A Message from the President
There is no question in the minds of the Board of Directors that the health and strength of the Institute rests with a strong chapter system, where local members can get involved and benefit from participation in the organization as a whole. So good, strong, healthy chapters are very important to the Institute.
As your President, a lot of correspondence passes across my desk, including correspondence about chapter activities. From time to time, I see that one or another chapter may be having difficulty in maintaining its membership levels, or occasionally, even in surviving. In the latter case, such a chapter is forced to retrench and may find itself on a probationary status.
Of course, if there really is no call for a project management interest group in that area, there is no point in flogging a dead horse. However, bearing in mind the universality of projects, the opportunities for more effective management of resources in reaching project goals, and the consequent benefit to society-at-large, then I find it hard to believe that there are no professionals in the area willing to subscribe their time and effort to the opportunities that PMI has to otter.
So the question is, what to do?
Preserving Chapter Health
First let us recognize that every chapter seems to go through a period of the doldrums, so this is not an unusual phenomenon. Sometimes it is due to job transfer of key chapter members, or a slumping local economy, or other temporary priority interests, any of which can have a devastating effect on the succes of chapter activities. In these circumstances, it is easy for chapter leaders to suffer waning enthusiasm or “burn out”.
To remain healthy, it is essential for there to be a formal constitution and a mechanism for a progressive but complete change of chapter directors over a period of time. Perhaps the best thing that I did for my chapter was to step down once I had it started. Like every good project, an ego trip should come to a definitive end once a predetermined objective has been accomplished!
It should also be recognized that it is in the nature of our business that there will be a significant turn over of membership, perhaps 10% to 20% per annum. I do not regard this as unhealthy, but natural, as our members move around or change the type of work that they are involved in. The important thing is that they have had the opportunity to be exposed to sound project management philosophies and techniques. Consequently, regular promotion and recruiting drives must be part of the chapter plan.
Let’s face it, most of us are so busy running projects, that we are really not very good at promotion, marketing and selling. For many of us it is not part of our training, nor our inclination. Yet selling is what we have to do. We have to sell a concept in order to generate commitment and enthusiasm for creating a following. In fact, this is just like starting any new successful project.
So what is there to sell, or in other words, what does PMI have to offer?
Networking And Training Benefits
As reported by Ken Hartley, past president of PMI, (PMJ December 1984, p4) Jim Snyder long ago found the answer. Jim, by the way is Manager of International Marketing Operations at SmithKline Beckman Corp. and a founding member of PMI. Jim summarized it in one word - “OPPORTUNITY”!
Ken went on to explain that as PMI members, we have the opportunity to:
- become more proficient in our chosen career paths.
- participate in developing an exciting new profession.
- assist in educating others in project management philosophy and techniques.
- associate with a group of talented and dedicated individuals who have the same concerns, principles and goals.
In other words, each individual PMI member, by taking an active part in his or her local chapter, gains a unique opportunity to learn, to grow in confidence, to gain experience from others, to contribute and to influence the environment in which PMI’ers work.
Ultimately, as reported in May 1987 issue of the PMI News, PMI’s mission is:
- to be the leading, recognized professional and technical association in advancing the state-of-the-art of program and project management.
- to be achieved through the development and dissemination of the theory and practice of effective management of resources in reaching project goals.
Perhaps all of this sounds like motherhood and apple pie! But still it is very important to understand what it is that we are selling and what we are trying to achieve. So, if you think that there should be a new chapter in your area, or are involved in an existing chapter in need of some new ideas, here are some suggestions which are more down-to-earth.
An Action Plan
Contact your VP Region for advice. Contact Bob Yourzak, VP Public Relations, who is responsible for marketing and has people with lots of ideas. Contact Doug Egan, Ex-Officio Director, who has long given serious thought to the very issue of promoting healthy chapters. For potential chapter formation, contact our Executive Director, Bonnie McGarr, for a package on how to start a new chapter.
For chapters that seem to be a bit in the doldrums, why not plan to take on a specific challenge? It may be a local issue which is relevent to PMI members, and one in which PMI’ers, acting in concert, could exert some influence. There is nothing like a good issue to consolidate a voluntary group.
Examples might include: better public awareness of what project management really is; better education and career opportunities for project oriented people; or simply a “more professional” approach to managing projects. By this I mean an understanding and general application of all the aspects of the latest developments in the PMI Body of Knowledge (see PMJ August, 1986). Now there is lots of food for thought!
Alternatively, consider taking on a broader issue such as a “PMI project”. There are many to be tackled, the most significant of which are probably in fleshing out PMI’s Long Range and Marketing Plans.
I hope that some of these suggestions will serve to trigger ever increasing interest in chapter activities. At the very least, I hope that I have been able to show some of the opportunities that are open to every PMI member and how important good, strong, healthy chapters are to our Project Management Institute.
Seminars on World Trade
The World Trade Institue is offering a two day seminar for experience project analysts and bankers on “Project Evaluation and Financing Under the New Tax Law” on November 17-18 in New York.
The WTI is an educational service of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. They offer a wide randge of seminars on international business. For more information, contact Ken Chai at (212) 466-3166.
Ask PM NET!
What’s bugging you? Do you have a question about some aspect of project management, the Project Management Institute, or whatever, for which you would like information? Just write:
Project Management Journal
ATTN: ASK PM NET!
School of Business
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, N.C. 28723
THE PM NETWORK September, 1987