Welcome to the January 2017 PMWJ


Farms, Food and Project Management, the Trend that Isn’t and Welcome to the January 2017 Edition of the PM World Journal

David Pells

Managing Editor

Addison, Texas, USA


Welcome to the January 2017 edition of the PM World Journal (PMWJ). This 54th edition continues to reflect the international nature of this publication; 28 original articles, papers and other works by 35 different authors in 15 different countries are included this month. News articles about projects and project management around the world are also included. Since the primary mission of this journal is to support the global sharing of knowledge, please share this month’s edition with others in your network, wherever in the world they may be.

Since August I have been using this opportunity to mention new trends or important issues that I see as journal editor. This month I want to discuss the lack of a trend, what I see as a major shortfall in the project management professional world – the lack of attention to projects and project management in basic industries. Where are the case studies, models and bodies of knowledge for project management in agriculture, food production, housing, healthcare, education, security, transportation and other such industries? Many will argue that projects in those industries are covered by the general and generic project management models and standards produced by AIPM, APM, IPMA, PMI and other leading international bodies. In my opinion, that’s not good enough. And there’s another problem…

Farms, Food and Project Management and the Trend that Isn’t

My grandfather was a dairy farmer, working hundreds of acres, herds of cattle, multiple barns, farm equipment, seasonal changes and many projects. As a child, I visited his farm many times. I loved it! We also lived in a small town in the northwestern United States, actually just outside of town where we had some land, gardens, cows, chickens, horses, barns and work to do. We too had many projects, although I don’t ever remember them being called projects. It was just work to do. I left home for university at 18 and never returned to living in my home town. But I’ve never forgotten my background or my grandfather’s farm. In recent years, I’ve thought a lot about the types of projects that farmers have, especially in developing countries where agriculture is so important (and where international development banks continue to invest millions in agriculture).

My father was a school teacher, teaching elementary school for 30+ years. As a child, I also spent many hours with him at the school, both during and in between school hours. Over the years, I became familiar with class types and sizes, curricula, facilities maintenance, school buses (he also drove a bus – it was a small town), teacher salaries and benefits (or lack thereof), administrative issues, sports and extracurricular activities, homework, grading and many other school-related issues. Here again, as I got older and learned about project management, I often thought about education-related projects. Since education is a common topic in all towns and cities, especially now in the United States where public education is in generally poor condition, I’ve often wondered how project management could contribute more.

One uncle worked my grandfather’s farm, then worked for a local refinery. One uncle was a horse rancher, another was a logger, another joined the Air Force and became an expert computer-based missile systems mechanic. I’m one of the few in the family to go to college, to graduate with multiple degrees. Most members of my immediate and extended family have lived all their lives in small towns. Now it has occurred to me that little of what I’ve learned about project management is very useful to those family members and others with similar occupations or working in industries and enterprises based in rural areas. There’s probably not a single member of my family who knows what project management is, what a PMP certification means, what a PMO is, what the difference between a project and program is, or anything else that we spend all of our time in the PM profession talking about. And they don’t care!

During 2016, we saw a very tumultuous presidential campaign and election in the United States during which a majority of the population living in small towns, rural America, voted for a candidate who disparaged traditional government institutions and leaders as “elites”, trashed the media and more educated (and knowledgeable) leaders, and promised solutions for the people “left behind” by the global economy and the information age. Now it has also occurred to me that we in the project management profession may have also left those stakeholders behind. What do we do, say, publish or teach that benefits those living in small towns, on farms, in rural communities where big corporations don’t hire programmers, engineers and project managers? Where work and projects are in fields, barns, garages, schools, clinics and small businesses!

Sure, many of the projects are small, even micro-projects in many cases. But let’s back up a little; let’s consider projects or programs involving multiple farms, multiple schools, multiple hospitals, multiple roads and shops, multiple small businesses. What about programs or projects to help entire communities change, create jobs, improve lives? What about projects to transform entire industries? In America or in Europe, maybe not so common; in many African and Asian countries, these are the programs and projects that really matter.


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About the Author

David L. Pells

Managing Editor, PMWJ
Managing Director, PMWL



David L. Pells is Managing Editor of the PM World Journal (https://pmworldjournal.net/) and Managing Director of the PM World Library (http://www.pmworldlibrary.net/). David is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management with more than 35 years of experience on a variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, energy, defense, transit, technology and nuclear security, and project sizes ranging from thousands to billions of dollars. He has been an active professional leader in the United States since the 1980s, serving on the board of directors of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) twice. He was founder and chair of the Global Project Management Forum (1995-2000), an annual meeting of leaders of PM associations from around the world.

David was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award, PMI’s highest honor, in 1999. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM) in the UK; Project Management Associates (PMA – India); and Russian Project Management Association. Since 2010 he is an honorary member of the Project Management Association of Nepal. From June 2006 until March 2012, he was the managing editor of PM World Today. He occasionally provides high level advisory services for major programs, global organizations and the U.S. federal government. David has a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington and a Master’s degree in business from Idaho State University in the USA. He has published widely, spoken at conferences and events worldwide, and can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by David Pells, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/david-l-pells/