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Real-World Project Management: Project Management Models, Certifications, and the Pyramids

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Joe Phillips wraps up his series on real-world project management by expounding on models and certifications that really work. But what does any of this have to do with the pyramids and the Chicago World's Fair?
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All projects are really about change. Let's take my favorite project of all time: the pyramids of Egypt. Imagine a sweltering desert with miles of sand, snakes, and other scenes from an Indiana Jones film. Add a few million workers, some great plans, some scary mummies, and you've got the pyramids. All right, so my history is a little skewed, but I think you see my point. First it was nothing; then, after some planning and execution, there were the pyramids.

What approach to project management do you think the pharaohs used? Does it matter? I don't think so.

Project Management Is Project Management

Erik Larson's book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Crown Publishers, 2003) is an incredible read about Chicago playing host to the 1893 World Columbian Exposition—also known as the Chicago World's Fair—and the story of a creepy murderer living in the Chicago at the same time.

The project management victories and failures within the World's Fair were incredible: debate over where the fair should take place, visions of what the fair should offer, uncompromising landscape details, and (my favorite project) the creation of the Ferris Wheel.

The book says nothing about what project management approach the organizers of the fair preferred. Does it matter? I don't think so.

That's my real point. Does it really matter what approach we take to project management?

In software project management, a few flavors have popped on and off the project management radar for the past few years, Scrum and extreme programming being two of the juiciest, in addition to other models such as lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and even rolling wave planning.

But here's what I think: Project management is project management. I don't think it matters what approach you take to complete your projects—as long as you complete your projects.

We could argue over the virtues and positive attributes of all the different project management approaches and go at each other like fans of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. But really, does it matter at all?

Again, I say no.

I don't care what you like. I don't care what project management approach you say is the best. I don't care what you think of my approach to project management. I only care that you use whatever approach gets the job done.

I'm not criticizing anyone's favorite methodology (or the Packers, for that matter). I just believe there's a tendency to fall in love with processes, action items, forms, reports, control charts, and theories. Big freakin' deal. Find what works for you, for your organization, and then do it.

Project management is about getting the work done. Project management is about getting from here, at project launch, to way down there at project closure. Project management is about getting to results.

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