It Can Be Done

I had lunch with some friends of mine a couple of months ago. While at lunch we were all lamenting the seeming inexorable movement to the matrix organizational structure that we were all experiencing. There are times when I have felt that working for one boss was impossible (depending on the boss), but the very thought of working for two, or three or even four at the same was enough to send me screaming from the room. It seems we humans are blessed with the capability to get used to just about anything.

The standard matrix organization seems to be structured along the lines functional responsibilities (vertical) and regional ownerships (horizontal). I think we can all get our heads around this one. On occasion it can even seem to make sense.

The third dynamic that seems to be creeping into the matrix organizational lexicon appears to be that of the “Project”. We now have to understand how to operate within a vertical functional organization, a horizontal regional structure, and deliver within a project alignment that has pieces of and responsibilities to both of them.

To that point I started looking into the structures and responsibilities associated with “Project Management”. You know those guys who put “PMP” after their names. After having been through several of these management waves in the past I thought it might be a good idea to think about and perhaps even try to get ahead of this one.

Now back to my friends at lunch.

One of them told me that he too had been looking into the “PMP” phenomenon and had found out some interesting facts. I had thought that you had to take special training and go through rigorous course to attain a PMP certification. Not true said my friend. While you hade to have some training (and just about any training that you have had can count toward this amount) there was no special training that was required.

I also thought that the only way to pass the certification exam was to take a long rigorous, expensive training course. Again, not true said my friend. The PMP certification exam is 200 questions and you have 4 hours to do it. The exam is based on the “Product Management Body of Knowledge” (PMBOK for short) book (currently in the 4th edition, but a 5th edition is coming out shortly). There are many guides available to help you study, and there are even practice tests to help you prepare.

I said okay. I’ll do it. I bought the books about the time I wrote a Blog article here about “Spare Time” and good uses for it. I started reading the PMBOK. It didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I read a study guide. It started to make a little more sense. After reading a second study guide it started to come together. I started taking practice exams. The first few were not pretty. They are very “semantically” driven whereby you have to be aware of specific written queues that provide you the direction to look for the correct answer.

In any event, I went and took the official test yesterday….and passed.

The extra self directed training has helped provide me some additional insight into some of the forces that are helping to drive organizations toward the Functional – Regional – Project matrix model. I think it has also helped position me for the future as this matrix structure moves forward. It may also be the portent of potential future structures where the project is the primary structure. This seems to be the belief of the PMBOK.

I don’t think I have actually drunk that much of the Kool-Aid though.

The point here is that with 6 -7 weeks of additional / free time / part time study and application you can attain this certification. It can be done if you want to do it. I have all the members of my team who are not already PMP certified working on this certification as part of their development plans. I continue to recommend and suggest that everyone else look into it as well. As I said, it can be done.