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Episode 440: PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition (Free)

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PMBOK Guide 7
Cynthia Dionisio, Mike Griffiths and Stephen Townsend

At the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Conference 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, I had the opportunity to attend two workshops to help in the development of A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- Seventh edition.

Yes, you read that right: Seventh Edition. And here is what PMI® wrote about the workshop:

PMBOK® Guide – The Next Generation: An Innovation Working Session

Join us for an innovation workshop to develop concepts for the next generation of the PMBOK® Guide. Explore current thinking to ensure the next version encompasses the full spectrum of project management approaches. Then actively participate in shaping the content through a series of innovation discussions and exercises. Bring your expertise, ideas and energy to collaborate with your colleagues in building a robust and resilient project management body of knowledge.

The workshop was led by Cynthia Dionisio, Mike Griffiths, and Stephen Townsend. Cyndi and Mike are the co-leads for the new PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition and Stephen represents PMI. And in addition to attending the workshop, I also got the opportunity to sit down with them and learn what we can expect from the new guide. (My best guess is that it will be published sometime in 2021).

In the interview we talk about

  • the move from process-based to principles-based standards,
  • what will happen to the domains and knowledge-areas,
  • how the next guide will cover the entire delivery spectrum,
  • why it will be much shorter than the current edition, and
  • what each member of the team hopes that the seventh edition will be able to achieve.

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Episode Transcript

Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.

Podcast Introduction

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome back to The Project Management Podcast™ at I am Cornelius Fichtner. We are coming to you live from the 2019 Global Conference in Philadelphia.


Cornelius Fichtner: And right now with me here in the hallways, this is a first, I have three guests sitting here. We have Cyndi Dionisio, Mike Griffiths, and Steph Townsend.

Hello, Cyndi!

Cyndi Dionisio: Hi! Nice to see you again!

Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, welcome back! Mike, also welcome back to the program.

Mike Griffiths: Good to see you again.

Cornelius Fichtner: And welcome back, Steph!

Stephen Townsend: Thank you, Cornelius. Good to be here.

Cornelius Fichtner: I have all three of you on here before. My first question goes to you, Cyndi. You are the Chair of the PMBOK® Guide Fourth Edition, then the Sixth Edition. Now, you are back again for the Seventh Edition. What fascinates you about this work?

Cyndi Dionisio: Well, other than the fact that I’m an [masochist] for this, right?

Cornelius Fichtner: I wasn’t going to mention that.

Cyndi Dionisio: That was on PC, okay. So what do I like best about? First of all, every time I do this, I meet amazing people from around the world. So always the first and most exciting thing is the team. And this time is absolutely no different. I have people from countries and places and experiences and have done projects and programs and PMOs, the most amazing people both on the development and the review teams. There are 70 people on the review team. They are amazing. Mike and I read through all their resumes and it was the hardest choice to pick people to be on the team. So that’s always the first and most exciting thing is the team.

The other thing is it’s a challenge. Every single time is a challenge. And this is no different. It’s different challenges this time as I’m sure we’ll get into. You know you look at what motivates people, I’m an achievement or a challenge-motivated person so it’s always very challenging. So that’s why I keep coming back, and I love to work.

Cornelius Fichtner: And what are some of the biggest changes that you saw from the Fourth to the Sixth, and now the Seventh Edition in terms of the project or how things are being done?

Cyndi Dionisio: So I think the Fourth brought more consistency and consolidation. And then we had the Fifth and he did even more of that. And then the Sixth, we did that as well. We added some new topics like e-concepts and considerations for Agile and that was the first we really started talking about different ways of delivering value across the spectrum. So I think that’s what was different. The Seventh Edition is a whole new beast. We are really focusing not so much on the outputs like we have seen before. We are focusing more on the outcomes. So it’s not about saying: “Hey, I did a risk register.” It’s more about; “I effectively worked with the threats and opportunities that were there in the project and that emerged throughout the project.” That’s the outcome you want. You don’t care about a risk register. It’s a means to an end. So there’s a big shift.

Cornelius Fichtner: And yesterday, I was at the workshop that the three of you led, and when you said that, we are focusing no longer on the outputs but on the outcomes, there was spontaneous applause in the audience. So people seem to like that shift.

Cyndi Dionisio: Yeah, that’s kind of a bad time. One other thing about that is I alluded in the Sixth Edition, when we started talking about Agile but really from the beginning, it was. We have got to look at the whole value of delivery spectrum. Right now, we talk about linear, non-linear, predictive, hybrid, Waterfall, and incremental. Who knows what’s next, right? But we have to address all of it. We can’t just be talking about one slice of project management. So really the Seventh Edition started with that on our plate.

Cornelius Fichtner: Mike, you are the Co-Chair for the Seventh Edition with Cyndi. What is your personal motivation to take this opportunity?

Mike Griffiths: Sure. I was involved with the Fourth Edition, the Fifth, and the Sixth as a content developer. And I was also engaged with the Agile Practice Guide. So for me, it’s a natural progression or bringing together of those concepts in that it’s more of the PMBOK â Guide, but it’s more of the Agile content and the non-linear life cycle. So yeah, it’s nice to see them finally coming together.

Cornelius Fichtner: And what are some of the goals that you would like to achieve for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® with the Seventh Edition?

Mike Griffiths: Yeah for the longest time, I have been trying to make it more accessible for project managers a lot of the great leadership and people-oriented elements from Agile. I think my personal goal is to get more of that into the Seventh Edition and into general discussion and use within the project management community.

Cornelius Fichtner: And then Stephen, you are the Director of Network Programs at PMI. How is the Network Program still involved in the PMBOK® Guide Seventh Edition?

Stephen Townsend: So I actually got involved with the Sixth Edition when we were looking at how to build Agile content into the knowledge areas. And so, I grabbed Mike and Jesse Fewell, and we worked with Cyndi in a subteam of the PMBOK® Guide Sixth Edition team to put content together for the Sixth Edition. At the same time, we were kicking off the project with the Agile Alliance to develop the Agile Practice Guide. So we were working in combination to make sure that when we were delivering the PMBOK® Guide and the Agile Practice Guide together, that the two were able to in essence speak the same language and it was good cross-talk between the two documents. So that’s how I became involved in the Sixth Edition.

And then out of our lessons learned from that particular project, we recognized that we needed to take a different approach with the Seventh Edition. We really needed to reflect the broad range of approaches that individuals could use to deliver their projects. And so we felt that we needed to start from scratch with a whole new vision for the Seventh Edition recognizing that project delivery has really changed significantly over the past several years and we haven’t really reflected that adequately in the PMBOK® Guide. So the Seventh Edition will be a radical change from what we have done in the past.

Cornelius Fichtner: What are some of the results that you would like to see with the Seventh Edition?

Above are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only. Please subscribe to our Premium Podcast to receive a PDF transcript.

PDUs: Ways of Working, PMBOK Guide, Project Management Institute, PMI Global Conference 2019, PMBOK Guide 7th Edition

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Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner
Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, CSM, is the host and the author at The Project Management Podcast. He has welcomed hundreds of guests and project management experts to the podcast and has helped over 60,0000 students prepare for their PMP® Exam. He has authored dozens of articles on and PM World 360. He speaks at conferences around the world about project management, agile methodology, PMOs, and Project Business. Follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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