Monday, January 12, 2009

Project Manager - Right Person, Wrong Title

Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking.        - John Maynard Keynes

We are living in times of great change.  In two years, few of us will be where we are now.  This week I will publish five posts that attempt to live up to Keynes’ advice.  Please join me and be a little wild with your words.  Today, let’s think about and vote on what our job title should be.  Based on voting and suggestions, other options may be added.  While this election may not be as captivating as the US Presidential elections, let’s make it a relevant assault on our thoughts.

Before we begin, I have a confession to make.  I’m more technical architect than project manager.  I’ve project managed because the PM was “asked to leave” and being the architect, political expediency dictated that I fill both rolls.  If my view is jaded, it’s because I am.  I also have the scars to prove I’m not unfeeling.

Experience teaches that we should beware of fancy titles.  They often forewarn of responsibility without the power to execute.  ‘Project Manager’ and its grandiose cousin ‘Program Manager’ are both wonderful titles, but do they accurately represent the job?

Please consider the following and vote:
Project Journalist
In an ideal world, the senior person responsible for suggesting the project and getting the budget should have their future with the company tightly linked to the success or failure of the project.  If the project succeeds, they should get bonuses and recognition.  If it fails, they should forfeit this year’s bonus, return the previous year’s bonus and lose 10% of their salary to recompense the company for some of the project costs.

The project sponsor would need someone who could give them an accurate picture of what is happening on the project.  Where schedules are, who’s confident, who’s nervous, where are things going well, where there are problems and maybe even well thought out ways to improve.  A project journalist: someone who is savvy, interested in seeing the project succeed and capable of providing an unbiased account of what’s happening and why.

Project Scapegoat
Honesty is the best policy.

Project Enzyme
Enzymes are biological catalysts, or chemicals that speed up the rate of reaction between substances without themselves being consumed in the reaction. (Source)
This would be the perfect title if it didn’t have the worst abbreviation – PE.  Consider the following:
•    “Oh god, you’re the PEe on my parade.”
•    “Oh look, it’s the PEon.”
•    “Don’t look now, but here comes the PEze Corp.”
•    “Honey, I got promoted!  I’m a PE!… Why are you looking at me that way…Where are you going…”

Project Manager
Voting is strictly anonymous, so no one will know the troglodytes who vote for this title.

If you have other suggestions, please make them comments section.  Meaningful additions will be added as options. Think of this election as being like Illinois politics- vote early, vote often, VOTE HERE.  You don’t even have to pay…


Bas said...

“Oh look, it’s the PEon.”

Yeah.. that sounds great!

Or how about Project Shrink :)

Great question though.. If we don't manage, what do we do?

Andrew Meyer said...


I always wondered where you got your blog name from. I figured you played Freud and had project team members discuss their childhood.

On second thought, that's probably not a good idea...