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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Down from the Mighty White Horse

The starving settlers on the frontier deployed scouts in a desperate search for food. Back came the report: “The bad news is that all there is to eat out there is buffalo chips. The good news is, we have a five-year supply.”

Meanwhile, back in today’s world: No matter who blew it – or failed to do it – it’s all your fault. You’re the project manager. And you have to fix it. That's the bad news. Now let’s get on to the good news.

It’s true that the world is not yet at the point where little boys and girls aspire to be Project Managers. Cops, firemen, astronauts, sports stars, adventure heroes and all-purpose celebrities continue to dominate the career dream scene – for now.

But we’re getting there. More and more, employers are demonstrating at least a general understanding that Project Management training is worth demanding in new hires. Many specify in job postings that applicants hold the certification as Project Management Professional (PMP).

In response, more working adults are seeking Project Management training and certification, and more students are taking courses in the subject. Project Management no longer is as mythological as the tales of the Lone Ranger.

All this good news shouldn’t mask the fact that Project Management is difficult work.

For one thing, it is frequently mischaracterized as an information technology specialty, so business-process challenges are assigned to IT specialists who have no idea how to manage any of it outside its technical component. More broadly, functional managers sometimes see the new Project Manager as the convenient repository for any problem they don’t want to deal with.

And, sadly, the whole thing is the Project Manager’s fault.

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