Project Management Institute

A new PMnetwork feature for 1994

"The Executive's Notebook"

PM Industry

In Focus

Joan Knutson is president and founder of Project Management Mentors, a San Francisco-based project management consulting and training firm. Prior to founding the company 17 years ago, she was a project manager in the budding world of data processing. Since then, she has worked with a wide range of disciplines and industries spanning the areas of high-technology, insurance, banking, pharmaceuticals, and utilities, to name a few.

Her focus is threefold. First is the design and presentation of project management seminars, both in the hard skills and soft skills. Second, Joan has hands-on experience in helping clients implement an off-the-shelf project management methodology customized to their unique needs and aiding client in putting together real-world project plans.

Her third love is writing. She has been the co-editor and frequent contributor to a small monthly educational project management newsletter titled Words by Specialists (WBS). She has authored several books, the latest of which, How to Plan and Manage Successful Projects (AMACOM publishing), was chosen by the Newbridge Executive Book Club as one of its main selections in 1992.

Joan is a graduate of Ohio State University. When not involved with her special interests, she likes to play golf and tennis and to work with young people.

Being a trainer and consultant affords me the opportunity of doing lots of listening; listening to project managers, listening to project team members, listening to project clients and sponsors. Just imagine completing a training seminar and one of the participants coming up to you and saying, “I understand what project management is and what it does to benefit the organization. I also work hard to learn about the concepts and techniques that you taught in this class; but what difference does it make, if my boss comes by my desk and asks me why I'm wasting my time drawing circles and lines on a piece of paper?” Then think about conducting a series of interviews at a client site and each person assures you that their management talks about how important project management should be, but this same management never gives them time to do project management the right way? Or visualize standing in front of a PMI audience at the monthly chapter dinner meeting and being bombarded with cynical comments about what should be but isn't because of the lack of awareness and buy-in of the people at the top.

Not very positive statements, are they? However, do you recognize some of your personal feelings in those statements? Or if you are part of this group called management, do you think that some of your people who work on projects may feel this way?


But let's look at management's point of view. Management says, “Yes, we believe in planning and controlling a project, but doesn't anyone understand that our performance is measured on production/performance? Sometimes we don't have time to do all this formalized project management; we just have to get the job done.”

Who is right? Both positions are right!

Maybe it is time we provide a series of articles not to the project manager or the project team member but to management. With the support of PMI's editor-in-chief, a new column will appear in each issue of PMNETwork in 1994. It will communicate directly to management in organizations that use project management. The name of this new column is “The Executive's Notebook.” The purpose of the column will be to heighten the awareness of management to the issues and concerns associated within the project management community and, when it is appropriate, to provide recommendations that will narrow the gap between management and the project team players.

Some of the areas that will be addressed in this new column are the role of projects in corporate strategy, the return on investment of project planning, selling project management within one's own organization and to the customer, as well as a look at the preparation and delivery of status “review meetings. No topic in the series will be allowed to wallow in the philosophical would-be's, could-be's and should-be's around project management. The column will address the prescriptive approach of how, what, where, when and why to make project management a more understood and more effective discipline.


Even though I will be writing many of these articles, I will be asking several of my colleagues at Project Management Mentors to share with you their unique perspectives and experiences. In addition, we will be asking some of our clients to contribute ideas and suggestions from their points of view. In addition, anyone who has an idea for articles is invited to contact me, either directly or through PMI Communications, and volunteer to contribute an article. This mix of consulting and internal perspectives will provide you, our reader, with a kaleidoscope of tangible, real-world content.

“The Executive's Notebook” will be positioned after the “From the Executive Suite” column each month in the Project Management in Action department. The articles will be printed in such a way as to be easily tom out and distributed. If you area project manager or a project team member, you will be able to pull the germane articles and pass them onto key members of your management team. If you are a member of the management team, you may want to buck an article around to other members of the organization or you may want to put it away in your resource file for future reference.

Now that you know “The Executive's Notebook” is coming, we encourage your input. If you have a message that you have been trying to get to the mount, let us know. We may be able to be the conduit for that message; or if you have wondered how to solve a delicate management-related problem, let us know. We will do some benchmarking and see what others are doing.

Look for “The Executive's Notebook” starting in January 1994. Let's all explore what management should be expecting from project management and what project management should be expecting from management. img

Organization Profile

Project Management Mentors (PMM) is a San Francisco-based con-suiting and training firm founded in 1976. PMM specializes in helping client firms support the project management discipline via a curriculum of skill-based competency training or through their CAP (Consulting Assistance Package) model.

Training courses cover the spectrum of subject matter from hard skills to soft skills seminars. Hard skills classes range from tools and techniques classes to classroom computer simulations. Soft skills offerings in-elude human dimensions and cross-functional team seminars. All of the courses in the PMM curriculum comply with PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge.

The CAP consulting model diagnoses the current status of the project management discipline within an organization and recommends an appropriate intervention(s) to be performed either by the client or by PMM. These interventions include one or a combination of the following: training, implementation of a project management methodology, jump-starting of a project team, or the selection and implementi-tion of an appropriate software product.

Project Management Mentors has offices in Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, New York, Seattle and Detroit. The staff comes from a variety of different disciplines and has the breadth and scope to service a large number of industries. PMM has extensive experience over the past 17 years in working with high-technology firms, specifically with the engineering, manufacturing and marketing groups, in service industries, including insurance, banking and health care, as well as the public sector. Some of their clients include Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Allstate Insurance, Wells Fargo, Abbott Laboratories, Los Alamos Labs, and the Indian Health Services.

In addition to delivering and licensing training for in-company clients, PMM frequently provides course leaders to teach project management seminars sponsored by the American Management Association.

The company also offers an extensive product line, including a monthly newsletter, a computer-based training product, and several programmed instruction training tools.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.




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