Those PMI PDUs

OK, so you got your certification or accreditation through the Project Management Institute (PMI).  Now you need to plan on getting 60 PDUs over the next 3 years.  Is this too much to ask?  I don't think so.  How would you feel if your doctor never learned anything new, upon graduating from medical school?  Stakeholders should feel that same about people managing or leading projects. Over the course of the last few years, I've witnessed quite a few people who don't actually work as project managers get their PMP.  I know, you've heard me rant about this before.  But, since these people were able to navigate the system, what can the system do?  Well, I see the PDU as a mechanism that can continually attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff.   For some who really aren't contributing to the profession, and were just looking for three initials for a resume, the added cost and effort might not be worth it.  To be fair, I also know people who are very experienced and knowledgeable in the area of project management.  Requiring them to seek out and log PDUs is just an added deterrent to getting the PMP.

Back on topic, I break down the people getting PDUs into 2 groups.  Those who earn their PDUs over the course of 3 years and those who buy theirs.   Since I watch at least 1 free project management related webinar every other week, I ask myself why anyone would ever pay for them.  But, I digress.  Upon hearing the PMI was introducing a new PDU category structure as of 1 March 2011, I figured I would take a look.  What was once 15 categories will now be 7.  Without going into grotesque detail, I'm going to give you the 50,000 foot review.  In plain English, I like it.

Not only did the PMI modernize the language to include blog, webinar, and podcast, but they also grouped the PDU categories into 2 divisions.

1. (Receiving) Education

2. Giving Back to the Profession

I particularly like the language of "giving back".  When I think of the PMI, being charitable or giving back isn't really one of the first things that comes to mind.  I see this category naming as a step in the right direction.  I noted my disappointment in the lack of giving back in October (2010), when I was comparing the AgileDC conference and the PMI North American Congress.

I only have 2 recommended changes, if PMI would consider making a modification to the PDU requirements of the future.  First, I would ask PMPs to get PDUs in all 5 process groups.  I think people tend to get PDUs in process group or knowledge areas they are already proficient.  Second, now that the PMI has identified giving back to the profession, perhaps in a few years they'll add giving back to the community?

Like the image?  Find it at Pictofigo

August PMP Certification Numbers

Diffusion of ideasI know what you're thinking.  Derek, why oh why do you post these PMI numbers ever month?  Where's the value? Well, I'm kind of fascinated by a theory called diffusion of innovations. It's a theory of how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures.

There was a book published in 1962 by a fellow named Everett Rogers, who defined an adopter category as a way to classify individuals within a social system.  The adoption of an innovation follows an S curve when plotted over a length of time. The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards (Rogers 1962, p. 150)


Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Risk tolerance has them adopting technologies which may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures. (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 282)

Early Adopters

This is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realize judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283).

Early Majority

Individuals in this category adopt an innovation after a varying degree of time. This time of adoption is significantly longer than the innovators and early adopters. Early Majority tend to be slower in the adoption process, have above average social status, contact with early adopters, and seldom hold positions of opinion leadership in a system (Rogers 1962 5th ed, p. 283)

Late Majority

Individuals in this category will adopt an innovation after the average member of the society. These individuals approach an innovation with a high degree of skepticism and after the majority of society has adopted the innovation. Late Majority are typically skeptical about an innovation, have below average social status, very little financial lucidity, in contact with others in late majority and early majority, very little opinion leadership.


Individuals in this category are the last to adopt an innovation. Unlike some of the previous categories, individuals in this category show little to no opinion leadership. These individuals typically have an aversion to change-agents and tend to be advanced in age. Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends, very little to no opinion leadership.

Certification as an Innovation

So, what does a certification have to do with innovation?  I'm trying to draw a parallel between the industry adoption of the credential compared to diffusion of innovation.  Every month I get a copy of PMI Today and I traditionally annotate data points.  I have them as far back as September 2006.

January February March April May June July August
New PMPs (Overall) 3,714 3,713 5,344 4,718 3,985 4,630 3,687 3,965
Total Active PMPs 367,619 371,014 375,959 381,111 385,096 389,726 393,413 397,378

PMI Credentials August 2010 When I look at the data from the last 4 years, the certification velocity has remained relatively consistent. (send me an email if you want the spreadsheet) For the month of August, those with the PMP certification increased to 3,965. There are now a total of 397,378 active PMPs.

The questions that I pose to you, the reader, are

Where do you think the PMP credential is on the chart listed above?

Where are we on the bell curve?

Is the PMP in the early adopter, early majority, or early stage of the late majority?

The December Numbers Are In For PMPs

Yes, the December numbers are in.  This morning, I received my copy of PMI Today.  In it, the December 2009 numbers for Project Management Professional (PMP®) certifications were published.  So you don't have to go searching for it, here are the numbers:

December Totals
New PMPs (December 2009) 5,403
New PMPs (YTD) 75,107
Total Active PMPs 361,238

PMPs in 2009

If you asked me if PMI was headed in the right direction, my response would be

I don't know if PMI is going in the right direction, philosophically, but Project Managers certainly see the value in the certification.

If you are a vendor targeting project managers, you can see which direction the data is going.  If you are in a project management field and have been sitting on the fence about pursuing the certification, you can see which direction the data is going.  No, I’m not being paid by PMI to write this post nor am I a PMI fanboy.  If I had data supporting how many Certified Scrum Masters there were on a monthly basis, I would probably publish that here as well.  Until then, I’ll focus on the PMP.

I also think I will begin making this a recurring monthly post.  You have to be a member of PMI to get a copy of PMI Today.  I believe they are shooting themselves in the foot by not showing the growing trend of PMP certification holders.  I’m also going to go back as far as I can to show more historical data.

What do you think?   I welcome your comments or feedback.



The Impact Of Social Networking On Project Management

A few years back, while studying for the PMP exam, I committed the formula for calculating communications paths to memory.


So, what's the big deal? Why is it so important? If you're in the Project Management (or leadership) field, you know all too well how important communications is. I used to call myself a project manager. I now prefer to use the term project leader. What's the difference? According to Warren Bennis and Dan Goldsmith (1997) there are 12 distinctions between managers and leaders.

  • Managers administer; leaders innovate.
  • Managers ask how and when; leaders ask what and why.
  • Managers focus on systems; leaders focus on people.
  • Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.
  • Managers maintain; leaders develop.
  • Managers rely on control; leaders inspire trust.
  • Managers have short-term perspective; leaders have long-term perspective.
  • Managers accept the status-quo; leaders challenge the status-quo.[*]
  • Managers have an eye on the bottom line; leaders have an eye on the horizon.
  • Managers imitate; leaders originate.
  • Managers emulate the classic good soldier; leaders are their own person.
  • Managers copy; leaders show originality.

In order to both innovate and do the right things, I listen and listen a LOT. (Some people listen; some wait to talk) I've watched executives and managers, who knew absolutely nothing about a subject, make uneducated decisions because they were too stubborn or proud to consult a subject matter expert (SME). Good leaders do not operate in a vacuum. They exchange ideas and information with people. Offer free information and it will come back to you tenfold. Listen to knowledgeable people and then make a more educated leadership decision.

Social Media CampaignWhere does social media fit into the grand scheme of things? Old-school managers and executives who believe in the bureaucratic organization and status quo, tend to lean toward command-and-control or top-down management. That group is operating under the assumption people higher in the organizational chart know more. New-school leaders believe in social media. Why? It strips away all of the nonsense and connects people to people. They have real conversations as human beings. They educate and they listen with a freedom to connect at an exponential rate. They are not confined to the notion of an hierarchical organization.

My example is my current engagement, which I have been at for 13 months: Within my direct cross-functional organization chart, I have 28 contacts to interface with. There are no plans to increase the size of this group. [28(28-1)]/2 is 378 communication paths. Not too bad.

TwitterTurn now to option number two, social media like Twitter and Facebook. For arguments sake, I'll say I have 200 followers on Twitter with a growth rate of 10% a month. (I'm actually have 450+ and counting)  Each Twitter Follower is a communications path.

[200(200-1)]/2 = 19,900 communication paths

After one month it would be projected to increase to 21,945 communication paths

Every Friday, people I follow on Twitter recommend others in the industry who I should consider following (#followfriday). Every week, I learn more about my craft and more importantly I get to form relationships with people all over the world. By bypassing the organizational structure to get my information, inbound communications is at a much higher velocity and is now flowing up through the organization.

Social Media helps you be a project leader.

12 distinctions between managers and leaders by Bennis, Warren and Dan Goldsmith. Learning to Lead. Massachusetts: Persus Book, 1997.
Thank you Laurel Papworth for the use of the Social Media Campaign image

* I recommend reading Fighting Status Quo by Pawel Brodzinski