Making project management compulsory. What do you think?

I woke up this morning to an interesting tweet from APM Hong Kong Branch

This was in response to me suggesting that stakeholder management should be compulsory. The suggestion by APM Hong Kong cannot be faulted unless…

When I read the tweet I immediately thought of a conference I attended as a delegate and someone from the floor spoke about having to use ‘contra-behaviour’ (sorry about the jargon) to achieve their ends. He was a management trainer who saw in a group of managers a lack of assertion and leadership.

In order to get them to change their behaviour to be more effective leaders he had to tell them about their own behaviours. He had to tell them which behaviours could prove beneficial in a particular situation. He cajoled, and coached before changing his style to being more supportive and encouraging, and eventually letting go.

Last week was interesting in relation to this issue. I was working with a group of sponsors and in the room were the group directors with directors from a company within the group. An issue of style came out:

  • Group – poor project management maturity; this is despite having a large numbers trained in project management. The overall emphasis was do as you please in relation to project management
  • Company within the Group – much better project management maturity which resulted from making all aspects of their project management approach compulsory.

There is nothing wrong with the project management maturity route. It’s a very good approach. My concern is that it needs ownership from the top. It needs sponsors to recognise they have a key role to play (and much, much more). With some companies maybe making it compulsory will increase maturity?

My suggestion in a previous blog was to make stakeholder management compulsory. I would go one step further by making it compulsory for those companies that have their own project management approaches. To actually use them to ensure their level of maturity does improve e.g. no business case = no project, no update reports = no more funding etc.

Now there’s food for thought. Any views?

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7 Responses to Making project management compulsory. What do you think?

  1. Pingback: Making project management compulsory. What do you think? | #PMChat

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  3. Dave Gordon says:

    Ron, have you ever heard the phrase, “Malicious compliance?”

    All of these tools and techniques and methods are merely a means to an end. Keep the focus on the end, the goal. We don’t initiate projects in order to manage stakeholders; we manage stakeholders in order to increase the chances of our project being successful. Make success mandatory, and make the tools “available.”

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Hi Dave. I’m not sure malicious compliance is the issue. I think it is senior managers setting the strategy, projects started but the overall (loose) PM approach is not delivering what they want. There are many many reasons why and lack of a uniform approach to using project management is one of them. It certainly helps if one is used all the way through the comany.

      I have no problems with your words around the management of stakeholders. I have problems with companies who boast a project management approach however few people use it. By the way, not over generalisation, simply stating it as I see it.

      Thanks for contributing to this, appreciated.


  4. Sarah-Louise Earl says:

    Hello Ron,

    I think this is also linked to current moves towards professionalisation of the discipline of project management. If we are serious about its evolution to a fully-fledged profession, then organisations should not be able to claim a project management approach (whether using their own methodology or a more widely recognised one) unless they have the structures, processes and mechanisms in place to support it – and they actually use them across the organisation! As you say, this needs to be driven by proper project management governance arrangements from the very top. The question is – how can this be enforced? Through professional bodies? Would there be legal implications? For providers who claim their services are “project managed” but who don’t have these arrangements in place, could they eventually be crossing a line into misleading marketing??

    Food for thought indeed!


    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Thanks for your comments Sarah.

      “There is so much to be done and few are doing it.” Not my words but the words of someone on a recent project management course I ran. I thought that the comments summed up so much and I have started to put some further thoughts down on this.

      But, companies must start somewhere and many – too many – seem to me to start off well. Great intentions but so little staying power.!

      Food for thought indeed and let’s keep up the good work and the debate going.

      Thanks you Sarah.

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