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Who's In the Pipeline?

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I am about to leave the PMI Research Conference in Warsaw, Poland, and head back to the USA. It has been a great meeting, very vibrant, with lots on interaction. Of all the interactions I have had, though, one thing stands out over the others. Yesterday, during my remarks, I shared that a strong base of research is the most important way to ADVANCE a profession.

Peter Drucker referred to the process as understanding the "organized ignorance" of a profession. I have to take exception to what I said. You see, after the presentation, Philip Diab, PMI Chair, and I took a photo with 19 Polish students who are here supporting the conference. They are all students at the Warsaw School of Economics, in undergraduate studies in Project Management.

When I talked to them, I was mesmerized. They display a visible mixture of wonder about learning, while never letting down their self confidence that they can tackle anything. The only way to describe it is that they were an empowered generation of youth. They have a clear sense of purpose, and they know that they have a vital future. There is no sense of entitlement, but rather faith in themselves. They see a future full of promise and filled with opportunities. And I am reminded that they are all here, giving up their weekends and weekdays, helping at the conference during their summer holidays. However, when the sessions start, they don't run outside or find other things to occupy their time ... on the contrary, they all run inside the session halls, listening, observing and learning. Amazing.

I was wrong in saying that research will advance the profession. No. This profession, any profession, will ultimately be advanced by young people, the young people entering the pipeline that will challenge the profession. They will bring the tools of the profession into new applications without fear of failure, and when they discover that those tools do not work, they will create new ones that will. It is this empowered generation that will advance our profession.

My only concern is that there are too few of these young people around the world. All of us, especially PMI, must find a way to add to the intellectual pipeline to build our profession. My travels around the globe, and our executive research, both point to the critical shortage of experienced, talent project professionals. Unless we fill the pipeline with talented youth like the students here in Warsaw, that shortage will only grow. Worse, the profession won't advance but rather will be "maintained." For this profession to achieve its full potential, it must be challenged with new ideas and concepts. Otherwise, we will have a profession defined by its legacy rather than its future. We must add to the professional pipeline and now.

Thank you, Warsaw, for the lesson.

More later.

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