Project Management

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“Lessons For An Accidental Profession”


1. What are the reasons the author advances for project management to be considered an “accidental profession?” The twelve guidelines are presented in no particular order. Order them by level of importance and explain your reasoning.

Project managers occupy a unique and often precarious position within many firms. Possessing little formal authority and forced to operate outside the traditional organizational hierarchy, they quickly and often belatedly learn the real limits of their power. It has been said that an effective project manager is the kingpin, but not the king. They are the bosses, it is true, but often in a loosely defined way. Indeed, in most firms they may lack the
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In essence, it is not simply the management of a project per se that presents such a unique challenge; it is also the atmosphere within which the manager operates that adds an extra dimension of difficulty. Projects exist outside the established hierarchy. They threaten, rather than support, the status quo because they represent change. So it is important for project managers to walk into their assigned role with their eyes wide open to the monumental nature of the tasks they are likely to face.

4. Why, in lesson 9, is always thinking about “what if” so important?

One look forward is worth two looks back. A recent series of commercials from a large computer manufacturer had as their slogan the dictum that the company never stop asking “What if?.” Asking “What if?” questions is another way of saying we should never become comfortable with the status of the project under development. One large-scale study found that the leading determinant of project failure was the absence of any troubleshooting mechanisms—that is, no one was asking the “What if?” questions. Projecting a skeptical eye toward the future may seem gloomy to some managers. But in our opinion, it makes good sense. We cannot control the future but we can actively control our response to it. A good example of the failure to apply
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