PMBOK 5th Edition is out. You know I’m a PM tragic (and I hope you are too as it’s important to keep up and on top of what we are doing and the expert field in which we operate). I’d like to think that you were waiting for the Jan release of PMBOK, but I suspect you’ve had other things on your mind. I still think it’s a good idea to get a copy though – I can’t tell you how important I think it is to keep up to date.

However, I live in the real world so I’ve taken the liberty of reading it (yes – while I was on leave and it’s in the category of being at the front of the field) and decided to send you a few snippets. At least you’ll be able to talk about it knowledgeably if anyone asks.

Basically, the book is a lot thicker (an indication that either there is a lot more to say; there was a lot of clarification needed following the last edition; or they’ve found a way to complicate stuff and that always takes up more space to write).

On reading, there isn’t much to worry about, the basics are all there and any changes are mostly minor ones.

The most noticeable change is the addition of a 10th knowledge area. For those of you who are interested, the 9th knowledge area – ‘integration’ – was an Australian inclusion which I can tell you about if you are interested. Now ‘stakeholder management’ has been included. I confess I rolled my eyes because if projects aren’t about stakeholder management the rest is just admin. Anyway, I digress.

The new section, Chapter 13, does what all the chapters do. It describes the knowledge area, breaks it down into components, suggests inputs and outputs and basically provides a framework which isn’t bad.

I found a few things interesting (when you read it you may well find more or different things interesting).

1. It includes four (4) versions of stakeholder identification models….. well it lists them and gives a generic example of one. The models are all good but there is no guidance as to how to slot stakeholders into each model..I found that frustrating and went googling for more detail but it is sparse – I’ve started to work some of that out and will send it through as I get there.

(a) one of the models (salience) sounded very interesting but (and perhaps I’m not very bright) I found the explanations and diagrams I could find on the web a little less than clear – so I am starting again and will share that with you as well.

2. There is a further section in the engagement levels of the stakeholders – they provide 5 but I think there needs to be a sixth…… more on that soon too.

3. My favourite which I arrived at with enthusiasm is the new section (yes it’s very heavy on subbing the paras) Interpersonal skills. There are four dot points explaining why you need them…. to

(a) build trust
(b) resolve conflict
(c) active listening
(d) overcome resistance to change
(perhaps you can spot the problem with the list – but I digress).

That’s it! no explanation, guidance etc. Perhaps….. oh dear, nope, I’ve got nothing.

4. Then there is the section that suggests the value of monitoring stakeholder engagement – a worthy suggestion – addressed with the further suggestion of adjusting your strategies…… sigh…… for a fleeting moment I had hoped for a ‘how to’.

I went away from my reading a bit despondent – I needed more. Then I hit on the idea that the PMBOK is like a filing cabinet with all the folders in place (though for mine I’d move stakeholder stuff to the front not just add it at the end, but no matter) and space for the content (would have been better with some hints about where to get the content but we are smart and will work it out).

I’ll be back soon with some of my interpretations of what is suggested and with some meat on them so you can put them in the folder and actually use them.

In the meantime, and as a teaser, when you are considering stakeholders think about the following elements:

Power: does the person have the power to influence the project deliverables or the organization (legitimate or personal)
Legitimacy: do they have the right by position or influence to impact the project.
Urgency: do they have the ability through whatever means to change the priorities of the project or other stakeholders?

As I said just a teaser.