One of my early mentors, Mark M., told me once that project management is actually very simple - "...it's getting from Point A to Point B, as efficiently and effectively as possible". Not glamorous, certainly not sophisticated in today's environment of Monte Carlo simulation and RACI matrices, but there's a certain raw power in the simplicity of this view on what it is that we project managers actually do that I believe is worthy of consideration.
As with other professional disciplines, project management has matured and become more complex, richer in texture and nuance over the decades. While most of this increase in sophistication is inarguably for the better, some is probably more worship of process and means that sometimes causes us to lose sight of the reason we started the effort to begin with. But in the final analysis, regardless of the complexity and "maturity" of the methodologies used, my early mentor's street-smart description still holds true.
Our goal remains to get from Point A to Point B - from concept to working prototype, from legacy system to state-of-the-art technology, from earth-bound beings to space travelers. His definition captures what I believe to be the core essence of project management, an essence that continues to capture my attention and imagination after over 25 years in the profession - that we in the project management profession are in the business of initiating, creating and managing change - hopefully to and for something better. Not a bad skill set to have in these turbulent times.
http://blog.projectconnections.com/project_practitioners/2010/03/why-i-am-more-afraid-of-too-much-project-management.html - Too much project management (or even the perception of too much) can be just as harmful as not enough.
http://blog.projectconnections.com/project_practitioners/2010/11/the-elegance-of-simplicity.html - Sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest ones.
http://blog.projectconnections.com/pm_perspectives/2009/04/when-its-time-to-plan-and-schedule-a-project-what-matters-most.html - What matters most in planning and scheduling a project?
http://www.projectconnections.com/templates/detail/adapting-processes.html - A guideline for how to tailor project management and development processes to different projects in your company. It covers how to adapt processes for different project lengths, risk profiles, and complexities; including different uses of project phases, levels of documentation, and use of detailed project planning and project controls.
http://www.projectconnections.com/templates/detail/implementing-project-procedures.html - A step-by-step guideline for introducing new project management procedures to an organization and developing related PM skills to improve project performance as quickly as possible.