Take the Oath

Over the last few years, I've seen more and more people get certifications (or accreditations) from PMI, Scrum Alliance, APMG, and now SAFe.  Some will demonize the organizations for offering certifications and accreditations without actually proposing anything to deal with what they perceive as a problem. I believe certifications and accreditations are only as good as the people who get them.  One component I see missing is an oath of honor.  Yes, like Kingon honor or knights of the round table honor. (oh ya, I'm a geek)

When I wanted to be a Boy Scout, I met the qualifications.  But I then took an oath.

When I wanted to be a U.S. Marine, I met the qualifications.  But I then took an oath.

When I wanted to be a Freemason, I met the qualifications. But I then took an oath (which I can't repeat)

Not to compare project managers and leaders to doctors, but they take the Hippocratic Oath!  From that, I took inspiration.  Instead of trying to save lives, we're trying to save projects.

So, here is my first shot at it.  I call it the Metis Oath.  Metis was the Titan goddess of good counsel, advise, planning, cunning, craftiness and wisdom. Let me know what you think.

Metis Oath

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won gains of those practitioners in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the stakeholders, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to project management and leadership as well as science, and that empathy and understanding may outweigh all other things.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a project's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my stakeholders, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of project success or failure. If it is given to me to save a project, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to fail a project; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.

I will remember that I do not serve a budget, or a schedule, but a human being, whose success may affect the person's project and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the project.

I will prevent waste whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of managing and leading those who seek my help.


A PMI Dog Pile

Upon reading a piece featured on PM Hut, Certifications Don’t Make Project Managers, I was compelled to comment...twice.  So, what's the short story? I've been reading more and more articles from people who seem to be down right hostile toward the Project Management Institute (PMI). Richard Morreale, the author of the article, wrote

The Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Association of Project Management Group (APMG) are two of the biggest reasons that projects fail.

Dr. PDG added

In short, IMPO, PMI and to a lesser degree, APM and APMG have become nothing more than the AMWAY or Mary Kay Cosmetics of the project management world

Here's the long story.  I enjoyed the article, to include the comments from the likes of Robert Kelly, PMP and Dennis Stevens (fellows I admire).  I'll admit, I've been getting a little incensed recently after hearing stories of people who appeared to have gamed the system and got certification with no real education or experience other than a PMP boot camp.  But, most of this is hearsay.  I have been approached by people, asking for my help, who want the certification for no other reason than to bolster a résumé.  I do believe these cases are extremes and hopefully isolated incidents.

Based on your motivations and character, the outcomes of getting your certification can be completely different.  I got my certification because, at the time, I thought it was the only way I would be taken seriously.  I was dealing with a stakeholder who was being completely unreasonable.  She had a PMP and ignored everything outlined in the PMBOK.  Clearly, she had her own agenda.  Mine was a quest for knowledge in my profession and to hone my skills as a project manager.  This quest has exposed me to several different approaches, to include Scrum and Kanban.  I think I am a better project manager than I was several years ago because I am receptive to new ideas and approaches and don't necessarily walk around preaching one as PM dogma.

So, where am I going with this?  I think if your mind is open to it, you can learn a lot from preparing for the PMP exam.  I also think you can learn a lot from taking a level 400 class in Project Management at a University.  But, you have to be motivated by the desire to learn and satisfy your customer's wants and needs.  Don't think a certification will get you that dream job or make you a PM expert.  It will come back and bite you.  Sometimes being a PM means working on a project with specific knowledge area focus.  But sometimes you will be exposed to full lifecyle management, dealing with every process group.  Either way, it's not all textbook.

I think Dennis Stevens put it very well in his comment:

a PMP is like a recent college grad, a medical resident, or a 16-year old who just got their license. They have some situational awareness from having participated in projects, have been educated in the fundamentals and share a common language. But they are not prepared to be CEO of a business, an emergency room surgeon, or a cross country truck driver.

Some will argue that guns don't kill people, people kill people.  Just the same, PMI and APMG don't cause projects to fail.  Sometimes it's the PM, sometime it's the customer, and sometimes it's something that wasn't on your risk register and should have.  The noble thing to do is to try to fix the problem.  Mentor an associate PM.  Give a talk on your area of expertise.  Tell people how you failed on a project so they don't make the same mistake.  I think if we all put forth a little more effort, in helping each other become better project managers and leaders, the results could be transformative.