The Project Management Institute (PMI) has published a White Paper entitled “The Value of Project Management”. It is well worth reading to find out the value of project management to the individual.
The PMI white paper quotes from The Economist Intelligence Unit Report titled “The Link Between Project Management Excellence and Long-Term Success”. On an organisational level the research reports said that while 0% of the 213 survey respondents said project management was critical to their business’s success, more than half said they follow formal project management practices on large or complex projects only. And only 27% said they were “very good” at managing projects.
That 27% figure wouldn’t come as a great surprise. Project Management history has a vast record of the difference between “say” and “do”. How often is the talk actually walked in organisations?
Ok so what does all this mean to the individual person? Do PM philosophies, practices and systems also apply to an individual?
The answer is an emphatic yes.
After all a life very much fits the definition of a project. PMBOK1 says “A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. The temporary nature of products indicates that a project has a definite beginning and end”.
This pretty much sums up a life.
Some of the characteristics of successful people are that they:
- Know what they want to achieve, or at least have a good idea of what they want to do with their life
- Take control, responsibility and accountability for themselves
- Are organised and systematic
- Disciplined in their actions
- Regularly review and take stock of their progress
- Persistent but adjust according to changing circumstances.
Now that is starting to sound a bit like very good project management practice.
Just like projects, lives have stages – Initiation (0-14), Planning (14-25), Implementation – together with Control, Reporting and Review (25-70) and Finalisation (70+). Ages are very approximate but you know what I mean.
Think about the similarities between project scope and your life ‘scope’.
The great management textbook Alice in Wonderland contained an insightful piece on project scope creep when the Cheshire Cat responded to Alice’s question “Please sir, can you tell me which way to go?” with the answer “That depends where you want to go.
The analogy can be carried further. Have a think about your Project Implementation Review and Lessons Learned. As people stand around at your wake, whether you like it or not there is much reviewing going on and often a bit of tut, tutting, about the things you should have done better.
Like many projects we know what we need to do, it’s just that we don’t do it. There’s a lesson to be learned in that.
- PMI PMBOK Guide 5th ed. p3 [↩]