all just superfluous fluff, and there’s something of substance to PERT charts and stuff. There might be a reason for a stakeholder list; a change log, a risk log, they’re not all just grist…

“for the process-addicted or anal-retentive…they might just be helpful, or useful! Inventive!”

“They may have a purpose,” he started to see. And he understood why all the forms A to Z

Had become so important, he just couldn’t miss them. And at the next meeting, he just wouldn’t diss them. He would be the first one to stick to the agenda. And his personal baggage he knew he’d surrender. He’d help them get through this…he’d help them to flourish. Their need for the process he nurture, he’d nourish.

And the team how they blessed him, as their voices they raised, and the heaped it upon him, the first dollops of praise.

It’s a challenge to give our old Grinches a shot. But this season just try it…it may work…or not.
First published on ProjectConnections.com. Used with the Permission of the Author. Carl Pritchard can be reached at carl @  carlpritchard . com He welcomes your comments

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition: Big-Time Changes That Will Impact Your PMP Exam Studies

I always thought that the PMI Standards Subcommittee that developed the fourth edition of the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the PMBoK Guide) was light years ahead of the rest of us. Who else could update that standard to allow it to answer all of our project management questions as well as set the number of processes to provide “the answer to the great question of life the universe and everything”1. Well, time marches on; and so does the PMBoK Guide. During the last week of December, 2012, the PMI released the fifth and latest PMBoK Guide edition. On 31 July 2013, the PMBoK Guide fifth edition will become the basis for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. The answer to the great question of life the universe and everything” just became more complicated. Over its lifetime, the PMBoK Guide receives updates every few years. Compared to the level of change in the fifth edition, the sum of all the second through fourth edition updates are minor. 

Don’t attempt to read the text in Figure 1; just look at the colors. Here is the familiar table that lists the PMBoK Guide processes, within the framework of the horizontal Knowledge Areas and vertical Process Groups. The first thing you will notice is how colorful things are. Instead of 42 Processes, there are now 47, and a new Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area. And how many Processes were left untouched?...None!!...The color coding provides an indication of how a process changed. 

Fig 1 - All Fourth Edition Processes Received Changes

Figure 2 lists the types of changes the processes received. The single largest point of this article is that all of the fourth edition processes received some type of change in the fifth edition. That will render all of the existing study material irrelevant. So, if you are testing on or after 31 July 2013, you will need new fifth edition-based study material.

Fig 2 - Type Of Change (Some processes received multiple changes)

Another major change involves the migration of much of the information from Chapters 2 & 3 to a new Annex 1 section near the back of the PMBoK Guide. The intent is for the Annex 1 section to become a separate standard for Project Management.

I like the fifth edition. It provides a significant update that pulls the PMBoK Guide a whole lot closer to the actual methodologies currently in use. It spends significant time on virtual teams and Agile. The 2000 edition (second edition) didn’t want to admit virtual teams existed and the fourth edition only started to mention that there is this thing called “Agile” out there. All of this is great progress!

So, what should you do, if you are studying for the PMP exam? Hurry-up! To beat the last minute rush, use your current materials and sit for the exam before the end of June, 2013. If history is an indicator for potential future situations, in July 2013 you will have a difficult time finding a test center with an open seat.

All the study material out there right now is fourth edition-based. It will be a couple months before fifth edition study material will be readily available. As I tell the folks in my PM Lessons Learned Study Group, be very careful that you know the PMBoK Guide base of anything that you buy. Some dastardly people are still selling third edition study material!

If your personal situation forces you to sit for the PMP exam after 31 July 2013, don’t despair. Just grab a copy of the fifth edition now and start reading. The fifth edition study material will be along shortly.

1. “The Answer to the Great Question... Of Life, the Universe and Everything... Is... Forty-two,' said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.”