On the Future of Project Management – Featured Paper by Stretton and Blythman in December 2012 PMWJ


Dear Editor,

For many years I have been on record as saying that General Management was going to absorb Project Management which would be in line with Alan Stretton’s Scenario Two. I want to make a few comments on the article.  Historically, at the beginning PMI was really CMI or Construction Management Institute and the people who started the PMBOK were for the most part construction people. That means they were contractor types who did not get involved until a development project had already gone thru the early stages of identification, feasibility, design and financing.  That is one reason why the PMBOK deals almost entirely with Implementation.  Secondly in many organizations like power companies a different group from implementation does the early planning leading up to construction.

I have long quoted Bob Gillis of Canadian Pacific RR, “are we in the development business or just the implementation business?” To succeed in long run we need to be in the development business. Front end work is however strategic work not detailed engineering.  One reason why the Logical Framework or Hierarchy of Objectives which never appears in PMBOK is important, is that it connects projects to the organization’s strategic and policy objectives.

Now, why will General Management absorb PM? 1. Projects are becoming more important to organizations for many reasons; 2. Project management activities are one of the few ways that up and coming managers gain cross functional experience; 3. PMs are like general managers and can gain profit and loss experience earlier in their careers; 4. Business Schools are starting to teach project management as well as engineering schools.

Bob Youker, retired
World Bank Institute
Maryland, USA