During weekends, I enjoy reading the blogs my friends write. For example, Dr. Stefan Hagen (Stefan) informs you about the Nürnberg PM Forum 2012 by GPM in his PM-Blog. He also wants to attend it, because he thinks it is time for him to remember what a traditional conference feels like.

I already look forward to hearing what Stefan is going to tell me about the GPM PM Forum, both from reading it in his blog and meeting him in person.    
And I can already predict to some extent what he will probably tell me.

Personally, I no longer like traditional conferences. Still, once in a while, I attend them. Depending on the actual event, I usually end up more or less disappointed (or rather, my prejudices turn out to be correct). Once in a while, you will see some brilliant speakers. You also meet people you would like to see again, but that is usually about it.

What I find remarkable about the PM forum is its title:

“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”

Now that already causes the first disagreement in me:

I am actually fed up with hearing catch-words such as “Eventful Times” or “Crisis”. Today, we are all better off than ever before. If this is what you call crisis, then crisis must be a beautiful thing. In fact, it is a pretty nice life-style – if you ask me, I would say let us remain there!

As opposed to common sentiment, I think we live in a time of luxury. Unfortunately, however, this luxury made us collectively (and probably also individually) obese and inactive. We live beyond our means – and on borrowed money to boot.
The only movement I can discover is society trembling with fear of losing prosperity and our desperately clinging to what we own. Is that what you call “eventful times” or “crisis”?
And then here comes the association preaching:    
“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”
To me, this sentence sounds strange, both linguistically and with respect to its content. Maybe people should think a little harder before creating and publishing these kinds of slogans.

So what exactly is the meaning of “remaining on course”?

Doesn’t a reasonable and courageous “remaining on course“ necessitate a lot more than project management? First and foremost, you would have to know where you want to go, wouldn’t you? You want to know which business model you aim at. We are talking culture and values, responsibility, knowledge, courage, pleasure, respect, tolerance, civil courage…
I could just as well come up with the motto:    
“Remaining on Course with Requirement“.

Or, even better:    
Let us install an association for course finding that certifies course finding. The motto might be: finding your course through dominance-free and upright discourse. (Adorno, Habermas).

Of course, this is not entirely meant seriously. But give me a break: “Remaining on course with project management“ might sound nice, but all it is is a complex and confusing shell of words. First and foremost, you have to find the path you want to tread on. Or at least you have to find your direction. And this is certainly a very difficult project. You cannot sell project management as the trivial solution for the problem.

Suggesting that “project management is the compass in eventful times“ sounds adventurous to me. Or at least very simple (or a technocratic concept?). Why don’t you go on to say:
“With PM, we will solve all our problems!”?

But so what. As I see it, the slogan is more like advertising a milky bar. And that is probably all it is – simple advertising nonsense as we will find it all over the place. Except I do not know if, maybe, the association is harming itself by this method, rather than promoting its interest. Even if, being the powerful system “association”, you already think (and perhaps that is what you have to think) you own the certified truth cut up into standards.

I would find it truly outrageous if, for example, the PM Camp, for which I feel partly responsible, would advertise itself with such a primitive slogan. Among my own friends, I would fight such a slogan.

If you want something that brings a smile to your face, here is the original introduction from the PM Forum program brochure 2012 Programmheft PM Forum 2012 (pdf):

Internationally spoken, the weather is still inclement and the general outlook will remain stormy.  To be sure, in Germany, the economic outlook is positive enough, but here, too, the entrepreneurs will have to be prepared to fight rough seas. During this stormy up and down of the economy, we now need to remain on course. It is a good thing that the enterprises invested in project management, thereby improving their position among the competitors. Through project management, you can achieve convincing results, both in time and in budget. For German enterprises, professional project management becomes more and more the success guarantee. It turns into being the compass and provides orientation, it levels out minor disruptions and keeps the enterprise flexible and agile, even in volatile times.

Words, words, words! Why don’t you go and get me a philosopher? And, please, do not ever let an owner of a medium-sized enterprise read this. Are there any buzzwords you have not read in this paragraph? Who would ever write this kind of thing? Or, even better, who will ever believe this kind of thing? What nonsense! But at least, now we know how an enterprise can be saved from collapsing. Isn’t that some achievement?

Mind you, the event costs 1,150.00 Euros for non-members at GPM. Members pay 200 Euros less. Some of the things you get in return are that you can, for example, hear our eternal German-French journalist and author Prof. Dr. Peter Scholl-Latour talk about “International problem areas and the challenge they pose for German policy“, or the self-promoting extreme mountaineering expert Hans Kammerlander about “Hanging on the satin thread. From Southern Tyrolia to Jasemba (7,350 m): 40 years on course!”.

I know both speakers and wish you all a good time!

(Translated by EG)

Kommentar verfassen