Project Practitioners > PMBOK 6th Edition: Highlights of What's New - Role of the Project Manager

PMBOK 6th Edition: Highlights of What's New - Role of the Project Manager

By Sinikka Waugh

Have you downloaded your copy of the 6th Edition of the PMBOK Guide yet?  Or have you ordered a physical copy yet?  I'm curious as to how many of us have multiple editions lining our shelves...  

Last month, we looked at a high-level overview of all of the changes.  This month, we're starting our deeper dive into the specific changes, starting with the role of the Project manager, which PMI declared was different in the 6th Edition.

So let's take a quick look at the role of the PM, and how it's described in PMBOK Guide 6th Edition.  

They key pieces seem to be round about section 1.7, the Role of the Project Manager.

While the 5th Edition had some content describing organizational structures and specific subsections for Responsiblities & Competencies as well as Skills of the Project Manager, this topic has been simplified into one section without subsections in the 6th Edition.

Among the things that stayed the same - the list of "important interpersonal skills" is consistent from last edition to this one, as is the statement "Project managers accomplish work through the project team and other stakeholders."

In the 5th Edition, Knowledge, Performance, and Personal competencies were called out as necessary for PMs.  In the 6th Edition, the list is tailored to be more clear about specifically:

  • Knowledge:  all of the knowledge "needed to manage the project effectively."
  • Skills:  specifically around leadership, coordination, collaboration, problem solving, and decision making.
  • Abilities: to do the technical work required of PMs
  • And "Other attributes required, such as personality, attitude, ethics, and leadership"

This section is still a bit gray, but it's more clear than it's been before - and it's hard to be anything but general when we're talking about the full breadth of project management!

Here are two of my favorite sentences from this section in the 6th Edition (and why I like them so much!)

1. This one is completely new (emphasis mine...I just wanted to put it in context here...):  "The Project manager is successful when the project objectives have been achieved.  Another aspect of success is stakeholder satisfaction.  The project manager should address stakeholder needs, concerns, and expectations to satisfy relevant stakeholders."

What a great statement!  Not only must we achieve the project objectives, but we must satisfy our relevant stakeholders.  Delivering the results and no more and no less is not enough.  Delivering the results, and satisfying the customer is the expectation.  This means we have to build relationships with our stakeholders, understand their expectations, adjust them when the expectations are outside of the bounds of reality, and work with our stakeholders to ensure they're pleased with the project and its results.

2. The second one is also completely new, though present in spirit elsewhere in the PMBOK 5th edition and before, right here in 6th Edition, the PMBOK calls out the reminder that each project is unique.

"To be successful, the project manager should tailor the project approach, life cycle, and project management processes to meet the project and product requirements."

We've known for years that every project is unique, that's not's part of the definition.  But right here, right now, the PMBOK 6th Edition is reminding us as PMs -- empowering us as PMs -- to tailor the stuff we're doing to match the needs of the project.   

So what do we do with that?  
We take the reins.  
We empower ourselves with the knowledge of project management tools, processes, and approaches.  
We educate ourselves on our current set of stakeholders. 

And. We. Do. Something. About. It.

We tailor.

We tailor the tools, templates, conversations, communications, meetings, structures, etc. to meet the needs of the situation at hand. 

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