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.


Warning – Use of PM Force Authorized

We went to an airshow this last weekend. Being I was in the Marines some 20+ years ago and spent the best of my time in the air in a helicopter, it was like a trip down memory lane. I loved the smells and sounds of the flightline. I even got to walk onto a CH-53.  It was the first time since May 09, 1990.  But I digress. Upon arriving at the airshow, I noticed a warning was painted on the flightline that made me clap my hands like a cymbal-banging monkey. My wife took a picture so I could somehow relate it to project management in a future blog post.

Here is my Project Management translation:


Efficiently Managed Project

It is unacceptable to do work on this project without motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Principle 5 Agile Manifesto of 2001 - February 11-13

While on this project all team members and the work under their control are subject to refinement.


Best April Fools Day Ever

On April 1, 1988, I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp.  To this day, the sights and sounds of MCRD San Diego are still vividly fresh in my head.  I joined the Marines on November 24, 1987.  One month into training, I broke my foot and was sequentially diagnosed with pneumonia (nobody said boot camp was easy).  I found myself with the decision of being discharged from the Marines or continue training after my injuries had healed.  It wasn't an easy decision. After being discharged from the hospital, I could go back to my old life (leave the Marines).  The other choice was to be sent to a medical rehabilitation platoon (MRP).  MRP is a kind of Purgatory for Marine Corps recruits.  In boot camp, your world revolves around a 12-week countdown calendar.  Every day you'd look to your fellow recruits and say "n days to a wake up".  That meant waking up from the living hell of boot camp.  If you go to MRP, you don't get any closer to day 0, until you're back in a training platoon.  I chose to go to MRP.  There I waited for almost 2 months.

I cycled back to a training platoon and my countdown restarted.  My new day 0 was set for April 1.  The day April 1 arrived, I actually thought graduating was going to be a big April Fools joke on me.  There were so many psychological games, anything was possible.   I thought for certain the Drill Instructors were going to swarm me, while in formation, and send me back to "the classroom" (a place of figurative mental and physical torture).  OK, maybe a little physical torture but that's the way the Marines were back then.  Well, they didn't swarm on me.  I graduated from Boot Camp.  I entered the Fleet as a "boot" private.

So, what's the moral of this story?  Sometime in your life, you may reach a fork in the road.  The easier path, though very attractive tactically, may not be your best decision strategically.  This critical event in my life made me the pain-in-the-ass person I am today.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, has come remotely close to the physical and psychological challenges of Marine Corps Boot Camp.  It doesn't matter if you're a project manager, an entrepreneur, or just trying to reach a personal goal.  Anything is possible if you're focused enough on the outcome.  Anything is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill.

Graphic courtesy of Leatherneck