April 26, 2014 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Musings
Why PMI Should No Longer Be an Authority on Project Management
Note: This post represents the author’s view towards PMI and may not represent that of PM Hut’s.
I pondered for a while before writing this post on whether to call it “Why PMI Should Have Never Been an Authority on Project Management” or “Why PMI Should No Longer Be an Authority on Project Management” - I eventually settled for the latter title, but you can use the former - both are true.
Now, the question is, what made me write this post? The answer is that I think we have reached a point where project management is in peril, where everything that PMI is marketing (processes, ideas, etc…) is wrong, and that PMI solely exists for the purpose of making money and getting fat training contracts and commissions for its board .
Recently, I saw an email sent by PMI to someone who just had his application approved. In that email, there was a bold, prominent statement:
THE NEXT STEP in the process is to submit payment.
…and then it struck me, PMI is a commercial business, it’s not a not-for-profit association as it claims it is. The PMI board will approve anyone’s application provided s/he pays the fees (this reminds me of a joke in the movie The Producers (1967), - “Do you think he’ll take the job?” - “Only if we pay him”, or something along these lines). I don’t think PMI’s lust for money would’ve been such an issue had they been doing a good job and actually advancing project management. Unfortunately, Project Management, under PMI, has deteriorated from a respectable, proven practice to a bugs bunny and laughable process that only works in an ideal project management environment (e.g. never)…
So how did PMI become an authority on project management?
There’s an old Arabic saying that goes like this:
People asked the first Pharaoh: “Oh Pharaoh, who made you a Pharaoh?”, his answer was: “No one tried to stop me.”
The same goes for PMI. A bunch of consultants agreed to make this
for profit not-for-profit business organization so that they can sell their services and their products (mainly books, magazines, and other nonsense) - and, of course, to pay themselves healthy salaries. At that time, NASA and the DoD were the pioneers in Project Management - they were actually doing real project management (and they still are - mostly), but, to the world’s misfortune, they didn’t even notice PMI’s attempt to hijack Project Management, and so the attempt succeeded: PMI grew from certifying a few dozen people (including friends and family) to tens of thousands a year (excluding friends and family). Then, PMI, in its infinite greed, created an array of snake oil certifications and subtly recommended that their customers candidates opt for them all. PMI officially hijacked Project Management and became the authority on the profession (or the job, if you don’t think of PM as a profession).
PMI, to enforce its authority even further, has marketed the PMBOK as the definitive source on Project Management. Now let’s discuss the PMBOK a bit, from an objective perspective:
- It is is a book that states, in each version, that most of what you have read in the previous version is wrong.
It is a book that tells you that Project Management cannot be managed by the book, but then again, it tells you to strictly follow the PMBOK to manage your project (or else your project will fail).
It defines a project management process that can never be applied in real life - except, of course, when you’re taking a PMI exam.
It is a book that morphed from pure Waterfall to a weird, bizarro mix between Waterfall and Agile that is zero percent applicable in real life projects, because this is what the public wants. (Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s throw in an Agile certification so we can make more money. PS: Google “Agile certification” and see PMI’s ad somewhere on the top).
Now, why isn’t anyone talking about this?
The problem is that PMI, like a very old dictatorship, has created an ecosystem that allows people vouching for its cause to benefit. There are many Project Managers out there who are PMP certified, and they don’t want to admit that their certification, in real life, isn’t worth the fancy paper it’s printed on. In other words, these Project Managers don’t want to feel that they are at the same level as those who are not certified (they have studied and paid for this certification, haven’t they?). There are also many companies that make money by 1) training people for the various PMI exams, 2) selling PDUs (which is a big joke), and 3) selling software to manage projects according to PMI’s view on project management (there are also many, many companies using that software to manage their projects). Additionally, many individuals benefit from writing books revolving around PMI’s exams and its so-called PM Process. The ecosystem is huge and the list is endless…
Is there anything that can be done?
Yes, there is. Companies should refrain from seeking PMI certified project manager because they are not worth any penny more than those who are not. This will break PMI’s ecosystem, and when that happens, people benefiting from that ecosystem will jump ship. Where to? I don’t know, but hopefully somewhere where Project Management is not a game of hit or miss, where Project Management means something other than PMI’s lame definition, and where Project Management is not practiced by certified individuals who don’t know how to manage a project.
Will that ever happen? I have no idea.
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