A Rhetorical Question

Several times over the last few years, I’ve seen the same question asked in forums ranging from LinkedIn to various blogs, and most recently, on Reddit: “Is Project Management a skill-set or a profession?” Here’s my answer:

Project manager is a role.

Project management is a body of knowledge, skills, and common practices. It is also the application of that intellectual capital.

Those working in a project manager role who pursue the study of project management and work at achieving competence in practicing it, and expect to make a career of managing projects, while following ethical practices and mentoring others, can reasonably call themselves professionals.

But, project management is not a profession, in the classic sense. Project managers are not subject to malpractice suits, in that capacity. Hence, they are not regulated in the same way as practitioners of a learned profession, such as a doctor or lawyer. The New York State Education Department operates the Office of the Professions, charged with licensing practitioners in a lengthy list. From medical, dental, pharmacy, and related fields, to engineers, architects, and even interior decorators, New York maintains standards for licensing a number of professions. Project managers didn’t make the list. I haven’t checked the other 49 states, but I suspect the story would be similar.

So, how can those who do not practice a profession reasonable call themselves professionals? Because the dictionary says they can: a professional is one “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder.”

Reasonable people can disagree, as can unreasonable people and even disagreeable people. If you are any of these, please add your thoughts in a reply, below.

PM FlashBlog 2014 – The Rest of the Best!

pmflashblog2014The fourth and final week of the 2014 PM FlashBlog brings two more entries from Australia and two from South Africa. It’s been good to see so many folks reporting on how projects are managed in their part of the world. Thanks again to Mark Phillipy, who instigated this round of collaboration.

  • Adrian Fittolani reports from Melbourne on the vagaries and fine points of business travel, as a global project manager.
  • Chris O’Halloran weighs in from Brisbane and the Gold Coast on the range of professional organizations in his part of Oz.
  • Linky van der Merwe lists some very impressive marquis projects that have put South Africans back to work and given them something else to brag about!
  • Louise Worsely shares lessons learned about social fairness and stakeholder engagement, from her home in Capetown.

Enjoy!

 

PM FlashBlog 2014 – Australia

pmflashblog2014We continue into week three of the 2014 PM FlashBlog with contributions from bloggers in Australia. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a post from New Zealand.

  • Jon Whitty recalls a study he conducted in Brisbane, asking project managers to draw pictures about managing projects. No one drew a Gantt chart!
  • Stephen Duffield considers the gap in the way organizations learn lessons from projects.
  • Shim Marom reports from Melbourne on the cultural aspects of managing projects in a city with a diverse population.
  • Tony Adams notes the positive impact of Infrastructure Australia, a sort of national-level PMO, on governance of their investment in projects.

Of course, better late than never.

  • Ralf Finchette reports on how the diversity of London’s population makes communication … uh, interesting.