The CEO Refresher Websites for Professionals
Take control of your online presence
with your own professional website!
  Gradient
       
   

Professional Project Managers (PMP),
The Super Heroes of Business

by Sloan Campbell

 
   
 
   

A superhero is a fictional character who is noted for feats of courage and nobility, who usually has a colorful name and costume and abilities beyond those of normal human beings. A female superhero is often called a superheroine.

The common traits of almost all superheroes are …

  • Extraordinary powers and abilities, mastery of relevant skills, and/or advanced equipment. Although superhero powers vary widely, superhuman strength, the ability to fly, enhancements of the senses and the ability to project energy of some kind are all common. Some superheroes, such as Batman and Green Hornet, possess no superpowers but have mastered skills such as martial arts and forensic sciences. Others have special equipment, such as Iron Man's powered armour and Green Lantern's power ring.

  • A strong moral code, including a willingness to risk their own safety in the service of good without expectation of reward.

  • A special motivation, such as a sense of responsibility (e.g. Spider-Man), a strong sense of justice (e.g. Superman), a formal calling (e.g., Wonder Woman), or a personal vendetta against criminals (e.g., The Punisher).

  • A secret identity that protects the superhero's friends and family from becoming targets of his or her enemies. Most superheroes (but not all) use a descriptive or metaphoric code name for their public deeds.

  • A flamboyant and distinctive costume.

  • An underlying motif or theme that affects the hero's name, costume, personal effects and other aspects of his character (e.g., Batman resembles a large bat, calls his headquarters the "Batcave" and his specialized automobile, which also looks bat-like, the "Batmobile").

  • A trademark weapon (e.g., Wonder Woman's "Lasso of Truth," Captain America's shield).

  • A supporting cast of recurring characters, including the hero's friends, co-workers and/or love interests, who may or may not know of the superhero's secret identity. Often the hero's personal relationships are complicated by his/her dual life.

  • A number of enemies that he/she fights repeatedly, including an archenemy who stands out among the others. Often a nemesis is a superhero's opposite or foil (e.g., Sabretooth embraces his savage instincts while Wolverine battles his).

  • Independent wealth (e.g., Batman or the X-Men's benefactor Professor X) or an occupation that allows for minimal supervision (e.g., Superman's civilian job as a reporter).

  • A secret headquarters or base of operations (e.g., Superman's Fortress of Solitude).

  • An "origin story" that explains the circumstances by which the character acquired his/her abilities as well as his/her motivation for becoming a superhero. Many origin stories involve tragic elements and/or freak accidents that result in the development of the hero's abilities.

Most superheroes work independently. However, there are also many superhero teams. Some, such as the Fantastic Four and X-Men, have common origins and usually operate as a group. Others, such as DC Comics's Justice League and Marvel's Avengers are "all-star" groups consisting of heroes of separate origins who also operate individually.

Some superheroes, especially those introduced in the 1940s, work with a child or teenaged sidekick (e.g., Batman and Robin, Captain America and Bucky). This has become less common since more sophisticated writing and older audiences have lessened the need for characters who specifically appeal to child age readers and made such obvious child endangerment seem implausible. Sidekicks themselves are often seen as a separate classification of superheroes.1

Sound familiar … ??

All Professional Project Managers (PMP) will recognize the traits listed above as virtually the same traits that have made many of us what we are today. For those of you who don't … follow along below …

  • Extraordinary powers and abilities, mastery of relevant skills, and/or advanced equipment - In order for a Project Manager (PM) to become a PMP you are required to complete one of the following two qualification sets;

    Set #1:
    • Baccalaureate or equivalent university degree.
    • Minimum of 4,500 hours (at least thirty-six (36) unique (non-overlapping) months of project management experience within the six-year (6) period prior to the application) of project management experience within the five (5) process groups.
    • 35 hours of Project Management education.2

    Set #2:
    • No baccalaureate or equivalent university degree but holds a high school diploma or equivalent secondary school credential.
    • Minimum of 7,500 hours (at least sixty (60) unique (non-overlapping) months within the eight-year (8) period) of project management experience within the five (5) process groups.
    • 35 hours of Project Management education. 2

    The advanced equipment starts with the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) and expands exponentially larger as Project Managers network, develop and share tools & templates accumulated over the years.

  • A strong moral code - The PMI (Project Management Institute) has developed and instituted the Project Management Professional Code of Conduct, a stronger moral code you will not find.

  • A special motivation - Whatever it is that motivates a PM to become a PMP will be special for that person, such as:
    • PMP provides professional/personal recognition.
    • PMP expedites professional advancement.
    • PMP creates job growth/opportunities within an organization.
    • PMP increases employee's value to the organization.
    • PMP is truly a global certification.

  • A secret identity that protects the superhero's friends and family from becoming targets of his or her enemies - Actually we all have these … don't believe me … well, think about this … all of us belong to (or should belong to) web-groups and discussion groups on the internet and when we sign up for these groups we all use Secret Identities as our user names. Names like Captain America, Zorro, Cat Woman, Wonder Woman, The Lone Ranger or Superman … these are all Secret Identities. Identities that allow us to release that alter ego inside of us just long enough to feel great about ourselves and what we are doing.

  • A flamboyant and distinctive costume - For those of you that wear a company uniform the connection is obvious, for those of us who do not wear a company uniform the connection is less obvious. However, I submit to you that our uniform is the suit and tie, dress suit or dress that we wear when we meet with customers or stakeholders … come on … admit it, we all have those power accessories that we wear to make a distinctive impression during our meetings.

  • An underlying motif or theme that affects the hero's name, costume, personal effects and other aspects of his character - The underlying motif or theme of Project Management is the Triple Constraint (Costs, Schedule, Scope of Work, Quality and Customer Satisfaction). To be successful, the Project Manager must always balance Project Costs, Schedule, Scope of Work, Quality and Customer Satisfaction !

  • A trademark weapon - Again, our weapon of choice is the PMBOK.

  • A supporting cast of recurring characters - This one is easy, in Project Management language this would be our Project Team.

  • A number of enemies that he/she fights repeatedly - At one level or another the normal enemies of Project Management are the Customer, the Project Team and Higher-Level Management (not necessarily in that order).

  • Independent wealth or an occupation that allows for minimal supervision - The essence of our existence as PMPs is the fact that our chosen occupation (i.e. Project Management) revolves around minimal supervision.

  • A secret headquarters or base of operations - Our secret headquarters the PMO (Project Management Office). The PMO in a business or professional enterprise is the department or group that defines and maintains the standards of process, generally related to project management, within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.3

  • An "origin story" that explains the circumstances by which the character acquired his/her abilities as well as his/her motivation for becoming a superhero - To me this is the reason or the story that has motivated all of you to become a Project Manager to this very day.

Every day, Project Managers are asked to complete the seemingly impossible tasks of balancing Project Costs, Schedule, Scope of Work, Quality and Customer Satisfaction to make a project as success as it was envisioned … a task which most, if not all, of us accept willingly.

Stan Lee, Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Comics summed up the connection between Superheroes and Professional Project Managers best "While no one is expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound, our aspiring heroes will be tested on their courage, integrity, self-sacrifice, compassion and resourcefulness - the stuff of all true superheroes." and "When you work with people whom you respect and whom you like and you admire because they're so good at what they do, it doesn't feel like work... It's like you're playing."

Godspeed PMPs … Godspeed !!

Notes

1. Super Heroes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superheroes
2. PMI: http://www.pmi.org/info/default.asp
3. PMO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management_offices

References

1. Dc Comics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC_Comics
2. Marvel Comics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Comics
3. Five Traits of Great Project Managers: http://www.syntelinc.com/syntelligence/index.aspx?id=287
4. Characteristics of an Outstanding Business Intelligence Project Manager: http://www.dmreview.com/article_sub.cfm?articleId=1026063
5. Project Management Leadership Group Presentation "Traits of Great Project Managers": http://www.pmlg.com/documents/TraitsofGreatProjectManagersPresentation01.pdf
6. Project Management: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Management


     
   
     
   

The Author

 

Sloan Campbell is an Implementation Project Manager at SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). SOCAN is an organization that administers the communication and performing rights of virtually the world's entire repertoire of copyright-protected music, when it is used in Canada. You can e-mail your comments to the author at scampbell@elcan.com .

     
   
     
   
Many more articles in Project Management in The CEO Refresher Archives
     
   
     
   
The CEO Refresher
     
   

Copyright 2006 by Sloan Campbell. All rights reserved.

Current Issue - Archives - CEO Links - News - Conferences - Recommended Reading

Refresher Publications