The Top Five Reasons We Need to Go Back to the ABCs of Project Management

By Carl Pritchard


Sometimes, the ABCs are a little more complicated than we give them credit for.  And sometimes it’s easier to stick with what we know.  I vividly remember when the “C” key broke off my electric typewriter (yes, he’s an older guy).  I found myself trying to write entire work products with no “C”.  It was highly dysfunctional.  It’s also a reminder that the ABCs aren’t much without the C.

  1. The Fallacy of “Advanced Practice”

Organizations love to try to build “advanced” elements into their project management practices.  They’ll do so before they even try to ensure that their existing work breakdown structures and other tools are well-placed, and well-functioning.  Without clear and consistent WBS practice, anything “advanced” is a genuine waste of time and energy.

  1. The One-Handed Virtuoso and the Argument for MORE!

More is not inherently better.  Few organizations truly limit themselves to only fundamental tools, but fewer organizations still really deploy the basic tools with virtuosity.  Consider one-handed pianist Nicholas McCarthy when believing more is better.  Perhaps a similar level of focus on the handful of fundamental tools could change your entire organization’s belief system about project management as an administrative burden

  1. Project Essentials Put Us in Agreement

The number of organizations that have their own project management cultures, processes and protocols is staggering.  When two organizations must work together, they need to find areas of agreement.  Those areas of agreement tend to show up most clearly within the project management basics.  Start straying into specialty areas of project management, and those agreements quickly dissipate.

  1. Project Essentials Define What We Care About

If you are focused on everything, you are focused on nothing.  The fact of the matter is that we cannot spread focus around.  We need to pick the select few practices that differentiate us from the pack and make us better project managers and better support systems.  We live in a world with a remarkably short attention span, and that means that the true “experts” are those who can retain focus for more than a few minutes.  Stick to basic practices and pay attention to the detail within those practices, and the projects will inherently become more successful.

  1. Project Essentials Enable Future Growth

Some individuals and organizations desperately want to be able to grow beyond the basics.  That’s a healthy and wonderful ambition.  But note that the only way to grow beyond the basics is to master them first.  If you ever marvel at painters, artisans, craftspeople and the like, know that they understand the ABCs and can tackle them with aplomb.  Then, and only then, they can move beyond them.

The next time someone in your organization suggests diving into the latest flavor of the day, remind them of the critical nature of the basics.  It’s important to remember that without a clear understanding of the fundamentals, the rest is quickly rendered incomprehensible.


And as you might imagine…there’s a sales pitch here.  Pritchard Management excels in the ABCs!  Join us for our next Project Management Essentials workshop September 13-14 at the Montgomery County (MD) campus of Johns Hopkins University (not affiliated with them, but they rent GREAT space).