Further thoughts on the nature of, and futures for, project management


By Alan Stretton

Sydney, Australia



In a recent series in this journal on project successes and failures, I discussed my strongly held viewpoint that project management needs to ensure that “the right project is being done”, in addition to ensuring that “the project is done right”. My basic reasoning for this is simple, and derives from the question, “if the ‘right’ project is not being done, what is the relevance of ‘doing the project right’?”

My response is that I believe the project management community has an obligation to the public at large, and to relevant sectors of the public, to be able to reassure them that the right projects are being done. I believe that many members of the public have such an expectation, and that if the right projects are not being done, and therefore fail, they will quite reasonably blame the project managers. The excuse that we did the project right, and that it is not our concern if it was not the right project, will most likely be seen for what it is – an abrogation of responsibility by the project management community.

I know there are many who do not agree with me. They regard project management as an execution-only avocation, and believe that “doing the project right” is all that is required. I believe such a perspective is myopic, and is an active barrier to project management making a much fuller contribution than it currently does to society at large. This article explores some possibilities for enhancing the latter aspiration.


There is plenty of evidence that, all too often, the “right” projects are not being done. There appear to be two types of causes for this.

  1. In some cases the initial choice of project is evidently wrong. There appear to be two ways in which this can occur.


To read entire article (click here)

About the Author


Alan Stretton, PhD

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)



Alan Stretton
is one of the pioneers of modern project management. He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA. In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects. He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France). Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992. He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996. He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management. He has published over 150 professional articles and papers. Alan can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/.