Why did I stop contributing to PMI?

PMI = Project Management Institute

A bit of personal history

Over the years (1998 to 2008) I have volunteered for PMI.

My volunteer activities included

  • At the local (Houston – Texas), from 1998 to 2000
  • At the regional level (Arabian Gulf), mostly in 2003 – 2004 and 2005, and
  • At the global level.

In the Arabian Gulf, I was the Director of Certification and Education in 2005 (across the GCC – 6 countries) where we launched many new initiatives, and many of them continued after my departure when I moved from Saudi Arabia to UAE. We also tried to open a PMI UAE chapter but too much lobbying from PMI-AGC prevented that, although UAE had the largest number of members and PMP in the GCC. This experience, was one of the factors that pushed us (a group of us) away from PMI.

Globally, I had more than one global leadership role, such as member of the R.E.P. Advisory Group from 2005 to 2007. Judge on PMI Educational Provider Award and Educational Product Award. My last leadership role with PMI was as a member of the 2008 EMEA Congress Action Team, which was held in Malta.

Further, I am a graduate of PMI Leadership Master Class; class of 2007.

I have contributed to too many standards (PMBOK Guide from the 2000 edition) and including the original versions of Program and Portfolio Management; initially they were going to be published as one standard but the project team recommended splitting and they were split.

I have numerous professional papers submitted and published by PMI and was a speaker in many congresses (conferences) from 2004 to 2008.

However, in 2008 I stopped contributing for many reasons.

What drove me (and others) away?

As a PMI insider, especially working on a global level and closer to the top decision makers, including board and HQ; I started to see a lot of things that I did not like.

  • I started to see how a rich and powerful organization for example – influence PMI management decisions.
  • I started to see how PMI was moving away from a Not-for-Profit organization caring about Project Management toward a maximize revenues’ mindset.
  • I started to see that the board and most advisory groups were only cosmetics with no real power of decision.

PMI, in my opinion, has been operating as a business (with growth in numbers and revenues as a key objective), rather than members’ benefit first. Maybe executive bonuses was the priority over protecting and growing the field of project management as a top priority.

As an insider (volunteer not employee), we have tried to make a difference and change some practices. Some of the many recommendations that we raised to protect project management were:

  1. Increase the percent of AUDIT of applicants to the various PMI certifications (at that time PMP and CAPM). Rumors has it that 10% of applicants were audited but insider tell us it was less than 5%. The reason for this request was that many of us (volunteers’ leaders) were observing too many new PMPs that are not qualified. PMI answer – no budget.
  2. We requested enhancing the review of the applicants for these certifications, for the same reasons. Not enough staff – no enough budget.
  3. We requested publishing audit results. Nope
  4. We requested certifying trainers. I think APMG and PRINCE2 require this. Nope – same reasons.
  5. We requested auditing R.E.P. – NO
  6. Publish passing rates; like how many pass on the first time by country – NO.

These are some of the things I remember from almost 10 years. Often this answer was staff and budget reasons. According to more than one of the senior managers in PMI, PMI was under staffed – they only had about half of what they need. Yet, PMI is the richest not-for-profit organization in the PM World. I recall the financial report from 2 or 3 years ago – showed PMI assets (or liquid assets) to exceed 300 million US$.

What happened since 2008?

In our view things are worst and not relevant to this discussion.

Decision to leave

Based on all of these things, I had to make a choice, should I continue to volunteer to such an organization?

  • An organization that want to SELL the knowledge I (and all other volunteers) contribute to it FREE but I cannot give it to my friends and clients for free?
  • An organization that tell us, as R.E.P., that we cannot “paraphrase” the PMBOK® Guide unless we pay a $1000? In other words, I cannot explain earned value management or risk management or integration to my class attendees because I would be “paraphrasing”.
  • Keep in mind, PMI is trying to claim ownership for this knowledge but that knowledge came from volunteers and other books. In other words, if you use the PMBOK Guide info without credit or permission – they can sue you but they take knowledge from the volunteers without giving specific credit (yes they put your name at the end of the book but no one knows whether you contributed 1 word – or revised a whole chapter).

The volunteer work – is sold, this is something I could not accept. The volunteer work is not credited – individually. This is another issue. If I wanted to share my work with non-PMI members, I cannot, if I had shared it with PMI.

Therefore, around 2006 or 2007 I stopped contributing knowledge and 2008 stopped all other activities. Since that time, I spent a great deal of effort on developing new knowledge and content and sharing openly in free events in my region. Then start publishing e-books that were distributed for free (9 e-books as of now) and blogging. Today, SUKAD (my company) has a project management methodology, an organizational project management model (maturity), a model for measuring project success, among other things and all are accessible on our website for FREE!

In addition to our research and development work, we have started to explore the project management universe – some we knew and some we did not. We found many global organizations that put their knowledge out in the open to anyone who wants it on a creative common guidelines. This is the model we follow on our Knowledge Portal (http://knowledge.sukad.com).

  • We found GAPPS with project and program management standards – free for all.
  • We found IPMA with their Competence Baseline – same thing open for all. Just recently, IPMA published the latest Individual Competence Baseline (ICB), Organizational Competence Baseline (OCB), and Project Excellence Baseline (PEB) all free and I downloaded them all (and I am not even an IPMA member).
  • In addition to these organizations, there are others that SUKAD and myself are now associated with, such as Green Project Management (GPM® Global), and we are also starting to work with PM4NGOs.

The content of these organizations is not only free to download – but free to share. These organizations, are leaders, and have great content, and it is free for the learner.

Yes – PMI publishes many standards but all of that is the work of volunteers and PMI sell them to the public and offer them free for members only – restricted copies not to share.

Many of the PMI publications are good, and I use them. For example, the PMBOK® Guide is a reference I have been using since the first edition was out and it is a good standard document. It requires a major review and maybe re-structuring but no one can deny the value of this reference.

This is a long blog post, where I wanted to share something very important.

Maybe in the future, I can build on this and focus on the new learning from organizations like GPM®, IPMA, GAPPS, and other.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

About Mounir Ajam

Mounir Ajam is eager to awaken the giant of project management within individuals, organizations, and nations! He is an experienced executives with global experience working on projects from the United States to Japan and in between. He has been privileged to work on multiple small projects and mega projects. Mounir is an author, volunteer leader, speaker, consultant, executive coach, and entrepreneur who is open for further learning and sharing.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Personal, Project Management and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why did I stop contributing to PMI?

  1. Pingback: Why did I stop contributing to PMI – Part 2! | A Different Perspective

  2. Pingback: Why did I stop contributing to PMI? Part 1 | Redefining Project Management

  3. vocaloidoliver says:

    Heres a great review found on Amazon regardingthe PMBOK but ultimately PMI im general.

    If ever there was a self-important tome by a self-important organization, written purely to try to impress the world with how many different ways one can state the same thing, this is it. This book is the equivalent for project managers as would be a book on how to walk. Most everything in here is common sense to anyone who has spent some time as a PM or project planner. Yet, the authors dissect everything into excruciating minutia, then repeat it ad infinitum. Really…..project management isn’t this difficult. It doesn’t require this kind of blathering guide, and it certainly doesn’t warrant an institute.

    • Mounir Ajam says:

      Interesting perspective – maybe for small and simple projects with only a few people involved – what you stated would apply. However, as we work on larger and more complex projects we often find that even the PMBOK Guide is not enough.

  4. Pingback: How to improve the PMBOK Guide? | Redefining Project Management

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