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This chapter is from the book

Who Are Project Managers?

I know of no field with more confusion, misinformation, and ambiguity than project management. Everyone has his or her unique understanding of what project management is and what a project manager does. This applies equally to those who work in the field. A recent program management discussion group on LinkedIn (see Figure 1.2) clearly hit a nerve and received many (most long and detailed) comments to the question, “How many out there have experienced the misuse of the title Project Manager? I’m currently in a company that has many ‘Project Managers’ who have no training or experience, nor are aware of the tools.”

Project management is a misunderstood profession. Organizations are often guilty of attempting to “turn straw into gold” when it comes to project management by assigning people to manage projects without providing the proper training, knowledge, or experience. Despite attempts and assumptions to the contrary, not everyone is suited to being a project manager, just as not everyone is suited to being a surgeon, attorney, engineer, teacher, and so on. It is a unique and demanding profession.

Job boards and recruiters are filled with openings, the descriptions of which seem to imply an understanding of project management:

  • ...the Project Manager will be responsible for delivering organizational and program related projects to schedule, budget, and quality. This role requires a mastery of the project management stages (initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close) and the supporting processes (scope, cost, time, issue, risk, and resource and stakeholder management) combined with excellent stakeholder relationship management skills.

Sadly, recruiters, HR executives, and others often don’t know exactly what they want or what can reasonably be expected of a project manager.

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