Are you wearing sector blinkers?
At APM, I get the chance to meet people in a wide range of organisations, all with a common interest in project management and how to do it better. Its purely anecdotal, but I am struck by the narrow horizons people seem to set when considering how to improve project management practices within their organisation. In the same day, one person told me the problem with APM was that we are too IT oriented (he was from construction). Later on, I heard the reverse from an IT person. Yet no sector in APM represents more than 14% of our membership. Are these severe examples of sectoral blinkers the inability to recognise that the practices in other sectors could bring your organisation something new, different and effective? Theres an interesting discussion about this right now in the community section.
Presumably, people move within sectors because their experience in the sector pushes the right recruitment buttons. Some time ago, an enlightened (or was he?) manager of a large project management community said he actively sought out recruits new to his sector because he wanted to bring in new ideas and practices, not just the same old But Ive heard people from construction say that you cant be a construction project manager without knowing how to mix concrete. Is this the case? If it is, then how will pan-sector, or even global standards ever work?
The IPMA has developed the International Competence Baseline (ICB) and a universal certification system whose goal is to certify project management personnel with a globally accepted four level certification scheme. The IPMA recognises that cultural differences can be catered for with a National Competence Baseline (NCB), is there a sectoral equivalent? The APMs competence framework and qualifications map to the ICB so we align with these international standards. According to the IPMA, more than 100,000 people have achieved IPMA certification around the world, but there are other certifications with an equal if not greater global reach.
In developing the APM Project Professional Standard we have taken the view that we need a robust standard but that ultimately there will be a number of routes to achieving it, recognising that people come to project management via a number of paths. Clarity and convergence, its a widely held vision and we are in the earliest stages in seeing that achieved, but does it mean that there will need to be a rethink on the uniqueness that individuals and organisations seem to want in order to differentiate themselves in the market?