“I try to Avoid Hiring PMPs” – The Other Side

When the organization focuses on only time and $, then don’t be surprised when the PM does to.
When the organization focuses on only time and $, then don’t be surprised when the PM does to.
When the organization focuses on only time and $, then don’t be surprised when the PM does to.

Ok – I have been blogging every week since January, 2014 and I have never seen a response like that of last week’s blog entitled “I Try to Avoid Hiring PMPs”.


opposing-viewsFor openers, over 1200 people opened that post compared to my usual 300-400.  But the comments were huge!  So many people connected to agree, disagree and more importantly, to add to the conversation.


So this week, I thought I would entertain my first ‘guest blogger’ representing the opposing view.


Julie Grabb is a long  time friend and part of my instructor team for the Masters Certificate in Project Management at Schulich.   She is also a member of the PMI, a PMP, Prince2 certified, Prince2 Agile certified and an authorized Prince2 instructor.


She writes….


Eric Reis – Author of “The Lean Startup” says; What’s the point in being on time and on budget when no one wants, needs or understands what is being delivered?


In David Barrett’s latest blog titled “I try to Avoid Hiring PMPs” the person in the gym suggests that PM’s these days are too focused on being on time and on budget.  While I agree to a certain extent, there is another side to this story. The reason the PM is so focussed on time & budget is because that is what the decision makers and Sponsor are focussed on.  The PM is often TOLD “here is what you are to build” without any context as to what business outcomes/changes this so called thing is mean to enable and context as to the strategic decision making that has led to the need for this project.


Until PM’s are brought into the conversations earlier, or enabled to ask the questions around why are we doing this project, how does it fit into the broader organization and what business changes are we meant to enable, the ON TIME ON BUDGET mentality is unlikely to change.


Another contributing factor, particularly in North America is the heavy reliance on strict waterfall approaches to projects. By strict I mean, the illusion that we can prepare a plan including scope, schedule and budget that will not change over time and are created with only minimal knowledge of any type of requirements. Be those business requirements, technical requirements, resource requirements, environmental requirements, etc. This goes hand in hand with the so called traditional approach to PM that the PMBOK takes.


PMBOK is a framework that when applied acknowledging the flexibility and changing nature of our project environments these days can work well. Applying the framework by formally using stage gates, revisiting project justification and viability (as suggested in the Prince2 methodology) and acknowledging that all of the requirements are not mandatory and that they may change over time (as suggested when using Agile approaches) will help to manage the expectations of all stakeholders. We can’t know it all at the beginning of a project and what we think we know is likely to change before we are done.


The PM is one cog in the wheel when it comes to making projects successful. When the organization focuses on only time and $, then don’t be surprised when the PM does to.


Julie Grabb



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