Response to Pat Weaver


Response to Pat Weaver’s Letter to the Editor regarding the paper titled “Project Management Certifications Benchmarking Research: 2016 Update”, published in the December 2016 edition of the PM World Journal

By Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCP, MScPM, MRICS

Jakarta, Indonesia

Dear David,

See my responses to Pat’s posting below [PDG]….

Weaver:        With reference to Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo’s featured paper ‘Project Management Certification Benchmarking Research: 2016 Update’, I believe his focus on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule is misplaced 2.

The concept of a 10,000 hour rule has been widely criticised in the academic media, not least by the authors of the research paper used by Gladwell as a basis for his rule. It certainly takes effort become an expert but the 10,000 hour maxim was drawn from non-relevant data. In an article entitled ‘Malcolm Gladwell got us wrong: Our research was key to the 10,000-hour rule, but here’s what got oversimplified 2 the authors of the research used by Gladwell as a basis for his ‘rule’, Ericsson and Pool, claim to have been misunderstood and that Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule over simplifies a complex set of requirements.

[PDG] Agreed and I tried to be clear that I too do NOT agree with Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” and in fact, argue strongly and consistently that it should be 15,000 hours to qualify as a top tier professional. (See the end for the ranges for different job titles)

In the 2016 Update- Page 3:

“While the author recognizes that Gladwell’s “10,000 hour” rule has been and is being challenged on many fronts, by providing a defined zero point and the same units of measure (standardized level of effort hours) we have created a true ratio scale, enabling us to compare the relative level of effort between any two or more credentials.”

2016 Update Page 12- The following 8 GLOBAL project management certifications scored greater than 15,000 Level of Effort hours and/or between 16,200 (ABET PE) and 20,000 (Non-ABET) Level of Effort Hours, earning them honorable mention as also being “legitimate” professional level credentials:

2015 Update- Page 1:

“Some of the key findings from previous year’s research shows that at least in the field of project management, Gladwell’s “10,000 hours” is too low, with 15,000 hours “level of effort” being closer to what it actually takes to produce a “competent” professional level practitioner”

2014 Update- Page 1:

Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour” rule came from his 2008 book “Outliers- The Story of Success” where he posited that to become “successful” at anything, required a minimum of 10,000 hours of progressively challenging experience.  And while his research has been challenged, the primary reason for choosing this as a benchmark is by providing a true zero point and having the same unit of measure, it enabled the creation of a ratio scale analysis. So while the “10,000 hour” rule has been used as a benchmark, this research makes a reasonable argument that the number should be closer to 15,000 hours not 10,000, at least for project management.  

Weaver:        As a starting point the choice of 10,000 hours was arbitrary, a study published by Ericsson in 1993 on a group of violin students in a music academy in Berlin found that the most accomplished of those students had put in an average of ten thousand hours of practice by the time they were twenty years old. However no student at 20 years of age is a master of the violin, this level of skill is rarely achieved until the age of 30 or older, after a total of 20,000 hours or more of directed practice – 10,000 hours is only part of the way to mastery. Conversely becoming a master in other disciplines may require significantly less than 10,000 hours. To quote Dr. Francis Mayer of St. Thomas University, Minneapolis (1963) ‘an amateur practices until he can do everything right and a professional [master] practices until he can’t do anything wrong’. If Gladwell had selected a different age for the students a different number of hours of directed practice would have accumulated, but still would not have represented the time needed to achieve ‘mastery’ of the violin.

More (with footnotes and references)…

To read entire document, click here



About the Author

Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS

Jakarta, Indonesia


Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo
, CDT, CCE (#1240), MScPM, MRICS, is Senior Technical Advisor (Project Management) to PT Mitratata Citragraha. (PTMC), Jakarta, Indonesia. http://www.build-project-management-competency.com/.

For 25+ years, he has been providing Project Management training and consulting throughout South and Eastern Asia, the Middle East and Europe. He is also active in the Global Project Management Community, serving as an Advocate for and on behalf of the global practitioner. He does so by playing an active professional role in the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International, (AACE); Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Construction Management Association of America, (CMAA). He previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (asapm) http://www.asapm.org/ and served previously as the Chair of the Certification Board of the Green Project Management organization. http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/ He is active as a regional leader and a compensated consultant to the Planning Planet’s Guild of Project Controls. http://www.planningplanet.com/guild

He has spent 18 of the last 45 years working on large, highly complex international projects, including such prestigious projects as the Alyeska Pipeline and the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line) upgrades in Alaska. Most recently, he worked as a Senior Project Cost and Scheduling Consultant for Caltex Minas Field in Sumatra and Project Manager for the Taman Rasuna Apartment Complex for Bakrie Brothers in Jakarta. His current client list includes AT&T, Ericsson, Nokia, Lucent, General Motors, Siemens, Chevron, Conoco-Philips, BP, Dames and Moore, SNC Lavalin, Freeport McMoran, Petronas, Pertamina, UN Projects Office, World Bank Institute and many other Fortune 500 companies and NGO organizations.

Dr. Giammalvo holds an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, a Master of Science in Project Management through the George Washington University and a PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille- now SKEMA School of Management) under the supervision of Dr. Christophe Bredillet, CCE, IPMA A Level. “Dr. PDG” can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other original work by Paul Giammalvo, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-paul-d-giammalvo/