“Project management will become a recognized profession when jokes are made about the practitioners.” IPMA


I am not certain I have ever felt project management was profession, rather than being more of a set of management skills, but many people these days do refer to themselves as project managers when you ask them what they do for a living. I guess that suggests to me that it might well be a profession.

Dilbert cartoons set the stage for making fun of the “profession” when it was first published in 1989, one year before Microsoft Project was first released. The office workplace was Silicon Valley. I didn’t work in Silicon, but I worked for Symantec which was headquartered in Mountain View across the street from Apple. Instead, I lived in Novato, and worked for the Timeline product group located in this small town. Novato is in the North Bay at the tip of Marin County, and there were about 90 people at that location. Symantec had acquired the group, three year before Dilbert was published, which had been a company called Breakthrough Software.

When we would have company meetings, the meeting would end with a loud “break!” cheer from some of the original Breakthrough people. I may have some of my facts wrong, but apparently “break!” was left over from some work the company had done with Werner Erhard, former The Forum, former The est Training, via Erhard Seminars Training Inc. If any of that rings a bell, it should suggest to you how zany it was at times, both living and working in Marin.


There are plenty of project management zombie jokes floating around, and there is plenty PMPisms out there to poke fun at.

What I have always found funny about PMP certification is how serious people promote this certification, and I guess, whenever we are too serious about something, like religion and politics, it opens the door for someone to poke some fun.

I got a call this morning from an old colleague and it reminded me of one true certification zombie story.

standordI was speaking on the phone to a potential customer in Seattle. They wanted an earned value workshop and I was telling them about this very credible instructor we had. (This instructor is the guy that called me this morning.) I told them that he teaches earned value all over the world, that he had an engineering degree from Purdue, he earned his Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, that he started and ran an MBA program for a state university and the program was ranking in the top 25 of executive MBA programs. And finally, I mentioned that I had been with him in many clients engagements with management who had been former students of his program, in both the US and Japan, and that they were simply in awe of him.

I was expecting the potential client, a young PMP certified woman, and I think the word pmp“young” explains the situation, say, “Wonderful, when can he come out?” Instead, she said, “Yes, but does he have his PMP?”

Ok, maybe that isn’t so funny, but at the time I couldn’t help from laughing in response.

I didn’t get the business. That wasn’t funny.

PMI and PMP are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, which I think is also a registered trademark. This trademark notification is placed here at the end of this blog because PMI takes itself very very seriously.
Symantec is trademarked and there are trademarks and servicemarks associated with Stanford, Microsoft, IMPA, The Forum and Dilbert, but for some reason, I don’t find myself feeling the need to point that out.

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