Project Management Institute

Building professionalism in project management

R. Max Wideman Chairman, PMI

R. Max Wideman Chairman, PMI

I should like to take this opportunity to elaborate on what I believe to be one of the most important aspects of the recent deliberations of the PMI Board, in San Francisco last March. As was briefly reported in the April issue of the PM NETWORK, the Board devoted a four hour session entirely to developing guidance for the Long Range Planning Committee so that they can finalize a current Long Range Plan.

As a part of this process, a major commitment was made to the central concept of PMI through the adoption of a formal policy on Professionalism. It reads as follows:


It is a belief strongly held by the Institute and its members that the project management profession is a new and evolving area of management knowledge and expertise that is of vital and increasing importance to the economic growth and prosperity of business, government and academic communities throughout the world. For the decade of the 1990's, it is a fundamental goal of the Institute to promote and develop a true sense of professionalism in the practice of project management in all its areas of application.

To this end, the Institute is now committed to a number of strategic objectives specifically aimed at the establishment of a project management profession that is both widely-known and highly regarded in North America and around the world by the year 2000!


Professional Standards:

To establish and maintain a precise set of standards and requirements that define entry level qualifications for a competent project management professional.

The Profession:

To establish and maintain broad-based public awareness of the meaning and scope of the “Project Management Profession” and the opportunity for the application of project management expertise to virtually all types of business, government, and academic endeavors.

The Professional:

To establish and maintain a broad-based public awareness of the meaning of the “Project Management Professional” credential, in terms of the standards, training knowledge, expertise and skills to be expected from members holding that designation.

Professional Organization:

To establish and maintain a professional organization within the overall framework of PMI to achieve recognition and support of the project management profession and the PMP credential.


To coordinate and administer the certification process required for Institute members to prepare for, obtain and maintain the PMP designation.

Education and Research:

To provide the leadership and support necessary to allow universities and other institutions to respond to educational and career development needs in project management at all levels, and to promote academic and industrial research in all aspects of the project management profession.


In addition to adopting the policy position, the Board further resolved that it should be implemented directly as a fundamental management guideline for all Institute initiatives and activities, that it should be published in the PMJ on a regular and repeating basis, and that any PMI projects that are specifically and directly in support of the “Professionalism Policy” be given the Board's highest priority.

Thus, PMI has taken a very strong position, which we hope will govern our priorities and direction over the coming years. This future course for PMI is perhaps best exemplified by the PMI slogan which is quoted at the head of this article, and which was also adopted at the Board meeting.

The future of PMI looks exciting and challenging indeed!

To: Editor-in-Chief From: Olde Curmudgeon Re: Quality or Gold Plating

To: Editor-in-Chief From: Olde Curmudgeon Re: Quality or Gold Plating

For years now, I've heard the loudest voice in the meeting say, “Quality hell, all you're doing is gold plating the damn thing.” At last I've learned how to respond to that voice.

I went to a reception the other night and met a couple of guys who had just returned from a “Quality School.” The name has nothing to do with the merit of the school. It does, however, relate to what the school is about. It must have been pretty good though, because a week at that school cost them as much as I paid for a whole semester at the state university for my youngest son.

Well, they started explaining the new concept of “Quality” which they had just learned. They asked me what I thought of when I heard the word “Quality”. I told them that the first thing I think of is money. Everyone knows that the higher the quality, the more an item costs. They laughed and said, “No, quality often costs less, and in fact, may be free.” “No way,” I said. Well, half an hour later, they had me convinced. Not completely convinced, but maybe quality is not always really expensive. Anyway, it was time for another brew!


The following is an address which was inadvertently omitted from the New Products section of the April PM NETWORK. We apologize.


1500 16th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 626-4244

Peter O'Donnell

Then they asked me again, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘quality’?” “Well,” I replied, “how about a Rolls Royce or maybe those hand-built Italian cars?” Again they said, “No, you're thinking of ideas like luxury, plushness or extravagance. They may run great and last for years but are they really what you need?”

Now that indeed was a good question. I looked out the window at Old Bessie, my blazin' red four wheel drive with a roll bar and said, “no, a Rolls Royce wouldn't get far into the mountains where I live would it?” We laughed, and then they explained to me the idea of ‘requirements’. They said that if a product didn't meet my requirements, despite its value, it wasn't a quality product for me. Time for another round!

I then said, “What do people mean when they say ‘Quality Education’?” One of them replied, “I haven't any idea and frankly, neither do those people. They're talking in euphemisms and ambiguities. All they're really saying is they like, or dislike, the school their child is going to. I've heard a few people mention one or more area's of education such as a foreign language or math skills, but I've never heard two people agree on what degree of knowledge or skill they had in mind. You see, unless you specify what the education, or any other process is designed to accomplish, you can not measure whether it does or does not meet those goals.”

That is the key to the new concept of quality. You have to state explicitly what you want, the exact specifications, and then you measure whether the product conforms to those specifications. Have you ever seen any definite specifications for the product of education? I can not say I have seen them. Besides, it was already time for another round.


Well, I don't know how long we talked. Obviously, they gained one — education at that ‘school’ and they clearly wanted to talk about it. They proceeded to tell me how many companies spend more money due to poor quality than they keep as their profit; and how much of the spending is erroneous, i.e., to fix defects rather than to build things right the first time.

That was what really surprised me. They told me they learned about statistical process control and how they were going to reduce defects from the 5% amount they have had to about 50 parts per million. Now just imagine what that means. For a company that produces a million pieces per year, they had been producing 50,000 defects and they were going to successfully reduce that number to 50. This fellow runs a plant that produces over a million oil filters each week. What would you do with 50,000 defective oil filters each week?

The other guy figures his company was making at least one million inches of weld per year. If he achieves his goal, that would mean that 50,000 inches of weld that was defective in the past, would no longer have to be redone.

“Well, I'll drink to that,” I said. Then I thought about the education they have and realized that I'd just received a good education myself, and I didn't have to pay tuition. Shucks, I didn't even buy the drinks! Nothing gold plated about that, eh?

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