If one were to examine the way that project management practitioners think and interact with each other, they may discover that we are trained to question, challenge, and critique other people’s ideas.  This may very well be part of the genetic makeup of a project manager!  However, given the type of activities that we are engaged in as far as leading initiatives focused on change and transformation, it has to be somewhat understandable that the profession not only attracts this type of personality but also breads it.

My statements here are not a criticism of project management practitioners.  In fact, I’m thinking of this purely as an exercise to better understand how this predisposition to the “argumentative personality” might contribute to the building up of the project management body of knowledge.  By way of example, if we were to consider some of the discussions that are going on in the blog-sphere or groups such as LinkedIn, we might find someone posting a provokative idea or a statement, then a bunch of responses explaining why the idea is stupid, does not fly, or irrelevant.  Rarely do we see comments that build up the idea and expand on it. I’m not suggesting of course that ideas should not be challenged or criticized, a good idea should stand being challenged. However, what I’m noticing is the fact that a significant portion of those of us involved in the discussion find ourselves more comfortable arguing against ideas rather than embracing ah-ha moments.

If we were to take a page out of the open source history book and examine how information technology professionals deal with ideas by looking at them and trying to take them to the next level, perhaps our outlook might evolve when it comes to considering project management ideas, especially ones that might challenge conventional wisdom.

The issue here is not one that requires people to come to the table with an open mind, as there are significant numbers of project management practitioners who are just that.  The point is to begin thinking differently of ideas, perhaps by introducing some trial and error mechanism, or even seeing if we are able to expand them.  Much in the same way that open source concepts evolve and often end up being things that are very different than they were intended, we might discover the same to be true about new concepts that are introduced to project management.